from the District Court of Sweetwater County The Honorable
Nena James, Judge
Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender:
Diane 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; Philip
M. Donoho, Assistant Attorney General; Darrell D. Jackson,
Faculty Director; K. T. Farrelly, Student Director; and
Sierra M. Collver, Student Intern, of the Prosecution
Assistance Program. Argument by Ms. Collver.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Appellant Edward Barrowes challenges his conviction of
aggravated vehicular homicide as defined by Wyo. Stat. Ann.
§ 6-2-106(b)(ii) (LexisNexis 2015). He claims the
evidence presented by the State was insufficient to establish
that he drove in a reckless manner. We affirm.
Was the evidence sufficient to support the jury's verdict
that Barrowes was guilty of aggravated homicide by vehicle?
Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to the State,
see Hill v. State, 2016 WY 27, ¶ 20, 371 P.3d
553, 560 (Wyo. 2016), the facts established at trial are as
follows. Barrowes is a professional semi-trailer truck driver
with a commercial driver's license. A commercial
driver's license certifies that a person has gone through
the required training and testing and can legally operate a
commercial motor vehicle weighing over a certain amount.
Those holding a commercial driver's license are subject
to federal regulations because of the higher level of
knowledge, experience, and skill required to drive a
commercial motor vehicle.
The day before the accident, on April 21, 2015, Barrowes and
his co-driver, Dennis Pehrson, departed Tremonton, Utah in a
semi tractor pulling two trailers to the Denver area. They
left around 4:30 p.m., and Pehrson drove the entire stretch
from Utah to Colorado, while Barrowes rested in the sleeper
berth behind the driver's cabin. This portion of the trip
lasted until approximately 1:00 a.m. on the morning of April
22. During at least some of the time while Barrowes was to be
resting in the sleeper portion of the tractor, the evidence
indicated that he was sending and receiving text messages and
possibly talking on the phone.
Barrowes left the sleeper berth at around 2:00 a.m., while
the two were waiting to pick up the return load and return to
Utah. Their freight was ready to transport around 3:30 a.m.
Barrowes took the wheel for the return trip to Tremonton, and
Pehrson climbed into the sleeper berth.
Around 6:45 a.m., Barrowes stopped in the vicinity of Rawlins
for an hour and forty-five minutes, but it is unclear what he
did during that time. He then continued west on Interstate
Forty-five minutes after he got back on the road, another
professional truck driver operating a tractor-trailer behind
Barrowes' truck observed the vehicle swerving
"pretty bad at times" for around three miles over a
period of three or four minutes. The vehicle was swerving so
badly that the other truck driver did not pass and instead
slowed down to keep some distance between the two rigs. He
observed that every time Barrowes' truck would straighten
up, it would soon start swerving again. The truck passed two
exit ramps while the other driver observed its erratic
movements. The rig was travelling around 65 miles an hour,
below the posted limit on I-80.
Meanwhile, another truck had broken down earlier on the
west-bound shoulder of I-80 near Wamsutter. The owner of the
vehicle, Aleksandr Kozak, came to the scene to render
assistance to the driver. The rig was properly parked on the
right shoulder of the road, and its hazard lights were
flashing. Emergency reflective triangles were placed along
the road, and Kozak wore reflective clothing. The weather was
good and visibility was clear, so there were no impediments
to seeing the broken-down truck.
After swerving for three to four minutes, Barrowes' truck
veered right at 65 miles per hour and crashed into the parked
tractor-trailer rig. The truck struck Kozak as he was working
on the truck and killed him. Pehrson, who was asleep in the
sleeper berth, was thrown from his bunk when the side of the
cab came apart. He suffered significant injuries that were
not life-threatening. Barrowes did not hit the brakes or take
any other type of evasive action before the crash because he
was asleep at the wheel.
Shortly after the crash, a highway patrolman arrived on the
scene. Barrowes told the trooper that he "did not manage
[his] drowsiness appropriately." The trooper asked
Barrowes if he fell asleep at the wheel, and Barrowes said he
Over two hours after the crash, Barrowes sent a text message
stating: "I was rushing to get to Tremonton . . . . I
should not have allowed my mind to be rushed." Barrowes
told investigators of the Sweetwater County sheriff's
office that he allowed scheduling to take precedence ...