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State v. Haskie

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

July 19, 2016

MARK HASKIE, JR., Appellant.

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Coconino County No. S0300CR201401006 The Honorable Jacqueline Hatch, Judge

          Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Robert A. Walsh Counsel for Appellee

          Coconino County Public Defender's Office, Flagstaff By Brad Bransky Counsel for Appellant

          Judge Patricia A. Orozco delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen and Judge Kenton D. Jones joined.


          OROZCO, Judge.

         ¶1 Mark Haskie, Jr. (Defendant) appeals his convictions and sentences for two counts of aggravated assault - domestic violence, five counts of aggravated domestic violence, two counts of influencing a witness, and one count of kidnapping. For the following reasons, we affirm.


         ¶2 Officer Jordheim of the Flagstaff Police Department responded to a 911 call regarding domestic violence at a motel. At the motel, Officer Jordheim met a female, P.J., whose "eyes were swollen, pretty well bruised [with] various bruises and abrasions on her body and neck." P.J. told Officer Jordheim that Defendant caused her injuries after going through her cell phone and threatening "I told you I would kill you if you cheated on me."

         ¶3 That same day, P.J. hand-wrote a statement at Officer Jordheim's invitation, explaining

[Defendant] . . . beat me so bad in the face and other places in my body. He strangled me with a belt and also my [d]uffle bag [strap].... He hit me so hard he loosen[ed] my front tooth. . . . When I was being strangled I couldn't breath[e] at all. . . . And this time I thought I was going to die and he kept saying why don't you just die.

         Police also collected physical evidence from the motel room where P.J. and Defendant had been staying, including a belt, luggage strap, bloodied pillows and items belonging to Defendant.

         ¶4 Defendant was arrested nearly a year later. Shortly after the arrest, P.J. wrote two letters to the prosecutor recanting her earlier statement to police. In those letters, P.J. explained that she was drinking heavily at the time and suggested that her injuries occurred in a bar fight that she could not remember. She said she lied to police and took "full responsibility for [her] actions against [Defendant.]" She further stated that Defendant was innocent, and she would not testify against him because the charges were false.

         ¶5 Before trial, the State filed a motion in limine asking the court to admit testimony by Dr. Ferraro, its expert witness on domestic violence. The State intended to call Dr. Ferraro as a "cold" expert on domestic violence to help the jury understand why "[P.J. had] continued her relationship with the defendant, [had] given conflicting statements while the case has been pending, and [was] reluctant to testify[.]" Defendant objected to Dr. Ferraro's testimony, arguing it would constitute improper profile evidence and vouching. In reply, the State agreed to limit Dr. Ferraro's testimony to only "the victim's behaviors and the common reactions and coping strategies victims use in response to a violent incident" that might be misunderstood by a jury. The State also proposed a list of questions it intended to ask Dr. Ferraro at trial. Following a hearing, the trial court permitted Dr. Ferraro's testimony, but limited the examination to the State's proposed questions.

         ¶6 During its opening statement at trial, the State mentioned Dr. Ferraro's testimony, stating "you're going to hear from Dr. Kathleen Ferraro, who is an expert in domestic violence . . . [and she'll] tell you that it's not unusual for a victim to later change their story or to even help make a case go away."

         ¶7 At trial, Officer Jordheim testified about responding to the 911 call, and the State presented photos of the motel room, items found in the motel room and P.J.'s injuries. The State also presented recorded phone calls Defendant made from jail, including to P.J. before she recanted. In these conversations, Defendant dictated to P.J. an exculpatory story, and asked P.J. and other family members to write statements corroborating the story. Defendant also apologized to P.J., told her she was the only person that could get him out of jail and promised to marry her when he was released. Defendant suggested that if P.J. did not cooperate with police, the charges against him would be dropped. During one call, P.J. said, "well maybe you shouldn't have tried to kill me. . . . You know exactly what you did."

         ¶8 Dr. Ferraro testified that she was a "cold or blind" expert, meaning she had not reviewed any of the police reports in the case and was not going to testify about any of the particulars of the events in the case. The prosecutor asked a series of questions regarding characteristics of domestic violence victims. When asked, "is it unusual for someone who has been hurt by an intimate partner to return to that relationship [, ]" Dr. Ferraro responded, "[i]t's not unusual. It is very common." She continued, "[t]here are many reasons [why, ] and they vary by the individual, of course, and the type of relationship." Dr. Ferraro explained that some victims of domestic violence return to their abusers out of fear, retaliation, or threats. Other victims do not leave their abusers because of pressure from extended family or the victim's own shame. Dr. Ferraro further testified that chemical dependency and alcohol abuse complicate the decision about staying in an abusive relationship.

         ¶9 The prosecutor then asked "do victims ever tend to blame themselves for what happened?" Dr. Ferraro responded:

Yes. That's a very common response of victims of domestic ...

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