[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Callie Patton Kim, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.
Tamara E. de Lucia, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Michael C. Geraghty, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.
Before: MANNHEIMER, Chief Judge, ALLARD, Judge, and SMITH, Superior Court Judge.[*]
Dessie Ford Miller IV was charged with one count of second-degree assault and one count of fourth-degree assault for attacking Ida Stricker, a woman who was visiting his boat. The second-degree assault charge was based on the allegation that Miller strangled Stricker with his hands, and the fourth-degree assault charge was based on the allegation that Miller inflicted injuries to Stricker— scrape marks on her back— when he pushed her against the wall to strangle her.
According to Stricker, she lost consciousness while Miller was strangling her. When she regained awareness, she was lying on the floor, and Miller was standing over her with his foot on her chest. Miller removed his foot, and Stricker got up, gathered her belongings, and left Miller's boat.
At trial, the jury acquitted Miller of second-degree assault (the strangulation allegation), but the jury convicted Miller of fourth-degree assault (the allegation that he inflicted scrape marks on Stricker's back).
In this appeal, Miller contends that the jury's verdicts are inconsistent. He also contends that the superior court committed error by classifying his fourth-degree assault conviction as a " crime of domestic violence" . Finally, Miller contends that the superior court should not have ordered him to pay restitution for medical expenses arising from emergency room treatment that the victim received several days after the assault.
For the reasons explained in this opinion, we conclude that Miller forfeited his right to attack the verdicts as being inconsistent, because he did not raise this issue in the superior court before the jury was discharged. We further conclude that the superior court violated Alaska Criminal Rule 32(e) by classifying Miller's offense as a " crime of domestic violence" without making an express ruling on this issue— and we direct the superior court to reconsider this matter. Finally, we conclude that the restitution order was appropriate, given the superior court's express finding that Miller's assault caused the medical condition for which the victim was treated.
Miller's argument that the jury's decision to convict him of fourth-degree assault is logically inconsistent with the jury's decision to acquit him of second-degree assault
In his brief to this Court, Miller argues that there was " insufficient evidence" to support his conviction for fourth-degree assault (the allegation that Miller inflicted the scrape marks on Stricker's back).
However, the gist of Miller's argument is not a claim that the evidence presented at his trial was legally insufficient to support his conviction. Indeed, the evidence clearly was sufficient— because the victim, Stricker, testified that she sustained the injuries to her back when Miller pushed her against the wall. This testimony, if believed,
was sufficient to warrant the fourth-degree assault conviction.
Miller's real argument (as clarified by the text of his brief) is that the jury's decision to convict him of fourth-degree assault is logically inconsistent with its ...