State v. Pratt

Decision Date27 July 1993
Docket NumberNos. 18424,19736,s. 18424
Citation125 Idaho 546,873 P.2d 800
PartiesSTATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. James Kevin PRATT, Defendant-Appellant. Boise, February 1993 Term
CourtIdaho Supreme Court

Mark Vovos, Spokane, WA, and Joan M. Fisher, Genesee, for defendant-appellant. Joan M. Fisher argued.

Larry EchoHawk, Atty. Gen. and Lynn E. Thomas, Deputy Atty. Gen., Boise, for plaintiff-respondent. Lynn E. Thomas argued.

McDEVITT, Chief Justice.

A. The Guilt Phase:

On February 7, 1989, the State filed an information against appellant, James Kevin Pratt, charging him with eighteen crimes. The information alleged that a number of crimes occurred at the home of Louise Turner in Bonner County, Idaho, which were followed by crimes committed during the course of Pratt's attempt to flee from the police. 1 In addition, the information stated that the sentence for each crime should be extended pursuant to I.C. § 19-2520 because Pratt "displayed, used, threatened and attempted to use a firearm." Specifically, the information alleged that Pratt committed the following crimes:

Pratt was arraigned on February 7, 1989, and he pled "not guilty" to all counts.

On April 6, 1989, Pratt filed motions for a jury trial on the issue of the existence of aggravating circumstances, an advisory jury regarding sentencing, and sentencing by jury. In this regard, he cited the United States and Idaho constitutional guarantees of due process and trial by jury. The motions were heard on April 13, 1989, and the court issued its order denying the motions on April 21, 1989.

Appellant filed additional motions on April 6, 1989 and at the April 13, 1989 hearing. These include motions for jury sequestration, dismissal of counts V and XVI, counts XII, XIII, V, and XVI, counts IV and XIV, count XV, and count XVII, and for striking certain portions of Count XVIII. The court issued its order denying these motions on May 8, 1989. The court ruled that the jury would not be sequestered at trial, only during deliberation. It also ruled that the evidence at the preliminary hearing was sufficient to support the criminal counts challenged by Pratt. Further, the court ruled that counts IV and XIV, regarding aggravated assault against Saul E. Quigley, were not duplicative.

As to the motion to strike a portion of Count XVIII, appellant moved that the following language be stricken:

and that at the time of the killing of such victim the victim was a peace officer, law enforcement officer, and executive officer duly commissioned as such by the United States Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, and was acting in his lawful discharge of his official duties, and assisting the Bonner County Sheriff's Department. The Defendant knew or should have known that Brent K. Jacobson was such an officer so acting, and that said shooting and killing occurred after voice notification to the Defendant of the status of such officer and after the Defendant had been pursued for many hours by such law enforcement officers. Further, that such shooting and killing occurred during the perpetration and commission of the felony criminal offenses of burglary in the first degree, kidnapping in the second degree, and robbery; and was committed by the Defendant in the furtherance of said commission and perpetration of said felony criminal offenses, and to facilitate the escape and further the commission and perpetration of said felony offenses.

In support of this argument, Pratt cited I.C.R. 5.1 and I.C. §§ 18-4003(b), 19-510, and 19-5101(d). In regards to I.C.R. 5.1, the court ruled that it does not require specific findings of fact, only a finding of probable cause that a certain crime was committed by the defendant. As to the cited statutes, the court ruled that I.C. § 18-4003(b) is not limited by I.C. § 19-510, because to do so would exempt deputy sheriffs, Idaho State Police officers, and even the President of the United States from its protection. The court further ruled that "the legislature intended the protection of I.C. § 18-4003(b) to extend to all persons serving in the designated capacities of peace officer or executive officer [whether] federal or state." It also found that the victim fit within I.C. § 18-4003(b).

[125 Idaho 552] Finally, the court ruled that the Pratts were engaged in the commission of a felony during the killing, as they were escaping from the scene of the crime, because there was a "continuous and unbroken chain of events, ..." citing State v. Fetterly, 109 Idaho 766, 710 P.2d 1202 (1986), cert. denied, 479 U.S. 870, 107 S.Ct. 239, 93 L.Ed.2d 164 (1986).

After a fifteen day trial, the jury returned its verdict on June 9, 1989. The jury found Pratt "guilty" of first degree burglary, robbery, second degree kidnapping, nine counts of aggravated assault 3, aggravated assault upon a law enforcement officer, attempted first degree murder, and first degree murder. Pratt was found "not guilty" of aggravated battery upon Mark A. Palanuik. The jury's verdict of "guilty" for first degree murder was based upon its finding that "[t]he killing occurred during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of robbery, burglary or kidnapping" and "[t]he person killed was a peace officer or executive officer acting within the scope of his duties at the time of the killing." 4

B. The Sentencing Phase:

On November 27, 1989, the court issued its I.C. § 19-2515 findings. In its findings, the court discussed the general criminal conduct involved and Pratt's character, both of which it deemed to be "neither aggravating nor mitigating," and it identified mitigating circumstances, aggravating circumstances, and statutory aggravating circumstances. Finally, it weighed "all of the mitigating circumstances against each one of the aggravating circumstances."

