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Black v. State

Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

October 25, 2019

Adrian Lee BLACK
v.
STATE of Alabama.

Page 1121

         Appeal from Madison Circuit Court (CC-17-1436).

         William K. Bradford of Bradford Ladner, LLP, Birmingham, for appellant.

          Steve Marshall, atty. gen., and Tracy M. Daniel, asst. atty. gen., for appellee.

         McCOOL, Judge.

         Adrian Lee Black appeals his conviction for first-degree rape, a violation of § 13A-6-61, Ala. Code 1975; his conviction for first-degree sodomy, a violation of § 13A-6-63, Ala. Code 1975; and his two convictions for first-degree sexual abuse, a violation of § 13A-6-66, Ala. Code 1975. The trial court sentenced Black to 20 years' imprisonment for the rape conviction, 20 years' imprisonment for the sodomy conviction, and 5 years' imprisonment for each of the sexual-abuse convictions, the sentences to run concurrently.

         

Page 1122

          Facts and Procedural History

         The evidence at trial established the following facts. In 2008, Black moved into the house where D.K. lived with his wife, L.K., and their daughters, M.E.K. and M.K.; at that time, Black was in his "late 30s" (R. 189), and M.E.K. and M.K. were 12 and 10 years of age, respectively.[1] The testimony was inconsistent as to how and why Black came to live with D.K. and his family, but it appears that L.K. met Black "[t]hrough the internet" (R. 394) and subsequently arranged for him to move into the family's house to "help her run" the grocery store she owned (R. 188) and to serve as "a handyman around the house." (R. 246.) D.K. testified that "everyone seemed to get along with [Black]" (R. 189) and "trusted him and treated him as one of the family." (R. 190). In fact, D.K. testified that he "grew to love [Black] like a brother" (R. 189) and that Black was eventually entrusted with some responsibility for supervising M.E.K. and M.K., including "dropp[ing] the girls off at school, pick[ing] them up, things like that." (R. 190.) D.K. also testified that, on multiple occasions, Black traveled on overnight trips with L.K., M.E.K., and M.K., and evidence established that, on one occasion, D.K. and L.K. allowed Black to take M.K. and M.E.K. to Perdido Key for spring break. In short, D.K. responded affirmatively when asked if Black was "like another parental figure" for M.E.K. and M.K. (R. 190.)

         M.K. testified that, when Black first moved into her family's house, she "avoided him because he was a stranger" but that she "had to call [Black] Uncle ... [b]ecause [L.K.] said so." (R. 242.) However, M.K. testified that, after Black had been living in the family's house approximately one year, "everyone else trusted him, so [she] didn't see a reason to avoid him and be afraid of him." (R. 243.) In fact, it was undisputed that, at some point after Black moved into the family's house, M.E.K. and M.K. began sleeping in Black's bedroom because, D.K. testified, "they didn't like sleeping alone." (R. 194.) M.K. testified that she began spending "one-on-one" time with Black at that point because her family "pretty much ignored her ..., and [she] was just kind of a clingy youngest child." (R. 244.) According to M.K., she and Black "would pretty much do anything, like go out to eat, sleep in the same bed together, watch movies, like anything that a couple would do." (R. 243-44.) In fact, M.K. testified that Black "referred to [her] as his wife on occasion" and that he was "excited for [her] to turn 18" so that he and she "could go across state lines and maybe get married some day." (R. 252.) However, despite Black's perception of his relationship with M.K., M.K. testified that she considered Black to be an authority figure (R. 246), that L.K. had instructed her to obey Black (R. 247), that she "obeyed [Black] more than [she] obeyed [L.K.]" (R. 320), and that L.K. would "very angrily" instruct her to apologize to Black "every time [M.K.] would make him upset." (R. 247.) M.E.K. also testified that Black "was someone that was deemed like an authority figure" in the family's house. (R. 352.)

         When M.K. was 17 years of age, she reported to a social worker at her high school that Black had repeatedly sexually assaulted her from the time she was 11 years of age. Regarding the circumstances under which those sexual assaults occurred, M.K. testified:

"Q. Let's start at the beginning. What's the first thing that [Black] did that you felt, at least looking back on, was abusive, the very first thing?

Page 1123

"A. Well, he would — we were laying on his bed, and I was not wearing a bra. I believe I was either 11 or 12. He just reaches over and, like, squeezes my breast for some reason.

"....

"Q. After that time when he grabbed your breast in his bed, what was the next thing that happened that you remember?

"A. He got really upset about something. We were home alone. He kept threatening to leave. I was terrified because I didn't want to get in trouble because, I guess, I did something to make him upset. So then he was like, `Tell me you love me.' I was like, `I love you.' He was like, `Give me a kiss,' so I kissed him on the cheek. He wasn't satisfied, so he grabbed my head and planted a kiss on my lips, and I started sobbing really hard. That made him stay, but he was irritated that I wasn't happy with it.

