State v. Castillo

Decision Date11 May 2016
Docket NumberNo. 34,270,34,270
PartiesSTATE OF NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JERARDO CASTILLO, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtCourt of Appeals of New Mexico

This memorandum opinion was not selected for publication in the New Mexico Appellate Reports. Please see Rule 12-405 NMRA for restrictions on the citation of unpublished memorandum opinions. Please also note that this electronic memorandum opinion may contain computer-generated errors or other deviations from the official paper version filed by the Court of Appeals and does not include the filing date.


Mark Sanchez, District Judge

Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General

Santa Fe, NM

Charles J. Gutierrez, Assistant Attorney General

Albuquerque, NM

for Appellee

Templeman and Crutchfield

C. Barry Crutchfield

Lovington, NM

for Appellant


SUTIN, Judge.

{1} Following a jury trial, Defendant Jerardo Castillo was convicted of kidnapping, aggravated battery against a household member with a deadly weapon, and aggravated assault against a household member with intent to commit a violent felony. On appeal, Defendant challenges only his kidnapping conviction and raises two issues: (1) whether sufficient evidence of confinement was presented in support of his kidnapping conviction; and (2) whether the conduct underlying Defendant's kidnapping conviction was merely incidental to the commission of the aggravated battery and assault. We affirm.


{2} This case arises from a series of events that occurred between July 8 and 18, 2012. Victim was living in Albuquerque in July 2012, and she and Defendant had previously been in a relationship. In an effort to reconcile with Defendant, Victim went to Hobbs to arrange a birthday party for him. On July 9, the morning Victim arrived in Hobbs, she and Defendant began to argue, and Defendant burned her hand with a hot clothes iron. Shortly thereafter, on the same day, Defendant took Victim into the bathroom of his home and held a pistol inside her mouth with his finger on the trigger while interrogating her about whether she had been unfaithful to him. Apart from this specific conduct that took place on July 9, throughout the time Victim was in Hobbs, Victim was subjected to continuous physical and psychological abuse byDefendant. Further relevant facts are discussed in more detail in this Opinion as they pertain to Defendant's issues on appeal.

I. Sufficient Evidence of Confinement Was Presented to Support Defendant's Kidnapping Conviction

{3} Defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence presented to support his kidnapping conviction, specifically with respect to the element of confinement.

{4} "Substantial evidence review requires analysis of whether direct or circumstantial substantial evidence exists and supports a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to every element essential for conviction. We determine whether a rational fact[-]finder could have found that each element of the crime was established beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Kent, 2006-NMCA-134, ¶ 10, 140 N.M. 606, 145 P.3d 86 (citations omitted). To convict Defendant of kidnapping, the State was required to prove:

1. . . . [D]efendant confined [Victim] by force or intimidation;
2. . . . [D]efendant intended to hold [Victim] against [Victim's] will: to inflict death or physical injury on [Victim];
3. This happened in New Mexico on or between the 8th and the 18th days of July[] 2012.

See NMSA 1978, § 30-4-1 (2003); UJI 14-403 NMRA; see also State v. Smith, 1986-NMCA-089, ¶ 7, 104 N.M. 729, 726 P.2d 883 ("Jury instructions become the law of the case against which the sufficiency of the evidence is to be measured.").

{5} Because Defendant challenges only the sufficiency of the evidence presented with respect to the confinement element of kidnapping, we focus our analysis on this element. In support of his contention, Defendant argues that the evidence presented at trial with respect to this element was insufficient for four reasons: (1) that Victim initiated the travel to Hobbs to arrange a birthday party for Defendant; (2) upon arrival in Hobbs, Victim said that "she was staying" and "wanted to be here with [Defendant]"; (3) that Defendant never told Victim that she could not leave his house, and Victim did travel outside of the home; and (4) that Victim had a cell phone but never sought help from law enforcement or other people during the time she was in Hobbs. For the reasons discussed in this Opinion, we disagree. We hold that over the period that Victim was in Hobbs, Defendant engaged in a continuous pattern of physical abuse, punctuated by psychological abuse, that had the effect of intimidating Victim into being too afraid to leave, effectively confining Victim.

