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Hyatt v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

July 30, 2018

CHAD CHRISTOPHER HYATT, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).

          Appeal from the District Court of Albany County The Honorable Tori R.A. Kricken, Judge.

          Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan, Chief Appellate Counsel; Desiree Wilson, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel.

          Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; Christyne M. Martens, Deputy Attorney General; Caitlin F. Harper, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Devin T. Kenney, Assistant Attorney General.

          Before DAVIS, C.J., and BURKE [*] , FOX, KAUTZ, and BOOMGAARDEN, JJ.

          FOX, Justice.

         [¶1] A jury convicted Appellant, Chad Christopher Hyatt, of driving under the influence of alcohol (fourth or subsequent offense within ten years), in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 31-5-233(b)(i). Arguing that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his conviction, he appeals. We affirm.

         ISSUE

         [¶2] Was there sufficient evidence at trial to support Mr. Hyatt's conviction for driving under the influence (fourth or subsequent offense within ten years)?

         FACTS

         [¶3] At around 10:00 p.m. on October 16, 2016, Chase Stricklin[1] saw a truck driving up and down a field behind his shop in Rock River, Wyoming. According to Chase, the truck, a "brownish" older model Chevrolet, was about 200 to 300 yards away, was "driving really fast and recklessly," was loud and "out of control," and began flashing its lights when it came to rest at the far end of the field. After observing the truck for about ten minutes, Chase called his dad, Rick Stricklin. Chase also testified that after he called his dad, he heard the truck driving around town and then on Highway 30, heading toward Laramie. Chase could not tell anything about the bed length, could not see inside the truck or tell if there was more than one person in the truck, and he did not see the tag number on the license plates.

         [¶4] Rick testified that he was at his home when Chase called him a little after 10:00 p.m. to tell him what was going on behind the shop. He made a REDDI (Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately) report to the police, got dressed, and went outside to see what was happening. He, too, witnessed an early 1980's brown Chevy truck "going up and down the highway, kind of accelerating, decelerating, accelerating, decelerating, making a lot of noise and whatnot." He testified that the truck "headed north up the highway, then south down the highway. Then it turned off into town, . . . going around a couple of blocks, then came back out to the highway . . . and headed . . . south out of Rock River." After seeing the truck himself, Rick made a second REDDI report to the police to give dispatch a better description of what was going on and where the truck was located. Rick also testified that he thought the truck was "two-tone, but [he could not] say 100 percent certain." Rick explained that there is never much traffic late at night in Rock River and that he might have seen one or two other vehicles that night. He also testified that he was unable to get a license plate number and could not see who was driving or how many people were in the truck.

         [¶5] Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Petruso received a REDDI report at 10:19 p.m. on October 20, 2016, indicating that an older two-tone brown Chevy pick-up was driving through fields in Rock River. Trooper Petruso, who was south of Laramie on Highway 287, headed north toward Rock River on Highway 30. At 10:52 p.m., 33 minutes after the REDDI report was received, Trooper Petruso encountered a two-tone brown Chevy pick-up truck parked off the shoulder and facing south on Highway 30, approximately .4 miles south of Rock River. The truck was not running and Trooper Petruso never saw it in motion.

         [¶6] Trooper Petruso testified that the truck was registered to Mr. Hyatt. Trooper Petruso approached the driver's side and found Mr. Hyatt sitting in the passenger seat, slouched over but awake. Mr. Hyatt had red, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. Trooper Petruso observed beer cans on the floor, an open beer can in the center console area, and a strong odor of flavored alcoholic beverage emanating from inside the truck. When Trooper Petruso asked Mr. Hyatt how he was doing, Mr. Hyatt responded with "a couple swear words" and said that he had just run out of gas. Trooper Petruso asked Mr. Hyatt to go back to his patrol car with him and Mr. Hyatt responded, "What are you going to do? Are you going to arrest me for DUI?" and then Mr. Hyatt began to cry.

         [¶7] After Trooper Petruso asked him multiple times, Mr. Hyatt got out of the vehicle and sat on the tailgate. Trooper Petruso pointed out beer cans in the bed of the truck. When Trooper Petruso asked Mr. Hyatt how he got there, he replied, "I pulled over," explaining that he had run out of gas. Mr. Hyatt stated that he tried to get fuel before he left town and that after he ran out of gas, he pulled his car off the road and had been sleeping there for "roughly an hour and a half." Mr. Hyatt told Trooper Petruso that he did not drink in his truck, and then said that he had been drinking in his truck since the time he stopped. Mr. Hyatt also told Trooper Petruso that a friend of his had walked to Rock River to get some fuel. He could not name the friend, but kept telling Trooper Petruso to "call him up," and when Trooper Petruso said that he did not have his number, Mr. Hyatt did not provide his friend's phone number. Trooper Petruso never asked Mr. Hyatt what direction his friend went or where he went. Trooper Petruso testified that he glanced in the truck, but did not see the keys to the ...


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