By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
The Kentucky Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a man sentenced by a Madison County jury to 35 years in prison for first-degree burglary and sodomy.
Sotoy Minter, 34, was found guilty March 28, 2012, of raping another man following a three-day trial. His sentence was enhanced because he already had a felony conviction on his record.
Minter argued in his appeal to the state supreme court that Madison Circuit Judge Jean C. Logue incorrectly denied his motion for a directed verdict on the burglary charge, the trial court should have allowed testimony about the victim’s past sexual activity and the court should not have allowed the persistent-felony offender charge to be added to his original indictment.
At his trial, Minter testified that the encounter with the victim, who was his neighbor, on Jan. 15, 2010, was consensual. The victim testified that he attended a neighborhood party but was helped back to his apartment by his girlfriend and Minter later that night because he was intoxicated.
The victim said he awoke later to find Minter on top of him, forcibly having anal intercourse with him. The victim contacted the police afterward and was taken to the emergency room for treatment of his injuries.
DNA samples taken from the victim were a match for Minter, according to court testimony from investigating officers.
Minter stated in his appeal that the judge should have issued a directed verdict of not guilty on the first-degree burglary charge at trial because the state had not proved he had the “intent to commit a crime” when he entered the home. Minter testified that he believed the victim had invited him to come back later for sexual intercourse.
The supreme court affirmed the Madison judge’s decision to not grant a directed verdict based on the victim’s testimony he hadn’t invited Minter to his apartment, repeatedly asked him to leave and did not consent to the sexual encounter.
“The physical evidence of (the victim’s) injuries provides circumstantial evidence supporting the Commonwealth’s case,” the supreme court wrote.
The supreme court also ruled that the Madison court properly barred testimony about the victim’s past sexual history based upon Kentucky’s Rape Shield Law (KRE 412) and because it was hearsay.
Minter argued that the victim may have engaged in homosexual acts in the past and was lying about what happened to conceal his sexual orientation from his girlfriend. Therefore, evidence about the victim’s sexual history should have been presented at trial.
Only three exceptions exist for allowing an alleged victim’s sexual history to be presented at a rape trial, and none of those exceptions applied in this case, according to the supreme court. It did not prove another person was the source of the DNA evidence, as Minter admitted to having sexual contact with the victim; it did not prove consent based on prior sexual contact between the two men, as none was alleged; and testimony about the victim’s sexual history with either men or women did not pertain directly to the offense charged, the court ruled.
“There is no doubt that KRE 412 operates to shield putative victims from disclosure of prior sexual behaviors that have no relevance to the offense on trial except to cast a negative light upon the alleged victim,” the opinion stated. “The purpose of the rule and the language of the rule allow for no differentiation between heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior.”
Finally, even though the persistent-felony offender charge was added to Minter’s indictment after the burglary and sodomy charges, the Madison court properly allowed it to proceed to trial, the supreme court ruled.
The court’s opinion in the Minter case has been published, meaning it can be applied to court cases in Kentucky that pose similar legal questions.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at email@example.com or 624-6694.