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State v. Yazzie

Court of Appeals of Utah

August 3, 2017

State of Utah, Appellee,
v.
Patrick Raymond Yazzie, Appellant.

         Third District Court, West Jordan Department The Honorable Bruce C. Lubeck No. 151400258

          Joan C. Watt, Wesley J. Howard, and Diana K. Pierson, Attorneys for Appellant.

          Sean D. Reyes and Tera J. Peterson, Attorneys for Appellee.

          Judge Stephen L. Roth authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele M. Christiansen and Kate A. Toomey concurred. [1]

          ROTH, Judge.

         ¶1 Patrick Raymond Yazzie physically attacked Victim while she was a guest at his house. Yazzie appeals his jury conviction for aggravated assault, a third degree felony. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND[2]

         ¶2 Yazzie and Victim had known each other for some time. In January 2015, Yazzie invited Victim to his house after the two talked on the phone. He met her downtown; the two purchased some liquor together and then rode the train and a bus to the house Yazzie shared with his brother, sister, and niece. The two started drinking as soon as they arrived at the house. Over the next few days, they drank heavily and argued. At some point, the argument became physical, and Yazzie started "throwing [Victim] around, " and hit Victim on the face, back, and legs. Yazzie hit Victim with his hand, and also hit her with an object "[a] couple of times" on her back. Yazzie bit Victim on her right cheek, puncturing her skin, and struck her in the mouth, driving her teeth through her lower lip.

         ¶3 Fearing the abuse would continue, Victim eventually called her mother (Mother) to come to the house and pick her up. When Mother arrived, Victim's face was "so full of blood she was unrecognizable." While Mother was in the room, Yazzie threw Victim into a wall. Victim tried to get up, but Yazzie kept "lean[ing] back" against Victim and "push[ing] her." Eventually Victim got up, but she appeared "very slow" and "really weak." Yazzie "kicked at" Victim while she tried to dress herself. Mother immediately took Victim to the hospital.

         ¶4 A nurse examined Victim when she arrived at the hospital. She "was trembling, " her "hair was . . . messy [and] disheveled, " and she "had blood all over her face." Victim told the nurse, "My whole body hurts. My back hurts really bad." Victim reported that Yazzie bit her on her right cheek, hit her in the face, hit her on the back with a hammer, held her down, and raped her. She reported that her teeth had cut her lip as a result of Yazzie hitting her in the face.

         ¶5 The nurse observed several injuries on Victim's body consistent with her account of the assault. She had three puncture wounds to her lower lip and "tender bruising, multiple punctures . . . purple and red in color, [and] circular in shape, " on her right cheek, consistent with a bite mark. Victim had a puncture and a tender bruise on her upper right arm, as well as a cut and a puncture on her left hand. She also had a "red, tender bruise" near her tailbone and "a lot of . . . swelling in the tissue" in that area, consistent with being hit by a hard object that was "circular like the head of a hammer." She also had a "red, tender bruise" on her upper mid-back and a "purple, tender bruise" with "red pinpoint hemorrhages" on her right inner thigh, consistent with blunt force trauma or "strangulation." On her left inner thigh, Victim had two circular, purple, tender bruises, and she also had a tender, red bruise on the back of her right leg. The nurse also noted an "extremely painful, dark purple bruise" near Victim's rectum and several lacerations on Victim's genital area.

         ¶6 The State charged Yazzie with aggravated kidnapping, a first degree felony; rape, a first degree felony; and two counts of aggravated assault, third degree felonies. The State later dismissed one of the aggravated assault counts.

         ¶7 The court instructed the jury that to convict Yazzie of aggravated assault, the prosecution had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Yazzie did:

(1) . . . with unlawful force or violence, (a) cause or create a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; or (b) attempt to do bodily injury to another; or (c) threaten, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; and
(2). . . did such with the use of (a) a dangerous weapon, or (b) other means or force likely to produce serious ...

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