774 P.2d 299 (Idaho 1989), 16339, State v. Charboneau

Docket Nº:16339, 16741.
Citation:774 P.2d 299, 116 Idaho 129
Opinion Judge:JOHNSON, Justice. BISTLINE,
Party Name:The STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Jaimi Dean CHARBONEAU, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Greg J. Fuller, Jerome, for defendant-appellant. Jim Jones, Atty. Gen., Lynn E. Thomas, Sol. Gen., argued, Boise, for respondent.
Case Date:April 04, 1989
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho

Page 299

774 P.2d 299 (Idaho 1989)

116 Idaho 129

The STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,


Jaimi Dean CHARBONEAU, Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 16339, 16741.

Supreme Court of Idaho.

April 4, 1989

Rehearing Denied May 25, 1989.

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[116 Idaho 132] Greg J. Fuller, Jerome, for defendant-appellant.

Jim Jones, Atty. Gen., Lynn E. Thomas, Sol. Gen., argued, Boise, for respondent.

JOHNSON, Justice.

This is a first degree murder case that comes to us for review of a death sentence pursuant to I.C. § 19-2827 and on appeal from the conviction and from denial of applications for post-conviction relief. We affirm the conviction but vacate the sentence and remand the case to the trial court for resentencing.



Jaimi Dean Charboneau (Jaimi) was convicted of the first degree murder of his former wife, Marilyn Arbaugh (Marilyn). Jaimi was sentenced to death for this crime. The trial court twice denied post-conviction relief.

Jaimi and Marilyn lived together for approximately two years before they were married in June 1983. Marilyn had two teenage daughters, Tiffnie and Tira. The relationship between Jaimi and Marilyn was stormy. There is evidence that Jaimi physically abused Marilyn. In August 1983 Marilyn shot Jaimi with a .22 caliber pistol during a dispute. An aggravated battery charge was filed against Marilyn but was subsequently dismissed on the motion of the prosecuting attorney. In the spring of 1984 Marilyn filed for divorce. A

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[116 Idaho 133] default judgment was granted on June 13, 1984. There is evidence that Jaimi and Marilyn continued to see each other and were sometimes intimate after the divorce.

On June 21, 1984, Jaimi went to the cafe where Marilyn worked. They left in Marilyn's car. There is some dispute whether Marilyn went with Jaimi voluntarily. The next day Marilyn reported to the police that Jaimi had kidnapped and raped her and had stolen her car. There is evidence that Jaimi travelled to Nevada after June 21. The burned remains of Marilyn's car were found in southern Idaho in late June 1984. On June 25, 1984, Jaimi was charged in Jerome County, Idaho with first degree kidnapping of Marilyn and grand theft of her car.

On June 28, 1984, Jaimi purchased a .22 caliber rifle from a hardware store in Gooding, Idaho. About mid-morning on Sunday, July 1, 1984, Marilyn returned to her residence on a ranch near Jerome, after being gone since the evening before. Some time after 11:00 o'clock that morning Marilyn went out to check some horses in a corral near her home. Shortly after that Marilyn's daughter Tiffnie heard shots outside, grabbed Marilyn's .22 pistol, and went to see what had happened. She found her mother sitting on the ground in the barn with blood on her. Jaimi was standing close to Marilyn with a .22 caliber rifle pointed at Marilyn. Tiffnie asked Jaimi to leave and told him she was going to call the police. Jaimi told Tiffnie that he would take Marilyn to the doctor. Both Marilyn and Jaimi told Tiffnie to leave.

At 11:38 that morning Tiffnie called the Jerome County Sheriff's office and said that Jaimi had shot her mother. Tiffnie then told her sister Tira about the shooting, and they both got dressed. They heard more shots and ran outside where they hid behind a sheep wagon and called to their mother. Tiffnie had her mother's .22 caliber pistol with her, and it accidentally discharged behind her. She ran into the house, hid the gun, returned to the sheep wagon, and then ran to the barn. Tira followed close behind. Marilyn was lying on her back with her arms over her head. The girls ran back to call for an ambulance. At 11:42 a.m. Tira telephoned for assistance and reached the Jerome County Sheriff's office. She told them to get an ambulance and that her mother was dying. When the sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene, they found Marilyn's body in the barn and located Jaimi in a field near the barn with a .22 caliber rifle lying nearby. Jaimi was arrested and charged with first degree murder. At the time of his arrest, Jaimi acknowledged that he had shot Marilyn, although he stated that he did so because she was going to shoot him.

