People v. Richardson, Court of Appeals No. 15CA0526

Docket NºCourt of Appeals No. 15CA0526
Citation486 P.3d 282
Case DateAugust 23, 2018
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

486 P.3d 282

The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Gary Val RICHARDSON, Defendant-Appellant.

Court of Appeals No. 15CA0526

Colorado Court of Appeals, Division VI.

Announced August 23, 2018


Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Paul E. Koehler, First Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Nicole M. Mooney, Alternate Defense Counsel, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

Opinion by JUDGE FOX

¶ 1 Gary Val Richardson appeals the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of possession of a controlled substance, violation of bail bond conditions, attempted second degree assault, and attempted third degree assault. Richardson's appeal presents this novel question in Colorado: Is it reversible error for a judge to preside over a case in which his spouse is in the venire and to allow his spouse to remain on the jury? While we cannot endorse the judge's decision here, even assuming error we affirm because Richardson can show no prejudice resulting from this juror's presence.

I. Background

¶ 2 An attempt by three Adams County sheriff's deputies to serve Richardson with an arrest warrant led to a police standoff.

486 P.3d 286

The standoff ended when officers deployed tear gas into the basement crawl space where Richardson was hiding and Richardson fired a gun at the police.

¶ 3 After Richardson was extracted from the crawl space, he was arrested and taken to jail. While he was changing into jail clothing, a vial containing a white, crystalline substance—later confirmed to be methamphetamine—fell to the floor at Richardson's feet.

¶ 4 Richardson was ultimately charged, as a habitual criminal, with possession of a controlled substance, violation of bail bond conditions, five counts of attempted second degree assault or attempted third degree assault, and possession of a weapon by a previous offender. The jury found him guilty of most of the charges (including two counts of attempted second degree assault and three counts of attempted third degree assault), but acquitted him of possession of a weapon by a previous offender. Richardson was then sentenced to an effective term of sixteen years in the Department of Corrections’ custody.

¶ 5 Richardson raises five arguments on appeal: (1) there was insufficient evidence to convict him of attempted second degree assault or attempted third degree assault; (2) the presiding judge erred by allowing his spouse to sit on the jury; (3) the court violated his equal protection rights in denying a Batson v. Kentucky , 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986), challenge (to different prospective jurors) as untimely; (4) the court erred by admitting hand-drawn diagrams of the alleged crime scene; and (5) the court erred by allowing a witness to testify as an expert without being qualified as such, despite the court's earlier ruling that the witness must be qualified as an expert to testify. We address these arguments in turn.

II. Sufficiency of the Evidence

¶ 6 Richardson argues that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions for attempted second degree assault and attempted third degree assault. We disagree.

A. Additional Background

¶ 7 Adams County sheriff's deputies and a K-9 dog arrived at Richardson and his daughter's residence. With the daughter's permission, three officers entered the house and—following three announcements of their presence by one officer—sent the K-9 to search the basement. The K-9 did not indicate that there was a person at the bottom of the stairs, so the officers descended into the east side of the basement.

¶ 8 From the bottom of the stairs, the officers observed a water heater and furnace to their left. A sheet hung behind the furnace. Through an opening in the sheet, they saw a bed in the northwest corner of the basement (to their right). The K-9 was directed to search again. As the K-9 approached the opening in the sheet, the officers heard a sound they identified as a loud gunshot. The officer handling the K-9 noted that the K-9 responded to the sound the same way he did to gunshots at the gun range—he hunkered down with his ears down. A male voice from behind the sheet then said, "Fuck you. Send that dog in here and I'll kill it and you're going to kill me."

¶ 9 The officers called for backup, and members of the Commerce City Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) team arrived to extract Richardson from the basement. Richardson proceeded to engage five members of the SWAT team in a five-to-six-hour standoff.

¶ 10 Over the course of the standoff, the SWAT team fired multiple rounds of tear gas into the crawl space (at the southwest corner of the basement) where Richardson had barricaded himself. After firing the initial rounds of tear gas, the SWAT team members heard a sound they believed to be a muffled gunshot. Richardson still refused to leave the crawl space—allegedly making comments such as "[w]hy don't you mother fuckers come in and get me," "I'm coming out," "[g]ive me some cigarettes," and "I want my phone." Several more rounds of tear gas were deployed into the crawl space before Richardson surrendered.

486 P.3d 287

B. Preservation and Standard of Review

¶ 11 Defense counsel moved for a judgment of acquittal on the attempted assault charges. The court granted the motion on the charges concerning the first three alleged victims—the Adams County sheriff's deputies—but denied the motion for the remaining five alleged victims—the SWAT team members.

¶ 12 Although the People suggest that the trial court erred when it granted the motion of acquittal as to the first three officers, they have not cross-appealed and that ruling is not before us. However, Richardson contends that given the acquittal on those charges, he should have been acquitted on the remaining charges. We are not convinced.

¶ 13 "We review de novo whether the evidence is sufficient to support a conviction." People v. Randell , 2012 COA 108, ¶ 29, 297 P.3d 989. In evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence, we must determine whether a rational fact finder might accept the evidence, taken as a whole and in the light most favorable to the prosecution, as sufficient to support a finding of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Sprouse , 983 P.2d 771, 777 (Colo. 1999) ; Randell , ¶ 31. Our inquiry is guided by five well-established principles: (1) we give the prosecution the benefit of every reasonable inference that might fairly be drawn from the evidence; (2) the credibility of witnesses is solely within the jury's province; (3) we may not serve as a thirteenth juror to determine the weight of the evidence; (4) a modicum of relevant evidence will not rationally support a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt; and (5) verdicts in criminal cases may not be based on guessing, speculation, or conjecture. Sprouse , 983 P.2d at 778 ; Randell , ¶ 31.

