State v. Martinez

CourtSupreme Court of New Mexico
Citation478 P.3d 880
Docket NumberNO. S-1-SC-36502,S-1-SC-36502
Parties STATE of New Mexico, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Ricardo MARTINEZ, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date19 November 2020

478 P.3d 880

STATE of New Mexico, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Ricardo MARTINEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

NO. S-1-SC-36502

Supreme Court of New Mexico.

Filing Date: November 19, 2020

Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender, Allison H. Jaramillo, Assistant Appellate Defender, Santa Fe, NM, for Appellant

Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General, Eran Shemuel Sharon, Assistant Attorney General, Santa Fe, NM, for Appellee

VIGIL, Chief Justice.

478 P.3d 886

{1} Convicted of two counts of murder in the first degree, Defendant Ricardo Martinez seeks reversal and a new trial on grounds that the district court erred by (1) denying his motion to suppress out-of-court and in-court identification testimony, (2) excluding witness testimony, thereby depriving him of the ability to present a complete defense, (3) admitting prior bad acts evidence under Rule 11-404(B) NMRA, and (4) refusing to charge the jury in accordance with his requested instructions on the use of informant testimony.

{2} With respect to the eyewitness identification issue, Defendant challenges the continued viability of the prevailing federal rule, as articulated in Manson v. Brathwaite , 432 U.S. 98, 97 S.Ct. 2243, 53 L.Ed.2d 140 (1977), governing the admission of identification evidence. Under Manson , courts apply a two-part test to determine the admissibility of eyewitness identification evidence, addressing first whether police identification procedures were "unnecessarily suggestive" and, if so, weighing specified factors in deciding the "linchpin" issue of whether the eyewitness identification was nonetheless sufficiently reliable to satisfy federal due process requirements. See id. at 113-14, 97 S.Ct. 2243. Although the Manson reliability test has been widely adopted among state courts, including our own, see, e.g. , Patterson v. LeMaster , 2001-NMSC-013, ¶ 20, 130 N.M. 179, 21 P.3d 1032 ; State v. Baca , 1983-NMSC-049, ¶ 18, 99 N.M. 754, 664 P.2d 360, it has come to face ever-increasing criticism from legal scholars as a result of major advances in scientific knowledge of eyewitness memory, perception, and recall, knowledge that contradicts many of the analytical assumptions underlying the rule.

{3} In light of the significant, recurrent, and deeply troubling problems caused by unnecessarily suggestive, police-arranged identification procedures, we take this opportunity to consider our state constitutional jurisprudence as it relates to the admission of this type of powerful yet problematic evidence in New Mexico courts. We ultimately hold that the Manson test does not satisfy due process under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution, and we adopt standards that must be satisfied before such evidence is admissible.

{4} Although we agree with Defendant that Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution requires departure from the existing federal Manson rule, we affirm the district court order denying his motion to suppress because (a) the identification procedures used were not impermissibly suggestive under existing federal standards, and (b) the evidence presented by Defendant failed to establish prima facie that some aspect of the identification procedure used was suggestive in nature under our newly-adopted standards. We also affirm on the remaining issues.


A. The Homicide of Cisneros and AO

{5} Eighteen-year-old Venancio Cisneros and his thirteen-year-old girlfriend AO had been shot when they were discovered in Cisneros's car off a dirt road in Santa Fe on October 25, 2014. A Santa Fe County Sheriff's Deputy responding to a medical assist call based on information that two individuals in a vehicle were unresponsive found Cisneros and AO, who were deceased when the deputy arrived. Autopsies indicated that gunshot wounds to the head were the cause of death of both victims. The autopsies also indicated that the victims’ wounds were consistent with gunshots fired at them by someone sitting in the back seat of the car. The pathologist could not provide a precise time of death but stated that the homicides could have occurred after 2:00 p.m. on October 24, 2014.

