Alonzo was an undercover cop. He bought a balloon filled
with drugs from a guy named 'Tito' on a street corner and then walked
Later, he received information that 'Tito' was a guy named
Carrillo. He identified a photo of Carrillo as the guy who sold him
Carrillo was arrested and charged with selling drugs.
Carrillo argued that it was a case of mistaken identity.
Alonzo had participated in several hundred undercover
drug buys, and once has misidentified a seller.
At trial, Carrillo filed a motion to exclude other
evidence of criminal activity, but the judge ruled that if Carrillo wanted
to use the defense of mistaken identity, then the prosecution could use
details of prior offenses to show that Carrillo was the seller.
At trial, Carrillo argued that he was several blocks away
when the drug deal happened. In response, the prosecution brought forward
two police officers (Garcia and Peters) to testify that they had seen
Carrillo selling drugs.
Peters testified that he saw Carrillo selling balloons
filled with drugs.
Carrillo objected on the grounds that evidence of an extrinsic
act was inadmissible.
The Trial Judge allowed the testimony to be admitted under
FRE 404 (b) says that, "Evidence of other
crimes, wrongs, or acts is not admissible to prove the character of a
person in order to show action in conformity therewith. It may, however,
be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity,
intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or
Carrillo was convicted of selling drugs. He appealed.
The Appellate Court reversed and remanded for a new trial.
The Appellate Court found that there was a two part test
to determine if an extrinsic act was admissible under FRE 404(b).
First, it must be determined that the extrinsic offence
evidence is relevant to an issue other than the defendant's character.
Second, the evidence must possess probative value that
is not substantially outweighed by its undue prejudice, and meet the
requirements of FRE 403.
The Appellate Court found that, under FRE 404(b)
prior extrinsic offenses are only admissible if they bear such a high
degree of similarity as to make it as the defendant's handiwork.
Garcia and Peters failed to corroborate any unique or
uncommon elements of the transaction. Therefore, all they did was show
that Carrillo had acted in conformity of common drug dealing
procedures. That is not enough to satisfy FRE 404(b).
Lots of people sold drugs in that area, and lots of
people sold drugs in balloons, so all Garcia and Peters' testimony did
was raise issues of Carrillo's character. It did not help to prove identity.