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State v. Haithcox

Supreme Court of Montana

August 20, 2019

STATE OF MONTANA, Plaintiff and Appellee,
TIMOTHY CRAIG HAITHCOX, Defendant and Appellant.

          Submitted on Briefs: July 17, 2019

          Appeal From: District Court of the First Judicial District, In and For the County of Lewis and Clark, Cause No. ADC 2016-170 Honorable Mike Menahan, Presiding Judge.

          For Appellant: Chad Wright, Appellate Defender, Moses Okeyo, Assistant Appellate Defender, Helena, Montana

          For Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Mardell Ployhar, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana Leo J. Gallagher, Lewis and Clark County Attorney, Melissa Broch, Deputy County Attorney, Helena, Montana



         ¶1 Timothy Craig Haithcox appeals from his jury conviction for aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, tampering with a witness, and misdemeanor assault entered in the First Judicial District Court, Lewis and Clark County. We affirm.

         ¶2 Haithcox raises the following issues for review:

1. Whether evidence involving Haithcox's prior conduct was admitted in violation of the Montana Rules of Evidence.
2. Whether the introduction of racial slurs exploited racial prejudice, resulting in prosecutorial misconduct.
3. Whether the investigators' extraction of the entire contents of Haithcox's cellphone exceeded the scope of the search warrant.


         ¶3 In early 2016, Haithcox introduced himself, under the pseudonym Timothy Smith, to Arleen Hibbard on the dating website Plenty of Fish. At the time, Hibbard lived in East Helena, Montana, and Haithcox was living in Michigan. Their relationship intensified quickly and Haithcox expressed his desire to visit Hibbard in East Helena. Haithcox was complimentary of Hibbard, told her he loved her, and that he wanted to marry her. Haithcox told Hibbard he had worked for Georgia Pacific for twenty-eight years but that his company was relocating, and he would like to use his severance to move to East Helena. Haithcox asked Hibbard to buy him a train ticket from Michigan to Montana, expressing that he would pay her back when he received his severance. When Hibbard purchased the train ticket, he told her that his last name was Smith-Haithcox but that she should just use the name Haithcox for the ticket. Approximately one month after they met online, Hibbard picked Haithcox up in Shelby, Montana, brought him back to her home, and Haithcox began living with her.

         ¶4 While Hibbard worked, Haithcox would use her vehicle, explaining that he needed it in order to network and find employment. Shortly after he arrived, Haithcox told Hibbard he needed to return to Michigan to retrieve his pension and severance pay. When Haithcox assured Hibbard he would pay her back, she purchased him a plane ticket and gave him traveling money.

         ¶5 After Haithcox returned from Michigan, he allegedly started drinking more and became verbally aggressive towards Hibbard. His financial dependence on Hibbard also worsened. Hibbard paid for all household expenses and groceries, as well as Haithcox's phone bill and clothing. On one occasion, when Hibbard received a larger than average phone bill, she discovered that Haithcox had been communicating with a woman in Nova Scotia and numerous other women in Montana. When Hibbard confronted Haithcox about the calls, he explained that he was only networking. Another time, Haithcox told Hibbard that he was going to work an event in Lincoln, Montana, with the wife of a local casino owner. After the woman picked Haithcox up, Hibbard discovered that the woman was not the casino owner's wife. Haithcox did not return that night as promised and when Hibbard confronted him about it the next day, he was dismissive and coarse with her.

         ¶6 On April 7, 2016, Haithcox told Hibbard he was going to the grocery store and would be right back. Despite an alleged agreement between Haithcox and Hibbard that he would no longer drive her car while intoxicated, he drove to a nearby bar. Haithcox called Hibbard from the bar, called her names, and when he wouldn't stop, Hibbard hung up. Hibbard testified this was a reoccurring pattern in their relationship. Haithcox called back, asking for Hibbard's help because some "white boys" were threatening to beat him up. Hibbard walked to the bar, picked Haithcox up, and the two returned home. When they got home, Hibbard recorded a particularly volatile exchange between the two during which Haithcox got "in [Hibbard's] face" and called her vulgar names. In the recording, Haithcox calls Hibbard, who is of Caucasian and Native American heritage, a "police bitch," "white bitch from hell," "gump," and a "grimy ass Indian," among other names. Throughout the recording, Haithcox also yells, "[y]ou're nothing" at Hibbard approximately thirty-five times. At trial, Hibbard testified, "[h]e called me a nigger all the time, a fucking white bitch, a raggedy-ass ho bag bitch, a pink bitch, a cop police bitch, gump."

         ¶7 After the fight, Haithcox apologized to Hibbard and repeatedly told her he loved her and wanted to be with her. On April 11, 2016, while Hibbard was at work, they exchanged text messages and agreed that while they had issues, they loved one another and wanted to be together. Haithcox asked her to bring cash home for him, which she did. When she came home from work, Haithcox had prepared dinner for them and, according to Hibbard, "he was very attentive, very loving, huggy, kissy, supper was ready. [It was] [a]n idyllic situation." Haithcox left around 6:30 p.m. to meet someone but told Hibbard he would not be gone long. However, around 7:00 p.m., Haithcox called Hibbard from a bar, explaining he had lost the money she gave him and needed money to pay his tab. Hibbard brought him money, Haithcox told her ...

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