Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Norton v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 4, 2019

Jon L. Norton, Jr., Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Court 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 Evansville, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Courtney Staton Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          NAJAM, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] 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 follows:

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 the victims.
5. Whether the trial court erred when it failed to remove a juror.
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.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶3] In mid-2016, fourteen-year-old A.J. was living with her mother, L.D.[1] 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." Id.

         [¶4] 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.

         [¶5] 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

         [¶6] 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.

         [¶7] 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.

         [¶8] 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 health facility.

         [¶9] 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).[2]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.

         [¶10] 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.

         [¶11] 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.

         [¶12] 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.

         [¶13] 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 that objection.

         [¶14] 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.

         [¶15] 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.[3] 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.

         [¶16] 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.

         Discussion and Decision

         Issue One: ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.