883 P.2d 1069 (Idaho 1994), 19691, State v. Grube

Docket Nº:19691.
Citation:883 P.2d 1069, 126 Idaho 377
Opinion Judge:TROUT,
Party Name:STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Rauland J. GRUBE, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Rigby, Thatcher, Andrus, Rigby & Kam, Rexburg, for appellant. Michael S. Kam and Gregory W. Moeller argued. Larry EchoHawk, Idaho Atty. Gen. and Michael J. Kane, Deputy Atty. Gen., argued, Boise, for respondent.
Case Date:September 07, 1994
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho

Page 1069

883 P.2d 1069 (Idaho 1994)

126 Idaho 377

STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

Rauland J. GRUBE, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 19691.

Supreme Court of Idaho, Idaho Falls.

September 7, 1994

Page 1070

Rehearing Denied Nov. 22, 1994.

Page 1071

[126 Idaho 379] Rigby, Thatcher, Andrus, Rigby & Kam, Rexburg, for appellant. Michael S. Kam and Gregory W. Moeller argued.

Larry EchoHawk, Idaho Atty. Gen. and Michael J. Kane, Deputy Atty. Gen., argued, Boise, for respondent.

TROUT, Justice.

This is a murder case in which the defendant, Rauland J. Grube (Grube), was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Grube was convicted in 1991, for the 1983 shotgun murder of Amy Hossner (Amy) in Ashton, Idaho. On appeal, Grube challenges the conviction, sentence and the district court's denial of his Rule 35 motion for reduction of sentence. We will address each issue in turn.

BACKGROUND

Amy Hossner was murdered while she slept in her bedroom in the early morning hours of June 4, 1983, by a single shotgun blast through a small basement window above her bed. The murder was reported to the local police later that morning by her father, Fred Hossner.

During the course of the investigation there were two suspects, Steven Brood (Brood) and Grube. Brood was a suspect because he owned a sawed-off shotgun which the local officers believed could have caused the fatal injuries. Grube became a suspect when he reported his shotgun stolen in July of 1983, and indicated that he feared his missing shotgun might have been used to kill Amy Hossner. At the same time he turned over to the police a Kool-Aid can of Remington-Peters shotgun shells, three of which he claimed were missing. On July 18, 1983, Grube's brother notified the police that Grube's shotgun had been found and was not stolen; he then turned it over to the police. Brood also turned his sawed-off shotgun over to the authorities. Brood's gun, along with a police shotgun and the shotgun obtained from Grube, were sent to California to be tested by an expert, Ed Peterson (Peterson), with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). After testing the weapons by firing them through a re-creation of the crime scene, Peterson eliminated Grube's shotgun as a possible murder weapon.

In 1991, eight years after the murder, Grube again became a suspect based on information given by Brenda Fredrickson Briggs, who delayed coming forward allegedly because of her immaturity. She told the police that in 1983, Grube had approached her and told her that he had a crush on Amy and had spoken to her through her bedroom window the night of the murder. Briggs also recounted that Grube told her when Amy failed to meet him several hours later, he went back to her house and looked in the window, whereupon he told Briggs that he had "never seen so much blood in his life." Thereafter, Grube became the prime suspect and additional firearm tests were performed on his shotgun.

The first of the second battery of tests performed with Grube's shotgun was performed by F.B.I. agent Gerald Wilkes (Wilkes) who concluded after test firing the weapon that no 12 gauge shotgun could be eliminated as the murder weapon. Additional tests were performed by Martin Ols (Ols) of the Idaho Department of Law Enforcement (DLE), including a test firing into a deer neck after the trial had started. After his test firings of the weapon, both into cardboard and into the deer necks, Ols was convinced that Grube's weapon could not be excluded as the murder weapon. After seeing the results of Ols' test firings of the weapon into the deer necks, Peterson changed his opinion and agreed that Grube's weapon could not be eliminated as a possible murder weapon.

