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State v. Barnett

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division

September 13, 2016

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
MALLORIE M. BARNETT, Defendant/Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Montgomery County 12AA-CR00306-02 Honorable Wesley C. Dalton

          OPINION

          Mary K. Hoff, Judge

         Mallorie M. Barnett (Defendant) appeals from the judgment upon her conviction following a jury trial for one count of Sexual Contact with a Prisoner or Offender by Probation/Parole Officer/Employee of Jail, Prison, or Correctional Facility, in violation of Section 566.145, RSMo 2000, [1] for which she was sentenced to thirty days in the county jail. We affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the following evidence was adduced at trial: In August 2011, Defendant was hired by the Division of Youth Services to work as a special education teacher at the Montgomery City Youth Center (the Center). The Center is run by the Department of Social Services and is a secure residential facility for youth who have been convicted of crimes while under 17 and sentenced as adults.[2]

         Shortly after Defendant began working at the Center, Loren Hume (Hume), the facility manager, received allegations that Defendant had brought contraband items, including a cell phone and chewing tobacco, into the Center for a 19-year-old man (Juvenile Prisoner) who was one of the Center's residents. Hume testified that for a while he tracked both Defendant and Juvenile Prisoner and eventually confronted Juvenile Prisoner about whether he had a cell phone. Juvenile Prisoner denied he possessed a cell phone.

         From November 30 to December 2, the Center put on an annual play, in which both Center residents and employees participated. Certain portions of the play set, where Juvenile Prisoner and Defendant were during the play, were hidden from the security cameras. After the play, Hume still suspected that Juvenile Prisoner had a cell phone that was provided by Defendant, so he monitored Juvenile Prisoner on security cameras. Hume informed Defendant that there was going to be a search of Juvenile Prisoner. Hume testified that shortly after his conversation with Defendant he observed on security video what he believed to be Defendant contacting Juvenile Prisoner to warn him about the impending search. Following a strip search of Juvenile Prisoner, Hume found the cell phone. A few days later, Juvenile Prisoner disclosed to Hume that Defendant had indeed provided him with the cell phone and that Defendant had given Juvenile Prisoner oral sex during the play.

          Thereafter, the Department of Social Services began an investigation into the allegations made by Juvenile Prisoner. Brian Lane (Lane), a Department of Social Services investigator, testified that he interviewed both Juvenile Prisoner and Defendant. Lane testified that Juvenile Prisoner told him Defendant provided him with the cell phone, chewing tobacco, and that she gave him oral sex. While Defendant initially denied providing anything to Juvenile Prisoner in the Center, she eventually admitted that she had provided both items and had given Juvenile Prisoner oral sex in the backstage area during the play when the security cameras were blocked by the play set.

         The State then charged Defendant by amended information with one count of the class D felony of sexual contact with an inmate, pursuant to Section 566.145, for events that occurred on or between November 30 and December 2, 2011.

         On April 22, 2015, following a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty as charged. The jury recommended a punishment of 30 days in jail with no fine. The trial court sentenced Defendant in accordance with the jury's recommendation. This appeal follows. Additional facts will be set forth in the opinion as necessary to address Defendant's points on appeal.

         Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State Offense

         In her first point, Defendant argues the trial court erred in denying her Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State Offense.[3] Defendant contends that she was neither an employee of, or assigned to work in any jail, prison or correctional facility, nor was the alleged Juvenile Prisoner an offender or prisoner as contemplated by Section 566.145. We disagree.

         The statute under which Defendant was convicted provides as follows:

1. A person commits the crime of sexual contact with a prisoner or offender if:
(1)Such person is an employee of, or assigned to work in, any jail, prison or correctional facility and such person has sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a prisoner or an offender who is ...

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