Roderick v. State, No. 92-35

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
Writing for the CourtBROWN; BROWN; THOMAS
Citation858 P.2d 538
PartiesJonathan Lee RODERICK, Appellant (Defendant), v. The STATE of Wyoming, Appellee (Plaintiff).
Decision Date16 August 1993
Docket NumberNo. 92-35

Page 538

858 P.2d 538
Jonathan Lee RODERICK, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
The STATE of Wyoming, Appellee (Plaintiff).
No. 92-35.
Supreme Court of Wyoming.
Aug. 16, 1993.
Rehearing Denied Sept. 16, 1993.

Page 541

Leonard D. Munker, State Public Defender; Michael Cornia, Sr. Asst. Public Defender; and Deborah Cornia, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant.

Joseph B. Meyer, Atty. Gen., Sylvia Lee Hackl, Deputy Atty. Gen., and Barbara Boyer, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

Before MACY, C.J., and THOMAS, CARDINE, and GOLDEN, JJ.; and BROWN, Retired J.

BROWN, Justice (Retired).

This appeal is from the judgment and sentence of the Eighth Judicial District Court entered on January 2, 1992, convicting appellant, Jonathan Lee Roderick, of felony murder, aggravated burglary and unauthorized use of a vehicle.

The issues are:

I. Whether appellant was provided a speedy trial?

II. Whether the State disclosed all constitutionally material exculpatory evidence?

III. Whether the trial court properly declined to suppress appellant's inculpatory statements?

IV. Whether the prosecutor was innocent of any misconduct?

V. Whether an opinion of appellant's guilt was offered at trial?

VI. Whether photographs of appellant's victim were properly admitted?

VII. Do consecutive sentences imposed for felony murder and the underlying felony merge for purposes of punishment?

We affirm.

Appellant Jonathan Roderick, age 15, was convicted of murdering Calvin Dillon, age 85, who resided in the vicinity of Glenrock, Wyoming. Roderick was no stranger to criminal activity, having been in the juvenile justice system since age 11.

On the evening of March 1, 1991, Roderick armed himself with a semi-automatic pistol and went to the home of Mr. Dillon, intending to steal. While the theft was in progress, Roderick shot Mr. Dillon twice. He later dragged the body to Mr. Dillon's truck and eventually dumped it amongst the trash on abandoned rural property. Roderick then quit the scene of the dumping with the victim's truck.

It seems that the counsel of Mr. Justice Frankfurter in Johnson v. United States, 318 U.S. 189, 202, 63 S.Ct. 549, 555, 87 L.Ed. 704 (1943) is particularly appropriate in this case and sets the tone of our review.

In reviewing criminal cases, it is particularly important for appellate courts to re-live the whole trial imaginatively and not to extract from episodes in isolation abstract questions of evidence and procedure. To turn a criminal appeal into a quest for error no more promotes the ends of justice than to acquiesce in low standards of criminal prosecution.

Page 542

I.

An information was filed May 7, 1991, and appellant was arraigned a week later. A trial that resulted in Roderick's conviction commenced November 4, 1991, some 181 days after filing of the information.

Rule 204(b) Uniform Rules for the District Courts provides for a trial within 120 days after filing the information or indictment. This rule is advisory only. Phillips v. State, 774 P.2d 118, 122 (Wyo.1989); Phillips v. State, 835 P.2d 1062, 1069 (Wyo.1992). Rather than set a mandatory time in which a trial is to be accomplished, courts consider multiple factors in determining the speedy trial question. In Osborne v. State, 806 P.2d 272, 277 (Wyo.1991) (citations omitted), we said:

Our speedy trial analysis is well established. We use the balancing test for evaluating speedy trial challenges that the United States Supreme Court formulated in Barker v. Wingo, 407 U.S. 514, 530, 92 S.Ct. 2182, 2192, 33 L.Ed.2d 101 (1972). This test requires us to look at: (1) the length of the delay; (2) the reason for the delay; (3) the defendant's assertion of her right; and (4) the prejudice to the defendant. We consider all four factors together and balance them in relation to all relevant circumstances.

The speedy trial clock begins to run upon arrest or when the complaint is filed. Id.

