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State v. Shick

Supreme Court of North Dakota

June 7, 2017

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Harold Dean Shick, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of McKenzie County, Northwest Judicial District, the Honorable Daniel Saleh El-Dweek, Judge.

          Stephenie L. Davis, Assistant State's Attorney, Watford City, N.D., for plaintiff and appellee; submitted on brief.

          Laura C. Ringsak, Bismarck, N.D., for defendant and appellant; submitted on brief.

          OPINION

          McEvers, Justice.

         [¶ 1] Harold Shick appeals a district court's judgment entered after a jury convicted him of terrorizing, reckless endangerment, felonious restraint, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. We conclude the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Shick's motion for a mistrial, and there is sufficient evidence to sustain the jury's verdict. We therefore affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] On May 23, 2015, Skyler Seimears and Rusian Volochanskiy went to Shick's residence with a trailer to retrieve furniture and other equipment that belonged to Aster Electric. At that time, Seimears and Volochanskiy were employees of Aster Electric. Seimears and Volochanskiy drove a company truck to Shick's residence. Shick was home when Seimears and Volochanskiy arrived at his residence. According to Seimears, Shick became angry when Seimears told him they were there to retrieve company property. Shick claimed the company truck Seimears drove to Shick's residence belonged to him and it was not going to leave his sight. Shick then went to his pickup, grabbed a pistol, and "loaded it." Seimears claimed Shick told Volochanskiy and him not to leave while pointing the pistol at them. Shick attempted to take the keys to the company truck while holding the gun on Seimears and Volochanskiy. At that time, Seimears called "his boss" and had him talk to Shick to try and calm Shick down. After talking to Seimears' boss, Shick began walking back toward his house while still holding the pistol. Seimears started the company truck and "made a quick escape." Seimears testified he heard shots as he drove away. However, Shick claims he did not fire the pistol, there was no damage to the company truck, and there were no spent shell casings found.

         [¶ 3] Seimears and Volochanskiy drove to the McKenzie County Sheriff's Office and told Sergeant Kyle Giersdorf about their encounter with Shick. Giersdorf, Northwest Narcotics Task Force Agent Michael Mees, and several other members of the McKenzie County Sheriff's Office went to Shick's residence. When law enforcement arrived, Shick invited them into his residence and consented to a search of his home. Law enforcement detained Shick and read him his Miranda rights. Based on Shick's consent to search his home, Mees searched a backpack that was located in Shick's room. Mees found methamphetamine, multiple items of drug paraphernalia, and an unspent.380 round in the backpack.

         [¶ 4] After law enforcement searched Shick's residence, Shick gave them consent to search his motorcycle, but not his pickup. Mees advised Shick that they would tow the pickup, obtain a search warrant, and search the pickup. Law enforcement called the tow truck for an "impound evidence seizure tow." After the tow truck arrived, Shick told Mees he could search the pickup if Mees agreed not to tow it. Mees told Shick he had no need to tow his pickup if they could search it at his residence with his consent. Shick consented to the search. Inside the pickup, Mees found a glass smoking device with white residue and a small plastic bag with white residue. Mees also found a lockbox with a pistol, ammunition, and loaded magazines. On May 27, 2015, the State charged Shick with terrorizing, reckless endangerment, felonious restraint, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

         [¶ 5] Prior to trial, Shick moved to suppress evidence obtained from the search of his pickup. Shick argued law enforcement violated his Fourth Amendment rights by coercing him into consenting to the search of his pickup. According to Shick, towing his pickup would have resulted in financial hardship. Shick claimed he only consented to the search of his pickup after law enforcement threatened to tow it if he did not consent. The district court found Shick's consent was voluntary. The court relied on State v. Hansen, 69 P.3d 1052, 1057 (Idaho 2003), concluding "when the Defendant offers the consent to search in lieu of towing and impounding the vehicle, the consent is voluntary."

         [¶ 6] After the State rested, Shick moved for both a judgment of acquittal and a mistrial. In his motion for a judgment of acquittal, Shick argued the complaint included the names of both Seimears and Volochanskiy but only Seimears testified at trial. Shick claimed the State had to prove the offenses were committed against both victims, Volochanskiy did not testify and, therefore, the State failed to meet its burden. However, Shick did not dispute Seimears' testimony that Volochanskiy was present when Shick pointed a pistol at Seimears. The district court determined the language in question was either surplusage under N.D.R.Crim.P. 7(d), or the State could amend its information under N.D.R.Crim.P. 7(e) and denied Shick's motion for a judgment of acquittal. In his motion for a mistrial, Shick renewed arguments made in his pretrial motion to suppress evidence. The court denied Shick's motion for a mistrial for the same reasons stated in its order denying Shick's pretrial motion to suppress evidence. After Shick concluded his argument but before the case went to the jury, the State moved to amend its information to strike the words "and Volochanskiy." The State also moved to dismiss the charge of possession of a firearm by a felon. The district court granted both motions. The jury convicted Shick of terrorizing, reckless endangerment, felonious restraint, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Shick appeals.

         II

         [¶ 7] Shick argues the district court abused its discretion in denying his pretrial motion to suppress evidence and his motion for a mistrial. This Court previously laid out the standard of review of a district court's ruling on a motion for a mistrial:

Motions for mistrial are within the broad discretion of the district court, and we will not reverse the court's decision on the motion unless there was a clear abuse of that discretion or a manifest injustice would result. A district court abuses its discretion when it misinterprets or misapplies the law, or when it acts in an arbitrary, unreasonable, or capricious manner. Generally, granting a mistrial is an extreme remedy which should be resorted to only when there is a fundamental defect or ...

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