Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Summary 2011 WY 164

Summary of Decision December 20, 2011

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

Case Name:  Earley v. State of Wyo.

Citation:  2011 WY 164

Docket Number: S-11-0118

URL: http://wyomcases.courts.state.wy.us/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=464934

Appeal from the District Court of Uinta County, The Honorable Dennis L. Sanderson, Judge

Representing Appellant (Defendant): Christopher G. Humphrey, Christopher G. Humphrey, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Meri V. Geringer, Senior Assistant Attorney General.  Argument by Ms. Geringer.

Date of Decision: December 20, 2011

Facts:  The essential facts of this case were very recently set forth in detail in Garner v. State, 2011 WY 156.  Appellant’s co-defendant was charged with one count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, and two counts of delivery of a controlled substance.  The appellant was charged with a similar conspiracy count, and with being an accessory before the fact to one of the controlled substance deliveries.  Like the appellant, her co-defendant moved for judgment of acquittal, which motion was granted as to the conspiracy charge.  The jury convicted the co-defendant of both deliveries.

Issues: 1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in granting the State’s motion to join appellant’s case with that of her co-defendant; 2) Whether the district court abused its discretion in limiting cross-examination of a witness, in admonishing the co-defendant’s counsel in that regard, and in giving the jury a curative instruction; and 3) Whether the verdict was supported by sufficient evidence.

Holdings:  Affirmed.  The Court held the district court did not abuse its discretion in joining the appellant’s case with that of her co-defendant. The Court found that the district court was correct that the evidence was clearly separable and distinct as it related to the two defendants, that the jury was properly instructed to consider the evidence of each crime separately, and that the jury readily could compartmentalize the evidence and follow the court’s instructions.

As to the second issue, the Court previously examined this precise issue in detail in Garner, concluding that the district court had not abused its discretion in limiting cross-examination, in admonishing counsel, or in giving the curative instruction.  Not finding a convincing argument to the contrary here, the Court again affirmed the district court on this issue.

As to the final issue, the Court held the State presented sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could infer beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant knowingly aided her co-defendant in the unlawful delivery of methamphetamine.  The Court found it absolutely clear from the testimony that the appellant knew her co-defendant and other associate were frantically searching for the methamphetamine she had hidden on her person, and it can be reasonably inferred from all the evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she knew why they were looking for it.  By handing the drugs to her co-defendant when she did, she knowingly aided the sale.

J Voigt delivered the opinion for the court.

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