State v. Ybarra

Decision Date04 February 1965
Docket NumberNo. 1409,1409
Citation398 P.2d 905,97 Ariz. 200
PartiesSTATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. Jesse YBARRA, Appellant.
CourtArizona Supreme Court

Robert W. Pickrell, Atty. Gen., Merton E. Marks, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

Skousen, McLaws & Skousen, Richard E. Skousen, Mesa, for appellant.

McFARLAND, Justice.

Appellant was convicted of the crime of illegal sale of narcotic drug, a felony, in violation of A.R.S. § 36-1002.02 (1961). From the judgment and sentence he appeals. Appellant, hereinafter referred to as defendant, urges as the basis for his appeal that prejudicial error resulted from the answers to two questions of his counsel on cross-examination of Madrid.

The first which he assigns as error was as follows:


'Q. What was Jesse Contreras Saenz, Jr.'s address at the time of March the 1st?

'THE WITNESS: Your Honor, do I have to answer that? We hate to disclose our addresses. It's very--we have had quite a few, number of killings here, and I mean, I'm not trying to----

'THE COURT: One moment here. Counsel, please approach the Bench.

'Whereupon, a discussion had at the Bench between Court and counsel out of the hearing of the reporter.

'Q. (BY DEFENSE COUNSEL) Could you give us his approximate address in relation to streets?

'A. Yes, sir. It was 4th Avenue and Buckeye Rd. However, he stayed at different places at different times. I'm sure that is the address he had at the time. That is how I contacted him.

'Q. Did he ever stay at a place at 3rd Avenue and Pima?

'A. Yes, sir, he did stay there. Especially during the daytime.'

No objection was made to the answer to the question at the time it was given. However, after the noon recess counsel for defendant made a motion for a mistrial on the grounds that the statement that many of their agents have been killed was most prejudicial. It will be noted that the court interrupted the witness, in his answer to the first question, and called counsel to the Bench, and after consultation the counsel for defendant re-framed the question. It is evident that the court was not interrupting the witness because it felt the question was prejudicial to defendant, but to get the question reframed so the witness could give an approximate address of Saenz who was an under-cover agent for the Narcotics Division, and thereby eliminate any possible danger therefrom.

We do not accept the interpretation of defendant that there was an inference that he had been mixed up in killings. The reluctance of the witness to give Saenz's address is understandable in view of the dangerous nature of an under-cover agent's work. Saenz' address was given in the preliminary hearing, so it was known to defendant. The inference of danger, if any, was therefore from others than the defendant.

Defendant also assigns as prejudicial error the answer of Madrid to another question which defense counsel propounded to Madrid on cross-examination, to-wit:

'Q. Jesse, the defendant, did he ever see you before?

'A. I don't know, sir, whether he had or not, or hand't.

'Q. Had you seen the defendant before?

'A. In a mug picture, sir.

'Q. Only in a picture?

'A. Yes.'

No objection was made to the answer to this question, nor was a motion made to strike the unresponsive remark at the time it was made, nor was the court asked to instruct the jury to disregard it. However, it is contended that the reference to defendant's 'mug picture' was such a highly prejudicial remark and inference of prior criminal record of defendant that even if an objection had been made and an admonishment of the court to strike the same, its prejudicial effect could not have been cured.

We have recently held, in the case of State of Arizona v. Jacobs, 94 Ariz. 211, 382 P.2d 683 (1963), that the term 'mug shot' is equally as prejudicial as the reference to a penitentiary photograph.

'The state contends, however, that the term 'mug shot' does not imply a previous criminal record. The simple answer to this is found in Webster's Third International Dictionary, 1961:

"Mug Shot: a photograph of a person's face--usu. used of official police photographs'

'We cannot say that the jury would have understood the words to have anything but their usual meaning and the words 'mug shot' are equally as prejudicial as a 'penitentiary photograph' or a picture taken from a 'gallery."

Under the facts in State v. Jacobs, supra, we held the reference to 'mug pictures' was prejudicial error. However for this court to reverse a case, the error must be prejudicial under the facts of the case under consideration. This court has held the test to be: had the error not been committed was there reasonable probability that the verdict might have been different. State v. Dutton, 83 Ariz. 193, 318 P.2d 667 (1957); State v. Thomas, 79 Ariz. 355, 290 P.2d 470 (1955); State v. Polan, 78 Ariz. 253, 278 P.2d 432 (1954); State v. Singleton, 66 Ariz. 49, 182 P.2d 920 (1947).

This test requires an examination of the evidence. Two witnesses--Roy Charles Madrid, agent for the State Department of Liquor Licenses and Control, Narcotics Division, and Jesse Contreras Saenz, under-cover agent for the Department--testified that they met the defendant on 3rd Street and Hadley in Phoenix, that they drove with him to 930 West Sunland Avenue, Phoenix, where Saenz purchased a quantity of Heroin from defendant, that Madrid initialed the envelope of narcotics and the same was identified at the trial. Claude McLean, a chemist, testified that he tested it and found it to be heroin.

Defendant testified in his own behalf, and corroborated the testimony to the extent that he stated that he received the $25.00 from Saenz to get 'stuff' from his sister, and then testified that later he gave the money back to Saenz because he stated she did not have any. He also stated that he told them she would have the 'stuff' later, and not to come back to his house, that when the 'stuff got in' he would go to his (Saenz') house. However, he denied that he sold Madrid or Saenz any narcotics at the time or later.

On redirect examination by defendant's counsel the following question and answer appears:

'Q. Jesse, in about December of this year were you put in jail for vagrancy?

'A. Yes, I was.'

Under this record, in our opinion, neither of the answers objected to was prejudicial to defendant. Both were developed from answers to questions by defendant's own counsel. The reference to the 'mug picture' is the more serious one. The facts in the instant case are different from those in the Jacobs case, supra, in which ...

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24 cases
  • State v. Verive
    • United States
    • Arizona Court of Appeals
    • March 17, 1981
    ...we have considered several cases, in addition to Jacobs, supra, wherein no objection was made to such a reference. In State v. Ybarra, 97 Ariz. 200, 398 P.2d 905 (1965), no objection was made to the "mug shot" reference, but whether an objection was necessary was not decided. Rather, the co......
  • State v. Mena
    • United States
    • Arizona Supreme Court
    • February 3, 1981
    ...jury would have reached a different verdict as to the charge of aggravated assault but not the charge of escape. See State v. Ybarra, 97 Ariz. 200, 398 P.2d 905 (1965). We therefore reverse defendant's conviction of aggravated assault and remand for a new trial on that charge. Defendant's c......
  • State v. Brady
    • United States
    • Arizona Supreme Court
    • November 13, 1969
    ...was reasonable probability under such facts that a verdict might have been different had the error not been committed. State v. Ybarra, 97 Ariz. 200, 398 P.2d 905; State v. Dutton, 83 Ariz. 193, 318 P.2d 667; State v. Thomas, 79 Ariz. 355, 290 P.2d 470; State v. Polan, 78 Ariz. 253, 278 P.2......
  • State v. Piper
    • United States
    • Arizona Supreme Court
    • September 23, 1976
    ...In far more serious situations we have found no reversible error in the court's failing to grant a mistrial. See State v. Ybarra, 97 Ariz. 200, 398 P.2d 905 (1965); State v. Favors, 92 Ariz. 147, 375 P.2d 260 (1962); State v. Gallegos, 99 Ariz. 168, 407 P.2d 752 (1965); and State v. White, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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