State v. Roque Medina, 082719 IDSCCR, 45117

Docket Nº:45117, 45118
Opinion Judge:Stegner, Justice.
Party Name:STATE OF IDAHO Plaintiff-Respondent, v. JERSSON NEFTALY ROQUE MEDINA Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, Boise, for appellant Jersson Neftaly Roque Medina. Dennis Benjamin argued. Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for respondent State of Idaho. Jeffery D. Nye argued.
Judge Panel:Chief Justice BURDICK, Justices BRODY, BEVAN and MOELLER CONCUR.
Case Date:August 27, 2019
Court:Supreme Court of Idaho
 
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STATE OF IDAHO Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

JERSSON NEFTALY ROQUE MEDINA Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 45117, 45118

Supreme Court of Idaho

August 27, 2019

Appeals from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Bannock County. Stephen S. Dunn, District Judge.

The district court's judgment of conviction of trafficking heroin is affirmed. The judgment of conviction of conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act is vacated and remanded.

Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, Boise, for appellant Jersson Neftaly Roque Medina. Dennis Benjamin argued.

Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for respondent State of Idaho. Jeffery D. Nye argued.

Stegner, Justice.

Following a jury trial, Jersson Neftaly Roque Medina (Medina) was convicted of trafficking heroin and conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.1 The charges were brought through two separate cases that arose out of the same set of facts. The two cases were consolidated and tried together. Medina now appeals his convictions, arguing that (1) fundamental error occurred when he appeared before the jury in chains; (2) fundamental error occurred when the jury instruction listing possible overt acts made in the furtherance of the conspiracy listed numerous acts that did not constitute a proper basis for him to have been found guilty; and (3) there was insufficient evidence to establish the agreement element of the conspiracy charge. For the following reasons, we affirm Medina's judgment of conviction on the trafficking charge and vacate the judgment of conviction on his conspiracy charge.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

After a police-initiated heroin buy, both Medina and Sharon Bernal-Valadez (Valadez) were arrested in Chubbuck, Idaho, on April 14, 2016. The facts are as follows.

In May of 2015, Logan Joyce (Joyce), a heroin dealer in the Pocatello area, would travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to purchase heroin to sell in Idaho. Joyce would then return to his home in Chubbuck and sell the heroin in Pocatello. Joyce purchased the heroin in Salt Lake City at a homeless shelter. After doing this for some time, Joyce got to the point where he wanted to sell more than his then-supplier could provide. At this point, Joyce's supplier introduced him to Medina. By late March 2016, Joyce would contact Medina every couple of weeks to purchase substantial quantities of heroin. Joyce would tell Medina how much money he had, and Medina would inform him how much heroin Joyce could purchase with that amount of money. Medina would typically transport the corresponding quantity of heroin from Salt Lake City to Chubbuck, where Joyce would pay Medina the agreed-upon amount. A typical transaction at that point in time involved approximately 130 grams of heroin for $8, 000. On occasion, Joyce would travel to Salt Lake City to pick up the heroin.

On either April 9 or 10 of 2016, Joyce met with Medina at Joyce's apartment in Chubbuck to buy heroin. Joyce paid Medina $8, 000 for approximately 130 grams of heroin. The transaction was set up through an exchange of text messages.

Unbeknownst to Joyce, months prior to this transaction, Detective Lee Edgley (Edgley) received information that Joyce had been distributing heroin and began investigating Joyce. During the investigation, undercover law enforcement officers made several controlled purchases of heroin from Joyce. After the controlled buys, a search warrant was obtained and law enforcement searched Joyce's residence on April 12, 2016, a few days after Joyce's meeting with Medina. Approximately 153 grams of heroin were seized from Joyce's apartment. Joyce was arrested.

In his post-arrest interview, Joyce showed Edgley a text message conversation referencing Joyce wiring money to an account in Valadez's name in order to pay Medina for the heroin. At that time, Joyce also showed Edgley the most current phone number he had to contact Medina.

On April 13, 2016, after Joyce was booked into jail and a search warrant for Joyce's phone was obtained, Edgley began a text conversation with the number Joyce had told him was Medina's. Edgley arranged to purchase 130 grams of heroin, which would be delivered to "Joyce" the next day for $8, 000, with $7, 000 paid upfront and an additional $1, 000 that would be paid at a later time. The text from Medina's number replied that 130 grams of heroin would be delivered around 5:00 p.m. on April 14, 2016.

On April 14, 2016, after receiving a text message informing him the delivery was close, Edgley, along with other detectives, saw a vehicle registered to Valadez pull into Joyce's apartment complex. The detectives then surrounded the vehicle and removed Valadez and Medina. As Medina was getting out of the vehicle, Edgley seized Medina's phone. He then used Joyce's phone to call the number he had been texting to set up the drug deal. Medina's phone rang, demonstrating that it had been used, presumably by Medina, on the other end of the drug deal.

A canine unit was called and alerted on the car; Medina and Valadez were handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a marked police car. Unbeknownst to Medina and Valadez, the police were recording their conversation. While in the police car, Medina asked Valadez if the officers had found "it" on her. Valadez told Medina to "be quiet." Medina apparently asked again if Valadez still had the drugs. Valadez replied, "Yes, it's here."

Eventually, a female officer arrived and took Valadez from the police car. The officer searched Valadez. That search uncovered approximately 126 grams of heroin (in gross weight including the packaging). Valadez testified that she had placed the package of heroin in her pants at the direction of Medina, knowing the package contained drugs.

On May 19, 2016, a Criminal Information was filed charging Medina with the crime of trafficking in heroin, a violation of Idaho Code section 37-2732B(a)(6)(C). The information alleged that Medina possessed, manufactured, delivered, or knowingly possessed at least twenty-eight grams of heroin. On June 16, 2016, a separate case arose from a second Criminal Information charging Medina with the crime of conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, pursuant to Idaho Code sections 37-2732 and 18-1701. That Information alleged that Medina conspired with Valadez, Joyce, or other unnamed people, and agreed to traffic heroin on or between April 2 and 14, 2016. The two separate charges arose from the same set of facts.

After a hearing and upon stipulation of the parties, the district court ordered the two cases be tried together. A jury found Medina guilty of both charges. On April 20, 2017, the district judge entered judgments of conviction and sentenced Medina to twenty years in the penitentiary with fifteen years determinate, on each charge. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently. Medina timely appealed both convictions.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Alleged constitutional errors during trial that are not followed by a contemporaneous objection "must be reviewed under the fundamental error doctrine." State v. Bernal, 164 Idaho 190, 193, 427 P.3d 1, 4 (2018) (citing State v. Perry, 150 Idaho 209, 228, 245 P.3d 961, 980 (2010)). (The fundamental error standard is produced below.) This Court reviews issues of law de novo. State v. Eliasen, 158 Idaho 542, 546, 348 P.3d 157, 161 (2015) (citing State v. Goggin, 157 Idaho 1, 4, 333 P.3d 112, 115 (2014)).

III. ANALYSIS A. It was not fundamental error for Medina to appear in chains before the jury.

At trial, Joyce...

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