People v. Medina, No. 99CA0980.

Docket NºNo. 99CA0980.
Citation51 P.3d 1006
Case DateJune 21, 2001
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

51 P.3d 1006

The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Antonio M. MEDINA, Defendant-Appellant

No. 99CA0980.

Colorado Court of Appeals, Div. V.

June 21, 2001.

Rehearing Denied September 6, 2001.1

Certiorari Granted July 22, 2002.


51 P.3d 1010
Ken Salazar, Attorney General, Lauren A. Edelstein, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, CO, for Plaintiff-Appellee

David S. Kaplan, Colorado State Public Defender, Dana Nichols, Deputy State Public Defender, Kathleen Lord, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, CO, for Defendant-Appellant.

Opinion by Judge ROTHENBERG.

Defendant, Antonio M. Medina, appeals the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him guilty of second degree murder. We affirm.

According to the prosecution's evidence, defendant attended a party on August 29, 1996. There was evidence that defendant left the party with the victim, her boyfriend, and another man, that they walked to a nearby park, and that the victim agreed to have sex with defendant there while her boyfriend watched. The other man left.

The boyfriend testified that: (1) defendant was unable to obtain an erection and the victim had laughed at him; (2) after the attempted sex, he, defendant, and the victim had walked to the boyfriend's home; (3) defendant and the victim continued to walk together; and (4) everything appeared normal at that time.

That was the last time the victim was seen alive.

The prosecution also called defendant's wife as a witness. She testified that on the day after the party, when she awoke defendant was gone. He called her a few hours later from an auto body shop and said he needed a cab. When he returned home in the cab, he told her there had been "an accident and that a girl was killed." According to the wife:

[Defendant] said they were at a party and the girl was asking for money, and she kept hitting him in the chest and he was trying to walk away, and he told her to get out of his face, and he had finally had enough, and then he punched her in the throat, and she fell down, and he left [the party].

The wife testified that defendant also said he had left the body in a park and then had taken it to another location and had left it there. He reported that their car had become stuck in the mud near where he had left the victim's body, and he insisted that the wife accompany him to help retrieve it. The wife helped him rent a chainsaw to free the vehicle, and she saw the body.

She further testified that defendant left their house several times in the middle of the night to check on the body and that he later moved the body several times.

Defendant gave his wife other versions of the events. He told her he had hit "the girl" in the throat at the party, and when he did so, "[h]e pulled back her hair and punched her in the throat," and then heard her neck "pop and crack." He said that after hitting her, he had left her at the party, and "some

51 P.3d 1011
other guys had taken her into the house, and he had left."

In another version, he told her that he had gotten into a fight at the party, that the victim had tried to break up the fight, and that she got "pushed" and fell down and hit her head. In still another version, he said that the victim had asked him for $100 in exchange for sex, that he was unable to pay that amount, that they got into an argument, that he hit her in the chest, and that she fell down and hit her head.

The prosecution called four witnesses who were at the party, and none reported observing a fight or any type of altercation at the party.

In addition to the wife's testimony regarding what defendant had told her, she also testified that: (1) he began to have insomnia and to experience nightmares over the killing; (2) two weeks after the homicide, he insisted that they move to New Mexico; and (3) while in New Mexico, he became suspicious of her phone calls, listened to her conversations, constantly kept her near him, and even brought her to work with him at times.

The wife eventually called her mother, who in turn alerted the police. Shortly thereafter, defendant and his wife returned to Colorado, and the police set up a surveillance operation. Several police investigators testified at trial that they saw defendant travel to a remote location, get out of his vehicle, look around, and then leave. Investigators later exhumed the victim's body from the same area and arrested defendant.

On the morning of trial, the People moved to admit evidence from defendant's wife that defendant had phoned her from jail. According to the wife, defendant told her she held his life in her hands and she was the only person who could get him out of the situation. He urged her to change her story, to refuse to testify at trial, and to say that the police had frightened her into lying at the preliminary hearing. The People contended this evidence was admissible under CRE 404(b) or as res gestae, and over defendant's objection, the trial court admitted the evidence under both theories. The court instructed the jury that the evidence should only be considered to show "absence of mistake and absence of accident."

The pathologist testified that he could not pinpoint the victim's cause of death because her body was so deteriorated at the time of the autopsy that her internal organs had liquified, and the body was too decomposed to reveal bruises on her neck. The pathologist also testified on direct examination that the victim could not have died from a fall hitting her head or from "a severe jerking to her neck such as being pulled by the hair," but that it was possible she died from a very hard blow to her neck or from a very hard push or shove to her chest area by a "commando chop or a commando blow [to the neck]." On cross-examination, however, the pathologist stated that the blow did not have to be hard to be fatal.

I.

Defendant first contends the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to dismiss based on outrageous governmental conduct. We disagree.

Colorado recognizes the due process claim of outrageous governmental conduct. Bailey v. People, 630 P.2d 1062 (Colo. 1981). Outrageous governmental conduct is conduct that violates fundamental fairness and is shocking to the universal sense of justice. People v. Johnson, 987 P.2d 855 (Colo.App.1998).

Whether the circumstances presented bar prosecution under principles of due process is for the trial court to determine based upon the totality of facts in a given case. People v. Aponte, 867 P.2d 183 (Colo.App. 1993). This determination lies within the trial court's discretion and will not be overturned on appeal absent an abuse of that discretion. People in Interest of M.N., 761 P.2d 1124 (Colo.1988).

