District Court, Manti Department The Honorable Marvin D.
Bagley No. 141600182
Douglas L. Neeley, Attorney for Appellant
D. Reyes and Thomas Brunker, Attorneys for Appellee
Michele M. Christiansen authored this Opinion, in which
Judges Kate A. Toomey and Jill M. Pohlman concurred.
Defendant Michael Robert Hill appeals his convictions for
burglary and theft by receiving stolen property. We affirm.
On September 18, 2014, Hill accompanied his girlfriend
(Girlfriend) to a cabin owned by her ex-boyfriend (Victim).
Hill assisted Girlfriend in removing a number of items from
the cabin, including guns, ammunition, a compound bow,
men's outdoor clothing, fishing poles, binoculars,
candles, and beach towels.
Victim reported the items missing. When police investigated,
they found a broken window and pry marks on the front door
deadbolt. Victim suspected that Hill and Girlfriend were
responsible, and he provided police with photographs of them
and their vehicle. Eyewitnesses who had observed a man and
woman carrying property to a vehicle near the cabin on the
day of the robbery identified Hill, Girlfriend, and their
vehicle. Police discovered that Hill had pawned the compound
bow, and they also found several more of the stolen items
both in the house Hill shared with a roommate and in the
During a police interview, Hill admitted that he helped
Girlfriend remove the items from the cabin, but he insisted
that he believed they belonged to her. He claimed he did not
initially accompany Girlfriend to the cabin but only helped
her carry the items to the vehicle after they had already
been removed from the cabin. He claimed he never saw the
broken window. He also claimed he had pawned the bow on
The State charged Hill with second-degree-felony burglary and
second-degree-felony theft by receiving stolen property. The
State subpoenaed Girlfriend to testify at trial, but she
refused to appear, asserting her right against
self-incrimination. Following trial, the jury convicted Hill
of second-degree-felony burglary and third-degree-felony
theft by receiving stolen property.
Hill moved for a new trial. He asserted that his counsel
performed ineffectively by failing to (1) call Girlfriend to
testify, (2) introduce into evidence an email written five
months after the burglary that Victim purportedly sent to
Girlfriend, and (3) introduce a recording of Girlfriend's
After an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied
Hill's motion for a new trial. The court reasoned that
Hill had failed to prove that Girlfriend would have testified
even if she had been called by the defense, that counsel had
acted appropriately in choosing not to introduce the email
because it was fabricated, and that Girlfriend's police
interview was unhelpful to the defense ...