Considered on Briefs November 30, 2015.
As Amended March 9, 2016.
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SEVENTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT PENNINGTON COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA. THE HONORABLE JEFF W. DAVIS, Judge.
MARTY J. JACKLEY, Attorney General, JOHN M. STROHMAN, Assistant Attorney General, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for plaintiff and appellee.
ROBERT VAN NORMAN, Rapid City, South Dakota, Attorney for defendant and appellant.
ZINTER, Justice. GILBERTSON, Chief Justice, and SEVERSON, WILBUR, and KERN, Justices, concur.
[¶1] Joseph Arguello was convicted of three counts of sexual contact and rape involving three minors. Arguello appeals his conviction on the ground that the trial judge left the courtroom during the presentation of evidence. Arguello also appeals on the ground that the judge failed to give the jury a statutorily required admonishment before recesses and adjournments. We affirm.
Facts and Procedural History
[¶2] Joseph Arguello had a twenty-year, on-again, off-again relationship with R.D. During one period of separation, R.D. married another man and they had three children. R.D. divorced in 2007, and she reunited with Arguello in 2008. She and the children began living with Arguello. In 2012, one of the children accused Arguello of inappropriate sexual activity. Arguello was subsequently charged with numerous counts of rape and sexual contact involving all three children.
[¶3] Circuit Court Judge Jeff Davis presided at trial. Immediately after the jury was empaneled on the first day of trial, Judge Davis gave the following admonition to the jury:
It's important that you honor your oaths as jurors. There's a statutory admonition I'm required to give you, which essentially says: You are to form or express no opinions about the case, discuss it among yourselves or allow anyone to discuss it with you until it's finally submitted to you for your determination. It's important that the testimony and the evidence come only from the witness stand and has been properly admitted for you folks to consider. ...