Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court convicting Defendant on a charge of first-degree arson. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion when, at trial, it admitted evidence of other acts, in violation of Wyo. R. Evid. 404(b). The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court did not commit plain error when it conducted its Rule 404(b) Gleason analysis after the disputed Rule 404(b) evidence had been admitted and after the close of the evidence; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted evidence of other acts at trial. View "Garrison v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court convicting Defendant on a charge of first-degree arson. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion when, at trial, it admitted evidence of other acts, in violation of Wyo. R. Evid. 404(b). The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court did not commit plain error when it conducted its Rule 404(b) Gleason analysis after the disputed Rule 404(b) evidence had been admitted and after the close of the evidence; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted evidence of other acts at trial. View "Garrison v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court sentencing Defendant to a prison term of four to six years, suspended in favor of six years of supervised probation, and ordering Defendant to pay restitution to her victim as a condition of her probation. Defendant pled guilty to exploitation of a vulnerable adult. In sentencing Defendant, the district court placed a number of conditions on her probations, including that Defendant pay restitution to the victim. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court was without authority to setting her restitution payments at $500 per month, restricting Defendant from purchasing cable television or cell phone services, and directing that her recreational vehicles and trailers be liquidated. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion or exceed its authority in imposing the conditions at issue in this case. View "Anderson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for one count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, methamphetamine, thus rejecting Defendant’s claims of error on appeal. Specifically, the court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion or commit plain error in admitting certain testimony into evidence; (2) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss on Fifth Amendment double jeopardy grounds; and (3) plain error did not occur when a law enforcement witness offered his opinion that Defendant committed the crime of conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine. View "Garriott v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of three counts of aggravated assault and battery and one count of domestic battery and sentencing Defendant to enhanced penalties under the habitual criminal statute. The court held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s assault and battery convictions; (2) the district court did not commit reversible error when it allowed the jury to hear testimony of domestic violence expert and evidence that the victim had been abused in prior relationships; and (3) the district court did not impose illegal sentences. View "Thompson v. State" on Justia Law

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Steven McLaren challenged his convictions for five felonies stemming from a bizarre and violent encounter with his girlfriend in 2014. McLaren owned 57 cats. He and his girlfriend, Jennifer Evans, referred to the cats as their “kids” or “the kid.” In March 2014, one of Mr. McLaren’s exotic Savannah kittens, Cameo, was sick, so he and Evans took it to a veterinary clinic for treatment. McLaren testified that he had injected “somewhere between a quarter and a third of a gram” of methamphetamine right before he noticed Cameo was ill, had not slept for days, and had been experiencing hallucinations since the night before. He was under the impression that Evans was attempting to harm or kill the kitten. After taking the kitten to the vet, McLaren and Evans drove around for a time. Though nothing seemed out of the ordinary at that time, McLaren came to a complete stop in the southbound lane in front of an oncoming Pepsi truck. Evans attempted to get out of the truck, but he pulled her by her hair back into the truck and locked the doors, telling her that her “kids deserved a better mother” and that she “was going to die today.” The Pepsi truck swerved around them, and McLaren turned off Highway 191, onto Wild Horse Loop. As he drove down Wild Horse Loop, Evans fought with McLaren and continued to attempt to get out, kicking the truck into park several times. McLaren also continued to hit and punch Evans; he grabbed her throat and forced her to the floorboard of the truck. At some point, McLaren opened the passenger door and Evans fell. She testified that McLaren stood over her, pulled her head to the left and the right, “trying to rip my head off,” and then let go. As soon as McLaren released her, Evans got up and ran toward Highway 191, where a truck stopped to assist her. When Evans arrived at the emergency room, she had two lacerations on her head and numerous bruises. Appealing his felonies, McLaren argued the trial court violated his due process rights when it failed to order a third competency evaluation and when it allowed defense counsel to assert a plea of not guilty by reason of mental illness (NGMI) against his will. He also argued the jury instructions contained structural error because they did not require the State to prove he did not act in a sudden heat of passion to establish attempted second-degree murder and that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied defense counsel’s motion for mistrial after McLaren’s outburst during trial. The Wyoming Supreme Court concluded that, while the trial court did not improperly fail to order a competency hearing, it violated McLaren’s due process rights when, in spite of McLaren’s numerous declarations that he did not wish to proceed with the NGMI plea, it allowed defense counsel to assert the plea at trial. View "McLaren v. Wyoming" on Justia Law

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A jury convicted appellant Donald Dean Foltz, Jr. of first-degree murder and the district court sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole. Foltz was accused of child abuse towards his girlfriend’s two-year-old son. Foltz appealed his conviction, arguing the district court erred when it denied his motion for judgment of acquittal because he contended the evidence was insufficient to support the charged against him. After review of the trial court record, the Wyoming Supreme Court found no reversible error and affirmed Foltz’s conviction. View "Foltz, Jr. v. Wyoming" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Appellant’s conviction, rendered after a jury trial, for forgery, holding that there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction under the specific subparagraph of the forgery statute that Appellant was charged with violating. On appeal, Appellant argued that, to be convicted of forgery under subparagraph (ii) of the forgery statute, the “transfer” must cause the “writing” to “purport to be the act of another” and that the State never established the causal connection in this case. The Supreme Court remanded with instructions to enter a judgment of acquittal, holding (1) in the statutory phrase “transfers any writing so that it purports to be the act of another, the transfer must cause the writing to purport to be the act of another; and (2) applying this interpretation to the facts of this case, the evidence presented by the State was insufficient to support Appellant’s conviction. View "Riddle v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant, after a jury trial, of one count of immodest, immoral or indecent liberties with a minor and three counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that the indecent liberties charge was duplicitous in that it alleged a single charge based on a course of conduct occurring during a twenty-eight month period. The Supreme Court held (1) Defendant waived any duplicity defects by failing to object; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that a single question asked by the prosecution, while potentially in violation of a pretrial order requiring notice to the trial court before inquiring into a specific area of facts, did not prejudice Defendant. View "Triplett v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of strangulation of a household member, in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-2-509(a)(i). The court held (1) contrary to Defendant’s argument on appeal, the prosecutor did not commit misconduct by withholding exculpatory information from the defense in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963); and (2) the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction of strangulation of a household member because there was sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that pressure was applied to the victim’s throat or neck and that any bodily injury was caused by impeding breathing or circulation. View "Davis v. State" on Justia Law