District Court, Ogden Department The Honorable Ernest W.
Jones No. 151901373
P. Newton, Attorney for Appellant
D. Reyes and William M. Hains, Attorneys for Appellee
Kate A. Toomey authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele
M. Christiansen and David N. Mortensen concurred.
At the conclusion of a bench trial, Preston Michael Cowlishaw
was convicted of one count of kidnapping, a second degree
felony, Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-301 (LexisNexis 2012), one
count of failure to respond to an officer's signal to
stop, a third degree felony, Utah Code Ann. § 41-6a-210
(LexisNexis 2014), and one count of theft, a second degree
felony, Utah Code Ann. § 76-6-404 (LexisNexis 2012);
see also id. § 76-6-412(1)(a)(ii). Cowlishaw
contends the trial court erred in finding him guilty on all
three counts because the victim (Victim) did not directly
identify him as the perpetrator of the crimes. We affirm.
Because Cowlishaw appeals his verdict from a bench trial, we
recite the facts from the record in the light most favorable
to the findings of the trial court, see State v.
Bingham, 2015 UT App 2013, ¶ 2 n.1, 348 P.3d 730,
and "present conflicting evidence only as necessary to
understand issues raised on appeal." State v.
Daniels, 2002 UT 2, ¶ 2, 40 P.3d 611.
Late one afternoon in June 2015, Cowlishaw visited the
household of Victim, her stepfather (Stepfather) and her
mother (Mother). Cowlishaw knew Mother and Stepfather because
they often provided a place for his mother to sleep. Victim,
who had met Cowlishaw a few times, agreed to "go get
food" with him, and Cowlishaw agreed to take Victim to
the grocery store afterward. Cowlishaw went to the
drive-through of a fast food restaurant, where Victim ordered
a pie and Cowlishaw ordered a cup of water. Cowlishaw began
driving again, passing the grocery store near Victim's
house, when Victim asked him why he was not taking her home
or to the grocery store. Cowlishaw responded that "he
wanted to go on a drive and get to know [her] more."
During the drive, Cowlishaw asked Victim if he could use her
cell phone because he did not have one and wanted to make a
phone call. Instead of making a call, Cowlishaw pocketed the
phone after removing the battery and "wouldn't give
it back" informing Victim "it was a
distraction." Cowlishaw then started speeding and
"doing donuts." Victim thought that the erratic
driving was meant to scare her.
Over the next few hours, Cowlishaw continued to refuse to
drive Victim home, while Victim made attempts to "calm
the situation down." At one point, Cowlishaw returned
Victim's phone and allowed her to exit the car after she
agreed to take off her shoes. Victim sent a text message,
saying, "Help, I have been kidnapped." Victim also
called Mother, but before she could tell Mother where she
was, Cowlishaw grabbed the phone and again removed the
battery. Even though Victim was frightened, she returned to
the car because Cowlishaw said he would take her home if she
"just [got] back in the car." She did not think
something like this could happen with "him knowing [her]
Once he had coaxed Victim back into the car, Cowlishaw
continued to drive away from her house. He drove up to a toll
booth, and when he stopped, Victim jumped out of the car,
hoping she would find someone to help her. The toll booth
attendant (Attendant) saw Victim exit the car quickly and run
into the office building. Attendant called the police because
she was "very concerned" that Victim was "in
distress" and no one was inside the office building to
help her. Attendant witnessed Victim get back into the car,
but was uncertain whether this was voluntary because she was
busy assisting other cars through the toll booth.
A deputy police officer (Deputy) responded to the dispatch
call based on the information provided by Attendant. Deputy
drove toward the toll booth, watching for the grey passenger
car Attendant had identified. When he arrived, Deputy noticed
a grey car and immediately pulled behind it, signaling the
driver to pull over. Cowlishaw told Victim, "This
can't happen. This won't happen[, ]"and sped
through a construction zone, running a red light before
turning down an unmarked path where he crashed the car into a
tree. Cowlishaw crawled over Victim and attempted to pull her
out of the car before the police arrived, but he ran away
before he could get her out.
When Deputy found Victim near the crashed car, she told him
that she knew the driver's first name, Preston, but she
did not know his last name. Other officers arrived on the
scene and, during Victim's interview, one officer called
Stepfather, who provided Cowlishaw's "full name,
including the spelling." They radioed an "attempt
to locate" for Preston Cowlishaw. The following day, the
South Salt Lake Police Department arrested Cowlishaw, and
Deputy took him into custody.
The officers also radioed the license plate number of the
crashed car. Dispatch informed Deputy that it was registered
to an owner (Owner) who reported the car stolen earlier that
day. The police contacted Owner and informed him his car had
been taken to an impound ...