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Name: People v. Arauz
Case #: B230053
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 11/08/2012

Accomplice’s statements to jailhouse informant were admissible as statements against penal interest and were not “testimonial.” Appellants appealed their convictions for criminal street gang activity and attempted murder with multiple enhancements, contending that the trial court erred in admitting an accomplice’s jailhouse statements to an informant. The accomplice, a fellow gang member, was placed in a cell next to a paid confidential informant, who surreptitiously recorded the accomplice say that he drove appellants to Alvarado Street, where they shot two “homies from El Rio.” Appellants contended that the statements violated their Sixth Amendment right of confrontation. The appellate court rejected the argument. Statements unwittingly made to an informant are not “testimonial” within the meaning of the confrontation clause. Further, the statements were admissible as a declaration against penal interest. The statements were in no way exculpatory, and their specificity, identifying appellants as the actual shooters, showed trustworthiness. Appellants also challenged the admission of telephone wiretap evidence of gang members talking about robberies and getting handguns to retaliate and shoot rival gang members. The appellate court rejected the challenge, finding that the wiretaps were properly admitted to show the nature of the gang, that appellants were members, and to prove identity, intent, knowledge and motive. There was no showing that the wiretap evidence was so prejudicial and irrelevant as to guilt that it threatened to sway the jury.