Matthew J. Troccoli, for appellant.
Pamela Jo Bondi, Attorney General and Douglas J. Glaid, Senior Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Before SALTER, EMAS and FERNANDEZ, JJ.
Defendant Alfonso Medrano appeals his conviction and sentence for trafficking in 3-, 4-methylenedioxymethampetamine (" MDMA" or " ecstasy" ). We reverse and remand for a new trial, holding that the trial court abused its discretion in denying Medrano a continuance to permit him to take the deposition of the co-defendant, who pled guilty immediately prior to the commencement of the trial and testified against Medrano at trial.
The relevant facts are not in dispute:
Medrano and a co-defendant were charged with one count of trafficking in 400 grams or more of MDMA. Immediately before jury selection began, the co-defendant entered a negotiated plea of guilty to the trafficking charge. As a condition of the plea, the co-defendant agreed to cooperate with the State and to testify as a State witness in Medrano's trial, which began immediately on the heels of the co-defendant's plea.
Defense counsel requested a two-week continuance to permit the taking of the co-defendant's deposition and to undertake additional trial preparation, including consideration of a different defense strategy in light of the fact that the co-defendant had pled guilty and had become a State witness. The trial court denied this motion and the case proceeded to trial.
At trial, the State called the co-defendant as a witness, who testified as follows:
— The co-defendant was contacted by someone who knew both him (the co-defendant) and the informant.
— This mutual acquaintance advised the co-defendant that the informant
wanted to purchase a large quantity of ecstasy pills.
— On January 15, Medrano drove the co-defendant to a parking lot in a ...