MCFADDEN, P. J., BRANCH and BETHEL, JJ.
MCFADDEN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
jury trial, Quanta Jackson was convicted of two counts of
child molestation and one count of theft by taking. He
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence as to one of the
counts of child molestation, in which he was alleged to have
masturbated in front of his 13-year-old stepson, J. B., but
the evidence authorized the conviction. He also argues that
his trial counsel was ineffective, but he has not shown that
his counsel performed deficiently. So we affirm.
Sufficiency of the evidence.
appeal, in considering a challenge to the sufficiency of the
we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
verdict, with the defendant no longer enjoying a
presumption of innocence. We neither weigh the evidence nor
judge the credibility of witnesses, but determine only
whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact
could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond
a reasonable doubt.
Carter v. State, ___ Ga.App. ___ (805 S.E.2d 924)
(Case No. A17A0860, decided Oct. 23, 2017) (citations and
viewed, the evidence showed that on the morning of October
31, 2013, Jackson suggested to J. B. that the boy stay home
from school. J. B.'s mother was not home at the time.
After placing blankets over the windows of their apartment,
Jackson showed J. B. a pornographic video of a man and a
woman having sexual intercourse and told the boy that he was
going to show him how to masturbate. Jackson then pulled out
his penis and began stroking himself. He told J. B. to remove
his shirt and begin masturbating, too. Jackson also pulled J.
B.'s pants down, placed his hand over the boy's hand,
and moved the boy's hand up and down on the boy's
penis. J. B. was afraid and, after telling Jackson that he
felt uncomfortable, he put his clothes on and left the
apartment for school.
afternoon, a visibly shaken J. B. told his mother what had
happened with Jackson. J. B.'s mother called Jackson at
his workplace, a hotel where Jackson worked as a front desk
clerk. Jackson apologized repeatedly, stated that he did not
"mean to do it, " offered to leave, and asked the
boy's mother not to call the police. J. B.'s mother
hung up on Jackson and called the boy's father, who went
to confront Jackson at the hotel. When J. B.'s father
arrived, Jackson had disappeared and money was missing from
the hotel's two cash drawers and a cash box.
that evening, J. B. gave a forensic interview to a police
officer, in which he described what Jackson had done. That
night, J. B. also discussed with his father what had
jury found Jackson guilty of two counts of child molestation,
for masturbating in front of J. B. and for taking J. B.'s
hand and moving it up and down on the boy's penis. The
jury also found him guilty of theft by taking of the money
from the hotel. The trial court entered judgment on the
verdict and denied Jackson's motion for new trial.
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his
conviction of child molestation for masturbating in front of
J. B., but we find no merit in this claim of error. A person
commits the offense of child molestation, among other ways,
by doing "any immoral or indecent act to or in the
presence of or with any child under the age of 16 years with
the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of either
the child or the person[.]" OCGA § 16-6-4 (a) (1).
Evidence that a defendant masturbated in a child's
presence can support a child molestation conviction. See
Klausen v. State, 294 Ga.App. 463, 464-465 (1) (669
S.E.2d 460) (2008).
argues that the evidence was insufficient because, at trial,
J. B. testified that he closed his eyes when Jackson pulled
out his penis. But it was not necessary for J. B. to actually
see Jackson masturbate, so long as that act occurred in his
presence. See Klausen, 294 Ga.App. at 464-465 (no
authority "requires the child to observe the entire
act" and a defendant's action of masturbating in the
presence of a child is "no less culpable because the
child may not have been fully aware of what was
occurring") (citations and punctuation omitted).
Although J. B. did not testify at trial that he saw Jackson
masturbate - but instead testified that he closed his eyes -
there was evidence from which the jury could infer that
Jackson masturbated in the boy's presence. J. B.
testified that, immediately before he closed his eyes,
Jackson pulled his pants down, took out his penis, and told
the boy that he would show him how to masturbate. And J. B.
made an earlier statement that Jackson had masturbated: J.
B.'s mother testified that the boy told her Jackson had
"pulled out his private area and started stroking
himself." To the extent J. B.'s trial testimony was
inconsistent with that earlier statement, the jury was
entitled to credit the boy's earlier statement. See
Little v. State, 262 Ga.App. 377, 378 (a) (585
S.E.2d 677) (2003) (differences between victim's earlier
statement to police and his trial testimony "simply
present[ed] a credibility determination for the trier of