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State v. Galindo

Supreme Court of New Mexico

March 5, 2018

STATE OF NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
JUAN GALINDO, Defendant-Appellant.

         APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF BERNALILLO COUNTY Jacqueline D. Flores and Cristina T. Jaramillo, District Judges.

          Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender B. Douglas Wood, III, Assistant Public Defender Santa Fe, NM for Appellant

          Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General Maris Veidemanis, Assistant Attorney General Santa Fe, NM for Appellee


          BARBARA J. VIGIL, Justice

         {¶1} In this horrific case, we affirm Defendant Juan Galindo's convictions for child abuse resulting in the death of his twenty-eight-day-old daughter (Baby) and his convictions for two counts of aggravated criminal sexual penetration (CSP) of Baby. We also affirm Defendant's convictions for child abuse against his thirteen-year-old daughter, B.G., for endangering her emotional health. In addition, we hold that the district court properly admitted into evidence a statement that Defendant gave to law enforcement on the night of Baby's death, as well as photographic evidence revealing the extensive injuries Baby suffered, including fatal, blunt-force trauma to her head and multiple internal and external injuries to her genital and anal areas. We remand this case for resentencing in light of Defendant's duplicative convictions of child abuse resulting in Baby's death and of child abuse against B.G.

         I. BACKGROUND

         {¶2} Deputies from the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department were dispatched to Defendant's home at approximately 3:50 a.m. in response to a call for assistance about an infant who was "choking on milk." When the deputies arrived, they were directed to Defendant's bedroom, where they found Baby wrapped tightly in a blanket that was saturated with blood near her pelvic area. Baby's face appeared bruised and swollen, and she had dried blood near her nose and mouth. Paramedics arrived a short time later and observed that Baby's body was stiff and cool to the touch. Upon removing Baby's clothing, they noted that she was not wearing a diaper and that she had dried blood near her groin area, bruising on her chest, and a distended abdomen. Baby was declared dead at 7:10 a.m., and her body was taken for an autopsy by the Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI).

         {¶3} Dr. Proe, a forensic pathologist with the OMI, performed Baby's autopsy and testified at Defendant's trial about her findings. Dr. Proe described Baby's injuries in detail using photographs that were admitted into evidence over Defendant's objection. According to Dr. Proe, Baby had extensive bruising, including on her face, head, vagina, and anus. Baby also had scrapes and tears of the skin and tissue on her right cheek, around and inside her vagina, and around her anus. Internally, Baby had a skull fracture from the back of her head into the base of her skull, bleeding in the deep tissue of her scalp, and bruising and bleeding in her brain. Baby also had "more than a dozen" rib fractures; a torn liver; and bleeding around her intestines, in the soft tissue behind her vagina, and around her spinal cord.

         {¶4} Ultimately, Dr. Proe concluded that the cause of Baby's death was "multiple blunt force injuries." She clarified, however, that the injuries to Baby's head were "the most severe" and would have been sufficient on their own to cause Baby's death. Dr. Proe also concluded that the injuries to Baby's groin occurred "prior to death" and resulted from separate penetrations of her anus and vagina by a blunt object. Finally, Dr. Proe testified that Baby did not show any signs of choking or of obstructions of her airways. Defendant's medical expert testified at trial and agreed that Baby had died from her head injury and that she did not show signs of choking, coughing, or aspiration.

         {¶5} The State offered testimony about DNA testing that had been done on a number of swabs taken from Baby's vagina, anus, mouth, and a bite mark on her cheek. A DNA analyst testified that she had identified a small number of sperm cells on a swab taken from inside Baby's mouth. A second analyst testified that Defendant could not be excluded as the contributor of the male DNA on the oral swab.

         {¶6} On the morning that Baby died, Defendant was interviewed by DetectiveRoybal at the department's main office about Baby's death. A video recording of a portion of the interview was admitted into evidence and played for the jury at trial. In the video, Defendant began by explaining that Baby's mother, Pauline, had left with a friend at about 8:00 p.m. to go to the store. After Pauline left, Defendant went out to the shed to work until 9:30 or 10:00 p.m., while B.G. and the other kids watched a movie and kept an eye on Baby. When Defendant came back inside, he gave Baby a bottle, and she "drank about half." Defendant burped her and thought that "she was good."

         {¶7} Defendant explained that next, he changed his clothes and laid down on the bed to rest beside Baby, who was in her bassinet. Suddenly, he looked over and saw that Baby was choking and that her eyes were rolling back. Defendant was frightened that Baby was not breathing and was in danger, so he patted her on the chest and stuck his fingers in her mouth. When that did not help, he started panicking and calling to his daughter, B.G. He took off Baby's clothes and ran out to the kitchen and asked B.G., "What do I do?" B.G. nearly fainted when she saw Baby. Defendant asked B.G. to get some ice to rub on Baby's body, and when Baby did not respond, he panicked and bit Baby hard enough to make her bleed on her lip and cheek. Defendant described rubbing a "little alcohol pad" under Baby's nose, blowing in her mouth, and rubbing perfume on her face, all in an attempt to revive her. He also said that he had hit Baby hard on the chest and slapped her back and forth across the face. Defendant saw that Baby was bleeding from her mouth, and he kept asking B.G., "What do I do?" B.G. responded that Baby was dead. Defendant eventually wrapped Baby in a blanket and took her body outside and sat with her underneath the porch for "like three hours, " until Pauline came home.

         {¶8} Later in the interview, Defendant said that he had taken Baby into the shower at one point to put water on her, that he had slipped, and that she may have hit the back of her head. And after some prompting by Detective Roybal about why Baby had been bleeding from her vagina, Defendant said that he had poked olive oil inside her butt with his finger because she had been constipated. Defendant also used a doll, at Detective Roybal's request, to demonstrate how he had hit Baby on the chest and stomach and had poked inside her butt, "one or two" times. At another point in the interview, Defendant admitted to smoking methamphetamine daily, including "a few tokes" that afternoon, but he claimed that he did not feel high at the time of Baby's death. Defendant also explained that he did not seek help from his brother-in-law or call for help because he was "panicked" and "scared."

         {¶9} Defendant was indicted on numerous charges related to the death, abuse, and sexual assault of Baby and the abuse of B.G. and her two younger siblings who were present on the night that Baby died. At the conclusion of Defendant's trial, the jury was instructed on four theories of child abuse resulting in Baby's death, two counts of aggravated CSP of Baby, six theories of child abuse resulting in great bodily harm to Baby, and three theories of child abuse not resulting in death or great bodily harm to B.G. The jury acquitted Defendant of child abuse resulting in great bodily harm to Baby and convicted him of all of the remaining offenses. The district court entered judgment and sentence on each of Defendant's convictions and, by ordering some of the sentences to run concurrently and others consecutively, sentenced Defendant to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment followed by three years of imprisonment for the abuse of B.G. Defendant appealed. We exercise jurisdiction under Article VI, Section 2 of the New Mexico Constitution and Rule 12-102(A)(1) NMRA.


         {¶10} Defendant argues that there were three errors on appeal: (1) his convictions are not supported by sufficient evidence, (2) his statements to police were involuntary and should not have been admitted at trial, and (3) the district court abused its discretion by admitting photographs of Baby's body and injuries that prejudiced his defense. We address these arguments in turn.

         A. Defendant's Convictions Were Supported by Sufficient Evidence

         {¶11} We begin with Defendant's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions for child abuse of B.G. because it poses the closest question in this appeal. We then address his other ...

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