2013 Unpublished Opinion No. 789
Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Jerome County. Hon. John K. Butler, District Judge.
Judgment of conviction for felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, affirmed.
Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Erik R. Lehtinen, Chief, Appellate Unit, Boise, for appellant.
Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; John C. McKinney, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.
GUTIERREZ, Chief Judge
Irwin Ryan Ray Adams appeals from his judgment of conviction after a jury found Adams guilty of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, in violation of Idaho Code § 18-4006(3)(a). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURE
Adams was driving with a passenger, his friend, when Adams crashed his car. The car crash resulted in severe injury to the friend, and the friend eventually died as a result of his injuries. Although Adams contended his car was being chased at the time of the crash, others asserted that Adams was chasing a car driven by Adams' girlfriend's mother's friend (the chased driver) and carrying Adams' girlfriend, the girlfriend's baby, and the girlfriend's mother. The State subsequently charged Adams via an information with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence "by driving his motor vehicle at a high rate of speed, to-wit: 108 miles per hour in a 50 miles per hour zone trying to chase down another vehicle and crashing his motor vehicle which caused the death of the victim: [the friend]."
At trial, the prosecutor called seventeen witnesses. One saw the crash occur. Another was the first person to stop at the crash scene. Two law enforcement officers from Jerome County testified along with three law enforcement officers from the Idaho State Police, including an accident reconstruction expert witness. The chased driver and the girlfriend's mother testified they were being chased by Adams. The victim's sister and four other individuals who talked to Adams while Adams was hospitalized also testified. Two other witnesses testified they were involved in a road-rage-type incident with Adams the day before. The defense called Adams' father, Adams' father's fiancée, Adams' brother, and Adams' sister. The defense also called two State witnesses, an Idaho State Police officer who talked to Adams, and the sister of the victim. In addition, Adams himself testified.
During the trial, the prosecutor offered several exhibits. Exhibit 131 was an audio recording of an interview between an Idaho State Police patrol sergeant and Adams while Adams was hospitalized. Exhibit 134 was a video recording from a Jerome County detective's car data recording system as the detective arrived on the scene. The video exhibit not only included video, but had accompanying audio of Adams claiming he had been chased. Both exhibits were admitted without objection and published to the jury.
In the closing arguments, defense counsel asked the jury to replay the video exhibit in the jury room, arguing the video would support the defense's theory of the case. Defense counsel also referenced the audio exhibit during the closing argument, again arguing the audio exhibit would support the defense's theory of the case. The prosecutor, in rebuttal, also referred to the video exhibit. However, after the closing arguments concluded, the district court advised the jury that it could not replay the exhibits during deliberations because the jury room did not have technological capability. After the court excused the jury to the jury room, defense counsel placed an objection on the record as to the jury's inability to replay the audio and video exhibits in the jury room. Thereafter, the case was deliberated by the jury for over seven hours before the jury found Adams guilty of ...