People v. Salas, No. 26259

Docket NºNo. 26259
Citation538 P.2d 437, 189 Colo. 111
Case DateJuly 07, 1975
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

Page 437

538 P.2d 437
189 Colo. 111
The PEOPLE of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Bobby Eugene SALAS, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 26259.
Supreme Court of Colorado, En Banc.
July 7, 1975.
Rehearing Denied Aug. 5, 1975.

[189 Colo. 112]

Page 438

John P. Moore, Atty. Gen., John E. Bush, Deputy Atty. Gen., Robert C. Lehnert, Asst. Atty. Gen., Denver, for plaintiff-appellee.

Albert T. Frantz, Lakewood, for defendant-appellant.

ERICKSON, Justice.

The sufficiency of the evidence and the instructions to the jury are the key issues on appeal. The defendant also claims that the failure of the trial court to require the prosecution to elect between counts was reversible error and that the concurrent sentences imposed against the defendant must be set aside. We affirm.

[189 Colo. 113] An incriminating web of circumstantial evidence was created by a series of criminal acts which culminated in the murders of both Russell Forrest Brenner and his wife, Evelyn. The criminal transaction involved acts which occurred at the Mile High Reporting School and at the Brenner residence. The Mile High Reporting School, a school for court reporters, was owned and operated by the Brenners and was located not far from the Brenners' home. Robert Dean Kautz had been a student at the Brenners' court reporting school and had been discharged by the Brenners. The crimes which were committed resulted in charges against both the defendant, Bobby Eugene Salas, and Robert D. Kautz. Kautz plead guilty to murder, and his case is not before us.

Salas and Kautz were charged with first-degree murder for taking the lives of both Russell Forrest Brenner and Evelyn Brenner. 1971 Perm.Supp., C.R.S.1963, 40--3--102. 1 The criminal transaction also brought about charges of second-degree burglary (1971 Perm.Supp., C.R.S.1963, 40--4--203), 2 first-degree burglary (1971 Perm.Supp., C.R.S.1963, 40--4--202), 3 and theft (1971 Perm.Supp., C.R.S.1963, 40--4--401). 4 Salas plead not guilty and was convicted by a jury on all charges except second-degree burglary of the Mile High Reporting School. He was sentenced to life

Page 439

imprisonment, and the remaining sentences were imposed to run concurrently with the life sentence.

I.

Sufficiency of the Evidence

In determining whether a motion for a judgment of acquittal should be granted, the evidence must be gauged by the standard which we initially set forth in People v. Bennett, 183 Colo. 125, 515 P.2d 466 (1973):

'The issue before the trial judge is whether the relevant evidence, both direct and circumstantial, when viewed as a whole and in the light most favorable to the prosecution, is substantial and sufficient to support a conclusion by a reasonable mind that the defendant is guilty of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.'

The guilty verdicts which were returned by the jury are supported by circumstantial evidence which, when viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, provides proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence which supports the jury's verdict was circumstantial, but the quality and the weight of the evidence was sufficient to establish a prima facie case and to create a jury issue on each of the charges on which the jury convicted. When a prima facie case has been made by the prosecution, the trial judge is compelled to submit the issue to the jury for its determination. People v. McClendon, Colo., 533 P.2d 923 (1975); People v. Durbin, Colo., 529 P.2d 630 (1974); People v. [189 Colo. 114] Atencio, Colo., 529 P.2d 636 (1974); People v. Marques, 184 Colo. 262, 520 P.2d 113 (1974); Digiallonardo v. People, 175 Colo. 560, 488 P.2d 1109 (1971); Corbett v. People, 153 Colo. 457, 387 P.2d 409 (1963).

The Facts:

The bodies of Russell Forrest Brenner and Evelyn Brenner were found in the bedroom of their home. They had both been shot with a .22 caliber pistol. Evelyn Brenner also had her jugular vein cut with a knife that was found at the scene. Russell Forrest Brenner suffered cuts and head injuries and bled profusely prior to his death.

The discovery of the Brenners' bodies precipitated a comprehensive police investigation and resulted in the arrest of Kautz and Salas near Trinidad, Colorado. At the time of their arrest, Kautz was driving the Brenners' Mercury Cougar at a high rate of speed, and Salas was in the back seat. Salas claimed, at the time of his arrest, that he was a hitchhiker and that Kautz picked him up at Littleton.

