Crimes against nature conviction, sentence will stand

Published 4:50 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

The sentence for a 29-year-old Lake Charles man convicted by an unanimous jury in 2023 of crimes against nature with a minor will stand.

Harrison Bucker Doyle was sentenced to 24 years at hard labor on two counts of aggravated crimes against nature and six years at hard labor for attempted aggravated crimes against nature. His sentences were ordered to be served concurrently.

During the trial, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Det. Sgt. James Jones said the girl, who was 15 at the time, and her father filed a police report in May of 2019, claiming rape.

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He said during her interview with the Children’s Advocacy Center, the girl said Doyle digitally penetrated her on several occasions but she was unsure of the dates. She also said Doyle had penetrated her once with his penis.

A family member testified that after the girl spent time with Doyle, she “was not cognitive” and was “unresponsive.” He also said she didn’t act like her bubbly self, wouldn’t eat or bathe.

He said the girl tried to clean her clothing in a crock-pot, claiming she wanted “to make them better.”

Faith Benton, who was formerly employed at the CAC, said the girl told her that while staying at Doyle’s house, he got on top of her and she “froze up” as he raped her. She said the night of the rape, Doyle had entered the girl’s room, took off her shirt and rubbed her breasts.

“He was sorry for doing it because it was wrong, but he had to do it,” Benton testified the girl reportedly was told by Doyle.

The girl said that after Doyle made her touch his penis and masterbate him. She said he then raped her and ejaculated on her stomach.

Another family member testified Doyle admitted raping the girl to her.

“He had told me how much he wanted to kill himself and that he took a very dark path,” she told jurors. “He was really sorry and he had explained to me the scenario of how it happened a little bit.”

The family member said Doyle told her that if she ever told anyone he would kill himself.

The victim also took the stand, saying after she was raped, Doyle “put his hands around my neck; it wasn’t hard enough to kill me or to really leave a mark, but there was some pressure.”

In his appeal, Doyle claimed the stated failed to prove the offenses beyond a reasonable doubt; that he was denied his due process because he was tried by a six-person jury; his Fifth Amendment rights were violated; and his sentences were constitutionally excessive.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal denied Doyle’s claim, stating though there were inconsistencies in the girl’s testimony, she never faltered regarding the fact that Doyle digitally penetrated her vagina on multiple occasions and penetrated her vagina with his penis on one occasion.

“Moreover, the girl’s testimony in this respect was corroborated” by multiple sources, the panel ruled. “It was the jury’s prerogative to assess the credibility of the witnesses and to accept or reject their testimony. We will not second guess the jury’s credibility determinations nor will we impinge on its role as fact-finder.”

As far as Doyle’s claim he was denied due process because of the number of jury members, the court ruled that claim was without merit.

In his third claim, Doyle said his Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the prosecution, over his objection, was allowed to comment on the exercise of his right to remain silent. Doyle said the prosecution improperly commented on his exercise of his right to remain silent during its opening statement and closing argument and that the prosecution intentionally Jones to reiterate this fact. Jones testified that when he interviewed Doyle a week after speaking to the girl, Doyle declined to give a statement and instead asked to speak to his attorney.

Doyle said the prosecution had no purpose for doing so other than to “encourage the jurors to ascribe a guilty meaning to his silence.”

That court also found that claim without merit, citing the defense did not move for a mistrial and did not request an admonishment.

As far as Doyle’s claim that his sentences were excessive because he was a first-time offender — he also cited that his passive nature and slight build will likely invite the other inmates to victimize him — the court ruled the offender knew or should have known the girl was vulnerable or incapable of resistance because of her youth.

“He raped her; he sexually battered her,” the court ruled. “These are heinous offenses … and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Doyle.”