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State v. Nordholm

Supreme Court of Montana

July 23, 2019

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
v.
WILLIAM JOHN NORDHOLM, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: June 12, 2019

          APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Third Judicial District, In and For the County of Anaconda-Deer Lodge, Cause No. DC 2015-67 Honorable Ray J. Dayton, Presiding Judge

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Kristen L. Peterson, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Micheal S. Wellenstein, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana Ben Krakowka, Deer Lodge County Attorney, Ellen Donohue, Deputy County Attorney, Anaconda, Montana

          OPINION

          Ingrid Gustafson, Justice.

         ¶1 William John Nordholm (Nordholm) appeals following his convictions for felony aggravated kidnapping and misdemeanor partner family member assault (PFMA), after a jury trial in the Third Judicial District Court, Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, in October 2016. We reverse and remand for a new trial.

         ¶2 We restate the issue on appeal as follows:

Did the District Court commit reversible error by allowing the jury unrestricted access to view testimonial videos during its deliberations?

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 Late in the evening on December 19, 2015, and into the early morning hours of December 20, 2015, Nordholm and his girlfriend, Melinda Archuleta (Archuleta), went for a drive, stopping at various bars to drink. Around 2:00 a.m., the pair stopped at the Town Pump on the east side of Anaconda to get something to eat. Nordholm was driving, and both parties were intoxicated. Archuleta entered the Town Pump and purchased snacks. When Archuleta returned to the vehicle, the pair got into an argument over who would drive next. Nordholm was in the driver's seat, and Archuleta attempted to sit down in the driver's seat and have Nordholm move over, so she could drive. The two got in a brief fight, during which Nordholm pulled Archuleta's hair.

         ¶4 Archuleta briefly reentered the Town Pump to get away from Nordholm. Archuleta then returned to the vehicle and the fighting began again. Nordholm hit Archuleta and dragged her on the ground outside the vehicle. During this altercation, Archuleta lost her jacket. Archuleta then entered the Town Pump for a third time. Archuleta informed the convenience store clerk working at the time, Cindy Scheck (Scheck), that she had just been assaulted in the parking lot. While Archuleta was speaking with Scheck, Brenda Krattiter (Krattiter), who was working at the casino in the Town Pump, came over because she heard the commotion outside. Archuleta again stated that she had been assaulted outside. Nordholm then entered the Town Pump and attempted to get Archuleta to leave with him. Krattiter asked Nordholm to leave the store, but he refused. Krattiter went back to the casino and called 911.

         ¶5 Nordholm grabbed Archuleta and walked her backwards out of the Town Pump. Outside, Nordholm again dragged Archuleta on the ground towards the vehicle. Nordholm left Archuleta on the ground and attempted to walk behind the vehicle but slipped on a patch of ice. After Nordholm slipped on the ice, Archuleta got in the vehicle, locked the doors, and drove away. Nordholm then reentered the Town Pump and went to the bathroom. Police officer Kyle Staley (Officer Staley) arrived at the Town Pump shortly after and began speaking to Scheck about the incident. Nordholm walked behind Officer Staley, exited the store, and then tried to climb a fence behind the Town Pump. Police caught Nordholm as he was attempting to climb the fence and detained him. Nordholm was arrested for PFMA that night. Officer Staley spoke with Archuleta about the incident later, and Nordholm was ultimately charged with both aggravated kidnapping and PFMA.

         ¶6 In October 2016, Nordholm was tried before a jury in the District Court. Nordholm admitted guilt to the PFMA charge at trial. After the jury retired for deliberations on October 26, 2016, the District Court held a discussion with counsel for Nordholm and the State regarding what exhibits would be given to the jury. Specifically, the District Court and the parties;discussed the playing of videos admitted as exhibits during trial. A total of eight videos were admitted during trial: State's Exhibit 2, a security video from the Town Pump cash register; State's Exhibit 3, a security video from the Town Pump's entrance; State's Exhibit 4, a security video from the Town Pump's parking lot; State's Exhibit 6, Officer Cody Hanson's body camera video of himself speaking with Nordholm; State's Exhibit 7, Officer Staley's body camera video of himself speaking with Nordholm, Scheck, and Krattiter; State's Exhibit 8, Officer Staley's body camera video of himself speaking with Scheck; State's Exhibit 9, Officer Staley's body camera video of himself speaking with Archuleta; and Defense Exhibit A, a body camera video of Archuleta being interviewed after a different incident.

         ¶7 Counsel for Nordholm suggested that if the jury did make a request to watch any of the videos during their deliberations, that the videos should then be watched in open court. The District Court stated that "I understand your concern, but I'll just, I'm tired so I'll just say all things considered, denied." All the videos were then given to the jury for their ...


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