The Appellate Group

State v. Nelson

State v. Nelson, 2021 UT App 26 (Christiansen Forster, J.)


The defendant stole an individual’s car. At trial, the State played a portion of the defendant’s police interview where he said he that what happened was the “same thing” as another incident the defendant was involved in. The district court also refused to give the lesser-included instruction of theft. The jury convicted the defendant of aggravated robbery. The Utah Court of Appeals affirmed, holding:

  • Although the defendant argued that his attorney was ineffective for not ensuring that the “same thing” comment was excised from the police interview played at trial, he could not show prejudice because the evidence against him was overwhelming. 
  • The district court did not err in not giving the lesser-included instruction on theft because there was no rational basis in the evidence for the jury to convict the defendant of theft but acquit him of aggravated robbery. The defendant never asserted that he took the car without force, and no other evidence supporting that contention was presented at trial.

Read the full court opinion