Starr v. State, 010219 AKCA, A-12302

Docket Nº:A-12302
Opinion Judge:WOLLENBERG JUDGE.
Party Name:DENNI ROSE STARR, Appellant, v. STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.
Attorney:Jason A. Weiner, Gazewood & Weiner, P.C., Fairbanks, under contract with the Office of Public Advocacy, Anchorage, for the Appellant. Kenneth M. Rosenstein, under contract with the Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.
Judge Panel:Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, and Allard and Wollenberg, Judges.
Case Date:January 02, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Alaska
 
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DENNI ROSE STARR, Appellant,

v.

STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.

No. A-12302

Court of Appeals of Alaska

January 2, 2019

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d)

Appeal from the Superior Court Trial Court No. 1SI-07-195 CI, First Judicial District, Sitka, David V. George, Judge.

Jason A. Weiner, Gazewood & Weiner, P.C., Fairbanks, under contract with the Office of Public Advocacy, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

Kenneth M. Rosenstein, under contract with the Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Jahna Lindemuth, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, and Allard and Wollenberg, Judges.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WOLLENBERG JUDGE.

In July 2003, Denni Rose Starr had an argument with her longtime boyfriend, Richard "Buddy" George Jr. During this argument, Starr stabbed George in the back. At the time, George was holding their eighteen-month-old daughter in his arms. The blade of the knife punctured George's lung, and George quickly died.

Starr was charged with two counts of second-degree murder (based on alternative theories) and one count of reckless endangerment for engaging in conduct that created a substantial risk of serious physical injury to her baby daughter.

Before trial, Starr was initially represented by Darrel Gardner with the Office of Public Advocacy (OPA) (following a very brief period of representation by a different attorney). Gardner met with Starr once and had several phone conversations with her, but otherwise did not significantly investigate her case before deciding to leave OPA. In early 2004, following Gardner's departure from OPA, Starr's case was reassigned to attorney Steven Wells. About six months later, the case proceeded to trial.

Wells based his defense of Starr on the theory that the stabbing was a mixture of self-defense, heat of passion, and accident. After the close of the State's case, Wells advised the court that he had just obtained information that Starr had been diagnosed with a concussion following the stabbing. Wells suggested that Starr may have received the concussion prior to the stabbing and argued that the information was relevant to Starr's defense. Wells moved for a new trial, or, in the alternative, a continuance. The court denied Wells's motions.

The jury found Starr guilty of second-degree murder and reckless endangerment. We affirmed Starr's conviction on appeal, upholding the superior court's denial of Starr's motion for a continuance during trial and Starr's motion for a new trial.1

Following her direct appeal, Starr applied for post-conviction relief. In a...

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