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Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, LLP, Boise, for appellant. Jeffrey Brownson argued.
Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; John C. McKinney, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. John C. McKinney argued.
Martin Cardenas Cardoza appeals from his conviction for aiding and abetting trafficking in methamphetamine, Idaho Code §§ 37-2732B(a)(4), 18-204. Cardoza contends that the district court erred in admitting evidence that he had engaged in prior drug transactions and evidence that methamphetamine was found in his pickup in Oregon. The State cross-appeals, contending that the district court erred by denying its request for restitution for the prosecutor's time spent on this case. We affirm the judgment of conviction, vacate the restitution order, and remand for further proceedings.
In May of 2011, an individual was arrested by the Idaho State Police. At the time, he was on felony probation for drug possession. With the aim of avoiding adverse probation consequences, this individual agreed to cooperate with law enforcement in pursuit of other drug distributors. He told Idaho State Police Detective Christensen that he had been selling methamphetamine that he obtained in bulk periodically from J.C. and another man he had met and communicated with several times but knew only as " El Primo." The informant further said that sometimes both men made the delivery but other times El Primo was alone. At Christensen's request, the informant arranged for the delivery of one pound of methamphetamine. The informant contacted El Primo and set a time for the delivery at a mall parking lot in Nampa.
The informant, Christensen, and several ISP officers attended and awaited the arrival of the vehicle that the informant said had been used in previous deliveries, a green GMC Yukon with Canyon County, Idaho license plates. When the Yukon arrived, it was accompanied by a red Mazda whose driver was apparently engaged in countersurveillance. The drivers were the only occupants of the vehicles. Before any exchange or contact between the informant and either driver, police pulled the drivers from the vehicles and arrested them. The driver of the Yukon was the defendant, Cardoza, whom the informant identified as the person he knew as El Primo. The driver of the Mazda was Trinidad Cardoza, the defendant's uncle. The Yukon was registered to Trinidad. A plastic bag containing a pound of methamphetamine was found on the floor of the Yukon, partially hidden under a piece of paper.
The police, with the aid of Oregon authorities, obtained search and arrest warrants and went to J.C.'s residence in Nyssa, Oregon. There they found parked outside of the residence a white pickup with California plates that was registered to Cardoza. In searching the pickup, police found over one pound of methamphetamine in the glove box and airbag compartment.
Based upon the drugs found in Idaho in the Yukon, Cardoza was charged with aiding and abetting trafficking in methamphetamine (over 400 grams) by delivery or possession, I.C. §§ 37-2732B(a)(4), 18-204. Prior to trial, and pursuant to Idaho Rule of Evidence 404(b), the prosecution filed a notice of its intent to introduce evidence of the methamphetamine found in Cardoza's truck in Oregon and testimony from the informant concerning Cardoza's procedures and statements in prior drug deliveries. At a hearing after jury voir dire but before opening statements, the prosecutor made an offer of proof of the nature of the evidence and testimony he sought to introduce. Defense counsel objected, contending that such evidence would be unfairly prejudicial. The district court concluded the evidence was relevant to, among other things, showing Cardoza's knowledge of the presence of the drugs in the Yukon and that its probative value was not substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice to Cardoza. Accordingly, the district
court held Rule 404(b) did not preclude admission of ...