"Q. How old were you when that happened?

"A. Twelve.

"....

"Q. Going back to that time that he grabbed your breast on the bed, ... [h]ow did that make you feel when he grabbed you?

"A. Disgusted.

"Q. What did you do afterwards?

"A. I felt like I could control it in the future if maybe I told him we couldn't hug anymore from the front.

"Q. Did you make a decision not to hug him from the front anymore then?

"A. Yes, but then it just gradually ended up happening anyway.

"Q. After that time ... that he kissed you against your will, what was the next thing that happened?

"A. We would just be laying in bed together, and he used to hold me from behind because I was, for some reason, terrified of the dark and being alone, so I liked the security. At first it was fine, but then he made it only an opportunity to rub his penis against my behind with his clothes on.

"Q. When you say he held you from behind, were you —

"A. It was like spooning.

"....

"Q. Did this happen one time or more than one time?

"A. More than once.

"Q. How old were you the first time it happened?

"A. Thirteen.

"Q. How old were you the last time it happened?

"A. Seventeen.

"....

"Q. What was the next thing that you remember after [Black] pressing up against you in the bed?

"A. He would make me touch his genitals over his clothes. Then, after that, he would be like, `Put your hand inside,' and I really didn't want to, and I just kept saying that. He was like, `Do it for me.'

"....

"Q. Was that one time or more than one time?

"A. More than one time.

"Q. How old were you the first time it happened?

"A. Fourteen.

"Q. How old were you the last time that he made you touch his genitals over his clothes?

"A. I guess 16.

Page 1124

"Q. When [you] said he made you touch him, what part of your body did he make you touch him with?

"A. My hands.

"Q. You said that eventually he told you to touch him under his clothes?

"A. Yes.

"Q. Do you remember the first time that happened?

"A. I believe I was 14.

"Q. It was your hand?

"A. Yes.

"....

"Q. What was happening before he made you touch him?

"A. We were just laying there.

"Q. Did he say anything to you?

"A. I don't remember.

"Q. Did you say anything to him?

"A. No.

"....

"Q. How did it come about that your hand was on his genitals? Did he place your hand there or tell you where to put your hand?

"A. He placed my hand there.

"....

"Q. About how long did your hands stay on his genitals?

"A. Until it was okay for me ... not to do it, like, he wouldn't get mad at me if I stopped.

"Q. How would you know that he wouldn't get mad at you if you stopped?

"....

"A. I would usually just try [to] get away by saying, `I have to go to the bathroom,' and that would make him upset, but at least it would make it stop for a minute.

"Q. Do you remember how many times he made you touch his genitals under his clothes?

"A. No. It was quite a bit.

"....

"Q. I want you to think of a time that ... he made you touch him under his clothes. Tell me how old you were.

"A. I believe I was either 14 or 15. Me and him would go to church in the morning at 8:00 a.m., so the rest of the family would go either in the afternoon or evening, so he would take that time when they went in the afternoon. We would go to his bedroom, and we would — he would pull my pants down and put me over the edge of the bed and take his pants down as well and just, like, use my legs that were pressed together and put his large penis, like — basically like scrape it underneath my vagina....

"....

"Q. ... After the first time that he made you touch his genitals, what was the next thing that happened between you that made you uncomfortable?

"A. When I was 15, before he would drop me off at school, he would penetrate me with his fingers in his bed.

"....

"Q. Was this one time or more than one time?

"A. More than one time.

"....

"Q. Where did he put his finger?

"A. In my vagina.

"Q. What was happening before he did that to you?

"A. We were just lying down; we were laying down in bed.

"....

"Q. Did he say anything when it happened or while he was doing it?

"A. No.

"Q. Did you say anything?

"A. No.

"....

Page 1125

"Q. What did you do — how did it stop? What caused it to end where he would stop touching you on that occasion?

"A. I guess just getting bored.

"....

"Q. Tell me about the next thing that happened that made you uncomfortable.

"A. Well, practically from there it was mostly me being bent over, like, the edge of the bed.

"....

"Q. How did you get bent over the bed? Did he bend you over or did you bend over?

"A. He bent me over.

"Q. What would happen after he bent you over the bed?

"A. He would pull my pants down and then his pants down, and then just rub against the outside of my vagina.

"Q. I'm sorry to do this, but what part of his body rubbed outside of your vagina?

"A. His penis.

"Q. Do you remember the first time that happened?

"A. Yes.

"Q. How old were you?

"A. Fifteen.

"....

"Q. What was happening before he bent you over the bed?

"A. I don't remember.

"Q. Did he say anything when that happened?

"A. He asked me how it felt, and I said `warm.'

"Q. Did he say anything else?

"A. No.

"Q. Did you say anything else?

"A. No.

"....

"Q. What caused it to stop?

"A. I guess he just wanted to stop. I don't remember him ever ejaculating.

"....

"Q. Did he put his mouth on any other — and I'm sorry. You described him forcefully kissing you on the lips in the past?

