Jon L. Norton, Jr., Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
of Appeals Case No. 19A-CR-872 Appeal from the Vanderburgh
Superior Court The Honorable Robert J. Pigman, Judge Trial
Court Cause No. 82D03-1611-F4-6794
Attorney for Appellant Yvette M. LaPlante LaPlante LLP
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Courtney Staton Deputy Attorney General
of the Case
Jon L. Norton, Jr. appeals his convictions and sentence for
one count of sexual misconduct with a minor, as a Level 4
felony, and three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor,
as Level 5 felonies, following a jury trial. Norton presents
seven issues for our review, which we revise and restate as
1. Whether the trial court committed fundamental error when
it did not sever his trial.
2. Whether the trial court committed fundamental error when
it allowed one of the victims to testify about an alleged
offense that had occurred in Kentucky.
3. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it did
not allow one of the victims' sisters to testify about
specific instances in which the victim had been dishonest.
4. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it did
not allow Norton to review mental health records for one of
5. Whether the trial court erred when it failed to remove a
6. Whether the State presented sufficient evidence to support
his conviction for one count of sexual misconduct with a
minor, as a Level 5 felony.
7. Whether his sentence is inappropriate in light of the
nature of the offenses and his character.
and Procedural History
In mid-2016, fourteen-year-old A.J. was living with her
mother, L.D. During that summer, Norton, who was
thirty-two years old, was dating M.K., one of A.J.'s
sisters. When Norton first began to spend time with M.K. and
her family, he "wrestled around" and
"played" with A.J. and the other children "a
lot." Tr. Vol. III at 18. At first, A.J. thought that
"it was normal because he did it with everybody
else." Id. However, at some point, the
interaction between A.J. and Norton "changed."
In mid-November, A.J. got in trouble at school, which caused
her to get in trouble at home. A.J. "got mad," and
she ran away from L.D.'s house. Id. at 166. L.D.
and some other family members began to look for A.J., and
they called the police. While they were looking for A.J.,
L.D. learned that A.J. "was having relationships"
with Norton. Id. at 167. Police officers eventually
found A.J. and returned her to L.D.
The next day, L.D. asked A.J. about Norton. At first, A.J.
was not "fully forthcoming." Id. at 168.
But A.J. ultimately informed L.D. that she and Norton had a
"sexual relationship" and that she had performed
oral sex on him "one time." Id. at 174.
Based on A.J.'s statements, L.D. organized a family
meeting. At the family meeting, A.J. told the family that her
relationship with Norton had been "an ongoing
thing." Id. at 175. A.J. ultimately told her
family that Norton had engaged in sexual intercourse with her
on one occasion, that she had performed oral sex on Norton
"two or three times," and that Norton had placed
her hand on his penis on three occasions. Id. at 32
During that same summer, Norton and M.K. would spend "a
lot" of time with another one of A.J.'s sisters,
M.C., and M.C.'s fourteen-year-old stepdaughter, A.G.
Id. at 116. They were "constantly doing family
stuff together." Id. Norton was "like an
uncle" to A.G. Id. at 117. He would
"always wrestle" with the kids and "just goof
around." Id. at 118. But Norton's behavior
toward A.G. changed, and he paid more "physical
attention" to her. Id. A.G. felt as though the
roughhousing was "directed toward [her] and not so much
with the other kids." Id.
On October 31, A.G. and the rest of the family were outside
of Norton's house preparing to go trick or treating. A.G.
went into Norton's house to look for bags for the kids,
and Norton followed her. While A.G. was walking back toward
the door to the house, Norton "nudg[ed]" her from
her back, and he "pushed" her "down on the
couch." Id. at 119, 120. He then put his
forehead against A.G.'s forehead, and he put his hands
between her thighs and rubbed her "private part."
Id. at 121. At that point, M.K. walked in, and
Norton "jumped backwards." Id. at 119. The
family proceeded to go trick or treating. Later that night,
everyone went to M.C.'s house for pizza. At one point,
A.G. went to the kitchen to get drinks for all of the kids.
Norton followed A.G. into the kitchen, and he started
"smacking [her] butt." Id. at 121. A.G.
first thought Norton was "trying to be goofy," but
then he started "roughhousing" with her, which made
her "uncomfortable." Id. at 121, 122. A.G.
ultimately informed her family that Norton "had tried to
do things with her." Id. at 188.
As a result of A.J.'s and A.G.'s allegations to the
family, the family called the police. The family also
contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services and
arranged to have A.J. and A.G. interviewed by a forensic
interviewer. Shortly after the events with Norton had
occurred, A.G. stayed for a brief period of time at Deaconess
Cross Pointe ("Deaconess"), which is a mental
On November 22, the State charged Norton with eight counts of
sexual misconduct with a minor, as Level 4 felonies (Counts 1
through 8), and four counts of sexual misconduct with a
minor, as Level 5 felonies (Counts 9-12).The trial court
scheduled a jury trial for February 11 through February 14,
2019. On February 6, five days before the start of the trial,
Norton issued a subpoena to Deaconess for A.G.'s mental
health records. At a hearing on February 8, Deaconess moved
to quash the subpoena based on its belief that it could not
issue A.G.'s medical records because Norton had not
complied with two statutory requirements. The court took the
matter under advisement.
