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State v. Ford

Court of Appeals of New Mexico

September 5, 2019

STATE OF NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANDREW CHRISTIAN FORD, Defendant-Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF BERNALILLO COUNTY Alisa A. Hart, District Judge.

          Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General Santa Fe, NM Walter Hart, Assistant Attorney General Albuquerque, NM for Appellee.

          Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender Santa Fe, NM Steven J. Forsberg, Assistant Appellate Defender Albuquerque, NM for Appellant.

          OPINION

          JACQUELINE R. MEDINA, JUDGE.

         {¶1} Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions for receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 30-16D-4 (2009), and possession of burglary tools, contrary to NMSA 1978, Section 30-16-5 (1963). We conclude the evidence is sufficient to support Defendant's conviction for receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle but it is not sufficient to support his conviction for possession of burglary tools. We therefore affirm in part and reverse in part.

         BACKGROUND

         {¶2} The testimony at trial was as follows. On February 20, 2015, Cirilo Holguin purchased a dark silver, four-door 1998 Honda Civic. Four days later on February 24, 2015, the Civic was stolen from a parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Holguin reported the auto theft to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). Holguin had not yet had time to register the car but did have a temporary thirty-day permit from the dealer attached to the front windshield. Holguin provided APD with a description of his vehicle but was unable to provide the vehicle identification number when he reported the theft.

         {¶3} On March 12, 2015, Albuquerque Police Detective Aaron Jones, who was acting undercover at the time, witnessed Defendant driving a vehicle near Carlisle and I-40 in Albuquerque that matched the description of Holguin's stolen Civic. Detective Jones and other officers followed the Civic until it stopped in a parking lot. Detective Jones subsequently detained both Defendant and his passenger.

         {¶4} Detective Jones testified that he saw a screwdriver located in the center console of the vehicle and that the ignition had been "punched." Detective Jones explained that a screwdriver could be used to start a vehicle with a punched ignition. Officers did not find keys either in the ignition or at the scene. According to Detective Jones, he did not tag the screwdriver into evidence because the tow truck driver needed it to start and load the vehicle.

         {¶5} APD contacted Holguin by mail to inform him that his Civic had been recovered. Holguin drove to a tow lot off Jefferson Street in Albuquerque, where he identified the Civic as his vehicle. Holguin testified that the tires and rims had been replaced with poorer quality tires, the roof had been stained, the backseat was damaged, and the body had been dented. In addition, the temporary dealer permit had been moved from the windshield to the back of the car. Holguin had to use a screwdriver to operate his car because his keys no longer made contact to start the vehicle.

         {¶6} This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         Standard of Review

         {¶7} "The test for sufficiency of the evidence is whether substantial evidence of either a direct or circumstantial nature exists to support a verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt with respect to every element essential to a conviction." State v. Montoya, 2015-NMSC-010, ¶ 52, 345 P.3d 1056 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). We "view the evidence in the light most favorable to the guilty verdict, indulging all reasonable inferences and resolving all conflicts in the evidence in favor of the verdict." State v. Cunningham, 2000-NMSC-009, ¶ 26, 128 N.M. 711, 998 P.2d ...


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