MICHAEL R. LEWIS III, Appellant (Defendant),
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).
from the District Court of Johnson County The Honorable
William J. Edelman, Judge
Representing Appellant: Office of the Public Defender: Diane
M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan, Chief
Appellate Counsel; Desiree Wilson, Senior Assistant Appellate
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney
General; Christyne M. Martens, Deputy Attorney General;
Caitlin F. Harper, Senior Assistant Attorney General;
Benjamin E. Fischer, Assistant Attorney General.
DAVIS, C.J., and BURKE [*] , FOX, KAUTZ, and BOOMGAARDEN, JJ.
A Johnson County jury convicted Michael Lewis of felony
possession of marijuana. On appeal, he argues that the State
violated his right to confrontation when a supervisor from
the state crime lab testified in place of the lab analyst who
tested and weighed the marijuana. Because we conclude that
Mr. Lewis did not suffer material prejudice, we affirm.
Has Mr. Lewis demonstrated plain error in testimony by the
supervisor of the analyst who tested and weighed the
Mr. Lewis is a musician from San Antonio, Texas. In June
2016, Mr. Lewis; his manager, Ryan Garza; and their DJ,
Justin Mungia drove from San Antonio to Seattle for a concert
where Mr. Lewis was scheduled to perform. Mr. Garza rented a
car in San Antonio to drive the three to Seattle.
As they prepared to return to San Antonio, Mr. Lewis told Mr.
Garza that he had been given five pounds of marijuana by
someone he had met in Seattle which he had put in their
rental car. Mr. Lewis wanted to take it to San Antonio, but
Mr. Garza initially refused. After Mr. Lewis promised Mr.
Garza half the marijuana, Mr. Garza allowed him to bring it
back to San Antonio in the rental car. Before leaving
Washington, Mr. Garza stopped in Spokane to buy marijuana,
which he and Mr. Mungia shared while Mr. Lewis slept. In
Sheridan, Wyoming, Mr. Lewis took over driving. About 30
minutes later, just outside Buffalo, Trooper Richard Burridge
stopped Mr. Lewis for speeding.
When Trooper Burridge approached the car, he could smell
"fresh marijuana." Trooper Burridge had Mr. Lewis
get out of the car first and then go to the rear of the car.
When Trooper Burridge asked Mr. Lewis whether they had any
marijuana in the car, Mr. Lewis stated, "Ain't got
no weed," but he admitted that they had smoked some
marijuana back in Spokane.
Trooper Burridge then questioned Mr. Garza, who admitted that
the small amount of marijuana he purchased in Spokane
belonged to him. After Trooper Burridge told Mr. Garza that
he was going to search the car, Mr. Garza confessed to the
five pounds of marijuana in the trunk. When Trooper
Burridge and his partner searched the car, they found a black
trash bag with "five individual pounds of
marijuana[.]" Trooper Burridge testified that "[i]t
was obvious that it was marijuana to me." Agent Louey
Williams with the Division of Criminal Investigation sent the
drugs to Cheyenne for analysis.
At trial, the State called Dr. Ella Kubicz, a state crime lab
chemistry unit supervisor, to testify about the analysis of
the five pounds of marijuana. Dr. Kubicz supervised Courtney
Vito, an analyst in the crime lab, who analyzed the drugs.
Dr. Kubicz testified that Ms. Vito's report, Exhibit 500,
showed that the substance Agent Williams had sent to Cheyenne
contained THC and weighed more than three ...