court of appeals

SPOKANE – An Omak woman will be resentenced for part of her convictions for residential burglary, malicious mischief, theft and violation of a no-contact order, the state Court of Appeals for Division 3 has decided.

In an unpublished opinion filed June 18, the appeals court affirmed Wendy Amezcua Limon’s convictions in part, reversed in part and remanded the case to Okanogan County Superior Court for imposition of a lesser offense and resentencing.

According to court records, Amezcua Limon and Noah Balauro lived together for about five years in an Omak home owned by Balauro’s parents. Balauro was responsible for household income while Amezcua Limon largely stayed at home to care for the couple’s three children.

The couple’s relationship was turbulent and ended when Balauro was arrested on a domestic violence charge and subjected to a protection order, court records said. She moved out of the home, but continued to frequent the house for child care.

She also stored personal belongings there.

After the separation, Balauro began dating another woman, who lived in Seattle and stayed with him on weekends, said court records. Amezcua Limon didn’t want the woman to spend time with her children, nor to use her bed, which remained at Balauro’s home.

The woman replaced Amezcua Limon’s mattress with her own.

On March 3, 2018, the new girlfriend was visiting Balauro’s home when Amezcua Limon arrived early to drop off her children, said court records. She was upset to find the girlfriend and an argument ensured. The police were called.

Amezcua Limon left after being directed to do so by police. When she picked up her children later in the day and another dispute happened. Police were called and again told Amezcua Limon to leave, court records said.

Balauro and his girlfriend went to dinner and took her car because he could not find his keys. When they returned, they found the house had been ransacked, with some items stolen and others damaged, court records said.

The stolen items eventually were returned. Damaged property included electronics, furniture and the mattress.

Amezcua Limon was arrested and told police she entered the house using Balauro’s key.

She was charged with several offenses and was the subject of a no-contact order with Balauro as the protected property, court records said. The order prohibited actual contact, but didn’t mention attempted contact.

While in jail, Amezcua Limon made several phone calls, including some to a woman, believed to be her sister, asking her to contact Balauro.

The state then amended the charges to include a no-contact order violation. Ultimately, she was charged with residential burglary, first-degree malicious mischief, second-degree theft, misdemeanor taking a pet and violation of a protection order.

At trial, none of the witnesses talked about whether anyone made contact with Balauro in violation of the domestic violence protection order. The state’s proof was limited to audio recordings of Amezcua Limon’s jail calls.

In a September 2018 decision, a jury found Amezcua Limon guilty of residential burglary, second-degree malicious mischief, second-degree theft and violation of a domestic violence protection order. She was acquitted of unlawfully taking a pet.

Amezcua Limon appealed, challenging sufficiency of the state’s evidence on all four convictions, and that there was an improper variance between the charges of malicious mischief and the courts trial instruction to the jury.

The appeals court affirmed the convictions for residential burglary and second-degree theft. It reversed the second-degree malicious mischief conviction and instructed the trial court to issue judgment for the lesser charged of third-degree malicious mischief.

The conviction for violation of a protection order was reversed with prejudice, meaning the charge cannot be refiled.

Appeals Court Judge Rebecca Pennell wrote the opinion, with George Fearing and Robert Lawrence-Berrey concurring.

Amezcua Limon was represented on appeal by Gregory Charles Link and Devon Carroll Knowles, both of the Washington Appellate Project, Seattle. The state was represented by Okanogan County Prosecutor Arian Noma.

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