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State v. Taylor

November 18, 1996

STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
ROBERT LEE TAYLOR, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of Snohomish County. Docket No: 94-1-01376-3. Date filed: 02/14/95. Judge signing: Hon. Paul D. Hansen.

Petition for Review Denied June 3, 1997,

PER CURIAM. Robert Lee Taylor appeals his conviction of first degree burglary, alleging the prosecutor committed reversible misconduct during closing argument by personally vouching for the credibility of the State's witnesses and by arguing that in order to believe Taylor the jury would necessarily have to conclude the witnesses for the State were lying. When viewed in proper context, however, the comments by the prosecutor were not improper and, even if they were, the alleged misconduct was not so flagrant or ill-intentioned that it could not have been cured with a timely objection and curative instruction. Accordingly, we affirm.

FACTS

At around midnight on June 24, 1994, Marcia Larson found herself stranded in downtown Everett. Ms. Larson eventually accepted a ride home with two men. Taylor was a passenger in the vehicle. The ride to Ms. Larson's residence was uneventful. What happened next is disputed. Taylor was arrested by police outside the residence and charged with one count of first degree burglary.

At Taylor's jury trial, the State called Marcia Larson who testified that Taylor and another man gave her a ride home on the evening of June 24, 1994. She testified that the men dropped her off at her apartment, and that she was surprised when they entered her apartment a few minutes later.

Ms. Larson testified that she did not invite either man into her apartment and that they refused to leave when asked to do so. She testified that Taylor walked back to her bedroom, while the other man dumped the contents of her purse out on the kitchen table and threatened her with a knife. Ms.

Larson stated the men kept telling her that she owed them gas money or something and that they were going to get it from her. Ms. Larson stated she eventually called a neighbor because she was so frightened.

The State also called Jon Owens who testified that he shared an apartment with LaDonna Solomon and that they lived in the same apartment complex as Ms. Larson. Mr. Owens testified that they received a telephone call from Ms. Larson on the night in question and that she sounded very upset. He stated that Ms. Larson told them that two men were in her apartment and that she needed help because they refused to leave. Mr. Owens testified that he heard men's voices in the background during the phone conversation and that the men were saying they wanted money, drugs or sex from Ms. Larson. Mr. Owens testified he walked over to Ms. Larson's apartment and saw Taylor rummaging through her belongings in the bedroom of the apartment. He also stated he observed a knife laying on the floor next to where Ms. Larson was sitting.

LaDonna Soloman testified that she received a call from Ms. Larson and that she sounded scared and upset. Ms. Solomon testified that Ms. Larson told her that she had received a ride home from two men, that the men entered her apartment without permission and that they refused to leave.

The arresting officers testified to the circumstances surrounding the arrest of the two men.

Taylor took the stand in his own defense. Taylor testified that he and another man accompanied Ms. Larson to her apartment. According to Taylor, Ms. Larson invited them into the apartment and was a very gracious host. He stated that Ms. Larson offered to feed them and never told them to leave the apartment. Taylor testified that no one threatened Ms. Larson or asked her for drugs or sexual favors. He further denied ever being in Ms. Larson's bedroom. Taylor testified that, after police arrested him, he heard one of the officers say that they "needed a story." He believed the officer made that statement because the police needed some "fabrication" to justify placing Taylor under arrest. The jury found Taylor guilty as charged. This appeal followed.

DECISION

The sole issue presented on appeal is whether prosecutorial misconduct denied Taylor a fair trial. He challenges the following argument made by the prosecutor in closing:

And there is absolutely no correlation between what these five people said and what this person said. There's an enormous gulf ...


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