FROM GALLATIN CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE RICHARD A. BRUEGGEMANN,
JUDGE ACTION NO. 14-CR-00083
FOR APPELLANT: Steven Nathan Goens Frankfort, Kentucky
FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General of Kentucky M.
Brandon Roberts Assistant Attorney General Frankfort,
BEFORE: COMBS, LAMBERT AND K. THOMPSON, JUDGES.
THOMPSON, K., JUDGE.
Williamson appeals as a matter of right from a final judgment
from the Gallatin Circuit Court after a jury trial, arguing
trial error involving two jurors entitled him to a new trial.
November 10, 2014, Williamson was indicted on two counts of
rape in the second degree, one count of sodomy in the second
degree and one count of sexual abuse in the first degree. The
victim was Williamson's stepsister. Previously, the
victim lived with her mother and stepfather (who was her
uncle, the brother of her father). During the summer of 2014
when the crimes were alleged to have occurred, the victim,
who was twelve years old, was living with her stepmother
(Williamson's mother) and her father (Williamson's
stepfather). During this time, Williamson lived with his wife
jurors were selected to hear the evidence, with two alternate
jurors to be dismissed before deliberations.
testified in his defense along with his mother and
stepfather. Part of his defense was that he was seldom around
the victim in the summer when the crimes were alleged to have
deliberations, the jury found Williamson guilty on all counts
and recommended he be sentenced to a total of fifteen years.
timely filed a motion for a new trial. The trial court denied
Williamson's motion and entered a final judgment,
sentencing him in accordance with the jury's
first claim of error involves Juror 402. During
Williamson's jury trial, following the conclusion of the
case but before the closing arguments, Juror 402 stopped the
bailiff in the hall and told him she knew that Williamson was
lying because she saw him with the victim (thus contradicting
Williamson's defense that he was seldom around the
victim). Juror 402 told the bailiff she was unsure if she
needed to be excused from the trial.
trial court questioned Juror 402 in front of counsel. Juror
402 reported she lived in the same apartment complex as the
victim's stepfather and mother; she knew Williamson to be
the nephew of her neighbor. Juror 402 reported she daily saw
Williamson taking a walk from his mother's apartment past
the juror's own apartment in the complex with a woman who
Juror 402 assumed was Williamson's wife. Juror 402 saw
them walk by while the woman was pregnant and, then later,
Williamson was with the same woman with a baby in a stroller.
Juror 402 reported that sometimes she saw the victim walking
402 reported she was very familiar with victim's
stepfather's and father's family, knew Williamson by
sight and knew the victim was placed with her father because
her mother and stepfather could not handle her. Juror 402
also heard people talking about why the victim had to leave
her father's home. She said she knew a lot about the
situation that put the victim with her father.
questioning Juror 402, the trial court held a conference with
the attorneys. Williamson's defense attorney stated that
if Juror 402 said in voir dire what she had just
told the court, he would have asked her to be excused as she
knew the history of victim, her mother, her father and her
stepfather. He then asked for her to be excused.
Commonwealth Attorney argued Juror 402's information was
not enough to excuse her as she only saw Williamson walking
with his wife back and forth to his mother's apartment.
However, two different times the Commonwealth Attorney
commented that he wished he could call Juror 402 as a
noting that someone in a small town knowing someone else
involved in a trial was not necessarily grounds for excusing
a juror, the trial court expressed concern that Juror 402 saw
the victim walking with Williamson and, according to the
bailiff, Juror 402 knew Williamson was lying about not
spending time with victim. The court suggested that since
there were two alternate jurors, it would be appropriate to
allow Juror 402 finish the trial so that the jury did not
think there was anything suspicious and then dismiss her as
an alternate. The trial court specifically opined that it
could prejudice Williamson if Juror 402 was excused now,
stating "it could cut either way." The defense
attorney acknowledged that he understood the trial
defense attorney expressed concern that Juror 402 could taint
the jury and requested the trial court to remind Juror 402
that she was not to discuss anything with ...