Showing posts with label robbery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label robbery. Show all posts

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summary 2012 WY 82

Summary of Decision June 14, 2012


[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]

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

Case Name: Jones v. State of Wyo.

Citation: 2012 WY 82

Docket Number: S-11-0073

URL: http://www.courts.state.wy.us/Opinions.aspx
Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, The Honorable Peter G. Arnold, Judge

Representing Appellant (Defendant): Diane Lozano*, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson*, Appellate Counsel; Kirk A. Morgan*; and Janae E. Ruppert, of Woodhouse Roden, LLC. Argument by Ms. Ruppert.

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Gregory A. Phillips, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage; Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Sean C. Chambers, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and John Guyton Knepper, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Knepper.

Date of Decision: June 14, 2012

Facts: Appellant robbed and killed the victim during a party. Appellant was charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. Appellant entered a plea of not guilty to each count and trial was set. The district court then began to act upon a series of motions, including the granting of Appellant’s motion for a new attorney and a subsequent motion for continuance. At trial, the State dismissed the conspiracy to commit robbery charge. The jury found Appellant guilty of murder in the first-degree and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Appellant was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Issues: 1) Whether it was plain error for the district court to omit the intent element from the jury instruction defining robbery which caused prejudice to Appellant; 2) Whether the evidence at trial was insufficient to sustain a conviction of robbery; and 3) Whether Appellant was denied his right to a fair trial due to the cumulative effect of four acts of prosecutorial misconduct.

Holdings: As to the first issue of alleged error, the Court found the judge never attempted to define “reasonable doubt,” and furthermore the jury is presumed to have followed the instructions actually given to them, which correctly placed the proper burden upon the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt

As to the second claim, The Court agreed with the State that Appellant’s argument relied on selected portions of the prosecutor’s comments which, out of context, suggest a different meaning conveyed when looking at the same comments in context. Moreover, the Court found that any impropriety was corrected by the district court’s instruction to the jury regarding the presumption of innocence, an instruction not contested by the defense.

As to the third claim, The Court found no impropriety where the prosecutor never mentioned any particular witness by name, never suggested any witness was more credible than another, and never asked the jury to sympathize with any witness.

The Court concluded that there was no prejudice to Appellant from the jury instructions, that the evidence at trial was sufficient to sustain a conviction of robbery, and that Appellant was not denied his right to a fair trial due to the cumulative effect of any alleged prosecutorial misconduct that may have occurred. Affirmed.

J. Hill delivered the opinion for the court.







Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Summary 2009 WY 25

Summary of Decision issued February 24, 2009

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

Case Name: Temen v. State

Citation: 2009 WY 25

Docket Number: S-08-0071

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, the Honorable Peter G. Arnold, Judge.

Representing Appellant Temen: Diane M. Lozano, Wyoming State Public Defender; and Tina N. Kerin, Appellate Counsel.

Representing Appellee State: Bruce A. Salzburg, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Assistant Attorney General.

Facts/Discussion: Temen was convicted of robbery and misdemeanor credit card fraud. He contended the district court erred in allowing amendment of the information during the trial and when it admitted prior bad acts evidence under W.R.E. 404(b).

Amendment of the Information Mid-Trial: Temen’s contentions rely on W.R.Cr.P.3(e) which the Court noted vested the district court with wide discretion in granting or denying a motion to amend an information. When it became apparent the State’s evidence was not sufficient to support a felony charge, the district court called the matter to the State’s attention. Neither the clerk’s record nor the trial transcript reflected that defense counsel objected to the amendment reducing the charge to a misdemeanor. During the trial proceedings, the district court informed the jury that he had granted the motion of the State to amend the information. No additional or different offense was charged and the substantial rights of the defendant were not prejudiced.
W.R.E.404(b) Evidence: Temen had been previously convicted of forgery. The State gave notice of its intent to use that conviction under the rule to show his use of the credit card was intentional and not the result of mistake. Defense counsel accepted the circumstance that if his client testified, then his prior convictions could be used to impeach him. The State limited its questions by asking if Temen had been convicted of any felonies and he replied that he had been so convicted three or four times. The Court admonished the jury that the parties had stipulated that Temen had been convicted of the crime of forgery for the limited purpose of establishing lack of mistake or accident. This was reinforced by an instruction given to the jury in writing before deliberations began.

Conclusion: Temen made no cogent argument nor did he cite any pertinent authority that would cause the Court to conclude that the amendment of the information constituted the charging of a different offense or that he was in any way prejudiced by the amendment. The district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the disputed 404(b) evidence.

Affirmed.

J. Hill delivered the decision.

Link: http://tinyurl.com/b4jugc .

[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. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Summary 2008 WY 3

Summary of Decision issued January 10, 2008

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

Case Name: Booth v. State

Citation: 2008 WY 3

Docket Number: S-07-0004

Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County, Honorable Scott W. Skavdahl, Judge

Representing Appellant (Defendant): Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Kerin, Appellate Counsel; Donna D. Domonkos, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel

Representing Appellee (Plaintiff): Patrick J. Crank, Wyoming Attorney General; Terry L. Armitage, Deputy Attorney General; and D. Michael Pauling, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Facts/Discussion: Appellant sought review of the district court’s judgment and sentence which found him guilty of first-degree, felony murder in the shooting death of a cab driver during a robbery and imposed a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. He entered into a plea bargain wherein he agreed to plead guilty to felony murder in exchange for the State deleting the premeditation aspect of first-degree murder and dismissing Count II of the complaint aggravated robbery as defined by Wyo. Stat. 6-2-401. He contended that the State breached the plea agreement by introducing evidence of premeditation and that, therefore, he be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea.

Holdings: When a plea of guilty is entered as a result of a plea agreement, any promises made by the State must be fulfilled and whether a prosecutor has violated an alleged agreement is a question that is reviewed de novo. A plea agreement is a contract between the defendant and the State to which the general principles of contract law are applied. When determining whether a breach of the plea agreement has occurred a court must: (1) examine the nature of the promise; and (2) evaluate the promise in light of the defendant's reasonable understanding of the promise at the time the plea was entered. The State may not obtain the benefit of the agreement and at the same time avoid its obligations without violating either the principles of fairness or the principles of contract law.
Appellant’s argument is that he entered into the bargain believing that the State would not be permitted to offer evidence of the sort of premeditation which typically is used to support first-degree, premeditated murder. At the sentencing hearing, the State produced evidence which arguably was directed at the subject of premeditation, over the objection of the defense. That evidence at least suggested he premeditated the murder of whomever the cab driver might have been who answered his call and, furthermore, that he did not feel remorse about the crime. Of course, it also went to establishing that Appellant had committed the robbery and murder “knowingly” and “purposely.”
The plea agreement in this case could best be described as “sketchy.” Appellant asked that the language -- “delete the premeditation aspect of first-degree murder”—be read to encompass a conclusion that the prosecution could not offer evidence which suggested that Appellant did anything other than accidentally fire the pistol during the course of the robbery. To be sure, it is evident that the State did not agree with that interpretation at the time defense counsel uttered the words he used to describe his understanding of the plea agreement, because the prosecutor stated that the operative language for consideration in the instant case was that Appellant “unlawfully, knowingly, and purposely, in the perpetration of any robbery kill another human being….” It is, of course unfortunate, if not inexcusable, that a plea bargain of this magnitude, and in a case with such profoundly significant consequences, was not reduced to writing so that its perimeters could be better defined and understood. However, based on the record, the State did not breach either the letter or the spirit of the plea agreement.

Affirmed.

J. Hill delivered the opinion for the court.

Link: http://tinyurl.com/yqbtck .

[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. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]


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