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State v. Eyre

Court of Appeals of Utah

July 26, 2019

State of Utah, Appellee,
Matthew Gordon Eyre, Appellant.

          Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Royal I. Hansen No. 161909443

          Alexandra S. McCallum, Attorney for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Lindsey Wheeler, Attorneys for Appellee

          JUDGE KATE APPLEBY authored this Opinion, in which JUDGES JILL M. POHLMAN and DIANA HAGEN concurred.

          APPLEBY, JUDGE.

         ¶1 Matthew Gordon Eyre appeals his conviction for aggravated robbery and raises two issues on appeal. First, he argues his trial counsel (Trial Counsel) was ineffective for failing to object to a jury instruction that purportedly misstated the mens rea requirement for accomplice liability. Second, Eyre argues his motion for a mistrial should have been granted after the jury viewed the recording of his police interview during its deliberations. In the alternative, he argues Trial Counsel was ineffective for failing to ensure the recording was kept out of the jury room. We affirm.


         ¶2 In August 2016, the victims (Boyfriend and Girlfriend) drove to downtown Salt Lake City in a Dodge Challenger to purchase drugs. Eyre, along with two others, Driver and Passenger, were in a parked Chrysler PT Cruiser. Passenger decided he wanted to steal the Challenger. Eyre told Passenger it was a bad idea. Passenger said he "was going to ask [Boyfriend] for a jump start" for the PT Cruiser. Eyre claims that "as soon as [Passenger] got out of the car," he started "spinning [the] whole fuckin' jump thing." Boyfriend agreed to help jump start the PT Cruiser.

         ¶3 Boyfriend parked the Challenger next to the PT Cruiser. Girlfriend remained in the car as Boyfriend got out, opened the hood, and stood between the two vehicles talking to Passenger. Passenger told Eyre and Driver to look for jumper cables in the trunk. After rummaging around in the trunk pretending to look for the cables, Eyre walked up to Passenger and told him they did not have any. Eyre claims he did not know what was said afterward between Boyfriend and Passenger.

         ¶4 According to Boyfriend and Girlfriend, Passenger lifted his shirt and showed a pistol tucked into his waistband. Passenger announced, "You know what this is. We are taking everything. . . . Get your bitch out of the car. I'm going to pistol whip her." Boyfriend testified that Eyre displayed a pistol as well, while Girlfriend testified she did not see Eyre with a pistol or see him leave the trunk area of the PT Cruiser.

         ¶5 Girlfriend passed a gun to Boyfriend through the passenger side window of the Challenger. Boyfriend testified that Passenger drew his gun and pointed it in Boyfriend's direction so Boyfriend fired his gun at Passenger; Passenger died later that day. Eyre fled the scene.

         ¶6 Girlfriend and Boyfriend started driving away in the Challenger, followed by Driver in the PT Cruiser. Driver hit the Challenger's rear end, causing the PT Cruiser to flip. Boyfriend and Girlfriend drove away. They parked nearby and discarded Boyfriend's gun before the police arrived and arrested Boyfriend. While searching the Challenger the police found a gun cleaning kit, a scale for measuring drugs, two bags of marijuana, and thirty-seven bags of suspected Spice.[1] The police found a pistol magazine in the PT Cruiser. Other than this evidence, they found "[v]ery little physical evidence" at the crime scene, which was "compromised" by various individuals who rushed there and stole things from the PT Cruiser and Passenger after the shooting.

         ¶7 The police spoke to a witness who gave a description of Eyre, and this information led an officer to stop him nearby. The officer initially let Eyre leave after he denied involvement with the shooting, but he was later arrested and interviewed. Police never recovered a gun from him, but the State charged Eyre with aggravated robbery, a first degree felony, under a theory of accomplice liability. The case went to trial in October 2017.

         ¶8 The parties stipulated to a "blanket admission" of all exhibits including: a map of the area, photos of the scene, photos of Eyre during his interview with police, a surveillance video of the area, a video of Eyre's interview with police (Exhibit 11), and the pistol magazine recovered from the PT Cruiser. According to Trial Counsel, the parties agreed that Exhibit 11 could be played at trial but Trial Counsel was under the impression that the video would not go back to the jury room during deliberations. All exhibits went back to the jury room.

         ¶9 During deliberations, the jury asked for a computer so it could view the video exhibits. A computer was provided and Trial Counsel assumed the jury wanted to view a different video, not Exhibit 11. After twenty minutes Trial Counsel realized the jury might have access to Exhibit 11 and immediately notified a court employee. The ...

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