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State v. Sanchez

Court of Appeals of Idaho

February 27, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JOSE LUIS SANCHEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

          2017 Opinion No. 16S

          Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, State of Idaho, Bingham County. Hon. Jon J. Shindurling, District Judge.

         Judgment of conviction for two counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of sixteen years and three counts of lewd conduct with a child under sixteen, vacated; judgment of conviction for two counts of lewd conduct with a child under sixteen, vacated; and cases remanded.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Sally J. Cooley, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Kenneth K. Jorgensen, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent.

          GUTIERREZ, Judge

         Jose Luis Sanchez appeals from his judgments of conviction for two counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of sixteen years and five counts of lewd conduct with a child under sixteen involving two different victims. Specifically, Sanchez argues his convictions should be vacated because (1) the district court improperly joined the offenses against the two victims; (2) the State committed misconduct by allowing its witness to comment about Sanchez's invocation of his right to counsel; and (3) the impact of such cumulative errors was not harmless. For the reasons set forth below, we vacate and remand.

          I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         In 2014, the State charged Sanchez with three counts of lewd conduct with a child, Idaho Code § 18-1508, and two counts of sexual abuse of a child, I.C. § 18-1506, for offenses Sanchez allegedly committed against an eight-year-old female, J.C., in 2006. The five counts alleged that this conduct occurred between April 1 and June 30, 2006.

         After the preliminary hearing in that case, another female came forward with allegations of sexual abuse by Sanchez. The State then charged Sanchez in a separate case with two counts of lewd conduct with a child and one count of sexual abuse of a child for offenses Sanchez allegedly committed against a different eight-year-old female victim, T.C., in 2006. The five counts alleged that this conduct occurred between April 17 and June 12, 2006.

         The State then filed a "motion to consolidate" the cases for the purpose of a joint trial on the basis that the charges arose "from the same time period and factual situations." The State also argued that Sanchez would not be unduly burdened by the consolidation of the cases and that joinder would best serve the interests of judicial efficiency. The district court held a hearing on the motion, at which time Sanchez raised his objection. At the conclusion of the hearing, the district court requested additional briefing from the parties regarding the joinder motion. In its briefing, the State argued that the charges should be tried together pursuant to Idaho Criminal Rule 8(a) because they constituted parts of a common scheme or plan. After reviewing the record and considering the parties' arguments, the district court granted the State's motion.

         Prior to trial, the State moved to dismiss the sexual abuse of a minor charge against T.C., which the court granted. The matter proceeded to a jury trial. Ultimately, the jury convicted Sanchez of three counts of lewd conduct with a child and two counts of sexual abuse of a child as against victim J.C. ...


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