Pinkney appeals from his misdemeanor harassment conviction
asserting that (1) the State failed to present sufficient
evidence in support of the conviction, (2) the prosecutor
committed misconduct at closing argument by misstating the
law to the jury, and (3) the State failed to support the
corpus delicti of the crime with evidence independent of his
confession. We affirm.
November 7, 2015, Pinkney was living with his ex-wife, Jill
Clark-Pinkney, in her home. The two had dissolved their
marriage in 2008, but Pinkney had moved into Clark-
Pinkney's home in 2013 after he began experiencing issues
with his health. In 2014 Clark-Pinkney encouraged Pinkney to
move from the house.
morning of November 7, Pinkney and Clark-Pinkney began
arguing. Clark-Pinkney asked Pinkney to leave the living room
where he had been sleeping on the couch so that she could do
some work. Pinkney refused to leave the room. When Pinkney
later left the room to let his dog in the house,
Clark-Pinkney sat on the couch where he had been sleeping.
Pinkney became angry, started cursing at Clark-Pinkney, and
went to his bedroom. Pinkney called a Veterans Affairs (VA)
about an hour, Clark-Pinkney believed Pinkney had fallen
asleep, and she turned off the lights in his bedroom. Pinkney
was still speaking to someone at the VA crisis hotline and
yelled, "She just came in here and turned the lights off
on me." Verbatim Report of Proceedings (VRP) (May 18,
2016) at 123. Pinkney believed that Clark-Pinkney knew he was
still speaking on the phone when she turned off his lights.
Clark-Pinkney and Pinkney dispute what happened next.
to Clark-Pinkney, she heard Pinkney tell someone on the
phone, "I am going to kill her. I am going to kill
her." VRP (May 18, 2016) at 125. Pinkney then ran out of
his room, screamed at Clark-Pinkney and yelled, "I am
going to kill you." VRP (May 18, 2016) at 125. Pinkney
also told Clark-Pinkney, "I'm going to punch you in
the face. I am going to put my hands around your neck, and
this time I am going to kill you." VRP (May 18, 2016) at
127. Clark-Pinkney grabbed her phone, called Pinkney's
daughter, and locked herself in a bathroom.
admitted that he had a confrontation with Clark-Pinkney in
the kitchen but denied that he had said anything to her.
Pinkney stated that he had only clenched his fist near
Clark-Pinkney's face and growled at her.
receiving a call from the VA crisis hotline operator, Tacoma
police officers arrived at the home to perform a welfare
check on Pinkney. Pinkney told Officer Leah Mixon that
"he was at his wit's end with his ex-wife" and
that he "was afraid he might kill her." VRP (May
18, 2016) at 88. After Officer Danilo Bambico spoke with
Clark-Pinkney, the officers arrested Pinkney.
State charged Pinkney with one count of felony harassment
based on a threat to kill. The matter proceeded to a jury
trial. At trial, witnesses testified consistently with the
facts as stated above. Additionally, Clark-Pinkney and
Pinkney both testified about a 1998 incident in which Pinkney
had been intoxicated, grabbed Clark-Pinkney by the neck, and
threw her to the ground. The trial court instructed the jury
on the lesser-included offense of misdemeanor harassment
based on a threat of bodily injury.
lesser-included harassment charge, the State argued the
following at closing:
If you don't find felony harassment, you are asked to
consider the crime of harassment. The only difference, and
you can look at the elements, is instead of a threat to kill,
was a threat to cause bodily injury. That act alone, where
the defendant is in that kitchen with his fist in Ms.
Clark-Pinkney's face, is conduct that is a threat that is
putting her in fear of physical harm.
RP (May 19, 2016) at 148-49.
jury did not reach a verdict regarding the felony harassment
charge and returned a verdict finding Pinkney guilty of the
lesser-included harassment charge. The jury also returned a
special verdict finding that Pinkney and Clark-Pinkney were
members of the same family or household ...