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Worden v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

May 22, 2009

Christopher J. WORDEN, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Alaska, Appellee.

Renee McFarland, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for Appellant.

Blair M. Christensen, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Talis J. Colberg, Attorney General, Juneau, for Appellee.

Before : COATS, Chief Judge, and MANNHEIMER and BOLGER, Judges.

OPINION

COATS, Chief Judge.

After a jury trial, Christopher J. Worden was convicted of three counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree,[1] six counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the

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second degree,[2] four counts of possession of child pornography,[3] and one count each of indecent exposure in the second degree [4] and unlawful exploitation of a minor. [5] Superior Court Judge Charles T. Huguelet sentenced Worden to a composite sentence of 37 years and 6 months' imprisonment with 21 years and 6 months suspended.

Worden appeals, arguing that Judge Huguelet erred in denying his motion to dismiss the indictment and in refusing to grant Worden's motion for a continuance when the State presented an expert witness without appropriate notice under Alaska Criminal Rule 16. Worden also argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction for possession of child pornography. Finally, Worden argues that Judge Huguelet imposed an excessive sentence.

We conclude that Judge Huguelet did not err in refusing to grant Worden's motion to dismiss the indictment and did not err in denying Worden's motion for a continuance. However, we conclude that the State did not present sufficient evidence to convict Worden of possession of child pornography. Because this latter decision affects Worden's sentence, we remand for resentencing and do not decide whether Worden's sentence was excessive.

Factual background

On May 27, 2002, Juanita Thirlwell was visiting her son and daughter-in-law, Gene and Shari Conner, and her grandchildren, including C.C. (age eleven) and S.B. (age nine) at their home in Kenai. Worden, a family friend, was also at the house. At some point, Worden, C.C., and S.B. went into another room to watch a movie. In a reflection in a window, Thirlwell saw Worden rubbing and squeezing S.B.'s buttocks and touching her vaginal area over her clothes. The next weekend, Thirlwell, Shari Conner, S.B., and C.C. reported the assault to the Kenai police.

On June 3, 2002, Kenai police officers interviewed Worden. Worden admitted to having engaged in some inappropriate conduct with C.C. and S.B. and was arrested. Worden's wife, Renee, gave the police permission to seize and search two computers from her home that Worden had used. Police department employee Virgil Gattenby conducted a forensic examination of the computers. He found multiple images of child pornography in the computer's cache files. Worden was indicted on numerous felony charges.

At trial, S.B. testified that Worden had touched her on her breasts, buttocks, and genital area numerous times, including the incident on May 27, 2002. She also stated that Worden digitally penetrated her vagina and anus, and made her masturbate him. C.C. testified that Worden had touched her ...


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