State v. Garcia, 14029

CourtSupreme Court of New Mexico
Citation99 N.M. 771,664 P.2d 969,1983 NMSC 8
Docket NumberNo. 14029,14029
PartiesSTATE of New Mexico, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Richard Reynaldo GARCIA, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date20 January 1983

[99 NM 772] Michael Dickman, Appellate Defender, Lynne Corr, Asst. Appellate Defender, Santa Fe, for defendant-appellant.

Jeff Bingaman, Atty. Gen., Anthony Tupler, Asst. Atty. Gen., Santa Fe, for plaintiff-appellee.

[99 NM 773] OPINION

RIORDAN, Justice.

Richard Reynaldo Garcia (Defendant) was convicted of two murders in the first degree for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment and a sentence of death. Defendant appeals. We affirm.

The issues on appeal are:

I. Whether Corrections Officer Louis Jewett's statement was properly introduced into evidence as a dying declaration.

II. Whether references to the "Los Carnales" elicited by the State during testimony and emphasized by the State during closing arguments deprived Defendant of a fair trial.

III. Whether New Mexico's Capital Felony Sentencing Act, Sections 31-20A-1 through 31-20A-6, N.M.S.A.1978 (Repl.Pamp.1981), is unconstitutional because it sanctions cruel and unusual punishment.

IV. Whether the jury instructions used for sentencing were inconsistent and confusing, thereby providing inadequate standards for the jury to decide between the death penalty and life imprisonment.

V. Whether Defendant's sentence of death is excessive and/or disproportionate under the circumstances.

Defendant was convicted of killing Corrections Officer Louis Jewett (Jewett) and inmate Bobby "Barbershop" Carabajal Garcia (Bobby Garcia). On February 26, 1981, at approximately eight o'clock in the evening, Defendant, a southside porter in cellblock three 1, asked Jewett if he could go to the northside of cellblock three to take some books to inmate Jesse Trujillo (Trujillo) 2. The northside grill was opened for Defendant. The following events lasted only a few minutes. Defendant walked or ran into the northside tier. Trujillo was outside his cell because he was returning from the showers. Bobby Garcia, a northside porter in cellblock three, was out on the main northside tier, talking to another inmate. Jewett was heard yelling, "You guys stop that." A brief commotion ensued among Trujillo, Defendant and Bobby Garcia. Jewett then ran towards the commotion. Bobby Garcia was next seen running towards the officers' station. Bobby Garcia, bleeding, ran through the open grill into the guard station. He was followed by Defendant, Trujillo and Jewett. Trujillo and Defendant were armed with "shanks". 3 Bobby Garcia ran to the southwest corner of the station and picked up a plastic trash can to try to fend off Trujillo and Defendant, who were both stabbing at Bobby Garcia. Jewett jumped on Trujillo from behind and fastened a "bearhug" on him. At that point, Defendant turned his attention to Jewett and while Jewett was holding on to Trujillo, Defendant stabbed Jewett in his side or lower back. Momentarily, everything came to a standstill. Then, Bobby Garcia ran towards the basement stairs. Jewett continued to struggle as both Trujillo and Defendant stabbed at him. Two officers yelled at Jewett to join them behind the northside grill, but Jewett collapsed. The southside grill was then opened and both Defendant and Trujillo entered with blood on their hands and the

[99 NM 774] shanks that they held. When other officers arrived, Defendant approached the grill and stated to Captain Joe Baca 4, "Baca, we didn't mean to get the officer but he got in the way."

Bobby Garcia and Jewett were taken from the Penitentiary to the hospital. Bobby Garcia died shortly thereafter from multiple stab wounds to his chest and back. Jewett died approximately one month later from the injuries he sustained.


After the stabbing, Jewett was taken to Saint Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He underwent surgery and was taken to the intensive care unit. On March 6, 1981, Jewett was moved to a regular ward because his condition started to show signs of improvement and stability. The attorneys for Defendant and the State were scheduled to take Jewett's deposition on March 26, 1981. However, the deposition was cancelled because Jewett's condition worsened. On April 2, 1981, upon learning that Jewett's health was rapidly deteriorating, an Assistant District Attorney and Officer Ross of the New Mexico State Police, went to the hospital and obtained a statement from Jewett. Jewett died on April 4, 1981.

Jewett's tape recorded statement was later transcribed. In his statement, Jewett stated that he was trying to break up a fight among Defendant, Trujillo and Bobby Garcia. He saw both Defendant and Trujillo with shanks. Both were stabbing at Bobby Garcia. Jewett stated that while he was trying to break up the fight, Defendant stabbed him in the back with a shank.

