The Appellate Group

State v. Carrera

State v. Carrera, 2022 UT App 100 (Harris, J., for Parts I and III; Hagen, J., for Part II)


The jury convicted Defendant of kidnapping, forcible sodomy, and several other crimes. The Utah Court of Appeals vacated in part and affirmed in part, holding:

  • The State conceded that there was one count of forcible sodomy that was not supported by any evidence. 
  • The victim’s affirmation that she felt the defendant’s penis as he was trying to force it into her was sufficient evidence to support a sodomy conviction.
  • Trial counsel was ineffective when he allowed an actually biased juror—a juror who said she trusted a law enforcement witness because of a family relationship—to sit on the jury.
  • Trial counsel performed deficiently when he played a portion of the victim’s police interview that mentioned Defendant’s prior bad acts that had already been deemed inadmissible by the district court. 
  • Trial counsel performed deficiently when he did not object to testimony from a doctor that there was nothing in his exam of the victim that led him to believe that the victim was not telling the truth. 
  • Trial counsel performed deficiently when counsel himself referred to the victim as “victim.”
  • Dissent: A cut on the victim’s neck did not constitute “serious bodily injury” because it was very small and did not create a substantial risk of death. Thus, the dissenting judge would have vacated the serious bodily injury sentencing enhancement on the kidnapping conviction.

Read the full court opinion