GONZALO RUIZ CARDENAS aka GONZALO RUIZ CADENAS aka ALEJANDRO HERNANDEZ, Appellant (Defendant),
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)
Appeal from the District Court of Sheridan County. The Honorable John G. Fenn, Judge.
Representing Appellant: Diane E. Courselle, Director, and Peter Howard, Student Intern, Defender Aid Program, UW College of Law, Laramie, Wyoming.
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Jennifer E. Zissou, Assistant Attorney General.
Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE[*], DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.
BURKE, Chief Justice.
[¶1] Appellant, Gonzalo Ruiz Cardenas, challenges his convictions for possession, delivery, and conspiracy to deliver methamphetamine in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § § 35-7-1042 and 35-7-1031(a)(i). He contends the district court improperly admitted evidence of uncharged misconduct in violation of Wyoming Rule of Evidence 404(b). We affirm.
[¶2] Appellant states the issue as follows:
Whether the district court abused its discretion by admitting photographic evidence of uncharged misconduct without satisfying the requirements of Rule 404(b) of the Wyoming Rules of Evidence when a timely objection was made and the evidence was substantially prejudicial.
[¶3] In March, 2012, after the Division of Criminal Investigation intercepted telephone communications between Appellant and a suspected drug courier, Appellant became a suspect in the Division's ongoing investigation into a potential conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. On April 16, 2012, Appellant arranged to meet with two other suspects in a Kmart parking lot. When Appellant met with the other suspects, he opened up the hood of his vehicle, removed a bag, and gave the bag to one of the other suspects. Appellant then left the area for approximately two weeks, during which time police intercepted communications between the other suspects relating to the purchase of methamphetamine.
[¶4] Based on the surveillance evidence, police suspected that Appellant had traveled to California to obtain methamphetamine for distribution in Wyoming. When Appellant returned to Sheridan, he and another suspect were arrested after arranging to meet with one another. During a search of Appellant's vehicle, police found four ounces of methamphetamine. On May 4, 2012, after obtaining a warrant to search Appellant's home, police found an additional six ounces of methamphetamine. During their search, the police photographed some of the items in Appellant's home, including a frying pan lined with metal foil covered with an " off-white crystalline material," a clear plastic cup found on a kitchen scale, a silver measuring cup, a blue bucket containing a liquid, and a sifter that had been sitting on a small plastic container. Subsequent laboratory tests revealed that the material on the frying pan was methamphetamine. Additionally, the plastic cup, the scale, and the measuring cup each contained trace amounts of methamphetamine. The blue bucket contained acetone and methamphetamine. The sifter and small container contained approximately 0.02 ounces of methamphetamine.
[¶5] The State subsequently filed an Information charging Appellant with four crimes. Count I charged Appellant with conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance between March 1, 2012 and May 4, 2012. Counts II and IV charged Appellant with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance on March 14 and May 4, respectively. Finally, Count III charged Appellant with delivery of a controlled substance on April 16. In its pretrial memorandum, the State indicated its intent to introduce the photographs taken during the search of Appellant's home. Appellant did not file a pretrial motion to suppress the evidence, but objected to its introduction during trial. The ...