Case Caption: Cherance Monelle v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2013-0036Date: 10/26/2015Author: Swan, Ive Arlington Citation: Summary:

Convictions for aggravated rape in the first degree charged as an act of domestic violence, and for child abuse, relating to offenses committed by a defendant upon his biological minor daughter, are affirmed. The trial court's jury instruction on the count charging aggravated rape in the first degree in violation of 14 V.I.C. § 1700(a), which informed the jury of alternative modes of committing the crime - an act of sexual intercourse or sodomy - was not error. The second charging phrase of the child abuse provisions in 14 V.I.C. § 505 is sufficient to put a person of ordinary intelligence on notice that engaging in sexual intercourse with his biological minor daughter may cause her to suffer emotional injury. Because this defendant's conduct fell within the realm of behaviors clearly proscribed by the statute, he does not have standing to challenge the vagueness of the statute, and it is constitutional as applied to the facts of this case. Although statements by witnesses supporting a finding that a defendant is guilty are prejudicial to the interest of the defendant, their probative value is not substantially outweighed by an unfair prejudice if they do not lure the factfinder into declaring guilt on a ground different from proof specific to the offense charged. The trial court properly admitted testimony of an expert witness and the DNA proof admitted did not violate evidence Rule 403. Comments made by the prosecution during closing arguments did not influence the jury's verdict, especially considering the specific and general curative instructions provided by the trial court. Therefore, the prosecutorial misconduct in this case did not constitute a denial of due process. The trial judge committed plain error in requiring the this defendant register as a sex offender after his release from confinement, and the case will be remanded for correction of the sentence to require him to register prior to release from prison, as required by 14 V.I.C. § 1724.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion