People v. Beyer

In People v. Beyer, 768 P.2d 746 (Colo. Ct. App. 1988), the court was called upon to interpret a statute that required the imposition of consecutive sentences for persons convicted of "two separate crimes of violence arising out of the same incident. . . ." Id. at 747. David Beyer was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, and a second-degree assault. Id. at 746. The question presented was whether each of the convictions arose out of the same incident. The Beyer court summarized the pertinent evidence as follows: The charges against defendant arose from a series of events that began in an automotive repair shop in Colorado Springs. Ronald Aylesworth, accompanied by his friend Martin Newville, drove to the shop to settle a dispute over recent repairs made on Aylesworth's truck with Bradley Mitchell, the shop operator and codefendant here. Upon their arrival, Aylesworth and Newville were taken to the back of the shop where they found themselves surrounded by four armed men, including defendant and Mitchell. The victims were instructed to lie down on the floor, and when Aylesworth failed to comply defendant shot him. Both victims were then bound and placed in the back seat of Aylesworth's truck. Defendant drove the truck to a remote mountainous area while Mitchell sat in the front passenger seat holding a gun. The victims were then ordered out of the truck, at which time Aylesworth collapsed as a result of his injuries. With the assistance of Newville, defendant began carrying Aylesworth down the mountain slope into a ravine while Mitchell held his own gun and defendant's gun. At some point the codefendants alternated and Mitchell carried Aylesworth while defendant held the guns. Newville was tied to a tree at the bottom of the ravine and both victims were abandoned. Id. at 747. After a bench trial, the trial judge concluded that Beyer used or possessed and threatened the use of a gun in committing the attempted murder of Aylesworth (by abandoning Aylesworth while he was in a weakened condition) and three other offenses (two counts of kidnapping and one count charging second-degree assault). Id. The trial court ruled that, because all the crimes arose out of the same incident, Beyer was subject to mandatory consecutive sentences. Id. On appeal, Beyer argued: The word "incident" as used in this statutory scheme is a term of limitation intended by the General Assembly to mean a single occurrence rather than a broader range of events. . . . Because the shooting of Aylesworth, the transporting of the victims to the mountains, and the abandonment were separate incidents as opposed to a single incident, the statute is inapplicable to the facts of this case. Id. The Beyer court disagreed and explained: Contrary to defendant's contention, the word "incident" is not limited in meaning to a separate unit of experience, but is defined also as "an occurrence . . . . taking place as part of a larger continuum" or "a happening or related group of happenings" subordinate to a main plot. Webster's Third New International Dictionary 1142. Hence, an incident may logically include a series of acts committed in close proximity or a chain of events forming a part of a schematic whole. We therefore conclude the meaning of the term "incident" as used in the statute is sufficiently broad to encompass the related crimes committed here as a single incident for sentencing purposes. Id. at 747-48.