People v. McAfee, No. 00CA2379.

Docket NºNo. 00CA2379.
Citation104 P.3d 226
Case DateMarch 25, 2004
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

104 P.3d 226

The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Anthony E. McAFEE, a/k/a McAfee E. Anthony, James Edwards, Anthony V. Johnson, Anthony E. MacFee, Anthony McAfee, Anthony E. McAfee, and Anthony Vance, Defendant-Appellant

No. 00CA2379.

Colorado Court of Appeals, Division I.

March 25, 2004.

Rehearing Denied August 5, 2004.


Certiorari Denied December 27, 2004.1

104 P.3d 228
Ken Salazar, Attorney General, Catherine P. Adkisson, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Betty Bass, Boulder, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.

Opinion by Judge TAUBMAN.

Defendant, Anthony E. McAfee, appeals from the judgment of conviction and sentences entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident. We affirm.

Early one morning in 1999, defendant drove a car with two passengers head on into a telephone pole. The passenger in the front seat suffered two broken legs and head and internal injuries. The passenger in the back seat suffered massive injuries and died shortly after the accident.

Witnesses to the accident saw defendant exit the car, look at the damage, and tell one of the injured passengers to "get up" because they had to "get out of [t]here." Defendant told one bystander that "the driver ran." However, when he was confronted as the driver, defendant left the scene and got into a cab. When asked by the cab driver where he was going, he told the driver to "just go." Police caught up with the cab shortly thereafter.

Investigators found no indication that mechanical failure or external factors outside the car caused the crash. When defendant was taken to the police station, he was uncooperative and excited, yelled profanities, and refused to comply with verbal commands during a sobriety screening. Defendant's blood test for drugs revealed a cocaine metabolite known as benzoylecgonine, indicating that he had ingested cocaine within eighteen to twenty-four hours prior to the accident.

Defendant was convicted as charged and sentenced to forty-seven years in the Department of Corrections.

I. Sufficiency of Evidence

Both the vehicular homicide and vehicular assault charges required the People to show that defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs at the time of the accident. Sections 18-3-106(1)(b), 18-3-205(1)(b), C.R.S.2003. Defendant argues that these convictions should be vacated because there was insufficient evidence to support this element. Defendant bases his argument on the testimony of the People's medical expert that the presence of cocaine metabolites in defendant's blood did not indicate whether his ability to drive had been impaired by the drug. We are not persuaded.

When the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged on appeal, a reviewing court must determine whether the evidence, when viewed as a whole and in the light most favorable to the prosecution, is sufficient to support a conclusion by a reasonable person that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. Kogan v. People, 756 P.2d 945 (Colo.1988).

Here, the evidence, when viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, established that defendant was driving under the influence of cocaine. Evidence showed that he had admitted to fellow inmates that (1) he had been buying and smoking crack cocaine for several days prior to the accident, (2) he had partied throughout the night before the accident, and (3) at the time of the accident he was driving the car because he knew where to get more crack cocaine. The People offered expert testimony that defendant had ingested cocaine within eighteen to twenty-four hours before the accident and that the period after ingesting cocaine can be followed by fatigue, loss of motor skills, inattentiveness, paranoia, and hallucinations. After the accident, defendant was highly agitated and exhibited other behaviors that led police and other witnesses to believe he was under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.

104 P.3d 229
Accordingly, we conclude sufficient evidence was presented at trial to support defendant's conviction of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, and we will not disturb those convictions

II. Reliability of Drug Testing Evidence

Defendant asserts that the trial court should have granted his motion to dismiss because the tests performed on his blood were unreliable and, therefore, inadmissible. Specifically, defendant asserts that the trial court erred by not conducting a hearing regarding defendant's allegations that (1) the preservative used by police to test his blood contaminated the sample, and (2) the blood testing method used was not acceptable within the scientific community. We conclude that any error was harmless.

