IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA
Plaintiff and Respondent,
RONNIE DALE DEMENT,
Defendant and Appellant.
Super. Ct. No. 4679510
Defendant Ronnie Dale Dement was convicted of oral copulation in a local
detention facility and of the first degree murder of fellow inmate Greg Michael
Andrews. (Pen. Code,1 §§ 187, subd. (a), 189, 288a, subd. (e).) The jury found
true the special circumstance allegations of murder while engaged in the attempted
commission of oral copulation and, in a separate proceeding, of a prior conviction
of murder. (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(2), (17).) It returned a death verdict and the trial
court entered a judgment of death. This appeal is automatic. (Cal. Const., art. VI,
§ 11, subd. (a); § 1239, subd. (b).) For the reasons that follow, we affirm the
1 All further statutory references are to the Penal Code unless otherwise
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
A. Guilt Phase
1. Prosecution evidence
On April 9, 1992,2 Greg Andrews was found dead in the jail cell he shared
with three other individuals, including defendant. Defendant was implicated in
Andrews‟s murder by the testimony of the other cellmates, defendant‟s statements
and actions before and after Andrews was attacked, and the testimony or
statements of inmates who overheard parts of the attack.
a. Andrews’s arrival at the jail
On April 8, defendant, whose nickname was “Pico,” shared cell No. 8 in the
Fresno County jail with John Benjamin and Jimmie Lee Bond. That evening, he
was in the jail dayroom standing next to inmate Anthony Williams. About 30
minutes before the inmates returned to their cells for the night, a group of new
inmates, including Greg Andrews, appeared. Referring to Andrews, defendant
told Williams, “I hope they don‟t move him in my cell.” He then said something
to the effect of, “They move him in my cell, I‟m going to do him” or “do his ass,”
which Williams interpreted to mean defendant was going to kill Andrews.
Andrews was assigned to a three-bunk cell occupied by defendant, Bond, and
Benjamin. Defendant seemed upset about a fourth person being assigned to the
cell. Defendant, Benjamin, and Bond inquired whether a mistake had been made
placing Andrews in their cell because a cell in the tier immediately below them
had only two occupants. They were informed Andrews would remain in their cell.
2 All dates in the discussion of the prosecution‟s guilt phase evidence refer
to dates in 1992 unless otherwise indicated.
Inmate Bradley Nelson, a friend of Andrews‟s, socialized with Andrews in
the dayroom after Andrews had been assigned a cell. Andrews left to go to sleep.
As Andrews started to go upstairs, Nelson saw defendant look at Bond, smile, and
start hitting his fist into his hand. Nelson told Bond “they better leave [Andrews]
alone because he was a friend of mine.” Inmate Eric Johnson heard defendant say
he “was going to take care of the home boy that had just been put into his tank.”
b. The attack on Andrews3
After the cells were locked for the night, Andrews, who was wearing only
boxer shorts, put his mattress on the floor, and went to sleep. Defendant, Bond,
and Benjamin drank an alcoholic beverage called “pruno.” Sometime later,
defendant told Benjamin and Bond he wanted to question Andrews about a woman
they both knew, and that defendant “would know about him if he gave the wrong
answers.” Defendant, who was wearing boxer shorts and sandals, began slapping
Andrews in the face to wake him up. Defendant then asked Andrews about
defendant‟s wife, “if he knew her, how good did he know her, things like that.”
Andrews apparently acknowledged that he knew or had seen defendant‟s wife.
Defendant became angry, and began punching Andrews in the face, calling him a
“piece of shit,” and stomping on his head. Benjamin and Bond told defendant to
leave Andrews alone. Defendant started to remove Andrews‟s boxer shorts, and
when Andrews attempted to hold on to the shorts, defendant punched him, slapped
him, and told him to put his hands down. Defendant ripped off the shorts.
3 This factual recitation is from Benjamin‟s and Bond‟s testimony. Their
testimony did not differ materially with regard to defendant‟s actions and
statements regarding the attack, but each person‟s testimony was more detailed
with respect to certain aspects of the attack. “In light of the sufficiency of the
evidence contentions that follow, we set forth the facts here in the light most
favorable to the judgment.” (People v. Lee (2011) 51 Cal.4th 620, 625, fn. 5.)
Defendant called Andrews a “punk,” and said, “Watch him kiss my dick.”
Defendant pulled his penis through the fly of his boxer shorts and ordered
Andrews to kiss it. Andrews refused. Defendant told Andrews, “If you just kiss
it, I‟ll leave you alone.” Andrews kissed the head of defendant‟s penis.
Defendant said, “I ought to fuck him.” Defendant asked Bond and Benjamin if
they wanted to fuck Andrews “or get their dicks sucked”; they declined.
Defendant backed away from Andrews, and said, “I told you he was a punk, a
piece of shit,” and, “I ought to kill you.”
Defendant started punching and kicking Andrews. Bond unsuccessfully tried
to pull defendant away from Andrews. Defendant began slamming Andrews
against the cell lockers, and Bond again unsuccessfully tried to stop him.
Defendant continued hitting Andrews, “slinging him into the locker, throwing him
on the ground, [and] stomping on him.” Andrews yelled, “Leave me alone. Why
are you doing this to me?”
Defendant then grabbed a towel and wrapped it around Andrews‟s throat,
pulling on both ends of the towel. Defendant said he was going to kill Andrews,
and that it was people like Andrews who caused the death of his mother. Andrews
passed out, but was still breathing. Bond pulled defendant off Andrews, and
defendant told Bond “to stay out of it and mind [his] own business, that the same
thing could happen to [him].” Benjamin pushed a call button to alert an officer to
contact the cell. An officer‟s voice came over the speaker in the cell, defendant
told Andrews to be quiet, and yelled out, “ „What time is it?” The officer
informed defendant of the time, the two may have exchanged another word or two,
and the conversation ceased.
Defendant then choked Andrews with the towel, which was still wrapped
around his neck, a second time. Bond and Benjamin unsuccessfully attempted to
intervene. Andrews passed out again. Defendant let go of Andrews, saying, “I
killed him.” Bond became “real emotional” and told defendant, “You killed him.
You killed him,” but Benjamin could see Andrews was breathing. Benjamin said,
“No, he‟s alive, he‟s not dead. You guys didn‟t kill him. It‟s all right.”
Defendant then jumped back onto Andrews and choked him a third time. Finally,
defendant said, “Fuck it, I‟m through with it,” and released the towel. Benjamin
now thought Andrews, whose face color began to darken, was dead.
Defendant instructed Bond and Benjamin to clean up the cell. Andrews was
placed on a mattress, covered with a blanket, and moved underneath the bottom
bunk. The cellmates wiped up blood, and flushed boxer shorts and towels down
the toilet. Defendant also told them that “when the police ask about it, just to say
that him and Mr. Andrews got in a fight and that we went to bed and we didn‟t
know what happened.” About 40 minutes to an hour after the third choking, the
cell doors were opened for breakfast. Defendant, Bond, and Benjamin exited the
Defendant later told Bond and Benjamin “not to say anything . . . or
something would happen to us.” Bond and Benjamin subsequently returned to the
cell, shut the door, pushed the call button, and notified the officer that there was a
body in the cell. A responding jail nurse testified that when she examined
Andrews there was a towel wrapped around his neck and he had no heartbeat or
During the night of April 8 to 9, inmate Albert Martinez heard “somebody
calling for help, screaming „Just leave me alone,‟ and . . . what sounded like a
body being thrown against a wall and the toilet.” Martinez also heard a voice call
out something to the effect that “he wanted to fuck him and stuff.” Nelson heard
fighting, and heard Andrews plead, “Somebody, please get me out of this cell,”
and later say, “You might as well go ahead and kill me.”
c. Evidence after the attack on Andrews
Nelson went to Andrews‟s cell to wake him for breakfast. He discovered
Andrews was dead, and returned to his cell, informing his cellmates of what he
had observed. Defendant arrived at Nelson‟s cell. Defendant was aware Nelson
had been in cell No. 8, “was mad,” and “told me to stay the fuck out of his cell.”
Defendant then asked Nelson if he would help him drag the body out of the cell
onto the tier. Nelson declined. Defendant knew Nelson and Andrews had been
friends, and said that if Nelson said anything, he would be dead. Defendant placed
his left hand on Nelson‟s chest and with his right hand drew his finger across his
Williams testified that as soon as the cell doors were opened for breakfast, he
observed defendant calmly “going from cell to cell letting everybody know if they
got any knives or weapons, to get rid of them because he had killed a guy
Inmate Martinez, who was an acquaintance of defendant‟s, heard defendant
bragging about having “killed the punk.” Defendant visited Martinez‟s cell and
asked Martinez to help him drag a body downstairs. Martinez declined. Martinez
later heard defendant ask other inmates to remove the body from his cell, and
heard defendant describe the attack on Andrews. Defendant said he beat Andrews,
and Martinez was “pretty sure [defendant] mentioned that he was choking him,
strangling him.” Martinez heard defendant say that “he was trying to go up in the
guy,” which Martinez said meant, “trying to fuck him.” Martinez was uncertain
whether defendant said “he had fucked the guy” or that “he had killed him because
he didn‟t want to let him fuck him.” According to Martinez, defendant told him
and other inmates that if he “got rolled up, the two people that knew what had
happened were his two cellies and that they needed to do something to him.”
On the morning Andrews‟s body was found, Criminalist Michael Giberson
physically examined defendant. There was a one-and-one-half inch diameter red
and swollen area on defendant‟s right middle knuckle and an abrasion and cut on
the web portion near his right thumb. The back of the web on his left hand also
bore a small abrasion. The outside edge of his right big toe was bruised and there
was a bruise on his left shin about six inches below the knee.
Fresno County Sheriff‟s Department Detective Bradley Christian
accompanied defendant to the hospital so that he could receive medical treatment
for his injured hand. During informal conversation, Christian mentioned
defendant‟s wife and a friend of hers named Tom Rutledge. Defendant said he
knew Rutledge, that he and Rutledge were enemies, and that Rutledge had
disrespected him. Defendant subsequently asked Christian “what the name of the
subject was that had gone to sleep.” Christian said, “Greg Andrews.” Defendant
nodded his head and said, “He was a friend of Tommy‟s.”
In March and April 1993, defendant sent inmate Trinidad Ybarra “kites,” or
jailhouse letters, portions of which were read to the jury. (See post, pt. II.B.3.) In
the kites, defendant appeared to admit responsibility for Andrews‟s murder.
An autopsy revealed blunt trauma injury to Andrews‟s head and body. Four
of his ribs had been fractured by blunt trauma; these injuries were more consistent
with a kick than a blow from a fist. His frenulum, or the string attaching the upper
lip to the jaw area, was torn, and his hands bore defensive wounds. There was a
horizontal abrasion on the front and sides of his neck. The blunt trauma injury
contributed significantly to Andrews‟s death, but the cause of death was ligature
2. Defense evidence
Donald Moore, Anthony Williams‟s parole agent, testified that he had
advised Williams that if a subpoena were issued for defendant‟s Fresno trial, it
would be in Williams‟s best interest to satisfy his obligations under the subpoena
before moving to Southern California. Once Moore learned Williams was going
to have to testify, Moore told Williams that “as soon as he got finished
testifying . . . , he could come back to my office and we‟d go ahead and give him
the paperwork and he could head on down to Palmdale.” Moore wrote a note in
Williams‟s file that read: “ „Advised would not release suspect to Palmdale area if
he did not cooperate with their investigation.‟ ” The note, however, referred to a
conversation Moore had with the district attorney‟s investigator. Moore did not
tell Williams he could not go to the Palmdale area unless he cooperated.
Dr. Eric Hickey, a criminologist at the California State University, Fresno,
testified as an expert concerning prison argot or slang. According to Dr. Hickey,
prison slang included a great deal of machismo and bravado, and it was very
common for inmates to exaggerate or falsify their past exploits in order to attain
status. “No one wants to appear to be weak in an institution because the weaker
ones are the ones who are preyed upon.”
Dr. Hickey testified that the term “tag” had a variety of meanings. These
included to kill, physically assault, or hurt an individual in some way. If used in
reference to a family member, it could mean to silence that individual so he would
not speak about other offenses. If used in reference to a stranger, it could mean to
let that individual know the speaker is in charge, or is the boss, perhaps by a
sexual assault. The term “I‟m going to do him” could have a sexual connotation.
The term “punk” usually meant “somebody who is used sexually, he‟s owned by
another inmate, . . . sometimes shared or sold to other inmates.”
Dr. Hickey also testified that although the threat of sexual attack is used to
intimidate another inmate, there may be no intent to actually commit such an
assault. Sexual assaults were sometimes used to punish a fellow inmate.
Dr. Hickey agreed with defense counsel that depending on the relationship
between two inmates, inmates can use kites to “try to puff themselves up and . . .
make themselves more . . . fearsome than they already are.” If the writer is friends
with the recipient of the kite, “he may say very confidential things to him.” If the
writer is just an acquaintance, “he may say things which are somewhat
Fresno County Sheriff‟s Department Detective Linda Lee testified that on
April 9, 1992, the day Andrews‟s death was reported, she interviewed Anthony
Williams. Williams indicated he did not want to say anything unless Lee could
help him with his case. Lee did not make a deal with him. After further
conversation, Williams said he was not going help Lee unless she helped him, and
that he knew who had committed the crime but would not tell her. Lee explained
she was not in a position to help Williams.
In June and July 1994, Irvin Basquez was at times in a holding cell in the
court building in which defendant‟s trial was being held. On one such occasion in
the week or two before Basquez‟s testimony, a man who had short hair and a
mustache coming down the sides of his mouth was being held in the cell next to
Basquez‟s. The man was yelling loudly at police officers and identified himself as
“Bond.” Some female inmates were brought through and one of the women asked
Bond, “What are you in here for?” Bond replied, “Killing my cellie.” The woman
responded, “Scared of you,” and left. Basquez was aware Bond was a witness in a
related case in federal court. He subsequently conveyed the conversation to
defendant, with whom he was acquainted.
B. Prior-Murder Special-circumstance Allegation Phase
The parties stipulated that on or about September 26, 1991, defendant was
convicted of the second degree murder of David Raymond Dement. The jury
found true the prior-murder special-circumstance allegation. (§ 190.2, subd.
