STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
No. 02 CRS 49345
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General,
Tina A. Krasner, for the State.
Brian Michael Aus for defendant appellant.
Defendant Marguerita Santa-Maria appeals after being convicted of one count of trafficking in cocaine by possession. The State's evidence tended to show that Detective Norris Quick of the Raleigh Police Department had been working with a confidential informant known as Sonny. Detective Quick directed Sonny to negotiate the sale of one kilogram of cocaine. Detective Quick told Sonny to go to meet with Jesus Cortes-Moreno, verify that cocaine was present, and leave the scene under the pretext that Sonny needed to get money for the transaction. Then, Sonny was to meet with the police afterwards.
Previously, Sonny had been arrested and pled guilty to drug trafficking. Shortly thereafter, he agreed to assist the policewith the understanding that he could reduce his prison sentence. From May to June of 2002, Sonny began talking to Jesus Cortes- Moreno to see if Moreno could get someone to sell Sonny cocaine. On 6 June 2002, Moreno told Sonny that two girls from Durham would be willing to sell five kilograms of cocaine. One day, Morneo met with Sonny and gave him a sample of cocaine. Sonny wrapped up the sample and gave it to a police officer.
Law enforcement officers then set up a drug transaction with Moreno. Wired with a microphone, Sonny had a pager on his hip that was hooked up to the cigarette lighter in his car. Although he was supposed to keep his car running during the transaction, Sonny mistakenly turned the vehicle off. Sonny saw Morneo's gray van and a Hyundai that he had never seen parked on the side of the street. Sonny parked and saw Moreno and defendant.
Sonny, Moreno, and defendant walked toward the Hyundai's trunk. Defendant reached into a Pepsi box and showed Sonny some cocaine which was wrapped in pink plastic. Sonny used his keys to punch a hole in one of the plastic bags to get a sample. After determining that the substance was cocaine, Sonny said that he had to go to the bank to get money. Defendant put the cocaine back in the box and closed the trunk. Sonny left the scene, called the police, and reported that the drugs were in the Pepsi box in the trunk of the Hyundai.
Alejandra Sandoval Santa-Maria (Alejandra) testified that defendant is her aunt. On the date in question, Alejandra agreed to drive defendant. She followed a van expecting to get some workcleaning houses. However, instead of gaining an employment opportunity, Alejandra witnessed an attempted drug sale and the subsequent intervention by law enforcement officers.
Detective Kevin Carswell of the Raleigh Police Department videotaped the events of 6 June 2002. Officer Jose Martinez acted as a translator after defendant was in custody. After receiving her Miranda warnings in Spanish, defendant told Officer Martinez that a black male offered her $200.00 if she would take a case of soda to Raleigh.
An expert in the field of forensic chemistry, Amy Boomer, testified that a package retrieved from the trunk contained 998.2 grams of cocaine. She testified that the sample recovered from Sonny contained 1.3 grams of cocaine. Finally, she indicated that a substance contained in a dollar bill recovered from defendant contained 0.2 grams of cocaine.
Defendant testified on her own behalf. She talked with Moreno about needing work, and Moreno offered to help her. On the day of the incident, defendant believed that she was going to the construction site to work. Moreno gave her a carton of Pepsi because there was no water at the site. Defendant claimed that she only learned about the drugs after attempting to retrieve a soda. On 12 March 2003, the jury found defendant guilty of trafficking in cocaine by possession. The Honorable Henry W. Hight, Jr., sentenced defendant to a term of 175-219 months in prison. Defendant appeals. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred by (1) denying her motion to strike a witness's testimony and (2) denying her motion to receive information about the debriefing of one of the State's witnesses. We disagree and conclude that defendant received a fair trial free from reversible error.
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