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Dean v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

December 9, 2014

TRENT BREON DEAN, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County. The Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge.

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

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Darrell D. Jackson, Faculty Director, A. Walker Steinhage, Student Director, Kelly Owen, Student Intern, Prosecution Assistance Program. Argument by Ms. Owen.

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

OPINION

Page 510

KITE, Justice.

[¶1] A jury found Trent Breon Dean guilty of felony stalking, for stalking his victim in violation of a protection order. He appeals his conviction and sentence, claiming the district court improperly instructed the jury concerning the elements of the crime of stalking and the State did not present sufficient evidence to establish that he acted with the requisite intent. We affirm.

ISSUES

[¶2] The issues for our determination are:

1. Whether sufficient evidence was presented to establish that Mr. Dean intended to harass the victim.

2. Whether the jury was properly instructed concerning the elements of the crime of stalking.

FACTS

[¶3] The Laramie County Attorney's Office charged Mr. Dean by information on August 8, 2012, with stalking his estranged wife in violation of a protection order issued July 27, 2012, pursuant to Wyo. Stat. Ann. § § 7-3-508 and 7-3-509 (LexisNexis 2013). The affidavit of probable cause attached to the information stated that Mr. and Mrs. Dean were married but separated pending resolution of divorce proceedings filed by Mrs. Dean. It further stated that Mr. Dean had been previously convicted and sentenced to prison for felony domestic violence against Mrs. Dean and she feared further violence as a result of having filed for divorce. The affidavit stated that in a conversation with Mr. Dean on July 26, 2012, Mrs. Dean told Mr. Dean that his behavior made her fearful and she felt like he was a " ticking time bomb." After this conversation, Mr. Dean went to his wife's office and left a clock and two notes on her desk. Based on this event and Mr. Dean's past behavior, Mrs. Dean's

Page 511

supervisors called security and the building where she worked was locked down. During the lock down, Mr. Dean made repeated telephone calls to Mrs. Dean's office.

[¶4] Later, someone tried to break into Mrs. Dean's home and she called the police. The police found evidence that someone had tried to enter the home by removing a fan placed in an open window. Mrs. Dean subsequently applied for and, after a court hearing, obtained a protection order pursuant to § § 7-3-508 and 7-3-509 prohibiting Mr. Dean from contacting her. The order was entered on July 27, 2012. Despite the protection order, Mr. Dean continued to call and send text messages to Mrs. Dean. On July 31, 2012, police arrested Mr. Dean for violating the protection order. He continued to make telephone calls to Mrs. Dean from the detention center where he was being held, making fifty-six calls in seven days.

[¶5] The statute Mr. Dean was charged with violating provides in relevant part as follows:

§ 6-2-506. Stalking; penalty.
(a) As used in this section:
(i) " Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over any period of time evidencing a continuity of purpose;
(ii) " Harass" means to engage in a course of conduct, including but not limited to verbal threats, written threats, lewd or obscene statements or images, vandalism or nonconsensual physical contact, directed at a specific person or the family of a specific person, which the defendant knew or should have known would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and which does in fact seriously alarm the person toward whom it is directed.
(b) Unless otherwise provided by law, a person commits the crime of stalking if, with intent to harass another person, the person engages in a course of conduct reasonably likely to harass that person, including but not limited to any combination of the following:
(i) Communicating, anonymously or otherwise, or causing a communication with another person by verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic or written means in a manner that harasses;
(ii) Following a person, other than within the residence of the defendant;
(iii) Placing a person under surveillance by remaining present outside his or her school, place of employment, vehicle, other place occupied by the person, or residence other than the residence of the defendant; or
(iv) Otherwise engaging in a course of conduct that harasses another person.
. . . .
(e) A person convicted of stalking under subsection (b) of this section is guilty of felony stalking punishable by imprisonment for ...

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