130 A.3d 972 (Me. 2016), Cum-14-510, State v. Weaver

Docket Nº:Docket Cum-14-510
Citation:130 A.3d 972, 2016 ME 12
Opinion Judge:GORMAN, J.
Party Name:STATE OF MAINE v. JASON J. WEAVER
Attorney:On the briefs: Verne E. Paradie, Jr., Esq., Paradie, Sherman, Walker & Worden, Lewiston, for appellant Jason Weaver. Stephanie Anderson, District Attorney, and Kate Tierney, Asst. Dist. Atty., Prosecutorial District No. Two, Portland, for appellee State of Maine. At oral argument: Verne E. Paradi...
Judge Panel:Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.
Case Date:January 14, 2016
Court:Supreme Judicial Court of Maine
 
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Page 972

130 A.3d 972 (Me. 2016)

2016 ME 12

STATE OF MAINE

v.

JASON J. WEAVER

Docket No. Cum-14-510

Supreme Judicial Court of Maine

January 14, 2016

Argued November 4, 2015

Page 973

On the briefs: Verne E. Paradie, Jr., Esq., Paradie, Sherman, Walker & Worden, Lewiston, for appellant Jason Weaver.

Stephanie Anderson, District Attorney, and Kate Tierney, Asst. Dist. Atty., Prosecutorial District No. Two, Portland, for appellee State of Maine.

At oral argument: Verne E. Paradie, Jr., Esq., for appellee Jason Weaver Kate Tierney, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee State of Maine.

Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

OPINION

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GORMAN, J.

[¶1] Jason J. Weaver appeals from a judgment of conviction for aggravated assault, 17-A M.R.S. § 208(1)(A) (2014),1 entered in the Unified Criminal Docket (Cumberland County, Warren, J. ) after a jury trial. Weaver argues that his trial was tainted by obvious error as a result of a statement the prosecutor made during closing argument and the court's self-defense jury instruction. He also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

[¶2] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the trial record supports the following facts. See State v. Patton, 2012 ME 101, ¶ 2, 50 A.3d 544. Weaver and the victim began dating in September of 2013. In January of 2014, the two began arguing after the victim refused to give Weaver her cellular telephone. In order to get the telephone, Weaver grabbed the victim's wrists, straddled her, and pushed her face into the bed. After some struggling, the victim was able to move enough so that she was facing Weaver. When he put his hands around her neck, she bit him. Weaver then threw the victim off the bed, where her head struck and broke a closet door.

[¶3] Weaver eventually returned the victim's telephone, but later he took it again and smashed it on the floor. He then punched the victim six times on the left side of her head.

[¶4] When the victim was able to get to a hospital, she learned that, among other injuries, she had suffered two broken eye sockets and a fractured vertebral body. She had double vision for about six weeks, wore a neck brace for twelve weeks, missed about three and a half months of work, and was still experiencing headaches at the time of trial about seven months after the assault.

[¶5] On July 24, 2014, the State charged Weaver by information with aggravated assault (Class B), based on an allegation of serious bodily injury, 17-A M.R.S. § 208(1)(A).2

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Weaver waived indictment and pleaded not guilty to the charge. The court held a jury trial on July 30 and 31, 2014. Weaver's theory of the case throughout the trial was that the victim was the aggressor, that she was angry with him and minimized her assaults on him, and that she was not being truthful. During his opening statement, for example, Weaver's attorney commented that there are going to be witnesses, and one in particular, [the victim], who . . . is going to have a motive to lie, and is going to have a bias here. . . . I would suggest to you that she's not truthful with the officers, that she minimizes, that she does not want to admit certain facts here because she doesn't want to go to jail . . . .

Weaver did not testify, but the State admitted parts of an audio recording of an interview with the police in which Weaver related a version of the incident. In that interview Weaver explained that he had been injured when he defended himself against the victim. He stated that, after he took her phone, the victim bit him on the lower back, and was then thrown towards the closet when he jumped up to shrug her off of his back. He also told the officers that he had struck the victim once in the face, but only after she bit his hand or arm.

[¶6] In closing arguments, both parties discussed the victim's...

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