ANTHONY WIDEMAN V. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKYAnnotate this Case
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RENDERED : MARCH 24, 2011
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
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ON APPEAL FROM JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT
HONORABLE IRVIN G. MAZE, JUDGE
NOS . 05-CR-003393 ; 08-CR-002974
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
MEMORANDUM OPINION OF THE COURT
A Jefferson Circuit Court jury found Appellant, Anthony Wideman, guilty
of first-degree assault, for which he received a thirty-year prison sentence . He
now appeals as a matter of right, Ky . Const. § 110(2)(b), and alleges one
assignment of error : the trial court's instruction of intentional first-degree
Appellant was indicted for first-degree assault and resisting arrest. KRS
508.010 . At trial, the jury heard testimony from Stephen Hayden, who
indicated that he struck Appellant with his vehicle while driving in downtown
Louisville on October 8, 2005 . Hayden immediately stopped, exited his vehicle,
and saw Appellant lying on the asphalt ten to fifteen feet away.
Appellant then jumped to his feet and approached Hayden . Yelling that
he was going to stab Hayden, Appellant punctured Hayden's leg with a knife in
the ensuing scuffle. After Hayden pushed Appellant away, bystanders subdued
Curtis Hendricks and Roselle Jefferson both witnessed the incident and
testified at trial on behalf of the Commonwealth . Hendricks saw Appellant
jump up and then stab Hayden before Hayden could reenter his truck. He
further testified that Appellant was trying to get the driver, Hayden, on the
ground and cut his throat. Jefferson saw Appellant first go to one door of the
truck, then around to the other side, thereafter placing one arm around
Appellant offered his own narration at trial, testifying that he did not pull
the knife to stab or kill. To the contrary, Appellant testified that he grabbed
Hayden's leg and "stuck" it with a knife only after Hayden began kicking him .
Appellant, though, admitted stabbing Hayden because he was angry at what
had transpired .
Dr . William Smock testified as to Hayden's injury . Hayden suffered a
single wound to the thigh that severed an artery, resulting in an "acute
extravasation" so serious that if 'immediate surgical intervention had not been
undertaken he could have lost blood flow to his leg, resulting in amputation or,
possibly, death. Hayden underwent a lengthy hospitalization and a long
recuperation involving surgical repairs necessitated by the emergency
measures taken to save his leg.
Appellant moved for directed verdict as to both offenses, although he did
not elaborate on defects in the government's proof. Appellant also objected to
giving any instructions to the jury and renewed his motion for directed verdict.
Nonetheless, the trial court gave the jury three options as to assault, including
intentional first-degree assault, and an instruction on self-defense.
The jury found Appellant guilty of first-degree assault and returned an
enhanced sentence recommendation of thirty years' imprisonment after a
combined PFO /Truth in Sentencing hearing. This appeal followed.
Appellant now assigns error to the trial court's instruction of intentional
first-degree assault pursuant to KRS 508 .010 . 1 Specifically, Appellant argues
that there was no evidence from which a reasonable juror could find, beyond
reasonable doubt, that he intended to inflict a serious physical injury.2
According to Appellant, a single stab wound does not permit a reasonable
inference of intent to inflict serious injury. However, Appellant concedes that
Hayden suffered a serious physical injury. He also concedes that the serious
physical injury resulted by way of a dangerous instrument.
The Commonwealth responds that the jury could have inferred intent to
cause a serious physical injury from the evidence . The Commonwealth relies
KRS 508.010(1) states that a person can be found guilty of assault in the first
degree when "(a) [h]e intentionally causes serious physical injury to another person
by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument."
Serious physical injury is defined in KRS 500.080(15) as "physical injury which
creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes serious and prolonged
disfigurement, prolonged impairment of health, or prolonged loss or impairment of
the function of any bodily organ."
on our language in Harper v. Commonwealth where we opined that "a person is
presumed to intend the logical and probable consequences of his actions and,
thus, `a person's state of mind may be inferred from actions preceding and
following the charged offense .' 43 S .W. 3d 261, 265 (Ky. 2001) (quoting Parker
v. Commonwealth, 952 S.W.2d 209, 221 (Ky . 1997)) . For the following reasons,
we agree with the Commonwealth .