In 1991, Grube was charged with the murder of Amy Hossner. During the trial witnesses testified not only about the various

Page 1072

[126 Idaho 380] tests run on the guns, but also about conversations they had with Grube after the murder in which Grube expressed a great interest in Amy's murder and even told one witness he was a police officer and wanted to avenge Amy's death. The defense had Jim Mason, another firearms expert, testify that after he reviewed all the test firings of Grube's weapon he felt it was unlikely that Grube's shotgun was used to kill Amy.

At the close of evidence, the court instructed only on first and second-degree murder and refused the parties' request to instruct on the lesser included offenses of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, finding that those instructions were not supported by the evidence. Grube was then convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the death of Amy Hossner and was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Grube moved for a reduction of sentence which was denied by the court. On appeal, Grube presents us with the following issues arising from the trial:

  1. The district court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offenses of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

  2. The district court erred in refusing to suppress the firearm test results conducted after trial had commenced.

  3. There was error committed in certain evidentiary rulings by the district court.

  4. The district court erred in not giving a limiting instruction for the jury's consideration of certain evidence.

  5. The district court should have excused one of the potential jurors based on statements in her juror questionnaire.

  6. The district court erred in refusing to allow into evidence Brood's polygraph examination.

  7. The district court should have permitted a witness to testify about information gained in the Brood investigation.

  8. The district court erred in not granting Grube's motion for acquittal.

  9. The district court erred in not allowing Grube's expert witness to testify to certain hearsay statements from a shotgun shell manufacturer.

  10. The cumulative effect of the errors committed by the district court mandate a new trial.

In addition, Grube asserts that there were errors in the district court's imposition of sentence and error committed in not granting Grube's Rule 35 motion for reduction of sentence.

I.

Grube first argues that the district court erred in not instructing the jury on the lesser included offenses of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. He argues that as a result he was denied the opportunity to argue to the jury that the murder may have been negligently committed rather than intentionally committed. Grube asserts there was substantial evidence presented at trial to support giving the jury the instructions on the lesser included offenses. Specifically, there was evidence the curtain over the window was closed at the time of the murder; there was evidence Amy had moved the furniture around in her room; and, there was testimony by Johnna Sans that Grube told her whoever shot Amy did so by accident. Grube asserts this evidence indicates that the murder may have been literally a "shot in the dark," with the murderer lacking a specific intent to kill.

Idaho Code § 19-2132(b) provides:

(b) The court shall instruct the jury with respect to a lesser included offense if:

(1) Either party requests such an instruction; and

(2) There is a reasonable view of the evidence presented in the case that would support a finding that the defendant committed such lesser included offense but did not commit the greater offense.

In determining when the district court must give the jury an instruction on a lesser included offense, we have stated:

When a district court is requested to give an instruction on a lesser included offense, it must look to all of the evidence presented

Page 1073

[126 Idaho 381] at the trial to determine if there is a reasonable view of the evidence to support the requested instruction. (Citations omitted). Once the district court makes this discretionary determination, it must then look to the language of the proposed instruction and determine whether it is an erroneous statement of law or adequately covered by other instructions. (Citations omitted).

State v. Thomasson, 122 Idaho 172, 175, 832 P.2d 743, 746 (1992).

There is no doubt that voluntary and involuntary manslaughter are lesser included offenses of first-degree murder, the crime charged by the State. State v. Atwood, 105 Idaho 315, 318-19, 669 P.2d 204, 207-08 (Ct.App.1983). Thus, we must determine whether the district court abused its discretion in determining that a reasonable view of the evidence did not support the requested instruction of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. When reviewing on appeal an exercise of the trial court's discretion, we consider: (1) whether the lower court rightly perceived the issue as one of discretion; (2) whether the court acted within the boundaries of such discretion and consistently with any legal standards applicable to specific choices; and (3) whether the court reached its decision upon exercise of reason. Sun Valley Shopping Ctr., Inc. v. Idaho Power Co., 119 Idaho 87, 94, 803 P.2d 993, 1000 (1991).

The district court recognized that...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP