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State v. Leslie Turner
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MAINE SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT					Reporter of Decisions
Decision:	2001 ME 44
Docket:	Was-00-92
Submitted
on Briefs:	January 31, 2001
Decided:	March 5,  2001

Panel:		WATHEN, C.J., and  CLIFFORD, RUDMAN, DANA, SAUFLEY, ALEXANDER, and
		CALKINS, JJ.




STATE OF MAINE v. LESLIE TURNER


WATHEN, C.J.

	[¶1]  Leslie Turner appeals from the judgment entered in the Superior
Court (Washington County, Atwood, J.) on a jury verdict finding him guilty of
violating a protective order by contacting his son by e-mail in violation of 
19-A M.R.S.A. § 4011 (Supp. 2000).{1}  Turner argues that the court erred by
admitting copies of correspondence that he had allegedly sent his son prior
to the date of the charged violation and that the evidence is insufficient to
support the jury's verdict.  We disagree and affirm the judgment.  
	[¶2]  The relevant facts may be summarized as follows: Rhonda Flood
married Turner in 1982.  They had two children together, Benjamin and
Jacob, and were divorced in 1993.  In May of 1998, Rhonda received a
protective order for herself and for her children.  The order prohibited
Turner from having any contact, direct or indirect, with Rhonda or the
children except for supervised visits consistent with the divorce judgment.    
	[¶3]  The complaint alleges that Turner violated this order on June
25, 1998 by "having unsupervised contact with Benjamin."  On that day,
Rhonda testified, Turner contacted Benjamin by e-mail.  She also testified
that Turner had contacted Benjamin several other times before June 25th by
e-mail and by letter.  Rhonda explained that when Benjamin would receive
an e-mail from Turner, he would show it to her on the computer screen and
she would then print a copy. 
	[¶4]  In addition to admitting a copy of the June 25th e-mail, the court
admitted printed copies of six other e-mails and one handwritten letter that
Turner had sent to Benjamin.  It instructed the jury that these exhibits were
admissible "solely for the purpose of establishing the identity of who sent
the June 25 correspondence or to show the defendant's knowledge of the
[protective] order or the circumstances by which others might receive his
correspondence or to show that his actions were intentional, that is to say
purposefully done."  Rhonda testified that the documents contain
expressions that Turner would have used and refer to personal information
that Turner would have known.  She explained that the e-mails have
Turner's e-mail address in the sender's box and that the handwritten letter
contains Turner's handwriting.  Officer Rolfe, of the Baileyville Police
Department, testified that, after receiving a complaint from Rhonda on May
17th, he warned Turner not to continue making indirect contact by e-mail. 
Turner sent at least two e-mails and the handwritten letter, however, after
this warning.  
	[¶5]  Turner argues that the documents Benjamin received prior to
the date of the alleged violation should have been excluded either pursuant
to Rule  404(b) or 403 of the Maine Rules of Evidence.  Rule 404(b) provides
that "[e]vidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove
the character of a person in order to show that the person acted in
conformity therewith."  M.R. Evid. 404(b).  Such evidence is admissible,
however, "for purposes other than to show propensity, such as to
demonstrate motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge,
identity, . . . absence of mistake," or the relationship between the parties. 
State v. DeMass, 2000 ME 4, ¶ 12, 743 A.2d 233, 236.  We review the trial
court's decision to admit evidence under Rule 404(b) for clear error and
under Rule 403 for abuse of discretion.  Id. ¶ 11.  Contrary to Turner's
contention, the evidence was properly admitted because it is probative of
the identity of the e-mail's author, and because it demonstrates that Turner
knew of the protective order and that he acted intentionally.  In addition,
the evidence is not so voluminous or prejudicial that its exclusion is
required under Rule 403.{2} 
	[¶6]  Turner also argues that the evidence is insufficient to support
the jury's verdict because "[t]he record is absolutely void of any direct
evidence to show that [he] authored the e-mails or that he in fact sent them
or that Benjamin Turner received them."{3}  
	In examining the sufficiency of the evidence, we view the
evidence in the light most favorable to the State to determine
whether the trier of fact rationally could have found beyond a
reasonable doubt every element of the offense charged. We will
overturn the [trial court's] judgment only if no trier of fact
rationally could have found the essential elements of the charged
offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
State v. Black, 2000 ME 211, ¶ 14, 763 A.2d 109, 113 (citations and
quotations omitted).  Contrary to Turner's contention, the jury could have
rationally found that he authored the e-mails, that he sent them, and that
Benjamin received them.  As Rhonda explained at trial, when Benjamin
would receive an e-mail from Turner, he would show it to her on the
computer screen, and she would then print a copy.  She testified that the
correspondence contains expressions that Turner would have used and
relates personal information that Turner would have known.  She also
maintained that the handwritten letter contains Turner's handwriting. 
Although the State did not provide direct evidence that Turner had
authored and sent the correspondence, the evidence provided is sufficient
for jurors to rationally conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that he had done
so.    
	The entry is:
Judgment affirmed.
        
Attorneys for State: Michael E. Povich, District Attorney Paul F. Cavanaugh II, Asst. Dist. Atty. 88 South Street Calais, ME 04619 Attorney for defendant: Donald F. Brown, Esq. 6 State Street, Suite 308 Bangor, ME 04401
FOOTNOTES******************************** {1} . Section 4011 provides that violation of a "temporary, emergency, interim or final protective order" is a "Class D crime, when the defendant has prior actual notice, which may be notice by means other than service in hand, of the order or agreement" 19-A M.R.S.A. § 4011. The court sentenced Turner to six months in the county jail, all suspended, and one year of probation. {2} . Rule 403 provides: Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence. M.R. Evid. 403. {3} . Turner also briefly argues that there is no evidence that Turner violated the protection order because Rhonda testified that she was always present when Benjamin received the e-mails. As such, he maintains, if contact was made, it was supervised contact permitted by the order. This argument is meritless, however, because the order prohibited Turner from having any contact, direct or indirect, with Rhonda or the children.