C. Penalty Phase
1. Prosecution evidence
The parties stipulated to and the prosecution introduced evidence regarding
the details of defendant‟s murder of his brother, 35-year-old David Dement. On
June 2, 1991, David and his wife were socializing at the Fresno home of Joel
Parker and his girlfriend, Robin Rynes. Late that afternoon, defendant arrived and
asked to speak with David. Parker asked defendant to leave. Parker learned the
dispute involved money defendant alleged David had taken from him, and David
contended he had repaid. Over the next five and a half to six hours, defendant
returned to the Parker residence several times. On one of these occasions, he said,
“I‟m going to kill my brother.” On the last occasion, David left the house and
defendant shot him. David died early the next morning as a result of a single
The parties also stipulated that defendant suffered a conviction for the 1991
willful and unlawful infliction of corporeal injury on a spouse. (§ 273.5.)
Defendant committed the assault on Lisa Dement several hours before he shot his
The prosecution introduced evidence that in 1983 defendant suffered three
robbery convictions, one of which had a firearm use enhancement. (§§ 211,
12022.5.) In 1986, he suffered a conviction for possession of a concealed weapon.
(Former § 12020, Stats.1986, ch. 1421, § 1.)
The prosecution also introduced evidence of misconduct in jail by defendant.
On November 17, 1992, and February 1, 1993, while defendant was incarcerated
in the Fresno County jail, he was found to be in possession of a “shank.” On
September 3, 1993, after Fresno County Sheriff‟s Department Correctional Officer
Joseph Burgen removed defendant‟s leg shackles and handcuffs for his recreation
time, defendant punched Burgen in the face twice, and then grabbed him by the
throat and pushed him backward. Another officer intervened, and after a struggle
defendant was ultimately subdued.
2. Defense evidence
Numerous witnesses testified regarding defendant‟s childhood, his marriage
to Lisa Dement, and his character. Defendant also presented expert testimony.
a. Background and character evidence
Defendant was born on December 3, 1963. His sister Theresa Thacker, who
was nearly five years older, testified defendant was the youngest of five children
and had two older brothers, David and Larry, and two older sisters, Lorraine and
Theresa. Theresa‟s father was Keith Thacker, and Lorraine, David, and Larry‟s
father was Raymond Dement; neither man ever resided with the family.
Defendant introduced into evidence his birth certificate, which stated Floyd
Hutchins was defendant‟s father. Theresa testified that when defendant was five
or six years old, the family home was frequented by many individuals who used
drugs and alcohol, and who sometimes parked motorcycles in the living room.
George Disbrow testified that he met defendant‟s mother Laverne in 1971
and married her in 1972, when defendant was nine years old. He described
defendant as a very congenial and attentive child who would immediately do what
was asked of him. Defendant called Disbrow “Dad.”
Disbrow smoked marijuana with Laverne and drank alcohol heavily.
Between 1971 and 1974, defendant lived in about 10 different residences. At one
point, Laverne was sent to jail for six months for selling barbiturates, and Disbrow
cared for defendant and his older sister Theresa. Theresa testified that Disbrow
would beat her about the head in defendant‟s presence. She sought assistance
from other adults and was eventually placed in foster care. Theresa unsuccessfully
tried to have defendant removed also.
At the end of 1974 or the beginning of 1975, when Laverne was released
from jail, defendant, who was about 11, was living with Disbrow in Southern
California. At Laverne‟s request, defendant returned to Fresno, and that was the
last time Disbrow saw defendant.
At the time of her testimony, Theresa was an eligibility worker for the
department of social services. Theresa considered herself a recovering drug addict
and alcoholic. All of her siblings had experienced problems with drug and alcohol
abuse, and all of her brothers had trouble with the law. Theresa described
defendant as someone who cared about his family and was intelligent.
Clyde Willis, the former principal of Nelson Elementary School, knew
defendant when he was in the fourth through sixth grades. Defendant was not
regarded as a troublemaker. Willis recalled that in the sixth grade, defendant
attended a trip to the regional learning center in the Sonora mountains; he seemed
very friendly and popular with the other boys. Guy Wilson, defendant‟s sixth
grade teacher, described defendant as a “pleasant child” who made a reasonable
effort in the classroom and got along well with Wilson.
Susan Cabrera met defendant when he was about 11 and knew him at that
time for a year or two. Cabrera, who was married and had a young child, was a
neighbor and became acquainted with defendant‟s mother Laverne. Laverne‟s
home was filthy and frequently smelled of marijuana. Laverne, who was a very
large woman, was physically abusive to defendant. Once, when defendant had not
done a chore, she slapped him with the back of her hand so hard that he “just
flew.” Cabrera often heard Laverne yelling at defendant and saying, “ „Ronnie,
you didn‟t do this, and I‟m going to beat the shit out of you.‟ ”
Defendant visited Cabrera‟s house daily, and Cabrera would babysit
defendant when his mother had to run errands or go out of town. Laverne would
tell Cabrera she was leaving defendant with her for two days to visit friends and
would end up leaving him for two weeks. Cabrera and defendant developed a
mother-son relationship, and his grades went from D‟s and F‟s to A‟s and B‟s.
Defendant asked Cabrera and her husband to adopt him. Cabrera spoke to
Laverne about doing so, but Laverne declined, saying defendant was her only
means of support. After this conversation, Laverne moved from the area with
defendant, and Cabrera was unable to locate them. Cabrera next saw defendant
when he was 18. Defendant, who still called Cabrera “Mom,” visited her with his
wife, Lisa, and his daughter at Cabrera‟s new home in Fresno. The two resumed
their relationship, and at the time of trial were close friends.
Lisa Dement, defendant‟s wife, testified that she met defendant in 1978 or
1979 when she was 14 and he was 15. When they had their first child in 1980,
defendant was in the California Youth Authority. When he was released, he went
to live with Lisa at her parents‟ home. They were married in 1982 and eventually
had two more children. Defendant introduced into evidence photographs of the
children. When defendant was not incarcerated, he worked and provided for the
children, taught them to “go the right way,” and was “there for them.”
Lisa was with defendant when he shot his brother David. She testified she
had never seen defendant so intoxicated, or act in that manner. At one point that
day defendant was crying, and said he just wanted his brother to apologize to him.
At the time of her testimony, Lisa no longer considered herself married to
defendant. Defendant wrote to and telephoned their children, and Lisa‟s mother
took the children to visit him in jail about twice a month. Defendant was close to
his children, and if he were executed, it “would hurt them a lot.”
Ruth Martinez Escobedo, Lisa‟s mother, testified that defendant was very
helpful performing chores around the house, and worked at various jobs, including
at one point assisting the Escobedos with their janitorial business. Ruth described
defendant as a loving, patient, and compassionate father. Both she and Solomon
Escobedo, Lisa‟s father, testified that they regarded defendant as a son.
Lori Escobedo, Lisa Dement‟s sister, testified that defendant was a good
influence on her 13-year-old son Joshua. Joshua and defendant often spoke on the
telephone, and defendant told Joshua to listen to his mother and go to school, and
that jail was “no place to end up.” Cathy Olage, another of Lisa Dement‟s sisters,
testified she had known defendant since she was nine, and he was like a brother to
her. Defendant always told her to do the right thing, to go to school, to avoid drug
use, and to listen to her parents. At the time of trial, Cathy was married with
children, had her own home, and was a tax examiner. She had never been in any
kind of trouble, and often thought about the advice defendant gave her. Defendant
had expressed regret for his life of crime and drug use. Defendant‟s sister,
Lorraine, testified that if defendant were executed, a piece of Lorraine would also
Michael Wilson worked with defendant at a construction site, and was later
incarcerated with him. Defendant worked long hours at the construction site, was
very dependable, and his lead man had “good things to say about him all the
Al Medina, a member of Jehovah‟s Witnesses, had visited defendant in jail
every week for about two and a half years. The two prayed and read scripture.
Defendant appeared remorseful about “everything he‟s done in the past,” and had
begun to have a more positive attitude toward law enforcement officers. Joe Mora
and Christopher Jackson, who had been incarcerated with defendant, testified
regarding defendant‟s advice to other inmates to get an education and otherwise
Tamara Scobee, who at the time of trial was incarcerated in a women‟s state
prison for cocaine possession, testified that she had met defendant in the Fresno
County jail. The two were very close, and Scobee hoped to marry defendant.
Scobee described herself as a drug addict and said that defendant had assisted her
in her resolve to stop using drugs. Maria Karacha testified she had known
defendant for three years while he was incarcerated. Karacha had been
romantically involved with defendant for nearly all of that time, but had ultimately
decided they should just be friends. Defendant understood and was supportive of
her decision. He sent her poetry and was “a very intelligent guy.” His advice and
experience had motivated her to work, stop using drugs and alcohol, and make
plans to attend college in the fall.
Fresno County Sheriff‟s Department Correctional Officer George Lira
testified he had transported defendant from court on several occasions as well as to
other locations within the jail. He experienced no difficulty or security problem
transporting defendant. Lira described defendant as an obviously “pretty smart
guy” who enjoyed reading. His cell was very organized and clean.
b. Expert testimony
Dr. Howard Terrell, a psychiatrist, evaluated defendant. Terrell interviewed
defendant twice, in January and May 1994. He also relied on a “wealth of
information” regarding defendant‟s childhood background drawn from interviews
with family members and other individuals, which had apparently been performed
by an investigator. He opined that defendant suffered from an antisocial
personality disorder, and that his manifestation of antisocial personality traits was
quite severe. Individuals with this disorder lead lives that involve criminal
behavior and violating the rules of society, and have manifested a strong pattern of
improper behavior by the age of 15. As individuals with this disorder reach their
40s and 50s, the disorder tends to diminish or go into remission.
According to Dr. Terrell, defendant never met his biological father, and had
no healthy father role model. The men his mother brought into the house were
typically criminals and drug addicts, “people who were about the most horrible
and awful role models you could . . . set before a child.” When an individual is
born with certain biological traits, such as an antisocial personality makeup, and
then placed in an environment in which breaking the law is the norm or even
encouraged, it is more likely that the person will develop an antisocial personality.
In elementary school, defendant was a good student and an exceptional
athlete. He lived in an area where street gangs were prevalent, and at some point
after the age of 12, defendant joined a Hispanic gang. His older brother Larry was
a member of a white supremacist gang, which created conflict between defendant
and his brother.
Defendant told Dr. Terrell that he had been a heavy drinker, and had used
cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and a combination of heroin with cocaine or
methamphetamine called “speedballing.” He had also sniffed either gasoline or
paint fumes. Defendant told Terrell he had been using methamphetamine,
cocaine, heroin, and alcohol continuously for at least three days before he shot his
brother. Cocaine and methamphetamine tend to make the user more paranoid and
violent. Individuals who were violent while on cocaine were only so in the short
term, but chronic users of methamphetamine “can be paranoid, psychiatrically
violent for days, weeks, months, even up to a year after the time they use the
drug.” Alcohol has variable effects depending on the user; some individuals
become angry and engage in violent behavior. When these drugs are combined,
the “potential for a disastrous outcome is even greater.”
Dr. Terrell noted that all of defendant‟s siblings also suffered from substance
abuse. Terrell would not generally expect every child in a family to have that
problem, and opined that the cause was both genetics and the “horrible
environment in which they were raised.”
Dr. Terrell testified that when overcrowding of individuals was combined
with the effects of alcohol, there was a greater propensity for violence. Terrell
was familiar with the Fresno County jail, and opined that four individuals in a jail
cell “would be a very unpleasant experience.”
Dr. Hickey, who had appeared at the guilt phase for the defense, testified that
the California State Prison, Corcoran and Pelican Bay State Prison were high
security prisons. Based on defendant‟s record, Hickey would expect that if he
received a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, he
would be sent to one of these two prisons. At Corcoran, inmates who posed a
danger to other inmates were placed in the security housing unit or SHU. In the
SHU, inmates were locked down 23 hours a day and had one hour a day to
exercise. They enjoyed fewer privileges, such as working in a prison industry,
than other inmates. They were not, however, always confined to a single cell, and
were often allowed to mingle with other inmates. Some inmates were considered
too dangerous to mingle, but even individuals within that group were sometimes
allowed to do so on a trial basis. It is common for correctional facility inmates to
possess shanks, and even within the SHU “weapons can be secured.” Inmates
such as defendant could eventually be transferred out of the SHU based in part on
their behavior. By contrast, an individual on death row had the status of being a
“marked man,” and in Hickey‟s view, received “perhaps a little better treatment”
than they might have in a SHU unit.
A. Pretrial Issue: Asserted Discrimination in Exercising Peremptory
Defendant contends that the prosecutor exercised his peremptory challenges
in a discriminatory manner to exclude female prospective jurors in violation of
various state and federal constitutional rights. (J.E.B. v. Alabama (1994) 511 U.S.
127, 129; Batson v. Kentucky (1986) 476 U.S. 79, 89; People v. Wheeler (1978) 22
Cal.3d 258, 272, 276-277 (Wheeler).) We agree with the trial court that defendant
made no prima facie showing that these prospective jurors were challenged
because of their gender.
1. Factual Background
After the prosecutor exercised his 13th peremptory challenge, defendant
made a Wheeler motion. By agreement, argument on the motion was reserved
until after the jury was sworn. The jury as sworn was comprised of six men and
At the hearing on the Wheeler motion, defense counsel asserted that the
prosecutor‟s exercise of challenges against six women “in a row,” and exercising
10 of his 13 peremptory challenges against women when women constituted about
half of the jury panel, demonstrated a prima facie case that the prosecutor “has
exercised his challenges disproportionately against women which are [a]
cognizable subgroup.” Defense counsel also opined that “[w]omen as a whole on
this jury panel have shown that they . . . would be more merciful, less adamant in
imposing the death penalty, possibly more compassionate and more likely to
entertain life without possibility of parole as an option.” She argued that was the
reason the prosecutor excused these women and that such an excusal would
constitute impermissible group bias. The prosecutor responded that women “are
as fairly represented” on the jury “as they possibly can be.” The court found no
prima facie showing of impermissible discriminatory use of peremptory
The use of peremptory challenges to exclude prospective jurors based on
gender violates both the federal and state Constitutions. (J.E.B. v. Alabama,
supra, 511 U.S. at p. 129; People v. Bonilla (2007) 41 Cal.4th 313, 341 (Bonilla).)