A search of the Brenners' car produced a .22 caliber pistol with blood stains on it. In addition, .22 caliber cartridges were found in Salas' pocket which were identifical to live cartridges resting on Evelyn Brenner's body. Ballistics tests indicated that the defendant's pistol could have fired the bullets which killed the Brenners, although a positive identification could not be made because of the damaged condition of the pistol. However,...

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9 practice notes
  • People v. Roark, No. 80SA389
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • April 5, 1982
    ...under the other. 181 Colo. at 65, 507 P.2d at 877; accord, e.g., People v. Rael, 199 Colo. 201, 612 P.2d 1095 (1980); People v. Salas, 189 Colo. 111, 538 P.2d 437 (1975); see also section 18-1-408(1), C.R.S.1973 (1978 Repl.Vol. It hardly requires demonstration that, among other distinctions......
  • Newton v. State, No. 66
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • May 5, 1977
    ...248 Ark. 367, 452 S.W.2d 317 (1970), rev'd on other grounds, 407 U.S. 366, 92 S.Ct. 2096, 32 L.Ed.2d 798 (1972); State v. Salas, Colo., 538 P.2d 437 (1975); State v. Hall, 86 Idaho 63, 383 P.2d 602 (1963); State v. Chambers, 524 S.W.2d 826 (Mo.1975), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1058, 96 S.Ct. 79......
  • Jeffrey v. District Court In and For Eighth Judicial Dist., No. 80SA476
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 23, 1981
    ...United States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932); People v. Mendoza, 190 Colo. 519, 549 P.2d 766 (1976); People v. Salas, 189 Colo. 111, 538 P.2d 437 (1975); People v. Hancock, 186 Colo. 30, 525 P.2d 435 (1974); People v. Bugarin, 181 Colo. 62, 507 P.2d 875 Section 18-1-302(1)......
  • Armintrout v. People, No. 92SC697
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • December 13, 1993
    ...out of a single transaction if the defendant has violated more than one statute. § 18-1-408(7), 8B C.R.S. (1986); People v. Salas, 189 Colo. 111, 116, 538 P.2d 437, 441 (1975); People v. Martinez, 640 P.2d 255, 256 (Colo.App.1981). In this situation, the sentences imposed must run concurren......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • People v. Roark, No. 80SA389
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • April 5, 1982
    ...under the other. 181 Colo. at 65, 507 P.2d at 877; accord, e.g., People v. Rael, 199 Colo. 201, 612 P.2d 1095 (1980); People v. Salas, 189 Colo. 111, 538 P.2d 437 (1975); see also section 18-1-408(1), C.R.S.1973 (1978 Repl.Vol. It hardly requires demonstration that, among other distinctions......
  • Newton v. State, No. 66
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • May 5, 1977
    ...248 Ark. 367, 452 S.W.2d 317 (1970), rev'd on other grounds, 407 U.S. 366, 92 S.Ct. 2096, 32 L.Ed.2d 798 (1972); State v. Salas, Colo., 538 P.2d 437 (1975); State v. Hall, 86 Idaho 63, 383 P.2d 602 (1963); State v. Chambers, 524 S.W.2d 826 (Mo.1975), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1058, 96 S.Ct. 79......
  • Jeffrey v. District Court In and For Eighth Judicial Dist., No. 80SA476
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • March 23, 1981
    ...United States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932); People v. Mendoza, 190 Colo. 519, 549 P.2d 766 (1976); People v. Salas, 189 Colo. 111, 538 P.2d 437 (1975); People v. Hancock, 186 Colo. 30, 525 P.2d 435 (1974); People v. Bugarin, 181 Colo. 62, 507 P.2d 875 Section 18-1-302(1)......
  • Armintrout v. People, No. 92SC697
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • December 13, 1993
    ...out of a single transaction if the defendant has violated more than one statute. § 18-1-408(7), 8B C.R.S. (1986); People v. Salas, 189 Colo. 111, 116, 538 P.2d 437, 441 (1975); People v. Martinez, 640 P.2d 255, 256 (Colo.App.1981). In this situation, the sentences imposed must run concurren......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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