Jury convicts Utah man of thefts

Posted 10/7/10

The video was shown to a Park County jury during a two-day trial last week. The 12-member panel convicted Large of two counts of burglary, which are felonies, and misdemeanor counts of failing to notify the property owner and police after a serious …

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Jury convicts Utah man of thefts


As he sat in the back of a Powell police squad car on Sept. 29, 2009, Jeramie J.E. Large swore at his arresting officers and told them “you ain't got a case.”“Let's show it to the jury,” Large said, knowing he was being videotaped. “Let's let the jury decide. Thank God for the jury.”

The video was shown to a Park County jury during a two-day trial last week. The 12-member panel convicted Large of two counts of burglary, which are felonies, and misdemeanor counts of failing to notify the property owner and police after a serious vehicle crash.

The convictions stem from Large's theft and subsequent crash of a van on East Jefferson Street, and his theft of a spotting scope from another Powell resident's vehicle.

The jury acquitted Large of a count of felony larceny and was unable to reach a verdict on a misdemeanor count of interference with a peace officer.

Large, who represented himself in the case, had unsuccesfully advanced a theory that Powell police, the woman whose car was stolen and the family of a man he fought with earlier in the day, all conspired to frame him for the crimes.

He faces up to just over 20 years in prison and more than $20,000 in fines at sentencing. Pending that hearing, the 34-year-old Large continues to be incarerated at the Park County Detention Center, where he has been held since his arrest more than a year ago.

On the night of Sept. 29, 2009, Annie Nading had left her 1997 Dodge Caravan running on Queen's Boulevard as she dropped by her sister's house to quickly pick up a couple items. Moments after she ran in, Nading watched her Dodge make a U-turn and took off.

Just a moment or two later, just before 10:30 p.m., police received two reports — one of the theft of Nading's van and a separate report that a van had just crashed about two and half blocks away from the residence.

The wreck caused around $2,900 worth of damage to Nading's vehicle — totaling it — and $6,800 worth of damage to the GMC quarter-ton pickup it hit, trial witnesses said.

“It was horrible,” testified Nading, noting that one of the van's tires had been sheared from its axle in the crash.

About a half-an-hour after the crash, Officer Matt Danzer spotted a man on Madison Street that roughly matched the description of the driver seen fleeing the van. The individual took off running and sprinted around a vacant house. Danzer searched the area and heard some movement in nearby bushes, but was unable to locate anyone, he testified. (The next day, Large's backpack would be found in the alley near the house, containing Large's belongings and a spotting scope stolen from another Powell resident's vehicle.)

About five minutes after Danzer reported seeing the man run behind the East Madison Street home, Officer Kirk Chapman spotted a man — later identified as Large — running across North Street near the Big Horn Co-Op.

With Large bloodied and refusing to answer questions about his injuries, Chapman said he attempted to take the struggling man into custody.

Large contended that sometime in this time frame, Chapman and the other responding officers assaulted him, smashing him up against the hood of the patrol car.

Chapman and Officer Chad Miner, however, testified that Large had repeatedly smashed his own face against the hood in an apparent show for the patrol car's camera. However, that excerpt was not caught on the video, as the camera hadn't started rolling.

Deputy Park County Attorney Tim Blatt, who prosecuted the case, told the jury Large's facial injuries were consistent with a serious motor vehicle crash.

Large was unfailingly polite during the Monday-Tuesday trial, thanking officers and other witnesses for testifying, but he appeared far different on the video of him in custody, spewing profanities at the same officers.

“So I'm guilty for crossing the f—king street?” Large asks in one portion of the roughly half-hour clip. “You guys are dumb f—ks. You're f—ked.”

He told the officers he would be filing a lawsuit against them for “assaulting” him and for supposedly planting evidence.

Large added that his attorney was going to “chew you up and spit you the f—k out.”

He ultimately represented himself in the criminal case after having what he called “conflicts” with three different public defenders assigned to represent him.

Blatt said that in the video of the in-custody Large, he never denies stealing the car.

“Did he ever once claim his innocence?” Blatt asked in his closing arguments.

“What he suggests in the video is, ‘You don't have enough evidence to convict me',” Blatt said.

Law enforcement officials ultimately did have enough evidence to convict.

The same brands of cigarettes reported missing from the van were found in Large's pockets, but perhaps the most damning testimony came from Scott McWilliams, a forensic analyst with the Wyoming State Crime Lab and an expert in DNA analysis.

McWilliams testified that DNA found in blood taken from the door of the wrecked van and a bloodied cigarette matched that of Large's.

McWilliams said the odds of that particular strain of DNA occurring were about in one in 7.6 quadrillion.

Given the earth's roughly 6.87 billion member population, “it would take a million worlds to pick one person out” who had that DNA, McWilliams said.

Large first claimed that officers had planted his blood on the van, but the officers and Nading testified the blood was on the van before Large was arrested.

Large later said he had actually hit his head on the van earlier in the day during a fight.

“I can't object to the fact that all the evidence points in my direction,” Large said in his closing argument, adding, “Yes, I was somewhat involved with this, but it's not quite the way they're putting it out to be.”

During his cross examinations and testimony, he suggested that one of his former roomates had stolen the cigarettes, and a different man, for unexplained reasons, had stolen the spotting scope and placed it in his backpack.

Large's defense essentially hinged on the jury believing he was only the one telling the truth.

As he put it in his closing argument, “Is Large the deceiver or is the other side?”

Large called only himself as a witness. His testimony differed from that of the state's witnesses on nearly every single point of fact.

When Clerk of District Court Joyce Boyer read the jury's finding of not guilty on the larceny count, Large gave an appreciative nod to the panel, but otherwise showed little emotion as the verdicts were read.

Jurors apparently agreed with Large's argument that the stolen van was not worth more than $1,000 — a condition necessary for it to be felony larceny.

Nading said she had purchased the Dodge Caravan for $800 about seven months prior to the crash and put in a new transmission valued at roughly $1,850.

After the trial, a Cody juror who asked only her first name be used said the panel “didn't feel like it was a $1,000 vehicle.”

However, juror Krista said the jury did not buy Large's “conspiracy theory” that he was framed.

“With the blood evidence, we pretty much knew he had taken it (the van),” Krista said.

Eight were willing to convict on the count of police interference, while the other four jurors, including Krista, were unsure there was enough evidence to show Large interfered, she said.

Blatt said he likely would not re-file the intereference charge, a misdemeanor.

“I think we got the two most important ones,” Blatt said of the burglary convictions.

Following the reading of the jury's verdict, Large told Judge Cranfill he was ready to be sentenced immediately.

“I'm willing to do all the time that you recommend,” Large said.

Cranfill, however, said he wanted a pre-sentence investigation prepared by the state probation and parole board before sentencing Large.

Blatt said he plans to ask for a “lengthy” prison sentence. In earlier hearings, Blatt said Large has an extensive criminal history, including felonies.

A defendant's past criminal activity is generally not allowed to be mentioned during a trial, and it was not mentioned last week.

Large, from the Salt Lake City area, initially came to Powell in June 2009 and was arrested within hours for DWUI and having arrived in a stolen vehicle.

Large had been out of the Park County jail for four days when he was arrested on the burglary and larceny charges.