California Supreme Court rejects defendant’s appeal in Stanislaus County child molestation case

12/27/2013 6:31 PM

12/27/2013 9:41 PM

The state Supreme Court has ruled against a Manteca man challenging his 2009 Stanislaus County conviction for committing lewd acts on a 10-year-old girl in Modesto.

After a five-day trial, a jury found Thomas Raymond Shockley guilty of the felony for kissing the girl on the lips during her birthday party and fondling her a few days later. For the past four years, the defendant has appealed the verdict.

Shockley was asking the Supreme Court to throw out the verdict, because the jurors were not given the option of convicting him on the lesser charge of battery.

His attorney argued in court that his client touched the girl in an offensive but not lewd manner, saying the touching was quick and accidental, according to filed court documents.

The Supreme Court disagreed with Shockley’s attorney and filed its decision Thursday. The court concluded there wasn’t sufficient evidence that would cause a reasonable jury to find the defendant only guilty of battery, and the trial court was not required to give the jury the option of a lesser charge.

Attempts by The Modesto Bee to reach Shockley’s attorney, Gregory Brown, were not successful Friday.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Joyce Kennard wrote that a defendant cannot engage in lewd conduct with a child under 14 without committing the lesser offense of battery, which includes any harmful or offensive touching.

Justice Kennard, however, agreed with the court’s majority opinion in that a reasonable juror, based on the presented facts, wouldn’t have concluded that Shockley only committed battery and not the lewd acts. Justice Kathryn Werdegar joined Kennard in her opinion.

Authorities said Shockley kissed the girl on her lips during a birthday party in her home in October 2007, sticking his tongue into the child’s mouth.

Two days after the party, Shockley took the child and her 9-year-old stepsister to the movies. The stepsisters were in the front seat during their drive home, when Shockley rubbed the girl’s private area through her clothing for about five minutes, according to court documents.

The girl gave her stepsister a worried look and asked to switch seats with her. When she got home, she told her stepsister what happened and later told her father. The girl’s dad called police, and the investigation ensued.

Shockley told Modesto police officer Scott Nelson that he rubbed the girl’s stomach and poked her bellybutton, but he denied rubbing the girl’s genital area, according to court documents. He told investigators that he was licking soda off his mouth in the movie theater when the girl leaned over and kissed him. The defendant said the girl might have made these allegations because she had a large coffee drink at the movie theater.

On Feb. 6, 2009, the jury reached its guilty verdict against Shockley. On July 17, 2009, he was sentenced to 120 days in jail and probation time once he is released, according to court documents.

On July 27, 2009, Shockley filed his appeal. The state’s 5th District Court of Appeal upheld the Stanislaus County conviction on Dec. 8, 2010. The state Supreme Court agreed to review Shockley’s case on March 16, 2011.

Shockley’s date to surrender and start his jail sentence has been postponed numerous times since Dec. 29, 2009, because his case was on appeal. Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Thomas Zeff has scheduled the defendant to return to court Jan. 7 to surrender himself into custody.

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