Initially, charges were filed against Roderick in the juvenile court. After a hearing held April 23, 1991, the charges against Roderick were transferred to the district court. A criminal complaint was filed against the appellant April 29, 1991. On May 6, 1991, he waived a preliminary hearing and an information was filed and served May 7, 1991. His motion to consolidate charges was granted and Roderick was arraigned on May 15, 1991.

As would be expected in a case of this magnitude, numerous motions were filed by Roderick resulting in more than a few proceedings before the court. Among the motions filed by Roderick was a motion for discovery and inspection dated June 11, 1991. This motion was followed by a motion to suppress and motion to dismiss filed June 17, 1991. After the June 17 motions, other motions were made at regular intervals, including: amendment to motion to dismiss, another motion to dismiss, motion for reconsideration of motions to dismiss, several motions in limine, motion to compel attendance of a witness, motion to disqualify prosecuting attorney, motion to quash search warrant, and another motion to dismiss.

The first trial date was originally set for August 19, 1991, but was re-set for September 23, 1991. The trial was again postponed thirty days "to allow the Defense an opportunity to investigate the material they have received in discovery." The October 22, 1991 trial resulted in a mistrial. 1

The progress of this case through the judicial system from filing the information to trial was 181 days. More than half of this 181 days is attributable to appellant. We do not fault appellant for filing numerous motions. Certainly a first degree murder case with two other charges is more complex than a single count larceny case. The only thing that the prosecution may have done to delay trial is fail to fully comply with the first discovery order. This is an arguable matter, however. Not only were most delays attributable to appellant, but most likely he benefitted by those delays. The delays provided him with broader and more extensive discovery access to

Page 543

the State's files than he would otherwise have had. Although Roderick's trial was delayed, the reasons for the delay not attributable to him are mostly neutral. Appellant did not vigorously assert his right to a speedy trial, and although he had the benefit of counsel, he never pressed for an earlier setting. In fact, appellant did not show in writing, as contemplated by Rule 204(e) Uniform Rules of the District Courts, how a delay might prejudice his defense. He has shown no prejudice caused by the delay. These considerations lead us to conclude that appellant's right to a speedy trial was not violated.

II.

Appellant contends in this issue that the state's failure to disclose exculpatory evidence deprived him of a fair trial. More specifically, he states that the tardy disclosures violated the Brady rule and deprived him of a speedy trial. The prosecution has the obligation to provide evidence in its possession that is both favorable to the accused and material to guilt or punishment. United States v. Agurs, 427 U.S. 97, 96 S.Ct. 2392, 49 L.Ed.2d 342 (1976); Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 83 S.Ct. 1194, 10 L.Ed.2d 215 (1963). In Brady, the Supreme Court held that the suppression of requested exculpatory evidence by the prosecution violates due process if the evidence is constitutionally material, either to guilt or to punishment.

On June 11, 1991, defense counsel made a motion specifically requesting certain materials and generally requesting all exculpatory evidence and evidence in the nature of impeachment. An order on this motion was never made; however, at the motion hearing, the prosecutor agreed to provide so-called Brady materials. Later, during a suppression hearing, defense counsel learned that certain materials had not been provided. It was his opinion that these missing materials were covered by the Brady rule and should be made available. The trial judge agreed and entered an order requiring the State to make available to the defense its entire investigative file.

In support of the exculpatory issue, appellant states in his brief:

He [appellant] was forced to give up his right to a speedy trial in order to receive the material. * * *

* * * * * *

* * * [D]efense attorney had to reveal his entire case to the prosecution in order to obtain the clearly exculpatory evidence which was withheld. The chances of defense being successful at trial were substantially diminished by having to explain to the prosecutor how he would use the information which the court later deemed to be clearly exculpatory.

Specifically, appellant contends that: (1) The prosecutor had in his possession "[w]ritten statements from a witness, stating that Appellant's sister was present at the murder scene." (2) "The victim's sister gave a statement that the victim initiated a call to her in which he seemed very nervous and disturbed and then cut off the conversation." This was shortly before another witness saw Adam Saffle driving a vehicle similar to the victim's in an erratic manner in the vicinity where the victim's body was found. This same witness gave a statement that he believed the victim had been shot twice while he was in his kitchen. (3) The State Crime Laboratory inventory sheets were incomplete. (4) There were other suspects who were interviewed but not disclosed to the defense. One witness, a possible defendant, had moved. (5) The State failed to provide photographs of bullets recovered at the murder scene.

