Charles v. State, A-13654

CourtCourt of Appeals of Alaska
PartiesMELISSA MARIE CHARLES, Appellant, v. STATE OF ALASKA, Appellee.
Docket NumberA-13654
Decision Date23 November 2022



No. A-13654

Court of Appeals of Alaska

November 23, 2022

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d)

Appeal from the Superior Court, First Judicial District, Ketchikan, Trial Court No. IKE-19-00500 CR Trevor Stephens, Judge.

Monique Eniero, Attorney at Law, under contract with the Public Defender Agency, and Samantha Cherot, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

Michal Stryszak, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Criminal Appeals, Anchorage, and Treg R. Taylor, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

Before: Allard, Chief Judge, and Wollenberg and Terrell, Judges.


Melissa Marie Charles was convicted, following a jury trial, of two counts of second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance for possessing, with the intent to deliver, heroin and methamphetamine.[1] At trial, the State presented the testimony of Laneea Naufahu, who testified that Charles had provided her with an


airplane ticket from Seattle to Ketchikan and then given her the drugs to carry while on the flight.

On appeal, Charles raises two claims related to Naufahu's testimony. First, Charles argues that the superior court erred when it prevented her from cross-examining Naufahu about credit cards and checks belonging to someone else that were found on Naufahu when she was arrested. Charles argues that, in doing so, the court improperly restricted her ability to present evidence related to Naufahu's bias toward the State and therefore violated Charles's right to cross-examination.

A defendant's right to cross-examination is not violated whenever a court restricts inquiry into a witness's bias and motivation. Rather, "the trial court retains discretion to limit the specific questions allowed and the specific evidence admitted, as long as the jury receives 'information adequate to allow it to evaluate the bias and motives of a witness.'"[2]

Here, the superior court allowed Charles to elicit substantial information about Naufahu's potential bias, including that Naufahu had been charged with criminal offenses for the drugs she carried on the plane and that she had made a plea bargain with the State to resolve her case. Naufahu admitted that she avoided significant jail time by accepting the State's offer, that her plea agreement and the terms of her probation required her to testify against Charles, and that she was currently on supervised probation with 18 months of suspended jail time hanging over...

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