DILLARD, C. J., DOYLE, P. J., and MERCIER, J.
Dillard, Chief Judge.
Garner appeals his convictions for first-degree cruelty to
children, rape, statutory rape, aggravated sodomy, and
several other sex offenses. Specifically, Garner argues that
(1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions
for rape and statutory rape, (2) his trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to ensure that a video played for the
jury was redacted such that his character would not be an
issue at trial, and (3) the trial court abused its discretion
by denying his motion for a mistrial after a law-enforcement
officer testified that another officer "believed"
one of the victim's allegations. For the reasons set
forth infra, we affirm.
in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict,
record shows that Garner and Crystal Wilson, the mother of
the two minor victims (A. A. and T. A.), met sometime in late
March or early April 2011. The couple began dating, and in
June of that year, they moved in together, along with
Wilson's children.Approximately two years later, on May 3,
2013, Garner and Wilson were married. But less than two
months after the wedding, on June 28, 2013, Wilson was
arrested for perjury and taken into custody. Ultimately,
Wilson was convicted of the charged offense, served a
two-year prison term, and was released in February 2015.
Wilson's incarceration, A. A. and T. A. lived alone with
Garner, and at some point, he began sexually abusing A. A.
The first time it happened, Garner and the children were at
his mother's home. T. A. left to take out the trash, and
Garner told A. A. to come into a room with him. Garner then
ordered A. A. to "pull down [her] clothes[, ]" and
he put his finger inside her vagina. Garner told A. A. that
her mother had given him permission to do it. A few months
later, Garner sexually assaulted A. A. a second time, and
despite A. A. pleading with him to stop, he penetrated her
vagina with his penis. Thereafter, sexual "stuff like
that" happened with Garner and A. A. "most every
day." Specifically, Garner would place his penis in A.
A.'s mouth and vagina, and put his finger in her vagina
as well. Garner did these things to her "all the time[,
]" and when she told him that she did not want him to do
it anymore, she and T. A. would both "get in trouble for
it." On some occasions, Garner also used sex
toys with A. A., including a "long blue thing" and
a "vibrating thing."
A. refused to perform the sexual acts demanded by Garner, he
"would get mad and . . . want to hurt [A. A. and T. A.]
for it." On one occasion, Garner choked A. A., pushed
her up against a wall, and crammed a shirt in her mouth so
she could not breath. Garner would also tie up T. A. with
three belts and then beat him with another one. As a result
of Garner's continuous physical abuse, A. A. and T. A.
had bruises all over their arms and their bodies were red and
swollen. Garner also inflicted emotional abuse on A. A. even
when he was not sexually abusing her. For example, after A.
A. told Garner that she wanted to kill herself because of the
sexual abuse, Garner handed A. A. a kitchen knife and
encouraged her to do it. On a separate occasion, Garner made
A. A. "put on tights like a stripper[, ]" go
outside to the road, and ordered her to wait there to see if
someone would pick her up. A. A. was left there, dressed like
a stripper, for almost an hour. And while A. A. desperately
wanted to report this sexual and emotional abuse to her
mother, Garner read all of the letters that she and T. A.
wrote to their mother in prison before sending them.
2014, A. A. and T. A. went to visit their aunt and cousins
for two weeks, as they did every summer. During the visit, A.
A. disclosed the ongoing sexual and emotional abuse to her
aunt. Specifically, A. A. reported that Garner had been
"messing with [her] . . . in a sexual way[, ]" and
she reported some of the abuse detailed supra. And
after A. A. confirmed that she would be willing to repeat her
allegations to law enforcement, her aunt took her to the
Newton County's Sheriff's Office to do so. Then, on
June 26, 2014, A. A.'s aunt took her to a child-advocacy
center for a forensic interview, during which A. A.
essentially repeated her outcry.
Garner was charged, via indictment, with rape, statutory
rape, aggravated sexual battery (3 counts), aggravated
sodomy, aggravated child molestation (2 counts), incest (2
counts), child molestation (2 counts), family-violence
aggravated assault, and first-degree cruelty to children (4
counts). And following a jury trial, Garner was convicted of
all charged offenses, except for one of the four first-degree
cruelty-to-children counts. Garner then filed a motion for a
new trial, which was denied following a hearing. This appeal
Garner first argues that the evidence was insufficient to
support his convictions for rape and statutory rape. We
criminal conviction is appealed, the evidence must be viewed
"in the light most favorable to the verdict, and the
appellant no longer enjoys a presumption of
innocence." And, of course, in evaluating the
sufficiency of the evidence, we do not "weigh the
evidence or determine witness credibility, but only determine
whether a rational trier of fact could have found the
defendant guilty of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable
doubt." We will, then, uphold a jury's verdict
so long as there is "some competent evidence, even
though contradicted, to support each fact necessary to make
out the State's case." Bearing these guiding principles
in mind, we turn now to Garner's specific challenge to
the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions
for rape and statutory rape.
§ 16-6-1 (a) (1) provides, in relevant part, that
"[a] person commits the offense of rape when he has
carnal knowledge of . . . [a] female forcibly and against her
will." The statute further defines "carnal
knowledge" in rape as "when there is any
penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex
organ." And Count 1 of the indictment charged
Garner with rape in that, between June 1, 2013, and May 29,
2014, he "did have carnal knowledge of [A. A.], a
female, forcibly and against her will . . . ."
Additionally, under OCGA § 16-6-3 (a), "[a] person
commits the offense of statutory rape when he or she engages
in sexual intercourse with any person under the age of 16
years . . ., provided that no conviction shall be had for
this offense on the unsupported testimony of the
victim." In this regard, Count 2 of the indictment
charged Garner with statutory rape in that, between June 1,
2013, and May 29, 2014, Garner "did engage in sexual
intercourse with [A. A.], a person under 16 years of age . .
both his rape and statutory-rape convictions, Garner does not
contend A. A.'s testimony that he repeatedly forced her
to engage in sexual acts with him was insufficient to
establish all of the essential elements of those offenses.
Instead, with sparse citations to the record and without
citing any legal authority other than the general standard
applicable to a review of the sufficiency of the evidence,
appears to challenge only A. A.'s credibility as a
witness and the lack of evidence to corroborate her
testimony. Specifically, he summarily contends that it is
"more than highly probable that [A. A.] fabricated the
story against [him], simply inserting some of the acts and
details" that she had seen in pornographic videos.
Garner also maintains that there was no physical or forensic
evidence to corroborate A. A.'s story. These arguments
well established that "[r]esolving evidentiary conflicts
and inconsistencies, and assessing witness credibility, are
the province of the factfinder, not this
Court."Garner's contention, then, that it is
"highly probable" A. A. fabricated her testimony is
of no consequence. The jury evidently disagreed, which it was
entitled to do.Furthermore, as to Garner's rape
conviction, corroborating evidence is not required, and A.
A.'s testimony alone is sufficient to support his
conviction. And while a victim's testimony must
be corroborated to support a conviction for statutory rape,
Garner is wrong to claim that A. A.'s
testimony was insufficiently corroborated. Significantly, the
quantum of corroboration needed in a statutory-rape case is
"not that which is in itself sufficient to convict the
accused, but only that amount of independent evidence which
tends to prove that the incident occurred as
alleged."Indeed, slight circumstances "may be
sufficient corroboration, and ultimately the question of
corroboration is one for the jury." Lastly,
physical findings corroborating the victim's testimony
are "not necessary to sustain a conviction of statutory
T. A.'s testimony corroborated A. A.'s allegations of
sexual abuse. Specifically, T. A. testified that Garner
periodically locked him in a different room while Garner and
A. A. were alone with the music turned up, and on one
occasion, he heard A. A. ask Garner for her bra, suggesting
that she had been undressed. Perhaps most significantly,
forensic testing revealed both A. A. and Garner's DNA on
one of the sex toys that A. A. alleged Garner used while
abusing her. And while most of the DNA on the toy matched A.
A. with a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, a
partial profile of DNA taken from the toy also matched
Garner.Furthermore, a victim's prior
consistent statements, in the form of her outcry to others as
testified to by them, "may constitute sufficient
corroboration in a case of statutory
rape[.]" And at trial, A. A.'s aunt testified
as to A. A.'s initial disclosure of the ongoing sexual
abuse, including her allegation that Garner had "put[ ]
his penis in [her]." Additionally, the jury viewed a
videotaped forensic interview of A. A., in which she
reiterated her allegations of sexual abuse. Given the
foregoing, A. A.'s testimony alone was sufficient to
support Garner's rape conviction,  and there was
sufficient evidence to corroborate her testimony as to his
Garner next argues his trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to ensure that a portion of A. A.'s videotaped
forensic interview, which made his character an issue at
trial, was redacted. Again, we disagree.
evaluating claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, we
apply the two-pronged test established in Strickland v.
Washington,  "which requires [a defendant] to
show that his trial counsel's performance was deficient
and that the deficient performance so prejudiced [him] that
there is a reasonable likelihood that, but for counsel's
errors, the outcome of the trial would have been
different." Additionally, there is a strong
presumption that trial counsel's conduct "falls
within the broad range of reasonable professional conduct,
and a criminal defendant must overcome this
presumption." Lastly, unless clearly erroneous, this
Court will "uphold a trial court's factual
determinations with respect to claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel; however, a trial court's legal
conclusions in this regard are reviewed de
prior to trial, the State informed the court that it intended
to play A. A.'s videotaped forensic interview for the
jury, but there were two segments the State and Garner agreed
should be redacted. But because the State did not have
software capable of redacting the video, the parties agreed
that one of the attorneys would manually mute the video
during those segments. The State explained to the court that
the two muted segments included brief references to
Garner's criminal history. Then, just prior to playing
the interview at trial, the court instructed the jury that
there were some portions of the interview they would not be
allowed to hear and that, if the attorneys for either side
muted the video for a brief period of time, they should not
"pay any attention to it." Garner concedes,
however, that the record is silent as to whether the video
was ever actually muted by the attorneys. And, of course, the
burden is "upon the party asserting error to show it
affirmatively in the record."
assuming the video was not muted, the trial court found that
there was no error in not redacting the complained-of portion
of the forensic interview, and alternatively, any such error
was harmless. Garner disagrees, contending that his counsel
was ineffective for failing to ensure that the jury did not
hear an exchange between the forensic interviewer and A. A.
in which she stated that her family did not trust him. Garner
quotes the exchange as follows:
Q. How come [your family] would ask you stuff like that?
A. Cause they don't really trust [Garner].
Q. Okay[, ] so they would ask you if he ...