Christopher M. Dickerson was convicted following a four-day bench trial in 2011 on a second-degree charge of sexual contact with a child. A charge of third degree endangering the welfare of the same child and of fourth-degree lewdness for exposing his genitalia to that child were merged into the sexual contact charge.
He was sentenced to six years in prison, subject to an 85 percent parole disqualification.
The decision was reversed and remanded for further proceedings on Wednesday, according to an unpublished opinion posted on the State Judiciary’s website. The State doesn’t retain jurisdiction in the matter.
Dickerson stood accused of exposing his genitals to a four-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy while in their Gloucester Township home on Jan. 24, 2007. He was also accused of fondling the girl by touching her genitalia.
The father of the two children immediately learned what happened and dialed 9-1-1. Dickerson was arrested at the victims’ home.
During questioning by police, Dickerson at one point claimed he wanted his lawyer. Police asked if he wanted his lawyer immediately, and Dickerson said he would wait until the following day.
Dickerson said he initially didn’t want to speak to police officers, but reversed course after they told him his father had been sent home because Dickerson was 18 at the time of the crime.
He went on to tell detectives, “Maybe my penis was out,” that “it was a mistake” and he was “a little buzzed,” as he had stopped by the house to use the bathroom and call his father on the way home from a party.
He also admitted to touching the girl’s inner thigh by “accident,” and that he “may have touched her private part, but I thought I touched her leg.” He said he felt bad enough to apologize.
One of the officers secretly recorded Dickerson via a hidden pocket audio recorder. Dickerson verbally waived his Miranda rights and signed a waiver before being questioned.
Dickerson claims his Miranda suppression statement was improperly denied. The state found that all statements made after Dickerson expressed his wish to see his attorney should’ve been suppressed.
Although the judge didn’t discuss Dickerson’s admission during her decision, the state can’t assume she didn’t consider the statements in rendering her verdict.
Dickerson also claims the video taped testimony of the child shouldn’t have been admitted, and after the judge disregarded the evidence, he was acquitted of the charge involving the four-year-old girl.
He also claimed the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, but the state found that claim to be insufficient and didn’t require investigation.