Webster Parish Man Convicted of Rape Loses Appeal
A Webster Parish man convicted of the aggravated rape of a juvenile loses his appeal in court.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeal has affirmed the conviction and sentence of Andre Demery. He's sentenced to life in prison for raping a 13-year-old girl in 2012. He had argued that the evidence present during his trial was insufficient to convict him.
The state’s case was presented by District Attorney Schuyler Marvin, John Lawrence and C. Sherburne Sentell, III.
Here's the evidence presented during Demery's trial:
The girl, now 14, [herein referred to as “Victim”] had told some of her friends at School in 2012, she had been having sex and that she was pregnant.
Upon hearing the rumors, the Principal of the Elementary School and the school’s Counselor testified that they called her Mother to the school to explain the situation to her. During the meeting with the Victim, the Victim's mother asked her who had done these things to her and the Victim named Andre Demery.
The Principal then contacted the Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office to arrange for the Victim to be interviewed at the Gingerbread House Children’s Advocacy Center by a forensic investigator.
Victim testified at trial and stated that the Defendant had sex with her at several secluded locations in Webster Parish. She further testified that the information in the Gingerbread House video interview was all true.
Webster Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives photographed and collected evidence from Demery’s vehicle and took it to the North Louisiana Crime Lab for analysis.
A forensic DNA analyst with the North Louisiana Crime Lab, testified that she analyzed the samples collected by detectives from the Defendant’s vehicle. She stated that the Defendant could not be excluded as the donor of that DNA, whereas 99.9 percent of the rest of the population could be excluded.
Defendant, Demery testified and denied ever having sex with the Victim or touching her in a sexual way.
He further contended that the jury was presented with multiple conflicting accounts of when the alleged rapes occurred; and that the prosecutor improperly asked him questions about facts that were not in evidence and that the questions tainted the jury’s decision-making process. Defendant also argued that the DNA testing of the materials taken from his vehicle demonstrated an irreconcilable conflict between the Victim’s testimony and the physical evidence.
Second Circuit Court of Appeal judges James Stewart, Harmon Drew and Frances Jones Pitman ruled that the standard of appellate review for a sufficiency of the evidence claim is “whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Where there is conflicting testimony about factual matters, the resolution of which depends upon a determination of the credibility of the witnesses, the matter is one of the weight of the evidence, not its sufficiency.
The trier of fact makes credibility determinations and may accept or a reviewing court may not impinge on the fact finder’s discretion unless it is necessary to guarantee the fundamental due process of law.
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the state presented sufficient evidence at trial to convict the Defendant of the Aggravated Rape of Victim.