NEW ORLEANS (CN) - The trial of a man charged with engaging in public sex and resisting arrest was not prejudiced by the admission of the fact he was later arrested on a similar sex charge, the 4th Circuit ruled.
In January 2012, Jay Bonanza Briley was confronted by four park police officers as he engaged in sex with another man in parked SUV near the Washington Sailing Marina in Alexandria, Va.
The other man surrendered peacefully by existing the SUV and lying on the ground, but Briley yelled that he was naked and for the officers to go away, according U.S. Circuit Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III's account of the underlying events of the case.
The officers climbed into the SUV in an attempt to restrain Briley and a fight ensued, during which one officer suffered a back injury and another -- who Briley kicked twice in the abdomen - sustained injuries to his pancreas and gallbladder, and ultimately had to have the latter removed.
A federal jury found Briley guilty on charges including public indecency and resisting arrest, and he was sentenced to 78 months in prison, three years of probation, and ordered him to pay $62,306 in restitution.
Briley appealed appealed his conviction on the grounds the district judge allowed evidence of a later arrest -- for having sex in the same SUV, in the same park - was erroneous.
A three-judge panel found that while the inclusion of the later arrest was unnecessary "given the overwhelming evidence from the underlying January incident, we find no reversible error."
"The evidence from January formed a compelling and consistent case against Briley on all four counts," Judge Wilkinson wrote. "The jury heard about the encounter and the ensuing altercation with Park Police in painstaking and vivid detail. The January evidence described Briley's meeting with his companion and their preparations to engage in sexual relation ... As officer after officer took the witness stand, and as Briley's companion recounted the events inside the vehicle, and the jury learned about the January incident in every angle."
In light of that, "the need to introduce the March incident seems dubious at best," Wilkinson continued. Still he said, "the error in admitting the March evidence was plainly harmless."
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