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State v. Cooper

January 21, 1997

STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
GARY ALLEN COOPER, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of Spokane County. Docket No: 95-1-00411-4. Date filed: 05/30/95. Judge signing: Hon. Kathleen O'Connor.

Authored by Dennis J. Sweeney. Concurring: John A. Schultheis, Ray E. Munson.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweeney

SWEENEY, C.J. On the day he was to be released from the Spokane County Jail, Gary Cooper threw a cup of coffee at Corrections Officer Anita Johnson. He was charged with one count of custodial assault. RCW 9A.36.100(1)(b). *fn1 At a bench trial, the prosecutor asked Officer Johnson whether she had any prior problems with Mr. Cooper. Over objection, she said that a few days before the incident Mr. Cooper screamed at her when she would not give him a clean sheet. She also testified he told other inmates to toss fruit on the floor so she would give it to him. The court allowed the evidence and found Mr. Cooper guilty. He appeals. We affirm.

Discussion

Mr. Cooper contends the trial court erred in admitting Officer Johnson's testimony about the two prior acts. He argues the prejudicial effect of the evidence outweighed its probative value.

Standard of Review. A trial court has broad discretion in admitting evidence. State v. Dennison, 115 Wash. 2d 609, 628, 801 P.2d 193 (1990). We will not overturn that decision absent an abuse of discretion. State v. Gatalski, 40 Wash. App. 601, 610, 699 P.2d 804, review denied, 104 Wash. 2d 1019 (1985). In a bench trial, evidence is more liberally admitted. State v. Melton, 63 Wash. App. 63, 68, 817 P.2d 413 (1991), review denied, 118 Wash. 2d 1016, 827 P.2d 1011 (1992).

Admission of Evidence. ER 404(b) provides:

Evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a person in order to show action in conformity therewith. It may, however, be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.

At trial, Mr. Cooper denied he intended to throw the coffee at Officer Johnson. The evidence was therefore admissible to show his intent and the absence of mistake or accident. The decision to admit the evidence is not manifestly unreasonable, or based on untenable grounds or for untenable reasons. State ex rel. Carroll v. Junker, 79 Wash. 2d 12, 26, 482 P.2d 775 (1971). The court did not err.

The conviction is affirmed.

A majority of the panel has determined that this opinion will not be printed in the Washington Appellate Reports but it will be filed for public record pursuant to RCW 2.06.040.

Sweeney, C.J.

WE CONCUR:

Schultheis, ...


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