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Poitra v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

February 17, 2016

DENNIS ANTHONY POITRA, JR., Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)

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

Representing Appellant: Office of the Public Defender: Diane Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel; David E. Westling, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel.

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

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

OPINION

Page 285

DAVIS, Justice.

[¶1] Appellant Dennis Anthony Poitra, Jr., filed a motion to reduce his sentence of life without the possibility of parole to life as a matter of law. In support of his motion, he argued before the district court that because two juvenile codefendants may receive life sentences with the possibility of parole due to a United States Supreme Court decision and changes in the Wyoming Statutes, his sentence should be the same because he was just

Page 286

over the age of majority and no more mature when the crimes were committed.

[¶2] On appeal, Poitra argues that his sentence violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and denies him equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.[1] Because the constitutional issues were not raised below, because the equal protection argument is not cogently presented on appeal, and because the Eighth Amendment claim is not of a fundamental nature, we affirm.

ISSUES

[¶3] We restate the issues as we have been able to distill them from the briefs as follows:

1. Can Poitra raise an Eighth Amendment cruel and unusual punishment claim for the first time on appeal?

2. Can Poitra raise a Fourteenth Amendment equal protection claim for the first time on appeal?

3. If neither claim was preserved, did the district court abuse its discretion in denying the ...


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