“There is a rebuttable presumption that a peremptory challenge is being exercised
properly, and the burden is on the opposing party to demonstrate impermissible
discrimination.” (Bonilla, at p. 341.) To do so, the following procedures apply:
“First, the defendant must make out a prima facie case „by showing that the
totality of the relevant facts gives rise to an inference of discriminatory purpose.‟
[Citation.] Second, once the defendant has made out a prima facie case, the
„burden shifts to the State to explain adequately the [gender] exclusion‟ by
offering permissible [gender]-neutral justifications for the strikes. [Citations.]
Third, „[i]f a [gender]-neutral explanation is tendered, the trial court must then
decide . . . whether the opponent of the strike has proved purposeful [gender]
discrimination.‟ ” (Johnson v. California (2005) 545 U.S. 162, 168, fn. omitted.)
“When, as in this case, it is unclear whether the trial court used the recently
disapproved „strong likelihood‟ standard, rather than the correct „reasonable
inference‟ standard, „we review the record independently to determine whether the
record supports an inference that the prosecutor excused a juror on a prohibited
discriminatory basis.‟ ” (People v. Davis (2009) 46 Cal.4th 539, 582-583.)
We conclude that the totality of relevant facts here is inconsistent with an
inference of discriminatory purpose. The circumstance that the prosecutor
exercised 10 of his 13 peremptory challenges against women is not dispositive.
(People v. Carasi (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1263, 1291, 1295 [prosecutor exercised 20 out
of 23 peremptory challenges against female prospective jurors; no prima facie case
demonstrated]; Bonilla, supra, 41 Cal.4th at pp. 345, 349 [prosecutor used 20 out
of 30 peremptories against female prospective jurors; no prima facie case
demonstrated].) The prosecutor used only 13 of his 20 available peremptories.4
Moreover, the Attorney General asserts and defendant does not dispute that
the prosecutor knew which prospective juror would replace a prospective juror
excused by a peremptory challenge. Yet nine of the 13 peremptory challenges
exercised by the prosecutor resulted in women being seated in the jury panel.
Although the prosecutor also excused some of those women, our examination of
the sequence of the prosecution‟s peremptory challenges reveals no discernible
pattern of discrimination towards female prospective jurors.
Given that 20 of the 40 prospective jurors subject to peremptory challenge
were female, it cannot be said the prosecutor struck most or all of the women from
the venire. (People v. Taylor (2010) 48 Cal.4th 574, 615 (Taylor).) In addition,
the jury as sworn included six women. (People v. Snow (1987) 44 Cal.3d 216, 225
[although the circumstance that the prosecutor accepted a panel containing
members of the cognizable group is not conclusive, it is “an indication of the
prosecutor‟s good faith in exercising his peremptories”].)
4 The prosecutor excused a female prospective juror, accepted the panel,
excused three female prospective jurors, accepted the panel four times, excused
two female prospective jurors, excused a male prospective juror, excused two
female prospective jurors, excused a male prospective juror, excused a female
prospective juror, excused a male prospective juror, and excused a female
prospective juror. The defense made its Wheeler motion, and the prosecutor once
more accepted the panel before both sides did so.
We also note that neither defendant nor the murder victim was female.
Although this circumstance does not affirmatively demonstrate the absence of
discrimination, it “identifies a factor that, because it is absent, fails in this case to
support an inference of discrimination.” (People v. Bell (2007) 40 Cal.4th 582,
Defendant notes that the prosecutor asked Prospective Jurors K.M. and A.H.
no questions, and asked few of Prospective Jurors L.M., K.S., M.S., and P.T.,
before exercising peremptory challenges against them.5 Although relevant
(Taylor, supra, 48 Cal.4th at p. 615), this circumstance is of little importance here
given the information otherwise available to the prosecutor regarding the
prospective jurors. In addition to individual questioning, the prospective jurors in
the jury box received instruction by the court and were asked questions as a group
by the parties that did not require a response unless a prospective juror had a
question or comment about that area. Even without an audible reply, the
prosecutor could observe the prospective jurors‟ demeanor as each instruction was
given or question was asked. In addition, the prosecutor could observe the voir
dire of these prospective jurors by the court and defense counsel.
Moreover, before voir dire, the prosecutor had reviewed the 21-page
questionnaire containing 87 questions with subparts filled out by each prospective
juror. (Taylor, supra, 48 Cal.4th at pp. 615-616 [that the prospective juror had
completed a 98-question questionnaire was notable when the prosecutor failed to
ask any questions]; Bell, supra, 40 Cal.4th at pp. 598-599, fn. 5 [noting the trial
5 Although trial occurred at a time when voir dire was primarily performed
by the trial court, the court in this case allowed the parties to question the jurors.
(See Code Civ. Proc., former § 223, added by Prop. 115, adopted by the voters
June 5, 1990, Primary Election.)
court‟s comment that “ „when you have a questionnaire, it can never be a
perfunctory examination‟ ”].) Indeed, the prosecutor at one point told the
prospective jurors: “I don‟t want you folks to think that I don‟t care about the case
because I‟m going through these quickly. It‟s just that there really is quite an
adequate amount of information in your questionnaire. They‟re so chock full of
information that we don‟t normally get when we‟re asking and looking at a jury.
We have to ask all the questions. But this is actually kind of easier for us because
everything is in writing, [and] we‟ve had time to look it over.” “A party is not
required to examine a prospective juror about every aspect that might cause
concern before it may exercise a peremptory challenge.” (People v. Jones (2011)
51 Cal.4th 346, 363.) Under these circumstances, we place little weight on the
prosecutor‟s failure to individually or more thoroughly question a prospective
juror before exercising a peremptory challenge.
Defendant asserts that in determining whether he established a prima facie
case of purposeful discrimination, this court should engage in comparative juror
analysis for the first time on appeal. We have concluded such analysis is neither
mandated nor helpful in a first-stage case. “Whatever use comparative juror
analysis might have in a third-stage case for determining whether a prosecutor‟s
proffered justifications for his strikes are pretextual, it has little or no use where
the analysis does not hinge on the prosecution‟s actual proffered rationales, and
we thus decline to engage in a comparative analysis here.” (Bonilla, supra, 41
Cal.4th at p. 350.)
B. Guilt Phase Issues
1. Admission of extrajudicial statements
Defendant contends that the trial court erred by admitting the prior
inconsistent statements of Eric Johnson and Albert Martinez.6 We disagree.
a. Factual background
On direct examination in the prosecution‟s case-in-chief, Johnson testified
that on April 9, 1992, the morning the victim‟s body was discovered, he was
interviewed by a law enforcement officer. Johnson testified he did not know
defendant, and either did not recall or denied having made certain statements
during that interview. On cross-examination, Johnson said he knew of no one else
who had the same name as he did, and that he had suffered three prior felony
convictions. Defense counsel did not inquire regarding his prior statement to law
enforcement. Fresno County Sheriff‟s Department Detective Sherman Lee
subsequently testified regarding Johnson‟s April 9 statement. (See ante, at p. 3.)
Counsel stipulated that the “Eric Johnson” who had made the statement was the
same person who testified at trial. Defendant does not refer us to, and we have not
found, an objection to introduction of the prior statement, although defendant did
6 With respect to this and other claims on appeal, defendant argues that the
asserted error violated various of his constitutional rights. In some instances,
insofar as defendant raised the issue at all in the trial court, he failed explicitly to
make some or all of the constitutional arguments he now advances. Unless
otherwise indicated, either (1) the appellate claim is of a kind that required no trial
court action by defendant to preserve it, or (2) the constitutional claims do not
invoke facts or legal standards different from those defendant asked the trial court
to apply but merely assert that the alleged errors were also constitutional
violations. To that extent, the new constitutional arguments are not forfeited on
appeal. Rejection, on the merits, of a claim that the trial court erred on the issue
actually before that court also means a rejection of the new constitutional “gloss.”
In such cases, we generally provide no separate constitutional discussion. (See
People v. Boyer (2006) 38 Cal.4th 412, 441, fn. 17.)
move to strike one sentence of Johnson‟s statement as testified to by Lee, and
objected at times during Lee‟s testimony on the grounds of hearsay, relevance,
lack of foundation, calling for a narrative, and speculation. Hence it appears the
trial court made no express ruling regarding admission of that statement.
On direct examination, Martinez denied knowing defendant or being able to
recognize his voice. He did not recall or denied having made several observations
or hearing certain statements during the night of April 8 to 9, the night the victim
was killed. On cross-examination, Martinez testified that he was interviewed by a
law enforcement officer on April 9, the morning the victim‟s body was discovered,
but did not recall being interviewed again on April 13, the date of his prior
statement. Martinez also said that before his testimony at trial, the prosecution
had shown him an April 13 statement. Martinez started to read it, but “didn‟t
remember saying any of that.” When asked if “anyone in law enforcement tried to
get you to say things about what happened that night that didn‟t happen that
night,” Martinez responded, “No.” Martinez also testified on cross-examination
that he had been arrested once or twice for giving false information to police
officers, had suffered three prior felony convictions, agreed with defense counsel
that it was “fair to say that sometimes you tell law enforcement officers the truth
and sometimes you don‟t,” and stated that half of what inmates said in jail or
prison regarding what they had done or were going to do was exaggeration.
Outside the presence of the jury, defense counsel questioned Detective
Christian, who had participated in the April 13 interview, regarding whether the
Martinez who was interviewed on that date was the same person who testified at
trial. After Christian identified Martinez as the individual he had interviewed,
defense counsel saw no “reason to voir dire this witness,” and stated they did not
“have any evidence . . . to dispute that this is the same person.” The trial court
ruled that Martinez‟s “lack of memory [was] feigned and contrived,” and
overruled defendant‟s confrontation clause objection to admission of the April 13
statement. Christian subsequently testified regarding Martinez‟s prior statement.
(See ante, at pp. 5-6.)
The court instructed the jury: “Evidence that on some former occasion a
witness made a statement or statements that were inconsistent or consistent with
the testimony in this trial may be considered by you not only for the purpose of
testing the credibility of the witness, but also as evidence of the truth of the facts
as stated by the witness on such former occasion. If you disbelieve a witness‟[s]
testimony that he or she no longer remembers a certain event, such testimony is
inconsistent with a prior statement or statements made by him or her describing
Defendant did not object to admission of Johnson‟s prior statement, no
exception to the general requirement of an objection is applicable, and thus
defendant has forfeited on appeal his claim that admission of the statement
violated his right to confrontation of witnesses. (See People v. Williams (1976) 16
Cal.3d 663, 667, fn. 4 [“It is the general rule, of course, that questions relating to
the admissibility of evidence will not be reviewed on appeal absent a specific and
timely objection at trial on the ground sought to be urged on appeal”].)
The claim also lacks merit. Both Johnson‟s and Martinez‟s prior statements
were properly admitted because both of these individuals testified. There was no
dispute at trial that the individuals interviewed in the two statements were the
same Johnson and Martinez who testified at trial. When a declarant “appears for
cross-examination at trial, the Confrontation Clause places no constraints at all on
the use of his prior testimonial statements. [Citation.] It is therefore irrelevant
that the reliability of some out-of-court statements „ “cannot be replicated . . . . ” ‟
[Citation.] The Clause does not bar admission of a statement so long as the
declarant is present at trial to defend or explain it.” (Crawford v. Washington
(2004) 541 U.S. 36, 60, fn. 9 (Crawford); see California v. Green (1970) 399 U.S.
149, 161 [“[N]one of our decisions interpreting the Confrontation Clause requires
excluding the out-of-court statements of a witness who is available and testifying
at trial”].) The testimony by Johnson and Martinez at trial gave the jury the
opportunity to assess their demeanor as they denied making or asserted lack of
recollection regarding their prior statements. (People v. Martinez (2005) 125
Cal.App.4th 1035, 1050; see California v. Green, at p. 160.) Defendant “received
what the confrontation clause requires: a full opportunity to confront and cross-
examine” Johnson and Martinez. (People v. Stevens (2007) 41 Cal.4th 182, 199
Relying on Douglas v. Alabama (1965) 380 U.S. 415, 420, defendant
contends that “ „effective confrontation of [Johnson and Martinez] was possible
only if [these witnesses] affirmed the statement[s]‟ ” as their own. Because
Johnson and Martinez did not affirm the statements, defendant contends they
could not “defend or explain” them as that language is used in Crawford.
(Crawford, supra, 541 U.S. at p. 60, fn. 9.)
The high court later characterized as dictum the language in Douglas v.
Alabama on which defendant relies, and noted that “[o]f course, a witness can be
cross-examined concerning a statement not „affirmed‟ by him . . . .” (Nelson v.
O’Neil (1971) 402 U.S. 622, 627.) Moreover, unlike the witness in Douglas v.
Alabama, Johnson and Martinez did not invoke their Fifth Amendment privilege
against self-incrimination and refuse to answer any questions about the crime, a
circumstance that would have rendered them “totally unavailable at the trial for
any kind of cross-examination.” (Nelson v. O’Neil, at p. 628; see Douglas v.
Alabama, supra, 380 U.S. at p. 416.) Finally, the phrase “defend or explain” in
footnote 9 of Crawford does not mean that when a witness denies making, or
claims lack of recollection of, a particular statement, admission of the statement
violates a defendant‟s right to confrontation. (Crawford, supra, 541 U.S. at p. 60,
fn. 9.) This is made clear by the first sentence of the same paragraph of the
footnote, which broadly states that when a declarant “appears for cross-
examination at trial, the confrontation clause places no constraints at all on the use
of his prior testimonial statements.” (Ibid.) Nothing in Crawford casts doubt on
earlier cases holding that the confrontation clause is not violated by the
introduction of out-of-court statements a witness denies or does not recall making.
(Nelson v. O’Neil, at pp. 629-630 [a defendant is “denied no rights protected by
the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments” when a “codefendant takes the stand in his
own defense, denies making an alleged out-of-court statement implicating the
defendant, and proceeds to testify favorably to the defendant concerning the
underlying facts”]; United States v. Owens (1988) 484 U.S. 554, 555-556, 559 [the
confrontation clause does not bar “testimony concerning a prior, out-of-court
identification when the identifying witness is unable, because of memory loss, to
explain the basis for the identification”].)
