FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF BERNALILLO COUNTY Judith K.
Nakamura, District Judge.
H. Balderas, Attorney General Maris Veidemanis, Assistant
Attorney General Santa Fe, NM for Appellee.
Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender Nina Lalevic,
Assistant Appellate Defender Santa Fe, NM for Appellant.
Miles Hanisee, Chief Judge.
A jury convicted Defendant Wallace G. Carson of two counts of
human trafficking, pursuant to NMSA 1978, Section
30-52-1(A)(1) (2008), one count of human trafficking of a
minor, pursuant to Section 30-52-1(A)(2), two counts of
promoting prostitution, pursuant to NMSA 1978, Section 30-9-4
(1981), two counts of accepting earnings of a prostitute,
pursuant to NMSA 1978, Section 30-9-4.1 (1981), and
kidnapping, pursuant to NMSA 1978, Section 30-4-1 (2003). On
appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the district court erred in
admitting testimony regarding Defendant's uncharged acts
in Texas; (2) his convictions for two counts of human
trafficking related to the same victim violate double
jeopardy; (3) the State presented insufficient evidence to
support his kidnapping conviction; and (4) the district court
failed to instruct the jury on the knowledge requirement for
human trafficking of a minor. With the exception of one count
of human trafficking, which we reverse on double jeopardy
grounds, we affirm.
Defendant's trial focused upon events that took place in
Texas and New Mexico at different times. As such, we set
forth the relevant factual background concerning incidents in
each state separately.
Jordann Depascalis, also known as Stormy (Stormy), met
Defendant while working at a strip club in San Antonio, Texas
in October 2011. Defendant introduced himself as
"D.G." and told Stormy it stood for "Da
Greatest" as well as "D.G.P." which stood for
"Da Greatest Pimp." Stormy was impressed that
Defendant was well dressed and drove a Jaguar. He told her he
worked for an escort company and that it was legal
employment, not prostitution. Stormy believed the escort
services would only involve spending time with clients
without sex. Defendant told Stormy she could make good money
as an escort in College Station, Texas, and that if she
agreed to go with him, he would buy her heroin, which she
started using regularly after meeting Defendant.
Defendant, with the help of Stormy and others, commonly used
the website "Backpage.com" to post escort local ads
in different cities to which they would travel, using such
language as "hot, sexy, and ready" and
"[s]e[x]y & [r]e[a]dy 2 p[l]ay." During
Defendant's trial, the State introduced sixteen such
Backpage.com ads, four of which were posted for Albuquerque.
Before they arrived in College Station, Defendant arranged
for such an ad about Stormy to be posted. Stormy answered
calls related to that and other such ads, adhering to a
"call module" that Defendant scripted to specify
what she should say to potential clients.
Stormy learned that the escort services involved sex during
the first few "in-calls" (when a client comes to
the hotel for sex in exchange for money) in College Station,
which took place while Defendant waited outside the room. She
then asked to return home to San Antonio, to which Defendant
responded, "Bitch, you're not going anywhere.
I'm a pimp." Stormy testified that Defendant put his
hand around her throat, then threw her in the shower and beat
her, leaving the television volume turned up so no one could
hear her screaming. After the incident, Stormy testified
that, although she still wanted to go home, she did not ask
again because she was afraid of again being beaten. She
continued having sex with clients for money in College
Station, afterward handing all her earnings to Defendant. By
then, in addition to having no money, Stormy did not have her
identification because Defendant had taken it from her.
Following a trip to Dallas for Thanksgiving, during which
Defendant forced Stormy to perform fellatio on him and
suggested he might force her to do so on his brother, as
well, Stormy convinced Defendant that they should return to
San Antonio. By then, she was withdrawing from heroin and
suffering from anxiety, prompting Defendant to give her
Xanax. On Christmas Eve 2011, Defendant also took Xanax and
passed out, and Stormy escaped to meet her boyfriend. She
then began to make escort appointments herself in San
Antonio, keeping the money she made and avoiding heroin use.
Not long after escaping from Defendant, Stormy received a
"suspicious" call for a $400 appointment at a motel
in a "shady" area of San Antonio. When Stormy
entered the room, Defendant jumped out of the shower, banged
her head against the mirror, hit her, and forced her to his
car. Defendant then forced her to lay down in the backseat
the entire way to Dallas. Stormy was scared that Defendant
would make her shoot up heroin when they arrived, but
instead, Stormy convinced Defendant to allow her to leave
Dallas the next day. She did so claiming that her family may
have alerted the police to her absence since she had not
visited them at Christmas.
About a year later, in December 2012, Stormy encountered
Defendant on a street in San Antonio. At the time, she was
again addicted to heroin, and Defendant said he could provide
her all the heroin she wanted. She began working for
Defendant again as an "escort," posting
Backpage.com ads in different Texas cities.
New Mexico Incidents
In January 2013, Defendant and Stormy came to New Mexico, and
Defendant directed Stormy to recruit Tiffany Garcia, a woman
he had observed at the Greyhound Station in Albuquerque.
Defendant had by then trained Stormy to "get girls, and
post the ads, make sure everything was going smoothly,"
and Stormy's job was to make it seem like "a real
good deal" to work in the escort business. At that time,
Stormy was using heroin daily, was often sick, and Defendant
used her addiction to control her. Tiffany was also a heroin
user, and Stormy lured her with the promise of
"scor[ing]" heroin if she joined Defendant's
escort business. During that first trip in Albuquerque, at
Defendant's direction Stormy posted Backpage.com ads and
had many in-calls at the Days Inn on Tramway and 1-40 as well
as several out-calls (where she went to a client's
house), for which Defendant collected the money. After
Tiffany joined Defendant's escort operation, she,
Defendant, and Stormy traveled to Texas, and returned to New
Mexico in early February.
