from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central
Judicial District, the Honorable John W. Grinsteiner, Judge.
A. Lawyer, Burleigh County State's Attorney, Bismarck,
ND, for plaintiff and appellee.
R. Loraas, Bismarck, ND, for defendant and appellant.
Duane Landrus appeals from an amended criminal judgment and
order for restitution after a jury found him guilty of
aggravated and simple assault. We affirm.
Landrus was involved in a violent altercation involving David
Roberts, Summer Tippett, and Jason Conn, among others.
Roberts testified he and Tippett fell asleep by the firepit
after hosting a cook-out. They awoke sometime after 2:00 a.m.
and began cleaning up when they discovered Landrus in a
storage shed on the property. A fight between Landrus and
Roberts ensued, and Roberts suffered a stab wound from a
knife later found at Landrus's residence. Landrus punched
Tippett when she tried to intervene. The neighbor, Conn, also
tried to intervene and suffered minor cuts. Two other
witnesses corroborated the stories of the injured parties.
Landrus testified he acted in self-defense after he found
himself in a stranger's yard while attempting to walk
home after a night of drinking. Landrus claimed after being
discovered in the shed Tippett told him to wait for police
while Roberts told him to leave the property. Landrus
testified he only used the knife in a defensive motion to
ward off the attack, and acted in self-defense after Roberts
struck him in the head with a portable radio.
The State charged Landrus with attempted murder, simple
assault, and criminal trespass. Landrus requested a
self-defense jury instruction at trial. The State requested a
jury instruction of defense of property based on Roberts
discovering Landrus in the shed on his property. The district
court gave both instructions. Over Landrus's objection
the district court also gave the jury a lesser included
aggravated assault instruction concerning the attempted
Landrus argues the district court erred in allowing the
defense of property instruction because it was based on the
victims' actions as property owners and not raised by a
criminal defendant as a defense. Landrus further argues the
court erred by allowing the lesser included aggravated
assault instruction over his objection, and the verdict was
against the weight of the evidence.
Landrus argues the district court misapplied the law by
giving the defense of property jury instruction because it
impermissibly shifted the burden of proof and undermined
Landrus's self-defense claim.
Jury instructions are fully reviewable on appeal. State
v. Wilson, 2004 ND 51, ¶ 11, 676 N.W.2d 98. This
Court reviews jury instructions as a whole and determines
whether they correctly and adequately inform the jury of the
applicable law, even though part of the instructions standing
alone may be insufficient or erroneous. Id. Reversal
is appropriate only if the instructions, as a whole, are
erroneous, relate to a central subject in the case, and
affect a substantial right of the accused. State v.
Huber, 555 N.W.2d 791, 793 (N.D. 1996).
At trial, Landrus claimed that he acted in self-defense and
that Roberts was the initial aggressor. The district court
instructed the jury on self-defense. At the State's
request, the court also instructed ...