Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department E
Not for Publication -Rule 111, Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court
Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause No. CR2010-153957-001 The Honorable Samuel A. Thumma, Judge.
Thomas C. Horne, Arizona Attorney General Joseph T. Maziarz, Chief Counsel Criminal Appeals/Capital Litigation Section William Scott Simon, Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Appellee
James J. Haas, Maricopa County Public Defender Louise Stark, Deputy Public Defender Attorneys for Appellant
MARGARET H. DOWNIE, Judge.
¶1 Christopher Myles Santome appeals his conviction and sentence for second degree murder. For the following reasons, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶2 On April 12, 2010, the body of J.D. ("Victim") was discovered in a yard at a Peoria trailer park. Initially, police focused their investigation on J.G. and his wife, A.D. , who were friends and neighbors of Victim's. Neighbors advised officers that A.D. and Victim had been romantically involved.
¶3 D.F. is Santome's "cousin-in-law, " though D.F. described Santome as being more like a brother. D.F. initially denied any knowledge of the crime, but later admitted to officers that he had witnessed Santome stabbing Victim.
¶4 Santome disclosed his intent to assert, inter alia, a "third party defense." The State moved to preclude a defense that "an unspecified third party" had committed the murder based on "vague suspicions that another person or persons had opportunity, motive, or ability to commit the crime." According to the State, Santome had nothing but "wholly unsupported accusations" suggesting any third party had committed the crime. In opposing the State's motion, Santome cited inconsistent statements allegedly made by J.G. and A.D. that he argued could establish motive or bias; multiple statements by D.F., each "gradually adding more details"; and actions by D.F. that could "complete the story and either lend or discredit [D.F.'s] version of what happened." At oral argument on the State's motion, the following colloquy occurred:
THE COURT: Is the evidence or the line of question that you outline in your response, it seems to me that was in the nature of cross-examination as opposed to in the nature of trying to point to a specific person as the more appropriate defendant?
DEFENSE COUNSEL: I believe so. I think that's correct.
Defense counsel further clarified that Santome was not intending to "say that, you know, this person killed him or this other person killed him."
¶5 The trial court ruled that the evidence Santome had outlined in his response could be used for cross-examination purposes. It provisionally granted the State's motion to preclude a third party culpability defense, subject to reconsideration should Santome discover new information. The court drew a distinction between evidence used for witness impeachment, which it ruled was permissible, and raising "unfounded suspicions" or ...