At oral argument, both attorneys agreed that the recently decided case of State v. Quintana, 98 N.M. 17, 644 P.2d 531 (1982), controls this issue of the admissibility of the dying declaration. In Quintana, we held that a dying declaration is admissible, when looking at the particular circumstances of a case, if there is a showing that the statement was made under a sense of "impending death".

In the present case, Officer Ross testified that at the time of the interview, Jewett looked pale and thin. During the interview, Jewett was asked, "Did they discuss your chances of improvement?", to which he answered, "Oh, yes, nil." Jewett was again asked, "Mr. Jewett, you understand what your chances of recovery are?", and Jewett answered, "Nil." Therefore, the circumstances surrounding the taking of Jewett's statement and the language in the statement itself, are sufficient to show that Jewett believed his death was imminent.

The admissibility of such evidence is within the sound discretion of the trial court, and its ruling will be upheld unless there is a showing of an abuse of that discretion. State v. Smith, 92 N.M. 533, 591 P.2d 664 (1979). We find that there was no abuse of the trial court's discretion in admitting Jewett's statement.


At trial, the State called to the stand cellblock three inmate Danny Macias (Macias). Before the start of Macias's testimony, Defendant made a motion in limine 5 to prohibit any mention of "Los Carnales" by Macias during the trial. The trial court denied the motion and allowed the evidence for the purpose of showing motive. During Macias' testimony, Defendant objected to all the testimony concerning "Los Carnales", asserting that such testimony was irrelevant and prejudicial.

Macias testified that Defendant had come by his cell in the early evening of February 26, 1981, and briefly told Macias that he [99 NM 775]

(Defendant) was going to kill Bobby Garcia. Defendant then came by about ten minutes later and again stated that he was going to kill Bobby Garcia. At this time, Macias asked why, to which Defendant answered, "he [Defendant] was talking to [Bobby Garcia] * * * that he [Defendant] was going to kill Lieutenant Mayfield 6 if Lieutenant Mayfield testified against [him] * * *. He [Bobby Garcia] embarrassed me by saying that I wasn't going to do anything. I am going to show him that 'Los Carnales' are here to stay, we're going to run this place." Macias testified that "Los Carnales" was a gang inside the Penitentiary in which he, Defendant, Trujillo and three others were members. Macias further stated that the gang's purpose was to control the Penitentiary by controlling the inmates and the drug trade within the Penitentiary

Sam Mascarenas, an alleged member of "Los Carnales" and an inmate in cellblock three, testified as a defense witness. When asked about "Los Carnales", he testified that it was a low-rider's club that he was trying to start in cellblock three for the "guys in population". However, the Penitentiary would not approve the proposed club.

Defendant also testified about this issue when he took the stand. He testified that he was a member of "Los Carnales", a low-rider car club in Albuquerque in 1977, and that he tried to start a low-rider car club in the Penitentiary for the "general population". He stated that his "Los Carnales" tattoo, which indicates membership in the alleged club, was tattooed on him before his incarceration. Defendant further testified that he was acting in self-defense in the stabbing of Bobby Garcia because "[Bobby Garcia] was after him" for not doing some of Bobby Garcia's porter duties.

On rebuttal, the State called cellblock three inmate Nick Sena (Sena). Sena testified that he was a member of "Los Carnales" and that "Los Carnales" was not a car club. He also testified that membership in "Los Carnales" is indicated by a tattoo, which he showed the court.

In closing arguments, the State made reference to "Los Carnales" by stating that Defendant was a member, that the reason Defendant wanted to kill Bobby Garcia was because Bobby Garcia had insulted "Los Carnales", and that the gang was organized to take over the Penitentiary.

On appeal, Defendant claims that the testimony concerning "Los Carnales" was irrelevant and so prejudicial that he was deprived of a fair trial.

N.M.R.Evid. 401, N.M.S.A.1978, states:

"Relevant evidence" means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.

Defendant claims that the evidence concerning "Los Carnales" was irrelevant. The trial court allowed the evidence to show motive. There is evidence to support the theory that the reason the stabbing occurred was because Bobby Garcia had insulted Defendant's club, "Los Carnales". Therefore, the evidence was relevant and could properly be admitted under Rule 404(b), N.M.S.A.1978, to show motive.

N.M.R.Evid. 404(b) states:

Evidence of other crimes, wrongs or...

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