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State v. Miller

Court of Appeals of Utah

March 28, 2019

State of Utah, Appellant,
v.
Gregory Ryan Miller, Appellee.

          Third District Court, West Jordan Department The Honorable Bruce C. Lubeck No. 151400888

          Simarjit S. Gill and Breanne M. Miller, Attorneys for Appellant.

          Nathalie S. Skibine, Attorney for Appellee

          JUDGE DIANA HAGEN authored this Opinion, in which JUDGES GREGORY K. ORME and MICHELE M. CHRISTIANSEN FORSTER concurred.

          OPINION

          HAGEN, JUDGE.

         ¶1 A jury convicted Miller of one count of stalking based on evidence that Gregory Ryan Miller sent emails disparaging the victim (K.B.) to her employer (the company). After the jury delivered its verdict, Miller filed a motion to arrest judgment. The district court granted the motion, determining that no reasonable jury could find that Miller (1) intentionally or knowingly engaged in a course of conduct directed at K.B. and (2) knew or should have known that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person fear or emotional distress because Miller did not know that K.B. would read the emails. See Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-106.5(2) (LexisNexis 2014). The State appeals. We conclude that the State was not required to present evidence that Miller knew or should have known that his emails to the company would reach K.B. to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Miller's conduct amounted to stalking. We therefore reverse and remand to reinstate the jury's verdict.

         BACKGROUND[1]

         ¶2 Miller and K.B. met in 2003 or 2004 while working at the same accounting firm, and there were "periods of time" that they were "close friends." In 2011, K.B. found herself underemployed and Miller assisted her in obtaining a higher paying job with the company, a security system provider, where Miller was also employed. Miller held the position of financial controller and K.B. was hired as a bookkeeper.

         ¶3 In August 2012, Miller came across an invoice billed by a law firm for research conducted on the rights of convicted felons to have ownership interests in security system companies in the several states in which the company operated. The invoice identified the felon in question as the chief executive officer and one of the owners of the company.[2] Based on his own research, Miller concluded that the owner was illegally operating in the industry. Around this time, Miller and K.B.'s friendship began to deteriorate, which K.B. attributed to her refusal to be involved in Miller's plan to blackmail the owner.

          ¶4 Without K.B.'s support, Miller eventually confronted the owner about his criminal past and Miller's employment at the company was terminated the following day. After the company terminated his employment, Miller entered into negotiations with the company regarding his severance package. But according to Miller's testimony, the negotiations came to a sudden halt after Miller learned that K.B. had provided the company's attorney with damaging information regarding Miller.

         ¶5 Following his termination, K.B. notified Miller that she no longer wished to remain in contact with him. Nevertheless, Miller continued to call her cell phone, call her work phone, email her, and text her about work and her personal life. Such communications included a suggestion that she find new employment as he intended to notify authorities that the company was illegally operating in the industry, accusations that K.B. was a traitor, requests that K.B. provide him a good work reference, racial slurs about K.B.'s boyfriend, and requests to meet her boyfriend. K.B. asked Miller to stop contacting her.

         ¶6 Despite her requests, Miller continued to contact K.B. by phone and email and would appear in public places that K.B. typically frequented. K.B. notified the police and in August 2013, she obtained a civil stalking injunction against Miller. The injunction stated, in relevant part:

Do not stalk [K.B.]. This means you must not follow, threaten, annoy, harass, or cause distress to [K.B.]. For a legal definition of stalking, see Utah Code, sections 76-5-106.5 and 77-3a-101.
Do not contact, phone, mail, e-mail, or communicate in any way with [K.B.] and any person listed below, either directly or indirectly. Other people you must not ...

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