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Vasquez-Sanchez v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

December 6, 2017

GIOVANNI VASQUEZ-SANCHEZ APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 72CR-15-702] HONORABLE MARK LINDSAY, JUDGE

          McLemore Law, LTD, by: Kent McLemore, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Ashley Argo Priest, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE

         Giovanni Vasquez-Sanchez appeals from the Washington County Circuit Court's denial of his motion to transfer his case to the juvenile division of circuit court. Appellant argues on appeal that the trial court's denial of his motion to transfer was clearly erroneous. We affirm.

         Appellant was charged on April 13, 2015, by felony information with one count of accomplice to capital murder, a Class Y felony, and one count of accomplice to unlawful discharge of a firearm from a vehicle, a Class Y felony. The information alleged that the crimes occurred on or about April 11, 2015. The information further alleged that appellant and "others drove around in a vehicle, looking for someone to kill. When they reached the victim's residence, an accomplice fired several shots at him, killing him[.]" Thereafter, appellant filed a motion to transfer to the juvenile division of circuit court on October 18, 2016. A hearing was held on February 22, 2017.

         At the hearing, appellant presented the testimony of five witnesses. Jeane Mack, the director of the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) in Fayetteville, Arkansas, testified that he was familiar with appellant, as appellant has been a resident at JDC more than one time. Mack testified that appellant never had an incident report or a disciplinary report filed against him.

         Norma Orellana-Frisby testified that she is the chief juvenile probation officer for the Washington County Juvenile Court and that she had been appellant's probation officer in the past. Orellana-Frisby testified that appellant has had multiple separate contacts with the juvenile court system, dating back to 2011, including charges of assault, public intoxication, domestic battery in the third degree, shoplifting, and criminal trespass. Appellant had been placed on probation in some of those cases, in which he violated the terms and conditions of his probation, and some of those cases eventually were dismissed. Orellana-Frisby testified that during those contacts, appellant had received services. Furthermore, Orellana-Frisby testified that because appellant was almost twenty years old at the time of the hearing, the only services that could be offered through juvenile court that she knew of would be to provide probation supervision, an ankle monitor, and a referral to Decision Point. Additionally, if appellant was sentenced to Division of Youth Services, a correctional facility for youth, he could receive more intensive services there but only until he reached the age of twenty-one.

         Brittany Thornton testified that she is a head family-in-need-of-services (FINS) officer for the Washington County Juvenile Court and was familiar with appellant, as appellant had an active FINS case from November 2013 to April 2014. Although Thornton testified that she was not appellant's officer in that case, appellant's officer reported to her, but Thornton sat in at all of appellant's hearings. Thornton recalled that appellant was polite to the FINS staff and that he was placed in Jennifer Martinez's custody due to "turmoil in the home." Thornton additionally testified, however, that appellant was not compliant with all of his orders, including violations for picking up new charges and frequently running away. Appellant was placed on an ankle monitor on two separate occasions and ordered into the Juvenile Detention Center.

         Appellant's sister, Michelle Villalpando, testified that appellant was never violent to her or to his friends. Villalpando testified that although appellant did not have a driver's license, appellant's father had asked appellant to take his girlfriend to work in his father's car the day of the shooting.

         Jennifer Martinez testified that she was given custody of appellant for periods of time and that appellant had been dating her daughter. Martinez's daughter and appellant have a child together, and Martinez opined that appellant is a good father. Martinez admitted that appellant frequently ran away from her home when he was in her custody and that she had to report that to the court. Martinez further testified that appellant had been living with his parents when he was arrested for the instant charges.

         The State offered the testimony of Detective Michael Hendrix. Detective Hendrix testified that he had responded to and investigated the shooting that led to appellant's instant charges. Detective Hendrix explained that he had previous involvement with appellant through appellant's activity with the Savage Locos street gang. On the day of the shooting, Detective Hendrix spoke with Eddie Rodriguez (Rodriguez) and Angel Torres (Torres), who were standing in the driveway with the victim, Jimmy Rodriguez (Jimmy), at the time of the shooting. Rodriguez stated that appellant, who was known as "Shadow, " drove by slowly in a blue Ford Focus one time and then stopped the second time around.

         According to Torres, appellant yelled out to the group, asking what gang they claimed, and Torres responded "BPM, " meaning Brown Pride Midgets. Jimmy responded "SD, " meaning Springdale Delinquents, and a brief argument followed. Rodriguez saw the passenger point a gun and fire three shots, striking Jimmy in the stomach. Rodriguez and Torres jumped behind a car that was parked in the driveway to avoid the gunfire. The car then drove away.

         Detective Hendrix found the blue Ford Focus, which was registered to appellant's father, at Jesus Lara's house, which was about three blocks from where the shooting had occurred. Detective Hendrix interviewed the people at the home, including Vivianna Romero, whose boyfriend, Jose Delatorre, was also in the vehicle at the time of the shooting. Romero told Detective Hendrix that appellant brought the gun used in the shooting into the home and placed it on the living room table. Romero further stated that they took the gun and buried it on the south side of the home and that she heard appellant say that Rodolfo Martinez had shot Jimmy.

         Lara, Romero's brother, told Detective Hendrix that appellant, Delatorre, Martinez, and Jaime Manzano came into the home after the shooting. Appellant and Manzano asked Laura to hide the gun, and appellant told him that they had just done a drive-by and shot someone. Lara testified that they had grabbed a shovel from the garage, dug a hole on the south side of the home, and placed the gun in it. They then took the shovel and put it in an upstairs closet, where Detective Hendrix later located the shovel after receiving permission to conduct a search.

         Delatorre confirmed that appellant was driving the vehicle on the day of the shooting and that Martinez was sitting in the front passenger seat. Delatorre and Manzano were sitting in the backseat. Delatorre explained that they were out looking for another Wicked Brown Suspects gang member, Pascual Carbajal, to retaliate because Carbajal had beaten up Manzano days before the shooting. Therefore, Delatorre indicated that Jimmy was not the intended target and ...


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