FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF DOÑA ANA COUNTY Douglas R.
Driggers, District Judge
H. Balderas, Attorney General Santa Fe, NM Walter Hart,
Assistant Attorney General Albuquerque, NM for Appellee
Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender Allison H. Jaramillo,
Assistant Appellate Defender Santa Fe, NM for Appellant
J. WECHSLER, Judge.
Defendant Alree Sweat appeals his convictions of four counts
of burglary of a vehicle, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section
30-16-3(B) (1971). Defendant's primary arguments on
appeal are that the district court erred by admitting (1)
"grainy" surveillance video footage, and (2) lay
witness testimony identifying Defendant as the person
pictured on the surveillance video. Defendant also argues
that sufficient evidence does not support his convictions and
that he was deprived of his constitutional right to a speedy
For the reasons discussed herein, we first hold that the
surveillance video footage was relevant and not unfairly
prejudicial to Defendant, making it admissible at trial. We
additionally hold that the admission of lay witness testimony
identifying Defendant as the person pictured on the
surveillance video was not error under the circumstances of
this case and that Defendant's sufficiency of the
evidence and speedy trial arguments lack merit. We therefore
On the morning of May 5, 2013, Las Cruces Police Department
(LCPD) Officer Sean Terry was dispatched to investigate a
reported auto burglary at the Super 8 Motel. He was, however,
rerouted by dispatch to the Mesilla Valley Hospital because
the complainant had left the motel to go to work. He observed
that the window of Theresa Graham's white Buick LeSabre
(the LeSabre) was pried open and broken. Graham reported that
additional evidence was located at the Super 8 Motel. Officer
Terry proceeded to the Super 8 Motel, where he discovered a
blue Toyota Sienna (the Sienna) with similar damage. Officer
Terry photographed the damage to both vehicles. He also
viewed surveillance video footage with the manager of the
motel and requested a copy of the surveillance video footage
from the relevant time period (the surveillance video).
On May 6, 2013, LCPD Detective Michael Rickards received an
email message that contained still images captured from the
surveillance video. Detective Rickards recognized Defendant
as the person pictured. Detective Rickards then viewed the
surveillance video and noted that the person pictured was
driving a dark-colored pickup truck. With this information,
Detective Rickards began an investigation to determine
whether Defendant owned or drove such a vehicle. As Detective
Rickards was driving to Defendant's last known address,
he saw Defendant standing on the side of the road next to a
disabled, dark-colored pickup truck. Detective Rickards
obtained the registration information and determined that
Defendant owned the vehicle.
Given this information, Detective Rickards implemented a
surveillance operation targeting Defendant. Officers
stationed themselves at Defendant's house and observed
that location until approximately 1:00 a.m.,  at which time
Defendant left his house in a white Ford Mustang (the
Mustang). Defendant drove through the city, ultimately
parking at the Comfort Inn. New Mexico State Police Officer
Daniel Lazos was assisting with the operation and positioned
himself on the north side of the Comfort Inn. He saw
Defendant in the northwest part of the parking lot banging on
the door frame of a car. Officer Lazos then heard glass
breaking, saw Defendant move to another vehicle, and heard
more glass breaking. At this time, LCPD Officer Gary Pederson
drove into the parking lot and parked his vehicle in close
proximity to Defendant. Officer Pederson exited his vehicle
and confronted Defendant, who dropped a backpack and fled on
foot. Defendant ran directly toward Officer Lazos, but a rock
wall separated the two. Defendant spoke to Officer Lazos as
he ran by. While running away from Officer Lazos, Defendant
passed directly in front of Detective Rickards' vehicle.
Detective Rickards identified Defendant and yelled out for
Defendant to stop running. The officers searched the area but
did not find Defendant.
Crime Scene Photographer and Technician Anthony Martin
photographed damage to two vehicles at the Comfort Inn: a
silver Toyota Prius (the Prius) and a grey Ford F-250 (the
F-250). The Mustang remained at the Comfort Inn.
After being apprehended, Defendant participated in a
custodial interview with Detective Rickards, during which
they discussed the current location of property missing from
the vehicles at the Super 8 Motel. Defendant denied having
possession of the property and stated that "I don't
remember what I got [from the Super 8 Motel]" and that
"Bobby did something with it[.]"
At trial, the State introduced the surveillance video through
the testimony of Super 8 Motel manager Dipesh Gandhi. Gandhi
testified that the surveillance video showed activity in the
Super 8 Motel parking lot, including the "breaking of
the vehicles" at issue in the case. Defendant objected
to the admission of the surveillance video, claiming that,
because it was "black-and-white" and "grainy,
" the prejudicial effect outweighed the probative value.
The district court overruled the objection.
Numerous law enforcement officers testified about their
specific involvement in the investigation or the surveillance
operation targeting Defendant. During Detective Rickards'
testimony, the State played the surveillance video for the
jury, including segments that showed (1) a dark-colored
pickup truck pulling into and parking in the Super 8 Motel
parking lot; (2) a person peering into the passenger side
window of a white vehicle with a flashlight; and (3) a person
forcibly entering the LeSabre and the Sienna. As the jury
viewed the second segment, the following exchange took place:
[The State:] I'm going to draw your attention to [the
portion of the surveillance video] starting with 2:20 [a.m.].
. . . Can you tell from that angle, or did you know who this
[person pictured] was?
[Detective Rickards:] Not at this particular moment, no.
[The State:] Okay. Is this part of the video that you
[Detective Rickards:] Yes, it is.
[The State:] When did you start to realize who you thought it
[Detective Rickards:] As soon as he came from the passenger
side window to this position, I knew immediately it was
Rickards' testimony on this topic continued as follows:
[The State:] Do you know [Defendant]?
[Detective Rickards:] I do.
[The State:] Does he know you?
[Detective Rickards:] Yes, he does.
[The State:] Does he know you by name?
[Detective Rickards:] Yes, sir, he ...