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State v. Joslin

Court of Appeals of Idaho

October 8, 2019

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
BILLY LEE JOSLIN, JR., Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. Cynthia K.C. Meyer, District Judge.

         Judgment of conviction for rape and attempted strangulation, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Maya P. Waldron, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Maya P. Waldron argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Lori A Fleming, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Jeff D. Nye argued.

          HUSKEY, JUDGE

         Billy Lee Joslin, Jr. appeals from his judgment of conviction entered upon the jury verdict finding him guilty of rape and attempted strangulation. On appeal, Joslin argues the district court erred when it allowed Joslin's ex-wife to testify. Specifically, Joslin claims the district court abused its discretion when it found the ex-wife's testimony was admissible under Idaho Rule of Evidence 404(b). To the extent the district court erred in admitting the testimony from Joslin's ex-wife, any such error was harmless and we affirm the district court's judgment of conviction.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The State charged Joslin by information with rape, Idaho Code § 18-6101, and attempted strangulation, I.C. § 18-923.[1] The State also charged Joslin with being a persistent violator, I.C. § 19-2514.

         The State filed a motion in limine, pursuant to Rule 404(b), seeking to admit evidence that in 2006 Joslin entered the home of his ex-wife, strangled her until she was unconscious, and raped her. In its brief in support of the motion in limine, the State argued the evidence of Joslin's prior conduct was admissible because it was part of a common plan and because it was relevant for purposes of disproving consent. Joslin objected to the State's intent to use Rule 404(b) evidence.

         After a hearing on the motion, the district court issued a memorandum decision granting the State's motion. The district court explained the evidence was admissible because it was probative of plan, identity, preparation, and absence of mistake or accident.

         At trial, the State presented evidence regarding the injuries sustained by the victim. The State called eighteen witnesses, including the victim. The victim testified that on August 25, 2016, she returned to her apartment during the lunch hour. According to the victim, Joslin grabbed her by the neck and choked her in a way that she lost and regained consciousness several times. While doing so, Joslin also placed a hand over the victim's mouth, so she was limited to intermittently breathing through her nose. Joslin then had intercourse with the victim.

         In addition to the victim's testimony, the jury saw photographs of the victim's face, neck, and body which showed abrasions, redness, and swelling. The jury heard testimony from healthcare workers who attended to the victim, listened to her story about being choked and raped, and saw the injuries. The jury also heard from the victim's coworkers who explained how the victim was distraught and injured when she returned to work after lunch and recounted the story of being raped and choked during her time away from work that afternoon. The nurses and an officer also testified regarding the chain of custody and the transportation of the DNA evidence. A lab technician testified the evidence in the victim's rape kit tested positive, and a forensic scientist explained Joslin's DNA was found in the victim.

         The State's final witness was Joslin's ex-wife, whose testimony was the subject of the Rule 404(b) dispute prior to trial. Joslin renewed his objection to the ex-wife's testimony, and the district court allowed for an offer of proof wherein Joslin's ex-wife testified outside the presence of the jury. Following the offer of proof, the district court found the testimony of the ex-wife was admissible under Rule 404(b) as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, and absence of mistake or accident. The district court also ...


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