from the Madison Circuit Court The Honorable David A. Happe,
Judge Trial Court Cause No. 48C04-1704-F3-1072
Attorney for Appellant David W. Stone IV Anderson, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana George P. Sherman Supervising Deputy Attorney
General Indianapolis, Indiana
of the Case
Daniel Vega appeals his convictions for one count of child
molesting, as a Level 3 felony, and two counts of child
solicitation, as Level 5 felonies, following a jury trial.
Vega also appeals his fifteen-year sentence. Vega raises six
issues for our review, which we restate as follows:
1. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
admitted into evidence a video-recorded forensic interview of
the child victim.
2. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
denied Vega's request to have an expert psychologist
examine the child victim at public expense.
3. Whether Vega preserved for appellate review his argument
that the trial court erroneously permitted the State to
present inadmissible drumbeat evidence to the jury.
4. Whether Vega preserved for appellate review his argument
that the trial court erred when it denied his request for a
5. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it
6. Whether Vega's sentence is inappropriate in light of
the nature of the offenses and his character.
and Procedural History
In early 2017, Vega, who was eighteen years old at the time,
was living with his uncle, M.S.; M.S.'s then-ten-year-old
daughter, E.S.; and M.S.'s wife and stepson in
Alexandria. M.S. had helped Vega obtain employment at
American Woodwork, where M.S. also worked, and M.S. and Vega
would ride to work together. E.S. had her own room at the
family residence. Vega slept on a couch in the living room.
During the evening of April 20, Vega entered E.S.'s
bedroom, woke her, and told her he would "give [her]
twenty dollars if you suck my thing." Tr. Vol. III at
183. E.S. told him that she was "gonna tell [her]
dad," and Vega "ran outside." Id. The
next day, E.S. spoke of the incident with Holly Eiler, a
social worker at E.S.'s school. Eiler contacted the
Indiana Department of Child Services ("DCS"), and
DCS case workers arranged for E.S. to have a forensic
interview at the Child Advocacy Center later that day.
Kelsey Green conducted E.S.'s forensic interview, which
was video-recorded. Green has a degree in psychology and has
conducted about 2, 000 forensic interviews. During her
interview, E.S. detailed the prior night's incident with
Vega. E.S. also said that, on another occasion, Vega had
tried to make E.S. "touch his thing" by
"pull[ing] down his pants and . . . tr[ying] to put
[her] hand down there . . . ." Id. at 189-90.
Then E.S. told Green that, on a different occasion, Vega had
"forced [her] to suck his thing." Id. at
193. Vega had "grabbed [E.S.]" and "ma[de her]
put it in [her] mouth" until "[w]hite stuff"
came out, which made E.S. "throw[ ]up."
Id. at 193-94. E.S. told Green that she did not
"feel safe around" Vega. Id. at 193.
Following E.S.'s forensic interview, Alexandria Police
Officer Joe Heath interviewed Vega. When Officer Heath
informed Vega of E.S.'s allegations and asked Vega if he
"kn[ew] anything about" them, Vega responded,
"She's nasty. . . . [I]f I were to get [sic] in any
kind of sexual way I would have someone more attractive . . .
." Tr. Vol. IV at 57. Officer Heath then asked Vega why
E.S. would say what she did, and Vega responded: "I
don't know. That's from her part. She knows how to
suck dick. Go for it." Id. at 67.
After E.S. opened up about her experiences with Vega, M.S.
observed that E.S. began to act differently. In particular,
he observed that she was "scared to sleep by
herself" in her room. Tr. Vol. III at 157. M.S. also
observed that E.S. would "urinate" her bed
because "she doesn't want to get up [be]cause
she's scared" that Vega is "watching her
through the window." Tr. Vol. III at 157.
The State charged Vega with one count of child molesting, as
a Level 3 felony, and four counts of child solicitation, as
Level 5 felonies. On January 29, 2018, the State moved under
Indiana's Protected Person Statute to have E.S.'s
forensic interview with Green admitted in lieu of E.S.
testifying in person at trial. See Ind. Code §
35-37-4-6 (2018). The court held a hearing on the State's
request in February, at which Vega appeared with counsel and
E.S. appeared by closed-circuit television.
Miyah Grant testified in support of the State's motion.
Grant is a doctoral student in the clinical psychology
program at the University of Indianapolis, and, under the
supervision of Dr. Sharon McNeany, a licensed psychologist,
Grant is E.S.'s counselor. Grant testified that E.S.
frequently has anxiety about testifying in court such that
she "begins crying uncontrollably and shaking," and
it is a "struggle to communicate" with her. Tr.
Vol. II at 71. Grant also related continuing fear E.S. has of
Vega, saying that, on the day of the protected-person
hearing, E.S. asked that the room of the closed-circuit
television have "lock[ed] . . . doors."
Id. at 72. Grant opined that being in the physical
presence of Vega at trial could cause E.S. such distress that
she would not "be able to reasonably communicate."
Id. at 74. Dr. ...