Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of eight felonies and holding that Defendant had failed to prove that he was not guilty by reason of mental illness or defect. Defendant was charged with eight felonies, including aggravated assault and battery, aggravated robbery, and theft. Defendant pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness or defect (NGMI). After a bench trial the court found Defendant guilty on all eight counts. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in concluding that he failed to prove he was not guilty by reason of mental illness. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the applicable standard of review is whether, after reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, a rational trier of fact could have found that the defendant failed to prove the defense by a preponderance of the evidence; and (2) under this standard, Appellant failed to prove the NGMI defense by a preponderance of the evidence. View "Gabbert v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Appellant’s second conviction for kidnapping and affirmed his remaining convictions, holding that Appellant’s convictions and sentences for two counts of kidnapping violate double jeopardy. Appellant was convicted of strangulation of a household member, domestic battery, and two counts of kidnapping. The convictions arose from a single violent episode involving Appellant’s girlfriend. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the State to introduce evidence of uncharged misconduct; (2) the two convictions for kidnapping violated Appellant’s protections against double jeopardy because Appellant’s actions supported only one continuing kidnapping offense; and (3) the separate convictions for domestic battery and strangulation of a household member did not violate Appellant’s protections against double jeopardy because Appellant did not satisfy his burden to prove that the two convictions were based on the same incident. View "Volpi v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated certain portions of the order of the district court fixing restitution after Defendant pleaded no contest to obtaining welfare benefits by misrepresentation. Following Defendant’s no-contest plea, the district court fixed restitution at $18,733. Defendant filed a motion requesting that the district court find she was unable to pay the restitution. After a hearing, the district court issued an order that fixed the amount of Defendant’s restitution at $18,733 but did not require Defendant to pay it, finding that she lacked the ability to do so. Nevertheless, the district court allowed the State to reduce $18,733 to a civil judgment. The Supreme Court held (1) because the district court did not order restitution, it erred as a matter of law when it allowed the State to reduce $18,733 to a civil judgment; and (2) the district court erred as a matter of law by failing either to order restitution or specifically find that there exists no reasonable probability that Defendant will be able to pay restitution in the future. View "McEwan v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant, after a jury trial, of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and battery, and conspiracy to commit theft. On appeal, Defendant argued that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to support three of his convictions. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that there was insufficient evidence to support Defendant’s convictions of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault and battery. View "Jordin v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of two counts of first degree sexual abuse of a minor and three counts of second degree sexual abuse of a minor, holding that the district court did not err by determining that the minor victim, FH, was competent to testify. On appeal, Defendant argued that the record did not support the district court’s determination that FH had a memory sufficient to retain an independent recollection of the abuse, and therefore, the five-part test adopted in Larsen v. State, 686 P.2d at 585 (Wyo. 1984), to determine a child witness’s competence to testify was not met. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the district court conducted the required analysis under Larsen, and the record supported the district court’s conclusion that FH had a sufficient memory to testify. View "Young v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s conviction of one count of sexual assault in the first degree, holding that Appellant’s trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance. The jury in this case concluded that Appellant committed sexual intrusion upon a non-consenting victim whom Appellant knew or had reason to believe was physically helpless. On appeal, Appellant argued that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to object to inadmissible evidence, failing to adequately advance her theory of the case, and failing to suppress the statements made by Appellant when under investigative detention. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that trial counsel was not ineffective in her representation of Appellant. View "Bruckner v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s felony conviction for one count of sexual exploitation of a child - possession of child pornography. On appeal, Defendant argued that the prosecutor committed misconduct in rebuttal closing argument by arguing a theory of the case not supported by the evidence. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the prosecutor did not commit misconduct where the prosecutor’s challenged statements were supported by and directly discerned from the victim’s testimony and the record gave no indication that the prosecutor intentionally misstated the evidence or argued an unreasonable inference from the victim’s testimony. View "King v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s order requiring Defendant and her husband to be jointly and severally liable for the payment of $17,515 in restitution to Wyoming Medicaid for its expenditures on behalf of one of Defendant’s victims. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of being an accessory to the second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of third-degree sexual abuse of a second minor. The district court ordered that Defendant and her husband were jointly and severally liable for the requested amount of restitution. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence contained in the presentence investigation report together with the victim impact statement made by the second victim’s mother at the sentencing hearing provided sufficient support for the district court’s award of $17,515 to Wyoming Medicaid. View "Smiley v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s conviction for delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, holding that, even if the photographic identification procedure used by law enforcement during their investigation of the crime was impermissibly suggestive, it did not give rise to a very substantial likelihood of irreparable misidentification. During the proceedings below, Appellant challenged the photo identification in a motion in limine. The motion was denied. On appeal, Appellant argued that the photo identification procedure violated his due process rights. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the identification was sufficiently reliable to satisfy the demands of due process, and therefore, the district court did not err in admitting the identification. View "Majhanovich v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence that led to Defendant’s conviction for marijuana possession. Corporal Bradley Halter stopped Defendant for a traffic violation. When Defendant attempted to walk away from the traffic stop, Corporal Halter handcuffed Defendant. Because Defendant smelled of marijuana and was impaired, Corporal conducted a search of Defendant’s person, which produced methamphetamine, and, after a subsequent search, marijuana and hashish. After the denial of his motion to suppress, Defendant entered a conditional plea to the possession of marijuana. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Corporal Halter’s seizure of the methpahetamine and subsequent search was supported by both the plain feel doctrine and by standard probable cause considerations. View "Maestas v. State" on Justia Law