Reconsideration denied December 5, 2014 -- Cert. applied for.
Aggravated sodomy, etc. Cobb Superior Court. Before Judge Staley.
Gary W. Jones, for appellant.
D. Victor Reynolds, District Attorney, Daniel J. Quinn, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.
BARNES, Presiding Judge. Boggs and Branch, JJ., concur.
Barnes, Presiding Judge.
A jury convicted Rebecca Wiggins of sexual exploitation of children, aggravated sodomy, child molestation, and cruelty to children in the first degree, and after merging the last two offenses with the sodomy offense, she was sentenced to life in prison on the aggravated sodomy count and twenty years consecutively on the exploitation count. On appeal, she enumerates seven errors, contending among other things that the evidence was insufficient and that the trial court erred in failing to exercise its discretion under OCGA § § 5-5-20 and 5-5-21. Although the evidence was sufficient, the trial court did not exercise its discretion and weigh the evidence under the general grounds. Accordingly, we must vacate the denial of Wiggins' motion for new trial and remand for further proceedings that are consistent with this opinion.
Wiggins was indicted on four counts: (1) sexual exploitation of children between November 17, 2001 and November 16, 2003 for using and enticing a minor, N. G., to lewdly exhibit her genitals for the purpose of producing a photograph; (2) for aggravated sodomy between [330 Ga.App. 206] February 25, 2004, and September 30, 2004, by aiding and encouraging David Ray to perform an act of sodomy with N. G., who was younger than ten; (3) for child molestation during the same time period as count 2 by taking N. G. to Ray's home and holding her while Ray sodomized the child; and (4) for cruelty to children in the first degree during the same time period as counts 2 and 3 by causing N. G. excessive mental pain by taking her to Ray's home and holding her hand while Ray sodomized the child.
When determining whether the State presented sufficient evidence to support a criminal conviction,
[w]e view the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, and the defendant no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence. We do not weigh the evidence or determine witness credibility, but only determine if the evidence was sufficient for a rational trier of fact to find the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Valentine v. State, 301 Ga.App. 630, 630-631 (689 S.E.2d 76) (2009).
So viewed, the evidence at trial established that N. G. and her younger sisters T. W. and M. W. first came to the attention of authorities in Savannah when the police responded to a " domestic violence with an injury" call. The children's mother had a red mark on her face, as if someone had hit her, and the children recounted that the mother's boyfriend, Cesar Moran, had been hitting the mother. After Moran was arrested and placed in the patrol car, T. W. and N. G. approached an officer and reported that Moran had been molesting them. Because under police department rules only a Special Victims' Unit (SVU) officer could take out a warrant against ...