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State v. Mayfield

Court of Appeals of Alaska

May 3, 2019

STATE OF ALASKA, Appellant,
v.
THOMAS A. MAYFIELD, Appellee.

          Appeal from the Superior Court, Fourth Judicial District, No. 4FA-15-02245 CR, Fairbanks, Michael A. MacDonald, Judge.

          Diane L. Wendlandt, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellant.

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

          Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, Allard, Judge, and Suddock, Superior Court Judge. [*]

          OPINION

          ALLARD, Judge

          Thomas A. Mayfield was indicted by a Fairbanks grand jury for attempted second-degree sexual assault. Mayfield's attorney moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the evidence presented to the grand jury was legally insufficient to establish attempted second-degree sexual assault. The superior court granted this motion. The State now appeals.

         For the reasons explained here, we affirm the superior court's dismissal of the indictment.

         Background facts and prior proceedings

         On September 27, 2015, fourteen-year-old H.R. went to the Regal Cinema in Fairbanks with her younger sister and her friend. The three girls sat at the end of a row toward the back of the theater. The seat next to H.R. was empty. Twenty-one-year-old Mayfield was sitting in the seat next to this empty seat. Mayfield was at the theater with two of his friends.

         After the girls sat down, H.R.' s sister noticed that Mayfield was staring and smiling at them. H.R.' s sister told H.R.; H.R. ignored Mayfield. A short time later, after the movie started, H.R. glanced over and realized that Mayfield had moved into the empty seat next to her. H.R. also saw that Mayfield had put his hand, palm-side up, in the gap between the seats, so that his hand was resting close to her knee. H.R. thought this was "weird," and Mayfield's proximity "freaked [her] out."

         H.R. scooted over in her seat so that she was further away from Mayfield and closer to her sister. When H.R. glanced back at Mayfield, she saw Mayfield slowly moving his hand upwards. H.R. then felt "a push on [her] hip," and "the force started going down and he was trying to put his hand in my pants."

         At the grand jury hearing, the prosecutor asked H.R. to describe exactly what happened:

Prosecutor. Okay. And when you said you felt something on your hip, do you know what that was you felt on your hip?
H.R.: His hand, because when I looked down I saw it.
Prosecutor: Okay. And then you said something about his hand in your pants, what happened after that?
H.R.: I jumped. I looked over, and I said - I yelled at him.
Prosecutor. Okay. So let's talk about why you yelled at him. What is it that he did that made you yell at him?
H.R.: Touching me.
Prosecutor. Okay. So you said you felt his hand on your hip, right? Okay. Did something happen after that?
H.R.: What do you mean? Like, he pushed his hand. Like, he got, like, under my sweats.
Prosecutor. Okay. So did he put his hand in your pants?
H.R.: He got his fingertips in my pants, but I had leggings on, so -
Prosecutor: Okay.
H.R.: Right.
Prosecutor: Where did he put his hand? Was it - when he was trying to put his hand down your pants, was it in the front or back or somewhere else?
H.R.: It was just on the side.
Prosecutor: Just on the side.
H.R.: Like -
Prosecutor. Okay. And when he did that, how did you react?
H.R.: It scared me, so I jumped, and I - I said - yelled at him.
Prosecutor: And you yelled at him?
H.R.: Well, not yelled, but I said something.
Prosecutor. Do you remember what you said?
H.R.: Yeah. I said, "Don't f-ing touch me." .. .[1]
Prosecutor. Okay. After you did that, what did you do next?
H.R.: I leaned over and told my friend that we should go.
Prosecutor: Okay.
H.R.: Actually I said he just touched me. He just touched me. I was, like, he just grabbed my butt. Like, just like, I was so scared, I just said, and then, like, then we got up and left.

         The girls got out of their seats and called H.R.' s foster mother, who told the; to tell the theater manager. The theater manager contacted the police, and Mayfield arrested when he left the theater.

         Mayfield was originally arrested for assault in the fourth degree, a class A iemeanor, [2] harassment in the second degree, a class B misdemeanor, [3] and violating conditions of release, a class B misdemeanor.[4] The assault charge was subsequently elevated to attempted second-degree sexual assault, a class C felony.[5] Mayfield was then indicted on that charge, with a separate information charging him with harassment and violating conditions of release.

         Mayfield's attorney filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, arguing that the evidence presented to the grand jury was insufficient to establish the crime of attempted second-degree sexual assault. The defense attorney argued specifically that the ...


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