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Romero v. State

June 24, 2010

RONALD ANDREW ROMERO, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Michael K. Davis, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burke, Justice.

Before VOIGT, C. J., and GOLDEN, HILL, KITE, and BURKE, JJ.

[¶1] Ronald Romero challenges the sentence he received after being convicted on a felony charge of a third battery against a household member. He claims the State failed to prove that one of his prior convictions was against a household member. Satisfied that the proof was sufficient, we will affirm Mr. Romero's sentence.

ISSUE

[¶2] Mr. Romero presents one issue: "Did the State prove that Mr. Romero was subject to felony punishment under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-501(f)(ii)?"

FACTS

[¶3] On March 3, 2009, a jury found Mr. Romero guilty of battery against a household member. Following a procedure previously agreed to by the parties, the district court dismissed the jury, then allowed the State to present evidence of two of Mr. Romero's prior convictions. The State offered Exhibit 15, which was an authenticated copy of a Judgment and Sentence entered against Mr. Romero in 2007, and Exhibit 16, an authenticated copy of an Amended Judgment and Sentence entered against Mr. Romero in 2000. Mr. Romero offered no objection, and the district court received Exhibits 15 and 16 into evidence "for purposes of sentencing." The district court then ordered the preparation of a Presentence Investigation Report for Mr. Romero.

[¶4] At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Romero's defense counsel indicated that they had received and reviewed the Presentence Investigation Report, and had a single objection. The Report indicated that Mr. Romero had been convicted of misdemeanor harassment in 2003. Mr. Romero contended that this charge had been dismissed, and did not result in a conviction. The district court agreed to disregard that information. Defense counsel stated that Mr. Romero had "no material corrections to make" to any of the other information contained in the Report. After Mr. Romero offered several witnesses who spoke on his behalf, the district court, at Mr. Romero's request, continued the sentencing hearing to allow Mr. Romero an opportunity to complete his efforts to gain acceptance into a community corrections or alcohol treatment program.

[¶5] When the sentencing hearing was later reconvened, the district court heard from the victim, and from Mr. Romero himself. The district court stated, however, that its "focus" in sentencing would be "on the information that has come out through the Presentence Investigation Report." Mr. Romero made no objection. The district court then pronounced that, "With regard to the charge of battery, third offense domestic, under Wyoming Statute 6-2-501(b)(f)(ii), I will impose a sentence of not less than three, nor more than five years of confinement by the Wyoming Department of Corrections." Mr. Romero has appealed that sentencing decision.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶6] Mr. Romero's issue is best characterized as a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence.

When we review a criminal conviction for sufficiency of the evidence, we view facts in the light most favorable to the State. Downs v. State, 581 P.2d 610, 614 (Wyo. 1978). We leave out any conflicting evidence of the defendant, and draw every reasonable inference in the State's favor. Id. The question we must answer is whether a reasonable and rational jury could have convicted the defendant of the crime based upon the evidence that was presented at trial. Horn v. State, 554 P.2d 1141, 1145 (Wyo. 1976).

Guy v. State, 2008 WY 56, ¶ 37, 184 P.3d 687, 698 (Wyo. 2008). We apply the same standard to a decision made by the court rather than a jury. Fitzgerald v. State, 599 P.2d 572, 574 (Wyo. 1979) ("The function of the finder of fact in cases tried to a court is identical to that in cases tried to juries, and the same rules are ...


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