Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CLAY COUNTY The Honorable Janet L.
Before: Cynthia L. Martin, Presiding Judge, Lisa White
Hardwick and Alok Ahuja, Judges
White Hardwick, Judge
Raulerson appeals from his conviction of first-degree child
molestation. He contends the circuit court erred in admitting
certain evidence and in sentencing him based on a materially
false understanding of the possible range of punishment. For
reasons explained herein, we affirm Raulerson's
conviction but vacate his sentence and remand for
and Procedural History
sufficiency of the evidence to support Raulerson's
conviction is not at issue. In January 2014, Raulerson was
living with his girlfriend, Paula Malloy, in the home of
Malloy's daughter, Candacee Funk, Funk's husband, and
their children. Funk operated a small daycare center out of
her home. One of the children in the daycare was M.M., who
was seven years old. M.M. was in Funk's care before and
after school on weekdays, and she spent Friday nights at
Funk's house. M.M. was very close to the Funk family and
referred to Raulerson as "Poppa."
January 3, 2014, the children in the daycare were taking
naps, with M.M. and another girl lying on a sectional couch
in the Funks' living room. M.M. was covered with a
blanket. Malloy was lying down in another room. When Malloy
later got up and went into the living room, she saw M.M.
lying on the couch and Raulerson standing behind the couch.
His hands were in the front of M.M.'s pants, and
M.M.'s blanket was pulled down around her feet.
Raulerson noticed Malloy was in the room, he was startled. He
walked out of the living room and into another room. Malloy
followed him and told him to take his stuff and get out.
While Raulerson was packing, Malloy told him to say something
to Funk about what happened. Before he left, Raulerson told
Funk he was leaving to go to Texas to find work.
Raulerson left, Funk asked M.M. if he touched her, and M.M.
indicated that he had. Funk asked M.M. if he had touched her
under her clothes or on top of her clothes. M.M. reported
that he touched her on top of her clothes. Malloy called the
police. The police came and obtained information about
Raulerson and the incident from the adults in the home.
officer later apprehended Raulerson at a bus stop. He said
that he was going to a truck stop to hitch a ride to Florida.
Raulerson agreed to go to the police station with the
officer. Once at the police station, the officer noticed that
Raulerson put hand sanitizer on his hands and started
aggressively scrubbing his hands with it. He used the
sanitizer several times, rubbing each finger individually and
then picking under his fingernails. Raulerson did this for
several minutes, even though his overall hygiene appeared
poor. The officer had never seen anybody in the station use
so much hand sanitizer or scrub so aggressively.
an investigating officer at the Funk house asked Funk to talk
to M.M. about the incident again. During this conversation,
M.M. said that Raulerson touched her under her clothes and
put a finger inside of her. After this disclosure, M.M. was
taken to the hospital, where a nurse, Miriam Crandall,
performed a SAFE exam on her. The examination revealed two
lacerations to M.M.'s internal genitalia. The doctor who
evaluated these results found her injuries consistent with
sexual abuse and inconsistent with accident, as there were no
corresponding injuries to the external genitalia.
was later interviewed by a forensic psychologist at a child
advocacy center. The interview was recorded. During the
interview, M.M. described the incident, saying that she was
sleeping on the couch in the living room when Raulerson woke
her up by putting his finger in her "private." She
also reported several other occasions during which he had
touched her "private, " forced her to touch his
"private, " licked her "private, " licked
her chest, and used a "buzzer" sex toy to touch her
"private." Police searched Raulerson's
belongings and found a "cock ring" sex toy,
conducted DNA tests on it, and determined that the DNA on it
State subsequently charged Raulerson, as a prior and
persistent offender, with first-degree child molestation. A
jury found him guilty of the charge. The court sentenced
Raulerson as a prior and persistent offender to a term of 20
years in prison. Raulerson appeals.
Raulerson's ten points on appeal allege error in the
admission of evidence. Only one of those claims of error is
preserved. In reviewing the preserved claim, we recognize
that the circuit court has broad discretion to admit or
exclude evidence at trial and will reverse only if we find an
abuse of discretion. State v. Pennington, 493 S.W.3d
926, 931 (Mo. App. 2016). An abuse of discretion occurs when
the ruling is "'clearly against the logic of the
circumstances and is so unreasonable as to indicate a lack of
careful consideration.'" State v. Kemp, 212
S.W.3d 135, 145 (Mo. banc 2007) (citation omitted). On direct
appeal, we are to review "for prejudice, not mere error,
and will reverse only if the error was so prejudicial that it
deprived the defendant of a fair trial. Trial court error is
not prejudicial unless there is a reasonable probability that
the trial court's error affected the outcome of the
trial." Id. at 145-46 (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted).
concedes that he did not preserve his eight remaining claims
challenging the admission of evidence and another claim
challenging his sentence. He requests plain error review
under Rule 30.20. Plain error will be found only where the
alleged error facially establishes "substantial grounds
for believing a manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice
occurred." State v. Tisius, 362 S.W.3d 398, 405
(Mo. banc 2012) (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted). Review for plain error review is a two-step
process. State v. Horton, 325 S.W.3d 474, 477 (Mo.
App. 2010). First, we look to whether the circuit court
committed an evident, obvious, and clear error that affected
Raulerson's substantial rights. Id. Then, if we
find such an error, we determine whether the error resulted
in a manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice.
Point I, Raulerson contends the circuit court plainly erred
in admitting Crandall's testimony regarding M.M.'s
credibility. During Raulerson's cross-examination of
Crandall, defense counsel and Crandall had the following
Q. [Defense counsel]: You're calling these abrasions. You
do no[t] know how they got there?
A. [Crandall]: I go based on the patient's story and her
story -- she actually disclosed personally to me which is