A habitual wife-beater from Rawlins must spend no less than three years in prison, despite confusion about how many felonies are in his record, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
Carbon County District Court sentenced Donald Michael Bulisco, 57, in November 2021 to between three and six years in prison for punching his wife in the head and grabbing and pulling her right breast, according to the high court’s ruling.
Prosecutors and the court at Bulisco’s sentencing relied on his criminal history, which shows him abusing former girlfriends and his wife at least five times within 19 years, starting in Oregon and ending up in Wyoming.
Bulisco later asked the court for a sentence reduction and to reduce his prison term to between two and six years. He said he’s had “family hardships,” has undertaken treatment, has a positive prison record and could provide his family with a stable income if released.
He also expressed remorse for his actions, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The case prosecutor argued against Bulisco’s request, saying he has a “propensity to commit domestic violence against multiple long-term partners.”
But the prosecutor at that time told District Court Judge Dawnessa Snyder that Bulisco’s criminal record prior to the 2021 offense only contained misdemeanors, although prosecutors and the court thought Bulisco had a prior felony at his sentencing.
“Further review of the table actually shows (he) was convicted of a misdemeanor and the remaining counts (including the felony) were dismissed,” said the prosecutor.
But the Carbon County Attorney’s office argued that, regardless, Bulisco’s minimum three-year sentence was appropriate because of his “propensity” to abuse women, the ruling says.
Snyder denied Bulisco's request for a sentence reduction. When Bulisco appealed to the state Supreme Court, it sided with the District Court, also denying his request.
Actually, Not Whoops
The Supreme Court reviewed the record and concluded that though prosecutors identified a dismissed felony, Bulisco had another felony conviction on his record for fourth-degree domestic assault.
Oregon authorities charged the fourth-degree domestic assault as a felony, the high court noted, because of his previous assault charge against the same woman, his former girlfriend.
Bulisco did not dispute the accuracy of his pre-sentence investigation report, which contained his criminal history, at his sentencing hearing, the ruling adds.
“(He) argued only that ‘most of’ his criminal history consisted of misdemeanors,” says the ruling. “Nor did he object when the district court noted at sentencing that he had ‘a prior felony domestic violence conviction.’”
The state Supreme Court said Bulisco failed to show that anyone relied on inaccurate information at his sentencing, and the court believes he was already a felon when sentenced.