State v. Hopkins, Docket No. 41824

CourtCourt of Appeals of Idaho
Writing for the CourtSCHROEDER, Judge Pro Tem
Decision Date12 March 2015
PartiesSTATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. KELSEY ROSE HOPKINS, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket NumberDocket No. 41824,2015 Opinion No. 12

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
KELSEY ROSE HOPKINS, Defendant-Appellant.

Docket No. 41824
2015 Opinion No. 12


March 12, 2015

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Michael R. McLaughlin, District Judge; Hon. Theresa Gardunia, Magistrate.

Order of the district court, on intermediate appeal, affirming magistrate's judgment of conviction, reversed, and case remanded.

Alan E. Trimming, Ada County Public Defender; Heidi M. Johnson, Deputy Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Heidi M. Johnson argued.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Jessica M. Lorello, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Jessica M. Lorello argued.

SCHROEDER, Judge Pro Tem

Kelsey Rose Hopkins was charged with malicious injury to property for her conduct resulting in damage to a courtroom wall. She admits that she angrily left the courtroom and forcefully pushed a door, but has continuously argued that she did not intend to damage the door or wall. At trial she requested a jury instruction stating that accidentally damaging property would not amount to malicious injury. The court denied her request and she was convicted. She appealed to the district court which affirmed the conviction. She then filed this appeal from the decision of the district court.

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Hopkins was charged with malicious injury to property in violation of Idaho Code § 18-7001, for conduct she engaged in during her younger brother's juvenile court proceeding. The State presented evidence that Hopkins became very upset after her brother was sentenced. She yelled an expletive and walked out of the courtroom.1 On her way out, she pushed a courtroom door so forcefully that the doorstop struck the wall, going through the drywall and creating a soccer-ball-sized hole in the wall.

A law enforcement officer interviewed Hopkins at her home and testified that Hopkins apologized for "what she did." She explained that she was upset because she had misunderstood the proceedings and did not intend to put a hole in the wall.

At the close of the State's case-in-chief, Hopkins requested a ruling on a proposed jury instruction, explaining that the instruction was consistent with her theory of the case. She intended to argue that she neither intended any injury to the wall, nor intended any wrongful act. The proposed jury instruction explained that a person cannot be held criminally liable for a mistake or accident.2 The State objected, maintaining that the damage was not caused by a mistake, because Hopkins' forceful opening of the door was intentional. The district court ruled that there was insufficient evidence to require giving the instruction at that time and reserved the right to reconsider the ruling after Hopkins' case.

Hopkins testified at the trial and admitted that she caused the damage. She testified that she did not intend to cause any damage to the courtroom, stating that she was very upset and was trying to leave the courtroom because she was going to cry and does "not like crying in front of people." She asserted that she was unaware that there was a hole in the wall until after the officer interviewed her at her home. She apologized to the officer and asked what could be done to ameliorate the situation.

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After the defense rested, the trial court denied the request to give the accident instruction. As to the mental element of the offense, the court instructed the jury that in order to convict it would have to find that Hopkins acted "maliciously" and explained that "maliciously was defined as 'the desire to annoy or injure another, or the intent to do a wrongful act.'"

The State argued to the jury that the act was done maliciously for two reasons. First, it argued that Hopkins acted with the intent to annoy certain court officials: "[s]he was making a statement. She wanted to make clear that she did not approve; that she didn't like what was happening to her brother." Second, it argued that Hopkins intended a wrongful act when she angrily "opened the door, and it struck the wall." The State further contended that the damage was not the result of an accident because it was the foreseeable result of forcefully opening the door.

Hopkins conceded that she opened the door angrily, but denied any intent to cause damage to the wall. She also argued that her actions could not have been undertaken with the intent to annoy because the sentencing judge, the person with whom she was upset, had left the room before she opened the door.

The jury returned a guilty verdict. The court explained its view of the case at sentencing:

I don't believe that you purposely put a hole in the wall of the courthouse. You purposely hit the door and perhaps didn't realize how hard you hit it, but after hearing the evidence at the trial I don't believe that that was what you intended to come out of it.

Thereafter, the court ordered Hopkins to attend anger management, complete forty hours of community service, and pay restitution and fees.

Hopkins appealed to the district court. She argued that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury regarding a mistake or accident defense and that the jury's verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence. The district court rejected both of the arguments. As to the jury instruction, the court held that Hopkins did not present any facts that would support a finding of accident or mistake because her contact with the door was intentional. As to the sufficiency claim, the court ruled that a reasonable jury could infer malicious intent from Hopkins' statements and conduct. Hopkins appeals the district court decision.

Hopkins reiterates her arguments that there was not substantial evidence that she acted maliciously and that the court erred by failing to give a requested jury instruction. She contends that the requested instruction was required because the issue was not adequately addressed by

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other jury instructions. In her view the accident defense amounts to an argument that Hopkins "acted without forming the mental state necessary to commit the crime." She concedes that the court defined "maliciously," but argues that "there was no instruction given with regards to the required intent."

As to the sufficiency of the evidence, Hopkins cites State v. Nastoff, 124 Idaho 667, 668, 862 P.2d 1089, 1090 (Ct. App. 1993), for the proposition that the State was required to prove that she intended to injure the property and contends that there is insufficient evidence of that intent.


When reviewing the decision of a district court sitting in its appellate capacity, the standard of review is the same as expressed by the Idaho Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court reviews the trial court (magistrate) record to determine whether there is substantial and competent evidence to support the magistrate's findings of fact and whether the magistrate's conclusions of law follow from those findings. If those findings are so supported and the conclusions follow therefrom and if the district court affirmed the magistrate's decision, we affirm the district court's decision as a matter of procedure.

Pelayo v. Pelayo, 154 Idaho 855, 858, 303 P.3d 214, 217 (2013) (quoting Bailey v. Bailey, 153 Idaho 526, 529, 284 P.3d 970, 973 (2012)). Thus, the appellate courts do not review the decision of the magistrate court. Bailey, 153 Idaho at 529, 284 P.3d at 973. Rather, we are procedurally bound to affirm or reverse the decisions of the district court. State v. Korn, 148 Idaho 413, 415 n.1, 224 P.3d 480, 482 n.1 (2009).

Hopkins raises two claims of error. She claims that the court erred by not giving an instruction excluding conviction for an accident or mistake. She maintains that such an instruction was necessary because the State failed to prove that she intended to damage or destroy state property.

A. The Jury's Verdict Is Supported by Substantial Evidence

Appellate review of the sufficiency of the evidence is limited in scope. A finding of guilt will not be overturned on appeal where there is substantial evidence upon which a reasonable trier of fact could have found that the prosecution sustained its burden of proving the essential elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Herrera-Brito, 131 Idaho 383, 385, 957 P.2d 1099, 1101 (Ct. App. 1998); State v. Knutson, 121 Idaho 101, 104, 822 P.2d 998, 1001 (Ct.

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App. 1991). This Court will not substitute our view for that of the trier of fact as to the credibility of the witnesses, the weight to be given to the testimony, and the reasonable inferences to be drawn from the evidence. Knutson, 121 Idaho at 104, 822 P.2d at 1001; State v. Decker, 108 Idaho 683, 684, 701...

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