Appeals from the District Court of the Sixth Judicial
District of the State of Idaho, Bannock County. Stephen S.
Dunn, District Judge.
district court's judgment of conviction of trafficking
heroin is affirmed. The judgment of conviction of
conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act
is vacated and remanded.
Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, Boise, for appellant Jersson
Neftaly Roque Medina. Dennis Benjamin argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
respondent State of Idaho. Jeffery D. Nye argued.
a jury trial, Jersson Neftaly Roque Medina (Medina) was
convicted of trafficking heroin and conspiracy to violate the
Uniform Controlled Substances Act. The charges were brought
through two separate cases that arose out of the same set of
facts. The two cases were consolidated and tried together.
Medina now appeals his convictions, arguing that (1)
fundamental error occurred when he appeared before the jury
in chains; (2) fundamental error occurred when the jury
instruction listing possible overt acts made in the
furtherance of the conspiracy listed numerous acts that did
not constitute a proper basis for him to have been found
guilty; and (3) there was insufficient evidence to establish
the agreement element of the conspiracy charge. For the
following reasons, we affirm Medina's judgment of
conviction on the trafficking charge and vacate the judgment
of conviction on his conspiracy charge.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
police-initiated heroin buy, both Medina and Sharon
Bernal-Valadez (Valadez) were arrested in Chubbuck, Idaho, on
April 14, 2016. The facts are as follows.
of 2015, Logan Joyce (Joyce), a heroin dealer in the
Pocatello area, would travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to
purchase heroin to sell in Idaho. Joyce would then return to
his home in Chubbuck and sell the heroin in Pocatello. Joyce
purchased the heroin in Salt Lake City at a homeless shelter.
After doing this for some time, Joyce got to the point where
he wanted to sell more than his then-supplier could provide.
At this point, Joyce's supplier introduced him to Medina.
By late March 2016, Joyce would contact Medina every couple
of weeks to purchase substantial quantities of heroin. Joyce
would tell Medina how much money he had, and Medina would
inform him how much heroin Joyce could purchase with that
amount of money. Medina would typically transport the
corresponding quantity of heroin from Salt Lake City to
Chubbuck, where Joyce would pay Medina the agreed-upon
amount. A typical transaction at that point in time involved
approximately 130 grams of heroin for $8, 000. On occasion,
Joyce would travel to Salt Lake City to pick up the heroin.
either April 9 or 10 of 2016, Joyce met with Medina at
Joyce's apartment in Chubbuck to buy heroin. Joyce paid
Medina $8, 000 for approximately 130 grams of heroin. The
transaction was set up through an exchange of text messages.
to Joyce, months prior to this transaction, Detective Lee
Edgley (Edgley) received information that Joyce had been
distributing heroin and began investigating Joyce. During the
investigation, undercover law enforcement officers made
several controlled purchases of heroin from Joyce. After the
controlled buys, a search warrant was obtained and law
enforcement searched Joyce's residence on April 12, 2016,
a few days after Joyce's meeting with Medina.
Approximately 153 grams of heroin were seized from
Joyce's apartment. Joyce was arrested.
post-arrest interview, Joyce showed Edgley a text message
conversation referencing Joyce wiring money to an account in
Valadez's name in order to pay Medina for the heroin. At
that time, Joyce also showed Edgley the most current phone
number he had to contact Medina.
April 13, 2016, after Joyce was booked into jail and a search
warrant for Joyce's phone was obtained, Edgley began a
text conversation with the number Joyce had told him was
Medina's. Edgley arranged to purchase 130 grams of
heroin, which would be delivered to "Joyce" the
next day for $8, 000, with $7, 000 paid upfront and an
additional $1, 000 that would be paid at a later time. The
text from Medina's number replied that 130 grams of
heroin would be delivered around 5:00 p.m. on April 14, 2016.
April 14, 2016, after receiving a text message informing him
the delivery was close, Edgley, along with other detectives,
saw a vehicle registered to Valadez pull into Joyce's
apartment complex. The detectives then surrounded the vehicle
and removed Valadez and Medina. As Medina was getting out of
the vehicle, Edgley seized Medina's phone. He then used
Joyce's phone to call the number he had been texting to
set up the drug deal. Medina's phone rang, demonstrating
that it had been used, presumably by Medina, on the other end
of the drug deal.
canine unit was called and alerted on the car; Medina and
Valadez were handcuffed and placed in the back seat of a
marked police car. Unbeknownst to Medina and Valadez, the
police were recording their conversation. While in the police
car, Medina asked Valadez if the officers had found
"it" on her. Valadez told Medina to "be
quiet." Medina apparently asked again if Valadez still
had the drugs. Valadez replied, "Yes, it's
a female officer arrived and took Valadez from the police
car. The officer searched Valadez. That search uncovered
approximately 126 grams of heroin (in gross weight including
the packaging). Valadez testified that she had placed the
package of heroin in her pants at the direction of Medina,
knowing the package contained drugs.
19, 2016, a Criminal Information was filed charging Medina
with the crime of trafficking in heroin, a violation of Idaho
Code section 37-2732B(a)(6)(C). The information alleged that
Medina possessed, manufactured, delivered, or knowingly
possessed at least twenty-eight grams of heroin. On June 16,
2016, a separate case arose from a second Criminal
Information charging Medina with the crime of conspiracy to
violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, pursuant to
Idaho Code sections 37-2732 and 18-1701. That Information
alleged that Medina conspired with Valadez, Joyce, or other
unnamed people, and agreed to traffic heroin on or between
April 2 and 14, 2016. The two separate charges arose from the
same set of facts.
hearing and upon stipulation of the parties, the district
court ordered the two cases be tried together. A jury found
Medina guilty of both charges. On April 20, 2017, the
district judge entered judgments of conviction and sentenced
Medina to twenty years in the penitentiary with fifteen years
determinate, on each charge. The sentences were ordered to
run concurrently. Medina timely appealed both convictions.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
constitutional errors during trial that are not followed by a
contemporaneous objection "must be reviewed under the
fundamental error doctrine." State v. Bernal,
164 Idaho 190, 193, 427 P.3d 1, 4 (2018) (citing State v.
Perry, 150 Idaho 209, 228, 245 P.3d 961, 980 (2010)).
(The fundamental error standard is produced below.) This
Court reviews issues of law de novo. State v.
Eliasen, 158 Idaho 542, 546, 348 P.3d 157, 161 (2015)
(citing State v. Goggin, 157 Idaho 1, 4, 333 P.3d
112, 115 (2014)).
ANALYSIS A. It was not fundamental error for Medina to appear
in chains before the jury.
trial, Joyce identified Medina in the courtroom by stating
that Medina was "wearing a white long-sleeve shirt,
orange Crocs, chains, and a tan jumpsuit."
(Italics added.) A second witness, Sergeant Todd Orr (Orr),
corroborated Joyce's identification. Medina concedes that
no objection was made when he appeared before the jury in
chains and jail garb and that the fundamental error test
controls. He nevertheless maintains that all three elements
of the fundamental error test have been ...