from the District Court of Uinta County The Honorable Joseph
B. Bluemel, Judge
Representing Appellant: Office of the Public Defender: Diane
M. 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;
Christyne Martens, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Caitlin
F. Young, Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Ms. Young.
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
A jury convicted Appellant Danell Blevins of felony
exploitation of a vulnerable adult, in violation of Wyo.
Stat. Ann. §§ 6-2-507(a) and (d) (LexisNexis 2015).
On appeal, Ms. Blevins challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence to support the jury's conclusion that the
victim, Richard Tefertiller, was a vulnerable adult. She also
claims the district court improperly instructed the jury on
the mental element of the crime.
Ms. Blevins presents the following issues on appeal:
I. Did the State present sufficient evidence to prove beyond
a reasonable doubt that Mr. Tefertiller was a vulnerable
adult as defined by statute?
II. Did the jury instruction that exploitation sufficient to
establish the felony conviction need be a "reckless or
intentional act" misstate the law?
State offers a similar statement of the issues.
Ms. Blevins was a licensed practical nurse (LPN) at the
United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic in
Evanston, Wyoming. Mr. Tefertiller, who was approximately 73
years old during the time at issue, was a disabled veteran.
He frequented the VA clinic for evaluation and treatment of a
host of medical and mental issues. Mr. Tefertiller's
medical history included bouts of colon and prostate cancer,
the latter resulting from his exposure to Agent Orange during
the Vietnam War. Mr. Tefertiller also had post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of his service in Vietnam.
The PTSD caused him to anger quickly and have recurrent
nightmares. Mr. Tefertiller drank significant amounts of
alcohol to self-medicate his PTSD and help him sleep. Whether
as a consequence of his drinking, his age or other issues,
Mr. Tefertiller fell and injured himself on occasion and had
Ms. Blevins befriended Mr. Tefertiller and, in 2014, asked
him to lend her money so that she could continue her
education to become a registered nurse (RN). During the
period between January 23, 2014 and January 2, 2015, Mr.
Tefertiller gave Ms. Blevins $39, 550. At least $39, 000 was
a loan for her education,  which she was supposed to repay once
she obtained her degree. Ms. Blevins did not enter an RN
program and, instead, used most of the money for things other
than education. She paid bills, gave some of the money to
her sister, and went on a vacation.
Mr. Tefertiller's daughters learned about his loans to
Ms. Blevins and contacted her to discuss repayment. She
refused to talk to them about the loans, claiming the
transactions were between her and Mr. Tefertiller. The
daughters alerted the VA, which, together with the Evanston
police department, began an investigation. The State charged
Ms. Blevins with one count of intentionally exploiting a
vulnerable adult, a felony. She was tried before a jury in
April 2016, and the jury found her guilty of the crime. The
district court sentenced Ms. Blevins to serve one to four
years in prison and ordered her to reimburse $39, 000 to Mr.
Tefertiller. She filed a timely notice of appeal to this
Sufficiency of the Evidence to Establish Mr. Tefertiller was
a Vulnerable Adult
Ms. Blevins claims her conviction should be reversed because
the State did not present sufficient evidence that Mr.
Tefertiller was a vulnerable adult. In analyzing her claim,
[w]e do not consider "whether or not the evidence was
sufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but
[instead] whether or not the evidence could reasonably
support such a finding by the factfinder." Hill v.
State, 2016 WY 27, ¶ 13, 371 P.3d 553, 558 (Wyo.
2016) (citing Levengood v. State, 2014 WY 138,
¶ 12, 336 P.3d 1201, 1203 (Wyo. 2014)). "We will
not reweigh the evidence nor will we re-examine the
credibility of the witnesses." Hill, 2016 WY
27, ¶ 12, 371 P.3d at 558 (citation omitted). We review
the sufficiency of the evidence "from this perspective
because we defer to the jury as the fact-finder and assume
they believed only the evidence adverse to the defendant
since they found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt." Oldman [v. State], 2015 WY
121, ¶ 5, 359 P.3d  at 966.
Mraz v. State, 2016 WY 85, ¶ 19, 378 P.3d 280,
286 (Wyo. 2016), quoting Bean v. State, 2016 WY 48,
¶ 45, 373 P.3d 372, 387 (Wyo. 2016). In addition,
this Court examines the evidence in the light most favorable
to the State. Faubion v. State, 2010 WY 79, ¶
12, 233 P.3d 926, 929 (Wyo. 2010). We accept all evidence
favorable to the State as true and give the State's
evidence every favorable inference which can reasonably and
fairly be drawn from it. We also disregard any evidence
favorable to the appellant that conflicts with the
State's evidence. Id.
Harnden v. State, 2016 WY 92, ¶ 5, 378 P.3d
611, 612-13 (Wyo. 2016) (quoting Pena v. State, 2015
WY 149, ¶ 16, 361 P.3d 862, 866 (Wyo. 2015)).
Worley v. State, 2017 WY 3, ¶ 17, 386 P.3d 765,
771 (Wyo. 2017).
Ms. Blevins was convicted of felony exploitation of a
vulnerable adult under §§ 6-2-507 (a) and (d):
(a) Except under circumstances constituting a violation of
W.S. 6-2-502 [aggravated assault and battery], a person is
guilty of abuse, neglect, abandonment or exploitation of a
vulnerable adult if the person intentionally or recklessly
abuses, neglects, abandons, intimidates or exploits a
vulnerable adult. . . . .
(d) Exploitation of a vulnerable adult is a felony punishable
by not more than ten (10) years in prison, a fine of not more
than ten thousand dollars ($10, 000.00), or both, and
registration of the ...