On Sept. 5, 2017, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Commonwealth v. Melvin Monkeya, 2017 MP 7. The high court affirmed Monkeya’s conviction.
Monkeya was charged with one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree. The charge arose out of allegations that sometime in November 2008, Monkeya engaged in sexual penetration with a minor who was a household member of Monkeya’s, was under 16 years of age, and to whom he occupied a position of authority. Jury trial began on Dec. 2, 2013, and Monkeya was convicted on Dec. 4, 2013.
On appeal, Monkeya argued the high court should reverse his conviction for six reasons: (1) the trial court improperly denied his request for expert assistance; (2) the trial court erred by failing to include a cut-off date in a jury instruction regarding “no proof of exact time”; (3) the trial court erred by failing to reiterate jury instructions at the close of evidence; (4) the prosecution committed reversible Doyle error by eliciting testimony commenting on Monkeya’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent; (5) the use of facts not in evidence during closing arguments was prosecutorial misconduct that prejudiced him; and (6) these errors, even if individually harmless, in the aggregate materially affected the verdict.
The Supreme Court found the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Monkeya’s request for expert assistance because he failed to make a particularized showing of need, the standard the high court established in Commonwealth v. Perez, 2006 MP 24.
The high court further found the “no proof of exact time” jury instruction was not in error given the circumstances of this case and the contents of the instruction. While the high court concluded the trial court’s failure to read substantive jury instructions at the close of trial, the prosecution’s questioning of the lead detective regarding Monkeya’s silence upon arrest, and the prosecution’s statements in closing arguments were all errors, it concluded the errors, both individually and in the aggregate, were harmless and did not warrant reversing Monkeya’s conviction.
The high court’s full opinion is available at http://www.cnmilaw.org/supreme17.html.
For further information, contact the Supreme Court at 236-9800. (PR)