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Colorado (2016)

People v. Bowers, 491 P.3d 400 (2021)

In trial for assault in the first degree, sufficient evidence supported finding that victim suffered serious bodily injury; evidence established that defendant put his hands around victim’s throat and applied sustained and direct pressure to her carotid artery, expert testimony established that the constriction of victim’s carotid artery resulting from the strangulation had placed victim at a substantial risk of death, and jury could reasonably infer from victim’s altered state and memory loss that her brain had been deprived of oxygen for a time.

People v. Lee, 476 P.3d 351 (2020)

Defendant was charged with second degree assault under both strangulation and deadly weapon subsections, as well as a crime of violence sentence enhancer. The District Court, Arapahoe County, Ben L. Leutwyler, J., dismissed the deadly weapon and crime of violence counts. People appealed. The Court of Appeals, Freyre, J., 2019 WL 3949257, affirmed. The People petitioned for certiorari review.  Holding: The Supreme Court, Gabriel, J., held that charges of second degree assault under both strangulation and deadly weapon subsections violated defendant’s equal protection rights under State Constitution, and thus, defendant could only be charged under the strangulation provision.  Affirmed.

   Other holdings:

  •  In a strangulation, the instrument being used to strangle the victim (whether hands or otherwise) is always being used as a weapon and will always be at least capable of causing serious bodily injury or death, strangulation will always involve the use of a deadly weapon.
  • Strangulation resulting in bodily injury constitutes second degree assault, and strangulation resulting in serious bodily injury constitutes first degree assault

   Colorad § 18-3-203. Assault in the second degree


  1. A person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if: (b) With intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he or she causes such injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon;


People v. Baker, 178 P.3d 1225 (2007)

The defendant appealed his conviction of first degree assault (by strangulation), second degree kidnapping, five counts of sexual assault, and the sentence imposed. The defendant was sentenced to 24 years. Upheld.

16-year-old victim was abducted, choked to loss of consciousness, tied up, and sexually assaulted by her step-grandfather, the defendant. The defendant threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone.

The victim suffered severe bruising from the rope around her neck, severe hemorrhaging of blood vessels in her eyes, and injury to her genitals.

The court properly allowed into evidence prior sexual assault on a different victim in New Mexico.

Substantial bodily injury is bodily injury which, either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, involves substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement or a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part of organ of the body.

Whether an injury qualified as a substantial bodily injury is a question for the jury. Here, the victim was strangled manually and with a rope. The victim had bruises to her neck and lost consciousness during the assault.

Medical examination revealed hemorrhaging on the white part of her eyes and bruising around the eyes. Medical expert testified injuries were consistent with being choked with a rope and choking can cause loss of consciousness or death. In his opinion, the victim suffered substantial bodily injury.

State v. Sorrell  568 A.2d 376, 378 (1989)

Choking the victim to the point of loss of consciousness amounted to serious bodily injury.

People v. Bookman, 646 P.2d 924 (1982)

The defendant sexually assaulted the victim. The victim struggled. The defendant strangled the victim to calm her down. The victim died, and the defendant left her by a tree. The next day, he returned to bury her. Eventually, the police contacted him because he was the last person to see her.

He admitted applying pressure to her neck for 30 seconds.

The defendant claimed it was accident and the victim died of carotid sinus stimulation.

Convicted.  Reversed on appeal due to jury instructions.