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Brown v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

August 19, 2014

KIYON L. BROWN, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)

Page 1169

Appeal from the District Court of Natrona County. The Honorable W. Thomas Sullins, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel; Eric M. Alden, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel. Argument by Mr. Alden.

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Caitlin F. Young, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Young.

Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE,[*] DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1170

FOX, Justice.

[¶1] A jury convicted Appellant Kiyon L. Brown of aggravated battery in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-502(a)(i) (LexisNexis 2013), arising from an altercation with his girlfriend and his girlfriend's sister. Mr. Brown appeals his conviction, claiming that the evidence failed to establish that the victim suffered serious bodily injury, that the jury was given inadequate instructions on the theory of self-defense, and that he was denied due process of law due to prosecutorial misconduct during the trial. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] 1. Was there sufficient evidence to establish that the victim suffered serious bodily injury?

2. Was the jury adequately instructed on the theory of self-defense?

Page 1171

3. Did the prosecutor's attempt to elicit sympathy for the victim constitute prosecutorial misconduct that denied Mr. Brown due process of law?

FACTS

[¶3] Kiyon L. Brown lived in Casper, Wyoming, where he shared an apartment with his girlfriend, Jeannie Jacobsen, and her daughter. Ms. Jacobsen's mother passed away, and the family had a wake for her on January 25, 2013. As a result, numerous family members, including Ms. Jacobsen's sister, Kimberlin Otto, came to stay with Ms. Jacobsen and Mr. Brown.

[¶4] Tensions rose between Ms. Jacobsen and Mr. Brown throughout the day of the wake, but came to a head that night and early the next morning. After the wake, Ms. Jacobsen contacted Mr. Brown to obtain his key to the apartment, having forgotten her own. When Ms. Jacobsen went to retrieve the key from Mr. Brown, she informed him that she did not want him to return to their shared apartment that night. After settling family members in at the apartment, Ms. Jacobsen then went to a local bar with family and friends. Mr. Brown later returned to the apartment where Ms. Otto and a number of children had remained. Later that night or in the early hours of the next morning, Ms. Jacobsen returned to the apartment. Mr. Brown confronted her at the door and the two moved into the kitchen. The testimony begins to diverge at this point. Mr. Brown alleges that Ms. Jacobsen punched him in the chest with his key. Ms. Jacobsen, however, testified that she did not, at any time, hit Mr. Brown, and that he grabbed her by the throat while confronting her in the kitchen. Ms. Jacobsen's daughter awoke, and frightened by the scene in the kitchen, woke Ms. Otto. Ms. Otto rose from bed and went to the kitchen telling the parties to stop fighting as there were children present. Ms. Jacobsen and Mr. Brown then separated.

[¶5] Mr. Brown returned to the bedroom while Ms. Jacobsen lay down with her daughter in the living room. Mr. Brown rose from bed and again began to quarrel with Ms. Jacobsen, demanding that she return his key. Ms. Jacobsen went into the bathroom where she placed the key in her bra. Mr. Brown followed Ms. Jacobsen into the bathroom where Mr. Brown claims he attempted to reach for the key. Ms. Otto testified, however, that she saw Mr. Brown's hand closed in a fist appearing as though he was about to strike Ms. Jacobsen. Entering the bathroom, Ms. Otto jumped on Mr. Brown to prevent him from hitting Ms. Jacobsen, pulling him to the floor. Arising, Mr. Brown began to hit Ms. Otto. He then turned to Ms. Jacobsen, who had fallen in the bathtub during the melee, and struck her, breaking her jaw in two places.

[¶6] Mr. Brown was charged with one count of aggravated battery in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-502(a)(i) as a result of his blow to Ms. Jacobsen. He was also charged with one count of misdemeanor battery in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-501(b), (d) (LexisNexis 2013)[1] for striking Ms. Otto.

[¶7] A jury convicted Mr. Brown of aggravated battery in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-502(a)(i) and acquitted Mr. Brown on the charge of misdemeanor battery (of the sister) in violation of § 6-2-501(b), (d). Mr. Brown then filed a motion for a new trial which ...


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