Thursday, April 12, 2012

Summary 2012 WY 58

Summary of Decision April 12, 2012

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Docket Number: S-11-0085

Appeal from the District Court of Sheridan County, Honorable John G. Fenn, Judge

Representing Appellant (Plaintiff/Defendant): Elisabeth M. W. Trefonas, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, WY.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff/Defendant): Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Senior Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and Justin A. Daraie, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Daraie.

Date of Decision: April 12, 2012

Facts: A jury convicted Dennis Poitra Jr., of felony murder, aggravated burglary, and conspiracy to commit burglary. Poitra and two other assailants were involved in the armed robbery of a residence in Sheridan that ended in the killing of 76-year-old Bob Ernst. Poitra presents four issues on appeal.

Issues: The trial court erred in denying Poitra’s right to present the defense of involuntary intoxication, because involuntary intoxication does not require a “Not Guilty by Reason of Mental Illness” plea. The trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the defense of involuntary intoxication. The trial court abused its discretion in denying Poitra’s motion to change venue and violated his right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury. Poitra’s sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole was arbitrary and capricious.

Holdings: The Court found that the trial court did not deny Poitra his constitutional right to present a defense by restricting the use of certain evidence. The Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Poitra’s motion for a change of venue, and disagreed that the court impaneled a biased juror. Finally, the Court found that the district court did not abuse its discretion at sentencing. The conviction and sentence in this case was affirmed.

Justice Hill delivered the opinion for the court.

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