As to mitigating circumstances, the court found the following to be neither mitigating nor aggravating: (1) Pratt's age (twenty seven); and (2) his parent's divorce when he was twelve years old. Further, the court ruled that because of Pratt's years of association with convicted spy and bank robber Christopher Boyce, Pratt's assertion of his "years as being largely self-sufficient and employed ... will not be considered a mitigating circumstance nor will his years of association with Christopher Boyce be considered an aggravating circumstance." The court rejected the following as mitigating circumstances: (1) that Pratt did not intend to cause death and that the shooting resulted from Pratt's fear for his own life; (2) that at no time during the robbery or any of the subsequent events prior to the shooting at Smith Creek did Pratt inflict injury upon any person; (3) that Pratt was physically and mentally impaired at the time of the shooting; (4) that Pratt was fearful of being shot and killed; and (5) that Pratt promptly admitted and stipulated to all material facts surrounding the commission of the crime, leaving as the only matter in issue, the intent with which he acted. The court found the following as mitigating circumstances:

1. The Defendant has usually been a productive, law abiding citizen.

2. He has no history of prior acts of violence against other persons.

3. Defendant has no prior record of felony criminal convictions.

The court found the following acts to be aggravating circumstances: (1) the burglary was a "deliberately thought-out plan," as the Pratt brothers armed themselves and put on black clothing and masks; (2) Pratt used a firearm during the robbery, threatening and intimidating nine people; (3) Pratt committed aggravated assault upon nine people and committed second degree kidnapping against Saul E. Quigley; (5) Pratt refused to surrender to the police; (6) that the firing occurred as part of an "ongoing, continuous, uninterrupted" series of acts; (7) Pratt shot at and attempted to kill Officer Steve Barbieri; and (8) Pratt "willfully and intentionally and unlawfully" shot and killed Officer Brent K. Jacobson. The court found the following acts to be aggravating circumstances under I.C. § 19-2515(g): (1) Pratt knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons; (2) Pratt exhibited utter disregard for the lives of police officers attempting to place him under arrest; (3) Pratt exhibited a propensity and willingness to take the life of any police officer attempting to place him under arrest; and (4) Pratt killed a peace officer acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and was known or should have been known by Pratt to be an officer so acting. The court rejected as a statutory aggravating circumstance that the killing of Brent Jacobson constituted the killing of a police officer because of the exercise of an official duty.

The court then weighed all of the mitigating circumstances against each aggravating circumstance. It found that the mitigating circumstances outweighed all of the aggravating circumstances except:

The mitigating circumstances herein do not outweigh the statutory aggravating circumstance found in I.C. § 19-2515(g)(7). The killing herein was of a police officer acting in the line of duty, known by the Defendant to be acting in the line of duty and committed during the on-going commission of serious and dangerous felony offenses and was accompanied with the specific intent to cause death.

The court thus concluded that the death penalty should be imposed.

On November 30, 1989, the court issued its judgment and sentence. For first degree burglary, Pratt was sentenced to ten years fixed, to run concurrent with his robbery sentence. For robbery, he was sentenced to twenty-five years fixed. For second degree kidnapping, he was sentenced to ten years fixed, to be served consecutively to his sentence for robbery. For each of the nine counts of aggravated assault, he was sentenced to two years fixed, to be served concurrently with his sentences for robbery and burglary. For aggravated assault upon a law...

To continue reading

Request your trial
67 cases
  • State v. Pina, Docket No. 34192 (Idaho 3/18/2010)
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • March 18, 2010 492. The "stream of events" language was then used in State v. Fetterly, 109 Idaho 766, 710 P.2d 1202 (1985) and State v. Pratt, 125 Idaho 546, 873 P.2d 800 (1993). Both cases were concerned with the temporal issue of a felony that occurred prior to the actual murder, and both involved d......
  • State v. Draper
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • September 13, 2011
    ...element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. A jury need not consider instructions that are mere surplusage. State v. Pratt, 125 Idaho 546, 559–60, 873 P.2d 800, 813–14 (1993). If the jurors found one of the first four items on the list to be true, i.e., that Draper purchased knives, tra......
  • State v. Kimbrough
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • June 3, 1996
    ...not exist. People v. Patterson, 209 Cal.App.3d 610, 257 Cal.Rptr. 407 (1989); State v. Gray, 654 So.2d 552 (Fla.1995); State v. Pratt, 125 Idaho 546, 873 P.2d 800 (1993); People v. Viser, 62 Ill.2d 568, 343 N.E.2d 903 (1975); Head v. State, 443 N.E.2d 44 (Ind.1982); State v. Robinson, 256 K......
  • State v. Dunlap
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • July 27, 1993
    ...sentence for murder, § 18-4003(c), then that murder is classified as first degree murder under I.C. § 18-4003. See State v. Pratt (James), 125 Idaho 546, 873 P.2d 800 (1993); State v. Lankford, 116 Idaho 860, 781 P.2d 197 (1989). See also Arave v. Creech, 507 U.S. 463, 113 S.Ct. 1534, 123 L......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT