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People v. Sandoval

Court of Appeals of Colorado, First Division

November 15, 2018

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Floyd Sandoval, Defendant-Appellant.

          Jefferson County District Court No. 13CR2847 Honorable Stephen M. Munsinger, Judge

          Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Grant R. Fevurly, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee

          Megan A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Anne T. Amicarella, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant


          TAUBMAN, JUDGE

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Floyd Sandoval, appeals the judgment of conviction entered on jury verdicts finding him guilty of felony murder, aggravated robbery, and menacing.[1] We affirm.

         ¶ 2 He contends that the trial court violated his constitutional right to due process when it declined to instruct the jury in accordance with Rosemond v. United States, 572 U.S. 65 (2014), that an alleged felony murder complicitor must know in advance of the occurrence of the predicate felony that another participant intends to commit. We conclude that Rosemond does not apply to Colorado's complicity statute. Sandoval also asserts the trial court violated his constitutional rights to a fair trial and impartial jury when it allowed the prosecutor to use a partial reconstruction of the crime scene as a demonstrative aid, and the prosecutor committed misconduct by misstating the law of complicity as well as key evidence to undermine the defense.

         I. Background

         ¶ 3 On October 17, 2013, Alicia Brown had agreed to sell her friend, John Goggin, five pounds of marijuana, which he intended to sell to Sandoval. Before Sandoval's arrival, Brown delivered two boxes containing the marijuana to the small, detached garage next to New Age Medical marijuana dispensary where Goggin and his girlfriend resided. The boxes were left inside with Goggin's girlfriend while Brown and Goggin waited outside for Sandoval.

         ¶ 4 Sandoval arrived carrying a satchel over his shoulder, accompanied by his cousin, Jose Palacios. Sandoval asked if Palacios could join them in the garage, stating that he was also involved in the deal. Goggin did not object, so the four of them entered the garage where Goggin's girlfriend sat on the far edge of the bed.

         ¶ 5 What took place in the garage is disputed, but the prosecution relied on the following evidence to support its case against Sandoval. Once inside the garage, Sandoval asked Palacios to close the door to the garage. Sandoval pulled money from his satchel and Goggin responded to Sandoval by stating the price for the marijuana. Sandoval then reached inside his satchel, and pulled out a revolver, which he pointed at Goggin and said, "Don't say anything." Simultaneously, Palacios pushed Brown to the ground and held her down with a gun pointed at her head. Goggin retrieved his gun from the bed, at which point Palacios and Sandoval told Goggin to surrender the marijuana. Goggin and Sandoval struggled as they each attempted to grab the other's hand. During the chaos, four shots were fired, and Palacios released Brown as he rushed to Goggin. Palacios held Goggin down until he stopped breathing, he then grabbed the marijuana and ran to the car where Sandoval was waiting.

         ¶ 6 Sandoval and Palacios sped away, and shortly thereafter, Sandoval was treated at St. Anthony's North hospital for a leg injury.

         ¶ 7 Goggin sustained three bullet wounds, and a forensic pathologist determined that the fatal shot to his abdomen was fired from a gun held between six and thirty-six inches away from him. Cell phone records uncovered by investigators showed multiple phone calls between Sandoval and Palacios before their arrival at Goggin's residence.

         ¶ 8 Sandoval stood trial for six counts ― one count of murder in the first degree, two counts of aggravated robbery, two counts of accessory to crime, and one count of felony menacing. A lesser non-included count of conspiracy to commit distribution of marijuana was added by the trial court, at Sandoval's request. At trial, Sandoval argued that he did not intend to rob or kill Goggin; therefore, he was not guilty of first degree murder. Further, he contended that he did not know Palacios intended to rob or kill Goggin. The jury found Sandoval guilty of all charges except for one charge of aggravated robbery, and he was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in the custody of the Department of Corrections.

         II. Jury Instructions

         ¶ 9 Sandoval contends that the trial court violated his right to due process by failing to extend the holding in Rosemond - requiring an alleged complicitor to have known that the other participant intended to commit the predicate felony before its commission - to Colorado's complicity statute.[2] Sandoval alleges that, because he was unaware of Palacios's intent to rob and kill Goggin before the crimes occurred, he is not guilty of robbery and felony murder.[3] We disagree.

         A. Relevant Facts

         ¶ 10 At trial, Sandoval tendered a jury instruction based on Rosemond, which stated as follows:

An individual cannot be found guilty to a crime based on the actions of another after the crime is committed. However, an individual who becomes aware of a crime after its commission and renders assistance may be criminally liable for the crime of Accessory as defined in Instructions and .

         The trial court declared that this proffered instruction was clear as to complicity, but it rejected Sandoval's proposed instruction and provided the jury with the following complicity instruction:

Complicity is not a separate crime. Rather, it is a legal theory by which one person may be found guilty of a criminal offense that was committed in whole or in part by another person.
To be found guilty as a complicitor, the prosecution must prove each of the following circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. A robbery must have been committed.
2. Another person must have committed all or part of the ...

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