People v. Quintana, No. 93SC428

Docket NºNo. 93SC428
Citation882 P.2d 1366
Case DateOctober 17, 1994
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

Page 1366

882 P.2d 1366
The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Petitioner,
v.
Anthony J. QUINTANA, Jr., Respondent.
No. 93SC428.
Supreme Court of Colorado,
En Banc.
Oct. 17, 1994.

Page 1368

Gale A. Norton, Atty. Gen., Stephen K. ErkenBrack, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., Timothy M. Tymkovich, Sol. Gen., A. William Bonner, Asst. Atty. Gen., Crim. Enforcement Section, Denver, for petitioner.

Gerash, Robinson & Miranda, P.C., Scott H. Robinson, Denver, for respondent.

Chief Justice ROVIRA delivered the Opinion of the Court.

During and immediately after the murder of Lawrence Martinez, Anthony Joseph Quintana

Page 1369

Jr. (defendant) made three statements about killing other persons. At trial, the prosecution argued that these statements were admissible under CRE 404(b) to show intent to eliminate witnesses, plan, state of mind and absence of mistake. The trial court concluded that the prosecution could introduce the statements for the limited purposes of establishing intent to commit the crime charged and lack of mistake or accident. In People v. Quintana, No. 91CA1457, slip op. (Colo.App. May 13, 1993) (not selected for official publication), the court of appeals concluded that the admission of the statements constituted reversible error. In so holding, the court restricted its analysis to determining whether the statements were properly admitted under CRE 404(b) to demonstrate intent to eliminate witnesses. The court did not decide whether the statements were properly admitted to demonstrate intent to commit the crime charged or lack of mistake or accident.

We granted certiorari to consider whether the court of appeals erred in (1) restricting its analysis of the admissibility of the statements; (2) holding that the probative value of the statements was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice; and (3) holding that the admission of the statements was not harmless error. Because we conclude that the statements were properly admitted at trial, we reverse and remand with directions.

I

On May 29, 1989, defendant and Joe Allen Eubanks (Eubanks) arrived in La Junta, Colorado. That same day, they went to the home of Eddie Duran and attempted to purchase a shotgun so they could "snuff" someone. Duran refused to sell them a shotgun. Eubanks and defendant returned the next day, imploring Duran to sell them a shotgun so they could kill someone. Duran again refused. Defendant became upset and, as he was leaving Duran's property, proclaimed that he would get a knife, take someone out to Higbee 1 and "shank" the person there. 2

That evening, defendant and Eubanks met Russel Eloyd (Eloyd). The three men had just begun to look for a ride when Lawrence Martinez (Martinez) drove up and agreed to drive the group south of town to some property owned by Eubanks' grandfather. Defendant and Eubanks directed Martinez to drive out of La Junta towards Higbee. After they drove some distance, Eubanks requested that Martinez pull over so he could go to the bathroom. Martinez complied and Eubanks and Eloyd got out of the Jeep.

Once out of the vehicle, Eloyd heard Martinez scream. As he turned around, he saw Martinez holding his neck and blood seeping through his fingers. Martinez jumped out of the Jeep and attempted to flee, but defendant followed and continued to stab him. Martinez fell to his knees and began to pray and beg for his life. In response, defendant kicked Martinez in the face and defendant and Eubanks proceeded to beat Martinez while repeatedly yelling "Die, bitch." Eubanks then slammed a large rock into Martinez' head and encouraged defendant to do the same. Defendant complied and pummeled Martinez in the head with a rock. Eloyd testified that, while laughing, Eubanks and defendant threw three or four rocks apiece at Martinez' head. At Eubanks' command, Eloyd took money out of Martinez' wallet and defendant snatched the money and put it in his pocket. Martinez was then put in the Jeep and defendant told Eloyd to drive.

