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State v. Boyle

Court of Appeals of Utah

February 22, 2019

State of Utah, Appellee,
v.
Cole Montana Boyle, Appellant.

          Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Vernice S. Trease No. 161903658

          Diana Pierson, Alexandra S. McCallum, and Robin K. Ljungberg, Attorneys for Appellant.

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

          Judge David N. Mortensen authored this Opinion, in which Judges Ryan M. Harris and Diana Hagen concurred.

          OPINION

          MORTENSEN, JUDGE.

         ¶1 A husband (Victim) and wife (Wife) were spending the evening buying and using drugs near a homeless shelter in Salt Lake City. Alone, Victim went looking for more drugs. When he came upon Cole Montana Boyle beating a woman, Victim intervened, and Boyle then turned on Victim, stabbing him four times-once in the arm, once on top of the head, once through the nose, and, most seriously, once in the neck, slashing the carotid artery. During the ensuing investigation, Wife was recorded on a police body camera stating that Boyle had been beating up a girl. Boyle objected to the admission of the recording on the grounds that Wife's statement was hearsay. The objection was overruled. A jury convicted Boyle of aggravated assault, and Boyle was sentenced to prison. Boyle appeals, arguing that he was prejudiced by the admission of hearsay evidence and that the trial court abused its discretion when sentencing him to prison. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         Stabbing Incident

         ¶2 One evening in early January 2016, Victim and Wife drove to a light rail station near a homeless shelter in downtown Salt Lake City to buy and use drugs. Victim purchased some crack concaine from a dealer, and he and Wife smoked it together in their SUV. About thirty minutes later, Victim left the SUV to search the area for a heroin dealer.

         ¶3 Victim testified that after exiting his SUV, he saw Boyle, whom Victim did not know and had not seen before, "punching a girl and knocking her to the ground." Victim yelled out, "Stop, you don't do that to a girl." He stated that Boyle hit the woman in the face with his closed fist. When she fell to the ground, Boyle "got on top of her and continued to hit her." Victim testified that he "picked [Boyle] up off her and pushed him forward." Boyle "turned around, looked at [Victim], and kind of got in [Victim's] face a little bit and then walked off." As Victim was helping the woman, he saw Boyle quickly walking toward him and looking "[l]ike he wanted to fight." Victim recalled Boyle was holding "something shiny . . . . like a blade." Boyle started punching Victim in the face, and Victim threw punches back and grabbed Boyle's coat in an attempt to defend himself. Boyle said, "Stop, stop, please stop, cops are coming." As the two separated, Boyle lunged at Victim and stabbed him. Boyle then walked away. Victim was "really wobbly and wondering why [he] was so out of sorts." Then he noticed blood was "spraying out of [his] neck."

         ¶4 Wife testified that she heard Victim yell, "Hey, you don't treat women that way," about three or four minutes after Victim left the SUV. She looked up and saw Victim and Boyle pushing each other. Wife noticed a "girl" and "a lot of other people" nearby. Wife thought "everything was fine" when she saw Boyle walking away from Victim. As she was putting on her shoes so that she could go over "to see if everything was okay," Wife heard a "commotion" and looked up to see Victim and Boyle fighting. Wife then went to check on Victim at the site of the altercation.

         ¶5 Wife found Victim holding his neck and saying that Boyle had stabbed him. She yelled, "Call 911," but "everyone looked at [her] like [she] was crazy," so she went back to her SUV and drove it over to pick up Victim. She took him to a police officer stationed outside the homeless shelter and told the officer that Victim had been stabbed.

         ¶6 The officer activated his body camera on contact with Victim and Wife. He noticed Victim had "one of his hands up to the left side of his neck[, ] and [he] could see there was a lot of blood." The officer put a pressure dressing on the wound and called for medical assistance. While waiting for the ambulance, Victim and Wife gave police a description of the suspect.

         ¶7 About a half an hour later, police officers located Boyle, who matched the description given by Victim and Wife. Boyle had injuries to his face and dried blood on his hands. Later that evening, Wife identified Boyle as the man who had attacked Victim. While being interviewed at the police station, Boyle denied having been in a fight or seeing a fight that evening. However, DNA testing later revealed Victim's blood on one of Boyle's socks.

         ¶8 Victim sustained four knife wounds during the fight: one to the top of his head, one through his nose, one in the right bicep, and one in his neck. A surgeon determined that the neck wound had damaged the carotid artery and required emergency surgery. Subsequently, Victim suffered six strokes and spent five to six weeks in the hospital recovering from his injuries. At the time of trial, Victim continued to suffer from numbness, lightheadedness, face drooping, and slurred speech.

         ¶9 Boyle was charged with attempted murder with a dangerous weapon or, in the alternative, ...


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