People v. Chase, No. 09CA1908

Docket NºNo. 09CA1908
Citation411 P.3d 740
Case DateMarch 14, 2013
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

411 P.3d 740

The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff–Appellee,
v.
Jerry L. CHASE, Defendant–Appellant.

No. 09CA1908

Colorado Court of Appeals, Div. VI.

Announced March 14, 2013


John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Patricia R. Van Horn, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff–Appellee

Law Office of Samuel Santistevan, LLC, Samuel Santistevan, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant–Appellant

Opinion by JUDGE LOEB

¶ 1 Defendant, Jerry L. Chase, appeals the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of three felony counts of stalking and three misdemeanor counts of harassment. He also appeals the sentences imposed. We affirm.

I. Background and Procedural History

¶ 2 From 2002 to 2008, Chase resided in Wapiti Meadows, a low-income housing complex in Grand County, Colorado, where he met the three named victims in this case: G.B., D.D., and M.G. G.B. lived at Wapiti Meadows and was its property manager at the time of the charged crimes; D.D. was its former property manager; and M.G. was the maintenance supervisor at the time. M.G. and D.D. were also husband and wife.

411 P.3d 745

¶ 3 During his tenancy, Chase made frequent complaints to D.D., G.B., and M.G. regarding his next-door neighbors, the B. family. He complained about the family's ethnicity and alleged that they were purposefully making noise to disturb him. In September 2008, Mr. B. accused Chase of putting sugar in his gas tank. Chase was charged with criminal mischief, and the district court entered a restraining order against Chase.1 Chase violated the order by banging on the B. family's wall and yelling an ethnically charged threat at them.

¶ 4 Based on these events, the Wapiti Meadows management evicted Chase on October 1, 2008. G.B. posted the eviction notice on his door. On October 2, 2008, Chase sent an e-mail to G.B. asking her how he could fight the eviction. He also indicated that he had gone to Boston for a time, which G.B. knew that he did every year. G.B. told Chase she could not offer him any legal advice.

¶ 5 On the evening of October 6, 2008, Chase sent an e-mail to twenty-three recipients, including G.B., M.G., and D.D. Chase was in Boston at the time. The e-mail was sent to G.B.'s work e-mail address and M.G.'s and D.D.'s personal e-mail addresses. It stated:

I am 60 years old. I did 14 years in Walpole, MA for arson. Do NOT FUCK WITH ME. REMOVE THE FUCKING EVICTION NOTICE YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES. YOU BETTER PUT ME AWAY FOR LIFE MOTHERFUCKERS, OR THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY. THAT SOVIET ASSHOLE [referring to Mr. B.]. HOW DARE YOU!!!! REMOVE THAT FUCKING NOTICE NOW!!!!!!!!!!!

¶ 6 In the early morning of October 7, 2008, Chase sent a second e-mail to thirty-four recipients, including G.B., M.G., and D.D., the three of whom were specifically mentioned in the e-mail. He wrote, in pertinent part:

Kicking a 60 year-old man out of his apartment because of one Soviet immigrant? Fuck You!! THAT IS EVIL. YOU PIECES OF SHIT. That's a death sentence. ... "To those whom evil is done, do evil in return." I hate the womb that bore you assholes life!! DO EVIL TO ME WILL YOU? You pieces of shit—from that ugly-ass housing officer[ ], to those cunts [D.D.] and [G.B.], to Mr. "thinks he's a badass" [M.G.], I won't take a death sentence lying down ... PS: TAKE THE EVICTION NOTICE DOWN NOW.

¶ 7 Twenty-five minutes later, Chase sent the group a third e-mail, which included a photograph of a man pointing a gun at a judge. It demanded that the eviction notice be removed and stated:

SOMEONE'S GOING TO GET HURT, OR WORSE!!!!! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? SOMEONE IS GOING TO GET HURT. IT'LL PROBABLY BE ME—no it will be me—BUT WHAT HAVE I GOT TO LOSE? I WILL NOT GIVE UP MY APARTMENT WITHOUT A SERIOUS FIGHT.