"A. Yes.

"Q. Did he put his mouth anywhere else on your body that made you uncomfortable?

"A. Yes. One time he was already confingering [sic] me. He put his mouth down there and kissed me. Then he looked up and asked, `Do you like that?' and I said, `No.'

"Q. How old were you when that happened?

"A. Fourteen or 15.

"....

"Q. When you say `down there,' can you explain what you mean?

"A. Like on the outside of my vagina.

"Q. Was that the only time he ever put his mouth in your genital area?

"A. Yes.

"....

"Q. You described him touching you with his penis, right?

"A. Yes.

"Q. Was there just one place on your body that he touched with his penis or more than one place?

"A. Just my hands and my genital area.

"....

"Q. I want you to think of a time that that happened that you remember clearly. How old were you then?

"A. Fifteen.

Page 1126

"Q. Where were you when it happened?

"....

"A. On the side of the bed.

"Q. How were you positioned on the bed?

"A. I was bent over.

"Q. Where was he?

"A. He was behind me.

"....

"Q. What was happening before this started?

"A. Nothing, really.

"Q. You said that he bent you over the bed, I believe?

"A. Yes. The only reason why this particular incident stands out is because since he was rubbing against the outside of my vagina and not the inside, it was dry, so he ripped the foreskin and he started bleeding on the carpet. He ran to the bathroom and quickly came out and frantically tried to blot it out of the carpet.

"....

"Q. I want to go back to ... the times that you said he put his fingers in your vagina. Do you ever remember him saying anything to you during any of those incidents when he put his fingers into you?

"A. Well, sometimes he would ask if it was okay. I was like `Yeah, yeah,' because I didn't want him to get mad at me.

"Q. When he would — I want to talk a little bit more about when he put his mouth on your private area. Can you tell me — you said you were about 14 or 15 years old; is that right?

"A. Yes.

"Q. Tell me what was happening before he put his mouth on you.

"A. Just the usual of him touching me in some way. I can't recall exactly what was happening.

"....

"Q. What part of his body specifically touched you?

"A. His mouth.

"Q. Was it the outside of his mouth, his lips, or was any part of the inside of his mouth touching you?

"A. Just his lips.

"Q. What part of your body did his lips touch?

"A. The outside of my vagina.

"Q. You mentioned that he had you touch his penis, right?

"A. Yes.

"....

"Q. You may have already said this... but how did your hand get on his private parts? Did he put it there or did you put it there?

"A. Like over his clothes, he put my hand there.

"Q. When it was under his clothes?

"A. I put it there because he asked me to.

"Q. How long was your hand on his private part?

"A. I don't know.

"Q. What was your hand doing when it was on his penis?

"A. Stroking.

"Q. Did he ask you to do that?

"A. Yes.

"Q. I want to go back to the time that you said that he put his penis on or near or around your vaginal area.

"....

"Q. What was happening before he bent you over the bed?

"A. I don't remember.

"....

Page 1127

"Q. Did he say anything to you before, during or after it happened?

"A. Usually just if I made it end by saying that I had to go to the bathroom, he would just be upset about that.

"Q. Did you say anything to him besides saying you needed to go to the bathroom?

"A. No."

(R. 256-88.) M.K. further testified:

"Q. You testified that sometimes you would just do what he wanted so that he wouldn't get upset; is that right?

"A. Yes.

"Q. What were you afraid ... would happen if you upset him?

"A. He would get very angry and take all of his things and just leave.

"Q. What made you continue to get into his bed even after he started abusing you?

"A. If I even said that I wanted to go back to my bed in my bedroom, it would make him upset.

"....

"Q. I want to go back and clarify a little bit. I'm sorry to ask you to keep talking about this, but the incident when you said the defendant put his penis on or against your vagina, can you describe the way his penis was positioned in relation to your genitals area?

"A. So my legs were together, and he practically just put his penis in between my thighs right up against my vagina and would just go back and forth....

"Q. So ... is his penis ... coming at you vertically or horizontally?

"A. Horizontally."

(R. 339-41.) On cross-examination, M.K. testified that, after reporting the sexual assaults, she had stated during a forensic interview that Black's penis "`was under [her] vagina, not in the vagina'" (R. 346) and "`would never go inside.'" (R. 314.) M.K. further testified on cross-examination:

"Q. You have testified today, just a little while ago, that you were terrified of [Black]?

"A. In the beginning I wasn't.

"Q. But you were terrified later?

"A. Yes.

"Q. You became really afraid of him?

"A. Yes."

(R. 311.) On redirect examination, M.K. reiterated that she began to fear Black after he began sexually assaulting her:

"Q. You testified that in the beginning you felt safe around the defendant; is that correct?

"A. Yes.

"....

"Q. But did those feelings change after he started to abuse you?

"A. Yes.

"Q. After he started abusing you, did you feel unsafe?

"A. Yes."


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