County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-17-1419
Ellison, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and James C.
Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, Charles C. Cremens,
Assistant County Attorney, Hastings, Minnesota (for
Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Jenna
Yauch-Erickson, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul,
Minnesota (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Johnson,
Judge; and Jesson, Judge.
appeal challenging the district court's omnibus-hearing
decision rejecting a criminal defendant's entrapment
defense, this court will review factual findings for clear
error and legal conclusions de novo.
Garcia acted as the middleman in a parking-lot drug exchange
between a drug seller and a confidential police informant
after the informant had urged him many times to serve as the
courier between the two. Garcia challenged his consequent
drug-sale charge by arguing that police had entrapped him.
The district court rejected the argument and found Garcia
guilty of first-degree sale of a controlled substance. We
reverse and remand for more proceedings because the district
court erroneously held that Garcia failed to show that the
government induced him to participate in the transaction.
state charged Juan Garcia with first-degree sale of a
controlled substance under Minnesota Statutes, section
152.021, subdivision 1(1) (2014), and Garcia challenged the
charge by claiming entrapment, alleging the following facts.
casual acquaintance of Garcia's, R.M., introduced his
girlfriend H.F. to Garcia in 2014. Garcia encountered H.F.
again at a fantasy-football draft party about a year later in
August 2015. He saw her with Michael Walker, whom she
described as her drug source. She urged Garcia not to tell
R.M. about her being there with Walker, saying that she
feared that R.M. would suspect that she and Walker were
November 2015, H.F. contacted Garcia through social media,
asking for his phone number. Garcia gave her his number and
she called him. She told Garcia about tension between her and
R.M. and asked if he would help her get drugs from Walker.
She told him that R.M. would beat her out of jealousy if she
contacted Walker directly. Garcia said no. He said that he
was on parole and did not want to be involved in any crime.
H.F. then offered to give Garcia $50 to help her get drugs
from Walker. Garcia again refused, and the call ended. H.F.
called Garcia multiple times in the following weeks, but
Garcia refused to answer because he believed that she
intended to keep urging him to serve as a middleman in her
drug dealing with Walker and he did not want to participate.
eventually answered a call from H.F. in December 2015. She
asked what he was doing. He said that he was planning to
attend a fantasy-football meeting and that, afterwards, he
needed to pick up pre-ordered Christmas gifts at the West St.
Paul Walmart. H.F. asked if Walker would be at the meeting,
and Garcia said that he assumed he would be. H.F. asked
Garcia if he would agree to hand his cell phone to Walker so
she could arrange to buy drugs from him. She told him that
she had become desperate for drugs, reiterated that she could
not contact Walker directly, and emphasized that she feared
she would be beaten by R.M. if she did so. Garcia then agreed
to let Walker use his phone at the meeting if he showed up.
meeting Walker asked Garcia to use his cell phone, promising
to erase any history of his call to H.F. Garcia allowed
Walker to use his phone. Garcia believed that any drug deal
between H.F. and Walker would occur at the meeting and that
they would not ask him to be involved. But after Walker ended
his hour-long discussion with H.F. on Garcia's phone,
Walker told Garcia that he and H.F. had arranged to complete
the drug ...