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State of Idaho v. Lazarus Salazar

February 13, 2012

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
LAZARUS SALAZAR,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District, State of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. James C. Morfitt; Hon. Bradly S. Ford, District Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lansing, Judge

2012 Opinion No. 9

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

Judgment of conviction and sentences for two counts of aggravated battery, affirmed.

Lazarus Salazar appeals from the judgment of conviction entered upon a jury verdict finding him guilty of two counts of aggravated battery. He contends the trial court erroneously admitted a detective's testimony identifying Salazar as the person shown in a security system photograph taken during the offense. He also asserts that his sentences are excessive.

I.

BACKGROUND

On March 6, 2009, two rival gangs fought outside the entrance of a Nampa grocery store. During the fight, which was captured on the store's video surveillance system, one of the men from the first gang stabbed two men from the second gang. Law enforcement concluded that Salazar was the perpetrator of the stabbings. He was charged with two counts of aggravated battery, Idaho Code §§ 18-903(a), 18-907(a)(b); with two corresponding deadly weapon sentence enhancements, I.C. § 19-2520; and two enhancements for committing the batteries with the intent to promote the activities of a criminal gang, I.C. § 18-8503.

The store's security videos show that the man who stabbed the two victims had a shaved head and sported a goatee. During Salazar's trial, a police detective was presented with a still picture of this man taken from one of the surveillance videos. Over Salazar's objection, the detective was allowed to testify that he recognized the person shown in the photo as Salazar. Salazar was found guilty of all charges. The district court imposed, inclusive of sentence enhancements, a unified sentence of thirteen years' imprisonment with five years fixed on one count and a consecutive unified sentence of twenty-four years with ten years fixed on the other.

Salazar appeals, contending that the court erred in admitting the detective's identification testimony and that the court imposed excessive sentences.

II.

ANALYSIS

A. Security Videotape Identification Testimony

The detective's testimony that he believed the person in the photograph to be Salazar amounts to lay opinion testimony; it therefore is governed by Idaho Rule of Evidence 701. As relevant to this case, that rule provides that lay opinion testimony is admissible if it is rationally based on the perception of the witness, helpful to a determination ...


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