C. Analysis

¶ 14 The record evidence was sufficient for the jury to conclude that Richardson attempted second and third degree assault against the SWAT team members.

¶ 15 A person commits attempted second degree assault if, with intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he attempts to cause such injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon. § 18-2-101(1), C.R.S. 2017; § 18-3-203(1)(b), C.R.S. 2017.

¶ 16 A person commits attempted third degree assault if, with criminal negligence, he attempts to cause bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon. § 18-2-101(1) ; § 18-3-204(1)(a), C.R.S. 2017.

¶ 17 The following evidence was presented to the jury:

• The SWAT team members were familiar with the sound of gunshots—several had experience as firearms instructors or snipers, and they spent significant time training at gun ranges.

• The SWAT team members testified that the tear gas launcher discharging does not sound like a handgun discharging.

• After the initial rounds of tear gas were deployed into the crawl space, several of the officers heard a sound that they identified as "a gunshot from the crawl space," "a muffled gunshot," "a muffled pop which I believed to be a partial gunshot," "what I believe was a gunshot," and "what I thought was a muffled gunshot. It's a very distinct sound[.]"

• One officer saw the insulation around the crawl space move just after he heard the alleged gunshot.

• One officer testified he heard a team member yell, "That was a shot."

• The officers initially wondered if Richardson had self-inflicted a gunshot wound until they heard him coughing.

• An officer—located across from the crawl space behind the bed in the basement—heard what he identified as a bullet impact the wall to the left of him after he heard the alleged gunshot.

• The same officer heard Richardson yell something to the effect of "I shot at you" or "The shot came out towards you."

• The SWAT team members checked with each other to confirm a bullet had not ricocheted or hit someone.

• After Richardson was arrested, one of the officers searched the crawl space and found a small semiautomatic handgun—later identified as a .380—and a single shell casing.
486 P.3d 288
• The recovered gun, which had a capacity of five rounds in the magazine plus one round chambered,
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5 practice notes
  • People v. Valera-Castillo, Court of Appeals No. 16CA0049
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 8, 2021
    ...venire was dismissed, the jury panel had been sworn in, and the trial had begun."); see also People v. Richardson , 2018 COA 120, ¶ 52, 486 P.3d 282, aff'd , 2020 CO 46, 481 P.3d 1.¶ 8 As relevant here, Rule of Criminal Procedure 24(d) addresses how peremptory challenges are exercised but i......
  • People v. Hall, Supreme Court Case No. 20SC142
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • October 18, 2021
    ...their powers, including those reasonably required to protect their independence and integrity); People v. Richardson, 2018 COA 120, ¶ 105, 486 P.3d 282, 302. ¶23 Furthermore, judges sitting as finders of fact in bench trials have the additional duty to assess the evidence and discover the t......
  • People v. Hall, 20SC142
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • October 18, 2021
    ...their powers, including those reasonably required to protect their independence and integrity); People v. Richardson, 2018 COA 120, ¶ 105, 486 P.3d 282, 302. ¶23 Furthermore, judges sitting as finders of fact in bench trials have the additional duty to assess the evidence and discover the t......
  • People v. Hall, 20SC142
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • October 18, 2021
    ...their powers, including those reasonably required to protect their independence and integrity); People v. Richardson, 2018 COA 120, ¶ 105, 486 P.3d 282, 302. ¶23 Furthermore, judges sitting as finders of fact in bench trials have the additional duty to assess the evidence and discover the t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • People v. Valera-Castillo, Court of Appeals No. 16CA0049
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 8, 2021
    ...venire was dismissed, the jury panel had been sworn in, and the trial had begun."); see also People v. Richardson , 2018 COA 120, ¶ 52, 486 P.3d 282, aff'd , 2020 CO 46, 481 P.3d 1.¶ 8 As relevant here, Rule of Criminal Procedure 24(d) addresses how peremptory challenges are exercised but i......
  • People v. Hall, Supreme Court Case No. 20SC142
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • October 18, 2021
    ...their powers, including those reasonably required to protect their independence and integrity); People v. Richardson, 2018 COA 120, ¶ 105, 486 P.3d 282, 302. ¶23 Furthermore, judges sitting as finders of fact in bench trials have the additional duty to assess the evidence and discover the t......
  • People v. Hall, 20SC142
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • October 18, 2021
    ...their powers, including those reasonably required to protect their independence and integrity); People v. Richardson, 2018 COA 120, ¶ 105, 486 P.3d 282, 302. ¶23 Furthermore, judges sitting as finders of fact in bench trials have the additional duty to assess the evidence and discover the t......
  • People v. Hall, 20SC142
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • October 18, 2021
    ...their powers, including those reasonably required to protect their independence and integrity); People v. Richardson, 2018 COA 120, ¶ 105, 486 P.3d 282, 302. ¶23 Furthermore, judges sitting as finders of fact in bench trials have the additional duty to assess the evidence and discover the t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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