Twenty-five minutes later, Chase sent a fourth e-mail to the group, again specifically referring to D.D. and G.B. and stating:

I've got NOTHING TO LOSE, YOU PIECES OF SHIT. I HATE THE LORD GOD FOR GIVING YOU LIFE!!!!!!!!! cc: CUNT–ASS [D.D.] CUNT–ASS [G.B.]

TAKE THE EVICTION NOTICE OFF MY DOOR Your [sic] playing a very, very , dangerous game of bluff with me.

Twenty minutes later, Chase sent the group a fifth e-mail criticizing the legal system, and then forty minutes later he sent them a sixth and final e-mail, stating:

Better check out my football pictures at [Chase's myspace.com address.] I will headbutt someone, and I can and will kick as you can see from my yoga pictures. Someone, I don't really know who—nor do I care—is playing a very dangerous game of bluff with me.

¶ 8 Although they lived in Grand County, M.G. and D.D. were in Baltimore, Maryland, visiting family when they opened and read

411 P.3d 746

the six e-mails in one sitting on October 7. They intended to (and did) return to Colorado a few days later, and evidence at trial showed they believed Chase was in Colorado when he sent the e-mails. M.G. called G.B. in Colorado to warn her of the e-mails, because he feared for her safety, and she then went to the Winter Park police station to open and read the six e-mails from Chase.

¶ 9 Chase was charged with three felony counts of stalking under former section 18–9–111(4)(b)(II) (now codified at section 18–3–602(1)(b), C.R.S.2012 ).2 At Chase's request, the trial court also instructed the jury on the lesser nonincluded offense of misdemeanor harassment by computer, section 18–9–111(1)(e), C.R.S.2012. After a two-day jury trial, the jury convicted Chase of three counts of felony stalking, one for each of the three named victims. He was also convicted of the three misdemeanor counts of harassment by computer. The court sentenced Chase to the maximum presumptive sentence of four years on each of the felony counts, ordering that the sentences run consecutively, for a cumulative prison sentence of twelve years.

¶ 10 This appeal followed.

II. Sufficiency of Evidence on Jurisdiction

¶ 11 Chase contends that his convictions on counts two and three of felony stalking of M.G. and D.D. must be vacated, because there was insufficient evidence to establish that Colorado had subject matter jurisdiction over those counts given that no part of the offenses against M.G. and D.D. was committed in Colorado.3 We disagree.

¶ 12 As part of his motion for judgment of acquittal made after the prosecution's case-in-chief, Chase argued that the court did not have jurisdiction over the counts relating to M.G. and D.D. because there was no evidence that "any aspect of this crime occurred in Colorado," given that "neither the participant or the victims were in the state," as required under section 18–1–201, C.R.S.2012.

¶ 13 The trial court denied the motion, reasoning that regardless of whether M.G. and D.D. read the e-mails while they were out of the state, the trial court still had jurisdiction over those counts because it had jurisdiction over the count related to G.B., who had opened and read her e-mails while in Colorado.

¶ 14 We agree with the trial court's conclusion that it had jurisdiction over counts two and three, but we reach that conclusion based on different reasoning from that employed by the trial court.

A. Standard of Review and Applicable Law

¶ 15 Whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction is a question of law that we review de novo. Dempsey v. People, 117 P.3d 800, 807 (Colo.2005). When reviewing a sufficiency of the evidence contention, a court must determine whether any rational trier of fact might accept the evidence, taken as a whole and in the light most favorable to the prosecution, as sufficient to support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Sprouse, 983 P.2d 771, 777 (Colo.1999) ; People v. McIntier, 134 P.3d 467, 471 (Colo.App.2005). The prosecution must be given the benefit of every reasonable inference that might be fairly drawn from the evidence. McIntier, 134 P.3d at 471.

¶ 16 Here, defendant's sufficiency of the evidence contention turns, in part, on a question of statutory interpretation. Statutory interpretation is a question of law that we review de novo. Romero v. People, 179 P.3d 984, 986 (Colo.2007). When interpreting a statute, we must give effect to the General Assembly's intent, which we determine primarily from the statute's plain language. Id. We read words and phrases in context and construe them according to their common

411 P.3d 747

usage. People v. Rice, 198 P.3d 1241, 1244 (Colo.App.2008). If the statutory language is unambiguous, we look no further and apply the words as written. People v. Summers, 208 P.3d 251, 254 (Colo.2009).

