from the District Court of Natrona County. The Honorable
Daniel L. Forgey, Judge.
Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane M.
Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate
Counsel. Argument by Ms. Olson.
Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General; David L.
Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Christyne M. Martens,
Senior Assistant Attorney General; Marc L. Smith, Special
Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Smith.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
[¶1] Appellant, James Daryl Emerson,
challenges the district court's denial of his motion for
a new trial. We affirm.
[¶2] Appellant presents one issue:
Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying
Appellant's motion for a new trial?
[¶3] On the evening of March 19, 2014,
Appellant was at his nephew Samson's residence drinking
with Samson, Alisha Ayers, and Jeremy Cantleberry. At some
point, Appellant and Mr. Cantleberry got into a heated
argument. Samson told everyone to leave and, in response,
Appellant began yelling at Samson. Ultimately, Appellant left
the residence and walked down the street to his home, which
he shared with Mr. Cantleberry.
[¶4] Subsequently, Samson discovered that
Appellant had forgotten his cell phone. He took the phone to
Appellant's residence. After leaving the phone outside
Appellant's trailer, Samson headed home. During that
return trip, Samson was accosted by Appellant, who grabbed
Samson and held a knife to his throat. During the ensuing
struggle, Appellant cut Samson's cheek with the knife.
Appellant then tackled Samson and held him on the ground for
several minutes before releasing him.
[¶5] Samson then walked to his
grandmother's house, and asked her to take him to the
hospital. At the hospital, Samson told law enforcement that
Appellant had attacked him and recited the events as
described above. Law enforcement also interviewed Ms. Ayers,
who was a witness to the assault, and Mr. Cantleberry. Both
Ms. Ayers and Mr. Cantleberry corroborated Samson's
account of the altercation.
[¶6] On the day following the assault,
detectives from the Casper Police Department interviewed
Appellant about the events of the previous night. Appellant
claimed he had been in an altercation with an " unknown
male" but stated that he was very intoxicated and did
not remember anything about the altercation. The detectives
observed that Appellant had blood on his pants and shirt.
After Appellant was taken to jail, law enforcement officers
executed a search warrant for Appellant's home and found
a black knife with " Joker" engraved on one side of
the blade and " Why so serious" on the other.
[¶7] On March 21, the State charged
Appellant with aggravated assault and battery, in violation
of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-502(a)(ii). At trial, Appellant
claimed he had acted in self-defense. Samson testified to the
same version of events as recorded in his interview at the
hospital on the night of the assault. Ms. Ayers also gave
testimony consistent with her statements to police after the
assault. She stated that she saw Appellant grab Samson by the
neck and that Samson was unarmed. Additionally, Mr.
Cantleberry, consistent with his statements during
investigation of the assault, testified that Appellant was
highly agitated before the assault, and that he observed a
gash on Samson's cheek after the assault. The State also
introduced evidence showing that the knife found at
Appellant's home had Samson's dried blood on it.
After a three-day trial, the jury found Appellant guilty of
aggravated assault and battery.
[¶8] Ten months after his conviction,
Appellant filed a motion for a new trial based on statements
made by Stanley Powley, whom Appellant had met in jail, and
Mr. Powley's ex-girlfriend, Katie McNaughton. The couple
had moved into Samson's residence after Appellant was
charged but before trial. According to Appellant's
motion, Mr. Powley claimed that Samson had told Mr. Powley
" that he had to talk to Ayers and Cantleberry to make
sure they all had their stories straight for the trial."
[¶9] The district court held a hearing on
the motion. During the hearing, Mr. Powley testified that
" I just remember [Samson]
stating that [Samson], [Mr. Cantleberry], and [Ms. Ayers] had
to get together to make sure that what they were saying was
straight or whatever. That's about it." Ms.
McNaughton testified that " The conversations were
about, like, . . . Well, I think you should say this; and
instead of saying that, we should say this instead, so that
all of our stories go together, and ...