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State v. Leal

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

November 21, 2019

STATE OF ARIZONA, Appellee,
v.
CARLOS MORENO LEAL, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Superior Court in Yuma County No. S1400CR201701293 The Honorable Brandon S. Kinsey, Judge.

          Yuma County Public Defender's Office, Yuma By Eugene Marquez Counsel for Appellant

          Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Jana Zinman Counsel for Appellee

          Presiding Judge Samuel A. Thumma delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Judge Jennifer M. Perkins and Judge Paul J. McMurdie joined.

          OPINION

          THUMMA, JUDGE.

         ¶1 Defendant Carlos Leal appeals a restitution order requiring him to pay $5, 500 in funeral expenses for a man he shot and killed in a bar. Leal does not challenge his murder conviction or resulting prison sentence. He does not argue the funeral expenses were unreasonable or unpaid. Instead, because the restitution award went to the Quechan Indian Tribe, rather than to a member of the victim's family, Leal argues the order was fundamental error. Because Leal has shown no error, the restitution order is affirmed.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2 In December 2017, while sitting at a bar, Leal shot the victim in the face at point-blank range, killing him. After Leal walked out of the bar, he was arrested, and a jury later convicted him of first-degree murder. The court sentenced him to natural life in prison.

         ¶3 The presentence report requested $5, 500 in restitution for funeral expenses. The report stated the Tribe paid the funeral expenses and attached a general ledger showing payment of that amount by the Tribe to Yuma Mortuary & Crematory. At sentencing, without objection or argument, the court ordered Leal to pay $5, 500 in restitution to the Tribe. This appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         ¶4 Leal challenges the restitution order, asserting the Tribe is not a victim and that the funeral expenses were indistinguishable from the routine expenses of the Tribe. Because Leal did not object in the superior court, this court reviews for fundamental error resulting in prejudice. See State v. Escalante, 245 Ariz. 135, 140 ¶ 12 (2018). Issues of statutory interpretation are reviewed de novo. State v. Lantz, 245 Ariz. 451, 453 ¶ 9 (App. 2018).

         I. The Tribe Properly Could Be Awarded Restitution for Funeral Expenses.

         ¶5 Leal argues the Tribe must be a victim to collect restitution, relying exclusively on A.R.S. §§ 13-603(C) and 13-4401(19) (2019).[1] As to A.R.S. § 13-4401(19), Leal shows with some force that the Tribe may not have qualified as a "victim" for purposes of notice, the right to be heard and other provisions under Chapter 40 (Crime Victims' Rights) of A.R.S. Title 13. See A.R.S. §§ 13-4401 to -4443. That fact, however, does not mean the restitution order was improper.

         ¶6 The general statute authorizing disposition components for ...


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