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People v. Donald

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Second Division

July 26, 2018

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Laron Antonio Donald, Defendant-Appellant.

          El Paso County District Court No. 14CR1803 Honorable David S. Prince, Judge.

          Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Lisa K. Michaels, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

          Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Sarah A. Kellogg, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

          OPINION

          WELLING JUDGE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Laron Antonio Donald, appeals his convictions for violation of bail bond conditions. Donald contends that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had the requisite state of mind to commit either offense. First, Donald contends that the prosecution failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew of his court date and that he, in turn, knowingly failed to appear. Second, he contends that the prosecution failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew of the bond condition that prohibited him from leaving the State of Colorado. We disagree with Donald's first contention but agree with his second. Accordingly, we affirm in part and vacate in part.

         I. Background

         ¶ 2 Donald was arrested and charged with a felony in November 2012. During his court appearance on August 27, 2013, the judge set bond and announced his January 6, 2014, court date. Donald subsequently posted bond and was released from jail. The bond paperwork provided that, as a condition of his release, Donald was prohibited from leaving the State of Colorado without court approval.

         ¶ 3 Donald failed to appear in court on January 6th. He was arrested in Mississippi five weeks later. The arresting officer testified that when he approached Donald after pulling him over, Donald appeared "very nervous" and was shaking and sweating.

         ¶ 4 Donald was charged with three counts of violation of bail bond conditions under section 18-8-212(1), C.R.S. 2017. Count one was later dismissed. Count two charged that Donald "knowingly violated a condition of bond by leaving the State of Colorado." Count three charged that Donald "knowingly failed to appear for trial or other proceedings." Donald pleaded not guilty and the matter proceeded to trial. Following trial, the jury convicted Donald of counts two and three.

         II. Standard of Review and Legal Principles

         ¶ 5 We review de novo whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain a conviction. People v. Brown, 2014 COA 130M, ¶ 38.

         ¶ 6 When analyzing the sufficiency of the evidence, we determine "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." Clark v. People, 232 P.3d 1287, 1291 (Colo. 2010) (citation omitted).

         ¶ 7 Where reasonable minds could differ, the evidence is sufficient to support a conviction. People v. Carlson, 72 P.3d 411, 416 (Colo.App. 2003); see People v. Perez, 2016 CO 12, ¶ 31 ("The question is not whether it is possible to disagree with the inferences, but rather, whether the inferences are reasonable when the evidence is viewed as a whole in the light most favorable to the prosecution."). But more than a modicum of evidence is required to prove an element beyond a reasonable doubt, and the jury may not speculate, guess, or rely on conjecture to reach a guilty verdict. People v. Whitaker, 32 P.3d 511, 519 (Colo.App. 2000), aff'd, 48 P.3d 555 (Colo. 2002).

         ¶ 8 The crime of violating bail bond conditions requires proof that

[a] person who is released on bail bond of whatever kind, and either before, during, or after release is accused by complaint, information, indictment, or the filing of a delinquency petition of any felony arising from the conduct for which he was arrested, commits a class 6 felony if he knowingly fails to appear for trial or other proceedings in the case in which ...

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