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Hurley v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

August 23, 2017

KALE JACKSON HURLEY, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).

         Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable Thomas W. Rumpke, Judge

          Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel; Eric M. Alden, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel. Argument by Mr. Alden.

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

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

          FOX, JUSTICE.

         [¶1] Kale J. Hurley appeals his conviction for felonious restraint. He contends that the district court abused its discretion when it failed to instruct the jury on the definition of "bodily injury, " and that there was insufficient evidence to establish that the unlawful restraint exposed the victim to a risk of serious bodily injury. We affirm.

         ISSUES

         [¶2] We rephrase the issues as follows:

1. Did the district court abuse its discretion when it refused to instruct the jury on the definition of "bodily injury?"
2. Was there sufficient evidence to establish the elements of felonious restraint?

         FACTS

         [¶3] Kadeen Bingham, the victim in this case, stole a ring from Mr. Hurley. When Mr. Hurley discovered the ring was missing, he contacted Jeremiah Maes, a mutual friend, and offered Mr. Maes $500 to set up a meeting between Mr. Hurley and Mr. Bingham so that Mr. Hurley could recover the stolen ring. Mr. Maes arranged for the meeting to take place in his room at the Arrowhead Motel in Gillette, Wyoming.

         [¶4] On April 9, 2015, Mr. Bingham, Jaime Gentry, and Steven Miller went to the motel room, and a short time later Mr. Hurley and two unidentified men arrived. According to Mr. Bingham, Mr. Hurley directed one of his associates to lock the motel room door and remain in front of it, while Mr. Hurley and the other man approached Mr. Bingham. Mr. Bingham stated that he did not believe he was free to leave because the door was locked and one of Mr. Hurley's associates was preventing anyone from leaving by standing in front of the door. After Mr. Bingham told Mr. Hurley that he did not have the ring, Mr. Hurley and the other man beat Mr. Bingham for thirty to forty-five minutes.

         [¶5] When Mr. Hurley left the motel room, Ms. Gentry ran out of the room to the motel office and asked the manager on duty to call the police. Officer Stroup of the Gillette Police Department responded to the emergency dispatch call and found Mr. Bingham in the motel room. Officer Stroup testified that Mr. Bingham had been severely beaten, "most of his body was flush red . . . abrasions [on] his shoulders and chest . . . a large [] hematoma underneath his left eye . . . [and] lumps along his lower jaw. Mr. Bingham declined medical treatment. Unfortunately for Mr. Bingham, he had an outstanding warrant and Office Stroup took him into custody. Mr. Hurley was later arrested and charged with two counts[1] of felonious restraint in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-202(a)(i).

         [¶6] At trial, Mr. Hurley requested that an instruction on false imprisonment and an instruction on the statutory definition of "bodily injury" as defined in Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-1-104(a)(i) (LexisNexis 2017) be given. Mr. Hurley argued that false imprisonment was a lesser included offense of felonious restraint so it should be included, and that,

[w]hile there is a question of risk, there is also a question of serious bodily injury, and giving the jury the opportunity to look at [the definition of "bodily injury, " and "serious bodily injury"] will allow them to be able to make a better determination as to what element these facts fit into.

The district court allowed the instruction on false imprisonment, but denied the instruction defining "bodily injury." The jury returned a guilty verdict on one count of felonious restraint, and the district court sentenced Mr. Hurley to incarceration for a period of not less than fifteen months nor more than forty-eight months. This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         [¶7] Mr. Hurley contends that the district court abused its discretion when it declined to instruct the jury on the term "bodily injury" because without an instruction on "bodily injury, " the jury was unable to differentiate between "bodily injury" and "serious bodily injury;" and the instruction was a theory of his defense. Mr. Hurley further argues that there was insufficient evidence to prove he committed the crime of felonious restraint because the unlawful restraint, the locking of the motel room door, was not what exposed Mr. Bingham to serious bodily injury. We find that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the proposed instruction on "bodily injury, " and that there was sufficient evidence to convict Mr. Hurley of felonious restraint.

         I. Did the district court abuse its discretion when it refused to instruct the jury on the definition of "bodily injury?"

         [¶8] "We review a district court's decision on jury instructions for an abuse of discretion." Tingey v. State, 2017 WY 5, ¶ 40, 387 P.3d 1170, 1181 (Wyo. 2017). District courts have "wide latitude in instructing the jury and, as long as the instructions correctly state the law and the entire charge covers the relevant issue, reversible error will not be found." Dennis v. State, 2013 WY 67, ¶ 36, 302 P.3d 890, 897 (Wyo. 2013) (citations omitted). An incorrect ruling on an instruction must be prejudicial to constitute reversible error. Dougherty v. State, 2016 WY 62, ¶ 11, 373 P.3d 427, 431 (Wyo. 2016) (citing Brown v. State, 2015 WY 4, ¶ 40, 340 P.3d 1020, 1031 (Wyo. 2015)). "Because the purpose of jury instructions is to provide guidance on the applicable law, prejudice will result when the instructions confuse or mislead the jury." Id.

         [¶9] The district court instructed the jury that:

The elements of the crime of Felonious Restraint, as charged in ...

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