State v. Haynes, A-1-CA-37859

Case DateDecember 14, 2021
CourtCourt of Appeals of New Mexico

STATE OF NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff-Appellee,


No. A-1-CA-37859

Court of Appeals of New Mexico

December 14, 2021

Corrections to this opinion/decision not affecting the outcome, at the Court's discretion, can occur up to the time of publication with NM Compilation Commission. The Court will ensure that the electronic version of this opinion/decision is updated accordingly in Odyssey.


Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General Santa Fe, NM Meryl E. Francolini, Assistant Attorney General Albuquerque, NM for Appellee

Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender William O'Connell, Assistant Appellate Defender Santa Fe, NM for Appellant



{¶1} Rakeem Guadalupe Haynes (Defendant) appeals, following a jury trial, from his conviction of receiving stolen property (dispose) (over $500), contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 30-16-11(I) (2006). On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction, specifically contending that the State failed


to prove the corpus delicti of the alleged crime with any evidence other than Defendant's own statements. Defendant also challenges the admission of a Facebook conversation between himself and the alleged victim, Steve Pembleton. We reverse on the ground that the State did not present sufficient evidence to support Defendant's conviction, and therefore do not reach the evidentiary issue.


{¶2} Substantial evidence claims may be raised for the first time on appeal. State v. Stein, 1999-NMCA-065, ¶ 9, 127 N.M. 362, 981 P.2d 295. "We review de novo any claim that the [s]tate failed to prove the corpus delicti of the charged offense, but we take all findings of fact that support a conviction as given if supported by substantial evidence." State v. Martinez, 2021-NMSC-012, ¶ 32, 483 P.3d 590 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

{¶3} Defendant contends that the State presented no evidence establishing that he "disposed of the stolen firearm apart from his own admission that he had done so." Disposal of the firearm is a necessary element for Defendant's conviction. The corpus delicti rule provides that "unless the corpus delicti of the offense charged has been otherwise established, a conviction cannot be sustained solely on [the] extrajudicial confessions or admissions of the accused." State v. Paris, 1966-NMSC-039, ¶ 6, 76 N.M. 291, 414 P.2d 512 (emphasis added). "The term 'corpus delicti,' which literally means 'body of the crime,' refers to the evidence needed to establish


that the charged crime was actually committed." State v. Weisser, 2007-NMCA-015, ¶ 10, 141 N.M. 93, 150 P.3d 1043 (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 369 (8th ed. 2004)), abrogated on other grounds as recognized by State v. Bregar, 2017-NMCA-028, ¶ 49, 390 P.3d 212. Two commonly cited reasons for the rule are, "to prevent the conviction of those who confessed to non-existent crimes as a result of coercion or mental illness . . . [and] promoting better police work by requiring the prosecution to prove its case without the aid of confessions." Id. ¶ 14 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

{¶4} In reviewing a corpus deliciti challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, New Mexico applies a modified trustworthiness rule: "[A]n extrajudicial statement may be used to establish the corpus delicti where the statement is shown to be trustworthy and where there is some independent evidence to confirm the existence of the alleged loss or injury." Id. ¶¶ 17-18 (reviewing the rule announced in Paris, 1966-NMSC-039, ¶¶ 11, 13). "Although subsequent decisions raised questions as to whether Paris was still the correct standard, the Paris rule was ultimately adopted by [this Court] in Weisser . . . and by [our New Mexico Supreme Court] in [State v.] Wilson, 2011-NMSC-001, ¶ 16, 149 N.M. 273, 248 P.3d 315[, overruled on other grounds by State v. Tollardo, 2012-NMSC-008, ¶ 37, 275 P.3d 110]." Martinez, 2021-NMSC-012, ¶ 31. "Now, 'under New Mexico's modern approach, a defendant's extrajudicial statements may be used to establish the corpus delicti when


the prosecution is able to demonstrate the trustworthiness of the confession and introduce some independent evidence of a criminal act.'" Id. (alteration omitted) (quoting Wilson, 2011-NMSC-001, ¶ 15). "This independent evidence can consist of either direct or circumstantial evidence, but such evidence must be independent of a defendant's own extrajudicial statements." Bregar, 2017-NMCA-028, ¶ 46 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

{¶5} In Weisser, this Court stated that, "[w]e do not think that the fact that [the d]efendant made multiple extrajudicial statements . . . is sufficient to establish the trustworthiness of his statements." 2007-NMCA-015, ¶ 30. "Rather, we believe that the evidence used to establish the trustworthiness of [the d]efendant's statements must actually concern the content of his statements, not merely the circumstances surrounding them." Id.; see id. (citing Doe v. State...

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