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State v. LeVassuer

State v. LeVassuer, 2020 UT App 118 (Pohlman, J.)

Criminal

The defendant crashed his car making a drifting video. Thereafter, in the presence of Friend, he called his insurance company to change his policy. He waited a few minutes, then called the police to report the accident. He told the police he swerved to avoid hitting a deer. Friend lied to police and told police she was following the defendant when that happened. Within two hours of changing his policy, the defendant reported his accident to the company. It was flagged as suspicious. Friend told an insurance fraud investigator that Friend had lied about the specifics of the events and had increased his insurance after the accident. A jury convicted him of insurance fraud. He appeals, arguing that insufficient evidence supports the verdict. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • The evidence was sufficient to support a conviction of second-degree-felony insurance fraud. The district court did not abuse its discretion when it declined to find Friend’s testimony inherently improbable and disregard it on that basis. Friend’s testimony was inconsistent, but it was not inherently improbable. Friend testified that she initially lied to officers at the defendant’s request. Her decision to come clean does not render her testimony either apparently false or physically impossible. Credibility questions are best left to the jury. And other evidence corroborated Friend’s testimony. Because Friend’s testimony stands, some evidence exists from which a jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly provided false or fraudulent information to the insurance company regarding the timing and specifics of the crash. The jury’s verdict was not based on speculation.

Read the full court opinion

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