Friday, May 11, 2007

Summary 2007 WY 78

Summary of Decision issued May 11, 2007

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Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Case Name: Ewing v. State

Citation: 2007 WY 78

Docket Number: 06-19

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, the Honorable Edward L. Grant, Judge

Representing Appellant (Defendant): Kenneth M. Koski, State Public Defender; Donna D. Domonkos, Appellate Counsel Argument by Ms. Domonkos.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Patrick J. Crank, Attorney General; Paul Rehurek, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and Cathleen D. Parker, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Parker.

Issues: Whether the district court erred in refusing to give an instruction on the meaning of the word “drawn”. Whether there was sufficient evidence presented at trial on the charge of aggravated assault to support the jury’s guilty verdict.

Facts/Discussion: Ewing was convicted of interference with a peace officer under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-5-204(a) and aggravated assault and battery with a drawn weapon under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-502(a)(iii).
Ewing returned home on January 31, 2004 to learn that police had been at the house earlier that evening with a warrant for his arrest. His housemate became upset with him and called police to remove him from the home. Ewing went to a shed on the property. Police arrived, they approached the shed and ordered Ewing to come out, he refused and when the officers tried to open the shed, he warned them he would shoot them and then himself. Hours later, after pepper spray was launched into the shed by SWAT officers, Ewing emerged.
Jury Instruction: The Court will not find reversible error in a trial court’s instructions to the jury unless the instructions do not correctly state the law, or the instructions, taken as a whole, do not sufficiently cover the issues presented at trial. A trial court is under no obligation to define a statutory term unless the term carries a technical connotation different from its everyday meaning. Ewing did not show that the word “drawn” needed further definition.
Sufficiency of the Evidence: When there is a claim of insufficiency of the evidence, the Court determines whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In Hart v. State, the Court previously found that sufficient evidence existed to uphold a conviction for aggravated assault where a defendant did not point the gun at the victim. Ewing’s argument that he could not be convicted because no one saw him with the rifle failed because the law does not require direct proof. The jury could reasonably have inferred from the circumstantial evidence presented that the deadly weapon found with Ewings’ possessions at the end of the standoff had been “drawn” while the police were under threat.

Holding: The district court properly refused Ewing’s instruction defining the word “drawn” in the aggravated assault statute, and there was sufficient evidence to support his conviction under § 6-2-502(a)(iii).


C.J. Voigt delivered the decision.

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