¶ 17 In our review, we may affirm a trial court's ruling on grounds different from those employed by that court, as long as they are supported by the record. Moody v. People, 159 P.3d 611, 615 (Colo.2007) ; People v. Aarness, 150 P.3d 1271, 1277 (Colo.2006) ; People v. Holmes, 959 P.2d 406, 408 (Colo.1998).

B. Analysis

¶ 18 Our statutory analysis requires us to interpret section 18–1–201 (relating to state jurisdiction over criminal offenses) and section 18–9–111(4)(b)(II) (the felony stalking offense at issue here), and the interplay between those two statutes.

¶ 19 As pertinent here, section 18–1–201,...

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21 practice notes
  • People v. Alemayehu, Court of Appeals No. 17CA1745
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • May 20, 2021
    ...infer an element of the crime, the evidence is sufficient to sustain that element," id. (quoting People v. Chase , 2013 COA 27, ¶ 50, 411 P.3d 740 ); and (4) "[w]here reasonable minds could differ, the evidence is sufficient to sustain a conviction," People v. Bondurant , 2012 COA 50, ¶ 58,......
  • People v. Of, Supreme Court Case No. 17SC116
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • June 1, 2020
    ...a true threat is an issue of fact to be determined by the fact finder in the first instance. People v. Chase , 2013 COA 27, ¶ 70, 411 P.3d 740, 754 ; State v. Johnston , 156 Wash.2d 355, 127 P.3d 707, 712 (2006). But in First Amendment speech cases, an appellate court must make an independe......
  • People v. Stellabotte, Court of Appeals No. 14CA1954
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 14, 2016
    ...When a mental state is listed as a stand-alone element, it applies to the succeeding elements. See People v. Chase , 2013 COA 27, ¶ 62, 411 P.3d 740, 754 ("Knowingly" is set out "as a standalone element, thereby indicating that it applied to all of the subsequent elements of the offense.");......
  • People v. Counterman, Court of Appeals No. 17CA1465
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 22, 2021
    ...18 The trial court addressed Counterman's argument at a motions hearing. It noted that, under People v. Chase , 2013 COA 27, 411 P.3d 740, and People in Interest of R.D. , 2016 COA 186, 468 P.3d 9, rev'd and remanded , 2020 CO 44, 464 P.3d 717, "if something is found not to be a true threat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • People v. Alemayehu, Court of Appeals No. 17CA1745
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • May 20, 2021
    ...infer an element of the crime, the evidence is sufficient to sustain that element," id. (quoting People v. Chase , 2013 COA 27, ¶ 50, 411 P.3d 740 ); and (4) "[w]here reasonable minds could differ, the evidence is sufficient to sustain a conviction," People v. Bondurant , 2012 COA 50, ¶ 58,......
  • People v. Of, Supreme Court Case No. 17SC116
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • June 1, 2020
    ...a true threat is an issue of fact to be determined by the fact finder in the first instance. People v. Chase , 2013 COA 27, ¶ 70, 411 P.3d 740, 754 ; State v. Johnston , 156 Wash.2d 355, 127 P.3d 707, 712 (2006). But in First Amendment speech cases, an appellate court must make an independe......
  • People v. Stellabotte, Court of Appeals No. 14CA1954
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 14, 2016
    ...When a mental state is listed as a stand-alone element, it applies to the succeeding elements. See People v. Chase , 2013 COA 27, ¶ 62, 411 P.3d 740, 754 ("Knowingly" is set out "as a standalone element, thereby indicating that it applied to all of the subsequent elements of the offense.");......
  • People v. Counterman, Court of Appeals No. 17CA1465
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 22, 2021
    ...18 The trial court addressed Counterman's argument at a motions hearing. It noted that, under People v. Chase , 2013 COA 27, 411 P.3d 740, and People in Interest of R.D. , 2016 COA 186, 468 P.3d 9, rev'd and remanded , 2020 CO 44, 464 P.3d 717, "if something is found not to be a true threat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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