The Jerome County public defender (the public defender) was appointed to represent Jaimi on the murder, kidnapping, and grand theft charges. Prior to a preliminary hearing on these charges, Jaimi's mother employed a private defense attorney (the defense attorney) to represent him. Following the preliminary hearing, Jaimi was bound over for trial on all three charges.

Jaimi told the defense attorney that he had not kidnapped or raped Marilyn and that he had not stolen her car. He stated that he and Marilyn had maintained a close and intimate relationship after their divorce, that she had been with him voluntarily on June 21 and 22, 1984, and that they had had consensual sexual intercourse on that occasion. He said that he had purchased the .22 caliber rifle as a present for Tira and on June 28, 1984, had taken it with him to the ranch where Marilyn and her daughters lived. He told the defense attorney that he and Marilyn had reconciled and were going to live together again, but that she wanted him to stay in the barn until she broke the news to her daughters. He said that he and Marilyn had sexual relations on the evening of June 30, 1984, and that she then left the ranch and did not return until the next morning.

Initially, Jaimi told the defense attorney that on the morning of July 1, 1984, Marilyn had taken the .22 caliber rifle he had purchased for Tira into the house to remove a scope sight from it. He said that when she returned to the barn she loaded the rifle, pointed it at Jaimi, and pulled the

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[116 Idaho 134] trigger, but that it did not fire. Jaimi told the defense attorney that he grabbed the rifle from Marilyn and pulled the trigger several times while the rifle was on his hip and Marilyn was running away. He said that he closed his eyes while shooting. He said that after the shooting he took the rifle and fled to the nearby field.

Later, but prior to August 22, 1984, Jaimi told the defense attorney that after he fired the shots at Marilyn, instead of running directly out into the field, he had stayed around the end of the barn. He told the defense attorney that he heard Tiffnie talking to her mother and had looked around the corner. He said he saw Tiffnie holding a pistol in both hands pointed at Marilyn. Jaimi said that Tiffnie told Marilyn that Marilyn had screwed up their lives, ruined Tira's life, and was ruining Jaimi. He stated that he saw Tiffnie fire a shot from the pistol and saw Marilyn's hair fly up.

The defense attorney contends that based on this second version of the events of July 1, 1984, he tried to convince the prosecuting attorney to reinvestigate the crime. On August 23, 1984, he also discussed this version in a telephone conversation with his niece who was a psychic. Shortly after August 23, 1984, the defense attorney received a letter from his niece in which she reported having made contact with Marilyn through clairvoyance. The letter reported Marilyn's version of how she was killed. Among other things, the letter intimated that Marilyn's daughter had shot Marilyn after Jaimi had, because she couldn't stand to see her mother suffer.

The defense attorney was unable to convince the prosecuting attorney to dismiss the kidnapping and grand theft charges and to pursue the "second gun" theory. The defense attorney then filed a motion to dismiss the charges. At a hearing on this motion, the defense attorney called Jaimi to testify. The district judge carefully advised Jaimi that he could not be required to testify and gave the defense attorney an opportunity to explain fully to Jaimi his right to remain silent. Jaimi confirmed to the district judge that he understood that he had the right not to testify and that anything he said might be used as evidence against him. Jaimi was then sworn and testified.

In his testimony in support of the motion to dismiss Jaimi related fully the events concerning the alleged kidnapping and theft on June 21 and 22, 1984, as well as the events of July 1, 1984, surrounding Marilyn's death. He testified that when Marilyn came to the barn that morning she picked up the .22 caliber rifle and took it into the house to remove a scope sight that had come with it. He said that Marilyn told him that she was going to tell the girls that day that Jaimi was there and would let Tira take the gun to the gun range and let her sight it in. Jaimi told the court that when Marilyn came back to the barn she had a handful of bullets and loaded the rifle. He said that after going out to the corrals to move some horses, he and Marilyn returned to the barn. He said he asked Marilyn where she had been all night, and that she told him he thought she was sleeping with every guy in the valley. He stated that Marilyn picked up the rifle, pointed it at him, and told him that he was dead and that no other woman was going to have him. He said he heard a click, grabbed the barrel of the rifle and wrestled it away from her. Jaimi testified that Marilyn screamed for Tiffnie to bring Marilyn's shotgun to her, and that when he got the rifle away from Marilyn, she turned around and ran. He said that he saw Tiffnie coming from the house, that he had the rifle at his hip, and that he thought Marilyn might be going to run around and get another gun. He said that he closed his eyes and that the gun went off several times. He opened his eyes and Marilyn was on her knees and bleeding. He said that Marilyn told Tiffnie to leave and that he told Tiffnie to call an ambulance. He testified that as he knelt beside Marilyn, Tiffnie...

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