from the Superior Court, No. 3AN-09-10541 CR, Third Judicial
District, Anchorage, Michael Spaan, Judge.
R. Taylor, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner,
Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.
A. Ringsmuth, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal
Appeals, Anchorage, and Craig W. Richards, Attorney General,
Juneau, for the Appellee.
Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock,
Superior Court Judge. [*]
convicted Lisa Miranda Trout of two counts of first-degree
sexual abuse of a minor and one count of second-degree sexual
abuse of a minor based on allegations that she sexually
abused her oldest son, J.T.
challenges her convictions on appeal, raising four claims of
error. She first argues that the superior court committed
plain error when it failed to ensure that her decision to
testify at trial was made knowingly, intelligently, and
voluntarily. Second, she argues that the court should have
instructed the jury to presume that a police detective's
missing notes, had they been available, would have been
favorable to her. Third, Trout argues that the court should
have allowed the jury to hear more details about her
ex-husband's prior domestic violence because it was
relevant to prove that her ex-husband had manipulated their
oldest son into making false allegations against her. Lastly,
Trout argues that the trial court erred when it sentenced her
to a term of active imprisonment beyond the presumptive range
for her most serious offense without any finding of good
reasons explained here, we reject Trout's claims and
affirm her convictions and sentence.
Trout and her ex-husband Dunovan Trout have three boys. The
.couple married in 1993, separated in 2000, and divorced
acrimoniously in 2002. There was domestic violence in the
relationship. Trout had sole custody of the children from
2000 until 2009, and during that period, Dunovan saw the
children only occasionally.
was a heavy drinker. And, according to all three of her sons,
she was violent and abusive when she was intoxicated. J.T.,
Trout's oldest son, testified that he tried to protect
his brothers from Trout when she became intoxicated.
was arrested in 2009 for felony driving under the influence.
During her incarceration, Trout's children went to live
with their grandfather (Trout's father) and his wife.
J.T., who was fifteen years old at the time, located his
father Dunovan on the internet. The boys began communicating
and visiting with their father. After an argument with their
grandfather, the boys moved in with Dunovan, his new wife
Michelle, and their daughter.
point while J.T. and his brothers were living with Dunovan,
J.T. became angry and upset. Dunovan asked J.T. about his
relationship with his mother and whether she hurt him. J.T.
said "yes, " and his father continued asking
questions, including whether she hit him and whether she
raped him. J.T. began to cry and said "yes."
Dunovan and J.T. told the pastor at their church that
J.T.'s mother sexually abused him.
the same time, Dunovan's wife Michelle reported to the
police that Dunovan had driven while intoxicated and
physically assaulted her. In response to these allegations,
Dunovan told the police that Michelle had physically abused
the children and, for the first time, he reported to the
police that J.T. had alleged that his mother sexually abused
this report, Michelle brought J.T. to a children's
advocacy center, and J.T. told a social worker and Anchorage
Police Detective Brett Sarber that his mother had been
sexually abusing him since he was in kindergarten or first
Sarber began an investigation and obtained a Glass
warrant to record a conversation between J.T. and his
mother. To prepare J.T., Sarber wrote a list of
questions on a notepad for J.T. to ask his mother. During the
phone call, J.T. told Trout it had been bothering him for
some time that she had sex with him. Trout denied having any
memory of abusing J.T. and blamed any possible wrongful
behavior on her excessive use of alcohol. When J.T. asked
Trout if she ever sexually abused his brothers or if it was
just him, Trout responded that it was "just [him]."
also separately interviewed Trout. During this interview,
Trout denied the allegations. At one point in the interview,
however, she stated that she wondered if something might have
happened between her and J.T. when she woke up after a night
was charged with one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a
minor for engaging in fellatio with J.T. and one count of
first-degree sexual abuse of a minor for having sexual
intercourse with him; both incidents were alleged to have taken
place in February or March of 2009 (i.e., shortly
before Trout's 2009 arrest for felony DUI). Trout was
also charged with a third count, second-degree sexual abuse
of a minor for touching J.T.'s genitals in October
State's theory at trial was that J.T. protected his
brothers from physical abuse and neglect in their home while
Trout sexually abused J.T. for many years. The State
submitted evidence of both parents' alcohol abuse
problems, prior Office of Children's Services (OCS)
involvement with the family, and Trout's physically
abusive conduct toward her children when she was intoxicated.
All three boys testified that their mother physically abused
them when she was intoxicated. Dunovan also testified about
his sons' reports of physical abuse, stating that,
according to his sons, Trout beat them with wine bottles and
curtain rods, and that they had sometimes slept in the car in
winter to escape Trout's abuse.
testified that his mother began abusing him sexually when he
was in kindergarten or first grade. J.T. testified that
sometime during this period, he woke up on the couch and his
mother was drunk, naked, and on top of him, trying to have
sex with him.
described several instances of sexual abuse between ages 5
and 15, including the threeincidents for which Trout was
charged and ultimately convicted. One of these incidents
involved penile-vaginal sex that J.T. testified took place
about two weeks before Trout's 2009 felony DUI arrest.
J.T. testified that in the second incident, which occurred
around the same time, Trout hit him several times and then
performed oral sex on him. In the third incident, which
occurred around Halloween 2008, J.T. testified that Trout
tried to have sex with him by unzipping his pants and pulling
out his penis, but he pushed her away.
also testified that his mother initiated sexual acts or
attempted sexual intercourse with him about once a month, but
he never told his brothers because he did not want them to
think she was a bad person. J.T. stated that he never
reported the sexual abuse because he did not think anyone
would believe him.
addition to J.T.'s testimony, the jury also heard the
entire Glass warrant conversation between J.T. and
Trout in which J.T. confronted Trout with his allegations of
sexual abuse. The jury also heard the recorded interview
between Trout and Detective Sarber.
defense theory at trial was that J.T.'s father
manipulated J.T. to falsely accuse Trout of sexually abusing
him. The defense emphasized that Dunovan hated Trout, had
previously physically abused Trout, and had a pattern of
deflecting attention from his own bad behavior by accusing
others of bad behavior. The defense also emphasized that
Dunovan had a financial motive to manipulate J.T. to accuse
Trout of these serious crimes, because it would ensure that
the children never returned to Trout and Dunovan would not
have to pay child support. Lastly, the defense asserted that
J.T.'s accounts of the sexual abuse were not credible,
given how much bigger he was than his mother and given how
long he waited to report this alleged conduct.
testified in her own defense. In her testimony, Trout
admitted to her prior alcohol abuse and her history of
sobriety followed by relapse. She also admitted to drinking
to the point of blacking out, even when her children were
present. She testified that she was afraid of Dunovan and
that he was a violent person who was not truthful and who had
threatened to take the children from her.
denied physically abusing her children. She admitted to
spanking them with her hand when they were small, but she
testified that she never hit them with any object.
also denied sexually abusing J.T. She testified that the very
idea of her having sex with J.T. was "horrible."
When questioned about her ambiguous statements on the
Glass recording and to the detective, Trout said she
felt sheer terror that she was going to jail and that she
might have "done this." She explained that because
of her drinking during 2009, she would not have been able to
"refute anything." At one point, she was directly
asked if she thought she might have sexually abused her son
while in a black-out; Trout said "yes."
jury found Trout guilty on all three counts of sexual abuse
of a minor. Following a sentencing hearing, Trout received a
composite sentence of 31 years to serve.
now appeals her convictions and her sentence.
claim that the court committed plain error by allowing her to
testify at trial without first securing a knowing and