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Griggs v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

February 2, 2016

BYRON NELSON GRIGGS, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)

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Appeal from the District Court of Sweetwater County. The Honorable Richard L. Lavery, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Office of the Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel. Argument by Ms. Olson.

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, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.

OPINION

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KAUTZ, Justice.

[¶1] A jury found Byron Nelson Griggs guilty of four counts of first degree sexual abuse involving two minors, and the district court sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole because he had previously been convicted of a similar offense. On appeal, Mr. Griggs asserts the district court erred by rejecting his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, determining the child witnesses were competent to testify, admitting hearsay testimony from various witnesses, denying his request for a continuance, and admitting evidence under W.R.E. 404(b). He also claims his constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated.

[¶2] In most respects, the district court's rulings were correct. The district court did err in allowing the admission of some of the hearsay testimony at trial; however, the errors were harmless under the circumstances of this case. Consequently, we affirm.

ISSUES

[¶3] Mr. Griggs presents the following issues on appeal, which we rephrase and reorganize for a more efficient resolution:

I. Did the trial court err in finding the children competent to testify?
II. Did the Office of the State Public Defender, including trial counsel, provide ineffective assistance of counsel to Mr. Griggs because no expert witness was called to testify regarding the competency and alleged taint of the child witnesses?
III. Was Mr. Griggs denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial?
IV. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying Mr. Griggs' last motion for a continuance?
V. Did the trial court err in admitting hearsay testimony regarding the children's statements?

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VI. Did the trial court err in allowing admission of evidence under W.R.E. 404(b) because the evidence was more prejudicial than probative?

The State presents the same issues, although they are phrased ...


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