Summary of Decision May 31, 2013
District Court Judge Wilking delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed.
Case Name: JESSY MICHAEL DENNIS v. THE STATE OF WYOMING
Docket Number: S-12-0190
Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, the Honorable Michael Davis, Judge
Representing Appellant: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel; Eric M. Alden, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel. Argument by Mr. Alden.
Representing Appellee: Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Theodore R. Racines, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Christyne M. Martens, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Martens.
Date of Decision: May 31, 2013
Facts: A jury convicted Jessy Michael Dennis (Dennis), of aggravated burglary in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-3-301(c)(i) (LexisNexis 2011). Dennis now appeals his conviction. He contends there was insufficient evidence of a corpus delicti and no evidence was presented to contradict the innocent intent expressed in his extrajudicial statements. He also argues the district court erred by declining his proposed specific intent instruction and adopting instructions that did not adequately explain the elements of aggravated burglary.
Issues: The State adequately describes the issues presented to the Court: Wyoming law requires independent proof of corpus delicti before an admission can be considered as evidence supporting a conviction. Dennis admitted he entered the victims’ unlocked home and took a pistol, which he later returned. The victims testified consistently with that admission--that someone entered their home without permission and removed a pistol. Did this testimony provide sufficient corroboration of Dennis’ admissions so that the jury could consider those admissions and so that the jury’s guilty verdict was supported by sufficient evidence? The test for jury instructions is whether they “leave no doubt as to the circumstances under which the crime can be found to have been committed.” The district court gave jury instructions about aggravated burglary that closely tracked the applicable statutory language, and Dennis agreed at trial that those instructions correctly stated the law. However, he proposed an additional instruction on the specific intent element of aggravated burglary which the court refused because it was repetitive and confusing. Did the court adequately instruct the jury on the elements of aggravated burglary?
Holdings: We find that sufficient independent evidence was presented to corroborate Dennis’ extrajudicial statements and to convict him of aggravated burglary. We further find that the jury was properly instructed. Affirmed.
Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Summary of Decision May 31, 2013