Hadden v. State, 00-336.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtHILL, Justice.
Citation42 P.3d 495,2002 WY 41
PartiesJohn C. HADDEN, Appellant (Defendant), v. The STATE of Wyoming, Appellee (Plaintiff).
Docket NumberNo. 00-336.,00-336.
Decision Date15 March 2002

Ken Koski, State Public Defender; Donna D. Domonkos, Appellate Counsel; Diane Courselle, Defender Aid Program; Elana Sears, Megan Overman, and James M. Meseck, Student Interns. Argument by Ms. Overman and Mr. Meseck, Representing Appellant.

Hoke MacMillan, Attorney General; Paul S. Rehurek, Deputy Attorney General; D. Michael Pauling and Robin Sessions Cooley, Senior Assistant Attorneys General. Argument by Ms. Cooley, Representing Appellee.


HILL, Justice.

[¶ 1] Appellant, John Hadden (Hadden), was convicted of first-degree sexual assault and sentenced to a term of 15 to 20 years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary. He appeals that finding of guilt, claiming that the district court erred in denying a motion to suppress statements he made to police after he requested the assistance of an attorney, that there is not sufficient evidence to sustain his conviction, and that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the subjects of "discrepancies in testimony" and "flight after committing a crime."

[¶ 2] We will affirm. However, we will also hold that after the publication of this opinion in the advance sheets of Pacific Reporter Third, the giving of a flight instruction in a criminal case will constitute reversible error, though the prosecution may still prove up and argue flight as a circumstance from which guilt may be inferred.


[¶ 3] Hadden raises these issues:

I. Whether it was error for the trial court to not suppress Mr. Hadden's custodial statement to Detective Reekers when Mr. Hadden requested the assistance of counsel?
II. Was there sufficient evidence to support the conviction of first degree sexual assault when the victim testified that Mr. Hadden did not resemble her attacker?
III. Whether the trial court erred when instructing the jury on witness credibility and flight when the instructions unduly focused the jury's attention on isolated facts?

The State rephrases those same issues in very similar terms.


[¶ 4] At about 2:30 a.m., on August 6, 1999, the victim of the instant crime burst into a convenience store located near the Outlaw Inn in Rock Springs. The attendant at the convenience store recognized the victim as someone she had seen before and observed that she was "highly aggravated,1 upset, distraught," that she "was bloody and her eye was was almost closed shut from swelling and her nose was bleeding," and that she reported that she had been beaten and raped. The victim was taken to the hospital in Rock Springs. There, she was able to describe some of the events that had occurred that night, including that she met a man at a bar in Rock Springs and had permitted him to drive her car to a location near the Outlaw Inn so that he could return to his semi-truck, as well as for what may have been intended to be a sexual liaison. That man was later ascertained to be John Hadden. When they arrived at the Outlaw Inn, Hadden attacked the victim and viciously beat and raped her. Hadden then ran off into the night, leaving the victim prostrate, only partially clad, and severely bloodied in the back seat of her car. Hadden had apparently also taken the keys to her car, or at least she did not have them when the attack was over. The keys to the victim's car were never found.

[¶ 5] The victim was able to make it to the convenience store and report the crime very shortly after it occurred. She gave a description of the person who had beaten and raped her, but that description did not meaningfully resemble Hadden. The victim was unable to identify Hadden in a photo lineup, and she tentatively identified a man in a photo lineup who was not Hadden.

[¶ 6] A key piece of evidence was a baseball cap, which the person who raped the victim had left in her car. At trial, the victim could not say that Hadden was the man who had beaten and raped her, though likewise she did not testify that he was not that man. She was certain that the man who raped her was the man with whom she left the bar and that was the man who left a baseball cap in her car.

[¶ 7] At the hospital in Rock Springs the victim was examined and her injuries catalogued. Her face was badly beaten and she suffered other bruises. Her blood alcohol concentration was .256, and she appeared to observers to be very intoxicated. Her genital area was not injured and the emergency room physician conducting the examination, who had handled four to five hundred such examinations in his career, testified that the lack of genital injuries is very common, as most rapists are intent on gaining access to the woman's genitals, not injuring them. No sperm was found in her vagina or rectum, and the emergency room physician testified that that also was not uncommon. Based upon his experience, the physician viewed the victim's condition as constituting an extreme degree of physical injury and did not find it surprising that the victim's memory of the evening's events was impaired, given her injuries and the level of her intoxication.

