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. Crissler

Supreme Court of North Dakota

October 17, 2017

State of North Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee
v.
Arthur Lee Crissler, Defendant and Appellant

         Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Gail Hagerty, Judge.

          Marina Spahr, Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney, Bismarck, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.

          Kiara C. Kraus-Parr, Grand Forks, ND, for defendant and appellant.

          OPINION

          JENSEN, JUSTICE.

         [¶ 1] Arthur Lee Crissler appeals a district court judgment after a jury convicted him of possessing a weapon in a correctional facility. Because sufficient evidence was presented to support the jury's verdict, and the testimony regarding the potential use and composition of an altered pencil was admissible, we affirm.

         I

         [¶ 2] On October 13, 2016, the State charged Crissler with possessing an object in a correctional facility intended to be used for an assault on another person or to damage property. The charges arose from the search of Crissler's cell block on September 3, 2016 during which a pencil wrapped in paper, thread, and elastic was found concealed underneath the mattress of Crissler's bunk.

         [¶ 3] At trial, Burleigh County Detention Center Officer Lucas Kuntz testified about the search and discovery of the pencil. Kuntz testified that the pencil was a flex pencil that is very flexible in an unaltered state. The pencil found concealed under Crissler's mattress was wrapped in paper that had first been wetted and then, when in place, allowed to dry which had the effect of increasing the rigidity of the pencil. The rigidity was further increased by thread-like string. Finally, elastic that appeared to come from a pair of underwear was added in a manner that would have made the pencil easier to grip. The sharpened, stiffened, and reinforced flexible pencil protruded from the handle made of reinforced elastic in a manner that could allow a person to stab another person while simultaneously punching him. The pencil, as modified, was admitted as an exhibit. Kuntz also testified that Crissler admitted the pencil was his. Crissler also told Kuntz, "I [Crissler] could see how you could think this [the modified pencil] is a weapon."

         [¶ 4] The jury found Crissler guilty of possessing a weapon in a correctional facility under N.D.C.C. § 12-44.1-21(5). The statute provides, "[i]t is unlawful for an inmate in a correctional facility to willfully procure, make, or possess an object, including a shard made of any material or a weapon, firearm, ammunition, or explosive material, intended to be used for an assault on another person or to damage property." N.D.C.C. § 12-44.1-21(5).

         II

         [¶ 5] Crissler argues there is insufficient evidence to sustain the jury's verdict against him. Crissler argues the State failed to establish the pencil was a weapon and that Crissler intended to use the pencil as a weapon. Crissler also argues the district court erred by allowing speculative testimony by Kuntz that the pencil could be used to stab, the modifications made the pencil more rigid, the paper was formed and wetted, and the pencil could be used to damage property.

         [¶ 6] "The determination of whether to allow opinion testimony from a lay or expert witness is within the sound discretion of the district court and will not be reversed absent an abuse of discretion." State v. Evans, 2013 ND 195, ¶ 16, 838 N.W.2d 605. The district court abuses its discretion if "it acts in an arbitrary, unreasonable, or unconscionable manner, if its decision is not the product of a rational mental process leading to a reasoned determination, or if it misinterprets or misapplies the law." Id. (quoting State v. Moos, 2008 ND 228, ¶ 30, 758 N.W.2d 674).

         [¶ 7] Kuntz's testimony challenged by Crissler is the opinion of a lay witness governed by N.D.R.Ev. 701. Rule 701 of the North Dakota Rules of Evidence provides:

If a witness is not testifying as an expert, testimony in the form of an opinion is ...

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.