Grand County District Court No. 11CR113. Honorable Mary C. Hoak, Judge.
John W. Suthers, Attorney General, Kevin E. McReynolds, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
GarciaLaw, LLC, J. Alberto Garcia, Broomfield, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.
Opinion by JUDGE BOORAS. Graham and Márquez[*], JJ., concur.
[¶1] Defendant, German Jasso Bruno, appeals the judgment of conviction and sentence entered upon jury verdicts finding him guilty of theft, criminal trespass, and offering a false instrument for recording. We affirm.
[¶2] This case stems from Bruno's alleged attempt to adversely possess a home in Fraser, Colorado. At all relevant times, the home was privately owned by another party, but was unoccupied and in foreclosure. On October 6, 2011, Bruno filed an Affidavit of Adverse Possession with the Grand County Clerk and Recorder's Office (clerk's office), which stated that he and his wife had been living in the home since July 22, 2011. After confirming that Bruno did not own or have permission to be in the home, on October 26, 2011, an officer with the Fraser/Winter Park Police Department gave him one week to remove his belongings from the home and reinstall the original locks. After refusing to remove his family's belongings, on November 4, 2011, Bruno recorded several additional documents with the clerk's office, including (1) a document purporting to grant Alfonso Carrillo limited power of attorney over actions related to the home and (2) a lien statement for $40,648.00 in unpaid maintenance, cleaning, and repairs done on the home.
[¶3] Bruno was arrested and charged with theft, trespassing, and two counts of offering a false instrument for recording. Bruno unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the charges of theft and offering a false instrument by arguing that he was acting lawfully under the adverse possession and power of attorney statutes. Bruno's attorney clarified that the motion to dismiss did not challenge the criminal trespass charge. At trial, Bruno also attempted to present a defense of adverse possession, arguing that he did not have the intent to commit the crimes charged, and instead intended to adversely possess the home.
[¶4] The district court, however, ruled that a defense of adverse possession would not be allowed. Having ruled that adverse possession was inapplicable, the court ruled that testimony from Ronald Atwater, Bruno's expert witness on adverse possession law in Colorado, would not be allowed because it would be irrelevant and confusing to the jury. The district court also modified Bruno's proposed theory of defense instruction, removing reference to the adverse possession defense on the basis that it was argumentative
and repetitive. The jury found Bruno guilty on all four counts and the court sentenced him to two years of probation.
II. Rejection of Adverse Possession Defense
[¶5] Bruno argues that the district court erred in preventing him from raising the defense of adverse possession to the counts of theft and offering a ...