conviction is dismissed by
Express Staff Writer
District Court judge last week dismissed a burglary conviction against
Gail J. High, originally accused of the attempted murder of a Ketchum
police officer’s wife, but let stand a felony aggravated assault
scheduled to be sentenced for that crime on March 18.
trial in mid December, the prosecution had contended that High, 39, had
taken a loaded pistol to the Hulen Meadows home of Dave and Colleen
Kassner on the night of Dec. 16, 2000, with the intention of shooting Mrs.
Kassner, in retaliation for a DUI citation Sgt. Kassner had given her
earlier that evening.
found High not guilty of that charge, apparently accepting a defense
contention that High had gone to the house to commit suicide there.
However, the jury convicted her of aggravated assault in connection with a
struggle she had with the Kassners’ renter, John Straka, who grabbed her
when he saw the pistol shortly after he met her at the door. A shot was
fired during the struggle.
also found High guilty of burglary. In Idaho, a person is guilty of
burglary when he or she enters a building with the intent to commit a
felony or theft inside.
Jan. 11 hearing on High’s motions for acquittal or for a new trial on
the two convictions, her attorney, Keith Roark, told the court that there
was no logical way to tie the burglary conviction to either the attempted
murder charge or the aggravated assault conviction.
decision released Jan. 23, Judge James May agreed with Roark’s
assessment. In order to sustain a burglary conviction once High was found
not guilty of attempted murder, May reasoned, "(t)he court must
assume that the jury found that the defendant entered the Kassners’
residence with the intent to commit an aggravated assault on the person of
court finds that the evidence is insufficient to allow a reasonable person
to conclude that the defendant intended to commit an aggravated assault
when she crossed the threshold of the Kassners’ residence."
deems a person to be guilty of aggravated assault if he or she attempts to
injure someone or threatens to injure someone with the apparent ability to
of High’s motion to dismiss her conviction on that crime, Roark told the
court that there had been no evidence presented that High had attempted to
shoot Straka or that he had felt threatened by her.
however, concluded that the jury could have reasonably found High guilty
based on either definition of the crime.
applying the assault elements to the facts at hand, the defendant pulled
out a loaded gun in the Kassners’ residence and when John Straka grabbed
her to prevent her from using the gun, she struggled to push the gun
towards him…In addition, the evidence shows that once the defendant was
on her back she squeezed the trigger," May stated.
faces a trial Thursday on her DUI charge.