FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF BERNALILLO COUNTY Alisa A. Hart,
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
JACQUELINE R. MEDINA, JUDGE.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
This appeal followed.
"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