Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Criminal

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The State appealed the dismissal of a charge against defendant Laura Akins for her failure to notify of a death pursuant to Idaho Code section 19-4301A. In November 2015, Kimberly Vezina’s body was found wrapped in a tarp and a shower curtain in Lake Coeur d’Alene. Law enforcement’s investigation revealed that Laura Akins was suspected of disposing the body after Vezina died of a drug overdose. The statute imposes a duty on persons who find or have custody of a body to promptly notify authorities. It also prescribes the punishment for failure to comply with that duty, including felony punishment for failing to notify with intent to prevent discovery of the manner of death. The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court’s review was whether defendant’s prosecution under this statute would violate her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The Supreme Court hold that it would, based on the unique set of facts of this case and affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss the charge. View "Idaho v. Akins" on Justia Law

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Shane Kraly was convicted by jury on various charges, including injury to a child. Kraly argued the jury verdict as to the injury to child charge was not supported by sufficient evidence to conclude that he assumed care or custody of the minor child, M.M. M.M. met Kraly on social media through a mutual friend. When they met in person, Kraly showed M.M. how to use methamphetamine. After review of the district court judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the judgment of conviction and remanded with instructions for the entry of a judgment of acquittal as to the injury to child charge. However, Kraly’s other convictions remain. On a day M.M. did not show up for school, the school called her father, and her father called M.M.’s juvenile probation officer. Using M.M.’s ankle monitor’s GPS coordinates, law enforcement tracked M.M. to the casino parking lot and discovered Kraly and M.M. sitting in his truck. Kraly was later arrested and charged with rape, injury to child, possession of methamphetamine, and possession of drug paraphernalia. After trial, a jury found Kraly guilty on all counts. The pertinent part to “injury to child” was that the actor had to willfully cause a child to suffer, having the care or custody of any child. Under this standard Kraly argued he did not have “care or custody” of M.M. during the hours he spent with her and his conviction of injury to child had to be vacated. The Idaho Supreme Court agreed and reversed conviction as to that charge. The Supreme Court affirmed in all other respects. View "Idaho v. Kraly" on Justia Law

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Anthony Robins, Jr. was convicted by jury for aiding and abetting two first-degree murders and an attempted first-degree murder. While incarcerated prior to trial, Robins’s cell was searched and handwritten notes he had prepared in anticipation of a meeting with counsel were seized and delivered to the prosecuting attorney. The district court granted Robins partial relief from a violation of his attorney-client privilege but placed the burden on him to object at trial if the State offered evidence or argument arising from the privileged materials. Robins argued the district court erred in fashioning this remedy, and the Idaho Supreme Court agreed. In light of the circumstances, the Supreme Court vacated his judgment of conviction and remanded the case with instructions to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the State can overcome the presumption of prejudice arising from its violation of Robins’s attorney-client privilege. If the State can overcome the presumption, the Court held a new trial had to be conducted from which the prosecutor's office had to be recused. View "Idaho v. Robins" on Justia Law

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The issue this case presented for the Idaho Supreme Court's review centered on whether the district court erred in its application of Idaho Rule of Evidence 404(b). Juan Salinas was charged with attempted lewd conduct with a minor under sixteen after engaging in online conversations with a detective who posed as an adult. He discussed entering a sexual relationship with the fictitious adult and her minor daughter, and was arrested when he later drove to a hotel where he and the detective had agreed to meet. The State sought to admit evidence of similar conversations that Salinas had with others, as well as sexually-explicit pictures of a fifteen-year-old and four-year-old girl, not part of the State’s fictitious scenario. The district court admitted all the challenged evidence except the picture of the fifteen-year-old, which the court found was propensity evidence and prohibited under the Idaho Rules of Evidence. The district court found Salinas guilty of attempted lewd conduct after a bench trial. Salinas appealed his conviction, arguing the challenged evidence should have been excluded as inadmissible propensity evidence. After review, the Supreme Court concluded the district court did not err in admitting the challenged evidence and affirmed the judgment of conviction. View "Idaho v. Salinas" on Justia Law

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This appeal arose out of Russell Passons’s motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Idaho Criminal Rule 35. The district court denied the motion on the basis of controlling precedent of the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals relied on that precedent, Idaho v. Hernandez, 818 P.2d 768 (Ct. App. 1991), to affirm the district court’s decision. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Idaho v. Passons" on Justia Law

