District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Paul B.
Parker No. 141906571.
L. Welch, Attorney for Appellant.
D. Reyes and Lindsey L. Wheeler, Attorneys for Appellee.
Kate A. Toomey authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele
M. Christiansen and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
Harold Otto Bryson appeals the district court's denial of
his motion to redact portions of a letter entered into
evidence at his trial for stalking in violation of a civil
stalking injunction. He also appeals his conviction. We
On November 17, 2011, Bryson's former girlfriend (Victim)
obtained a civil stalking injunction against him. The
injunction was effective for three years and ordered Bryson
not to "follow, threaten, annoy, harass, or cause
distress" to Victim and not to "contact, phone,
mail, e-mail, or communicate in any way" with her
"either directly or indirectly."
On May 13, 2014, Victim received a FedEx package at her
workplace. The package was addressed to her, identified the
sender with Bryson's first name and Victim's last
name, and was postmarked May 7, 2014. The package contained a
letter in which Bryson referred to Victim as his
"wife." The letter was addressed to
"Babe" and signed "Harry, " Bryson's
nickname. In the letter, Bryson made a number of references
to the Book of Mormon and quoted extensively from it. He also
told Victim that her deceased father and grandfather were
going to speak to her in a dream and that her father told
Bryson to have her read certain scriptures.
Victim reported the letter to police, and ten days later,
Bryson was arrested. In his interview with police, Bryson
admitted he sent the letter via FedEx, although he could not
remember the exact date. When police showed him a copy of it,
he acknowledged it was the letter he sent and stated, "I
sent the letter, of course, I will never deny I sent the
letter." He also acknowledged he was aware of the
injunction and even the date it had been entered but
explained, "I haven't paid any mind to the
injunction the entire time."
The State charged Bryson with second-degree felony stalking.
Before trial, Bryson sought to have the religious references
and the references to Victim's family redacted from the
letter, claiming that these "could arouse an emotion in
the jury that would be extremely prejudicial to [him]."
Specifically, he argued,
[I]n reference to [Victim], it talks about her grandfather
and her dad. These are deceased people. . . . I mean, if
people in the jury are members of the LDS faith, they could,
you know, it could go either way, I mean, it just depends on
where they are with their faith. It could be disturbing to
them having deceased people brought up within a letter.
district court denied Bryson's motion.
During voir dire, the district court asked the jurors whether
they had "any prejudice against the LDS Church or
against the Book of Mormon." In response, one juror