People v. Wilson
|11 September 2014
|Court of Appeals No. 11CA1276
|356 P.3d 956,2014 COA 114
|The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff–Appellee, v. Jacob Roy WILSON, Defendant–Appellant.
|Colorado Court of Appeals
John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Patricia R. Van Horn, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff–Appellee.
Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Andrea R. Gammell, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant–Appellant.
¶ 1 Defendant, Jacob Roy Wilson, appeals the judgments of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of two counts of sexual assault (by means of sufficient consequence to cause submission against the victim's will). We affirm the judgments of conviction but remand for correction of the mittimus.
¶ 2 Defendant's convictions arose out of an incident involving an intoxicated woman (A.M.) he met in downtown Denver on St. Patrick's Day. According to A.M., she encountered defendant and his friend after she had lost her phone and could not find her friend. She asked defendant and his friend for help and remembered stopping with the two men to speak with a group of women. Her next memory, however, was of the men pulling her pants down to her knees on a parking garage ramp. She said each man straddled and vaginally penetrated her while she was in a squatting position with her back against the wall; she also said that one of the men also orally penetrated her. She explained that the assault had lasted about ten minutes and ended when the men took cash from her wallet and ran away.
¶ 3 A.M. had suffered injuries to her vaginal area that were consistent with either nonconsensual or consensual intercourse; defendant's DNA was found on A.M.'s face and neck; and defendant's friend could not be excluded as a source for the mixture of DNA found in A.M.'s underwear.
¶ 4 At trial, defendant did not testify, nor did he present any evidence or witnesses on his behalf. He argued, though, that A.M. had significant gaps in her memory; that the physical evidence supported the conclusion that, while intoxicated, she had consensual sex with him and his friend; that, upon realizing she was involved in an activity which, under normal circumstances, she would not involve herself in (i.e., sex with strangers), A.M. filled in the gaps of her memory to come up with an explanation for (and details about) her involvement in that activity; and that that explanation was that the sex must not have been consensual on her part.
To support his argument, defendant pointed to inconsistencies in her story over time as well as to evidence which, he said, contradicted her story, including (1) parking garage surveillance videos showing, at one point, A.M. supposedly pulling defendant's friend into the elevator,1 and, overall, defendant and his friend being with A.M. in the parking garage for forty-four minutes, much longer than A.M.'s ten-minute recollection of the assault;2 and (2) evidence that, when she emerged from the parking garage, she “looked like she'd been rolled [o]n the ground” and was wearing socks with dirty bottoms. (This latter circumstance, defendant argued, suggested that A.M. had consensually removed her shoes and pants before laying on the ground to have sex rather than, as she related at trial, having been sexually assaulted with her back against a wall.)
¶ 6 Although it acquitted defendant of robbery, the jury convicted him of the two counts of sexual assault, and the trial court sentenced him to a term of sixteen years to life imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections.
¶ 7 Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying one of his challenges for cause and granting two of the prosecution's challenges for cause. We disagree.
¶ 8 Section 16–10–103(1)(j), C.R.S.2013, and Crim. P. 24(b)(1)(X) require disqualification of a juror if his or her state of mind manifests a bias for or against either side, unless the court is satisfied that the juror will render an impartial verdict based solely upon the evidence and instructions of the court. See Morrison v. People, 19 P.3d 668, 672 (Colo.2000) ; People v. Shreck, 107 P.3d 1048, 1057 (Colo.App.2004).
¶ 9 A prospective juror who makes a statement evincing bias may nonetheless serve as a juror so long as he or she agrees to set aside any preconceived notions and make a decision based on the evidence and the court's instructions. People v. Phillips, 219 P.3d 798, 801 (Colo.App.2009). But if the juror's statements do not demonstrate the sort of enmity or bias that warrants dismissal under the law, the court may deny the challenge for cause without further inquiry. People v. Merrow, 181 P.3d 319, 321 (Colo.App.2007).
¶ 10 We give great deference to the trial court's determination of a challenge for cause, because such decisions turn on an assessment of the potential juror's credibility, demeanor, and sincerity in explaining his or her state of mind. Because the trial court is in a better position to evaluate these factors than a reviewing court, we will overturn a trial court's decision concerning a challenge for cause only upon an affirmative showing by the defendant that the court abused its discretion. Shreck, 107 P.3d at 1057.
¶ 11 A trial court abuses its discretion in this context only if there is no evidence in the record to support its decision. People v. Richardson, 58 P.3d 1039, 1042 (Colo.App.2002) ; see also Carrillo v. People, 974 P.2d 478, 486 (Colo.1999) ().
¶ 12 Here, all three of the challenged jurors expressed a possible bias:
¶ 13 The trial court denied defendant's challenge for cause to Juror R but granted the prosecution's challenges for cause to Jurors W and S.
¶ 15 In this regard, the record reflects:
¶ 16 The record thus reflects that, although her previous work with sexual assault victims was a source of potential bias, Juror R repeatedly stated that she would try to decide the case fairly. Because she indicated that she thought she could fulfill her duties as a fair and impartial juror, we discern no error in the court's ruling. See Phillips, 219 P.3d at 802 () (citation omitted); see also People v. Doubleday, 2012 COA 141, ¶¶ 47, 51, 54–57 (Denial of challenge for cause to prospective juror who, in response to whether she could follow the law, be fair and impartial, and rely on the evidence presented at trial to reach her verdict, responded either or “I think I can do that”; and, in response to whether she would be able to keep an open mind, said, upheld) (cert. granted on other grounds Oct. 7, 2013); Richardson...
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