B. The Investigation

{6} On November 3, 2014, Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office Detective David Jaramillo received a call from Cisneros's mother. She told Detective Jaramillo that she met a potential

478 P.3d 887

eyewitness named Emilio Benitez and provided Detective Jaramillo with Benitez's contact information. Detective Jaramillo contacted Benitez shortly after receiving this phone call and arranged to speak with him. During their conversation, Benitez confirmed that he witnessed someone walking away from Cisneros's vehicle on October 24, 2014. Later on the same day, Benitez met with Detective Jaramillo and other police officers at the crime scene to describe what he saw on the day of the shooting. Detective Jaramillo recorded his interview with Benitez. Benitez stated that while he was parked in front of his friend's house, he witnessed a car, later identified as Cisneros's vehicle, arrive and park at the location where Cisneros and AO were found dead. Benitez said he did not see how many people were in the car when it arrived. Benitez said that soon thereafter, he drove back to his house, which was about two blocks away, to pick up a battery charger to start a truck at his friend's house. As he drove home, Benitez said he heard two gunshots. When Benitez arrived back at his friend's house about ten to fifteen minutes later, he said he witnessed someone about fifty yards away walking away from Cisneros's vehicle and that he was able to look straight at this person for a few seconds. Benitez stated that all of this occurred between 1:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. on October 24, 2014.

{7} Benitez gave the officers a physical description of the individual he saw. Benitez described the individual as being young, skinny, and with skin that was a "little dark" and as having neck and arm tattoos. He also stated that the individual's hair was about two inches long and that the individual had a moustache and short goatee. Benitez told the officers that he did not have good eyesight but that he could recognize the person he saw if he was shown a picture. After Detective Jaramillo stopped recording his interaction with Benitez, they continued to talk. Benitez testified that at this time, Detective Jaramillo showed him five or six "jail photos" of different individuals, including a picture of Defendant, as Benitez sat in Detective Jaramillo's vehicle. Detective Jaramillo disputed showing Benitez photos at this time. Benitez testified that Detective Jaramillo asked him whether he recognized the person he saw at the scene in any of the photographs he was shown. Benitez further testified that he identified the person he saw at the scene of the shooting as one of the individuals in the photos presented to him by Detective Jaramillo.

{8} On November 3, 2014, Detective Jaramillo interviewed Defendant's friend Jesus Rodriguez. After this interview, Rodriguez contacted Defendant. He told Defendant that the police suspected that he and Defendant murdered Cisneros and AO. Rodriguez also told Defendant that during the interview, the officers had a picture of Defendant. Upon learning that he was a suspect, Defendant left Santa Fe and traveled to Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his uncle Melicendro Martinez.

{9} Detective Jaramillo assembled a photo array and requested that Benitez come to the sheriff's office to view the array on November 5, 2014. The array was composed of six photographs some of which were apparently the same photos shown to Benitez two days before as well as some photos that were new to him. During the presentation of the photo array, Benitez identified a photo of the person he saw at the scene of the shooting. Benitez stated that the photograph was of the same individual who he identified at the scene of the shooting as the person he saw walking away from Cisneros's car on October 24, 2014. This was a photograph of Defendant.

{10} Based on Benitez's identification, Detective Jaramillo prepared an arrest warrant for Defendant and a search warrant for Defendant's residence, DNA, and phone records. Police executed the search warrant for Defendant's residence on November 7, 2014, and collected five cell phones and a smoking pipe.

{11} On November 12, 2014, the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office received a crime stoppers tip that Defendant could be found at an apartment in Colorado Springs. In collaboration with the United States Marshals and the Colorado Springs Police Department, Defendant's location in Colorado Springs was confirmed.

478 P.3d 888

Defendant and Melicendro were both arrested on November 15, 2014.

{12} Two days later, on November 17, 2014, Detective Jaramillo interviewed Defendant at the El Paso County Detention Center in Colorado Springs. Defendant stated that he did not know Cisneros or AO well, that he had met them through friends, and that he had only known Cisneros for three or four months. Defendant admitted that he and Melicendro got into Cisneros's car on the day of the shooting; however, Defendant consistently asserted that he did not know who killed Cisneros and AO or why it happened. Defendant...

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