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People v. Valdez

Court of Appeals of Colorado, First Division

September 25, 2014

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Arthur Ray Valdez, Defendant-Appellant.

Pueblo County District Court No. 10CR368 Honorable Thomas B. Flesher, Judge.

John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Gabriel P. Olivares, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Kielly Dunn, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

TAUBMAN JUDGE

¶ 1 Defendant, Arthur Ray Valdez, appeals his judgment of conviction following a jury verdict finding him guilty of aggravated driving after revocation prohibited (ADARP) and driving under the influence (DUI). He also appeals the sentences imposed for the offenses. We affirm.

I. Background

¶ 2 In March 2010, a witness driving in Pueblo observed a vehicle parked along the curb at an intersection. Concerned, he stopped and discovered Valdez passed out and unresponsive in the driver's seat. He contacted law enforcement officials.

¶ 3 When law enforcement officials arrived, they observed Valdez in a stupor with a twenty-four-ounce can of beer between his legs, and his feet near the gas and brake pedals. They also found his keys in the ignition. When they arrested Valdez, he slurred his speech and drifted in and out of consciousness. At one point, he attempted to start the vehicle, but the officers restrained him. They eventually removed him from the vehicle. At the time of the arrest, Valdez's driver's license had been revoked because he was a habitual traffic offender.

¶ 4 The prosecution charged Valdez with ADARP and DUI. The jury convicted him as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to three years of probation for ADARP and two years of probation plus sixty days in jail for DUI.

II. Sufficiency of the Evidence

¶ 5 Valdez contends that the trial court erred in denying his motions for judgment of acquittal on the charges of ADARP and DUI because the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he "operated" or "drove" an "operable" motor vehicle. We disagree.

A. Standard of Review

¶ 6 We review the denial of a motion for a judgment of acquittal de novo. People v. Reed, 2013 COA 113, ¶ 49. In doing so, we review the record to "determine whether the evidence before the jury was sufficient both in quantity and quality to sustain the defendant's conviction." Clark v. People, 232 P.3d 1287, 1291 (Colo. 2010).

B. Analysis

¶ 7 To determine if the evidence presented to the jury is sufficient to sustain a defendant's conviction, we apply a substantial evidence test. Id. This test considers "whether the relevant evidence, both direct and circumstantial, when viewed as a whole and in the light most favorable to the prosecution, is substantial and sufficient to support a conclusion by a reasonable mind that the defendant is guilty of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. (quoting People v. Bennett, 183 Colo. 125, 130, 515 P.2d 466, 469 (1973)). More specifically, we have to determine "whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Id.

¶ 8 In applying the test, we must give the prosecution the benefit of every reasonable inference which may be fairly drawn from the evidence. Id. at 1292. The weight and credibility of the evidence are deferred to the jury's ...


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