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State v. Steinle

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

July 23, 2015

STATE OF ARIZONA, Petitioner
v.
THE HONORABLE ROLAND J. STEINLE, Judge of the SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF ARIZONA, in and for the County of Maricopa, Respondent Judge, ALEJANDRA MONSERAT MORAN, Real Party in Interest

Petition for Special Action from the Superior Court in Maricopa County. No. CR2012-165657-002. The Honorable Roland J. Steinle, Judge.

For Petitioner: Lisa Marie Martin, Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Phoenix.

For Real Party in Interest: Lindsay P. Abramson, Maricopa County Public Defender's Office, Phoenix.

Presiding Judge Patricia A. Orozco delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Maurice Portley joined and Judge Randall M. Howe dissented.

OPINION

Page 409

Patricia A. Orozco., Judge

[¶1] The Maricopa County Attorney's Office (the State) petitions this Court for special action relief, challenging the trial court's order precluding it from introducing as evidence a modified, edited or cropped version of a video, because the full version of the video was unavailable. Because Arizona Rules of Evidence 106 and 403 require admission of the full video, we accept jurisdiction and deny relief.

BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

[¶2] On December 12, 2012, Alejandra Moran attended a house party. On the same evening, a fight began in the street and a witness, Hector Ponce, used his cell phone to make a video recording of the fight. Several witnesses, including Moran, stated that in the minutes leading up to the altercation, there was both a verbal and physical altercation between Moran and the victim, L.U. Ponce " cropped" the first four and one half minutes from the video, sent the final thirty-one seconds of the video to a friend, and deleted the original video from his cell phone. The final thirty-one seconds of the video showed an individual, purported to be Moran, stab L.U. in the chest. Moran was subsequently indicted for first degree murder.

[¶3] Detectives were unable to recover the full version of the video from Ponce's phone. Moran moved to exclude the edited video, arguing Rule 106, the rule of completeness, and Rule 1001, the best evidence rule, did not allow admission of just a portion of the full video. Moran also raised chain of custody and hearsay objections. The trial court granted Moran's motion and the State filed a motion to reconsider. The trial court denied the motion, and this special action followed.

SPECIAL ACTION JURISDICTION

[¶4] Special action jurisdiction is proper when a party has no " equally plain, speedy, and adequate remedy by appeal." Ariz. R.P. Spec. Act. 1. We have discretion to accept special action jurisdiction and we do so if a petitioner presents " an issue of first impression and one of statewide importance that is likely to recur." State v. Bernstein, 234 Ariz. 89, 93, ¶ 6, 317 P.3d 630, 634 (App. 2014). Jurisdiction is also appropriate when rules require immediate interpretation. Id.

[¶5] The parties agree the State has no speedy or adequate remedy on appeal. Moreover, this petition raises an issue of first impression regarding Rule 106. Thus, in the

Page 410

exercise of our discretion, we accept special action jurisdiction.

DISCUSSION

[¶6] " We review a trial court's ruling on admissibility of evidence for an abuse of discretion." State v. Buccheri-Bianca, 233 Ariz. 324, 328, ¶ 7, 312 P.3d 123, 127 (App. 2013) (internal citations omitted). However, we review de novo the construction of the rules of evidence. State v. Payne, 23 ...


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