Thursday, August 01, 2013

Summary 2013 WY 74

Summary of Decision June 17, 2013

Justice Burke delivered the opinion for the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S-12-0166


Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge

Representing Appellant (Plaintiff/Defendant): Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Appellate Counsel; David E. Westling, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff/Defendant): Gregory A. Phillips, Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Theodore R. Racines, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Darrell D. Jackson, Director, Emily N. Thomas, Student Director, and Shaina A. Case, Student Intern, Prosecution Assistance Program, University of Wyoming, College of Law.

Date of Decision: June 17, 2013

Facts: Nicholas M. Montee was convicted of second degree arson. His claim on appeal is that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction.

Issues: Mr. Montee presents a single issue: Was there sufficient evidence to support a conviction of second degree arson? The State presents the same issue with more elaboration: Under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-3-102(a), a person is guilty of second degree arson if he starts a fire with intent to destroy or damage property to collect insurance. At trial, the State presented evidence that Mr. Montee admitted he started a fire in his late mother’s house, which he stood to inherit. Moreover, the State offered circumstantial evidence showing he intentionally started the fire to collect insurance proceeds. Did the State provide sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find Mr. Montee guilty?

Holdings: Mr. Montee’s argument is unpersuasive. The origin of the fire is not a “necessary fact” because it is not one of the elements of the crime of second degree arson. In Mr. Montee’s case, the State was required to prove that on or about the 13th day of February, 2011, in Laramie County, Wyoming, the Defendant, Mr. Montee, started a fire with intent to destroy or damage any property to cause collection of insurance for the loss. It was not required to prove where the fire started. After considering the evidence, the jury might have found that the fire started in the kitchen, in the bedroom closet, or in both places. Wherever the fire originated, the evidence was sufficient for the jury to find that Mr. Montee started the fire with the requisite intent. Affirmed.

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

[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. You will also note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you need to provide a pinpoint citation to a quote the universal portion of the citation will use that paragraph number. The pinpoint citation in the P.3d portion will need to have the reporter page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation from this, or any future opinion using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library and we will provide any needed assistance]

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