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Brown v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

November 14, 2016

RYAN ALEXANDER BROWN, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).

         Appeal from the District Court of Albany County The Honorable Jeffrey A. Donnell, Judge

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

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Christyne Martens, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and James Michael Causey, Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Causey.

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

          HILL, JUSTICE.

         [¶1] After being found guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, Ryan Alexander Brown claims the trial court committed errors when it allowed the State to introduce evidence in the form of a demonstrative video, a bank statement, and W.R.E. 404(b) evidence. We will affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶2] Mr. Brown presents three issues for our review:

1. [Brown] was denied due process when the trial court allowed the state to play a video of an explosion of a "pipe bomb" when that video was not timely provided to defense counsel and was irrelevant.
2. [Brown] was denied due process when the trial court allowed the state to use evidence, a bank statement, which the state did not timely provide to defense counsel.
3. The trial court erred in admitting character evidence under W.R.E. 404(b) and in refusing to give a limiting instruction with regard to use of W.R.E. 404(b) evidence.

         FACTS

         [¶3] Ryan Brown and his wife Angela owned a home in Arlington, Wyoming. They spent time together there on the weekends, but because Angela was a dispatcher for the Laramie Police Department, she and her daughter spent most of the week in Laramie at another house. In the summer of 2013, due in part to their time apart, Brown began to suspect that his wife was having an affair with a man named John Squires from Cheyenne. Mr. Brown confided his suspicion to Eric Farrar and William Ferrill, new acquaintances to Mr. Brown.

         [¶4] The confidantes' conversations began to develop in 2013 as summer turned to fall to the point that Mr. Brown asked Mr. Farrar to help him harm Mr. Squires. This continued into 2014. Mr. Brown initially offered to pay Mr. Farrar for his help in killing Mr. Squires, but then he changed his mind and simply offered Mr. Farrar money if he killed Mr. Squires on his own. In the initial plans to kill Mr. Squires, the men imagined using a firearm, faking a suicide, or drowning Mr. Squires in a pond, but in May of 2014, Mr. Brown decided to build a bomb that instead would kill Mr. Squires. Mr. Brown purchased an alarm clock and began tinkering with it in order to make a timer for a bomb. He also began work on a motion sensor but abandoned the entire bomb plan because he feared he would hurt himself in the process.

         [¶5] On May 23, 2014, the plan further evolved. Mr. Brown offered Mr. Farrar $10, 000.00 to help both burn down Mr. Brown's house in Arlington and kill Mr. Squires. Mr. Farrar agreed to this plan. As per Mr. Brown's request, Mr. Farrar removed Mr. Brown's firearms from his Arlington house and proceeded to set the house on fire. In August of 2014, Mr. Brown paid Mr. Farrar $5, 000.00 from the insurance proceeds he collected from the fire. Mr. Farrar deposited half of that amount and used the remainder to repair his truck.

         [¶6] That fall, Mr. Brown decided to continue with the pipe bomb plan to kill Mr. Squires, and asked Mr. Farrar, and their mutual friend Mr. Ferrill, for their assistance. Mr. Brown intended to place the bomb in Mr. Squires' truck and to connect a spark plug in the bomb to the wiring of the truck so that when Mr. Squires started his truck, the spark plug in the bomb would ignite the gunpowder. Mr. Brown and Mr. Ferrill met one evening, and Mr. Ferrill brought gunpowder. However, Mr. Ferrill refused to give the gunpowder to Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown decided to simplify things and asked Mr. Ferrill to kill Mr. Squires for him ...


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