CRE 702 provides the appropriate standard for determining the admissibility of scientific evidence. People v. Shreck, 22 P.3d 68 (Colo.2001). CRE 702 states: "If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise." Under this standard, evidence is admissible when (1) the scientific principles at issue are reasonably reliable, (2) the witness is qualified to opine on such principles, and (3) the testimony will be useful to the jury. People v. Shreck, supra, 22 P.3d at 79.

Additionally, the trial court must consider whether the probative value of the evidence is substantially outweighed by its prejudicial effect pursuant to CRE 403, and a trial court's CRE 702 determination must be based upon specific findings. People v. Shreck, supra, 22 P.3d at 78.

We note that defendant did not question that the People's expert witness was qualified or that his testimony would assist the jury. We also note that, contrary to defendant's contention, People v. Shreck, supra, does not require the trial court to conduct a hearing to inquire into the reliability of the evidence. Because the record in this case is sufficient for a determination that the blood testing was reasonably reliable, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the drug test evidence.

Here, in response to defendant's general allegations of unreliability, the People submitted an affidavit by Dr. James Ruth, who tested defendant's blood for drugs. The affidavit indicated that the screening and confirmation of the cocaine metabolite in defendant's blood were done in accordance with the regulations of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The People also indicated that defendant had been given a sample of his blood for independent...

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20 practice notes
  • State v. Mondor, S19A0209, S19X0210
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • June 28, 2019
    ...have uniformly concluded that the victim’s failure to wear a seatbelt does not amount to an intervening cause," People v. McAfee , 104 P.3d 226, 230 (Colo. App. 2004) (collecting cases from 13 other states including Georgia). And "a victim’s failure to wear a seat belt is not suff......
  • People v. Whitman, No. 04CA1428.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • November 29, 2007
    ...not persuaded. Shreck does not require trial courts to hold hearings to inquire into the reliability of evidence. See People v. McAfee, 104 P.3d 226, 229 (Colo.App.2004). Rather, Shreck requires the trial court to receive sufficient information to make specific findings about the reliabilit......
  • People v. Smith, No. 02CA1515.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • October 11, 2005
    ...support a conclusion by a reasonable person that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. McAfee, 104 P.3d 226 Section 18-4-401(5), C.R.S.2004, provides: "Theft from the person of another by means other than the use of force, threat, or intimida......
  • People v. Arzabala, No. 10CA0651.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • June 21, 2012
    ...the plain language meaning of a statute). ¶ 35 Moreover, contrary to the People's argument on appeal, [317 P.3d 1206]People v. McAfee, 104 P.3d 226 (Colo.App.2004), does not compel a different conclusion. In McAfee, a division of this court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its d......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • State v. Mondor, S19A0209, S19X0210
    • United States
    • Georgia Supreme Court
    • June 28, 2019
    ...... have uniformly concluded that the victim’s failure to wear a seatbelt does not amount to an intervening cause," People v. McAfee , 104 P.3d 226, 230 (Colo. App. 2004) (collecting cases from 13 other states including Georgia). And "a victim’s failure to wear a seat belt is not sufficient......
  • People v. Whitman, No. 04CA1428.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • November 29, 2007
    ...not persuaded. Shreck does not require trial courts to hold hearings to inquire into the reliability of evidence. See People v. McAfee, 104 P.3d 226, 229 (Colo.App.2004). Rather, Shreck requires the trial court to receive sufficient information to make specific findings about the reliabilit......
  • People v. Smith, No. 02CA1515.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • October 11, 2005
    ...support a conclusion by a reasonable person that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. McAfee, 104 P.3d 226 Section 18-4-401(5), C.R.S.2004, provides: "Theft from the person of another by means other than the use of force, threat, or intimidation ......
  • People v. Chase, No. 09CA1908
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • March 14, 2013
    ...court may impose consecutive sentences for offenses supported by identical evidence but involving multiple victims. People v. McAfee, 104 P.3d 226, 231–32 (Colo.App.2004) (citing § 18–1–408(3), C.R.S.2012 ).411 P.3d 757¶ 84 In exercising its sentencing discretion, a trial court must conside......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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