State v. Twardoski

Citation2021 MT 179
Decision Date20 July 2021
Docket NumberDA 18-0543
PartiesSTATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. ALAN PETER TWARDOSKI, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Montana

2021 MT 179

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
ALAN PETER TWARDOSKI, Defendant and Appellant.

DA 18-0543

SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MONTANA

Submitted on Briefs: March 17, 2021
July 20, 2021


APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Twenty-First Judicial District, In and For the County of Ravalli, Cause No. DC 17-59 Honorable James A. Haynes, Presiding Judge

COUNSEL OF RECORD:

For Appellant:

Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Kristina L. Neal, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

For Appellee:

Austin Knudsen, Montana Attorney General, Katie F. Schulz, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana

William E. Fulbright, Ravalli County Attorney, Hamilton, Montana

Filed:

/s/_________
Clerk

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Justice Ingrid Gustafson delivered the Opinion of the Court.

¶1 Defendant and Appellant Alan Peter Twardoski (Twardoski) appeals from the June 1, 2018 Order Re: Cody Hill - CCJI and the July 26, 2018 Judgment issued by the Twenty-First Judicial District Court, Ravalli County, following his convictions for Sexual Assault, three counts of Sexual Intercourse Without Consent, and Sexual Abuse of Children, all felonies, after a jury trial.

¶2 We restate the issues on appeal as follows:

1. Whether the District Court abused its discretion by not requiring the State to provide additional Confidential Criminal Justice Information from the Cody Hill investigation after it conducted an in camera review of the file.

2. Whether the District Court erred by excluding evidence of Cody Hill's near contemporaneous sexual abuse of I.A., thereby violating Twardoski's constitutional right to present a defense.

¶3 We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for a new trial.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

¶4 In the summer of 2016, I.A., then thirteen years old, lived in a cabin with her mother on property owned by I.A.'s maternal grandparents near Corvallis. I.A.'s grandparents lived in the main house on the property, while one of I.A.'s older male cousins lived in another building near the cabin. I.A. was being home-schooled. I.A.'s mother was a drug addict who struggled with mental health and chemical dependency issues for years, including frequently abusing pain medications and methamphetamine. Since approximately 2005, I.A.'s mother had used drugs with—and those drugs were often provided by—Twardoski. I.A. first met Twardoski when she was about six or seven.

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¶5 On June 27, 2016, Cody Hill, a nearly 40-year-old rancher and family friend of I.A., began to sexually abuse 13-year-old I.A. The two would enter into a "relationship" which lasted for approximately a year and a half. On their first night together, I.A. stayed with Hill as she was going to work on the ranch with him the next morning. Hill provided I.A. with wine and the two drank together. Hill told I.A. he was attracted to her and then convinced her to play a game of sexual "truth or dare." As part of the game's "dares," Hill touched I.A.'s breasts; fingered her vagina, causing her pain; grabbed I.A.'s head when having I.A. perform oral sex on him; performed oral sex on I.A.; and threatened I.A. by saying his son would be taken away from him if she ever told anyone about what they did. Hill and I.A. also took a shower together.

¶6 On July 10, 2016, thirteen days after Hill employed this sexual game of "truth or dare" to sexually abuse I.A., she went for a driving lesson with Twardoski, her mother's 61-year-old friend and drug supplier, when I.A.'s mother was unable to take her because she was high on prescription drugs and methamphetamine. I.A. and Twardoski drove for a while, before turning into a field and parking. As alleged by I.A., once parked in the field Twardoski told her she was beautiful and then convinced her to play a sexual game of "truth or dare." As part of the game's "dares," Twardoski touched I.A.'s breasts; fingered her vagina, causing her pain; grabbed I.A.'s head when having I.A. perform oral sex on him; performed oral sex on I.A.; and threatened I.A. by saying he would kill himself if she told anyone about what they did. After returning to the cabin, I.A. went inside and took a shower. I.A. left after showering and visited her cousin on the property, while Twardoski remained at the cabin with her mother.

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¶7 Two days after her drive with Twardoski, I.A. was present when her mother and grandmother were arguing about how much time Twardoski was spending at the cabin. I.A.'s grandmother did not want Twardoski on the property, while her mother wanted to continue seeing (and using drugs with) him. During this argument, I.A. told her mother and grandmother that Twardoski had touched her body and she didn't like it. I.A. did not provide further details to her mother and grandmother at the time. I.A. then moved into the main house on the property with her grandparents, while her mother moved to Bozeman to live with her sister.

