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State v. Barrera

Court of Appeals of Idaho

August 27, 2013

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
BENSON BARRERA, Defendant-Appellant.

UNPUBLISHED OPINION

2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 640

Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Darla S. Williamson, District Judge.

Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Spencer J. Hahn, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Jessica M. Lorello, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

MELANSON, Judge.

Benson Barrera appeals from his judgment of conviction for aggravated assault. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

This case arose from an incident where Barrera head-butted a man during a verbal altercation. The head-butt resulted in a gash above the left eye of the victim. The state originally charged Barrera with aggravated battery, but later amended the charge to aggravated assault. I.C. §§ 18-901, 18-905(a). The following evidence was adduced at jury trial.

In 2010, Barrera and the wife of the victim began an intimate relationship. A few months later, the victim encountered Barrera in a restaurant. The victim, aware Barrera was the man having an affair with his wife, asked Barrera to step outside and talk. The two exchanged words outside and subsequently parted ways. A few weeks later, Barrera and the victim crossed paths again. This meeting also consisted of the two exchanging words and ended without violence. The intimate relationship between Barrera and the victim's wife ended in May or June of 2010.

On January 15, 2011, the victim encountered Barrera a third time while in downtown Boise. Barrera contended that he first happened upon the victim at a bar and that, as the victim passed by him, the victim insulted Barrera using vulgar invective. Barrera testified that the comment bothered him, but he did not respond. After seeing the victim, Barrera exchanged a number of text messages with the victim's wife.

Barrera, who was with two friends, a date, and his date's friend, left the bar around 2:00 a.m. and headed to an eatery across the street. As Barrera and his friends sat inside the eatery, the victim and his friends also entered. The victim and Barrera engaged in another verbal altercation, during which an employee of the eatery threatened to call the police. Both men left separately with their respective friends.[1]

As the victim and his friends began walking in the direction of the victim's car, [2] they again encountered Barrera. According to the victim, after a brief exchange of words, Barrera took off his coat and grabbed the victim by his shirt. Barrera lost his grip on the victim's shirt, after which Barrera grabbed the victim by the neck and head-butted him. The skin above the victim's eye split open and blood began running down the victim's face. Barrera's version of events differed in that he claimed the victim grabbed him first and Barrera then grabbed hold of the victim. Barrera also testified that his head accidently made contact with the victim's head while Barrera was being restrained from behind and attempting to pull free. After the blow to the victim's head, the parties separated Barrera and the victim. The victim sought medical attention the next day when he became concerned about the severity of his wound. At the hospital, medical personnel notified police and the victim subsequently made a statement regarding the incident. A jury found Barrera guilty of aggravated assault. The district court granted Barrera's request for a withheld judgment and placed him on probation for five years. Barrera appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Sufficiency of the Evidence

Barrera argues that the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to support a conviction for aggravated assault because it did not establish that the head-butt constituted a means or force likely to produce great bodily harm. The state argues that sufficient evidence was provided at ...


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