Friday, December 12, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 144

Summary of Decision issued December 10, 2008

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

Case Name: Grady v. State

Citation: 2008 WY 144

Docket Number: 06-287

Appeal from the District Court of Teton County, the Honorable Norman Young, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Kerin, Appellate Counsel; David Westling, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel; Kirk A. Morgan, Assistant Appellate Counsel.

Representing Appellee: Bruce A. Salzburg, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Leda M. Pojman, Assistant Attorney General.

Facts/Discussion: A jury convicted Grady of attempted first degree sexual assault and first degree murder for which he was sentenced to consecutive terms of imprisonment of forty to fifty years and life without the possibility of parole.

Exclusion of Alternate Suspect Evidence: Prior to Grady’s second trial, the State filed a motion to exclude evidence of alternate suspects in the murder until Grady produced an adequate evidentiary basis supporting its admission. The district court denied the State’s motion but ruled it would require Grady to establish at trial a proper foundation for the admission of any proffered alternate suspect evidence under the standard articulated in United States v. McVeigh. At trial, Grady provided an offer of proof which the district court ruled insufficient to establish the requisite nexus to allow the evidence regarding Goss, Kubiak, and Sanchez to be presented to the jury.
The Court noted that its decision in Bush v. State controlled their resolution of the issue. If the proffered evidence does not sufficiently connect the alternate suspect to the crime, the evidence may be properly excluded. The Court reviewed the proffered testimony Grady sought to be admitted to show that Goss, Kubiak or Sanchez committed the murder. The evidence proffered regarding Goss was purely speculative and did not link him to the crime charged. The testimony proffered concerning the absence of DNA testing on Kubiak also did nothing to connect Kubiak to the murder. The testimony concerning Sanchez, at most, indicated that he may or may not have been on the mushroom farm transport bus on the morning of the murder. It did not provide a connection between Sanchez and the crime charged. As to Grady’s contention the district court violated his right to present a defense when it prohibited testimony concerning statements made by Scott Young, Grady presented no argument challenging the legality of the district court’s ruling but merely asserted the statements should have been allowed as alternate suspect evidence. As stated in Bush, a defendant may introduce any legal evidence tending to prove that another person may have committed the crime in which the defendant is charged.

Denial of Motion for Continuance:
The personal journal of a correctional officer was included as part of the Wyoming DOC internal investigation of the murder at the Honor Farm. The district court denied Grady’s request for continuance based on the journal, stating the information was interesting but not enough to require the court to grant a continuance. Grady’s only legal argument was that a continuance should have been granted because the State violated the district court’s discovery order. The record reveals no such violation. The Court considered whether the journal was of such significance as to warrant a continuance after the trial had begun. The Court reviewed the documents and stated the district court did not abuse its discretion and that the information was too speculative to merit a continuance.

Lost Evidence:
A letter identified by Mr. Watts as a 10-15 year old letter from a previous affair that Mrs. Watts had was lost. The letter had been analyzed by the Crime Lab and concluded it was not written by Grady. Asserting the letter was exculpatory evidence and material to his defense, he moved to dismiss with prejudice on due process grounds citing Arizona v. Youngblood and California v. Trombetta. Nothing in the record suggested that the identity of the letter’s author could have been derived from its contents, much less that the author was in some manner associated with Mrs. Watts or the Honor Farm at the time of the murder. The Court found no evidence that the State acted in bad faith when it failed to preserve the letter. There was no evidence the loss of the letter was anything other than a byproduct of the State’s negligence.

Prosecutorial Misconduct:
The Court reviewed the prosecutor’s challenged remarks in light of the district court’s ruling and found no merit in the claim. The instances at issue in the guilt phase closing argument occurred during the prosecutor’s discussion of the instant charges for which Grady was on trial. It did not involve Grady’s prior conviction so the prosecutor’s use of the term “rape” under the circumstances was not improper.

Holding: A defendant may introduce any legal evidence tending to prove that another person may have committed the crime in which the defendant is charged. Absent a showing that the statements were legally admissible, the Court could not find the district court erred in excluding them. The information in the journal was too speculative to merit a continuance of the trial. Because there was no evidence the loss of the letter was anything other than a byproduct of the State’s negligence, the State’s failure to make the letter available to Grady did not violate his right to due process. The Court found no merit in Grady’s prosecutorial misconduct claim.


J. Golden delivered the decision.

Link: .

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

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