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State v. Delgado

State v. Delgado, 2020 UT App 121 (Harris, J.)

Criminal

The defendant shot a person after his Friend beat him up. Officers arrived on the scene moments later, and an affidavit claimed that the officers saw Friend holding a gun and standing over the victim. Both Friend and the defendant retreated into the apartment building, and the gun was later found in a toilet tank with the defendant’s fingerprint on it. At trial, defense counsel did not subpoena as a witness the officer who wrote and signed the affidavit stating that Friend was holding the gun. And defense counsel did not object to admission of the fingerprint when an expert testified that the print was not blind verified according to national standards. On appeal, the Utah Court of Appeals affirmed on prejudice grounds, holding:

  • Counsel did not provide ineffective assistance when he failed to subpoena the officer to testify about the facts in the affidavit at trial. The search warrant affidavits the officer wrote were presented to the jury, through a “stipulation of sorts” during cross-examination of the lead investigator, so that evidence was admitted without the officer being present. And the State’s evidence against the defendant was strong. He cannot demonstrate a reasonable likelihood of a different result had the officer testified at trial.
  • Counsel did not provide ineffective assistance when he failed to object to admission of the fingerprint evidence under rule 702 of the Utah Rules of Evidence. While it is true that fingerprint evidence is strong evidence, it was not the only evidence linking the defendant to the gun. And because the State’s evidence against the defendant was strong, he cannot demonstrate a reasonable likelihood of a different result had counsel objected to admission of the fingerprint evidence.

Read the full court opinion

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