[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
County District Court No. 14CR3169 Honorable Todd L.
J. Weiser, Attorney General, Kevin E. McReynolds, Assistant
Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Kamela Maktabi,
Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for
Defendant, Ashley Rae Ruth Knox, appeals the judgment of
conviction entered on a jury verdict finding her guilty of
criminal extortion and three counts of attempt to influence a
public servant. Knox raises two contentions on appeal:
first, the district court erred in concluding that police
officers are public servants under section 18-8-306, C.R.S.
2019; and second, her threat of litigation absent settlement
of a potential personal injury claim did not constitute
criminal extortion under section 18-3-207(1)(a), (b)(I),
C.R.S. 2019. Because we disagree with her first contention,
we affirm her convictions for attempt to influence a public
servant. However, because we agree with her second
contention, we vacate her conviction for criminal extortion.
On November 26, 2014, Amber Diedrichs-Giffin was turning left
in her car when she heard a "bang" as Knox
forcefully placed her hands on the hood of the car. When
Diedrichs-Giffin asked if Knox was okay, Knox responded that
her "leg kind of hurts." Diedrichs-Giffin provided
her insurance and contact information; however, Knox declined
to contact law enforcement officials and asked for
"weed" or money, stating, "We could settle
this now." Knox walked away — seemingly uninjured
— after Diedrichs-Giffin directed Knox to contact
Diedrichs-Giffin's insurance company.
Shortly afterward, Diedrichs-Giffin called 911 to report the
accident, expressing her uncertainty about who was at fault.
The dispatcher told her that, without an injury, she did not
need to file a report; but if Knox contacted law enforcement
officials later, they could refer to the recording of
Later the same day, Knox sent Diedrichs-Giffin a series of
text messages asking to settle matters outside of court. The
particular text message underlying the eventual criminal
extortion charge and conviction stated:
Hey amber, this is Ashley the young lady, u hit .. I have a
little amount of time if i want to pursue, court action ...
im already on pain management and am going through hard
times like everyone .. im sure .. id rather u help me out
we agree to a one time feesable amount. We can even sign
something if u want .. to keep out of a long court
proceeding going back to court over several months,
insurance goin up, and my medical bills, since im in and
out of hospital already[.] Let me know, if that works for
you, or u would rather draw it out in court. Thanks[.]
did not respond to the message and testified that she
perceived it as an attempt to "make a one-time deal with
me so that way we didn't have to pursue it in
Six days later, Knox walked to an area near where the
incident occurred and called 911, reporting that she had just
been injured in a hit-and-run accident. Among other things,
she claimed that the driver had refused
to wait for police and she could not walk home because her
leg and hip hurt.
Arvada police officers Dustin LeDoux and Donald Smith
responded to Knox's report. Knox described
Diedrichs-Giffin and her vehicle to Officer Smith and
provided him with her license plate number. During the
subsequent ambulance ride to the hospital, she provided a
more detailed account to Officer LeDoux.
Officer LeDoux tracked down Diedrichs-Giffin and learned that
the incident had, in fact, taken place six days earlier. He
also procured a copy of the text Knox had sent to
Diedrichs-Giffin the day of the incident. Officer LeDoux
interviewed Knox at the hospital after hearing
Diedrichs-Giffin's account. She initially maintained her
version of events, but when confronted with the text message,
she admitted that the incident had occurred six days earlier.
She explained that she had lied about the timing because she
feared not receiving medical treatment otherwise.
The district attorney charged Knox with criminal extortion,
false reporting, and three counts of attempt to influence a
public servant. The jury rejected her arguments that she was
guilty only of false reporting and that the prosecution had
failed to prove that she staged the accident or faked her
injuries. She was convicted of all counts, and this appeal
Sufficiency of the Evidence
Knox contends that the prosecution failed to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that she committed three offenses of attempt
to influence a public servant; thus, she argues that we must
vacate her convictions because the evidence was insufficient
to establish her guilt. Before determining whether there was
sufficient evidence to convict Knox of attempting to
influence a public servant, we must address two preliminary
questions — (1) whether police officers are public
servants and (2) whether Knox could be convicted of three
offenses or only one offense.
Attempt to Influence Public Servants
Knox argues that the district court erred in concluding that
police officers are public servants for purposes of
attempting to influence a public servant under section
18-8-306. We disagree.
Standard of Review
Sufficiency of the evidence claims may be raised for the
first time on appeal and are not subject to plain error
review. McCoy v. People, 2019 COA 44, ¶19, 442 P.3d
We review questions of statutory interpretation de novo.
People v. Sena, 2016 COA 161, ¶10, 395 P.3d 1148,
When interpreting a statute, we look first to the language of
the statute, attributing plain and ordinary meanings to all
words and phrases. McCoy, ¶37, 442 P.3d at 389. We
read the statute in context with its broader statutory
scheme, "giving consistent, harmonious, and sensible
effect to all of its parts, and we must avoid constructions
that would render any words or phrases superfluous or lead to
illogical or absurd results." Id. at ¶38, 442
P.3d at 389. If the statutory language is clear and
unambiguous, we apply the provision as written. Id.
If, on the other hand, we conclude that the statute is
reasonably susceptible of multiple interpretations, we turn
to other interpretive methods to ascertain ...