An abuse of discretion occurs where the trial court's ruling is manifestly arbitrary or unreasonable. People v. Czemerynski, 786 P.2d 1100 (Colo.1990).

In People v. Auld, 815 P.2d 956 (Colo.App. 1991), on which defendant heavily relies, law enforcement officials conducted undercover

51 P.3d 1012
activities aimed at drug trafficking and also targeted the defendant, who was an attorney. Government agents filed a fictitious complaint in court against a "Colton Young," which was the alias of an undercover agent. "Defendant Young" was charged with a fictitious crime, brought before the court, and made several false statements to the judge. The judge was unaware of Young's true identity. Young then retained the attorney who was the target of this sting operation

When the attorney later was arrested for theft by receiving and possession of a dangerous weapon, the district attorney offered to dismiss the charges if the attorney provided information about a number of persons, including present or former clients. He refused and moved to dismiss the information based on alleged outrageous governmental conduct.

The trial court granted the motion, and a division of this court affirmed. The division agreed with the trial court that dismissal was an appropriate remedy because law enforcement officials had implicated the court in law enforcement activities, and the integrity of the court had been compromised.

In contrast, here, the court found that the conduct of the law enforcement authorities had been inappropriate, but concluded it was not so outrageous as to violate fundamental due process. The court found that police officers had acted improperly by: (1) failing to advise defendant of his Miranda rights; (2) failing to determine whether he understood his right to counsel; (3) continuing to interrogate defendant after he had invoked his right to counsel; (4) failing to determine whether he was represented by counsel before interviewing him; and (5) engaging in coercive police conduct by making promises and threats to defendant.

However, after examining the totality of the circumstances, and taking into account the need to balance the rights of defendants with the state's authority to bring criminal prosecutions against those alleged to have committed crimes, the trial court concluded the proper remedy was suppression of defendant's statements to the police. By suppressing the statements attained through the officers' inappropriate behavior, the court effectively maintained the fundamental fairness of the proceedings.

Unlike the circumstances in Auld, the integrity of the court was not compromised here, and the conduct of the law enforcement authorities did not impair defendant's ability to prepare or present his defense. Accordingly, we perceive no abuse of discretion by the trial court in denying defendant's motion to dismiss for outrageous governmental conduct.

II.

Defendant next contends the trial court erred in admitting the wife's testimony about his phone call from jail. We conclude that the testimony regarding defendant's statements was not properly admitted as part of the res gestae, but that it was admissible under CRE 404(b).

A.

Res gestae evidence provides the factfinder with a complete...

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19 practice notes
  • Mata-Medina v. People, No. 01SC702.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • June 2, 2003
    ...years in the Department of Corrections. Mata-Medina appealed his conviction to the court of appeals, which affirmed. People v. Medina, 51 P.3d 1006 (Colo.App.2001).1 The defendant sought certiorari before this court on two issues: whether the trial court erred in refusing his tendered instr......
  • People v. Sherman, No. 04CA2424.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • November 16, 2006
    ...give an instruction on a lesser included offense was not subject to review under the standard for constitutional error. People v. Medina, 51 P.3d 1006 (Colo. App.2001). The supreme court affirmed the division's judgment on somewhat different grounds in Mata-Medina v. People, 71 P.3d 973 (Co......
  • EFFLAND v. People of The State of Colo., No. 09SC70.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • November 8, 2010
    ...297, 4 L.Ed.2d 268 (1960)). Colorado has specifically recognized the due-process claim of outrageous government conduct. People v. Medina, 51 P.3d 1006, 1011 (Colo.App.2001). Colorado defines “outrageous government conduct” in the same manner described by the Court in Russell-“conduct that ......
  • People v. Acosta, Court of Appeals No. 10CA0790
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 3, 2014
    ...to show that the defendant was conscious of guilt and, by further inference, committed the crime charged”); see also People v. Medina, 51 P.3d 1006, 1012–13 (Colo.App.2001) (uncharged misconduct may be admitted under CRE 404(b) to show the absence of mistake or accident or to show conscious......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • Mata-Medina v. People, No. 01SC702.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • June 2, 2003
    ...years in the Department of Corrections. Mata-Medina appealed his conviction to the court of appeals, which affirmed. People v. Medina, 51 P.3d 1006 (Colo.App.2001).1 The defendant sought certiorari before this court on two issues: whether the trial court erred in refusing his tendered instr......
  • People v. Sherman, No. 04CA2424.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • November 16, 2006
    ...give an instruction on a lesser included offense was not subject to review under the standard for constitutional error. People v. Medina, 51 P.3d 1006 (Colo. App.2001). The supreme court affirmed the division's judgment on somewhat different grounds in Mata-Medina v. People, 71 P.3d 973 (Co......
  • EFFLAND v. People of The State of Colo., No. 09SC70.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • November 8, 2010
    ...297, 4 L.Ed.2d 268 (1960)). Colorado has specifically recognized the due-process claim of outrageous government conduct. People v. Medina, 51 P.3d 1006, 1011 (Colo.App.2001). Colorado defines “outrageous government conduct” in the same manner described by the Court in Russell-“conduct that ......
  • People v. Acosta, Court of Appeals No. 10CA0790
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 3, 2014
    ...to show that the defendant was conscious of guilt and, by further inference, committed the crime charged”); see also People v. Medina, 51 P.3d 1006, 1012–13 (Colo.App.2001) (uncharged misconduct may be admitted under CRE 404(b) to show the absence of mistake or accident or to show conscious......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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