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State v. Taylor

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

November 12, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
ROBERT ALLEN TAYLOR, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri The Honorable Patricia S. Joyce, Judge.

          Before: Edward R. Ardini, Jr., Presiding Judge, and Mark D. Pfeiffer and Cynthia L. Martin, Judges.

          OPINION

          Mark D. Pfeiffer, Judge.

         Mr. Robert A. Taylor ("Taylor") appeals from the judgment entered by the Circuit Court of Cole County, Missouri ("trial court"), following a jury trial in which he was found guilty of enticement of a child, § 566.151;[1] sodomy in the second degree, § 566.061; and rape in the second degree, § 566.031. The trial court found Taylor to be a prior and persistent offender and sentenced him to fifteen years' imprisonment on the enticement count, fifteen years' imprisonment on the sodomy charge to run concurrent to the enticement sentence, and fifteen years' imprisonment on the rape charge to run consecutive with the enticement and sodomy sentences, for a total of thirty years' imprisonment. We affirm Taylor's convictions. We reverse Taylor's sentence as a prior and persistent offender and remand for resentencing.

         Facts and Procedural History[2]

         A.C. ("Victim")[3] was born on July 6, 2000, in Chicago, Illinois. Under the joint custody agreement between Victim's mother ("Mother") and her biological father ("Father"), Victim lived with Mother and Father had visitation. When Victim was ten years old and living in Chicago with Mother, her two siblings, and Taylor (Mother's boyfriend), Taylor starting sexually abusing Victim by inappropriately touching her buttocks and "private parts," which included her vaginal area and breasts. Victim did not tell anyone because Taylor threatened to tell her family or to harm them. When she was thirteen, Taylor forced her to perform oral sex; and when she was fourteen, Taylor started having sexual intercourse with her.

         Mother, Taylor, Victim, and Victim's siblings moved from Chicago to Jefferson City, Missouri, in July 2014. After moving to Jefferson City, Taylor's sexual contact with Victim continued. Once, Taylor made Victim perform oral sex on him in exchange for allowing her to go to a movie with a friend. On another occasion, when Victim was taking a bath, Taylor came into the bathroom naked, got in the tub, and inserted his penis into her vagina.

         In June 2015, Taylor initiated numerous sexually explicit text messages with Victim in which she agreed to his sexual entreaties in exchange for Taylor purchasing Victim a new phone.

         In July 2015, Victim visited Father in Chicago. At one point during the visit, Father saw a picture on Victim's cell phone that made him angry and upset. When he asked about the picture, Victim lunged at Father, demanding, "You need to give me the phone. Give me the phone."

         Soon thereafter, Victim called Mother and told her that she was uncomfortable and wanted Mother to come and get her, so Mother and Taylor drove to Chicago to retrieve Victim and return to Jefferson City. Upon picking her up, Victim told Mother that she left her purse, her money, and her phone behind, and she wanted to go back to get them. Mother refused. Taylor also asked Mother to go back and get Victim's phone, but Mother refused. When Father found Victim's purse and cell phone, he read the sexually explicit text messages between Taylor and Victim and contacted the police.

         During the evening of July 27, 2015, a member of Mother's family called her at work and told her that something happened to Victim and that she needed to get home. When Mother left work, Taylor was in Mother's employer's parking lot. He told her that her family was accusing him of "doing something bad" to Victim. When Mother arrived home, police were at the home. Victim confirmed to the police that Taylor had sent her sexually explicit text messages and pictures. Police extracted the text messages from the phone, reviewed the data, and located several text messages between Taylor and Victim that appeared to be sexual in nature. Victim confirmed to police that the text messages were about sexual contact.

         During the investigation, Taylor fled to Chicago, where he was taken into custody in October 2015. Upon his return to Jefferson City, he was interviewed by the detective assigned to the case. Taylor denied committing the crimes and claimed that Father framed him by creating the text messages.

         The State charged Taylor as a prior and persistent offender with one count of the felony of enticement of a child, alleging that on June 18, 2015, Taylor "persuaded and solicited and coaxed and enticed" Victim by sending text messages requesting sexual contact for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with her; one count of sodomy in the first degree, alleging that between July 6, 2014, and July 6, 2015, Taylor, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying his sexual desire, knowingly had deviate sexual intercourse with Victim by the use of forcible compulsion; and one count of rape in the first degree, alleging that between July 6, 2014, and July 6, 2015, Taylor knowingly had sexual intercourse with Victim by the use of forcible compulsion.

         At a pre-trial hearing, the State presented records of Taylor's prior convictions. Taylor objected on the grounds that the records were not certified by the chief judge or presiding associate judge that they were in due form as required by section 490.130. The trial court overruled the objection and found Taylor was a prior and persistent offender. Taylor called two witnesses at trial to support his defense that Father fabricated evidence and manipulated Victim to lie.

         The jury found Taylor guilty of enticement of a child, of the amended charge of sodomy in the second degree, and of the amended charge of rape in the second degree. The trial court sentenced Taylor to fifteen years' imprisonment on the enticement count, fifteen years' imprisonment on the sodomy charge to run concurrent to the enticement sentence, and fifteen years' imprisonment on the rape ...


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