The Arkansas Court of Appeals has upheld the 2012 conviction of a 45-year-old Ashley County man who was found guilty of sexually assaulting three teens when they were young children.
Jerry Dewayne Savage was sentenced to 20 years in prison after an Ashley County jury found him guilty of the sexual assaults of an 18-year-old girl when she was seven or eight, a 17-year-old girl when she was between the ages of six and eight, and a 15-year-old girl when she was either five or six years old.
On appeal, Savage argued that there was insufficient evidence of his guilt because the state’s case was based entirely upon the uncertain memories of three teenage girls who struggled to remember basic information pertaining to the alleged sexual acts that had occurred more than ten years before.
He noted that the 18-year-old girl admitted that a statement she had given to the police was not accurate because she could not now recall witnessing the event involving another child or even making the statement. He also noted that none of the victims told an adult about the alleged assaults until January 2011.
However, his argument was not preserved for appeal because he did not make any arguments concerning the witnesses’ memories or credibility in his motion for a directed verdict at trial. Instead, he argued that there was no evidence that the alleged assaults occurred within the time frames outlined in the charges.
“Arguments not raised at trial will not be addressed for the first time on appeal, and parties cannot change the grounds for an objection on appeal, but are bound by the scope and nature of the objections and arguments presented at trial,” Appeals Court Judge Bill Walmsley wrote. “At trial, (Savage) argued that there was no evidence that the alleged assaults occurred within the time frames set out in the amended information. He did not make any arguments concerning the witnesses’ memories or credibility. Thus, he has waived these arguments on appeal.”
Even if Savage’s arguments were preserved, the Court of Appeals said it found substantial evidence to support his convictions.
“A victim’s uncorroborated testimony may constitute substantial evidence to support a guilty verdict for second-degree sexual assault. A jury is free to believe all, or part, of a victim’s testimony; a witness’ credibility is left to the jury’s discretion. Where the jury as trier of fact has given credence to inconsistent testimony, the appellate court will not reverse unless the testimony is so inherently improbable, physically impossible, or clearly unbelievable that reasonable minds could not differ thereon,” Walmsley wrote. “(Savage) has not shown that such circumstances exist. Even assuming that there were inconsistencies in the victims’ testimony, all three victims testified about specific incidents constituting sexual assault that violated (state law).”