Appellant complains of the State's failure to disclose evidence indicating that his sister had once claimed to have been present at Calvin Dillon's murder. However, he fails to note that the State introduced his sister's official statements to the contrary at trial and that he attempted to keep her off of the stand by claiming she was a compulsive liar. Appellant totally ignores the fact that his sister's purported comments in no way absolved him from guilt. Appellant also claims the...

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29 practice notes
  • Whitney v. State, No. 03-34.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • October 21, 2004
    ...Almada, 994 P.2d at 305 (370-day delay and "burden is on the petitioner to show prejudice"); Sides, 963 P.2d at 230; Roderick v. State, 858 P.2d 538, 542-43 (Wyo.1993); and Cosco v. State, 503 P.2d 1403, 1406 (Wyo.1972), cert. denied, 411 U.S. 971, 93 S.Ct. 2164, 36 L.Ed.2d 693 (1973) (nine......
  • Ryan v. State, No. 98-279.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • October 8, 1999
    ...53 or conduct which offends the public sense of fair play." Johnson v. State, 790 P.2d 231, 232 (Wyo.1990); see also Roderick v. State, 858 P.2d 538, 550 Id. at 36. 1. SEPARATION VIOLENCE—THE BRATTON TESTIMONY Rosemary Bratton has extensive experience working with both battered and batterin......
  • Sincock v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 12, 2003
    ...the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and Wyoming Constitutions. Mares v. State, 939 P.2d 724 (Wyo.1997); Roderick v. State, 858 P.2d 538 (Wyo.1993); Cook v. State, 841 P.2d 1345, 1352-53 (Wyo. [¶ 8] In Cook, the jury convicted the defendant of felony murder and the underlying fe......
  • Hannon v. State, No. 02-277.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 11, 2004
    ...the rights recognized in Miranda, including the right to counsel, apply only in the context of custodial interrogation. Roderick v. State, 858 P.2d 538, 546 (Wyo.1993); Glass v. State, 853 P.2d 84 P.3d 338 972, 976 (Wyo.1993); Solis v. State, 851 P.2d 1296, 1298 [¶ 42] In determining what c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • Whitney v. State, No. 03-34.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • October 21, 2004
    ...994 P.2d at 305 (370-day delay and "burden is on the petitioner to show prejudice"); Sides, 963 P.2d at 230; Roderick v. State, 858 P.2d 538, 542-43 (Wyo.1993); and Cosco v. State, 503 P.2d 1403, 1406 (Wyo.1972), cert. denied, 411 U.S. 971, 93 S.Ct. 2164, 36 L.Ed.2d 693 (1973) (ni......
  • Sincock v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • September 12, 2003
    ...the Double Jeopardy Clauses of the United States and Wyoming Constitutions. Mares v. State, 939 P.2d 724 (Wyo.1997); Roderick v. State, 858 P.2d 538 (Wyo.1993); Cook v. State, 841 P.2d 1345, 1352-53 (Wyo. [¶ 8] In Cook, the jury convicted the defendant of felony murder and the underlying fe......
  • Ryan v. State, No. 98-279.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • October 8, 1999
    ...or conduct which offends the public sense of fair play." Johnson v. State, 790 P.2d 231, 232 (Wyo.1990); see also Roderick v. State, 858 P.2d 538, 550 Id. at 36. 1. SEPARATION VIOLENCE—THE BRATTON TESTIMONY Rosemary Bratton has extensive experience working with both battered and batter......
  • Hannon v. State, No. 02-277.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • February 11, 2004
    ...the rights recognized in Miranda, including the right to counsel, apply only in the context of custodial interrogation. Roderick v. State, 858 P.2d 538, 546 (Wyo.1993); Glass v. State, 853 P.2d 84 P.3d 338 972, 976 (Wyo.1993); Solis v. State, 851 P.2d 1296, 1298 [¶ 42] In determining what c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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