2. Asserted Edwards violation
Defendant contends that the trial court erred in admitting statements he made
to Detective Christian at the hospital after he had invoked his right to counsel. We
a. Factual background
Detective Christian testified outside the jury‟s presence and, without
objection, read into the record a written report regarding his hospital conversation
with defendant. On April 9, 1992 at about 12:15 p.m., Christian attempted to
interview defendant about Greg Andrews‟s murder. After being advised of his
Miranda rights, defendant invoked his right to counsel. (Miranda v. Arizona
(1966) 384 U.S. 436, 479.) The interview was immediately terminated. Detective
Christian and Detective Burke then transported defendant to Valley Medical
Center for treatment of injuries to his right hand and foot. Defendant expressed
concern he might have broken a bone in his foot, and his hand was “substantially
swollen” and appeared possibly broken. Christian was also interested in obtaining
an X-ray of defendant‟s hand to investigate whether the hand could have been a
weapon in the homicide.
Detective Christian and defendant waited at the hospital for some time,
probably around “two hours, maybe less,” before defendant received medical
treatment. Christian had previously been involved in a homicide investigation in
which the defendant was Thomas Rutledge. Rutledge had been arrested in South
Lake Tahoe with defendant‟s wife, “Patricia” Dement.7 At some point, to “make
conversation,” Christian mentioned to defendant that he had recently interviewed
his wife regarding a February 1992 homicide. Christian also told defendant that
his wife had been “picked up” with Rutledge, and that Rutledge was in custody for
the homicide. Defendant responded that he knew that, and that he was going to
take care of Rutledge for getting his wife involved in that incident. Christian
asked defendant if he knew Rutledge. Defendant said he did, that he and Rutledge
were enemies, and that Rutledge had disrespected him. Defendant also said that
he knew Rutledge was under investigation for murder, and had heard a rumor that
Rutledge was involved in the murder. Defendant then stated that if law
enforcement were to get Rutledge into jail with defendant, they would not have to
7 Although defendant‟s wife testified that her name was Lisa Dement,
Detective Christian testified at the in limine hearing that he “knew her as Patricia.”
worry about “the murders anymore” (according to Christian‟s report) or “taking
him to court” (according to Christian‟s in limine testimony).
Defendant then asked Christian what the name of the subject was. Christian
asked defendant who he was referring to, and defendant said, “ „You know, the
guy that went to sleep.‟ ” Christian said, “Greg Andrews.” Defendant nodded his
head, and said, “ „He was a friend of Tom‟s.‟ ” Defendant “would say no more
regarding the incident.”
Detective Christian further testified that the names “Tom Rutledge” and
“Patricia Dement” had not previously arisen in the investigation of Greg
Andrews‟s death. At the time Christian was speaking with defendant at the
hospital, Christian had no information that would link Tom Rutledge to Greg
Andrews. Christian had “no intent whatsoever to ask him any questions related to
this incident or draw any statements from him that would be incriminatory”
because Christian understood such statements would not be admissible.
The trial court ruled that no interrogation had occurred. Christian
subsequently testified before the jury regarding the conversation with defendant.
(See ante, at p. 7.)
If a suspect receives Miranda warnings, and thereafter requests counsel, the
interrogation generally must cease until an attorney is present. (Edwards v.
Arizona (1981) 451 U.S. 477, 482; People v. Bradford (1997) 14 Cal.4th 1005,
1033; see Maryland v. Shatzer (2010) __ U.S. __, __ [130 S.Ct 1213, 1222-1225,
1227] [a break in custody, which includes a return to the general prison
population, of at least 14 days ends the Edwards presumption of involuntariness].)
“ „[I]nterrogation‟ under Miranda refers not only to express questioning, but also
to any words or actions on the part of the police . . . that the police should know
are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect. The
latter portion of this definition focuses primarily upon the perceptions of the
suspect, rather than the intent of the police.” (Rhode Island v. Innis (1980) 446
U.S. 291, 301, fns. omitted.) “Clearly, not all conversation between an officer and
a suspect constitutes interrogation. The police may speak to a suspect in custody
as long as the speech would not reasonably be construed as calling for an
incriminating response.” (People v. Clark (1993) 5 Cal.4th 950, 985 (Clark).) We
also keep in mind “the purpose behind [the] decisions in Miranda and Edwards:
preventing government officials from using the coercive nature of confinement to
extract confessions that would not be given in an unrestrained environment.”
(Arizona v. Mauro (1987) 481 U.S 520, 529-530.) If the defendant, after invoking
his right to counsel, initiates a statement to police, “nothing in the Fifth and
Fourteenth Amendments . . . prohibit[s] the police from merely listening to his
voluntary, volunteered statements and using them against him at the trial.”
(Edwards v. Arizona, at p. 485.)
Here, Detective Christian‟s statement telling defendant that he had
interviewed defendant‟s wife regarding an apparently unrelated February 1992
homicide, and asking whether defendant knew Tom Rutledge, did not constitute
interrogation. Given the circumstances that neither the name of defendant‟s wife
nor that of Tom Rutledge had arisen in the investigation of Greg Andrews‟s
murder, and Christian had no information that would link Tom Rutledge to
Andrews, we cannot say that Christian should have known that defendant “would
suddenly be moved to make a self-incriminating response.” (Rhode Island v.
Innis, supra, 446 U.S. at p. 303; see id. at pp. 294-295, 303 [declining to conclude
officers should have known that their brief conversation with one another in the
suspect‟s presence expressing concern that children in the area might discover a
missing shotgun and hurt themselves was reasonably likely to elicit an
incriminating response]; People v. Huggins (2006) 38 Cal.4th 175, 198 [telling the
defendant “he was a murder suspect did not call on him to confess”]; Clark, supra,
5 Cal.4th at p. 985 [there was no reason for the officer to “have known that his
casual estimate of possible penalties would produce an incriminating response
from this defendant”].)
Although defendant‟s question regarding the name of the person who “went
to sleep” concerned Andrews‟s homicide, and not an unrelated homicide,
Detective Christian‟s response — merely telling defendant the victim‟s name —
was also not the type of statement Christian should have known was likely to elicit
an incriminating response. Unlike in People v. Sims (1993) 5 Cal.4th 405, 442, on
which defendant relies, Christian‟s response to defendant‟s inquiry did not
“pursue a line of conversation far exceeding the scope of any” legitimately
Defendant asserts that Christian‟s initiation of a conversation regarding
defendant‟s wife “and her involvement with another man and a murder
investigation” was “likely to induce an emotional response, e.g., anger, sadness,
[or] humiliation.” Christian testified that he did not “know what the relationship”
between Patricia Dement and Rutledge was. Moreover, officers do not have to
avoid all remarks that might make a suspect upset or angry, but only those that are
“reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.” (Rhode Island v. Innis,
supra, 446 U.S. at p. 301.) Nor, contrary to defendant‟s further assertion, does the
circumstance that while waiting for defendant‟s medical treatment Detectives
Christian and Burke teased defendant about his F-14 tattoo by referring to
defendant as a fighter pilot demonstrate that the atmosphere was “essentially
hostile, and intended to provoke an ill-considered incriminatory response which
could be used in prosecuting” defendant.
Defendant notes that in Detective Christian‟s report, after defendant made the
comment that the murder victim Andrews was a friend of Rutledge‟s, the detective
commented that defendant “would say no more regarding the incident.”
Defendant argues this language suggests that Christian “attempted to get
[defendant] to say more.” However, even if Christian had interrogated defendant
after his statement connecting Andrews and Rutledge, that interrogation produced
no statements; hence defendant could not have been prejudiced by any such
3. Admission of written statements by defendant
Defendant contends that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of
defendant‟s written statements, or kites, because they were surreptitiously
obtained by a government agent, they contained irrelevant information, their
probative value was substantially outweighed by their prejudicial nature, and they
amounted to inadmissible criminal propensity evidence. (Massiah v. United States
(1964) 377 U.S. 201 (Massiah).) We disagree.
a. Factual background
During trial a hearing was held outside the presence of the jury on the
Massiah claim. Fresno County jail inmate Trinidad Ybarra, who received from
defendant the kites introduced at trial, Detective Christian, and Michael Castro
1) Ybarra’s testimony
Ybarra testified that in about 1991, when he was imprisoned in the Corcoran
Security Housing Unit (SHU), he volunteered to begin a debriefing process to
leave his gang, the Nuestra Raza. He gave prison officials a written statement
relaying everything he knew about the gang, and a copy of the gang constitution.
Ybarra also met with a gang coordinator, who told Ybarra to relay everything he
knew about the gang. Ybarra understood he was to share this information as long
as he lived. The gang coordinator also told Ybarra he wanted him to infiltrate
prison gangs and work undercover to “prove to him I wanted out.” Ybarra was
unable to infiltrate because one of the gang members “pulled [his] cover.” Once
his cover was “blown,” Ybarra was not asked if he would still try to obtain as
much information as he could about some gang members. Ybarra wrote to the
gang coordinator explaining his cover was gone, and he could not infiltrate, but he
never received a response.
In about February 1991, Ybarra was released on parole in Fresno County.
Ybarra spoke to his parole officer about the debriefing process. Ybarra did not ask
for a shorter parole, or for leniency if he violated his parole, because “they‟re not
going to give you something special just because you‟re going to debrief.” Ybarra
simply wanted “to get out of the gang.”
In January 1993 Ybarra was incarcerated in the Fresno County jail on a drug-
related charge. Ybarra‟s cell was near defendant‟s cell. Ybarra could tell
defendant was either a Nuestra Raza member or a “sympathizer” with that gang.
Ybarra started obtaining names of gang members from defendant for debriefing.
After Ybarra learned defendant was in jail on a murder charge, Ybarra “got the
idea of he‟s giving me all these names, maybe I can work him on confessing, and I
knew that if I could get that, I pretty much knew that I‟d get a deal from the D.A.”
Ybarra said that “[a]nybody knows that . . . if you know about a murder, . . . of
course [law enforcement is] going to want to know about it.” No one told Ybarra
they wanted him to report any statements defendant made about Greg Andrews‟s
murder: “No one ever told me to do anything.” Ybarra acted on his own.
Ybarra wrote a note to law enforcement saying he could obtain information
on the murderer of Greg Andrews. Detective Christian met with him. Before
Ybarra met with Christian he had already received kites from defendant, including
the second kite admitted at trial. Ybarra thought, but was not positive, that he
received the first kite admitted at trial after he met with Christian. Christian did
not tell Ybarra to collect kites from defendant. Christian told Ybarra he could not
tell him to do something like that, and that if he did obtain information, the best
Ybarra could do was turn them in, and law enforcement would show them to the
district attorney, and Ybarra could possibly work out a deal. Christian did not
promise Ybarra anything specific, or tell him he would work with the district
attorney to try to do something for Ybarra. Christian told Ybarra he could not
guarantee anything, that all Christian could do was turn over the kites to the
district attorney and then the district attorney would contact Christian.
After meeting with Detective Christian, Ybarra continued writing to
defendant. Ybarra was trying in a “roundabout way for him to confess to me on
paper that he did the murder” of Greg Andrews. He wanted it “on paper because
homeboy pretty much bragged about it anyways.” Ybarra was hoping he “could
get a deal so I could get out.” Ybarra “believe[d] that [defendant] never actually
confessed to me in any letter.”
After Ybarra had collected more kites, he contacted Detective Christian.
Ybarra met with Christian a second time, and gave him the kites. Christian said
that all he could do at that stage was turn the kites over to the district attorney, and
“there was no guarantee he was going to get back at me.”
Ybarra was released from jail after he signed the contract for his testimony.
Ybarra never debriefed, and was still a member of the Nuestra Raza gang at the
time of trial.
2) Detective Christian’s testimony
Detective Christian testified that on or about April 1, 1993, Ybarra sent a
note to jail staff requesting to be interviewed “regarding this matter.” As a result,
Christian interviewed Ybarra for about 10 minutes. Ybarra said he and defendant
were writing to each other nearly every day, and he had letters from defendant to
give Christian. Ybarra had no letters with him, but asked if anything could be
done regarding his current charges if he could produce the letters for Christian.
Christian told Ybarra that was up to his attorney and the district attorney‟s office;
Christian “could make him no promises.” Christian advised Ybarra to retain
anything he received from defendant, but did not tell him to write letters to
defendant. Christian informed Ybarra that he could not ask defendant anything
“specific to this case” because defendant had invoked his right to counsel.
Christian also told Ybarra that “he was not to elicit information from him on our
behalf, that he was not to discuss the case with him and then bring me those
letters, that I didn‟t want those.” Ybarra said that he wanted to speak with his
attorney regarding a deal before he gave Christian the letters, and Christian asked
Ybarra to have his attorney contact him.8 Christian spoke to Ybarra‟s attorney,
Bill Fernside, on the telephone about a week after his meeting with Ybarra, and
requested he be present when Ybarra turned over the kites because Ybarra wanted
him there. Christian also spoke with the prosecutor in defendant‟s case, who said
that any deal for Ybarra‟s testimony would depend on what information Ybarra
possessed, and apparently also on what charges Ybarra was facing.
On April 21, 1993, Ybarra and Fernside met with Detective Christian, and
gave him the kites. At the meeting, Christian told Fernside that he was interested
in having the prosecution enter into a deal with Ybarra for the kites, but Fernside
8 Also at the first meeting, Ybarra told Detective Christian that he had
debriefed with the Department of Corrections. At either the first or second
meeting between Ybarra and Christian, Christian asked Ybarra if he had ever done
anything other than debrief Department of Correction investigators, and Ybarra
stated he had “never worked for law enforcement.”
“would have to work [any deal] out with the District Attorney‟s Office
themselves. I was in no position to tell him what could be offered.”
Detective Christian testified that Ybarra had described specific statements in
some of the letters and “[t]here is one for sure that . . . he told me that he had in his
possession prior to our first meeting.” Defense counsel asked, “[W]hich one is
this?” and as Christian started to answer, said, “Your Honor, let me say, I‟m
asking this not for the truth of the matter asserted, but to show this witness‟s frame
of mind relative to good faith bad faith and a Massiah motion, because he
obviously can‟t know the truthfulness of the . . . .” The trial court interjected,
“You‟re asking this not be received for its truth?” Defense counsel replied,
“That‟s correct.” The court asked the prosecutor if he objected, and the prosecutor
said, “No.” Christian then identified the first kite admitted at trial containing the
language “[d]ude was my brother.”
