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. Eighteenth Judicial District Court

Supreme Court of Montana

July 25, 2018

STATE OF MONTANA, Petitioner,
v.
EIGHTEENTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT, THE HONORABLE HOLLY BROWN, Respondent.

          ORDER

          Petitioner State of Montana asks this Court to exercise supervisory control over the Eighteenth Judicial District Court in Gallatin County Cause No. DC-17-32A. In that case, Jake William Collins is charged with deliberate homicide in connection with the death of his wife, Crystal Rianna Collins.

         According to the State's affidavit of probable cause to support the charges, Crystal's mother reported her daughter missing on January 2, 2017. A Gallatin County sheriffs detective contacted Collins, who advised that he and Crystal had gotten into a fight on New Year's Eve, and Crystal had left. Collins later agreed to an interview, waived his Miranda rights, and confessed to killing his wife. Officers found Crystal's body in the bed of Collins's pickup truck.

         After Collins was charged, his defense team arranged for a psychiatric evaluation with Dr. William Stratford. Dr. Stratford issued a report in August 2017, opining that Collins was "not psychotic, he does not suffer from a mental disease or defect, and he is fully competent to stand trial." Stratford concluded, however, that, "[g]iven the constellation and assimilation of the social trajectory factors at that time, ... [Collins] was operating under extreme mental and emotional stress at the time due to an accumulation of unresolved factors, fueled by the ingestion of alcohol." The State moved for an order from the District Court giving the State's expert, Dr. Bowman Smelko, access to Collins for a psychological examination to determine whether "at the time of the alleged offenses Defendant had a particular state of mind that is an essential element of the offenses charged." Following its consideration of argument from both parties, the District Court denied the motion on May 23, 2018.

         The State asks us to reverse the District Court's Order denying its motion for an independent mental evaluation of the Defendant or, in the alternative, to exclude Dr. Stratford's testimony. The District Court held that because the 2003 Montana Legislature amended § 45-5-103, MCA, to clarify that a defendant no longer has the burden to prove mitigation in arguing for the lesser offense of mitigated deliberate homicide, the authority on which the State relied was not apposite. The court held that there is no statutory authority to compel a defendant to submit to an independent mental evaluation for the purpose of analyzing mitigation. The State maintains that the change in the statute provides no basis for the court to distinguish this Court's holding in Park v. Mont. Sixth Judicial Dist. Court, 1998 MT 164, 289 Mont. 367, 961 P.2d 1267, and doing so constitutes a mistake of law. The State asserts that it has no adequate legal remedy on appeal if it is unable to meet and test the psychological proof Collins proffers and a jury acquits him of deliberate homicide.

         At our invitation, both the District Court and Collins have responded. The District Court relies on the rationale set forth in its May 23 Order. Collins argues that his evidence of mitigating circumstances under § 45-5-103, MCA-that Collins purposely or knowingly caused Crystal's death but did so under the influence of extreme mental or emotional stress for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse-does not put in issue Collins's mental state or whether he had a particular state of mind that is an essential element of the offense charged. Collins points out that whether a defendant was acting under extreme mental or emotional stress for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse is a mitigating circumstance, and is not an element of the offense. See § 45-5-103(3), MCA; State v. Gratzer, 209 Mont. 308, 682 P.2d 141 (1984). For that reason, evidence of mitigating circumstances does not relate to the essential element of mental state necessary for proof of guilt.

         The State agrees that the change in the statute no longer requires a defendant to present evidence amounting to a preponderance to prove the homicide was committed under mitigating circumstances, but argues that once a defendant chooses to present such evidence using expert testimony, the State is entitled as a matter of fairness to its own expert examination of the defendant and to present rebuttal testimony.

         Montana's criminal procedure statutes contain specific provisions for disclosures and discovery by the parties. Section 46-15-323(1), MCA, compels certain disclosures by a defendant at any time after charges are filed, "upon written request of the prosecutor and approval of the court." Among the listed requirements, the defendant "shall submit to a reasonable physical or medical inspection." That inspection, however, "does not include psychiatric or psychological examination." Section 46-15-323(1)(h), MCA. Rather, the prosecution's right to seek a defendant's psychiatric or psychological examination is governed by §§ 46-14-204 and -205, MCA. Section 46-14-204, MCA, applies when the question is raised whether a defendant is suffering from a mental disease or disorder. Under § 46-14-205, MCA, the prosecution may request access by its examiner to the defendant "in order to determine the defendant's fitness to proceed or whether the defendant had, at the time the offense was committed, a particular state of mind that is an essential element of the offense[.]" Thus, when a defendant puts his or her mental state into issue, the State is entitled to have the defendant examined by its own expert and to present rebuttal testimony. State v. Hess, 252 Mont. 205, 211, 828 P.2d 382, 386 (1992).

         "A person commits the offense of mitigated deliberate homicide when the person purposely or knowingly causes the death of another human being .. . but does so under the influence of extreme mental or emotional stress for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse." Section 45-5-103(1), MCA. Mitigated deliberate homicide is a lesser-included offense of deliberate homicide under § 45-5-102(1)(a), MCA, the statute under which Collins is charged. Section 45-5-103(2), MCA. As amended in 2003, the statute provides:

Mitigating circumstances that reduce deliberate homicide to mitigated deliberate homicide are not an element of the reduced crime that the state is required to prove or an affirmative defense that the defendant is required to prove. Neither party has the burden of proof as to mitigating circumstances, but either party may present evidence of mitigation.

Section 45-5-103(3), MCA. The amended statute is consistent with this Court's opinion in Gratzer. There we recognized:

Under the statutory scheme defining homicide in the Montana Criminal Code of 1973, all purposely and knowingly committed homicides are deliberate unless committed under the influence of extreme mental or emotional stress. In defining the offense of mitigated deliberate homicide, the legislature did not create an additional element for the State to prove relating to mental or emotional stress. It simply stated the kind of mitigation that would reduce a deliberate homicide to a mitigated deliberate homicide.

Gratzer, 209 Mont, at 316, 682 P.2d at 145. The mental states applicable to deliberate homicide are purposely, § 45-2-101(65), MCA, and knowingly, § 45-2-101(35), MCA.

         By the express terms of the statute, mitigated deliberate homicide assumes that a defendant acted purposely or knowingly. Whether he did so under mitigating circumstances, within the meaning of § 45-5-103, MCA, is not proof of a particular mental state or lack thereof. Collins therefore argues that § 46-14-205, MCA, does not authorize a psychiatric or psychological evaluation at the behest of the State to examine a defendant's claimed extreme mental or emotional stress at the time of the homicide.

         We rejected a similar argument in Park. We noted our decision in Hess that a defendant's assertion of justifiable use of force "based on battered woman syndrome and her reliance on expert psychological testimony to support her defense put her mental state at issue." Park, ¶ 23. We concluded that mitigated deliberate homicide, which Park had, asserted, also "clearly depends on proof of Park's mental state at the time of the acts alleged." Park, ΒΆ 26. Because Park intended to prove his mental condition with expert psychological or psychiatric testimony, we ...


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.