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People v. Yeadon

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

July 26, 2018

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Gerald Adrian Yeadon, Defendant-Appellant.

          Adams County District Court No. 13CR2650 Honorable Craig R. Welling, Judge.

          Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Brenna A. Brackett, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

          Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Inga K. Nelson, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant

          OPINION

          FURMAN JUDGE.

         ¶ 1 A jury found Gerald Adrian Yeadon guilty of driving under restraint, failure to report an accident or return to the scene, and possession of less than two grams of a controlled substance - methamphetamine. The district court sentenced Yeadon to sixteen months in the custody of the Department of Corrections and eleven days later imposed a drug offender surcharge of $1250.

         ¶ 2 On appeal, Yeadon contends that (1) the prosecution presented insufficient evidence to support his conviction for possession; (2) certain statements made by the prosecutor during closing argument constituted misconduct; and (3) the district court's late imposition of the drug offender surcharge violated his right against double jeopardy. Because we disagree with each of Yeadon's contentions, we affirm his judgment of conviction and sentence, but we remand for the district court to give Yeadon the opportunity to show that he is financially unable to pay any portion of the surcharge. See § 18-19-103(6)(b), C.R.S. 2017.

         I. The Accident

         ¶ 3 The jury heard the following evidence. One morning, police officers responded to a report of a rollover crash involving a 2007 Pontiac G6. The driver had abandoned the Pontiac in a field along a highway. A search of the vehicle identification number revealed that the car had been reported stolen about two weeks earlier. The officers did not find a set of keys in the car, and the vehicle's steering column did not appear to have been hot-wired.

         ¶ 4 The officers concluded that, earlier that morning, the Pontiac left the highway while traveling northbound and rolled over twice before coming to a rest. An officer testified that, based on the tire marks, the vehicle had been "partially airborne and traveling at a high rate of speed." The officer noted that only the driver's side airbag had deployed.

         ¶ 5 Inside the Pontiac, the officers observed, among other things, a scale on the front passenger seat used to measure, in grams, very small quantities; and a smaller baggie in a compartment of the driver's side door, which contained a substance later confirmed to be 0.46 grams of methamphetamine.

         ¶ 6 An officer also found a black toiletry bag near the rear of the vehicle that contained a pawn receipt with Yeadon's name and birthdate on it.

         ¶ 7 The investigating detective testified that the small baggie of methamphetamine in the driver's side door compartment was "open to view upon approach" of the vehicle. Although the prosecutor presented a photograph of the driver's side door compartment to the jury, the small baggie of methamphetamine had already been removed at the time the picture was taken.

         ¶ 8 The detective testified that he recovered the driver's side airbag, a baseball hat, and gloves from the back seat during an inventory of the vehicle. He explained that he cut out and secured the airbag because - based on his training and experience - he believed there would be DNA evidence on the airbag from "whoever was in the driver's side seat of that car" at the time of the crash. When asked why he recovered the hat and gloves, the detective testified that "there was no one on scene," he "needed to find out who was in that car," and he was "looking for any type of identifying information that [he] could use as a lead for the case."

         ¶ 9 When asked if a 2007 Pontiac G6 has a passenger side airbag, the detective testified that, while he was not an expert and did not know "a hundred percent," he "would believe it does" based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requirements. When asked if there had only been one person in the vehicle, the detective could only speculate.

         ¶ 10 The Pontiac's owner told the police that he thought his ex-girlfriend, C.D., had stolen his car. The owner reported that he and C.D. had broken up, but the car did not appear to have been forcibly entered. C.D. possessed the only other set of keys to the car, and the owner asked her to return the keys the night before he reported the car stolen.

         ¶ 11 A detective who interviewed C.D. two weeks after the incident testified that he did not observe any obvious injuries that would have indicated C.D.'s recent involvement in an automobile crash.

         ¶ 12 The detective also interviewed Yeadon about two months after the incident based on the receipt found in the toiletry bag. The detective testified that he did not observe any injuries to Yeadon at the time. The prosecutor played a recording of this interview to the jury.

         ¶ 13 During the interview, Yeadon said that he had had a prior sexual relationship with C.D., that he believed the Pontiac belonged to her, and that she had previously picked him up in that car. He admitted that he had left some of his belongings in the car, but claimed that he had not retrieved these items because he and C.D. had ended their relationship. Yeadon also admitted to the detective that he occasionally drove the Pontiac, but denied both knowing that the vehicle had been in a crash and being in the vehicle when it crashed. He told the detective that his DNA would not be found on the driver's side airbag.

         ¶ 14 The detective sent the driver's side airbag, the baseball hat, and the gloves to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for DNA testing. The detective also submitted to the CBI a buccal swab obtained from Yeadon for comparison.

         ¶ 15 At trial, the prosecutor qualified a CBI forensic scientist as an expert in serology and DNA. This expert testified as follows:

. the hat and gloves recovered from the Pontiac's back seat both contained a DNA mixture, and the major component of the mixture matched Yeadon's DNA profile;
. the airbag contained a DNA mixture from more than one individual; and
. the major component of the mixture on the airbag matched Yeadon's DNA ...

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