State v. Smith, 49461

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtBRODY, JUSTICE.
PartiesSTATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. MICHANGLO SMITH, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket Number49461
Decision Date02 September 2022

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.

MICHANGLO SMITH, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 49461

Supreme Court of Idaho, Boise

September 2, 2022


Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. Lynn G. Norton, District Judge and Thomas F. Neville, Senior District Judge.

Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellant Public Defender, Boise, for Appellant. Sally Cooley argued.

Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for Respondent. Mark Olson argued.

BRODY, JUSTICE.

Michanglo Smith challenges multiple evidentiary decisions of the district court involving two jury trials. Smith also challenges the district court's order of restitution. During the first trial, a jury found Smith guilty of felony domestic battery with traumatic injury, misdemeanor assault, and misdemeanor false imprisonment. However, the jury was unable to reach a decision on the attempted strangulation charge. The State re-tried Smith on that charge, and after a second trial, a jury found him guilty of attempted strangulation. Smith appealed his convictions and the subsequent restitution order. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

The underlying convictions stem from a violent incident involving Smith and his then girlfriend ("Girlfriend") on the night of January 27, 2018 and lasted into the morning of January 28, 2018.

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Smith and Girlfriend began dating in August 2017. One month later, the pair moved in together and resided at a hotel in Boise, Idaho. Smith and Girlfriend started to have serious discussions about marriage and in December 2017, Smith and Girlfriend moved into an apartment. During this time, Girlfriend was working at a fast-food restaurant ("Restaurant") in Boise.

On the night of the underlying incident, Girlfriend worked a shift until approximately 10:30 p.m. Before clocking out, Girlfriend had a conversation with her supervisor ("Supervisor") about Girlfriend being promoted to "team lead." After clocking out, Girlfriend drove towards the apartment while speaking on the phone with Smith. However, before Girlfriend reached the apartment, the call dropped. What occurred after that, and into the next morning, was disputed at trial.

According to Smith (who testified during the first trial but not the second), Girlfriend arrived at the apartment roughly fifteen minutes after the call dropped and was "irate and crying and hysterical." Smith further testified that when Girlfriend arrived at the apartment, her face was already "swollen" and "beat up" and that she "attacked" him and started "hollering." According to Smith, Girlfriend was attacked by some other person(s) to whom she owed money.

In contrast, Girlfriend testified that Smith had attacked, threatened, and attempted to strangle her repeatedly-not some other person(s). In the first trial, after hearing from both Girlfriend and Smith, in addition to multiple witnesses corroborating Girlfriend's injuries and reported version of events, the jury convicted Smith on all counts except the attempted strangulation charge. As explained below, following the second trial, the jury convicted Smith on the attempted strangulation charge.

Girlfriend testified that she went straight to the apartment after leaving work that night. When she arrived, she found Smith in the parking lot and in a "very foul mood" because Smith thought she had hung-up on him. Smith began yelling at her in the parking lot. Smith and Girlfriend eventually entered the apartment, and then Girlfriend's phone "went off" when she received a text message. Supervisor had texted Girlfriend to thank her, congratulate her, and tell her that "if [she] wasn't worth it, [Supervisor] wouldn't have even come back in." Smith read the message and "flew off the handle." Girlfriend testified that Smith started cussing, grabbed her around the neck in the kitchen of the apartment, and attempted to strangle her. She testified that this impacted her ability to breathe, and she eventually lost consciousness.

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Girlfriend testified that when she regained consciousness, she was still in the kitchen, but her necklace was on the floor, broken, and she had wet herself from losing control of her bladder. Smith then began accusing Girlfriend of "sleeping with [Supervisor]." Girlfriend then testified that Smith struck her on the left side of her face, texted Supervisor using Girlfriend's phone, and struck Girlfriend a second time. In these texts, Smith accused Supervisor of calling and texting Girlfriend with "inappropriate bullshit" and threatened that if Supervisor continued to contact Girlfriend "it's going to be some trouble."

