Appeal from the District Court of Ward County, North Central Judicial District, the Honorable Todd L. Cresap, Judge.
Kelly A. Dillon, Assistant State's Attorney, Minot, N.D., for plaintiff and appellee; submitted on brief.
Robert W. Martin, North Dakota Public Defenders' Office, Minot, N.D., for defendant and appellant; submitted on brief.
Dale V. Sandstrom, Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by Sandstrom, Justice.
[¶1] Convicted of gross sexual imposition, Juan Galvez argues that the State
used improper gender-based peremptory challenges in jury selection and that there was insufficient evidence to sustain his convictions. We affirm.
[¶2] In November 2012, Galvez was charged with two counts of gross sexual imposition, both class A felonies, for engaging in sexual acts with two minor girls. According to the complaint, the girls were under the age of fifteen, while Galvez was over the age of eighteen but under the age of twenty-two, when the acts occurred. Both girls, when interviewed by a forensic interviewer, had reported instances of digital penetration by Galvez.
[¶3] At the jury trial, after voir dire was completed, Galvez objected, claiming gender-based discriminatory peremptory challenges by the State. The State responded that each of its six peremptory challenges were for gender-neutral reasons. After hearing arguments from each party, the district court overruled Galvez's objection, holding the selection process was not in violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986). The jury consisted of seven women and five men.
[¶4] At trial, both girls testified about the alleged incidents. In addition, the girls' older step-sister and their step-mother also testified. At the close of the State's case-in-chief, under N.D.R.Crim.P. 29(a), Galvez moved for a judgment of acquittal on the basis of insufficient evidence. The district court denied the motion, holding the evidence was sufficient to allow the matter to go to the jury. Galvez also renewed his objection regarding the gender-based discriminatory peremptory challenges. The district court overruled Galvez's objection.
[¶5] As part of Galvez's defense, a forensic psychologist testified as an expert witness about his assessment of the forensic interviews of both the alleged victims. Galvez testified. The jury found Galvez guilty on both counts of gross sexual imposition. He was sentenced, concurrently on each count, to twenty years ...