State v. Wynne

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State v. Wynne

Case Number
A-15-0840
Call Date
October 12, 2016
Case Time
9:30 AM
Case Summary

A-15-0840, State of Nebraska v. Mitchell Q. Wynne (Appellant)

District Court for Douglas County, District Judge Leigh A. Retelsdorf

Attorney for Appellant: Thomas C. Riley (Douglas County Public Defender's Office)

Attorney for Appellee: Melissa R. Vincent (Attorney General's Office)

Criminal Action: First degree murder and use of a deadly weapon (firearm) to commit a felony

Action taken by the Trial Court: Following a jury trial, Wynne was convicted of first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon (firearm) to commit a felony. The trial court sentenced Wynne to 40 to 100 years' imprisonment for first degree murder and to a consecutive sentence of 10 to 20 years' imprisonment for use of a deadly weapon (firearm) to commit a felony. The court gave Wynne 544 days of credit for time served.

Assignments of Error on Appeal: Did the trial court err in admitting the content of certain text messages into evidence and in denying Wynne's motion for mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct during the State's closing argument? Was the evidence was sufficient to sustain Wynne's conviction for first degree murder on either of the State's alternate theories: felony murder in the commission or attempt to commit a robbery or intentional killing with premeditation and deliberation?

Extended Case Summary (for Educational Purposes):
A-15-0840, State of Nebraska v. Mitchell Q. Wynne (Appellant)

Original Trial Court: District Court for Douglas County, District Judge Leigh A. Retelsdorf

Background: Darnell Haynes was shot in the head and killed in a parking lot. A nearby surveillance camera showed two men involved in the shooting who then ran from the parking lot. An eyewitness saw a black man with braids standing by the passenger window of Haynes' vehicle when two shots were fired. The man fell behind the car and then ran from the scene. Police found clumps of marijuana on Haynes' clothes and both inside and outside the vehicle. They recovered 11 identifiable prints as well as Haynes' cell phone from the vehicle. One of the prints recovered was attributed to Wynne. Data extracted from Haynes' cell phone showed he had communicated on the day of his death with a cell phone number registered to Wynne's father. The cell phone with this number was used by Wynne during the summer in question and is referred to in this summary as Wynne's cell phone. Neither Wynne's cell phone nor the gun used to kill Haynes were ever recovered.

Wynne was arrested and charged with first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon (firearm) to commit a felony. A jury trial was held, and the State sought to offer records of phone calls and text messages exchanged by the two cell phones, including the specific content of certain text messages. These text messages showed that whoever was using Wynne's cell phone at the time agreed to purchase marijuana from Haynes shortly before the shooting. Wynne objected to these records arguing that they had not been properly authenticated and were inadmissible hearsay. The district court overruled the objections as to the phone call record but sustained the objections as to the text message record. After further argument, the court reversed its ruling and admitted the text message record, including the content of the text messages. Following the State's closing argument, Wynne moved for a mistrial based on alleged prosecutorial conduct in connection with the prosecutor's statements about another phone number shown in various exhibits admitted at trial. The court overruled this motion.

The jury found Wynne guilty of first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon (firearm) to commit a felony. The district court sentenced Wynne to 40 to 100 years' imprisonment for first degree murder and to a consecutive sentence of 10 to 20 years' imprisonment for use of a deadly weapon (firearm) to commit a felony.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals will consider the following issues raised by Wynne in his appellate brief:

1. Did the district court err in admitting the content of the text messages into evidence?

2 Did the district court err in denying Wynne's motion for mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct during the State's closing argument?

3. Was the evidence sufficient to support Wynne's conviction for first degree murder on either of the State's alternate theories: felony murder in the commission or attempt to commit a robbery or intentional killing with premeditation and deliberation?

Attorneys: Thomas C. Riley (Douglas County Public Defender's Office) (for appellant Wynne); Melissa R. Vincent (Attorney General's Office) (for the State)

Case Location
Doane University
Panel Text
Moore, Chief Judge, Pirtle, Judge, and McCormack, Justice, Retired