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Tafolla v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma

July 18, 2019

Jestin TAFOLLA, Appellant
v.
The STATE of Oklahoma, Appellee.

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          AN APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF TULSA COUNTY; THE HONORABLE WILLIAM D. LaFORTUNE, DISTRICT JUDGE

         TONI A. BEACH, ATTORNEY AT LAW, COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT

         ISAAC SHIELDS, KATE HUNTER, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEYS, COUNSEL FOR STATE

         IAN M. SHAHAN, ATTORNEY AT LAW, COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT

         MIKE HUNTER, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OKLAHOMA, JENNIFER B. WELCH, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE

          OPINION

         ROWLAND, JUDGE

Page 1254

         [¶1] Appellant Jestin Tafolla appeals his Judgment and Sentence from the District Court of Tulsa County, Case No. CF-2016-2204, for Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, After Former Conviction of Two or More Felonies (Count 1), in violation of 21 O.S.2011, § 645, and Carrying a Weapon Unlawfully, a misdemeanor (Count 2), in violation of 21 O.S.Supp.2015, § 1272. The Honorable William D. LaFortune, District Judge, presided over Tafolla’s jury trial and sentenced him, in accordance with the jury’s verdict, to life imprisonment on Count 1 and thirty days in the county jail on Count 2. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently. Tafolla appeals raising the following issues:

(1) whether the admission of evidence of his gang affiliation violated his due process right to a fair trial;
(2) whether evidence of his gang affiliation was "aggravating" evidence not permissible under Oklahoma law;
(3) whether the trial court erred in allowing evidence of his gang affiliation in violation of the First Amendment Freedom of Association;
(4) whether the admission of his statement that he was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood was improper and denied him his due process right to a fair trial;
(5) whether admission of the victim’s out of court statements violated his constitutional right to confrontation;
(6) whether the admission of evidence of underlying facts and probationary sentences imposed in his prior felony convictions deprived him of his due process right to a fair trial;
(7) whether prosecutorial misconduct deprived him of his due process right to a fair trial;
(8) whether instructional error requires relief;
(9) whether his convictions for both assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and carrying a weapon unlawfully violated the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy and the state prohibition against double punishment;
(10) whether error occurred when the State charged him with the general crime instead of a more specific "hate" crime;
(11) whether he was denied effective assistance of counsel; and,
(12) whether an accumulation of error deprived him of a fair trial.

         [¶2] We find relief is not required and affirm the Judgment and Sentence of the district court.

          FACTS

         [¶3] On the afternoon of April 5, 2016, Tulsa Police Detectives James Dawson and Korey Scott, both with the Organized Gang Unit, were driving in an unmarked car back to the police station at the end of their patrol shift. Around 11th Street and Highway 169 they saw a white male, Jestin Tafolla, straddling a black male who was on his back on the sidewalk. Tafolla was hitting the victim repeatedly in the face and the detectives could see the victim’s head bouncing off the sidewalk with each blow. The detectives activated the lights on their car and drove up to the two men. When ...


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