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State v. Decker

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

January 7, 2016

STATE OF ARIZONA, Appellee,
v.
CURTIS DEWAYNE DECKER, Appellant

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County. No. CR2012-135551-001. The Honorable Pamela S. Gates, Judge.

Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix, By Terry M. Crist, Counsel for Appellee.

Maricopa County Office of the Legal Advocate, Phoenix, By Kerri L. Chamberlin, Counsel for Appellant.

Judge Kent E. Cattani delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen and Judge John C. Gemmill joined.

OPINION

Page 955

Kent E. Cattani, Judge

[¶1] In this case we address whether firing a bullet into a residence constitutes " entry" for purposes of establishing first-degree burglary. Given Arizona's expansive statutory definition of entry, and in light of the property, possessory, and privacy interests that the offense of burglary is intended to protect, we conclude that a projectile intruding into a protected space satisfies the entry requirement for burglary. We further address and reject a claim regarding the superior court's denial of Batson [1] challenges to the State's peremptory strikes of two potential jurors. Accordingly, and for reasons that follow, we affirm Curtis Dewayne Decker's convictions of first-degree murder and burglary.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

[¶2] The victim lived with his girlfriend and her mother, Judy, in Judy's apartment. Decker was friends with Judy and visited her regularly. One day, Decker and the victim fought in Judy's apartment. After pushing each other and wrestling, the victim drew a knife and cut Decker's face. Decker told the victim to step outside to " finish this," but the victim stayed inside and Decker rode away on a bicycle.

[¶3] About 20 minutes later, Decker returned with two or three people in a car. They all got out of the car, and Decker walked to Judy's front door. The apartment manager--looking on from her own apartment--saw Judy standing beside the open door as Decker stood in the doorway, drew a gun, and quickly fired three shots. Decker then laughed, put the gun in his pocket, and left in the car. The victim, who was inside Judy's apartment, died from two close-range gunshot wounds to the chest. Judy later told the victim's daughter that she had seen Decker " in the doorway" and that Decker had shot the victim.

[¶4] After the apartment manager identified Decker from a photographic lineup, Decker was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree burglary. After an initial mistrial due to a hung jury, Decker was convicted as charged, with the jury unanimously finding both premeditated and felony murder. Decker was sentenced to concurrent terms of life in prison with the possibility of release after 25 years for the murder conviction and 10.5 years for the burglary conviction, and he timely appealed. We have jurisdiction under Arizona Revised Statutes (" A.R.S." ) § 13-4033.[2]

DISCUSSION

I. Batson Challenges.

[¶5] Decker argues that the superior court erred by denying his Batson challenges to the State's peremptory ...


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