[¶ 8] The investigation immediately following this incident produced very little in the way of leads, with the exception of a black or dark navy blue baseball cap embossed with "Imperial Group Inc.," the name of a trucking company, and that company's logo. The victim identified the hat as like the one worn by the man who attacked her. That information eventually led to a trucking company in Florida, but because the records of that company indicated no trucks in Wyoming on the relevant date, that lead came to an end.

[¶ 9] A break in the investigation developed when, on March 16, 2000, an agent for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement received information that Amy Hadden, John Hadden's then estranged wife, had reported to local police the commission of a possible crime of rape that her husband had committed in Rock Springs, in August of 1999. That report led law enforcement officers to Christopher Hobbs, who was the original source of Amy Hadden's information. At this point in time, the Haddens were involved in getting a divorce and determining who would have custody of their six-year-old daughter.

[¶ 10] Florida police interviewed Hobbs, and he related that Hadden had confessed to him that he had raped and beaten a woman in Rock Springs, on August 6, 1999. Hobbs also testified at Hadden's trial. He related that when he was sixteen, he moved in with the Haddens because he had no other real home to which he could go.

[¶ 11] Hobbs occasionally traveled with Hadden when he went on over-the-road trips, and one of those trips took them through Wyoming, where they stopped on August 5, 1999, for a planned overnight stay in Rock Springs. While in Rock Springs, Hadden, Hobbs, and another truck driver attended a carnival, drank liquor, met some girls, and decided to go to a bar. During these activities, Hadden was driving his truck. Eventually, they did park that truck behind a bar, which was apparently the "Saddle Lite Bar," where Hadden met up with the victim. Hadden said he was going into the bar and told Hobbs to stay in the truck and sleep, which he did. Three or four hours later, Hadden returned to the truck (which would have been between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.), awoke Hobbs, and told him to get down from the sleeper compartment and into the passenger seat and act as a lookout. Hobbs noticed that Hadden was covered in blood and was "very nervous, very scared, in a hurry and anxious to leave." Hadden then told Hobbs that he had beaten and raped a woman; that he "was drunk and just snapped." Hadden then hurriedly drove out of Rock Springs but stopped several miles down the road to clean up. Hadden told Hobbs never to speak of the matter again or he would kill him.

[¶ 12] Hobbs also conceded that, after returning to Florida, the Haddens separated and Hobbs's relationship with Amy Hadden blossomed into a sexual relationship (he was then 16, and she was about 28). Mrs. Hadden pumped him for information about her estranged husband, so he told her the story of the rape incident (by this time Hadden was living in Missouri with his new girlfriend). There were some inconsistencies, or discrepancies, in Hobbs's stories (he was interviewed several times by several different law enforcement officers), but he offered an explanation for that in the form of crediting his return to Rock Springs to testify for refreshing his memory. His memory was also aided by some photographs that were taken while on the ill-fated trip, particularly with respect to the hat that Hadden was wearing.

[¶ 13] Expert testimony was admitted at trial, which established that blood antigens foreign to the victim's body were found in both her vagina and anus. Those blood antigens were consistent with Hadden's blood type, though it is also common to over 40% of the general population. Gas purchase records and telephone records placed Hadden in Wyoming at the time of the crime.

[¶ 14] Based upon Hobbs's information, Hadden was arrested in Missouri and returned to Wyoming. Shortly after his return to Wyoming, Rock Springs police detective Steve Reekers interviewed Hadden. Hadden chose not to testify at trial, although he did make a statement to Detective Reekers while he was incarcerated in Sweetwater County, and that statement was related to the jury via the testimony of that police detective. Hadden related that he was in Rock Springs on August 5-6, 1999, and had attended a carnival with Hobbs and another truck driver. At the carnival Hadden and his companions met up with a couple of girls and made arrangements to meet them at the Saddle Lite Bar. He did meet the girls there, but they left soon after, and Hadden then had an encounter with the victim. Hadden related that the victim "came on" to him and eventually asked him...

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