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People v. Woodyard.

2023 COA 78. No. 19CA0376. Money Laundering—Colorado Organized Crime Control Act—Conspiracy—Fourth Amendment—Police Surveillance—Reasonable Expectation of Privacy.

September 14, 2023

Law enforcement investigators determined that Woodyard bought substantial quantities of various kinds of illegal drugs and resold the drugs using a number of underlings. A jury found him guilty of two counts of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA); 14 counts of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance; five counts of conspiring to commit money laundering; five counts of money laundering; one count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (methamphetamine); and one count of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine). The district court later adjudicated him a habitual offender on six habitual offender counts, each involving a different prior felony conviction. The court sentenced him to 96 years in Department of Corrections custody on each COCCA conviction after applying the habitual offender multiplier. The court ordered all the sentences to run concurrently.

On appeal, Woodyard argued that the district court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the case because the court violated his statutory right to a speedy trial by beginning his trial beyond his statutory speedy trial deadline. CRS § 18-1-405(6)(c) provides that the speedy trial deadline may be extended when a defendant’s trial and a codefendant’s trial are joined, the codefendant’s time for trial has not run, and there is good cause for not granting a severance. Here, Woodyard’s case was joined with codefendant Andersen’s case. Woodyard’s speedy trial deadline was November 1, 2017, and Andersen’s speedy trial deadline was October 3, 2017. The court set the trial for February 12, 2018, a date acceptable to counsel for both defendants, ruling that under CRS § 18-1-405(6)(c) a new trial date could be set outside the speedy trial deadline because the inability to set a date within the deadline was due to defense counsel’s unavailability. Under CRS § 18-1-405(6)(c) and (f), any delay in the statutory speedy trial date beyond November 1 caused by defense counsels’ scheduling conflicts extended Woodyard’s statutory speedy trial date, except that any delay caused by Andersen’s counsel would not extend Woodyard’s statutory speedy trial deadline to the extent any such delay was unreasonable from Woodyard’s standpoint. However, Woodyard did not argue that any such delay was unreasonable, so the district court didn’t err by denying Woodyard’s motion to dismiss.

Woodyard also contended that the district court erred by allowing the prosecution to introduce into evidence surveillance video of the area in front of his residence. He argued that the investigators’ use of a camera mounted on a telephone pole to surveil the area for a seven-week period constituted a warrantless search and thus a Fourth Amendment violation. A Fourth Amendment “search” occurs when the government violates a reasonable subjective expectation of privacy. Here, the surveilled area included a public street, a public sidewalk, and a small sliver of grass that was open to residents of other units and to the public generally. The record is devoid of any indication that Woodyard did anything to demonstrate a subjective expectation of privacy in that small area next to the sidewalk. Accordingly, the surveillance wasn’t a search within the Fourth Amendment’s purview, and the district court did not err by denying Woodyard’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the camera.

Woodyard further contended that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of the two COCCA charges because the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence that Woodyard was part of an enterprise and the district court didn’t instruct the jury on that concept. In McDonald v. People, 2021 CO 64, decided after the trial in this case, the Colorado Supreme Court held that to prove a COCCA charge alleging an “associated-in-fact enterprise,” the prosecution must prove, among other things, an ongoing organization of associates who functioned as a continuing unit that existed separately from the pattern of racketeering conduct in which it engaged. Here, the prosecution didn’t present evidence proving such an organization. But the evidence was sufficient to convict Woodyard on the COCCA charges under the previously controlling formulation of the “enterprise” element, so the prosecution may retry Woodyard on those charges.

Woodyard also challenged his convictions on five counts of money laundering and five counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, arguing that the evidence of the underlying transactions showed that he received rather than transferred money in those transactions. The plain language of the applicable subsection of the money laundering statute under which Woodyard was charged required the prosecution to prove that he transported, transmitted, or transferred moneys. Here, there was insufficient evidence to convict Woodyard of eight of the money laundering charges because there was no evidence that he transferred money to someone else. As to the remaining two counts, 10 and 11, Woodyard argued that the convictions on those counts must be vacated because there was no evidence of a separate crime distinct from the underlying drug transaction that generated the money transferred. Counts 10 and 11 charged a transaction in which Woodyard paid one of his suppliers $9,000 for two pounds of methamphetamine. That transaction promoted the continuation of Woodyard’s ongoing illegal drug distribution operation. Therefore, sufficient evidence supports the jury’s verdict on these charges.

Woodyard also argued that the district court abused its discretion by allowing a detective to testify concerning cell tower location evidence because the detective wasn’t admitted as an expert and that the information showing that a call from a particular cell phone “is associated with a tower” was hearsay. The detective input data into a Google website, which generated maps showing the locations of cell phone towers. He testified that it took no specialized experience, knowledge, or training to perform these tasks. Accordingly, the detective’s testimony wasn’t expert testimony. Further, the maps were automatically generated, so they weren’t statements subject to CRE 801. And even if the district court abused its discretion by admitting the testimony and exhibits relating to cell phone location, any error was harmless because the evidence related only to certain charges and added little to the prosecution’s case.

Woodyard further contended that his convictions on counts 23 and 24 for conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, and the conspiracy convictions on Counts 40 through 42, are multiplicitous and thus violate double jeopardy. Here, counts 23 and 24 involved one criminal episode, and the evidence proving both charges was essentially the same. The situation was the same for counts 40 through 42. Therefore, the district court erred by entering judgments of conviction on both counts 23 and 24, and similarly by entering judgments of conviction on counts 40 through 42, and the error was plain.

Woodyard’s COCCA convictions and the sentences on those convictions were reversed, and the case was remanded for a new trial on the COCCA charges. Eight of the 10 money laundering convictions were vacated. Three of the conspiracy convictions were reversed, which merge with other conspiracy convictions. The matter was affirmed in all other respects.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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