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Michelle Mowery v. the State of Wyoming

March 4, 2011

MICHELLE MOWERY, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Washakie County The Honorable Robert E. Skar, Judge

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

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

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] Appellant, Michelle Mowery, appeals a conviction for felony interference with a peace officer, in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-5-204(b) (LexisNexis 2009). Ms. Mowery contends the district court erred in allowing the State to amend the information to remove the charge of attempting to interfere with a peace officer. She also asserts that the district court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on the defense of self-induced intoxication. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] Ms. Mowery presents the following issues:

1. Did the district court abuse its discretion under Wyoming Rule of Criminal Procedure 3(e) when it allowed the last minute amendment of the information which undermined the defense strategy?

2. Did the trial court err when it declined to give Ms. Mowery's requested jury instruction on the voluntary intoxication defense; should both portions of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-5-204(b) be classified as specific intent crimes which require proof of specific intent to cause bodily injury and thus make the defense of voluntary intoxication applicable?

The State rephrases the issues as follows:

1. Did the district court properly apply Wyoming Rule of Criminal Procedure 3(e) and properly exercise its discretion in allowing the amendment of the criminal information?

2. Did the district court properly refuse Appellant's proposed instruction which provided that self-induced intoxication is a defense to the crime of intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to a peace officer in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-5-204(b)?

FACTS

[¶3] On March 5, 2009, Ms. Mowery was admitted to the Washakie Medical Center after taking an overdose of two prescription medications, Tramadol and Clonazepam, in an attempt to commit suicide. She was initially treated in the emergency room, and was later transferred to the intensive care unit so that she could receive individual nursing care. The following morning, Ms. Mowery's attending physician directed that Ms. Mowery not be allowed to leave the hospital because she was still suicidal.

[¶4] After meeting with her physician on the morning of March 6th and discussing participation in a drug rehabilitation program, Ms. Mowery attempted to leave the hospital. Hospital staff called the police. An officer from the Worland Police Department responded to the call, and upon arriving at the hospital, confirmed with hospital staff that Ms. Mowery was under a hold. The officer followed Ms. Mowery onto a lawn area outside the hospital and attempted to prevent her from leaving by catching up to her and stepping in front of her. Ms. Mowery stated that she was going home and that the officer could not make her go back inside the hospital. When the officer attempted to guide Ms. Mowery back to the hospital, Ms. Mowery hit him in the face with a full can of soda. The can of soda exploded on impact, cutting the officer's lip, puncturing the inside of his mouth, and causing his face to swell. Later that afternoon, Ms. Mowery was discharged from the Washakie Medical Center and was taken by ambulance to the Wyoming Behavioral Institute in Casper. Ms. Mowery testified that she did not remember anything after taking the prescription medication on March 5th until she woke up at the Wyoming Behavioral Institute.

[¶5] Ms. Mowery's attending physician at the Washakie Medical Center testified that Ms. Mowery could still have been confused 24 hours after the overdose due to the amount of Tramadol she had ingested. The physician also testified that the effect of the Clonazepam "would be similar to someone being intoxicated and not remembering during that course of time." He testified that the effects of the Clonazepam would have been "somewhat similar to intoxication," but that the effects "had cleared by the following day," referring to March 6th.

[¶6] The State originally charged Ms. Mowery with a single count of felony interference with a peace officer in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-5-204(b). The information alleged that Ms. Mowery "did intentionally and knowingly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury to a peace officer engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties." Prior to trial, both the State and Ms. Mowery offered proposed jury instructions. Ms. Mowery offered an instruction that limited the offense to the attempted portion of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-5-204(b). She also offered an instruction on the defense of self-induced intoxication.*fn1 The State offered an instruction that included both the attempted and completed versions of felony interference with a peace officer, reflecting the crime as charged in the information.

[¶7] A one-day jury trial was held on December 9, 2009. During trial, defense counsel presented evidence relating to the defense of self-induced intoxication based on the amount and nature of the medication Ms. Mowery had taken. At the close of evidence, the court held a jury instruction conference. The State moved to amend the information to eliminate the attempt crime charged under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-5-204(b). The court granted the motion over Ms. Mowery's objection and limited the State's jury instruction to the crime of "intentionally and knowingly caus[ing] bodily injury to a peace officer . . . in the lawful performance of his official duties." In ruling on the State's motion, the district court noted that "[d]ue to the fact that the only evidence before the Court is of a battery or an actual injury to the police officer the Court is going to grant the Motion to Dismiss the attempt and limit the jury instruction to the actual causing of bodily injury." The court denied Ms. Mowery's self-induced intoxication instruction and instructed the jury that self-induced intoxication is not a defense to a completed crime of felony interference with a peace officer.

[ΒΆ8] After receiving the instructions, the jury deliberated and returned a guilty verdict. Ms. Mowery was sentenced to one to two years in the Wyoming Women's Center. Her sentence was suspended and she was placed on two years ...


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