Smith then told Girlfriend to get into his vehicle, and although Girlfriend did not want to, she testified that she complied because she did not feel free to refuse. Next, Smith started driving towards the Restaurant with Girlfriend in the front passenger seat. While driving and continuing to accuse Girlfriend of sleeping with Supervisor, Girlfriend testified that Smith struck her near her left eye, in the mouth, and in the chest. After arriving at the Restaurant, Smith went inside, and Girlfriend stayed in the vehicle. After Smith did not locate Supervisor inside the Restaurant, he returned to the vehicle, and demanded that Girlfriend take him to Supervisor's mother's house. Girlfriend responded that she did not know where the woman lived. Girlfriend testified that Smith struck her again, returned to the driver seat, and drove away with her still in the front passenger seat.

While driving away, Girlfriend testified that Smith struck her "a couple more times" on the left side of her face. At one point, Smith parked in front of a theater, pulled out a pocket-knife, tossed it in Girlfriend's lap, and said "use it on me or I'm going to use it on you and claim self-defense." Smith did not stab Girlfriend with the knife, but Girlfriend testified that she was fearful that he would because he was already striking her. Smith took back the knife, began driving again, and eventually pulled into a parking lot at a park.

Girlfriend testified that Smith parked the vehicle, pulled her out of the passenger seat, struck her on the left side of her face, and attempted to strangle her until she lost consciousness for a second time. Girlfriend regained consciousness on the ground, was struck by Smith again, and then Girlfriend ran away from the vehicle. However, Girlfriend testified that she did not get far before Smith "tackled" her on the nearby grass and began "banging" her head on the ground while calling her derogatory names. Smith then picked up Girlfriend and stood her near the hood of his vehicle. Girlfriend testified that Smith threatened to drown her in the nearby pond and to

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"get rid of [her] body" so "nobody would ever find it." Girlfriend testified that while at the vehicle, Smith again attempted to strangle her until she lost consciousness for a third time.

Girlfriend next testified that she regained consciousness in the apartment's kitchen. Afterwards, Smith was still talking to Girlfriend, but her "head was ringing" so she could not recall everything he was saying. However, Girlfriend testified that she did recall that after waking up in the kitchen, Smith poured Girlfriend's medications in her hand and said: "Why don't you just take these and kill yourself." At some point the next morning, Girlfriend left the apartment and went straight to the Ada County Sheriff's office. However, Girlfriend decided to leave the Sheriff's office before anyone met with her and proceeded to an urgent care facility. Girlfriend arrived at the urgent care around 11:00 a.m. the morning of January 28, 2018. She presented with facial swelling; difficulty speaking; injuries to her mouth and jaw; pain in her chest, head, neck, and back; and difficulty moving her neck. Due to the severity of her presenting injuries, an ambulance was called which transported Girlfriend to the local emergency department.

At the emergency department, Girlfriend described the above events to the medical staff and a responding law enforcement officer. One of the staff included Nurse Jennifer Hordemann. As a result of the above events, Girlfriend suffered multiple injuries including swollen eyes and lips; swollen hands and fingers; bruising on her arm and back; a cut to her lip requiring stitches; an acute head injury; subconjunctival hemorrhages in one eye; and a cut, pain, and swelling on her neck. Imaging of Girlfriend's head was negative for any skull trauma, bone injuries, or brain injuries. In addition, imaging of Girlfriend's neck was negative for damage to arteries, structures, or leakage of blood vessels. She was released from the emergency department later the same day.

One day after discharge, on January 29, 2018, Girlfriend went to FACES of Hope in Boise, for treatment and a forensic domestic violence examination. The treating providers at FACES were Dr. Ashley King and Nurse Anne Wardle. Girlfriend was also treated at a concussion clinic for six to eight weeks where she participated in physical, speech, and vestibular therapies.

B. Procedural Background.

The State charged Smith with felony domestic battery with traumatic injury, attempted strangulation, first-degree kidnapping, and aggravated assault. Prior to trial, the State disclosed Drs. D. Lee Binnion and King as strangulation experts. On December 10, 2018, the case

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proceeded to trial. At trial, testimony was heard from Girlfriend, Smith, Supervisor, law enforcement officers, various treatment providers, and Dr. King (strangulation expert and treating provider for Girlfriend at FACES).

Smith's defense theory during the first trial was twofold. First, Smith contended the identity of Girlfriend's assailant was at issue: "There still may be an alternate perpetrator . . . . There is a question as to what...

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