3) Testimony of Michael Castro
Michael Castro testified that he was an assistant unit supervisor with the
Fresno adult parole unit, a division of the Department of Corrections, and the gang
institutional coordinator for the parole units in Fresno. “Debriefing” is a “process
for gang members who wish to disassociate themselves from a prison gang or
street gang,” in which they meet with an institution coordinator, or parole officer if
they are not in custody, and orally “give information about their past experiences
and membership in the gang.” The interviewer then asks the inmate or parolee to
write a history of or document his gang involvement. The interviewer reviews the
document to see if the information is adequate, and in some cases administers a
polygraph exam. After completing a series of reviews, the person can be
considered “unaffiliated and dropped from the gang.” If, however, the information
is inadequate, the Department of Corrections maintains “gang status on that
person.” An individual who passes debriefing and then commits another offense
and is sent to prison will likely be placed in “protective custody status.”
Debriefing is not a lifelong process.
Castro met with Ybarra apparently sometime before January 1993 when he
was on parole. Ybarra provided Castro with a copy of a written history he said he
had submitted to an institutional investigator before being paroled. Much of the
information was old, and when Castro asked Ybarra about individuals who might
be involved in gang activity in the Fresno area, he was evasive. Castro did not feel
Ybarra was “being totally honest” with him concerning current information.
Castro did not tell Ybarra to get any additional information. Rather, he advised
Ybarra that if he went back into custody with the Department of Corrections he
should contact an institutional investigator and tell him he wanted to provide
specific and additional information regarding his gang activity. Castro also told
him, “You seem to be doing very well. If you keep doing well, debriefing will
never be an issue for you because you won‟t go back to prison.” Although Castro
subsequently saw Ybarra in the parole office, they did not converse, and Castro
had no other contact with him.
4) Ruling on the motion and evidence and instruction at trial
The prosecutor conceded Ybarra had interrogated defendant, but contended
he was not a government agent. The trial court found no Massiah violation.
Following this ruling, the prosecutor limited the evidence he sought to introduce to
statements in two kites, and the court heard argument on defendant‟s Evidence
Code section 352 and relevance objections.9
9 The first kite introduced at trial read:
(footnote continued on next page)
Defense counsel asserted that the prejudice of referring to the brother‟s
murder outweighed its probative value of adding meaning and clarity to the
defendant‟s statement. She proposed that the first kite introduced simply read:
“On this other trip, hey, shit happens Homme, the shit ain‟t over but I‟ll say this,
Dude had it coming. I feel no different, it don‟t bother me. I‟m looking at the
chair but I don‟t think they will get me this time anyway.” Defense counsel also
asserted that the availability of Ybarra‟s testimony that defendant boasted about
killing Andrews, and that Ybarra tried to get defendant to confess to this murder in
writing, undercut the prosecution‟s need for the reference to the brother‟s murder
in the kites.
The trial court admitted the written statements. It ruled: “One of four men
could have performed this killing,” and “those who have testified . . . . have been
impeached from wall to wall on a variety of subjects. They could also be found to
(footnote continued from previous page)
“I‟m doing 29 to life for the 1st one, Dude was my brother but was on
the other side of the fence. On this other trip, hey shit happens Homme.
The shit ain‟t over but I‟ll say this, Dude had it coming, both of them. I feel
no different, it don‟t bother me. I‟m looking at the chair but I don‟t think
they will get me on this trip anyway.”
The second kite introduced at trial read:
“The vato [dude] here was a gava [white]. On my carnales [brother][,]
he was a runner. See I‟m a half breed myself so there‟s more to that story than
the paper says, tu sabes [do you understand]. Mikio pulled me down for his
trial, that why I was here. Ain‟t no thing brother before its over I‟ll tag a few
more, got to keep these fools in check at times.”
The parties stipulated that “kite” means “jailhouse letter,”
“vato” means “dude,” “carnales” means “brother,” “gava” means
“white,” and “tu sabes” means “do you understand?”
be co-participants. . . . . That gives the chief relevance to the statement attributed
to [defendant]. It is highly relevant [and] . . . . very prejudicial. . . . [The] first
letter . . . should be admitted in its entirety. I tried to read this without the
reference to the brother, and it doesn‟t make sense. It doesn‟t show that they were
talking about a killing when they were talking about trips and tags. If it does, that
point is for the jury to decide whether you have varying interpretations.” The
court also admitted the second letter, ultimately removing at the parties‟
stipulation a reference to the brother being an “AB” runner, which the prosecutor
contended was a reference to the Aryan Brotherhood.
Ybarra did not testify at trial. Rather, a stipulation regarding the
circumstances surrounding the kites, including their language and identifying
defendant as the author, was read to the jury. A portion of Ybarra‟s redacted April
1994 “Contract for Testimony” was also read to the jury. Immediately after the
reading of these two documents, the court admonished the jury: “Ladies and
gentlemen, evidence has been introduced which includes a reference showing that
the Defendant committed a crime other than that for which he is on trial. Such
evidence, if believed, was not received and may not be considered by you to prove
that the Defendant is a person of bad character or that he has a disposition to
commit crimes. The evidence was received and may be considered by you only
for the limited purpose of providing context and meaning to the written statement
made by the Defendant. The Defendant in a criminal action has the right to expect
that his guilt or innocence will be decided by the evidence brought before the jury
and without regard to any alleged prior conduct. Therefore, you must only
consider this evidence for the limited purpose for which it was introduced.”
The court reminded the jury of this limiting instruction before the close of
evidence. In addition, the admonishment was repeated during the court‟s
instructions to the jury at the end of the guilt phase.10 During closing argument,
the prosecutor asserted the kites were a confession to murdering Andrews, but
urged the jury to follow the cautionary instruction, and stated that it would be a
“misuse to conclude” language about a prior killing “means the [d]efendant has a
Under Massiah when, after adversarial judicial criminal proceedings have
been initiated and in the unwaived absence of counsel, a government agent
deliberately elicits from a defendant incriminating statements, those statements are
inadmissible at a trial on the charges to which the statements pertain. (Fellers v.
United States (2004) 540 U.S. 519, 523; Maine v. Moulton (1985) 474 U.S. 159,
170, 180; Massiah, supra, 377 U.S. at p. 206.) Such a Sixth Amendment violation
occurs when the government intentionally creates or knowingly exploits a
situation likely to induce the defendant to make incriminating statements without
the assistance of counsel, but not when the government obtains such statements
through happenstance or luck. (Maine v. Moulton, at p. 176; United States v.
Henry (1980) 447 U.S. 264, 274 (Henry).) “ „Specifically, the evidence must
establish that the informant (1) was acting as a government agent, i.e., under the
direction of the government pursuant to a preexisting arrangement, with the
10 At the end of the guilt phase, the court also instructed the jury: “Certain
evidence was admitted for a limited purpose. At the time this evidence was
admitted you were admonished that it could not be considered by you for any
purpose other than the limited purpose for which it was admitted. Do not consider
such evidence for any purpose except for the limited purpose for which it was
expectation of some resulting benefit or advantage, and (2) deliberately elicited
incriminating statements.‟ ” (People v. Coffman and Marlow (2004) 34 Cal.4th 1,
67 (Coffman and Marlow).)
Here, the trial court properly determined that Ybarra was not a government
agent at the time he received the kites from defendant. Unlike the informant in
Henry, on which defendant relies, Ybarra had no preexisting position as an
informant. (Henry, supra, 447 U.S. at p. 266.) Contrary to defendant‟s assertion,
Ybarra did not become an agent for purposes of Massiah simply because he began
a debriefing process with Corcoran prison authorities to end his gang affiliation
two years before he met defendant. Rather, we have held that a “general policy of
encouraging inmates to provide useful information does not transform them into
government agents.” (People v. Williams (1988) 44 Cal.3d 1127, 1141 [that the
“sheriff‟s department followed the practice of accepting information provided by
inmates, and, when feasible, of rewarding inmates for providing that information,”
and inmates were “probably aware of that policy,” was insufficient to demonstrate
the informant was a government agent].)
Nor, contrary to defendant‟s assertion, did Detective Christian give “his
imprimatur to Ybarra‟s scheme . . . in the hope that Ybarra would obtain
incriminating information or statements by” defendant. Indeed, as a preliminary
matter, it appears both kites admitted at trial were received by Ybarra before his
first meeting with Detective Christian on or about April 1. (People v. Fairbank
(1997) 16 Cal.4th 1223, 1234, 1248 (Fairbank) [no U.S. Const., Sixth Amend.
violation with respect to notes and information the defendant gave a fellow inmate
before the inmate first contacted the police].) Ybarra testified that he had received
the second kite before ever meeting with Christian. In addition, Christian testified
that Ybarra described certain kites he had in his possession before his first meeting
with Christian, including the first kite containing the language “[d]ude was my
brother.” Although this statement was not admitted for its truth, apparently
because Christian had no means of knowing whether Ybarra actually possessed
such a letter, it is evidence that Ybarra described a kite containing this language at
his first meeting with Christian. The circumstance that such a letter was ultimately
produced at the second meeting indicates that Ybarra most likely had the letter
before his first meeting with Christian.
Even assuming the first kite was received after Ybarra‟s first meeting with
Detective Christian, nothing in Christian‟s statements to Ybarra demonstrates that
Christian intentionally created or knowingly exploited a situation likely to induce
defendant to make incriminating statements without the assistance of counsel.
(Maine v. Moulton, supra, 474 U.S. at p. 176; Henry, supra, 447 U.S. at p. 274.)
Defendant relies on Christian‟s statement that Ybarra should retain anything he
received from defendant. Such passive behavior on the part of Ybarra was
unlikely to induce defendant to make incriminating statements. More critically,
Christian did not tell Ybarra to write to defendant, and “specifically told him that
he was not to elicit information from [defendant] on our behalf, that he was not to
discuss the case with him and then bring me those letters, that I didn‟t want those.”
He also told Ybarra he could not ask defendant anything “specific to this case”
because defendant had invoked his right to counsel. Ybarra testified that no one
told him to report statements defendant made about Greg Andrews‟s murder; “[n]o
one ever told me to do anything.”
Moreover, Ybarra was promised no benefit if he produced the kites. Rather,
Detective Christian told Ybarra he “could make him no promises,” and did not tell
him he would work with the district attorney on Ybarra‟s behalf. Christian told
Ybarra he could not guarantee anything, that all he could do was turn over the
kites to the district attorney and then the district attorney would contact Christian.
“The requirement of agency is not satisfied when law enforcement officials
„merely accept information elicited by the informant-inmate on his or her own
initiative, with no official promises, encouragement, or guidance.‟ ” (Coffman and
Marlow, supra, 34 Cal.4th at p. 67; see id. at p. 66 [the defendant failed to
demonstrate that “the government did anything more than accept information that
[an inmate] elicited from [the defendant] on her own initiative”]; see People v.
Hartsch (2010) 49 Cal.4th 472, 490, 492 (Hartsch) [inmate who was not prompted
by police to obtain statements from defendant, given no instructions or advance
notice regarding a meeting with defendant, and not told the meeting would be
taped, was not a police agent]; Fairbank, supra, 16 Cal.4th at p. 1248 [although
police believed inmate “would continue to try to obtain information from [the]
defendant,” and a deputy district attorney prevented defendant‟s move away from
inmate, no implicit agreement between police and inmate was demonstrated when
police made no promises to inmate about a possible deal, “did not direct him to
obtain more information,” and “did not suggest that obtaining more information
would benefit him”]; see also Fairbank v. Ayers (9th Cir. 2011) 650 F.3d 1243,
1255-1256 [even if an informant subjectively believed that the officer‟s statement
was a request to ask the defendant for information, “this does not constitute the
requisite state involvement” to make the informant a government agent].) No
Massiah violation appears.
We turn now to defendant‟s other objections. Although defendant cites
Evidence Code section 1101, the evidence of defendant‟s prior commission of
murder was not introduced as prior criminal behavior, but merely to give context
and meaning to defendant‟s admission to killing Andrews. Hence, the analysis is
properly one under Evidence Code section 352.11 Under section 352, a trial court
may “exclude otherwise relevant evidence when its probative value is substantially
outweighed by concerns of undue prejudice, confusion, or consumption of time.”
(People v. Riggs (2008) 44 Cal.4th 248, 290.) “ „Evidence is substantially more
prejudicial than probative [citation] if, broadly stated, it poses an intolerable “risk
to the fairness of the proceedings or the reliability of the outcome.” ‟ ” (Ibid.) We
conclude no such intolerable risk was present here.
Contrary to defendant‟s assertion, the kites, which were stipulated to have
been written by defendant, were relevant and probative as an admission to
Andrews‟s murder. Although the prosecution also presented the eyewitness
testimony of Benjamin and Bond, the trial court observed that these witnesses had
been impeached from “wall to wall.” Moreover, the probative value of this
evidence decreased significantly if the first kite was redacted in the manner
suggested by defense counsel because the redaction removed portions of the kite
that indicated defendant was admitting responsibility for Andrews‟s murder.
Nor did admission of the kites create a substantial danger of undue prejudice.
Although the kites could be understood to include defendant‟s assertion he had
killed someone he referred to as a brother (a word he also used when referring to
Ybarra), they also included a reference to the circumstance that defendant was
serving a sentence of 29 years to life for that crime. The fact that any prior murder
by defendant had resulted in a criminal conviction and a substantial prison term
decreased the potential for prejudice because “the jury was not tempted to convict
11 Evidence Code section 352 provides: “The court in its discretion may
exclude evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the
probability that its admission will (a) necessitate undue consumption of time or (b)
create substantial danger of undue prejudice, of confusing the issues, or of
misleading the jury.”
defendant of the charged offenses, regardless of his guilt, in order to assure that he
would be punished for” any prior murder. (People v. Balcolm (1994) 7 Cal.4th
414, 427.) The court instructed the jury that the reference to defendant‟s alleged
earlier crime could only be considered to give context and meaning to defendant‟s
written statement, and could not be used as evidence of defendant‟s criminal
disposition or in deciding whether he was guilty of the current charges. We
presume the jury followed that instruction. (People v. Avila (2006) 38 Cal.4th
In light of these factors, the trial court acted within its discretion in finding
the probative value of defendant‟s statements was not substantially outweighed by
the probability that their admission would create a substantial danger of undue
Even if the trial court had erred in admitting the reference to defendant‟s
asserted prior murder, there is no reasonable probability he was prejudiced. As
noted, the court repeatedly instructed the jury as to the limited purpose for which it
could consider the reference to defendant‟s alleged prior conduct. Moreover,
defendant proceeded primarily on the theory that Benjamin or Bond had
committed the murder, and the jury was informed that Benjamin had a prior
murder conviction. In addition, the evidence of guilt was overwhelming, and
included defendant‟s displeasure at a fourth person being placed in the cell, his
awareness that Andrews was friends with Rutledge, who was an enemy of
defendant‟s, defendant‟s statements before the attack on Andrews that defendant
was going to “do his ass” and “take care of the home boy that had just been put
into his tank,” the detailed testimony of defendant‟s cellmates regarding
defendant‟s attack on Andrews, defendant‟s statements to other inmates later that
morning that he had killed someone and describing the attack, defendant‟s
solicitation of help from other inmates to remove Andrews‟s body from the cell,
and physical injuries to Andrews and defendant that were consistent with
Benjamin‟s and Bond‟s testimony. (See People v. Bonin (1988) 46 Cal.3d 659,
680, 690 [any misconduct by the prosecutor in eliciting testimony that the
defendant had admitted to committing 14 killings in addition to the four murders
for which he was on trial and the two murders introduced to establish identity was
not prejudicial because the evidence of guilt was overwhelming].)
