MCFADDEN, P. J., BRANCH and BETHEL, JJ.
Jerry Walker was indicted for child molestation occurring
between January and December 2011, the State filed a notice
of its intent to introduce child hearsay evidence, and Walker
filed a motion in limine to exclude that evidence. The trial
court granted Walker's motion on the ground that former
OCGA § 24-3-16, rather than OCGA § 24-8-820,
applied to the case. On appeal, the State argues that OCGA
§ 24-8-820 should apply. We disagree and affirm.
we would normally review a trial court's decision as to
the admission or exclusion of evidence only for an abuse of
discretion, "[t]he interpretation of a statute is a
question of law, which is reviewed de novo on appeal."
Jenkins v. State, 284 Ga. 642, 645 (2) (670 S.E.2d
425) (2008) (citation and punctuation omitted).
relevant facts are not in dispute. The victim was born on
April 4, 2000. In late March or early April 2015, the victim
told her aunt that Walker, her custodial parent, had molested
her at some point in 2011. In August 2015, Walker was
indicted for molesting the victim. The statement at issue in
this appeal is a forensic interview of the victim by a child
advocate recorded on April 2, 2015, 2 days before the
victim's 15th birthday. After the State served Walker
with a notice of its intent to introduce the interview into
evidence, Walker moved to exclude it.
hearing on Walker's motion in limine, the trial court
noted that although OCGA § 24-8-820 now authorizes
the admission of child hearsay statements "made by a
child younger than 16 years of age, " the Legislature
expressly provided that the new statute "shall become
effective on July 1, 2013, and shall apply to offenses which
occur on or after that date." 2013 Ga. L. p. 222, §
21. The same Act also provided that "[a]ny offense
occurring before July 1, 2013, shall be governed by the
statute in effect at the time of such offense."
Id. On the basis of this language, the trial court
concluded that former OCGA § 24-3-16, which authorized
the admission of only those hearsay statements made by a
child "under the age of 14 years, " rendered this
victim's statement about Walker's 2011 actions, which
was made just before her 15th birthday, inadmissible.
the trial court issued its ruling, this Court has held that
the admissibility of a child hearsay statement as to an act
of child molestation occurring before July 1, 2013 is
controlled by former OCGA § 24-3-16. Laster v.
State, 340 Ga.App. 96, 99 (1), n. 2 (796 S.E.2d 484)
(2017); see also Harris v. State, 340 Ga.App. 865,
873 (3) (798 S.E.2d 498) (2017) (citing Laster for
the proposition that OCGA § 24-8-820 "does not
apply" to an offense committed between February 2010 and
January 2011). In Laster, we concluded that because
the offense at issue in that case occurred "before July
1, 2013, " the case was
governed by OCGA § 24-3-16 (2012), which was in effect
at the time [the defendant] committed the offenses. See Ga.
L. 2013, p. 222, 243 § 21 (expressly providing that
"[a]ny offense occurring before July 1, 2013, shall be
governed by the [Child Hearsay Statute] in effect at the time
of such offense").
Laster, 340 Ga.App. at 99 (1), n. 2.
State seeks to avoid the conclusion that the former statute
applies by arguing that the time of trial should determine
the effective date of current OCGA § 24-8-820, and that
this rule of evidence, being a procedural one, should apply
retroactively. See, e.g., Mason v. Home Depot USA,
283 Ga. 271, 278 (4) (658 S.E.2d 603) (2008). But arguments
as to the retroactive application of a procedural rule may be
considered only "if the Legislature did not express a
contrary intention, " State v. Hill, 321
Ga.App. 679, 680-681 (742 S.E.2d 497) (2013) (citation and
punctuation omitted) - that is, if the [L]egislature did not
express its will as to the effective date of the statute at
issue. Here, the Legislature explicitly provided that OCGA
§ 24-8-820 "shall become effective on July 1, 2013,
and shall apply to offenses which occur on or after that
date, " while "[a]ny offense occurring before July
1, 2013, shall be governed by the statute in effect at the
time of such offense." Ga. L. 2013, p. 222, § 21.
The trial court thus did not err when it concluded that
former OCGA § 24-3-16 applies to the offense at issue,
which took place at some point in 2011. Laster, 340
Ga.App. at 99 (1), n. 2. We therefore affirm the trial
court's grant of Walker's motion in limine as to this
McFadden, P. J., and Bethel, J., concur.