By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Darrell Spitznogle was convicted by a jury of 12 for six counts of sexual abuse and one count of sexual assault. Spitznogle sexual abused a male child from the ages of nine to 11 starting in 2013. The male victim now 18 testified in open court that Spitznogle would touch him in his private area or Spitznogle would have the victim touch him. On more than one occasion the victim testified that Spitznogle would place his penis slightly in or around his anus.
Brent Easton and Morris Davis, lawyers for the now twice convicted sexual child abuser motioned the court for an acquittal of the one charge of sexual assault based on what the defense considered impeachment of the victim’s testimony.
According to West Virginia state law, “a person is guilty of sexual assault in the first degree when the person, being fourteen years old or more, engages in sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion with another person who is younger than twelve years old and is not married to that person.
“Sexual intercourse” means any act between persons involving penetration, however slight, of the female sex organ by the male sex organ or involving contact between the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another person.
“Sexual intrusion” means any act between persons involving penetration, however slight, of the female sex organ or of the anus of any person by an object for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the person so penetrated or for gratifying the sexual desire of either party.”
Morris said, “We would move the court for a new trial on the basis of the impeachment of the defendant. We have two bases for asking for a new trial. The first one is if the court will recall a statement made by the defendant regarding a previous plea and the how state brought up his previous conviction, his previous alleged statement to the state police. They said they were not trying to use the police reports for FRE (Federal Rule of Evidence) 404(b) but that they were trying to use it simple as impeachment for a prior inconsistent statement.”
404(b) evidence is evidence of prior bad acts that the prosecution can introduce in their case-in-chief. Under Federal Rule of Evidence (FRE’ 404(b), the prosecution is able to introduce evidence of the defendant’s prior bad acts that are not charged in the instant criminal case. Although introduction of 404(b) evidence is not permissible to show the individual’s criminal propensity, or pre-disposition to commit crimes, FRE 404(b) is admissible for other reasons such as motive, opportunity, or intent.
Prosecuting Attorney Savannah Hull Wilkins rebutted Morris’ motion by stating that there was testimony from the victim that clearly defined sexual assault. The victim had testified that he was sexually assaulted by Spitznogle when Spitznogle placed the tip of his penis in his anus. This act constitutes first degree sexual assault.
Wilkins also rebutted Morris’ motion for a new trail based on the fact the defense had ample time during the trial to redirect the testimony of Spitznogle where he stated he lied on his statement to the police in Monongalia County during his prior charges of sexual assault of a child by a parent by attempting to the charges. Spitznogle claims he lied because his lawyer advised him to take the plea and get out of prison in fewer years.
The honorable Judge James Courrier agreed with the Prosecuting Attorney Wilkins on both accounts and denied the defense the motions for acquittal and a new trail. Courrier stated the prosecuting attorney had enough evidence in the victim’s testimony which met the definition of first-degree sexual assault. Courrier also explained that the state had presented the prior conviction testimony correctly, had allowed Spitznogle to read and give explanation, and defense had opportunity to follow up with a redirect with the accused.
Sentencing is set for October 17 at 1:30 p.m. Spitznogle is facing a life sentence.