On Appeal from the 441st District Court Midland County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. CR36885
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mike Willson Justice
In The Eleventh Court of Appeals
The jury convicted Thomas Raymond Sennett of the offense of sexual assault of a child by intentionally or knowingly causing the penetration of K.C.'s sexual organ by inserting his penis into her vagina.*fn1 K.C. is Appellant's deaf niece, who was fifteen years old at the time of the assault. Appellant was twenty-five years old at the time of the offense. When Appellant first went to trial, the case ended in a mistrial. Later, Appellant went to trial again, and the jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting K.C. Appellant elected to have the trial court assess punishment, and the trial court sentenced him to confinement for seven years, but did not assess a fine. We affirm.
Appellant has asserted five points of error. First, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. Second, Appellant alleges that, because the evidence was legally insufficient, he was denied due process. Third, Appellant complains that the trial court erred when it (1) denied Appellant's request for a mental health expert and (2) disallowed trial testimony from his computer expert. Fourth, Appellant asserts that the trial court erred in admitting e-mail evidence without proper authentication. Finally, Appellant argues that the State made harmful jury and punishment phase arguments.
II. The Evidence at Trial
Somewhere around the middle of October 2009, Appellant, his sister, and her fifteenyear-old daughter--K.C., along with K.C.'s sister and a sixteen-year-old cousin, William, drove from Appellant's home in Dallas to his sister's home in Midland. Appellant stayed overnight at his sister's home before returning to Dallas.
K.C. went to sleep that evening in a recreational vehicle that was parked next to the house. Later in the evening, K.C. was startled by a vibration in the recreational vehicle. She thought it was a "ghost" and ran back into the house. K.C. calmed down after she talked with her mother, and K.C. decided to stay in the house and watch a movie with Appellant and K.C.'s cousin, William. Although Appellant had seen K.C. only three or four times in his life, she called him "Uncle Thomas."
William went to sleep on the living room floor during the movie. K.C. and Appellant began to write notes to each other on a notepad. Appellant wrote to her, "Hi. You're beautiful." Appellant then said that he liked her, attempted to hold hands with her, and kissed her on the mouth twice.
Appellant took K.C. outside, and he kissed her again. Appellant put his arms around K.C.'s waist and inserted his finger into her vagina. He had her lie down next to some wooden planks and kissed her again. Appellant removed her jeans and panties. He had sexual intercourse with her by inserting his penis into her vagina. K.C. said, "He started having sex with me. He put his penis in my vagina"; "It hurt"; and "[H]e was moving, thrusting." He told her, "Do not tell" and "[D]on't say anything. Don't tell." Afterward, Appellant told her to put her clothes on and go inside the house. He also put his clothes on and went inside the house.
K.C. testified that she thought he had ejaculated. She went into the bathroom in the house and saw some "red" and "white stuff" on her panties.
A few days after the incident, K.C. sent an e-mail to Appellant. Appellant wrote back that she was "beautiful." A day after K.C. sent the first e-mail, she sent another that read, "[H]ey good u remeber love me I love sex u remeber [sic]." The next day, Appellant sent an e- mail to K.C. in which he wrote, "Yeah I'll always remember that. I loved every second of it!!!!!! love ya, Thomas." A few days later, K.C.'s mother checked K.C.'s e-mail account after she spoke to K.C.'s grandmother. K.C.'s mother read ...