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State v. Bodenbach

Supreme Court of Idaho

September 3, 2019

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
ADAM DAVID BODENBACH, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. Steven J. Hippler, District Judge.

         The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

          Ferguson Durham, PLLC, Boise, for appellant Adam David Bodenbach. Craig H. Durham argued.

          Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for respondent State of Idaho. Kenneth K. Jorgensen argued.


         Adam David Bodenbach (Bodenbach) appeals from the judgment of conviction entered against him in Ada County District Court for first-degree murder and possession of cocaine. First, Bodenbach argues that the district court's "initial aggressor" jury instruction created reversible error because the instruction was unnecessary, confusing, and misstated Idaho law. Second, Bodenbach appeals the denial of his motion to suppress statements he made shortly after the shooting during a police interview. He argues that he did not knowingly and intelligently[1]waive his Miranda rights because he was under the influence of drugs. Finally, Bodenbach argues that the district court abused its discretion when it sentenced him. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm Bodenbach's judgment of conviction and sentence.


         In the early morning of January 6, 2017, Bodenbach shot and killed Ryan Harrison Banks (Banks) at the Park Village Apartments in Boise, Idaho. At the time of the killing, Bodenbach resided in a two-bedroom apartment that he shared with Jacob Kimsey (Kimsey). Banks lived in the same complex as Bodenbach and Kimsey but in an apartment that was across the courtyard from theirs.

         On January 5, 2017, sometime between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m., Bodenbach purchased and injected himself with cocaine. Bodenbach claimed that Kimsey also injected himself with cocaine around that time. Kimsey and Banks then drove to a convenience store to purchase alcohol before the two of them returned to the apartment Kimsey shared with Bodenbach. Around 10:00 p.m., Bodenbach and Kimsey began arguing about whether Bodenbach could borrow Kimsey's car. The argument escalated and Kimsey shoved Bodenbach away from him. Banks intervened and pushed Bodenbach back into Bodenbach's bedroom and onto the bed. Banks was on top of Bodenbach pinning him to the bed. Bodenbach testified that Banks was choking him.[2]

         Kimsey pulled Banks off Bodenbach and walked him back to Banks' apartment across the courtyard. Kimsey testified that Banks was emotional after the altercation with Bodenbach. Kimsey stayed with Banks for approximately five minutes attempting to calm him down.

         Once he believed that Banks was no longer agitated, Kimsey went to check on Bodenbach. When Kimsey arrived at the apartment, he saw Bodenbach flipping his mattress over and throwing clothes around in an effort to locate his pistol. Bodenbach accused Banks of stealing his gun. Kimsey decided to return to Banks' apartment, assuming Bodenbach would calm down.

         According to Kimsey, Banks was still emotional upon his return. There is conflicting evidence as to whether Banks had a knife on him at this time. Kimsey testified during trial that he did not see a knife on Banks at any time that night. However, during his interview with the police the night of Banks' death, Kimsey stated that Banks had been carrying a knife before he was shot.

         Bodenbach eventually found his gun. He testified he decided to go to Banks' apartment to check on Kimsey, as he was worried Banks might harm him. Bodenbach took his pistol and walked across the courtyard to Banks' apartment.

         Kimsey's and Bodenbach's stories diverge at this point. Bodenbach testified at trial that he knocked on Banks' door, identifying himself and falsely saying that the police were with him. Bodenbach claimed that he stated this because he was concerned about what Banks might do. However, Kimsey testified as follows: He did not hear Bodenbach knocking. Rather, he and Banks had decided to go outside to smoke cigarettes. Kimsey opened the door for Banks and Banks walked out first, pausing after walking through the door. Once Kimsey walked through the door, he could see Bodenbach pointing a gun in their direction and heard Bodenbach yell at Banks, "You thought I was fucking kidding. You think I'm a fucking punk." Bodenbach testified that he never raised the gun but rather had it in his jacket pocket.

         Banks said nothing in response to Bodenbach but lunged towards him. Once Banks moved towards Bodenbach, Kimsey could not see Bank's front or Bodenbach's gun. Bodenbach claimed that prior to Banks lunging at him, Banks reached down to his waistband and pulled out a knife. Banks pushed Bodenbach into a pillar. Bodenbach claimed it was at this time that he reached for his gun and shot Banks. Banks fell down. Bodenbach ran off. The shooting occurred shortly after midnight.

