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State v. MacGregor

Supreme Court of Montana

October 15, 2013

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
JEREMY STEVEN MacGREGOR, Defendant and Appellant.

Submitted on Briefs: September 18, 2013

District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Lewis and Clark, Cause No. BDC 2010-142 Honorable Jeffrey M. Sherlock, Presiding Judge

For Appellant: Wade Zolynski, Chief Appellate Defender, Koan Mercer, Assistant Appellate Defender;

For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Tammy A. Hinderman, Assistant Attorney General; Leo J. Gallagher, Lewis and Clark County Attorney, Tara Harris, Deputy County Attorney;

OPINION

Michael E Wheat Justice

¶1 Judge Jeffrey M. Sherlock (Judge Sherlock) of the First Judicial District Court, Lewis and Clark County, presided over the trial of Jeremy MacGregor (MacGregor) for two counts of attempted deliberate homicide. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on both counts. Judge Sherlock denied MacGregor's motions to dismiss for lack of speedy trial and for juror misconduct. MacGregor appeals from these dismissals as well as from numerous alleged errors at trial. We affirm.

STATEMENT OF ISSUES

¶2 Issue One: D id the District Court correctly deny MacGregor's motion for a new trial based on juror misconduct?

¶3 Issue Two: Did the District Court err by failing to inquire into MacGregor's ineffective assistance of counsel claim and the voluntariness of his decision to represent himself?

¶4 Issue Three: Did the District Court correctly deny MacGregor's speedy trial claim?

¶5 Issue Four: Did the District Court err by admitting evidence of MacGregor's prior assault of his wife?

¶6 Issue Five: Should we exercise plain error review of MacGregor's claim that the District Court gave an erroneous instruction on mitigated deliberate homicide?

¶7 Issue Six: Did the District Court improperly impose parole conditions?

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

¶8 On April 15, 2010, MacGregor shot and nearly killed his unarmed wife, Jennifer MacGregor (Jennifer) and their live-in nanny, Betsy Mart (Betsy). He was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted deliberate homicide. After brief representation by a public defender, MacGregor demanded that he represent himself pro se and the court allowed him to do so with standby counsel.

¶9 Before trial, MacGregor filed numerous motions with the court, including a motion to dismiss for lack of speedy trial. The District Court denied the motion to dismiss for lack of speedy trial. Trial commenced on February 22, 2011.

¶10 At trial, MacGregor made vague claims about his general non-violent nature and argued that he had not been in a fight for a number of years. The State introduced evidence that MacGregor had assaulted Jennifer in the past, seeking to rebut his statements of nonviolence. The District Court admitted this prior assault to rebut MacGregor's claim of nonviolent character and his statement that he had not been in fights for many years.

¶11 The court submitted instructions to the jury for attempted deliberate homicide and attempted mitigated deliberate homicide. MacGregor failed to object to the instructions. The jury found MacGregor guilty of both counts of attempted deliberate homicide.

¶12 MacGregor's standby counsel filed a motion for new trial based on juror misconduct. The District Court conducted a hearing concerning juror Justin Wearley's (Wearley) communication with his family about the trial, his reading of a newspaper during trial, and his failure to reveal at voir dire that he had been a victim of domestic violence. The District Court heard testimony from Wearley, his wife, and their two children, and denied the motion upon a finding that MacGregor could not show prejudice.

STANDARDS OF REVIEW

ΒΆ13 Appropriate standards of review will be discussed as they ...


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