The Pennsylvania Superior Court has upheld the conviction of a former Smethport man who a jury found guilty of sexually assaulting a small child.
A jury found Eric M. Fuller, 43, guilty on Nov. 4, 2019, following a two-day trial, according to McKean County District Attorney Stephanie L. Vettenburg-Shaffer.
Fuller was found of the following charges: statutory sexual assault (11 or more years older than victim) and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, first-degree felonies; sexual assault, a second-degree felony; indecent assault and endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree felonies; and corruption of minors, a first-degree misdemeanor.
After the trial, Wellsboro attorney Anne Leete filed an appeal on Fuller’s behalf.
On Thursday, the Superior Court filed the decision to stand by the conviction, Shaffer reported.
She said that Fuller’s appeal challenged two things: whether there was sufficient evidence, as well as whether “hearsay statements made by a child under the Tender Years Hearsay Act” should have been admissible as evidence.
“The Tender Years Hearsay Act allows hearsay statements of young children who are victims or witnesses to crime to be admitted at a trial under specific circumstances,” Shaffer explained.
The District Attorney’s Office filed a motion before the trial requesting use of the child’s statements at trial, and on June 4, 2019, the judge ruled “on what statements would be admissible if the child also testified at the future trial,” Shaffer said.
She explained that the Superior Court found that the prosecution provided sufficient evidence to support a conviction on all charges and also stood by the judge’s decision regarding hearsay statements.
Assistant District Attorney Ashley Shade prosecuted the case.
On Feb. 13, Judge Christopher Hauser sentenced Fuller to a state prison term of six to 15 years, and Fuller must register as a sexual offender for his lifetime.