The Wyoming Supreme Court has affirmed Teton County District Court’s decision in Mark Byerly’s domestic assault case.
Justices filed their 41-page order Friday, mostly concluding that Byerly’s arguments lacked basis. Byerly appealed his felony convictions to the Wyoming Supreme Court, whose justices found no errors in the district court’s previous findings.
It was the convicted felon’s last attempt to get a new trial.
In 2017 a jury found Byerly guilty of aggravated assault, domestic battery, strangulation, intimidating a witness and two counts of violating a protection order. The Teton County jury heard several days of witness testimony and was shown photos and text messages as evidence.
Byerly spent a year in Teton County Jail and remains on supervised probation.
The Jackson man was denied a new trial last fall after claiming ineffective trial counsel.
In his appeal, filed by his appellate counsel Chris Lundberg, Byerly argued the prosecution withheld evidence that would have been favorable to him during trial.
“For whatever reason, the thumb drive was not in the files that were given to the special prosecutor, and he therefore did not know of it,” justices wrote in the order. “It does not follow, however, that trial counsel either herself or through her investigator did not receive the downloads before the special prosecutor’s appointment, and the record shows that the defense team in fact had and reviewed the downloads.”
Byerly made other arguments in his appeal related to the victim’s testimony and his trial lawyer not asking for acquittal.
“Instead of accepting the State’s evidence as true, including all of [victim’s] testimony, and giving it all logical and reasonable inferences, as the district court would have done had it ruled on such a motion, he dissects the State’s evidence, points to inconsistencies, and argues against the credibility of the evidence,” the order wrote. “Because he has not applied the standard that would have governed a motion for judgment of acquittal, he has not shown any deficiency in trial counsel’s decision not to file the motion.”
Byerly argued that his trial lawyer should have made an attempt to correct “false testimony,” but justices said that in his argument he didn’t prove the testimony was false.
Byerly was accused of abusing the same woman over several years. He faced 12 charges and was convicted of six. Prosecutors said Byerly was a jealous boyfriend who couldn’t control his drunken rages, which often involved physical abuse.
Byerly also claimed prosecutorial misconduct against Austin Dunlap, who tried the case specially for the Teton County Prosecutor’s Office.
In the appeal, Byerly’s attorney Lundberg argues that Dunlap thanking the victim for her candor during testimony was improper.
While justices agreed that a prosecutor shouldn’t speak to the credibility of a witness, they didn’t find the comment egregious enough to categorize it as misconduct.
“The prosecutor’s statement did not create an overt risk that the jury would trust the prosecutor’s judgment rather than its own assessment of the evidence and the victim’s credibility,” justices wrote. “Accordingly, it cannot be said that the prosecutor violated the vouching rule in any clear and obvious way.”
Dunlap was happy with the Wyoming Supreme Court’s overall affirmation.
“I am very pleased and satisfied with the outcome,” Dunlap told the News&Guide. “As a prosecutor I think the Supreme Court was correct in their decisions.”