         As he was returning to his apartment, Bodenbach called 911 and told the operator he had shot someone in the leg. (Banks had been shot in the chest.) Bodenbach then returned to his apartment and set his gun on a table. He testified that he was agitated and decided to take some Xanax to calm down. After purportedly taking the medication, Bodenbach went to check on Banks.

         The Boise Police Department responded to multiple 911 calls. The officers encountered Bodenbach talking on a phone and holding a knife, which he later claimed to have found on the ground near where he shot Banks. He was ordered to drop the knife and was handcuffed. Banks was located in a neighbor's apartment. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.

         Once Bodenbach was arrested, Bodenbach complained of pain in his neck and back. He was transported to St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center where he was examined and held for several hours. Around 2:00 a.m. on January 6, 2017, Boise Police Detective Jason Pietrzak (Pietrzak) came to the hospital to interview Bodenbach. Bodenbach later testified he did not remember being interrogated by Pietrzak. After the interview, Bodenbach was discharged from the hospital and booked into the Ada County Jail.

         The State charged Bodenbach with first-degree murder, the commission of a crime with a firearm, [3] and possession of cocaine. Before trial, Bodenbach filed a motion to suppress statements he made during the police interview at the hospital, arguing that he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights because he was under the influence of Xanax. The district court denied the motion, finding that Bodenbach was not under the influence of Xanax, and, even if he were, he knowingly and intelligently waived his Miranda rights.

         The case proceeded to trial. The State and Bodenbach presented their cases, during which Bodenbach did not testify. After both parties had rested, the district court stated it was considering giving an instruction to the jury that would not allow Bodenbach to claim self-defense if he had been the "initial aggressor." Neither party had offered such a proposed instruction, nor is such an instruction contained in the Idaho Criminal Jury Instructions (ICJI).

         The district court ruled that it intended to give an "initial aggressor" jury instruction, but it allowed the defense to reopen its case to allow Bodenbach the opportunity to testify in his own defense. Bodenbach took the stand and testified. During the instruction conference, Bodenbach's counsel made a general objection to the district court giving an "initial aggressor" instruction. The district court asked defense counsel if he objected to the language contained in the proposed instruction, to which he replied "no." Over the objection of defense counsel, the district court provided the jury with an instruction outlining when an initial aggressor is entitled to claim self-defense-Instruction No. 28.

         The jury found Bodenbach guilty of first-degree murder, the use of a firearm in the commission of a crime, and possession of cocaine. The district court sentenced Bodenbach to life in prison with twenty-five years fixed for the murder (including the sentencing enhancement for use of a firearm) and to a concurrent seven years with three years fixed for the possession of a controlled substance. Bodenbach timely appealed.[4]

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. There was no reversible error in the district court's giving of the initial aggressor jury instruction.

         After the defense reopened its case and Bodenbach testified, the district court provided to counsel a proposed jury instruction regarding what an initial aggressor needed to do in order to claim self-defense. Bodenbach's counsel gave a general objection to the initial aggressor instruction. The district court overruled the general objection and provided the instruction to the jury.

         On appeal, Bodenbach argues that the district court erred in instructing the jury that a defendant was not entitled to claim self-defense if the defendant was the initial aggressor. Bodenbach further argues that the initial aggressor instruction misstated Idaho law, was unclear and vague, and improperly reduced the State's burden to prove that the homicide was unlawful.

         The State argues that the issue was not preserved below because Bodenbach failed to make any of these arguments to the district court. The State contends that making a general objection to the instruction as a whole, but not objecting on a specific ground, was not enough to preserve the issue on appeal. Further, the State argues that Bodenbach failed to properly claim, let alone prove, fundamental error.

         1. The only issue preserved is whether an initial aggressor instruction is appropriate under Idaho law.

         The threshold issue is whether Bodenbach properly preserved the argument regarding the initial aggressor jury instruction. "This Court will not consider issues raised for the first time on appeal." State v. Garcia-Rodriguez, 162 Idaho 271, 275, 396 P.3d 700, 704 (2017) (quoting Mickelsen Constr., Inc. v. Horrocks, 154 Idaho 396, 405, 299 P.3d 203, 212 (2013)).

         Here, Bodenbach's counsel specifically objected to the giving of the instruction. However, the discussion between the district court and Bodenbach's counsel is informative.

THE COURT: [I]f I do give a first aggressor instruction, do you have a problem with the language of this one?
. . . .
THE COURT: Okay. I'll let you be heard on the initial ...

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