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In 2015, Deputy Harvey Ballman was patrolling the area near the intersection of Highways 95 and 53 in Kootenai County. At approximately 10:50 p.m., Deputy Ballman observed a vehicle, driven by defendant Antonia Fuller, traveling a few car lengths in front of him. When Fuller continued on the roadway and drove her vehicle around the right-hand curve, Deputy Ballman observed the front passenger-side tire of Fuller’s vehicle drive onto and temporarily across the solid white line on the right-hand side of the roadway (i.e., the fog line). Deputy Ballman then initiated a traffic stop, citing Fuller’s failure to maintain her lane of travel as required under Idaho Code section 49-637(1). During the traffic stop, Deputy Ballman discovered that Fuller did not have a valid driver’s license or liability insurance. Fuller was arrested for violations of Idaho Code sections 49-301(1) and 49-1232 before conducting an inventory search of her vehicle. That search revealed methamphetamine, prescription drugs, and drug paraphernalia. Fuller was never cited for a traffic offense. After considering the parties’ arguments, the district court ultimately concluded Deputy Ballman did not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that section 49-637(1) was violated. The district court thus granted Fuller’s motion to suppress. The State appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the traffic stop was unconstitutional, and affirmed the district court’s order suppressing the evidence. View "Idaho v. Fuller" on Justia Law

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Ida Perez Vasquez appealed her conviction on one count of intimidating a witness, in violation of Idaho Code section 18-2604(3). Vasquez argued that she was deprived of her state and federal constitutional right to a jury trial because, although her counsel waived her right to a jury trial, Vasquez never personally waived such right, either orally or in writing. Vasquez subsequently appealed and this case was originally heard and decided by the Court of Appeals; however, the Idaho Supreme Court granted the State of Idaho’s petition for review. Under fundamental error analysis, a criminal defendant’s waiver of the right to jury trial must be made by the defendant orally or in writing. The Supreme Court found Vasquez’s failure to personally waive her right to a jury trial was a clear violation of her constitutional rights. The Supreme Court vacated Vasquez’s conviction and remanded this case to the district court. View "Idaho v. Vasquez" on Justia Law

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Ida Vasquez was convicted by jury of one count of intimidating a witness. Vasquez argued she was deprived of her state and federal constitutional right to a jury trial because, although her counsel waived her right to a jury trial, Vasquez never personally waived such right, either orally or in writing. Vasquez subsequently appealed and this case was originally heard and decided by the Court of Appeals; however, the Idaho Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for review. Under its Court’s fundamental error analysis, the Supreme Court held a criminal defendant’s waiver of the right to jury trial must be made by the defendant orally or in writing. Vasquez’s failure to personally waive her right to jury trial was a clear violation of a constitutional right. The Judgment of Conviction was vacated nunc pro tunc to December 1, 2014. View "Idaho v. Vasquez" on Justia Law

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Erick Virgil Hall was convicted of the 2000 first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and rape of Lynn Henneman. Henneman was a flight attendant from New York, laid over in Boise that day. She and the rest of the flight crew arrived in the early afternoon and checked into a hotel near the Boise River. That evening, Henneman went walking on the Greenbelt. After failing to meet the flight crew the next morning as planned, Henneman was reported missing and an extensive search was undertaken. Two weeks later, her body was discovered floating in the Boise River more than a mile downstream from her hotel. No suspect was identified until 2003, when police were investigating the murder of another woman in the Boise foothills. Erick Hall was questioned in connection with that murder and submitted a DNA sample. Hall’s sample matched the DNA on the vaginal swabs collected from Henneman’s body three years earlier. Hall was ultimately sentenced to death for murder and to consecutive, fixed life terms for first-degree kidnapping and rape. Hall petitioned for post-conviction relief, alleging numerous errors at trial. Hall’s petition for post-conviction relief was summarily dismissed. Hall’s direct and post- conviction appeals are consolidated pursuant to Idaho Code section 19-2719(6). The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of conviction and the order dismissing the post-conviction petition. View "Idaho v. Hall" on Justia Law

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Erick Virgil Hall was convicted of the 2000 first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and rape of Lynn Henneman. Henneman was a flight attendant from New York, laid over in Boise that day. She and the rest of the flight crew arrived in the early afternoon and checked into a hotel near the Boise River. That evening, Henneman went walking on the Greenbelt. After failing to meet the flight crew the next morning as planned, Henneman was reported missing and an extensive search was undertaken. Two weeks later, her body was discovered floating in the Boise River more than a mile downstream from her hotel. No suspect was identified until 2003, when police were investigating the murder of another woman in the Boise foothills. Erick Hall was questioned in connection with that murder and submitted a DNA sample. Hall’s sample matched the DNA on the vaginal swabs collected from Henneman’s body three years earlier. Hall was ultimately sentenced to death for murder and to consecutive, fixed life terms for first-degree kidnapping and rape. Hall petitioned for post-conviction relief, alleging numerous errors at trial. Hall’s petition for post-conviction relief was summarily dismissed. Hall’s direct and post- conviction appeals are consolidated pursuant to Idaho Code section 19-2719(6). The Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of conviction and the order dismissing the post-conviction petition. View "Idaho v. Hall" on Justia Law