{6} Victim testified that Defendant and his cousin drove Victim and Victim's son from Albuquerque to Hobbs. They left Albuquerque the night of July 8 and arrived in Hobbs early the next morning. The morning Victim arrived in Hobbs, on July 9,Defendant and Victim began arguing as Defendant was ironing his clothes on the kitchen table. When Victim told Defendant that he should change his life and be more careful, Defendant became angry and accused Victim of infidelity and of not caring about him while he was recently away.1 Defendant became upset and burned Victim on her hand with the hot iron. This conduct served as the basis for Defendant's aggravated battery conviction. See NMSA 1978, § 30-3-16(C) (2008) (setting forth the crime of aggravated battery against a household member with a deadly weapon).

{7} Shortly thereafter, also on July 9, Defendant began hitting Victim. Victim asked that Defendant take her into a different room so that Victim's son, who was in the living room watching television, would not witness the hitting. Defendant and Victim went into the bathroom, where Defendant again accused Victim of infidelity while he was away. Defendant placed the barrel of a handgun in Victim's mouth and made her suck on the gun in a manner simulating fellatio. Defendant angrily held the gun with his finger on the trigger with such pressure in Victim's mouth that Victim was frightened that the gun would accidentally fire. During this time, Victim heard a voice outside, and Defendant told Victim that there were people digging a hole to bury her. Victim was scared that if she screamed, she would be hit more. This conduct servedas the basis for Defendant's aggravated assault conviction. See NMSA 1978, § 30-3-14 (1995) (setting forth the crime of assault against a household member with intent to commit a violent felony).

{8} Hoping that the abuse from the morning would not recur, Victim still wanted to reconcile with Defendant and host Defendant's birthday party because that was the reason she went to Hobbs. Also on July 9, Victim and her son went shopping with Defendant's sister, Sally Prieto, to buy food for the barbeque. They returned to Ms. Prieto's house to wait for Defendant's arrival, and eight of Defendant's family members also arrived. Ultimately, the barbeque did not happen because upon Defendant's arrival at Ms. Prieto's house, another physical altercation took place between Victim and Defendant. In Ms. Prieto's front yard, where no one else was present, Defendant choked Victim until she blacked out; by the time Victim regained consciousness, she saw other family members nearby, but nobody offered help. Defendant and Victim left Ms. Prieto's house after the choking, and Victim felt that she "had to go with [Defendant.]" Victim left her son at Ms. Prieto's house for a couple of hours so that he would not have to witness any additional abuse. Victim was afraid that if she tried to run away, Defendant would catch her because she could not outrun him and the beating would become worse. Victim could not recall whereDefendant took her after they left Ms. Prieto's house, but they returned to Ms. Prieto's house to pick up Victim's son before eventually going back to Defendant's home.

{9} Separate from the acts of Defendant burning Victim with a clothes iron and putting a pistol in her mouth, Victim testified she was subjected to continuous physical and psychological abuse by Defendant throughout the remainder of her stay in Hobbs. After they left Ms. Prieto's house on July 9, Victim and Defendant made up, and Victim testified that she wanted to believe that the abuse was over. However, this was not the case, and until Victim left Hobbs, Defendant beat Victim for "hours" at a time, subsequently passing out because he was so tired from beating her. When Defendant was passed out, Victim said she had to remain lying down next to him because if she did not, she was afraid Defendant would think she was trying to leave and the abuse would start again. Victim testified that she did not think she could run away with her young son without Defendant catching her. When Defendant awoke, Defendant and Victim would have sex, and "it would be okay for a couple more hours." However, something would trigger Defendant's anger, and he would again beat Victim repeatedly. Victim characterized the beating as occurring in a deliberate manner that was "slow" and "not [] constant," on-going for hours, and punctuated by repeated questions about whether Victim had been unfaithful to Defendant while he was away. If Victim answered in the negative, she would be hit again becauseDefendant thought she was lying. Victim was not allowed to talk, fight back, argue, or ask Defendant questions while the abuse was ongoing. Victim testified that Defendant "had a gun the whole time."

{10} Apart from the use of the iron on July 9, Victim also testified that Defendant used other weapons to inflict physical abuse: a police baton, a curtain rod, and a torch. On one occasion, Defendant pushed Victim into a wall in the bedroom of his home, resulting in a hole in the wall. After Victim fell onto the bed, Defendant used the baton to choke her. Using his hands, Defendant also...

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