Friday, January 23, 2009

Summary 2009 WY 6

Summary of Decision issued January 23, 2009

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

Case Name: Martinez v. State

Citation: 2009 WY 6

Docket Number: S-08-0025

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, the Honorable Nicholas G. Kalokathis, Judge.

Representing Appellant Martinez: Diane M. Lozano, Wyoming State Public Defender; Tina N. Kerin, Appellate Counsel; and David E. Westling, Senior Assistant, Appellate Counsel.

Representing Appellee State: Bruce A. Salzburg, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and Cathleen D. Parker, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Facts/Discussion: Martinez challenged the district court’s judgment and sentence for the crime of aggravated assault and battery. The victim of the battery was his girlfriend, Erica Duran (Duran), who was also the mother of his child. He asserted the district court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal which was filed at the end of the presentation of the State’s evidence. That motion was based on Martinez’s theory that the victim of his crime did not suffer a severe disfigurement.

Denial of Motion for Judgment of Acquittal: The argument was limited to the single issue of whether or not there was sufficient evidence to allow the jury to deliberate the aggravated assault charge when there was no evidence that Duran suffered a severe disfigurement as contemplated by the aggravated assault statute. The Court extensively quoted its decision in Kelly v. State noting that many of the cases cited drew attention to the fact that the maximum penalty for battery is six months whereas the maximum sentence for aggravated battery is ten years of imprisonment. Based on the language used in the Wyoming Statute, the Court’s existing precedents, and the decisions found in other States, the Court was compelled to conclude the State failed to introduce evidence that Duran suffered severe disfigurement as contemplated by the governing statute.
Instruction Errors: Because the Court reversed the district court’s decision, it declined to address the issues raised with respect to the instructions given in the case.
Testimony of Undisclosed Witness: The appearance of a substitute expert medical witness, without there being any significant notice to the defendant posed a significant concern. The Court deemed it harmless in the instant case because the testimony was primarily directed at severe disfigurement and was of little relevance to the battery charge.
Assessment of Fees and Restitution: Because the Court vacated the judgment and sentence, it did not address this issue in the appeal.

Conclusion: The Court reversed because the State did not present evidence which satisfied the severe disfigurement element of the crime of aggravated assault. Because the evidence of simple battery was overwhelming, the Court directed entry of a judgment against Martinez for that crime and remanded to the district court for sentencing. Because of the reverse and remand, the Court did not address the other issues raised.

Reversed and remanded.

J. Hill 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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