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State v. Curtis

Supreme Court of Maine

June 20, 2019


          Argued: May 16, 2019

          Jeffrey C. Toothaker, Esq. (orally), Ellsworth, for appellant Timothy D. Curtis

          Marianne Lynch, District Attorney, and Mark A. Rucci, Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District V, Bangor, for appellee State of Maine


          ALEXANDER, J.

         [¶1] Timothy D. Curtis appeals from a judgment of conviction entered by the trial court (Piscataquis County, Anderson /.) after a jury found him guilty of theft by unauthorized taking of a firearm (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 353(1)(B)(2) (2018), domestic violence criminal threatening (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 209-A(1)(A) (2018), domestic violence criminal threating with a dangerous weapon (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. §§ 209-A(1)(A), 1252(4) (2018), domestic violence assault (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 207-A(1)(A) (2018), and unlawful possession of scheduled drugs (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. § 1107-A(1)(C) (2018).[1] Curtis challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and an evidentiary ruling made by the trial court.[2] We affirm the judgment.

         I. CASE HISTORY

         [¶2] Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the jury could have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt. See State v. Nobles, 2018 ME 26, ¶ 2, 179 A.3d 910.

         [¶3] On December 26, 2017, Curtis and a friend spent the day bobcat hunting in central Maine. When the friend arrived home that evening, he realized that he could not find the .22 caliber pistol he had taken with him on the trip that day. The following day, the friend and Curtis returned to the locations where they had previously hunted to look for the gun in the snow, but were unable to locate it. Curtis helped the friend look for the gun on several subsequent occasions, but they could not find it, even with a metal detector. The friend put up signs around the general area where they had been hunting seeking the lost gun and offering a reward for its recovery.

         [¶4] At the time of the hunting trip, Curtis lived with his girlfriend and her two sons at a house in Sangerville. On January 8, 2018, while Curtis and the girlfriend were having an argument, the girlfriend's younger son-who was seventeen at the time-came out of his bedroom to check on his mother. Curtis was just a few feet away from the younger son and, upon seeing him, Curtis "puffed up," stepped toward the boy, and angrily inquired "do you want some of this?" This frightened the younger son and prompted him to retreat to the doorway of his bedroom.

         [¶5] After the incident, the girlfriend told Curtis that she wanted him to leave the house and no longer wanted to be in a relationship with him. The girlfriend spent that night in the younger son's bedroom because she did not want to be around Curtis and was concerned about the younger son's safety after Curtis confronted him. Curtis hollered outside the door of the younger son's bedroom, "[W]hat kind of mother are you, sleeping with your son? He's 16, 17. And he must be a f-gg-t."

         [¶6] The following morning, Curtis got up early and left to go hunting with his friend. The girlfriend went to a friend's house because she needed to talk with someone. While at her friend's house that afternoon, the girlfriend received a series of threatening text messages from Curtis, such as "U better call me b4 u regret it," and "Ur pissin off the wrong bull." Curtis also called her and angrily demanded that she come home immediately.

         [¶7] Concerned for the safety of her sons, the girlfriend returned to the house and found Curtis-in a bout of apparent mania-sweeping and mopping the floors. The girlfriend knew that Curtis used Suboxone without a prescription and would act "very manic" if he took too much of the drug. The girlfriend and her sons avoided interacting with Curtis that evening, but when she attempted to sleep in the younger son's bedroom again, Curtis insisted that she sleep with him. The girlfriend agreed out of a desire to avoid further conflict.

         [¶8] Once they were in their bedroom, Curtis would not let the girlfriend sleep; he kept asking her why she was treating him that way, calling her names like "dumb c--t," and begging her to have sex with him. When the girlfriend tried to leave the room, Curtis grabbed her by the hair and shook her head aggressively. He also grabbed her by the back of the neck and, at a different moment, held her down against the bed while grasping the front of her neck. Every time he hurt her, he would apologize and then revert to calling her names and demanding sex.

         [¶9] Curtis continued to act irrationally throughout the night. He told the girlfriend at one point that he was going to kill her and everyone in the house. He also took out a gun from underneath the mattress-a pistol the girlfriend had never seen before-and cocked it. Terrified, the girlfriend asked him if he was going to kill her and he said "no, I'm not going to kill you." He put the gun back under the mattress and resumed berating her. Eventually, Curtis took the gun out again, waved it around, and alternately pointed it at himself and the girlfriend. After he put the gun away, she remained with him because she "just wanted the night over with," and "knew that he would not give up." When Curtis fell asleep, the girlfriend lay awake next to him, too scared to leave the room; she prayed "that he would leave in the morning to go hunting."

         [¶10] On the morning of January 10, 2018, Curtis's friend arrived at the house at approximately 7:00 a.m. to pick up Curtis for another hunting trip. After waiting to make sure Curtis was really gone, the girlfriend came out of the bedroom and went downstairs. Still shaken and frightened that Curtis might return, the girlfriend told her older son-who was eighteen-what had happened during the ...

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