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State v. Garcia

Court of Appeals of Idaho

March 25, 2014

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
ROBERT JAVIER GARCIA, JR., Defendant-Appellant

As corrected July 15, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision is not final until exception of the 21 day petition for rehearing period. Pursuant to rule 118 of the Idaho Appellate Rules

2014 Opinion No. 21

Appeal from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, State of Idaho, Blaine County. Hon. Robert J. Elgee, District Judge.

Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Elizabeth A. Allred, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Daphne J. Huang, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

LANSING, Judge. Judge GRATTON and Judge MELANSON CONCUR.

OPINION

Page 355

LANSING, Judge

Robert Javier Garcia, Jr. appeals from his conviction for aiding and abetting delivery of methamphetamine. Garcia contends that the evidence was insufficient to convict and that the district court erred by granting the jury's request to have a portion of an informant's testimony read back to them after deliberations had begun. We affirm the sufficiency of the evidence, but vacate the conviction on the latter claim of error.

I.

BACKGROUND

In June or July of 2010, an individual was arrested for felony possession of methamphetamine. In exchange for reduction of the charge to an unspecified misdemeanor, he agreed to cooperate with law enforcement in pursuit of drug distributors. In August 2010, this individual (hereinafter " informant'), at the behest of a Blaine County detective, telephoned Ricardo Vargas-Hurtado and arranged to buy one-eighth of an ounce of methamphetamine. The transaction was set to take place on August 25, 2010, at a Hailey, Idaho apartment building.

Before the appointed time for the meeting, the police outfitted the informant with an audio recording device and gave him $350 in marked bills, and four officers set up surveillance. As a result of the transaction that followed, Garcia was charged with aiding and abetting delivery of methamphetamine, Idaho Code § § 37-2732(a)(1)(A), 18-204. The State alleged that Garcia delivered the methamphetamine to Jose Hurtado-Delatorre who in turn delivered it to the informant.

At Garcia's trial, the informant described events that occurred following his arrival to pick up the drugs at the arranged meeting with Vargas-Hurtado. The informant sad that when he arrived, Vargas-Hurtado and Hurtado-Delatorre were outside on the front lawn. Hurtado-Delatorre made a phone call and told the informant that the methamphetamine

Page 356

would be there in about an hour. A short time later, defendant Garcia drove up in a white Mercedes SUV. The informant knew Garcia from previous encounters, but their conversation at the scene was limited to saying hello. Garcia and Hurtado-Delatorre spoke, but the informant was not privy to their conversation. After Garcia left, Hurtado-Delatorre told the informant that it would be about another half hour before the methamphetamine arrived. The informant gave Hurtado-Delatorre the buy money. Awhile later, Garcia again drove up. Hurtado-Delatorre went to Garcia's vehicle and spoke to him, but again the informant was not privy to their conversation. After Garcia left, Hurtado-Delatorre delivered the methamphetamine to the informant.

Following submission of the case to the jury, the jury asked that the informant's testimony on the State's direct examination be read back to them. The defense objected to the reading of only the informant's direct testimony, contending that the cross-examination should also be read because " a lot of the answers of the confidential informant changed or were significantly clarified by the cross-examination." The district court overruled the defense objection, stating that it would not tell the jury what it wanted to rehear. The direct examination was then read in open court. The reading stopped about halfway through the direct examination when the jury informed the court that it had heard enough. The jury thereafter returned a verdict of guilty.

Following the verdict, Garcia renewed an earlier request for an Idaho Criminal Rule 29 judgment of acquittal on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to prove his guilt. The district court denied the motion. Garcia appeals, contending that the court erred in denying his motion for acquittal and in allowing a read-back ...


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