JORGE F. GONZALEZ-CHAVARRIA, Appellant (Defendant),
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff).
from the District Court of Sheridan County The Honorable John
G. Fenn, Judge.
Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender:
Diane Lozano, Wyoming State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan,
Chief Appellate Counsel. Argument by Mr. Morgan.
Representing Appellee: Bridget Hill, Wyoming Attorney
General; Jenny L. Craig, Deputy Attorney General; Christyne
M. Martens, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Russell Farr,
Senior Assistant Attorney General. Argument by Mr. Farr.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
On June 3, 2018, police officers were dispatched to a home in
Sheridan, Wyoming, following a 911 call reporting domestic
violence. When they arrived, the officers found Jorge F.
Gonzalez-Chavarria's wife badly beaten. Mr.
Gonzalez-Chavarria was charged and convicted on two
counts-Count I, Strangulation of a Household Member; and
Count II, Domestic Battery. He appeals his conviction on
Count I, claiming the district court erred in admitting the
testimony of Ms. Gonzalez's treating physician, Dr.
Mangus, for the truth of the matter asserted after ruling the
testimony would be admitted only for impeachment. Mr.
Gonzalez-Chavarria also argues the evidence was insufficient
to establish the elements of strangulation. We affirm.
We rephrase the issues:
1. Did the district court err when it did not give a limiting
instruction if Dr. Mangus's testimony was admitted for
impeachment purposes only or, in the alternative, did the
district court err in admitting the testimony for substantive
2. Was the evidence sufficient to support the jury's
finding that Mr. Gonzalez-Chavarria caused bodily injury by
impeding Ms. Gonzalez's normal circulation of blood?
On June 2, 2018, Ms. Gonzalez and Mr. Gonzalez-Chavarria were
at home drinking beer. At some point that night, Ms. Gonzalez
awoke to Mr. Gonzalez-Chavarria straddled on top of her,
beating her with one hand while he read messages from her
cell phone which he held in his other hand. He then slammed
the phone on the headboard and continued to beat her with
both hands. She feigned unconsciousness, and he got off the
bed. While Mr. Gonzalez-Chavarria went to look for the key to
the gun safe, Ms. Gonzalez ran to her daughter's bedroom
where her daughter called the police.
At 1:10 a.m., Officer Walker and Sergeant Gerleman arrived.
Ms. Gonzalez's son-in-law saw the officers approach and
climbed out of the window to let them in. An ambulance
arrived shortly after the officers entered the home and
transferred Ms. Gonzalez to the hospital. After the officers
arrested Mr. Gonzalez-Chavarria, he stated, "I found out
my wife was cheating on me and I beat . . . her."
At trial, Dr. Lieb, the emergency room physician, testified
he treated Ms. Gonzalez and transferred her to the intensive
care unit. Dr. Lieb stated that he asked Ms. Gonzalez what
caused her injuries, and she replied her husband had beaten
and choked her. Ms. Gonzalez reported pain in her neck and
pain when she moved her head. Dr. Lieb observed swelling and
bruising on her face. Her eyes were swollen and when manually
opened exhibited "subconjunctival
hemorrhages"-bruising or broken blood vessels in the
white part of the eyes. He also noted "petechiae,"
or ruptured capillaries in the skin. Dr. Lieb testified this
condition commonly appears on a patient's cheeks when
blood flow is impeded. Both subconjunctival hemorrhages and
petechiae can be caused by manual strangulation. From his
observations, Dr. Lieb concluded Ms. Gonzalez was the victim
of assault by strangulation.
Dr. Mangus, the general surgeon and the director of the
trauma program at the Sheridan hospital, testified he visited
Ms. Gonzalez in the intensive care unit around 7:00 a.m. on
June 3. He reviewed her records and conducted his normal
examination to ensure no injury was overlooked and her pain
control was adequate. During this examination, Ms. Gonzalez
told Dr. Mangus she was beaten and choked by her husband. Dr.
Mangus visited Ms. Gonzalez around noon the same day and
determined she was ready to be discharged.
Officer Hawkins of the Sheridan Police Department testified
he conducted a follow-up interview. When Officer Hawkins
asked Ms. Gonzalez what happened, she said she woke up to
find her husband hitting her and "[a]t one point he
Two days after her release from the hospital, Ms. Gonzalez
returned to the emergency room complaining of "neck pain
and difficulty swallowing." Dr. Goddard, the emergency
room physician who treated Ms. Gonzalez, testified he
observed a significant amount of bruising around Ms.
Gonzalez's neck and "fairly severe subconjunctival
hemorrhages" in both eyes. He stated the significant
bruising indicated "there was a lot of force
applied." Dr. Goddard explained there are multiple
indications of manual strangulation, the most obvious being
trauma to the skin of the neck, difficulty swallowing, and
sore throat. He stated there may also be signs on the face,
petechiae, that are caused by increased pressure in the