Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Peatman

Supreme Court of Vermont

March 16, 2018

State of Vermont
v.
Nathaniel R. Peatman

         On Appeal from Superior Court, Washington Unit, Criminal Division Kevin W. Griffin, J.

          James Pepper, Deputy State's Attorney, Montpelier, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Allison N. Fulcher of Martin & Associates, Barre, for Defendant-Appellant.

          PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Skoglund, Robinson, Eaton and Carroll, JJ.

          SKOGLUND, J.

         ¶ 1. Defendant Nathaniel Peatman appeals his convictions, following a jury trial, for first-degree aggravated domestic assault, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, and resisting arrest. Defendant argues that his convictions must be reversed because the jury instructions failed to guarantee unanimous verdicts. We affirm.

         ¶ 2. On December 30, 2014, defendant was arrested and charged with first-degree aggravated domestic assault, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and impeding a public officer following a series of events involving defendant's girlfriend (girlfriend), her son, and the responding officers.

         ¶ 3. Prior to trial, defendant gave notice of his intent to present a diminished capacity defense for the specific-intent charges-most importantly for this appeal, for the willful conduct element under the first-degree aggravated domestic assault charge. Additionally, the State gave notice of election of the elements to be tried as follows: the first-degree aggravated domestic assault charge would proceed under both willful and reckless conduct; the aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer charge would proceed under both attempted to cause and caused serious bodily injury. Defendant objected to the State's election and sought to have the State choose one theory for each charge prior to closing argument. At the jury draw, a subsequent motion hearing, and on the morning of trial, defendant expressed concerns about crafting jury instructions that would guarantee a unanimous verdict. The trial court disagreed, and allowed the State to proceed with their alternate theories of the case.

         ¶ 4. A one-day jury trial took place on February 1, 2016. The State presented the following evidence through five witnesses. Girlfriend testified that, on the night of the incident, defendant was at her apartment playing videogames with her son. Throughout the night, defendant was drinking homebrew[*] and getting progressively more critical about the cleanliness of girlfriend's apartment, to the point that he began berating girlfriend with insults such as "filthy pig" and "hog." Girlfriend put her son to bed in another room and asked defendant to leave. When defendant refused, girlfriend got up to go to another room in the apartment, but defendant grabbed her arm and pushed her back up against a bookcase. Defendant "knock[ed her] around the head" with a closed fist. While defendant was hitting girlfriend, her son came out of his room and screamed at defendant to stop.

         ¶ 5. At this point in time, girlfriend's upstairs neighbor testified that she heard "scream crying" and a male voice yelling "Cut the F'ing shit." The neighbor became concerned, went down to girlfriend's apartment, and knocked on the door. Defendant opened the door and told the neighbor that everything was fine. The neighbor testified that defendant smelled of alcohol and was slurring his words. Although defendant was standing in the doorway, the neighbor could see that girlfriend and her son were crying in the apartment and that girlfriend's nose was bleeding. The neighbor walked past defendant into the apartment and asked girlfriend and her son if they were okay. Girlfriend's son eventually responded that defendant had beat girlfriend. When the neighbor left to call the police, defendant started hitting girlfriend again, "full fisted" in her right eye, knocking her head against the wall.

         ¶ 6. The neighbor and her fiancé waited outside for the police. When the first responding officer, Officer Karie Tucker, arrived, the neighbor told her that defendant was "in a drunken rage." Officer Tucker testified that, as she approached girlfriend's apartment, she heard yelling. Within seconds of her arrival at the apartment, defendant opened the door and Officer Tucker could see girlfriend, with a bruised and swollen eye, and her son in the apartment. Defendant tried to walk past Officer Tucker, but she grabbed him by the arm and attempted to handcuff him. Defendant responded by immediately grabbing Officer Tucker's throat with both hands, choking her. With her free hand, Officer Tucker attempted to push defendant's face away, but he bit her middle finger. Officer Tucker then struck defendant's face with the hand she was holding the handcuffs in and hit him in the groin until defendant released her, at which time Officer Tucker was able to handcuff one of defendant's hands.

         ¶ 7. The neighbor's fiancé entered the hallway where Officer Tucker and defendant were engaged in the struggle. Officer Tucker threatened to use her taser on defendant if he did not comply, at which point defendant struck the taser out of her hand and punched her in the face several more times. The neighbor testified that when she entered the hallway, she saw her fiancé restraining defendant and blood streaming from Officer Tucker's face. Two additional officers then arrived on the scene. They were able to handcuff, arrest, and transport defendant to the police station to be booked. The entire altercation between defendant and Officer Tucker lasted less than six minutes.

         ¶ 8. At the close of the State's case, defendant moved for judgment of acquittal for the charges of first-degree aggravated domestic assault, aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer, and resisting arrest. Defendant argued first that his diminished capacity negated any willful conduct, and second that there was insufficient evidence that this was a lawful arrest and that defendant knew Officer Tucker was a law enforcement officer. The court denied defendant's motions, finding sufficient evidence that defendant's actions were willful and that, while there was evidence that defendant had been drinking, the evidence did not suggest that he was intoxicated beyond the point of being capable of acting willfully. Further, the court found there was enough evidence to show that Officer Tucker's injuries could also have been caused by reckless behavior and that she was a law enforcement officer performing a lawful duty.

         ¶ 9. Defendant then took the stand in his own defense. He testified that he had been drinking homebrew at girlfriend's apartment and that he was intoxicated. Defendant did not remember what triggered it, but he testified that he "snapped" and started "flicking" girlfriend in the back of the head. After he answered the door and told the neighbor that everything was fine, girlfriend said something that caused defendant to "flick" her again, which he conceded was the source of girlfriend's bruised eye. Defendant briefly talked to girlfriend's son, then exited the apartment where he encountered Officer Tucker. He testified that, even though she was wearing a police uniform, he believed she may have been an adult entertainer in costume, and thus, when she asked him to face the wall, tried to put handcuffs on him, and started hitting him, he defended himself. Defendant said he never hit Officer Tucker, but merely grabbed her arms to protect himself and block her blows. When the two additional officers arrived, defendant testified that he went ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.