As they were driving, Eloyd heard Martinez moaning and heard defendant ask for "something so I can hit him or stab him again." Martinez, however, stopped moaning and Eubanks stated "We're going to dump the body off ... so the wolves and animals [can] eat him up." Thereafter, Eubanks ordered Eloyd to turn off the road and stop. Martinez was taken from the Jeep and thrown on the ground where Eubanks and defendant resumed bludgeoning him with rocks. At this point, Eubanks ordered Eloyd to hit Martinez with a rock. Eloyd initially refused, but Eubanks yelled "Throw it or I'll kill you." Eloyd threw a rock at the victim.

Page 1370

Eventually, the three men left Martinez and drove into La Junta, parked the Jeep and wiped their fingerprints from the vehicle with their shirts. Eloyd went home and, the next day, reported the murder to the authorities. Subsequently, defendant was charged with first degree murder, felony murder during kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, and crime of violence. 3

Defendant pled not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming that his extensive drug use and his use of LSD on the evening of the murder made him incapable of determining right from wrong. This issue was tried to a jury and defendant was found to be sane at the time the crimes occurred.

Prior to trial, defendant moved to suppress three statements made by him--all of which expressed his desire to kill other persons not involved in the crimes at issue. The first statement occurred when Eloyd was threatened by Eubanks if he did not join the attack. When this threat occurred, defendant interceded, stating, "Don't worry about it. He'll kill Troy Ketchum." Defendant then told Eloyd to kill Ketchum. 4 The second and third statements occurred as the three men were returning to La Junta. In the second statement, defendant said he wanted to go kill his former girlfriend "because she had his baby, and she was a dike, and he didn't want his baby to grow up around her." In the last statement, defendant said "Let's go get some guns, and we'll go kill Mr.--the Wileys for some guns in Las Animas."

The prosecution argued that each of these statements was admissible under CRE 404(b) 5 to show intent to eliminate witnesses, plan, state of mind and absence of mistake or accident. The trial court concluded that the prosecution could introduce the statements for the limited purposes of establishing intent to commit the crime charged and lack of mistake or accident.

At trial, Eloyd testified about the three statements. Before and after his testimony, the trial court instructed the jury that they were admitted "for the purpose of showing intent or absence of mistake or accident" and not for any other purpose. The jury found defendant guilty of first degree murder, conspiracy, second degree kidnapping and two counts of crime of violence. 6

On appeal, defendant challenged portions of his sanity trial as well as the admission of the three statements. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment of sanity but, concluding that the statements were not properly admitted under CRE 404(b), reversed defendant's convictions. People v. Quintana, No. 91CA1457, slip op. at 6 (Colo.App. May 13, 1993) (not selected for official publication). In response to the prosecution's argument that the statements were admissible as res gestae evidence, the court, implicitly acknowledging that the statements were res gestae evidence, held that any probative value the statements might have had in proving defendant's intent to commit the crime charged was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice. The court also held that the admission of the statements was not harmless error. Id. at 6-7.

II

The People first argue that the court of appeals erred in restricting its analysis of the admissibility of the statements under CRE 404(b) to whether the statements were admissible to prove intent to eliminate witnesses. We agree.

At trial, the prosecutor argued that the statements were admissible under CRE

Page 1371

404(b) in order to show intent to eliminate witnesses, state of mind, plan and lack of mistake or accident. The trial court rejected the prosecution's offer on the planning theory and did not expressly address the intent to eliminate witnesses theory. The court found, however, that the statements were admissible to show intent to commit the crime charged and lack of mistake or accident. 7

In finding that the trial court erred in admitting the statements, the court of appeals focused on one of the prosecution's justifications for admitting the statements--intent to eliminate witnesses--and concluded the prosecution had not articulated a precise evidential hypothesis for admitting the evidence under CRE 404(b). 8 Quintana, No. 91CA1457, slip op. at 5. The court declined to consider the mistake or accident rationale because neither mistake or accident was raised as a defense. In view of the defendant's contention that his ingestion of LSD negated the requisite specific intent, the court recognized that the ability to form the intent to kill was both material and relevant. However, the court refused to consider the evidence to show such intent because the prosecutor's initial argument for admission at trial was premised upon intent to eliminate witnesses.