RCr 9 .54(2) provides:
No party may assign as error the giving or the failure to give an
instruction unless the party's position has been fairly and
adequately presented to the trial judge by an offered instruction or
by motion, or unless the party makes objection before the court
instructs the jury, stating specifically the matter which the party
objects and the ground or grounds of the objection.
Appellant failed to specifically explain at trial why the instruction for
intentional assault was not supported by -the evidence and therefore concedes
that this issue is unpreserved for appellate review . Appellant, though, requests
palpable error review pursuant to RCr 10 .26 .3 However, we need not apply RCr
10.26, as no error occurred in this case .
RCr 10 .26 reads:
A palpable error which affects the substantial rights of a party may be
considered by the court on motion for a new trial or by an appellate court
on appeal, even though insufficiently raised or preserved for review, and
appropriate relief may be granted upon a determination that manifest
injustice has resulted from the error.
Instructing a jury to consider an offense without sufficient supporting
evidence constitutes error on the part of the trial court. 4 Simpson v.
Commonwealth, 759 S .W.2d 224, 226 (Ky. 1988) . In Carrier v. Commonwealth,
the appellant argued that the injury itself, a half-inch deep wound in the arm,
inhibited a jury from finding intent to inflict serious physical injury. No. 2005SC-000440-MR, 2008 WL 199838, at * 1 (Ky. Jan. 24, 2008) . We noted,
however, that the appellant's view of the evidence was not the only inquiry; a
comprehensive view of the evidence was required. Id. at *2 (discussing
Simpson, 759 S .W.2d at 226) ("We believe appellant's view of the evidence is too
restrictive") . Evidence was also presented that the appellant and the victim
were involved in a physical altercation in which both parties struck each other
and that the appellant grabbed a knife off of the kitchen counter and stabbed
the victim. Id. We therefore affirmed the appellant's conviction in Carrier. Id.
Turning to the present case, the prosecution presented ample evidence
from which the jury could reasonably infer that Appellant intended to cause
serious physical injury to Hayden . Simpson, 759 S .W.2d at 226 (citing
McClellan v. Commonwealth, 715 S .W.2d 464 (Ky. 1986)) . The evidence showed
that Appellant and Hayden were involved in a physical altercation in which
We apply a similar analytical framework in the context of directed verdicts . For
instance, in Beaumont v. Commonwealth, we stated that an evaluation of the
sufficiency of evidence depends on "whether, after viewing the evidence in the light
most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the
essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." 295 S.W. 3d 60, 68
(2009) (citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U .S. 307, 319 (1979)) . And in Commonwealth
v. Benham, we announced that, "[o]n appellate review, the test of a directed verdict
is, if under the evidence as a whole, it would be clearly unreasonable for a jury to
find guilt, only then the defendant is entitled to a directed verdict of acquittal." 816
S.W.2d 186, 187 (Ky.1991) .
Appellant stabbed Hayden . According to Appellant's own testimony, he
grabbed Hayden's leg and "stuck" it with a knife . His intent was a disputed
fact. As we have noted, "[t]he jury is allowed reasonable latitude in which to
infer intent from the facts and circumstances surrounding the crime ." Id.
(citing Peace v. Commonwealth, 489 S.W .2d 519 (Ky.1972)) . Although the jury
could have believed Appellant's version of the story, it was not required to do
so. Id. (citing Nichols v. Commonwealth, 657 S.W.2d 932 (Ky.1983)) . In sum,
the evidence was thus sufficient to justify instructing the jury on intentional
first-degree assault .
Because a juror could reasonably infer that Appellant intended to inflict
a serious injury, we must affirm the trial court instruction of intentional firstdegree assault.
All sitting. All concur.
COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT:
Daniel T. Goyette
Louisville Metro Public Defender
Public Defender Advocacy Plaza
717-719 West Jefferson Street
Louisville, KY 40202
James David Niehaus
Deputy Appellate Defender
Office of the Louisville Metro Public Defender
200 Advocacy Plaza
719 West Jefferson Street
Louisville, KY 40202
COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE :
Attorney General of Kentuc
Todd Dryden Ferguson
Assistant Attorney General
Office of Attorney General
Criminal Appellate Division
1024 Capital Center Drive
Frankfort, KY 40601-8204