On this second trip to New Mexico, Tiffany, Stormy, and
Defendant stayed in Room 118 at the Days Inn at Hotel Circle
in Albuquerque. There, Stormy and Tiffany had several
"in-calls" and "out-calls" throughout the
day, sometimes working through the night. If the in-call was
for only one of them, the other would wait in the bathroom.
On February 20, 2013, Defendant directed Stormy to recruit
another woman, R.R., who was only seventeen years old, at the
Albuquerque bus station. Defendant targeted "weak
links" or "young girls that.. . don't know
exactly what. . . they're getting themselves into"
for Stormy to recruit. At the station, Stormy invited R.R.
"to smoke some weed and drink and just chill" in
Defendant's Cadillac while she waited for her bus. R.R.
agreed, and was startled when Defendant and his nephew jumped
into the front seat of the car and drove them to Days Inn.
Defendant whispered to Stormy when they arrived at the hotel,
"[y]ou know what you need to do[, ]" which meant to
her that she must convince R.R. to join Defendant's
escort business. Defendant also sent Stormy texts that
stated, "[l]ock [R.R.] up for our family" and
"[m]ake sure she don't go nowhere." Stormy lied
to R.R. that having sex with clients was not required because
Stormy knew R.R. "would [not] agree to just having sex
for money straight up."
Stormy knew first she had to take R.R.'s purse away,
"because it makes [girls] not want to leave if they
don't have their ID." Then, she loosened R.R. up
with drinks and marijuana and encouraged R.R. to shower and
change her clothes, while Defendant went out to purchase an
alluring outfit for her. Stormy then told R.R., "You
can't go anywhere because [Defendant] is going to kill me
if I let anything happen to you." R.R. testified that
she was scared, never left alone, and that she did not try to
leave because she did not know what they would do to her.
When Defendant returned to Room 118 with Tiffany, Stormy gave
R.R. purple lingerie Defendant bought for her to wear, and he
took photos of them.
Soon thereafter, they went to the Isleta Hard Rock Resort
& Casino for a client call, and Defendant collected a
thousand dollars from the client. There, R.R. had sex with
the client while Stormy checked in on them from the bathroom,
criticizing R.R. for throwing in "extras"
(different sexual positions) without collecting more money.
Stormy stated R.R. appeared drunk during the encounter, and
notified Defendant by text that R.R. behaved childishly
during an ensuing dinner with the client. Following dinner,
Stormy and Tiffany agreed to have sex with the client's
brother for $800 and left R.R. with the client. R.R. then
convinced the client to help her escape, and when Stormy and
Tiffany returned to collect R.R., the client hid R.R. in the
adjoining room he purchased, and said that R.R. had left.
R.R. did not leave that night because she was afraid that
Defendant and Stormy would catch her in the lobby. That
night, Defendant found R.R.'s ID in her purse and learned
she was only seventeen.
Two days later, on February 22, 2013, Stormy and Defendant
were arrested in Albuquerque during a sting operation. While
in jail, Stormy called Defendant for bail and food money, and
also asked him to bail out Cordelia Cianflone, a friend she
made in jail. Stormy told Cordelia that Defendant could bail
her out if she worked for him.
planned to run away to her friend's house after she was
bonded out of jail, but Defendant, himself by then released,
was waiting for her when the prison transport dropped her off
in downtown Albuquerque. As had Stormy, similarly Cordelia
testified Defendant bought her "sexy clothes" and
heroin and drove her to a hotel in Tyler, Texas. Defendant
posted ads on Backpage.com before they arrived, and Cordelia
had sex with clients, for which Defendant collected the
money. She wanted to escape but either "there was
nowhere to run" or Defendant was nearby. She testified
that she feared for her life because Defendant regularly
physically abused her for being a "heroin junkie"
or not making the beds correctly, and once Defendant choked
her until his nephew stopped him. Ultimately, a client helped
Cordelia escape from Defendant and she returned to
Defendant was indicted in April 2013 on several charges and
again in December 2013 on another set of charges. In January
2014, the district court consolidated the cases for trial.
Prior to trial, the State filed a notice of intent to
introduce evidence derived from events in Texas under Rule 11
-404(B)(2) NMRA and a brief in support. Defendant objected,
arguing evidence of uncharged acts in Texas would be highly
prejudicial, but following a hearing on the matter, the
district court ruled in favor of the State. At trial, Stormy,
R.R., and Cordelia testified, and Stormy was granted use
immunity for her testimony. Defendant again raised objections
regarding the introduction of evidence relating to events in
Texas, but the district court adhered to its earlier
determination, explaining that the evidence was relevant to
Defendant's intent and that its probative value was not
outweighed by unfair prejudice. The district court also
provided two limiting instructions to the jury as to the
proper use of the evidence.
Ultimately, Defendant was found guilty of two counts of human
trafficking as to Stormy, one count of human trafficking as
to R.R., a minor, two counts of promoting prostitution, two
counts of accepting earnings of a prostitute, and kidnapping.
After the guilty verdict, the district court sentenced
Defendant to fifty- four years in prison, including a
twenty-four-year enhancement under the habitual offender
statute. Defendant appeals from the judgment, sentence and
commitment entered on December 14, 2015, claiming error under
Rule 11-404 and Rule 11-403 NMRA, a double jeopardy
violation, insufficiency of evidence for the kidnapping
charge, and instructional error for the human trafficking of
a minor charge.