The Colorado Rules of Evidence strongly favor the admission of material evidence, People v. Czemerynski, 786 P.2d 1100, 1108 (Colo.1990), and a trial court has substantial discretion in deciding questions concerning the admissibility of evidence. E.g., People v. Ibarra, 849 P.2d 33, 38 (Colo.1993). Therefore, absent an abuse of discretion the evidentiary rulings of a trial court will be affirmed. Id.; People v. Lowe, 660 P.2d 1261, 1264 (Colo.1983). Further, on appeal a party may defend the judgment of the trial court on any ground supported by the record, regardless of whether that ground was relied upon or even contemplated by the trial court. Dandridge v. Williams, 397...

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135 practice notes
  • People v. Phillips, No. 08CA2013.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • October 25, 2012
    ...ground supported by the record, even if that ground was not articulated or considered by the trial court. Id. (citing People v. Quintana, 882 P.2d 1366, 1371 (Colo.1994)).B. Overview of the Law Regarding the Confrontation Clauses ¶ 64 In this section, we will look at opinions from the Unite......
  • People v. Boyd, Court of Appeals No. 12CA2607
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • August 13, 2015
    ...case. In recognition of our authority to affirm the trial court's judgment on any ground supported by the record, see People v. Quintana, 882 P.2d 1366, 1371 (Colo.1994), we address those issues as well as the People's.¶ 4 After briefly reviewing the factual and procedural background of the......
  • State v. Fetelee, No. 27482.
    • United States
    • Hawaii Supreme Court
    • January 31, 2008
    ...Collins v. State, 304 Ark. 587, 804 S.W.2d 680, 682 (1991); People v. Rollins, 892 P.2d 866, 872-73 (Colo.1995); People v. Quintana, 882 P.2d 1366, 1373-74 (Colo.1994); People v. Robinson, 128 Mich.App. 338, 340 N.W.2d 303, 304 (1983); State v. Pasek, 691 N.W.2d 301, 309 (S.D.2004); State v......
  • People v. Jimenez, No. 04CA1098.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • October 16, 2008
    ...and complete understanding of the events surrounding the crime and the context in which the charged crime occurred." People v. Quintana, 882 P.2d 1366, 1373 (Colo.1994). Such evidence, considered part of the res gestae of the offense, "`forms an integral and natural part of an account of th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
135 cases
  • People v. Phillips, No. 08CA2013.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • October 25, 2012
    ...ground supported by the record, even if that ground was not articulated or considered by the trial court. Id. (citing People v. Quintana, 882 P.2d 1366, 1371 (Colo.1994)).B. Overview of the Law Regarding the Confrontation Clauses ¶ 64 In this section, we will look at opinions from the Unite......
  • People v. Boyd, Court of Appeals No. 12CA2607
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • August 13, 2015
    ...case. In recognition of our authority to affirm the trial court's judgment on any ground supported by the record, see People v. Quintana, 882 P.2d 1366, 1371 (Colo.1994), we address those issues as well as the People's.¶ 4 After briefly reviewing the factual and procedural background of the......
  • State v. Fetelee, No. 27482.
    • United States
    • Hawaii Supreme Court
    • January 31, 2008
    ...Collins v. State, 304 Ark. 587, 804 S.W.2d 680, 682 (1991); People v. Rollins, 892 P.2d 866, 872-73 (Colo.1995); People v. Quintana, 882 P.2d 1366, 1373-74 (Colo.1994); People v. Robinson, 128 Mich.App. 338, 340 N.W.2d 303, 304 (1983); State v. Pasek, 691 N.W.2d 301, 309 (S.D.2004); State v......
  • People v. Jimenez, No. 04CA1098.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • October 16, 2008
    ...and complete understanding of the events surrounding the crime and the context in which the charged crime occurred." People v. Quintana, 882 P.2d 1366, 1373 (Colo.1994). Such evidence, considered part of the res gestae of the offense, "`forms an integral and natural part of an account of th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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