District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Royal I.
Hansen No. 111900760
Pierson, Maren E. Larson, and Sarah J. Carlquist, Attorneys
D. Reyes and Kris C. Leonard, Attorneys for Appellee
Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges
Gregory K. Orme and Michele M. Christiansen Forster
Travis Lee Doyle appeals his conviction for aggravated
assault. He contends that there was insufficient evidence to
disprove his claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
On Christmas Eve 2010, Victim went to a party with his
girlfriend (Girlfriend). The party was hosted by
Girlfriend's uncle (Uncle) and included about two dozen
guests, mostly Girlfriend's family. Uncle also invited
Doyle, who attended the party with two friends. Girlfriend
knew Doyle growing up, but Victim had never met him.
While Doyle, Girlfriend, and Victim were together in
Uncle's kitchen, Girlfriend introduced Victim and Doyle.
Victim, who had been keeping to himself, looked up as
Girlfriend introduced him as her "old man." Victim
smiled and said, "Hello," and Doyle responded,
"Are you looking at me funny?" or, "You
looking at me crazy fool?" Victim shook his head and
said, "No," looking down to avoid a confrontation.
According to Girlfriend, all three of them looked away and
she thought they "were all cool."
The next thing Victim remembered was waking up on the kitchen
floor. He did not remember getting punched but felt pain
"shooting through [his] eye and the left side of [his]
face." At trial, Girlfriend recalled that Doyle
"cold clocked" Victim after they had all looked
away. The punch knocked Victim "out cold," and
Girlfriend testified that Doyle started hitting and kicking
Victim while he lay unconscious on the floor. Girlfriend
tried to stop the assault, but Doyle's two friends joined
the attack and she was eventually pulled out of the kitchen
by her cousin. In the fracas, Girlfriend was punched and had
a tooth knocked out, but she did not know who hit her.
Girlfriend later testified that the beating of Victim lasted
for, what seemed to her, two to three minutes.
The other partygoers heard the commotion coming from the
kitchen, and Girlfriend's family rushed to the scene and
helped Victim. As people moved out of the kitchen, Uncle
confronted Doyle to figure out what happened. Doyle was
"hyped up" and "[r]eally aggressive" and
told Uncle that Victim had disrespected him and "was
giving him dirty looks" when the two were introduced.
Doyle did not claim that Victim had acted aggressively toward
him or that Doyle was defending himself.
Girlfriend's cousin also confronted Doyle, asking him if
he hit Girlfriend. Doyle made "some cocky ass
response" like, "You know I did." Sensing
additional impending trouble, another partygoer (J.G.)
stepped between them to prevent another fight. But when J.G.
turned his back to Doyle, Doyle punched him in the back of
the head. Another fight started, and Doyle's two friends
again joined the fray. Someone called the police, and Doyle
and one of his friends left, leaving the other friend behind.
Doyle was not gone for long. J.G. went outside to escape the
"craziness" with his girlfriend, who was eight
months pregnant. As she and J.G. were talking, Doyle and his
friend approached them and started "talking crazy."
J.G. and the pair again exchanged blows, and the friend took
a swing at the girlfriend's stomach. J.G. was able to
block the swing but was knocked down. Doyle yelled,
"I'm going to try to catch a murder charge,"
and then he jumped in the car with his friend and left. The
police arrived less than one minute later.
Victim later returned home, deciding not to go to the
hospital that night because it was Christmas Eve. The next
morning, he woke up and had Christmas with his kids but was
in "an extreme amount of pain." Girlfriend took him
to the emergency room, where he was referred to a plastic
surgeon (Doctor). Doctor found that Victim had suffered
numerous bone fractures around his left eye, but delayed
surgery for more than two weeks due to swelling. When Doctor
was able to perform the surgery, it took eleven hours to
repair the damage to Victim's face and position three
permanent titanium plates and one biodegradable plate. Doctor
later testified at trial that, although it was possible
Victim's injuries were caused by a single punch, it would
have required a "significant amount of force."
Based on his experience, Doctor was ultimately unsure how
many times Victim was hit.
Due to his injuries, Victim did not return to work for nearly
two months, lived off a liquid diet for two weeks, and was
unable to communicate without pain and discomfort. To this
day, Victim suffers from ...