A Lincoln County judge has declined to dismiss a woman’s murder charge as self-defense.
But Monique Huia Sullivan still can argue before a jury at her trial that she acted in self-defense when she stabbed her boyfriend Andrew Jacob Moore to death Feb. 20 in a camper trailer on a Lincoln County sheep ranch.
Lincoln County District Court Judge Joseph B. Bluemel has filed an order denying Sullivan’s motion to dismiss the second-degree murder charge against her. Bluemel’s order says that Sullivan did show, at first glance, that she could have been acting in self-defense during the alleged stabbing.
But Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred in turn demonstrated evidence proving it unlikely that Sullivan was acting in self-defense under Wyoming’s definition, the judge’s order adds.
‘Powder Keg Of Anger’
The judge’s ruling comes after Sullivan’s attorney Michael Bennett launched a self-defense argument alleging that Moore had been violent, abusive and manipulative toward Sullivan during their relationship.
Bennett’s filing characterized Moore as a “powder keg of anger” who would choke Sullivan and verbally demean her.
“He kept isolating Ms. Sullivan from her friends and family, demanding that she join him in the United States to work on a sheep shearing crew,” wrote Bennett.
“He weaponized her engagement ring” by threatening to take it away if she didn’t obey his orders, “dictating the clothing she should wear, her eating habits and her weight.”
Plunging The Knife
Bennett also focused on the conclusion of Moore’s autopsy, where the death examiner found Moore had died of a single, upward stab wound to the left side of his lower chest between his ribs.
This upward angle came from a tussle, Bennett’s filing alleges, in which Moore approached Sullivan in “a menacing” manner during a drunken fight, pushed her to the ground and charged her.
Sullivan looked up from where she was on the floor, saw the handle of the kitchen knife protruding from the stove counter, grabbed it and in one motion thrust it toward Moore to stop his advance, says Bennett’s filing.
What Would A Reasonable Person Do
Allred’s office had doubts about this narrative, according to a prosecutor’s filing opposing Bennett’s motion to dismiss the charge.
“Even if the defendant’s version of the incident was supported by evidence, her use of force was not reasonable under the totality of circumstances,” reads the opposition.
To have a charge dismissed for self-defense in Wyoming a defendant must show that she acted as a reasonable person would act due to serious or life-threatening imminent peril.
“A reasonable person would attempt to leave the camper or seek help from nearby friends,” reads the opposition, noting that Sullivan’s friend Stacy Hikawai was sleeping nearby in the same camper. “And if force was needed, stabbing a kitchen knife 8 or 9 inches deep into the opposing person vastly exceeds the amount of force needed to repel the attack and protect from injury.
“This is true even if allegations of past domestic violence are true.”
The opposition also points to Sullivan’s initial interview with police, where she allegedly admitted that she acted out of rage.
Duty To Retreat
A person arguing for a self-defense dismissal also must show that she had no duty to retreat. There are three standards for this. The defendant must show she was someplace she was lawfully allowed to be, she was not committing a crime when the altercation started and she wasn’t the initial aggressor.
The prosecutor argued that Sullivan did meet the first two criteria, but not the third.
You Can Have Your Texts
Judge Bluemel also is allowing Allred’s office to use Sullivan’s own text messages against her in court.
Allred asked permission to show the jury text messages between Sullivan and a coworker that have the potential to demonstrate some degree of homicidal plotting.
Sullivan complained of Moore’s anger Feb. 19, according to text messages presented in her case file.
“I’m about to stab this (c***),” reads a text contained in the screen shots.
“Still no good?” asked the coworker.
“Lol nope he’s a moody (c***),” Sullivan answered, according to the evidence copy.
The two friends had been texting for at least two days about Moore’s poor mood and rage, the file indicates.
Prosecutors can present evidence that speaks to the charges filed, but they can’t summon mountains of evidence simply to make the defendant look unsavory to the jury.
Bluemel ruled Thursday that Allred’s text-message evidence is relevant enough to allow at trial.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.