Defendant asserts that the prosecution erroneously relied on the kites during
argument at the penalty phase. Evidence that defendant was convicted of
murdering his brother was properly admitted at the penalty phase, and hence this
reference by the prosecutor was appropriate. (§ 190.3, factors (b), (c); People v.
Bacon (2010) 50 Cal.4th 1082, 1122.)
4. Denial of motion for mistrial
Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion for
mistrial made when inmate Bradley Nelson testified that defendant had boasted
about killing his brother. We disagree.
a. Factual background
On June 23, 1994, prior to Nelson‟s testimony, and out of the presence of the
jury, the court admonished Nelson: “Do not volunteer or answer a question that
would relate any of your knowledge about [defendant] being involved in a prior
murder. . . . [¶] . . . [¶] . . . Don‟t tell us anything about it.” On direct examination
that same day, Nelson described various events surrounding Andrews‟s murder,
including Nelson‟s discovery of Andrews‟s body in defendant‟s cell and
defendant‟s subsequent visit to Nelson‟s cell. While discussing defendant‟s visit
to Nelson‟s cell, the prosecutor asked, “[A]t any point did [defendant] threaten
you?” Nelson responded, “He told me. . . because he knew Greg was my friend, if
I said anything, he‟d deal with it.” The prosecutor subsequently asked, “[D]uring
this course of events where you felt you were being threatened, . . . was
[defendant] doing anything physically?” Nelson responded, “Well, he was kind of
jumping around a little bit and stuff, and, you know, he was — he told me that —
you know, he‟d bragged before about killing his brother and stuff — oop —
and anyway he said that . . . it didn‟t mean anything for him to take a human life.”
The prosecutor asked, “He told you that?” Nelson said, “Yes.” After a few more
questions had been asked, defendant moved for a mistrial outside the presence of
the jury. The court took the motion under advisement, and asked defense counsel
if they wanted the court to admonish the jury. Defense counsel said they did not
want a “curative instruction read at the present time” because of concern it might
emphasize Nelson‟s testimony. Defendant subsequently filed a written motion for
On July 12, 1994, the trial court denied the motion, and invited counsel to
submit a proposed curative instruction. On July 13, after the defense had
completed presentation of its evidence, the trial court struck Nelson‟s statement. It
gave an instruction that the parties agreed upon, and additionally told the jury at
length to disregard the statement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we were shocked several days ago almost into losing
our wits about us when a witness, Brad Nelson, violated a very direct admonition
that I had given him, and you may recall at the time he said, „Whoops,‟ and we
recessed shortly after that.
 Defense counsel subsequently observed, and the court and the
prosecutor did not disagree, that after making this statement, Nelson “hit his hand
to his face and said, „Oop,‟ in that universal gesture of „I have committed a boo-
“You may recall that during the course of his testimony he indicated that he
had heard, we don‟t know from whom, perhaps — well, we don‟t know for sure
from the testimony, that he heard that [defendant] was bragging about killing his
brother. That was his testimony. It was nonresponsive to any question, and I am
now admonishing you to disregard it and treat it as though you never heard of it. I
very specifically cautioned him that we wanted [defendant] to get a very fair trial
in this case.
“I‟ve given you a cautionary instruction already to indicate — to make sense
of some of these kites that you‟ve heard; that if it does make sense to you, that you
may consider for a limited purpose that reference of the killing of the brother, true
or false; it doesn‟t make any difference, but it gives meaning to the statement. But
Mr. Nelson inadvertently, I think, but who knows, relayed something that you
should not be considering in this part of the trial, and that is not something, true or
false, for you to speculate on.
“Your issue is going to be has the evidence proved [defendant] guilty of any
crime based on what you‟ve heard? Not on what he may have done before or why
he may have been in jail. That‟s not a concern of yours at this point. So . . . we
talked about it, here‟s the cautionary instruction that I‟m going to give you that . . .
I‟ve asked the attorneys to help me with . . . .
“The witness, Brad Nelson, testified that the defendant had bragged about
committing a crime other than the crime for which defendant is on trial in the
current case. Mr. Nelson‟s testimony on a separate crime is hereby stricken, . . .
and you‟re admonished to disregard such testimony. Do not allow Mr. Nelson‟s
testimony on that uncharged, alleged crime to enter into deliberations.
[Defendant‟s] guilt or innocence must be determined without regard to any alleged
prior conduct. 
“I think you can appreciate the sense of that. When we say it is . . .
inappropriate for you to believe that what you hear, something either outside of the
trial or something that may have gone on before, and to then conclude, well, if
he‟s a bad guy, then he must have been committing the instant offense, that not a
basis for your decision. You look at the evidence that‟s been presented on that
subject. And that‟s where you‟re limited.
“. . . I don‟t know how I can make this any clearer, and I have the confidence
that you‟re going to do your duty, whatever it may be, based on the evidence you
“ „A mistrial should be granted if the court is apprised of prejudice that it
judges incurable by admonition or instruction. [Citation.] Whether a particular
incident is incurably prejudicial is by its nature a speculative matter, and the trial
court is vested with considerable discretion in ruling on mistrial motions . . . .‟
[Citation.] A motion for a mistrial should be granted when „ “ „a [defendant‟s]
chances of receiving a fair trial have been irreparably damaged.‟ ” ‟ ” (People v.
 Defense counsel informed the court that “[t]he prosecution and the
defense have agreed” that this paragraph is “an appropriate instruction.”
14 At the close of the guilt phase, the court likewise instructed the jury:
“Do not consider for any purpose . . . any evidence that was stricken by the Court;
treat it as though you had never heard of it. [¶] . . . [¶] . . . [T]he witness Brad
Nelson testified that the defendant had bragged about committing a crime other
than the crime for which defendant is on trial in the current case. Mr. Nelson‟s
testimony on a separate crime is hereby stricken and you are hereby instructed to
disregard such testimony. Do not allow Mr. Nelson‟s testimony on an uncharged
alleged crime to enter into your deliberations. Mr. Dement‟s guilt or innocence
must be determined without regard to any alleged prior conduct.”
Collins (2010) 49 Cal.4th 175, 198.) “Although most cases involve prosecutorial
or juror misconduct as the basis for the motion, a witness‟s volunteered statement
can also provide the basis for a finding of incurable prejudice.” (People v.
Wharton (1991) 53 Cal.3d 522, 565.) We conclude here that Nelson‟s comment
was not “so incurably prejudicial that a new trial was required.” (People v.
Ledesma (2006) 39 Cal.4th 641, 683.)
Nelson‟s comment that defendant had bragged about killing his brother was
brief and isolated. Moreover, it was largely duplicative of evidence the jury
properly received. The jury could reasonably find that defendant‟s statements in
his kites to Ybarra indicated that defendant had previously killed someone he
referred to as his brother, and felt justified in doing so. (See People v. Lewis and
Oliver (2006) 39 Cal.4th 970, 1029 [the witness‟s overheard comment as she left
the witness stand that defendant was a “ „dog, ‟ ” “ „mad dog, ‟ ” or “ „dirty black
dog‟ ” was not prejudicial in part because the jury already knew that the witness
scorned the defendant because “she saw him gun down her daughter in church”].)
In addition, the trial court struck Nelson‟s statement, and repeatedly admonished
the jury to disregard it and to determine defendant‟s guilt for Andrews‟s murder
without reference to any of defendant‟s alleged prior conduct.
Defendant contends that the “time lag between Nelson‟s improper testimony
and the instruction striking the testimony compounded the substantial prejudice
arising from that testimony.” Defense counsel, however, expressly declined to
request an admonition at the time Nelson made the comment, and defendant points
to no defense request for an instruction before the court gave its lengthy
admonition.15 In sum, the trial court did not abuse its broad discretion in denying
the mistrial motion.
5. Challenge to oral copulation conviction and special circumstance
Defendant contends the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction
for oral copulation (§ 288a, subd. (e)) or the jury‟s finding of first degree felony
murder, or to sustain the true finding on the murder while engaged in the
attempted commission of oral copulation special-circumstance allegation.
(§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17).) In particular, he contends that mere contact between a
mouth and a penis does not constitute oral copulation. He further contends that
the jury instructions “unconstitutionally lightened the burden of the prosecution,
misstated the elements of the offense, effectively eliminated any jury
determination of an element of the offense, and allowed a verdict of guilt based
upon acts not prohibited by section 288a.” We disagree.
Section 288a, subdivision (a) (section 288a(a)) provides, and in 1992
provided, that “[o]ral copulation is the act of copulating the mouth of one person
with the sexual organ or anus of another person.” Subdivision (e) provides that
“[a]ny person who participates in an act of oral copulation while confined in any
state prison . . . or in any local detention facility . . . shall be punished by
imprisonment in the state prison, or in a county jail for a period of not more than
one year.”16 The court instructed the jury that “[a]ny contact, however slight,
15 June 23, 1994, the day Nelson testified, was the 16th day of trial. July
12, the day the mistrial motion was denied, was the 21st day of trial, and the jury
received a curative instruction the following day.
16 Section 288a, subdivision (e) does not appear to require that the act of
oral copulation be accomplished against the victim‟s will by means of force or
fear. (See Witkin & Epstein, 2 Cal. Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) § 31, p. 341
[“Except for state or local prisoners, prohibitions against oral copulation do not
(footnote continued on next page)
between the mouth of one person and the sexual organ of another person
constitutes oral copulation. Penetration of the mouth or sexual organ is not
required. Proof of ejaculation is not required.”17 We conclude that this
(footnote continued from previous page)
apply to consenting adults”]; see § 286, subd. (e) [similar provision for sodomy].)
But murder committed in the perpetration of or attempted perpetration of all
proscribed oral copulation, including oral copulation under section 288a,
subdivision (e), is first degree murder under the felony-murder rule. (§ 189.)
Application of the felony-murder rule to subdivision (e) is theoretically troubling
because the rule would apply even when the only participants in the oral
copulation act are consenting adults. Although “the power to define crimes lies
exclusively with the Legislature” (People v. Farley (2009) 46 Cal.4th 1053, 1119
(Farley)), and not this court, it is not clear why, in the abstract, section 288a,
subdivision (e) should constitute a serious and inherently dangerous felony
warranting invocation of the felony murder rule. (See People v. Cavitt (2004) 33
Cal.4th 187, 197 [“only those felonies that are inherently dangerous to life or pose
a significant prospect of violence are enumerated” in § 189]; People v. Rios
(2000) 23 Cal.4th 450, 460, fn. 6 [“Under the felony-murder rule, a homicide is
murder when it occurs in the course of certain serious and inherently dangerous
felonies”].) Defendant does not, however, challenge his conviction on this basis.
Moreover, there is substantial evidence that the oral copulation in this case was
forcible. Finally, the jury expressly found defendant guilty of first degree murder
on two theories: premeditated murder and felony murder. Thus, whatever
theoretical problems that may exist due to the circumstance that oral copulation
proscribed by section 288a, subdivision (e) does not appear to require force or fear
do not apply here.
17 The complete jury instruction provided: “Defendant is accused in Count
Two of the Information of having committed the crime of unlawful oral copulation
by a prisoner, violation of Section 288a(e) of the Penal Code. Any person, while
confined in any local detention facility, who engages in any act of oral copulation
with another person is guilty of the crime of unlawful oral copulation in violation
of 288a(e) of the Penal Code.
“In order to prove such crime, each of the following elements must be
proved[:] 1. A person engaged in an act of oral copulation with another person;
and, 2. At the time of the act, such person was confined in a local detention
(footnote continued on next page)
instruction correctly states the substantive requirement of contact in the crime of
Although we have previously never expressly decided that any contact,
however slight, between the mouth of one person and the sexual organ or anus of
another person constitutes oral copulation within the meaning of section 288a(a),
we have quoted with approval a CALJIC jury instruction so providing. (People v.
Panah (2005) 35 Cal.4th 395, 489.) We have also described section 288a(a) as
“involv[ing] contact between „the mouth of one person [and] the sexual organ or
anus of another person.‟ ” (People v. Martinez (1995) 11 Cal.4th 434, 443, fn. 6
(Martinez).) In addition, we have observed that the language of section 288a(a)
suggests that “a prolonged encounter is not necessary to convict under the
scheme,” and differentiated oral copulation from crimes requiring penetration.
(People v. Scott (1994) 9 Cal.4th 331, 341.) Indeed, nothing in the language of
section 288a(a) indicates that more than slight contact is required. The majority of
Court of Appeal cases agree.19
(footnote continued from previous page)
“Oral copulation is the act of copulating the mouth of one person with the
sexual organ of another person. Any contact, however slight, between the mouth
of one person and the sexual organ of another person constitutes oral copulation.
Penetration of the mouth or sexual organ is not required. Proof of ejaculation is
18 CALCRIM No. 1022 (2011) is similar: “Oral copulation is any contact,
no matter how slight, between the mouth of one person and the sexual organ or
anus of another person. Penetration is not required.” (Italics omitted.)
19 People v. Hesslink (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 781, 790-791 (the victim‟s
testimony that the defendant “pushed her head toward his penis and that she orally
copulated him . . . clearly supports a finding that her mouth did touch defendant‟s
penis”); People v. Carter (1983) 144 Cal.App.3d 534, 539 (oral copulation does
not require penetration of the mouth by the penis, but is committed “when the
victim‟s mouth is forcibly placed upon the genital organ of another”); People v.
