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State v. Steen

Supreme Court of North Dakota

March 24, 2015

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Issac Steen, Defendant and Appellant

Page 471

Appeal from the District Court of Williams County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Paul W. Jacobson, Judge.

Nathan K. Madden, Assistant State's Attorney, Williams County State's Attorney Office, Williston, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.

Carey A. Goetz, Bismarck, for defendant and appellant.

Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J., Dale V. Sandstrom, Daniel J. Crothers, Lisa Fair McEvers, Carol Ronning Kapsner. Opinion of the Court by VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

OPINION

Page 472

VandeWalle, Chief Justice.

[¶1] Issac Steen appealed from a criminal judgment entered after a jury convicted Steen of hindering law enforcement. Steen contends the district court abused its discretion by allowing photographs of the victim be shown to the jury. We affirm.

I

[¶2] Steen owns property located outside Williston in Williams County, North Dakota. That property contains a garbage dump. Law enforcement located the body of Jack Sjol within the garbage dump. Sjol had been missing for three weeks, and law enforcement discovered he had sustained multiple gunshot wounds and his body had been partially concealed. The person alleged to have committed Sjol's murder had been in communication with Steen prior to Sjol's disappearance. That person requested use of Steen's garbage dump, and indicated that Sjol had been murdered. Prior to law enforcement's discovery, Steen had discovered the body and did not voluntarily report the discovery to law enforcement. Steen did communicate with the person alleged to have murdered Sjol, and requested he remove the body from the garbage dump.

[¶3] After discovery of Sjol's body, Steen was arrested and charged with hindering law enforcement. Prior to trial, Steen filed a motion in limine prohibiting photographs of the body be shown to the jury. The district court denied Steen's motion stating, " this information would play into the aspect of whether or not the concealing, if that's what it was, of the body for some period of time I heard three weeks might hinder any investigation into it." At trial, Steen did not object to the introduction of any photographic evidence.

II

[¶4] At issue in this case is whether the district court abused its discretion in admitting photographic evidence. Although Steen raised another issue objecting to denial of a jury instruction, this issue was conceded by Steen at oral argument.

[¶5] We have long held that an effective appeal of any issue must be appropriately raised in the trial court in order for us to intelligently rule on it. State v. Anderson,2003 ND 30, ¶ 6, 657 N.W.2d 245. " Under N.D.R.Ev.103(a)(1), '[e]rror may not be predicated upon a ruling which admits or excludes evidence unless a substantial right of the party is affected, and . . . a timely objection or motion to strike appears of record, stating the ...


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