Cabrera v. State


Oral Argument
12/12/07 – 12/12/07

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Case Description: At Cabrera’s trial, the victim testified that on August 5, 2003, she spent the night at the home of her best friend, the defendant’s daughter, along with another girl. The victim was fifteen years old at the time of the incident and during the summer of 2003, often spent the night at the Cabrera home. The victim testified that after she finished watching a movie with her friends, she went to sleep in the room of her friend’s younger brother. She awoke when she felt someone standing over her and rubbing her pubic area. That person left and she went back to sleep. Some time later, the person returned, this time locking the door. The room was dark and she was unable to identify the person; however, she said she could tell that it was an older man. The man got into bed with her, rubbed her pubic area again, kissed her, attempted to take off her shirt, and felt her breasts. She then jumped out of the bed, unlocked the door, and went to a nearby bathroom, where she stayed for about an hour. After collecting her thoughts, the victim went to her friend’s room and asked if her father was the only man in the house. Her friend began to cry. The victim and the other girl who spent the night then left the Cabrera residence and went to the home of their basketball coach. The coach contacted the victim’s parents, and soon after, the victim reported the incident to the police. When questioned by the police about the incident and at trial, Cabrera admitted to entering the bedroom that night, but that he thought the victim was his daughter and merely kissed her on her forehead. He denied having any sexual intentions or sexual contact. Cabrera was indicted on the charge of Second Degree Sexual Contact under 11 Del. C. § 768. During the jury’s deliberations, the jury sent a note to the court, requesting clarification. The note states: Our question has to do with the third part of the charge, first count, defendant acting intentionally. If we feel that the defendant intended to have sexual contact with the person, but had the identity of the person wrong, is it okay to consider this as fulfilling the requirement of the charge? Although Cabrera had testified that he thought it was his daughter in the bed, defense counsel objected on the basis that there was no evidence his daughter was under sixteen. The State responded that mistake of age would not have been a defense for that element of the crime. The court gave the jury an instruction on transferred intent.
Proceeding Description: Defendant-Appellant Jose Cabrera appeals his Superior Court conviction, by jury trial, of Second Degree Unlawful Sexual Contact. Cabrera argues that under the facts of this case, the Superior Court erred in instructing the jury on the concept of transferred intent, 2under 11 Del. C. § 262.

Outcome: The Delaware Supreme Court found no abuse of discretion by the Superior Court.


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