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In re Care & Treatment of Walker

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Special Division

June 9, 2015

IN THE MATTER OF THE CARE AND TREATMENT OF LARRY WALKER, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent

Modified July 28, 2015.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. The Honorable Kathleen A. Forsyth, Judge.

Erika R. Eliason, Columbia, MO, for appellant.

Mary H. Moore, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.

Before Division Three: Victor C. Howard, Presiding Judge, James E. Welsh, Judge and Gary D. Witt, Judge.

OPINION

Gary D. Witt, J.

Larry Walker (" Walker" ) appeals from the judgment of the Circuit Court of Jackson County, following a unanimous jury verdict finding him to be a Sexually Violent Predator (" SVP" ) pursuant to section 632.480(5).[1] In his sole point on appeal, Walker argues that the trial court erred when it excluded a report signed by the multidisciplinary team (" MDT" ) in which the members of the team voted that Walker did not appear to meet the statutory definition of an SVP. We affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

In 2004, Walker committed sexual assault against an eighty-one-year-old female Alzheimer's patient who was in a diminished state and confined to her room. At the time, the victim lived in the same nursing home as then fifty-four-year-old Walker. On November 2, 2005, Walker pled guilty to sexual assault and sexual misconduct regarding that event and was incarcerated. After being granted parole, Walker absconded to Texas where he stayed for four months until he was arrested and sent back to prison to finish serving his sentence.

Before his scheduled release date of July 12, 2011, the Department of Corrections, pursuant to section 632.483.1, gave notice[2] to the attorney general that Walker appeared to meet the criteria of an SVP.[3] After notice was given, Walker's records were evaluated by the MDT and Prosecutors Review Committee (" PRC" ). After the attorney general received their respective reports, he filed a petition seeking Walker's commitment to the Department of Mental Health as an SVP. Commitment to the Department of Mental Health is accomplished through an evaluation and review process as outlined in the Sexually Violent Predator Act, codified in sections 632.480 et seq., and culminates in a trial.

Walker's history of sexual assaults began in 1964, and included a nineteen-year-old pregnant waitress whom he raped at gunpoint at a diner then forced her to serve him coffee and call him a cab, as well as five teenaged girls whom he self-reported to therapists as raping between 1964 and 1971 when he was in his 20's. He was also arrested at least seventeen other times for crimes including assault and battery, aggravated assault, making a terrorist threat, as well as non-violent crimes including forgery, resisting arrest, robbery, larceny, burglary, drug possession, receiving stolen property and solicitation of prostitution.

At trial, only one of the three expert witnesses called by either party was able to personally evaluate Walker because he refused to be interviewed by the other two experts or cooperate with them in an evaluation. The State presented one expert, Dr. Amy Swan, a forensic psychologist. She reviewed over three thousand pages of documents relating to Walker including court records, Department of Correction records, police reports, treatment records and probation and parole records. She diagnosed Walker with paraphilia not otherwise specified, non-consent as well as alcohol dependence and personality disorder not otherwise specified with antisocial features. Walker's diagnosis means that he is sexually stimulated and desirous of having sexual relations with persons who do not consent to sex. Dr. Swan noted that Walker's repeated arrests and parole violations were an indicator of a greater risk to reoffend. She diagnosed Walker with a mental abnormality and opined that within a reasonable degree of medical certainty he would engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not placed in a secure facility.

Walker called two expert witnesses. His first witness was Dr. Jeanette Simmons, a clinical psychologist, who diagnosed Walker with paraphilia not otherwise specified, which she based on Walker's self-reporting of sexual assaults and on his convictions, which spanned forty years, of " committing sexual offenses with individuals who were not consenting persons in one form or another." Dr. Simmons testified that Walker had a mental abnormality, but that, in her opinion, he was not more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if released. Dr. Simmons also diagnosed Walker with adult antisocial behavior based, in part, on his seventeen past arrests.

Walker's second expert was Dr. Jarrod Steffan, a psychologist who reviewed Walker's records and conducted a two-hour interview of him. Dr. Steffan testified that the " most pertinent" requirement under Missouri law for commitment as an SVP is whether the offender is suffering from a mental abnormality that makes him more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined to a secure facility. Dr. Steffan diagnosed Walker with alcohol dependence and personality disorder not otherwise specified. Although he opined that Walker was not more likely than not ...


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