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State v. Bahr

Court of Appeals of Idaho

January 23, 2018

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
BRANDON TYLER BAHR, Defendant-Appellant.

         2018 Opinion No. 3

         Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Patrick H. Owen, District Judge. Judgment and conviction, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Elizabeth A. Allred and Andrea W. Reynolds, Deputy Appellate Public Defenders, Boise, for appellant. Andrea W. Reynolds argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Mark W. Olson argued.

          GRATTON, Chief Judge

         Brandon Tyler Bahr appeals from the judgment entered upon the jury verdicts finding him guilty of first degree murder, grand theft, and petit theft. Bahr asserts the district court incorrectly instructed the jury on the premeditation element of first degree murder and challenges the sufficiency of evidence supporting his grand theft conviction.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Bahr made arrangements with his ex-girlfriend to meet her and her new boyfriend at the Boise Train Depot. The supposed purpose of the meeting was for Bahr and the new boyfriend to fight. Prior to the meeting, Bahr went to his home and took a loaded gun from the nightstand of his mother's boyfriend. Bahr also went to Walmart and stole a bandana which he used to conceal his face. Bahr testified that he intended to point the gun and scare the new boyfriend, but Bahr fatally shot the new boyfriend in the chest after he did not act afraid of Bahr and aggressively walked towards Bahr while making verbal threats. A friend of his ex-girlfriend testified that Bahr then pointed the gun at her (the friend) but Bahr ran away when he realized the friend was not his ex-girlfriend.

         Bahr was arrested later that evening after he returned home. He was indicted by a grand jury for first degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon enhancement for pointing the gun at the friend of his ex-girlfriend, grand theft for taking the gun, and petit theft for stealing the bandana. Bahr was found guilty of murder in the first degree, grand theft, and petit theft. The court imposed a unified life sentence with twenty-five years determinate for first degree murder, a concurrent unified fourteen-year sentence with seven years determinate for grand theft, and 180 days for petit theft. Bahr timely appeals.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Bahr contends the district court committed instructional error requiring this Court to vacate his first degree murder conviction. He also challenges the sufficiency of evidence supporting his grand theft conviction.

         A. First Degree Murder Conviction

         Bahr asserts the district court committed instructional error. At issue is the court's response to a question from the jury during its deliberations. Whether a jury has been properly instructed is a question of law over which we exercise free review. State v. Severson, 147 Idaho 694, 710, 215 P.3d 414, 430 (2009). When reviewing jury instructions, we ask whether the instructions as a whole, and not individually, fairly and accurately reflect applicable law. State v. Bowman, 124 Idaho 936, 942, 866 P.2d 193, 199 (Ct. App. 1993).

         The jury was given the following instruction concerning first degree murder:

         In order for the defendant to be guilty of First Degree Murder with malice aforethought, the state must prove each of the following:

1. On or about September 23, 2015
2. in the state of Idaho
3. the defendant Brandon Bahr engaged in conduct which caused the death ...

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