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State v. Hernandez

Court of Appeals of Idaho

October 10, 2017

STATE OF IDAHO, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JACOB JUAN HERNANDEZ, JR., Defendant-Appellant.

         2017 Opinion No. 52

         Appeal from the District Court of the Third Judicial District, State of Idaho, Canyon County. Hon. Christopher S. Nye, District Judge.

         Judgment of conviction, affirmed.

          Eric D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender; Elizabeth Ann Allred, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Elizabeth Ann Allred argued.

          Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Lori A. Fleming, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Lori A. Fleming argued.

          GRATTON, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Jacob Juan Hernandez, Jr., appeals from a judgment entered upon the jury's verdicts finding him guilty of voluntary manslaughter, Idaho Code § 18-4006(1) (with a gang enhancement, I.C. § 18-8503(b)), two counts of aggravated battery, I.C. § 18-907 (with a gang enhancement, I.C. § 18-8503(b)), and two counts of second degree kidnapping, I.C. § 18-4501. He challenges the district's court's denial of his motion for a mistrial, the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his kidnapping convictions, the denial of his motion to dismiss based on a claimed speedy trial violation, the admission of certain evidence at trial, and the denial of his motion for payment of co-counsel. Hernandez also contends that the cumulative error doctrine applies here, necessitating a reversal of his conviction. We affirm.

         I.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         An altercation between two rival gangs broke out in front of an apartment building on Christmas Eve 2014. Three of the individuals involved in the fight suffered stab wounds, one of the men died as a result of his injuries. Thereafter, Hernandez and a fellow gang member, both involved in the altercation, got into a minivan occupied by two women and four children who were unknown to the men. The men directed the women to drive to another location and the driver complied. The women reported the incident to police later that evening after learning that Hernandez was a person of interest in the stabbing incident.

         Hernandez was arrested on January 9, 2015. On February 9, 2015, he was charged by information with two counts of aggravated battery, both with a deadly weapon and gang enhancements, in addition to two counts of second degree kidnapping. On April 9, 2015, a grand jury returned a superseding indictment charging Hernandez with the original four counts in addition to a second degree murder charge (as either a principal or an aider and abettor) with a deadly weapon and gang enhancements. Hernandez pled not guilty to the charges and enhancements, and his trial was set for June 9, 2015. Prior to trial, the State filed a motion for a continuance, which was granted, and the trial was rescheduled for September 28, 2015. On August 11, 2015, Hernandez filed a motion to dismiss the aggravated battery and kidnapping charges on the basis of an alleged speedy trial violation. The district court indicated that it believed the speedy trial time ran from the superseding indictment and held that the State's need to conduct further investigation and obtain DNA evidence constituted good cause for the continuance and denied the motion to dismiss.

         Hernandez filed a motion prior to trial seeking an order authorizing a second attorney to represent him and for the district court fund to provide payment for the second attorney. The district court held that the attorney Hernandez requested had a conflict of interest since he had represented a co-defendant of Hernandez, and further that the matter was within the discretion of the public defender not the court.

         The jury found Hernandez guilty of all charges. The court imposed an aggregate unified term of twenty-five years, with thirteen years determinate. Hernandez timely appeals.

         II.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Motion for Mistrial

         Hernandez moved for a mistrial following testimony concerning gang retaliation for individuals who cooperate with the police. In criminal cases, motions for mistrial are governed by Idaho Criminal Rule 29.1. A mistrial may be declared upon motion of the defendant, when there occurs during the trial an error or legal defect in the proceedings, or conduct inside or outside the courtroom, which is prejudicial to the defendant and deprives the defendant of a fair trial. I.C.R. 29.1(a). Our standard for reviewing a district court's denial of a motion for mistrial is well established:

[T]he question on appeal is not whether the trial judge reasonably exercised his discretion in light of circumstances existing when the mistrial motion was made. Rather, the question must be whether the event which precipitated the motion for mistrial represented reversible error when viewed in the context of the full record. Thus, where a motion for mistrial has been denied in a criminal case, the "abuse of discretion" standard is a misnomer. The standard, more accurately stated, is one of reversible error. Our focus is upon the continuing impact on the trial of the incident that triggered the mistrial motion. The ...

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