The Appellate Group

State v. Peterson

State v. Peterson, 2020 UT App 47 (Mortensen, J.)


A defendant drove his wife in his car and hit her. The wife exited the car when it slowed, but she got back in the car because she wanted to avoid law enforcement and she believed the defendant would try to get her back in the car. The defendant continued to hit her during the drive, held her in the car when she threatened to jump out on the freeway, stopped at a park, and continued hitting her at a park. The defendant was convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping. The Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions, holding:

  • Sufficient evidence supported the defendant’s conviction for aggravated kidnapping. When the wife exited the car when it slowed, her choices among the defendant’s ultimatums did not indicate that she re-entered the car volitionally. A reasonable jury could have also found that the defendant detained or restrained the wife in the car when he held her to prevent her from jumping out and when he forced her around the park.
  • Trial counsel was not ineffective when she did not seek to merge the aggravated assault conviction into the aggravated kidnapping conviction. Here, evidence of materially different acts exist to support a jury’s conclusion that the defendant was guilty of both aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping.

Read the full court opinion