(footnote continued on next page)
Defendant relies on People v. Angier (1941) 44 Cal.App.2d 417, 419, which
held that “mere contact of the mouth with the sexual organ of another, either by a
„kissing‟ or a „licking,‟ cannot be construed to mean a copulation.” However,
Angier “was repudiated by its author” in Harris, supra, 108 Cal.App.2d at page
88, and “has become a „derelict on the seas of jurisprudence.‟ It is often discussed
but never followed. It is simply not the law.” (Wilson, supra, 20 Cal.App.3d at p.
510; see People v. Cline (1969) 2 Cal.App.3d 989, 992-993, fn. 2 [noting in dicta
that the “view [in Angier] was repudiated by the author of that opinion, and
reframed as follows: „A person is guilty of violating the statute when he has
placed his mouth upon the genital organ of another‟ ”].)
Other older cases have observed that “[a]ny penetration of the mouth, no
matter how slight, constitutes a violation” of section 288a. (People v. Hickok
(1950) 96 Cal.App.2d 621, 628; see People v. Chamberlain (1952) 114
(footnote continued from previous page)
Minor (1980) 104 Cal.App.3d 194, 196-197 (the offense of forcible oral
copulation “is complete” when “the mouth is forcibly placed upon the genital
organ of another”); People v. Wilson (1971) 20 Cal.App.3d 507, 510 (Wilson)
(sufficient evidence of oral copulation when victims testified that the defendant
“kissed them in the vaginal area with his tongue”); People v. Hunter (1958) 158
Cal.App.2d 500, 502, 505 (evidence that the victim licked the perpetrator between
his legs, and he performed a similar act on her, was legally sufficient to
demonstrate a violation of § 288a); People v. Bennett (1953) 119 Cal.App.2d 224,
227 (a violation of § 288a does not require penetration); People v. Harris (1951)
108 Cal.App.2d 84, 88 (Harris) (“A person is guilty of violating [§ 288a] when he
has placed his mouth upon the genital organ of another”); see People v. Catelli
(1991) 227 Cal.App.3d 1434, 1450-1451, fn. 7 (Catelli) (observing in dicta that
the “early construction of „copulation‟ to exclude the „mere kiss or lick of the
private organ, even though lewdly done‟ ” has been repudiated); People v. Massey
(1955) 137 Cal.App.2d 623, 624-625 (relying on Harris, supra, 108 Cal.App.2d
84, to say that word “copulating” has a well-understood meaning).
Cal.App.2d 192, 194 [same].) We discern no penetration requirement in the
language of the statute, a requirement the Legislature clearly knows how to
designate.20 (Martinez, supra, 11 Cal.4th at p. 443 [sex crime statutes such as
§§ 288a, 261, 286, and 289 “describe the criminal act in precise and clinical
terms,” and make “eminently clear” when “penetration of a specific body part or
cavity is required”]; cf. §§ 263 [“[a]ny sexual penetration, however slight, is
sufficient to complete the crime” of rape], 286, subd. (a) [“[a]ny sexual
penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the crime of sodomy”].)21
Moreover, the gravamen of the offense of oral copulation “is the revulsion
and harm suffered by one who is forced to unwillingly touch his or her mouth to
the genitals of another.” (Catelli, supra, 227 Cal.App.3d at p. 1450.) Although
defendant correctly notes that section 288a, subdivision (e) appears to apply to
adult inmate consensual conduct, and hence would not always involve revulsion,
there is no indication that the Legislature intended to apply a different definition of
oral copulation to subdivision (e) than it did to the remainder of the statute.
In sum, the evidence was sufficient to support defendant‟s oral copulation
conviction and the jury‟s finding of first degree felony murder. To the extent
defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the attempted-oral-
copulation special circumstance on this basis, that argument also fails. (Defendant
20 People v. Angier, supra, 44 Cal.App.2d 417, People v. Hickok, supra, 96
Cal.App.2d 621, and People v. Chamberlain, supra, 114 Cal.App.2d 192, are
disapproved to the extent they are inconsistent with this opinion.
21 The legislative history supports this interpretation of section 288a(a). In
1982, section 288a(a) was amended to add the words “or anus” to the definition of
oral copulation. In discussing this amendment, one analysis noted that the bill
“would expand the definition of oral copulation to include oral contact with the
anus of another person.” (Sen. Republican Caucus, analysis of Assem. Bill No.
2721 (1981-1982 Reg. Sess.) as amended Aug. 3, 1982, p. 2.) Such language does
not obviously denote substantial contact or penetration.
also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence of the special circumstance on
another basis, discussed post, pt. II.B.6.b.)
6. Further challenge to the oral copulation special-circumstance
a. Alleged instructional error regarding special circumstance
Defendant contends that the trial court erred in responding to a jury inquiry
in violation of section 1138 and various constitutional rights.22 We disagree.
The court instructed the jury in the language of CALJIC No. 8.81.17 (5th ed.
1988): “To find that the special circumstance referred to in these instructions as
murder in the commission of the crime of unlawful oral copulation by a
prisoner . . . is true, it must be proved: 1. That the murder was committed while
the [d]efendant was engaged in the commission or attempted commission of an
unlawful oral copulation by a prisoner . . . ; and, 2. The murder was committed in
order to carry out or advance the commission of the crime of unlawful oral
copulation by a prisoner . . . , or to facilitate the escape therefrom or to avoid
detection. In other words, the special circumstance referred to in these
instructions [is] not established if the unlawful oral copulation by a prisoner . . .
was merely incidental to the commission of the murder.”
During deliberations, the jury sent this note to the court: “Can you explain
advancing the crime of oral copulation in the special circumstance portion of first
degree murder? Does oral sex . . . have to be the primary objective or can it be
22 Section 1138 provides: “After the jury have retired for deliberation, if
there be any disagreement between them as to the testimony, or if they desire to be
informed on any point of law arising in the case, they must require the officer to
conduct them into court. Upon being brought into court, the information required
must be given in the presence of, or after notice to, the prosecuting attorney, and the
defendant or his counsel, or after they have been called.”
part of the crime? Or is the continuous sequence of the crime enough to warrant
[a] special circumstance?”
After consulting with the attorneys, the court instructed the jury to “read the
words of these instructions in their ordinary and usual sense,” that there was no
requirement that oral sex be the primary objective, that a continuous sequence of
the crime was not enough to warrant the special circumstance, and that the oral sex
could not be merely incidental to the murder. The court then reread the original
instructions, and stated that whether the oral copulation was merely incidental to
the commission of the murder was for the jury to decide based on the
circumstances of the case.
After conferring with counsel again, the trial court further instructed:
“[T]here are two numbered paragraphs. . . . That means two separate requirements,
both of which must exist before you find special circumstances. If you have a
reasonable doubt as to whether either one of them exists, of course that means the
People have not met their burden of proof.”
The foreperson asked for further explanation of what “advanc[ing]” the crime
of oral copulation in the special circumstance meant. The court responded, “in its
most plain and ordinary meaning, that would mean furthering that crime or
facilitating that crime, advancing the crime.” Defense counsel suggested, and the
court agreed, that “enable,” “further facilitate,” and “make more likely” were
synonyms for “advancing.” After the jury returned to deliberations, the court
invited counsel to submit any further suggested special circumstance instructions
the following morning.
The following morning, no further instructions were submitted by either side.
Rather, the prosecutor offered to move to strike the attempted-oral-copulation
special circumstance if the jury had already reached a unanimous verdict on the
murder count, and if so, unanimously agreed as to the degree of murder. The
prosecutor said he was uncomfortable with the instructions regarding the special
circumstance, and expressed the view that the second paragraph of CALJIC No.
8.81.17 did not correctly state the law. Defense counsel ultimately rejected this
offer out of concern they would be faulted for allowing the jury‟s deliberative
process to be interrupted. Counsel expressed the view that the law in the area of
special circumstances was complex and “doesn‟t really make sense in this area,”
but “it‟s what we have.” The court recessed to allow the parties to consider the
matter further. No further discussion of this issue appears on the record. The jury
returned its verdict the next day.
Defendant contends that the supplemental instructions “failed to clarify any
meaningful standards,” “further confused the issue and misled the jury,” “distorted
the jury‟s understanding of the applicable law,” and “deflected the jury from
consideration of relevant circumstances from which a finding that the special
circumstance was not true could be found.” Contrary to defendant‟s assertion, the
trial court did not err by instructing the jury that it need not find oral copulation
was defendant‟s “primary” objective. (People v. Bolden (2002) 29 Cal.4th 515,
558 (Bolden).) Nor did the trial court “effectively [tell] the jury that it was up to
them to determine what the instructions meant in this case,” or dissuade it from
seeking further clarification. Although defendant suggests additional
supplemental instructions that might have been given, the instructions given were
adequate, and defense counsel had ample opportunity to suggest additional
clarifying instructions below and failed to do so. (People v. Russell (2010) 50
Cal.4th 1228, 1273.)
b. Sufficiency of the evidence to support the special circumstance
Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to establish that the
murder was committed to advance or carry out the commission of oral copulation,
and hence cannot sustain the jury‟s finding on the attempted-oral-copulation
special circumstance allegation. He also challenges the trial court‟s denial of his
motion for judgment of acquittal on the special circumstance allegation.23
(§ 1118.1.) Defendant further asserts that the evidence relevant to the special
circumstance does not rationally distinguish him from other murderers sufficient
to justify subjecting him to the death penalty.
“ „The standard applied by a trial court in ruling upon a motion for judgment
of acquittal pursuant to section 1118.1 is the same as the standard applied by an
appellate court in reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a
conviction, that is, “whether from the evidence, including all reasonable inferences
to be drawn therefrom, there is any substantial evidence of the existence of each
element of the offense charged.” ‟ [Citation.] „The purpose of a motion under
section 1118.1 is to weed out as soon as possible those few instances in which the
prosecution fails to make even a prima facie case.‟ [Citations.] The question „is
simply whether the prosecution has presented sufficient evidence to present the
matter to the jury for its determination.‟ [Citation.] The sufficiency of the
evidence is tested at the point the motion is made.” (Stevens, supra, 41 Cal.4th at
Generally, to prove a felony-murder special circumstance like murder in the
commission of attempted oral copulation, “ „the prosecution must show that the
defendant had an independent purpose for the commission of the felony, that is,
the commission of the felony was not merely incidental to an intended
23 The trial court impliedly denied the motion for judgment of acquittal
when it instructed the jury in the language of the special circumstance allegation.
murder.‟ ”24 (Bolden, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 554.) “ „Concurrent intent to kill and
to commit an independent felony will support a felony-murder special
circumstance.‟ [Citation.] It is only when the underlying felony is merely
incidental to the murder that the felony-murder special circumstance does not
apply.” (Ibid.) Contrary to defendant‟s assertion, “there is no requirement that the
prosecution prove an additional or different element that the killing be committed
to „advance‟ ” or carry out the felony. (People v. Dykes (2009) 46 Cal.4th 731,
760-761 (Dykes).)25 Indeed, because the evidence here does not support an
24 A statutory exception, not relevant here, exists when the underlying
felony is kidnapping in violation of sections 207, 209, or 209.5, or arson in
violation of section 451, subdivision (b). To prove these special circumstances “if
there is specific intent to kill, it is only required that there be proof of the elements
of those felonies. If so established, those two special circumstances are proven
even if the felony of kidnapping or arson is committed primarily or solely for the
purpose of facilitating the murder.” (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(M).)
25 The second paragraph of CALJIC No. 8.81.17 contains other
circumstances in addition to advancing or carrying out the commission of a felony,
i.e., “to facilitate the escape therefrom or to avoid detection.” We have stated that
People v. Green (1980) 27 Cal.3d 1, 59-62, simply requires that the felony not be
merely incidental to the commission of murder, and that CALJIC No. 8.81.17
provides examples of circumstances under which a felony is not merely incidental
to the murder. (See Dykes, supra, 46 Cal.4th at p. 761, fn. 5 [“The „carry out or
advance‟ language found in the pattern instruction is based upon our cases and
constitutes merely another way of describing the Green rule—that a felony murder
is not established by proof of a felony that was merely incidental to a murder”];
People v. Horning (2004) 34 Cal.4th 871, 907-908 [Green only requires that the
felony not be merely incidental to the commission of the murder, and CALJIC No.
8.81.17 provides explanations of this requirement].)
Nonetheless, the instruction would be clearer and provide more guidance if
it expressly described these scenarios as examples, and stated that a felony is not
incidental to the commission of murder when the defendant has an independent
purpose for the commission of the felony. Such an instruction would provide
something along the lines of: “The special circumstance referred to in these
instructions is not established if [the felony] was merely incidental to the
(footnote continued on next page)
inference that defendant might have intended to murder Andrews without having
an independent intent to commit oral copulation, there was no duty to even instruct
in the language of CALJIC No. 8.81.17‟s second paragraph which includes the
language “carry out or advance the commission” of the felony. (People v.
Monterroso (2004) 34 Cal.4th 743, 767.)
We conclude substantial evidence exists — and existed at the close of the
prosecution‟s case-in-chief — to demonstrate defendant killed Andrews while
engaged in the attempted commission of oral copulation. The prosecution‟s
evidence showed defendant‟s displeasure at a fourth person being placed in the
cell, and his awareness that Andrews was friends with Rutledge, who had
“disrespected” defendant and was an enemy of his. Defendant brutally beat
Andrews and ripped off his boxer shorts. He then exposed his penis and ordered
Andrews to kiss it. After Andrews did so, defendant said “I ought to fuck him,”
and asked Bond and Benjamin if they wanted to fuck Andrews “or get their dicks
sucked.” Defendant continued beating Andrews, and ultimately strangled him to
death. Following the attack, Martinez heard defendant say “he was trying to go up
in the guy,” which Martinez said meant “trying to fuck him.”
(footnote continued from previous page)
commission of the murder. [The felony] is merely incidental to the murder when
there is no purpose for the commission of the felony that is independent of the
murder. [A felony] is not merely incidental to the commission of murder when,
for example, the murder was committed in order to carry out or advance the
commission of [the felony] or to facilitate the escape therefrom or to avoid
detection. A felony is also not merely incidental to the commission of murder
when the defendant has an independent purpose for the commission of [the
felony]. Simultaneous intents to kill and to commit an independent felony will
support a felony-murder special circumstance.”
