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Aggravated sexual battery conviction upheld.

Byline: Virginia Lawyers Weekly

The court rejected a defendant's claim there was inadequate corroboration of his extrajudicial confession, finding his confession was corroborated by admissions to his wife, his conduct and the testimony of a forensic nurse. To the extent the trial court erred because the minor did not testify and her recent complaints of sexual abuse were admitted, any error was found harmless given the evidence of guilt.

Background

Appellant Renzo Martin Garcia Davila appeals his conviction for aggravated sexual battery, in violation of Virginia Code 18.2-67.3. He argues the trial court erred in denying his motions to strike and set aside the verdict because there was inadequate corroboration of his extrajudicial confession. Appellant further argues the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the victim's recent complaints of sexual abuse because the victim did not testify at trial.

Analysis

Appellant argues the trial court erred in denying his motions to strike and set aside the verdict because there was inadequate corroboration of his extrajudicial confession. Without such corroboration, appellant contends, the commonwealth failed to prove he committed aggravated sexual battery.

Appellant's argument is without merit because the record contains adequate corroboration of his extrajudicial confession of aggravated sexual battery, including the testimony of the forensic nurse examiner who examined the minor victim. Additionally, appellant made admissions to his wife that corroborate his confessional statements to law enforcement. Finally, appellant's behavior after the crime further supports a reasonable inference that appellant committed aggravated sexual battery of K.

Because this evidence is consistent with a reasonable inference that appellant committed the crime to which he confessed, we hold that the trial court did not err in finding sufficient corroboration of appellant's confession. We further hold that since a rational trier of fact could therefore have found the evidence sufficient to deny appellant's motions to strike and set aside the verdict, the trial court did not err in denying appellant's motions.

Appellant argues the trial court erred in admitting evidence of K.'s recent complaints of sexual abuse because K. did not testify at trial. Based upon the record before us, and particularly in light of appellant's confession, we conclude that any error in admitting evidence of K.'s recent complaints of sexual abuse was so insignificant by comparison with the evidence of appellant's guilt that it could not have affected the verdict. Consequently, we hold that even if the trial court erred in admitting evidence of K.'s recent complaints of sexual abuse, that error was harmless.

Affirmed.

Davila v. Commonwealth, Record No. 2013-17-4, Jan. 8, 2019. CAV (Malveaux) from Fairfax Cir. Ct. (Kassabian). Kathryn C. Donoghue for Appellant, Rosemary V. Bourne for Appellee. VLW No. 019-7-002, 11 pp.

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Title Annotation:Davila v. Commonwealth, Virginia Court of Appeals
Publication:Virginia Lawyers Weekly
Date:Feb 15, 2019
Words:459
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