During Norton's jury trial, the State presented
A.J.'s testimony as evidence. A.J. testified that she had
performed oral sex on Norton on multiple occasions. The State
asked A.J. about the first time that she had performed oral
sex on Norton, and A.J. stated that it had happened at
Norton's brother's house in Kentucky. The State then
informed A.J. that "[w]e need to stick mostly to what
you remember happening here in Evansville[.]"
Id. at 28.
After the State had concluded its direct examination of A.J.,
Juror Number Six advised the court that he recognized A.J.
Specifically, Juror Number Six stated that A.J. was a
"friend of his daughter's" and that he would
"sometimes" pick A.J. and his daughter up from
skating. Id. at 41. He then told the court that he
had not seen A.J. "in two years." Id. at
42. At that point, the court asked Juror Number Six if his
recognition of A.J. "would impact [his] ability to be an
impartial juror." Id. In response, Juror Number
Six said: "No." Id. The court also asked
if Juror Number Six felt "any different about [his]
ability to be impartial now that [he's] seen her,"
and Juror Number Six replied: "No, no."
Id. at 43. Norton moved to strike that juror, but
the court denied his motion.
Norton then cross-examined A.J. and questioned her about the
events that had allegedly occurred in Kentucky. Norton stated
that A.J. could talk about those allegations "because it
helps us get a big picture." Id. at 74. Norton
proceeded to question A.J. about the number of offenses that
had allegedly occurred in Kentucky. When A.J. responded that
there were "three or four" instances, Norton asked
her to describe those events. Id. at 84.
The State also presented the testimony of L.D. as evidence.
During his cross-examination of L.D., Norton questioned her
about A.J.'s reputation. Specifically, Norton asked L.D.
if A.J. had a reputation for being dishonest. L.D. responded
that she and A.J. have "had personal issues."
Id. at 176. Norton also asked L.D. if A.J. had a
reputation at school for being dishonest. L.D. replied that
she did not know. Norton then asked if A.J. had a reputation
in their family for being dishonest. L.D. responded:
"Like I said[, ] we had personal issues."
Id. at 177. At that point, Norton attempted to
question L.D. about specific instances in which A.J. was
dishonest. The State objected, and the trial court sustained
Prior to the start of the third day of trial, the court held
a hearing on Deaconess' motion to quash Norton's
subpoena for A.G.'s mental health records. At that
hearing, A.G.'s father objected to the release of
A.G.'s mental health records to Norton. A.G.'s father
stated that A.G.'s stay at Deaconess was due to a
"teenager thing" that had "nothing to do"
with the allegations against Norton. Id. at 200.
Deaconess and A.G.'s father then waived the statutory
requirement for a written petition for release of records and
the requirement for a fifteen-day notice of the hearing on
the written petition. However, A.G.'s father reiterated
his objection to the release of the records to Norton but
agreed to allow the trial court to review them in
camera to determine if they were relevant. The court
reviewed those records and ultimately determined that they
were "not related to this event." Appellant's
App. Vol. II at 45. Accordingly, the court did not allow
Norton to review A.G.'s mental health records.
At the conclusion of the State's case-in-chief, Norton
moved for a directed verdict on Counts 4 through 8. The trial
court granted Norton's motion in part and entered a
directed verdict on Counts 7 and 8, but the court denied
Norton's motion as to Counts 4 through 6. Norton then
proceeded to present evidence. After Norton had called two
witnesses, Juror Number Six informed the court that he
recognized an individual observing the trial. Juror Number Six
told the court that the observer, Brittney, was his
stepbrother's daughter. He then informed the court that
he had only seen Brittney "five times in her life."
Tr. Vol. IV at 151. The court proceeded to ask Juror Number
Six if there was anything about knowing Brittney that would
"make it difficult" for him to perform his duties.
Id. at 150. Juror Number Six responded:
"No." Id. The court then asked if Juror
Number Six felt like he "can live up to [his] oath and
make an impartial decision based on the evidence and the
law." Id. at 151. The juror responded
affirmatively. Norton did not move to strike Juror Number Six
at that time.
At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found Norton guilty
of Count 2, sexual misconduct with a minor, as a Level 4
felony, and Counts 10, 11, and 12, sexual misconduct with a
minor, as Level 5 felonies. The jury found Norton not guilty
of Counts 1, 3 through 6, and 9. The trial court entered
judgment of conviction accordingly. Following a hearing, the
court sentenced Norton to eleven years on Count 2 and to four
years each for Counts 10 through 12. The court then ordered
the sentence for Count 2 to run concurrent with Count 10 but
consecutive to the sentences for Counts 11 and 12, for an
aggregate sentence of fifteen years in the Department of
Correction. This appeal ensued.