Man appeals Kingsbury home invasion conviction
A man convicted of breaking into his ex-wife’s Kingsbury condo, after he was found hiding beneath a bed with a shotgun, is appealing his case to the Supreme Court.
On Aug 31, 2016, John Dunham was arrested in his wife’s home, despite the fact that he had a protective order against him.
Dunham and his wife were married for four years. According to court documents, he was both verbally and physically abusive, and at one point strangled her while their children present after she wanted to go to sleep instead of playing Twister.
She said he was a con artist, who married her for her money and abused her to keep the cash flowing to pay his debts.
On Oct. 21, he was arrested again at the Kingsbury home. He was told she was coming back by a maintenance man. Dunham told the man he was flying to the East Coast the day before she’d be arriving. His wife didn’t believe this, and called police to search the house ahead of time.
After deputies searched the house, they finally found him hiding underneath a bed on the bottom floor with a shotgun, ammunition, and a .227 blood alcohol content. He claimed he was there to get some things, but was arrested.
He was released on his own recognizance, but on Oct. 26 he broke into the home again after the locks had been changed by shattering a window. He was charged with home invasion and burglary.
Dunham was convicted at trial on Feb. 15, 2017, of home invasion, but not on the burglary charge.
He was sentenced to 38-96 months in prison on April 14, 2017.
The question brought to the Supreme Court was a linguistic one, regarding whether or not the jury at the time should have been given a definition of the word “reside.”
The defense asked during the trial to have the jury instructed about the definition of the word, but District Court Judge Tod Young disagreed, stating it was a word with a plain definition.
Dunham’s defense attorney Kris Brown argued the case to the panel of Supreme Court Justices, and brought up the difference between what a legal residence vs. a domicile was. Her argument boiled down to, if we can call an RV, a travel trailer, or a tent a place of residence, then the word “residing” doesn’t have just one meaning, and therefore the jury should have been given instructions that outlined the full definition.
Prosecutor Ric Casper said that in a previous jury trial regarding involuntary manslaughter in illegal car racing, the defense in that case asked for the jury to receive a definition of “speed contest.”
In that case, the judge had declined, and the Supreme Court upheld that decision, therefore, this case should be no different due to the precedent.
“If you go up to someone on the street and ask them where they reside, people don’t look at you like you’re from outer space,” said Casper.
The Supreme Court Justices heard the case and will deliberate on it until coming to an opinion.