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State v. Walton

Court of Appeals of Utah

November 21, 2019

State of Utah, Appellee,
Robert Brian Walton, Appellant.

          Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Paul B. Parker No. 121903179 The Honorable Mark S. Kouris No. 161907013

          Deborah L. Bulkeley, Attorney for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Jeffrey S. Gray, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Kate Appleby authored this Opinion, in which Judges Michele M. Christiansen Forster and Ryan M. Harris concurred.

          APPLEBY, JUDGE

         ¶1 In 2014, Robert Brian Walton entered an Alford plea[1] to one count of retaliation against a witness, KB, a woman he had previously dated. As part of his sentence, Walton agreed to the entry of a permanent criminal stalking injunction (Injunction), which prohibited him from contacting KB and her family. In 2017, after violating the Injunction, Walton asked the district court to vacate the Injunction as an "illegal sentence." The court denied the motion and we affirm.


         ¶2 Walton and KB started dating in 2010 but the relationship began to sour the following year. In 2011, KB tried to end the relationship but Walton continued to contact her. Walton went to KB's workplace after repeatedly calling her, to convince her to go to his house. He yelled, "Know your place. Submit, woman." KB called the police and made a report. After KB filed the police report, Walton began contacting her saying she needed to "fix" the report and "get rid of it" because it was going to hurt his career.

         ¶3 KB made several other police reports that same year. On one occasion, Walton went to KB's birthday party and got into an altercation with one of the guests. He showed up at her apartment the following day and demanded information about the police report she filed. He refused to leave her apartment and demanded she "sleep with him" and "tried to take [her] clothes off." KB sent a text message to one of her coworkers to call the police.

         ¶4 Over the next several months, Walton continued to contact and send text messages to KB, telling her, "You're fucked. You're in so much trouble. You need to take care of this." Walton also told KB "he was gonna take [her] out like game." When asked at the preliminary hearing what she thought that statement meant, KB responded, "I took it as a threat. I said, 'Are you threatening me?'"-at which point Walton hung up the phone.

         ¶5 In early 2012, KB received a text message from Walton telling her she "should go home," she was in "so much trouble," and "ignoring this [was] going to cost [her] dearly." These statements scared KB and she called the police who offered to escort her to her apartment after work. About one month later, Walton showed up at KB's apartment and tried to get money from her. He followed her from her apartment to her car. After another car pulled into the parking lot, Walton walked away saying, "[Y]ou deserve everything you're gonna get."

         ¶6 KB attempted to cut off all communication with Walton but he continued to call her and send her text messages. KB even tried moving her household in an effort to get him to leave her alone. She moved her belongings at night and during times she thought he would not be around. But within a couple of days, Walton left her a note on her door and a voicemail telling her he wanted money and to meet him at a cafe across the street from her new apartment. KB stated she was not sure how Walton was able to find her new address and thought he may have followed her from work. After this, KB began staying at her parents' house. She was frightened and tried to have Walton served with a civil stalking injunction.

         ¶7 One day, KB stopped at her new apartment after work to collect some belongings to take to her parents' house. She parked on the street and noticed a car pull up nearby. Once KB realized it was Walton, she turned around and ran back to her car. Before KB was able to lock herself in her car, Walton ran toward her and opened the car door. Walton grabbed KB by her hair and began hitting her head against the steering wheel. She started honking the horn. He demanded she give him her cell phone; she told him it was in the back and she could not get to it. As the struggle continued, KB began screaming and hitting the panic button on her car keys. KB dropped her keys and Walton grabbed them. She begged Walton to give back her keys and let her go. Walton responded he would not unless she paid him money and signed paperwork stating he was not a threat to her. During this time, Walton pulled KB out of the car and again grabbed her hair and began hitting her head on the back window. He threatened to "snap [her] neck" if she did not sign the documents. A woman drove by and asked KB if she was okay. Walton told the woman, "Don't worry about it, she's just crazy." The woman asked if she should call the police. KB told Walton that if he gave the woman KB's car keys then KB would sign the papers. KB signed the documents and Walton threw her keys to the woman and told KB, "I know you've called the police." As he was leaving he said to KB, "If you call the police I will hunt you down for as long as it takes and kill you." KB got into the woman's car with her and called the police.

         ¶8 The State charged Walton with (1) retaliation against a witness, victim, or informant, a third-degree felony; (2) stalking, a class A misdemeanor; (3) assault, a class B misdemeanor; (4) unlawful detention, a class B misdemeanor; and (5) threat of violence, a class B misdemeanor. In this opinion, we refer to this criminal case, filed in 2012, as the Retaliation Case. Walton and the State entered into a plea agreement that was preapproved by the district court under rule 11 of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure. Walton entered an Alford plea to retaliation against a witness, and the remaining charges, in addition to other criminal charges on a separate matter relating to KB, were dismissed. As part of the plea agreement, the State agreed not to prosecute Walton for any other potential criminal charges arising from his relationship with KB before the date of the plea agreement. Walton ...

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