and County of Denver District Court No. 15CR20002 Honorable
Sheila A. Rappaport, Judge
J. Weiser, Attorney General, Melissa D. Allen, Assistant
Attorney General, Colleen R. Wort, Assistant Attorney General
Fellow, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee
A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Karen N. Taylor,
Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for
1 This case addresses the standards for authenticating an
audio recording under CRE 901. Defendant, Daniel J. Gonzales,
appeals his convictions for first degree murder with intent
and after deliberation, first degree felony murder, abuse of
a corpse, stalking, arson, burglary, and aggravated robbery.
He claims that the trial court did not comply with the
authentication rules prescribed by a division of this court
in People v. Baca, 2015 COA 153, when it admitted a
voicemail purportedly left by Gonzales for his murder victim.
2 We reject Gonzales's claim because, to the extent
Baca purports to establish an exclusive rule for the
authentication of a voice recording, we decline to follow it.
We also conclude that when the flexible principles of
authentication set forth in CRE 901 are applied, the
voicemail was properly authenticated. Finally, we conclude
that the trial court properly admitted a photograph depicting
him shirtless, which exhibited two tattoos on his arms.
Having rejected all of Gonzales's claims on appeal, we
Relevant Facts and Procedural History
3 The evidence admitted at trial, particularly the full
confession Gonzales made to the police, established the
following facts. Gonzales grew up down the street from the
victim and from a young age was sexually attracted to the
victim. When he was about eighteen, Gonzales and a friend
broke into the victim's house. The friend stole a TV and
a VCR while Gonzales hunted for clues in the house that the
victim was gay. Gonzales also stole some of the victim's
4 Gonzales eventually moved away from the victim's
neighborhood, but his interest in the victim did not
disappear. Years later, Gonzales returned to the victim's
house, breaking in through the back door. After gaining
entry, Gonzales grabbed a large knife from the kitchen and
waited a substantial period of time for the victim to return.
When he did, Gonzales repeatedly stabbed him in the neck,
killing him. Gonzales then sexually assaulted the
victim's dead body and attempted, unsuccessfully, to set
the house on fire to destroy the evidence. Gonzales fled the
scene with a credit card, debit card, and cash that he had
taken from the victim's wallet. He was arrested a short
time later in Florida.
5 At trial, the prosecution presented a video recording of
Gonzales's confession, as well as other evidence. The
jury convicted Gonzales of all charges, the court sentenced
him to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus
forty-eight years, and he now appeals.
Trial Court Did Not Abuse Its Discretion When It Admitted the
6 Gonzales first argues that the trial court erred in
admitting a voicemail allegedly left by Gonzales for the
victim because the prosecution did not properly authenticate
the recording of the voicemail under the test set out in
Baca, ¶ 30.
7 We review a trial court's evidentiary rulings for an
abuse of discretion. Davis v. People, 2013 CO 57,
¶ 13. A trial court abuses its discretion if its ruling
is manifestly arbitrary, unreasonable, or unfair, or if its
ruling is based on an erroneous view of the law. People
v. Hard, 2014 COA 132, ¶ 22.
Additional Factual Background
8 After the police completed their crime scene analysis, the
victim's sister went to the house to put the victim's
affairs in order. She found a microcassette audiotape along
with documents related to an earlier burglary of the
victim's house. On the tape, a man says that he has the
victim's pajamas and jeans. He also says that he is going
to return those items to the victim, but not the other items
that were stolen. The sister listened to the tape and,
recognizing its value, gave it to the police.
9 At trial, one of the detectives who had interviewed
Gonzales after his arrest testified that he had also watched
the video of that interview and had compared Gonzales's
voice in the interview to the voice on the tape. The
detective testified that the voice on the tape sounded like
Gonzales's voice. On that basis, the prosecutor argued
that the tape recording had been properly authenticated.
Gonzales objected to the admission of the tape recording of
the voicemail on authentication grounds, but the trial court
overruled the objection.
10 In Baca, a division of this court held that
[i]f no witness with independent knowledge of the content of
the [recording] can verify the accuracy of the recorded
conversation, the proponent must instead present a witness
who can verify the reliability of the recording process, by
establishing the factors laid out in Alonzi: the
competency of the recorder, the reliability of the recording
system, the absence of any tampering with the recording, and
the identification of the speakers.
Baca, ¶ 30 (citing Alonzi v. People,
198 Colo. 160, 163, 597 P.2d 560, 562 (1979)). In so doing,
the division appears to have established an exclusive rule,
regardless of the factual circumstances presented, ...