Monday, January 27, 2014

Summary 2014 WY 14

Summary of Decision January 27, 2014

Justice Burke delivered the opinion of the Court. Affirmed.


Docket Number: S-12-0281


Appeal from the District Court of Platte County, the Honorable Keith G. Kautz, Judge

Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Elisabeth M. W. Trefonas, Assistant Public Defender. Argument by Ms. Trefonas.

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jeffrey S. Pope, Assistant Attorney General; Jennifer E. Zissou, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Zissou.

Date of Decision: January 27, 2014

Facts: Appellant, Jesus Antonio Gonzalez-Ochoa, appeals from a judgment and sentence following his conviction on one count of first degree murder. He raises issues involving assertions of an improper evidentiary ruling, prosecutorial misconduct, and error in instructing the jury.

Issues: 1) Did the district court admit evidence of uncharged misconduct in violation of Rule 404(b) of the Wyoming Rules of Evidence? 2) Did the prosecutor engage in misconduct during closing argument by asserting facts not in evidence? 3) Did the district court err in refusing to give jury instructions proposed by the defense?

Holdings/Conclusion: 1) The district court could reasonably conclude that the testimony was not 404(b) evidence and we find no abuse of discretion in its decision to overrule the objection. Additionally, we are convinced that the verdict would have remained the same if the evidence had been excluded. 2) The prosecutor did not commit misconduct. 3) Appellant’s credibility was impeached in this case. Because Appellant’s credibility had been impeached, the Eagan Rule did not apply. The State further contends that an Eagan instruction was inappropriate because Appellant’s testimony was improbable. We agree, and on this basis as well, conclude that the district court did not err in refusing to give an “Eagan instruction” to the jury. Appellant’s conviction is affirmed.

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

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