¶8 I.A. began going to counseling with Aleta Sisson, LCPC, in September of 2016. At her third session with Sisson, in late October 2016, I.A. told Sisson that she was "sexually assaulted by her mother's meth dealer." I.A. told Sisson the meth dealer's name was Alan and that it happened during a driving lesson in June or July of 2016. I.A. did not disclose any information about Hill's sexual abuse to Sisson. As a mandatory reporter, Sisson contacted law enforcement. I.A. gave a forensic interview to Mary Pat Hansen, APRN, on November 9, 2016, in which she told Hansen about the sexual truth or dare game in Twardoski's car. I.A. did not tell Hansen about the sexual truth or dare game Hill used to sexually abuse her. On March 24, 2017, the State charged Twardoski with one count of sexual assault, three counts of sexual intercourse without consent, and one count of sexual abuse of children, all felonies.

¶9 On May 23, 2017, law enforcement received a tip that Hill and I.A. were involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship. I.A. was forensically interviewed by Val Widmer regarding her relationship with Hill in June of 2017. At this forensic interview, I.A.

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repeatedly denied any sexual relationship with Hill. In December 2017, Hill, who was on probation after a felony DUI, was arrested on a probation violation and placed in the Ravalli County Detention Center. On January 3, 2018, Hill called I.A. from jail. The call was recorded. During the call, I.A. informed Hill she had told her grandmother about their relationship. On January 5, 2018, I.A. was again forensically interviewed by Widmer. During this interview, I.A. admitted she lied about her relationship with Hill during the June 2017 forensic interview. I.A. told the forensic interviewer the sexual relationship with Hill began on June 27, 2016, when she stayed at Hill's place and the two played a sexual game of truth or dare. I.A. also described to the interviewer the year-and-a-half long "relationship" she had with Hill and the numerous instances of sexual abuse he inflicted on her.

¶10 On March 5, 2018, Hill was charged in District Court with four counts of sexual intercourse without consent, one count of attempted sexual intercourse without consent, and one count of sexual abuse of children, all felonies, for his sexual abuse of I.A. On May 8, 2018, the State filed a motion in limine which sought an order precluding Twardoski from introducing evidence of Hill's sexual abuse of I.A. under § 45-5-511(2), MCA, Montana's rape shield statute. On May 17, 2018, Twardoski filed the Defendant's Motion to Compel Production of Potential Exculpatory Evidence, seeking information from the State, including confidential criminal justice information from the criminal file, regarding Hill. After the parties briefed the motions, the District Court held a hearing on May 29, 2018. The State provided the court with Hill's file for an in camera review. On

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June 1, 2018, the District Court issued its Order Re: Cody Hill - CCJI.1 In this order, the court held evidence of Hill's sexual abuse of I.A. was excluded under the rape shield statute, subject to the State's presentation of evidence at trial, and denied Twardoski's motion to compel production of the State's Hill file. The court did turn over pages 1-12 of the Hill file to Twardoski, which contained the offense report which led to Hill's criminal charges.

¶11 Twardoski's trial was held from June 11-13 and 15, 2018. At trial, the jury heard testimony from I.A., her mother, her grandmother, her cousin, her aunt, Hansen, Sisson, Ravalli County Sheriff's Office Detective Chris Albright, Twardoski, Richard Churchill, and Shellie McDonald. The tape of I.A.'s forensic interview with Hansen was also played at trial. Outside the presence of the jury, counsel for Twardoski repeatedly requested permission to question witnesses about Hill. With the limited exception of allowing I.A. to confirm Hill was her boss and acted as a "father figure" to her, counsel's requests for permission to pose questions about Hill were denied by the District Court. Mid-trial, on June 13, 2018, Twardoski filed the Defendant's Notice of Intent to Testify and Motion to Address Issues Regarding Cody Lee Hill and Motion to Allow Appearance of Cody Lee Hill. The District Court issued its Order Re Cody Lee Hill that same day, denying Twardoski permission to testify regarding Hill and quashing a subpoena for Hill to testify at trial. The jury convicted Twardoski on all counts. Twardoski was sentenced to

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concurrent sentences of 50 years of incarceration, with 25 years suspended, on each count, and designated a Tier II sexual offender. Hill ultimately pled guilty to all charges relating to his sexual abuse of I.A. and was sentenced to eighty years in prison.

¶12 Twardoski appeals. Additional facts will be discussed as necessary below.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶13 We review a district court's decision regarding matters of discovery for an abuse of discretion. State v. Pope, 2019 MT 200, ¶ 10, 397 Mont. 95, 447 P.3d 469 (Pope II) (citing State v. Pope, 2017 MT 12, ¶ 16, 386 Mont. 194, 387 P.3d...

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