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Shawn Osborne v. the State of Wyoming

September 13, 2012

SHAWN OSBORNE, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Sheridan County The Honorable John G. Fenn, Judge

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

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

KITE, C.J., delivers the opinion of the Court; VOIGT, J., files a specially concurring opinion.

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 typographical or other formal errors so correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] A Sheridan County jury found Shawn Osborne guilty of first degree murder. He appeals the conviction, claiming his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to properly investigate and seek expert assistance with his defense that he was under the influence of alcohol and amphetamines to such an extent that he could not form the specific intent necessary for first degree murder. We conclude Mr. Osborne has failed to meet his burden of proving he was prejudiced by any deficient performance of trial counsel and affirm his conviction.

ISSUE

[¶2] Mr. Osborne states the issue for this Court's consideration as follows:

Was Shawn Osborne denied effective assistance of counsel when his trial counsel failed to properly investigate and secure expert testimony thereby violating the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the requirements of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 104 S. Ct. 2052 (1984)?

The State phrases the issue as follows:

Wyoming Statute[] § 6-1-202 disallows self-induced intoxication as a defense to a criminal charge, but it allows defendants to offer evidence of it if relevant to negate a specific-intent element of a crime. Osborne's trial counsel offered evidence of self-induced intoxication to negate the premeditation element of the first-degree murder charge but did not present any expert testimony. Was counsel ineffective in failing to use an expert even though he reasonably investigated the facts of Osborne's case and made all the relevant arguments and objections at trial?

FACTS

[¶3] In 2010, the Sheridan County prosecuting attorney charged Mr. Osborne with first degree murder in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-101(a) (LexisNexis 2011). According to the affidavit of probable cause attached to the information, Dee Himes came to the Sheridan police department on the afternoon of January 15, 2010, and reported that a dead body was under the trailer home where she and her boyfriend lived. She told police that Mr. Osborne, who also lived in the home, had awakened her and her boyfriend in the early morning hours that same day and told them he had killed Gerald Bloom, another occupant of the trailer home. She stated that she went to Mr. Bloom's bedroom where she saw his body lying on the floor. She said Mr. Osborne told her later that morning that Mr. Bloom's body was buried underneath the trailer home.

[¶4] Based upon Ms. Himes' report, police officers went to the trailer home and announced their presence. Mr. Osborne was the first to respond to the officers. His clothes and arms were stained with blood and he appeared to have been asleep. Inside the trailer home the officers found a knife in the kitchen sink along with cleaning products and what appeared to be diluted blood. The knife was later identified as belonging to Mr. Osborne. The officers also found blood stains on the carpet in one of the bedrooms. The officers found Mr. Bloom's body inside a sleeping bag in the crawl space underneath the trailer home. An autopsy revealed that Mr. Bloom died as a result of stab wounds to the neck.

[ΒΆ5] Based upon the evidence found at the trailer home and the witness statements, the officers took Mr. Osborne to the police station to be interviewed. During the interview, the officers told Mr. Osborne they had talked to other witnesses and asked Mr. Osborne if he wanted to tell them his side of the story. Mr. Osborne stated that he had gotten into a fight and it went too far. Mr. ...


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