District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Vernice S.
Trease No. 141912435
Nathalie S. Skibine and Ralph W. Dellapiana, Attorneys for
D. Reyes and Lindsey L. Wheeler, Attorneys for Appellee
Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges J.
Frederic Voros Jr. and Michele M. Christiansen concurred.
Defendant Paula Tuitavuki Fahina appeals his conviction for
aggravated assault involving domestic violence, a third
degree felony. Fahina argues that the trial court erred in
admitting testimony at trial under the excited utterance
exception to the hearsay rule. We affirm.
Fahina and Victim met while she was residing at an extended
stay hotel in South Salt Lake City. They began a sexual
relationship that lasted for about a month and a half, during
which time Fahina would stay overnight in Victim's room
three or four nights a week. Fahina also kept some of his
belongings in Victim's room.
Early one morning, after Victim and Fahina had consensual
sex, there was an incident in Victim's room. Following an
investigation into that incident, the State charged Fahina
with aggravated sexual assault, forcible sodomy, aggravated
kidnapping, and aggravated assault involving domestic
violence. Fahina pleaded not guilty.
Victim testified at trial that after she had consensual sex
with Fahina, they began to argue. She explained that the
argument turned violent and Fahina pulled out a
twelve-inch-long serrated knife. She said that Fahina twice
demanded that she "get on the bed" while he
alternated between holding the knife above his head and
pointing it at her.
According to Victim, she "got really scared" and
complied with Fahina's demand. She said that Fahina told
her to get under the covers, but she refused because she was
"scared he would start stabbing" her. Fahina told
Victim, "If you scream, I'll kill you."
Victim then testified that, with the knife still in hand,
Fahina demanded that she perform oral sex on him. Victim
initially told Fahina no, but because she was "scared
for [her] life, " she did "whatever he wanted [her]
to do, " and Fahina "just kept pointing the
knife" at her and "would stab it at" her when
she tried to stop.
Victim said that she eventually "got the nerve up"
to try to escape. She ran to and unlocked the door while
screaming, "He's going to kill me." But before
Victim could open the door, Fahina, still holding the knife,
grabbed Victim and threw her back into the room against the
bed's box spring, which broke two of her ribs and
punctured her lung. Terrified, Victim got up and again ran to
the door. Having previously unlocked it, she was now able to
open it. A woman standing outside grabbed Victim's arm
and took Victim, who was not dressed, to another room to get
Two other residents staying down the hall from Victim
testified that on the morning in question, they heard Victim
scream, "He's going to kill me." After hearing
the scream, one resident went into the hallway to investigate
while the other called 911. The resident in the hallway saw
Victim run out of her room naked and again heard her yell,
"[H]e [is] going to kill me, help me, come help
me." He then watched as Victim ducked into another room,
after which he saw Fahina run out of Victim's room
holding a ten-to-fourteen-inch serrated knife. Fahina ran
past the resident to a stairwell marked "Exit."
Upon receiving a call that a naked woman was screaming for
help at the hotel, a South Salt Lake City police officer
(Officer) responded. Officer testified that he first went to
Victim's room but ultimately found her sitting on the
curb in front of the hotel's main office "very
distraught, " "crying, " and injured. He
testified that her hands were shaking and "wouldn't
stay still, " ...