from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Steven Hippler, District
district court's judgment of conviction is
D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
appellant. Brian R. Dickson argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
respondent. Mark W. Olson argued.
case addresses whether the district court erred in its
application of Idaho Rule of Evidence 404(b). Juan Salinas
was charged with the crime of attempted lewd conduct with a
minor under sixteen. He engaged in online conversations with
a detective posing as an adult. He discussed entering a
sexual relationship with the fictitious adult and her minor
daughter, and was arrested when he later drove to a hotel
where he and the detective had agreed to meet. The State
sought to admit evidence of similar conversations that Mr.
Salinas had with others, as well as sexual pictures of a
fifteen-year-old and four-year-old girl, not part of the
State's fictitious scenario. The district court admitted
all the challenged evidence except the picture of the
fifteen-year-old, which the court found was propensity
evidence and prohibited under the Idaho Rules of Evidence.
The district court found Salinas guilty of attempted lewd
conduct after a bench trial. Mr. Salinas appeals the judgment
of conviction, contending that the challenged evidence should
have been excluded as inadmissible propensity evidence. We
conclude the district court did not err in admitting the
challenged evidence and affirm the judgment of conviction.
State and Mr. Salinas agree on the relevant facts in this
case. On December 15, 2015, an Ada County Sheriff's
Office detective observed a Craigslist advertisement entitled
"Taboo Moms Only." The ad was created on December
14, 2015, and ostensibly sought a sexual encounter with a
mother and daughter, stating "[a]ge not an issue."
The detective determined that Salinas posted the ad based on
the email address associated with the account. The detective
then used the fictitious persona of a 34-year-old single
mother named Jill with a 9-year-old daughter named Chloe to
engage Salinas in conversations-initially by email, then by
text message. After several weeks of sexually explicit
exchanges, Salinas requested to meet Jill and Chloe. The
detective (posing as Jill) set up a meeting at a nearby
hotel. Salinas was arrested upon showing up at the hotel, and
the State charged him with attempted lewd conduct with a
minor under sixteen years old.
State filed a notice of intent to use in its case in chief
certain evidence of Salinas' other acts to establish or
prove motive or intent, in accordance with Rule 404(b) of the
Idaho Rules of Evidence. The State sought to use evidence
that (1) Salinas emailed himself a nude picture of an
approximately four-year-old girl in a sexually-suggestive
position; (2) Salinas requested and received a nearly-nude
picture of a girl who responded to a separate sexual
advertisement and who claimed to be fifteen years old; and
(3) Salinas engaged in two additional conversations with
women with young daughters who answered his "Taboo Moms
Only" advertisement, using sexually explicit language
regarding the daughters. Salinas objected, and the court held
a hearing on the State's motion on July 29, 2016. The
trial judge ruled all evidence except the picture of the
fifteen-year-old girl admissible as relevant to motive.
proceeded to a bench trial on August 16-18, 2016. The court
found him guilty of the charged conduct and sentenced him to
fifteen years, with four-and-a-half years fixed and
ten-and-a-half years indeterminate. Salinas timely appealed,
claiming the court erred in admitting the challenged evidence
as relevant to motive. We now affirm.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
is relevant if it has "any tendency to make the
existence of any fact that is of consequence to the
determination of the action more probable or less probable
than it would be without the evidence." I.R.E. 401.
"Whether evidence is relevant is an issue of law"
that this Court reviews de novo. State v.
Page, 135 Idaho 214, 219, 16 P.3d 890, 895 (2000). Idaho
courts employ a two-step analysis to determine the
admissibility of evidence under Rule 404(b). State v.
Russo, 157 Idaho 299, 308, 336 P.3d 232, 241 (2014)
(citing State v. Pepcorn, 152 Idaho 678, 688, 273
P.3d 1271, 1281 (2012)). "First, the evidence 'must
be sufficiently established as fact and relevant as a matter
of law to a material and disputed issue other than the
character or criminal propensity of the defendant.'"
Id. (quoting Pepcorn, 152 Idaho at 688, 273
P.3d at 1281). Second, the court must conduct a Rule 403
analysis to ensure that the evidence's probative value is
not "substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair
prejudice." Id.; I.R.E. 403.
The district court did not err in admitting the ...