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State v. Granados

Court of Appeals of Utah

September 26, 2019

State of Utah, Appellee,
Joseph Crescencio Granados, Appellant.

          Third District Court, Salt Lake Department The Honorable Paul B. Parker No. 161906242

          Nathalie S. Skibine, Nick Falcone, and Sherry Valdez, Attorneys for Appellant

          Sean D. Reyes and Lindsey L. Wheeler, Attorneys for Appellee

          Judge Jill M. Pohlman authored this Opinion, in which Judges Gregory K. Orme and Ryan M. Harris concurred.


          POHLMAN, JUDGE:

         ¶1 Joseph Crescencio Granados appeals his convictions arising from events surrounding a shooting and a subsequent police chase. A jury convicted Granados on all charges filed against him based on those events. On appeal, Granados challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the convictions specifically related to the shooting: attempted murder, possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, and criminal mischief. In addition, during the trial the district court disqualified one of the jurors (Juror 16) for sleeping. Granados argues that the court violated rule 17(g) of the Utah Rules of Criminal Procedure by replacing Juror 16, over counsel's objection and without questioning her. We affirm, concluding that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's verdict related to the shooting and that the district court did not violate rule 17(g) by disqualifying Juror 16 without first questioning her.

         BACKGROUND [1]

         The Shooting

         ¶2 One afternoon, as the victim (Victim) drove home from work, he noticed a "maroon" Chevy Malibu (Malibu) ahead of him "swerving all over the place." From Victim's vantage point, he observed that the Malibu's driver-an individual the jury later determined to be Granados-was the only occupant of the car. The Malibu eventually pulled into a right-turn lane, at which point Victim "went to pass it." As Victim did so, he observed the Malibu's driver touch the roof of the car and noticed that the driver's arm "had tattoos." After Victim passed the Malibu, it "jumped in right behind" Victim's car and inexplicably began "aggressively" following Victim, "right on [his] bumper." Victim did not recognize the Malibu and from his rearview mirror was able to observe only that the car's driver was "Hispanic."

         ¶3 Concerned about being so aggressively followed and wanting to "get somewhere where maybe [he] could get some help, " Victim decided to drive to the home of a highway patrolman he knew. As Victim turned left, Granados drew alongside him and "pulled a gun." Victim "slammed [on] the brakes, " backed up his vehicle, turned down another road, and attempted to lose Granados. However, Granados "turned around and started chasing" Victim, at which point Victim called 911.

         ¶4 While Victim was on the phone, the Malibu hit Victim's car on the "right passenger side, " causing it to "sway, skid and lose control, " hit a parked SUV, and land on the front lawn of a townhome. After Victim's vehicle "came to a stop on the lawn, " Granados opened fire, shooting ten rounds at Victim. One of the bullets grazed Victim's neck. Granados then fled in the Malibu.

         ¶5 Several witnesses observed the shooting. One witness (Witness One), a resident of the neighborhood, went outside after hearing four consecutive gunshots. She observed a "red car" down the street, "[r]ight in front of [the] townhomes, " and then heard "maybe four or five more shots." At that point, the red car "made a U-turn" and went "right past" her. As it did, Witness One saw that the car was "crushed in on the passenger's side at the front" and that it had a "white license plate" and a "baby on board" "triangle" in the back window.

         ¶6 Another witness (Witness Two) was driving in the same area at the time. She observed a "maroon" car hit Victim's car, which then landed on the grass "facing a townhome." She then observed the car's driver pull a gun and shoot at Victim's car. While Witness Two did not see who was driving, she did observe that the driver was the only person in the car.

         ¶7 Yet another witness (Witness Three) was also driving in the area. Witness Three saw a "red car" with damage and another car "up on the grass with the whole passenger side caved in." As she drove slowly past both cars, she made eye contact with the red car's driver and described him as having "a round face, " "really dark eyes, " "short, really dark hair, " and "a mustache." Witness Three then saw the driver raise a gun and start shooting at the car on the lawn, testifying that the driver "[j]ust kept firing." Witness Three continued to drive, but in her rearview mirror observed the red car "flip a U-ey" in her direction, veer around her, and run a red light. As it did, she observed "a piece of his car fly off in the intersection." Police later recovered a headlight at that intersection. Witness Three followed the red car and called 911. On a side street she then witnessed the car's driver stop, get out of the car, pick up the front bumper that had fallen off, and put it in the car.

         Fleeing the Police

         ¶8 Police were advised of the shooting incident at 4:13 p.m., almost as soon as it occurred, and immediately began a search for the Malibu. Granados was apprehended and taken into custody approximately two and a half hours later, at 6:55 p.m.

         ¶9 Notably, the day before the shooting, police were already attempting to locate Granados and the Malibu. The Malibu belonged to Granados's girlfriend (Girlfriend), and she had reported to police that the vehicle was missing and that Granados likely had it. Girlfriend's Malibu was maroon and had a triangular yellow "baby-on-board" sticker in the back window. Later that day, an officer (Officer One) saw the vehicle, pulled "up on the side of it, " and confirmed that Granados was "actually inside the vehicle, " observing that Granados was the vehicle's only occupant. When Officer One attempted to pull Granados over, Granados fled and Officer One broke off pursuit.

         ¶10 On the day of the shooting, several police officers assisted in apprehending Granados. An officer (Officer Two) spotted Granados in the Malibu at approximately 6:15 p.m. He observed that the Malibu had "front-end damage" and that Granados was the vehicle's sole occupant. Officer Two radioed other officers about Granados's location and followed him for several miles, but eventually lost sight of him.

         ¶11 Upon receiving information that Officer Two had located Granados, a different officer (Officer Three) proceeded to a nearby location to create a containment of the area. As he did, he saw the Malibu drive right by him and also identified Granados as the driver. Along with other officers, Officer Three engaged in pursuit, following Granados through surface ...

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