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People v. Galang

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Third Division

May 5, 2016

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee and Cross-Appellant,
Ronino Reyes Galang, Defendant-Appellant and Cross-Appellee,

Douglas County District Court No. 11CR506 Honorable Richard B. Caschette, Judge

Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Joseph G. Michaels, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

George H. Brauchler, District Attorney, Richard H. Orman, Senior Deputy District Attorney, Centennial, Colorado, for Cross-Appellant

Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Michael C. Mattis, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant and Cross- Appellee

Graham and Ashby, JJ., concur



¶1 Defendant, Ronino Reyes Galang, appeals the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of extortion, criminal impersonation, stalking, and harassment. The People cross-appeal the trial court's judgment acquitting him of computer crime. We affirm the judgment of conviction and disapprove the trial court's judgment of acquittal.

I. Background

¶2 In 2004, the female victim came to the United States from the Philippines. That same year, she and defendant met at work in California and developed a "very close" friendship. In 2007, the victim moved to Colorado and got married while defendant stayed in California with his wife. Despite the distance, the victim visited defendant approximately every three months when she was in California to see family, and the two communicated via phone and e-mail about twice per week.

¶3 In June 2011, the victim began receiving e-mails from an unknown person using a Yahoo e-mail address identifying himself or herself as "Holycrap Imbatman" (Batman). In the first e-mail, Batman (1) demanded the victim send photographs and videos of herself doing various sexual acts, including acts alone and with her then-boyfriend; (2) threatened to tell immigration officials that she had "married for papers"; and (3) threatened to tell her then-boyfriend that she was having sex with other men.

¶4 Suspecting that defendant's wife had sent this as well as other e-mails from Batman, the victim reported the e-mails to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. A detective then assumed control of the victim's e-mail account, corresponded with Batman as if the detective were the victim, and concocted a sting operation to discover Batman's true identity. In his role as the victim, the detective forwarded defective CDs to the address supplied by Batman - defendant's address. After informing the "victim" that the CDs were broken or blank, Batman agreed, in lieu of the photos and videos, to meet her at a hotel in California and to bring (per the victim's request) champagne and Diet Mountain Dew. Defendant appeared at the designated time and hotel room, carrying an orange backpack and asking for the victim. Subsequently, the local police arrested defendant and recovered champagne and Diet Mountain Dew from the backpack.

¶5 Defendant was charged in the case. At trial, the People presented evidence of these facts, as well as evidence that (1) in 2010, the victim had refused defendant's requests to send him naked pictures of herself; and (2) according to a digital forensics and networking expert, the "Batman" Yahoo e-mail account was created at the business where defendant worked.

¶6 Following the close of the People's evidence, the trial court granted defendant's request for a judgment of acquittal on the computer crime charge. With regard to the remaining charges, defendant neither testified nor presented any witnesses on his behalf. During closing argument, however, defense counsel denied the charges, asserting that, rather than defendant, it was defendant's wife who "ha[d] a motive to get revenge against her husband" and "to humiliate [the victim]" because defendant's wife "couldn't tolerate the fact that [defendant] was friends with [the victim]."[1]

¶7 The jury found defendant guilty on four charges, and the trial court sentenced him to four years' probation, conditioned, in part, on his serving ninety days in jail.

II. Defendant's Appeal: Admission of Evidence of Defendant's Previous Requests for "Naked Pictures" of the Victim

¶8 Defendant contends that the trial court erred in admitting evidence that the victim had refused his previous requests for pictures depicting her naked. We disagree.

¶9 The trial court denied defendant's motion in limine to exclude "statements from the alleged victim . . . that [defendant] previously asked her to send him naked photos of herself." In doing so, the court found the evidence was admissible under a theory of res gestae because it "forms an integral and natural part of the crime and is relevant . . . for a number of different purposes including identification, motivation to allegedly contact the victim here in an unidentified manner given her refusal to send him nude photographs in the past, " and defendant's "interest in the victim sexually or emotionally . . . ."

ΒΆ10 On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the requests because they (1) "w[ere] obviously not 'contemporaneous' with the 'offense charged' because [they] occurred approximately one year before the charged offense[s]" and (2) "did not provide a background for the offense charged because [they] occurred under different ...

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