This constitutes substantial evidence that defendant had either a sexual
interest in Andrews or a desire to humiliate him. Thus, defendant‟s commission of
oral copulation was not merely incidental to the murder. (See People v. Abilez
(2007) 41 Cal.4th 472, 511-512 [jury could reasonably have inferred from the
evidence that defendant wished to injure and humiliate his mother by sodomizing
her before killing her in retaliation for her mistreatment of him; hence the sodomy
was not incidental to the murder].) Contrary to defendant‟s assertion, “a jury
deciding the truth of the special circumstance allegation is not required to assign a
hierarchy to the defendant‟s motives in order to determine which of multiple
concurrent intents was „primary,‟ but instead the jury need only determine whether
commission of the underlying felony was or was not merely incidental to the
murder.” (Bolden, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 558.) For these same reasons, we reject
defendant‟s further contention that the evidence relevant to the special
circumstance finding, which he describes as “fleeting contact,” does not rationally
distinguish him from other murderers sufficient to justify subjecting him to the
Defendant asserts that the court did not instruct the jury that the special
circumstance allegation could be found true based on concurrent and independent
intents to kill and to commit oral copulation, and hence the finding cannot be
upheld on this basis. The instructions that the court gave adequately explained the
requirement for the special circumstance that the attempted oral copulation not be
merely incidental to the murder. (See Bolden, supra, 29 Cal.4th at p. 558.)
7. Asserted prosecutorial misconduct
Defendant contends the prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct during
closing argument. We disagree.
During his rebuttal argument, the prosecutor said: “I‟d like to go through
some of the testimony — some of the statements that were made by the defense
attorneys in this case. I‟d like you to recall something with respect to the Bond
and Benjamin conspiracy. Remember, right here in these United States, there‟s a
Fifth Amendment right. You don‟t have to be interviewed by a police officer.
You don‟t have to testify. At any time, anywhere along from the first morning,
neither Bond nor Benjamin didn‟t have to say a thing, but they did. I want you to
bear that in mind.” Defense counsel objected, and asked for a conference. The
trial court suggested it reserve ruling, and the prosecutor‟s argument continue, and
defense counsel agreed.
Later in his argument, the prosecutor said without objection: “Both men
basically came and said, „What I‟m telling you here today after I‟ve thought about
it, I‟ve read my statements, I‟ve been cross-examined, I‟ve given you my best
effort.‟ That was the final statement from these men.” The prosecutor also said
without objection: “And you could convict this man based on simply the
testimony of Benjamin and Bond. And when you look at their testimony, I submit
to you that most of what they told you was the truth. They pretty much at this
point in time had to. You could ignore that testimony completely. Say they didn‟t
come forward. Say they decided to sit here and take the Fifth, and we provided to
you the testimony instead of Anthony Williams, Brad Nelson, Albert Martinez,
After the prosecutor‟s argument, defense counsel moved for a mistrial on the
ground of prosecutorial misconduct, asserting that Bond had in fact asserted his
Fifth Amendment right at the preliminary hearing in this case, and the reference to
“neither Mr. Benjamin nor Mr. Bond invoking their Fifth Amendment rights was
to further spotlight the fact that our client has availed himself of [his] Fifth
Amendment rights.” The trial court denied the mistrial motion.
Defendant did not object below to later portions of the prosecutor‟s
argument, no exception to the general requirement of an objection is applicable,
and the claim is therefore forfeited. (People v. Schmeck (2005) 37 Cal.4th 240,
286.) Moreover, his claim as to all portions of the argument is meritless.
“A prosecutor commits misconduct when his or her conduct either infects the
trial with such unfairness as to render the subsequent conviction a denial of due
process, or involves deceptive or reprehensible methods employed to persuade the
trier of fact.” (People v. Avila (2009) 46 Cal.4th 680, 711 (Avila).) Here,
defendant contends that the prosecutor‟s statement during closing argument that
Bonds and Benjamin did not have to say anything “anywhere along from the first
morning” was a “reference to matters outside the evidentiary record before the
jury.” There is no reasonable likelihood the jury would so understand the
prosecutor‟s statement. (People v. Friend (2009) 47 Cal.4th 1, 29 (Friend)
[observing that reasonable likelihood is the applicable standard].) Rather, it would
assume the prosecutor was referring to evidence before the jury, which consisted
of the testimony of Bond and Benjamin at trial, and impeachment and
rehabilitation of these witnesses by their prior statements to police and testimony
at other proceedings.
Defendant also contends the prosecutor misstated the record. He relies on
Bond‟s response when asked on cross-examination if he remembered testifying at
the preliminary hearing. Bond said, “I think I pled the Fifth then.” Defense
counsel, however, then read a portion of Bond‟s testimony at the preliminary
hearing, during which he did not invoke the Fifth Amendment. It is not apparent
how this portion of the transcript demonstrates that the prosecutor‟s rebuttal
argument was false. In any event, in the challenged comments the prosecutor did
not argue that Bond and Benjamin had never asserted their Fifth Amendment
rights; he merely asserted that these individuals had given statements to police and
Defendant contends that the trial court erroneously failed to take judicial
notice of the preliminary hearing transcript in this case. Even assuming judicial
notice was appropriate, defendant does not delineate what information was
contained in the transcript that would have supported his claim of prosecutorial
Nor did the prosecutor‟s argument constitute impermissible comment on the
defendant‟s failure to testify. (Griffin v. California (1965) 380 U.S. 609, 613,
615.) The challenged comments made no reference to defendant, let alone
suggested the jury could treat “ „defendant‟s silence as substantive evidence of
guilt.‟ ” (United States v. Robinson (1988) 485 U.S. 25, 32.)
Even assuming there is a reasonable likelihood the jury understood the
prosecutor‟s remarks as a comment on defendant‟s failure to testify, no prejudice
is possible under any standard. The court instructed the jury: “A defendant in a
criminal trial has a constitutional right not to be compelled to testify. You must
not draw any inference from the fact that a defendant does not testify. Further,
you must neither discuss this matter nor permit it to enter into your deliberations in
any way. In deciding whether or not to testify, the defendant may choose to rely
on the state of the evidence and upon the failure, if any, of the People to prove
beyond a reasonable doubt every essential element of the charge against him. No
lack of testimony on defendant‟s part will make up for failure of proof by the
People so as to support a finding against him on any such essential element.” We
presume the jury followed these instructions. (People v. Verdugo (2010) 50
Cal.4th 263, 302.)
8. Restriction on cross-examination
Defendant contends that the trial court improperly restricted his cross-
examination of his cellmate, Benjamin. We disagree.
On direct examination, the prosecution established that Benjamin had been
convicted of murder in 1974. During cross-examination, outside the presence of
the jury, defense counsel stated that Benjamin had a history of blackouts, and “has
always attributed his homicide to such a blackout.” Counsel also asserted that
Benjamin took the stand during his murder trial and “offered testimony that some
other dude did it, and once he got to [prison], he accepts full responsibility and
says, „I did it.‟ And I would be offering that for purposes of impeachment.”
Counsel noted, apparently relying on prison interviews, that Benjamin “keeps
saying things like, „Benjamin does not seek to suggest that the blackout
diminished his responsibility for the . . . shooting. He remembers the shooting but
does attribute his poor judgment and inaccurate aim to his intoxication at the
time.‟ ” Counsel intended to demonstrate that Benjamin “20 years back in another
homicide pointed the finger of responsibility toward another party . . . . [¶] . . .
much as what he‟s doing now.”
The trial court stated that it was not interested in delving into Benjamin‟s
case. It sustained the prosecutor‟s objection, ruling: “There may be no reference
to what occurred in that other case with respect to this witness denying it, blaming
it on another dude and then later admitting that he was the one that did it. That is
“[I]mpeachment evidence other than felony convictions entails problems of
proof, unfair surprise, and moral turpitude evaluation which felony convictions do
not present. Hence, courts may and should consider with particular care whether
the admission of such evidence might involve undue time, confusion, or prejudice
which outweighs its probative value.” (People v. Wheeler (1992) 4 Cal.4th 284,
296-297.) Here, it is not apparent, as defendant assumes, that Benjamin‟s
testimony in his murder trial was false, as opposed to his later statements to prison
personnel. (See People v. DeSantis (1992) 2 Cal.4th 1198, 1226-1227 [assertion
that witness had committed perjury when he said he was lying during a different
proceeding not supported by the record and hence of minimal probative value].)
In addition, presentation of this evidence would have required a significant time-
consuming detour into the circumstances two decades earlier under which each
statement was made. Moreover, the jury was well aware that Benjamin was in the
cell with defendant during the murder, and had every motivation to shift blame
away from himself. The trial court acted well within its discretion under Evidence
Code section 352 in precluding exploration of this collateral matter. (People v.
Gurule (2002) 28 Cal.4th 557, 619 [the trial court did not abuse its discretion by
excluding evidence that a witness had in other crimes admitted some blame but
shifted the bulk of the responsibility to others, as it was time-consuming hearsay
and character evidence that was not particularly probative].)
Contrary to defendant‟s claim, the asserted error did not violate his rights to
confront witnesses or to present a defense. Defendant fails to demonstrate, as he
must to prevail on his confrontation claim, that the “cross-examination would have
produced „a significantly different impression of [the witness‟s] credibility.‟ ”
(People v. Frye (1998) 18 Cal.4th 894, 946.) Benjamin was impeached
throughout his testimony by inconsistencies between his trial testimony and his
earlier statements to police, to a defense investigator, and at a civil deposition; his
prior felony convictions for murder, drunk driving, sexual assault, bank robbery,
and a narcotics-related offense; the circumstance that he was 45 years old at the
time of trial, and the longest period of time he had spent not incarcerated since he
was 12 years old was 14 to 16 months; his history of suffering from alcohol-
related blackouts; his willingness to give information to law enforcement in the
past in exchange for a benefit to himself, and the possibility he would benefit from
his testimony in defendant‟s case in his sentencing for his current conviction.
Indeed, defendant‟s cross-examination of Benjamin consumes about 155 pages of
Moreover, “[a]s a general matter, the ordinary rules of evidence do not
impermissibly infringe on the accused‟s right to present a defense.” (People v.
Hall (1986) 41 Cal.3d 826, 834.) Here, defendant was given considerable leeway
to challenge Benjamin‟s veracity and suggest his motivation to lie. Defendant was
not precluded from attempting to demonstrate that Benjamin was not worthy of
belief; he was merely precluded from proving it with time-consuming and remote
evidence that was not obviously probative on the question. (See Holmes v. South
Carolina (2006) 547 U.S. 319, 326-327; People v. Jones (1998) 17 Cal.4th 279,
9. Asserted instructional error
a. Consciousness of guilt instruction
Defendant contends the trial court prejudicially erred in instructing the jury
in the language of CALJIC No. 2.06 (attempt to suppress evidence).26 We have
repeatedly rejected claims similar to defendant‟s that this instruction improperly
duplicates the circumstantial evidence instructions, is partisan and argumentative,
permits the jury to irrationally infer guilt, or undermines the reasonable doubt
requirement. (Friend, supra, 47 Cal.4th at pp. 52-53; People v. Zambrano (2007)
26 The court instructed: “If you find that a defendant attempted to suppress
evidence against himself in any manner, such as by the intimidation of a witness or by
destroying evidence, such attempt may be considered by you as a circumstance
tending to show a consciousness of guilt. However, such conduct is not sufficient by
itself to prove guilt, and its weight and significance, if any, are matters for your
41 Cal.4th 1082, 1159 (Zambrano); People v. Jackson (1996) 13 Cal.4th 1164,
1224 (Jackson).) Defendant offers no persuasive reason for us to reconsider these
Defendant also contends that the instruction allowed an inference of
consciousness of guilt only as to defendant when all three remaining cellmates
took part in cleaning up the cell and disposing of evidence, and thus was
improperly argumentative and partisan. We disagree. The instruction merely
informed the jury that if it found defendant had attempted to suppress evidence,
such an attempt “could indicate consciousness of guilt, while also clarifying that
such activity was not of itself sufficient to prove a defendant‟s guilt, and allowing
the jury to determine the weight and significance assigned to such behavior.”
(Jackson, supra, 13 Cal.4th at p. 1224.) The jury did not need to know how to
consider such evidence against Bond and Benjamin because they were not on trial.
Defense counsel was nonetheless free to argue that the activities of Bond and
Benjamin following the murder demonstrated their consciousness of guilt.
27 Defendant notes that many of this court‟s cases have cited the cautionary
nature of the instruction. (See, e.g., Jackson, supra, 13 Cal.4th at p. 1224 [the
“cautionary nature of the instruction benefits the defense, admonishing the jury
to circumspection regarding evidence that might otherwise be considered
decisively inculpatory”].) Defendant asserts we abandoned this “rationale” in
People v. Seaton (2001) 26 Cal.4th 598, 673, when we held that error in not giving
a consciousness of guilt instruction was harmless because the instruction “would
have benefited the prosecution, not the defense.” It is not, however, inconsistent
to observe that an instruction that informs the jury it may consider certain
evidence as tending to show a consciousness of guilt benefits the prosecution
while at the same time noting that language in the instruction limiting that
consideration protects the defendant.
b. Other challenges to instructions
Defendant challenges CALJIC No. 2.90 (5th ed. 1988), the standard
reasonable doubt instruction at the time of trial. He contends that the terms “moral
evidence” and “moral certainty” in that instruction are “not commonly understood
terms.” “[T]he United States Supreme Court upheld this instruction, despite
concerns about its language (Victor v. Nebraska (1994) 511 U.S. 1),” as has this
court. (Zambrano, supra, 41 Cal.4th at p. 1156.)
Defendant further contends that instruction in the language of CALJIC
Nos. 2.01 and 2.02 (circumstantial evidence), in combination with CALJIC No.
2.90, undermined the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt because it
compelled the jury to find defendant guilty on all counts and the special
circumstance allegation true using a standard lower than proof beyond a
reasonable doubt, and created an impermissible mandatory presumption that
required the jury to accept any reasonable incriminatory interpretation of the
circumstantial evidence unless defendant rebutted the presumption by presenting
the jury with a reasonable exculpatory explanation. We have previously rejected
similar contentions, and do so again here. (People v. Parson (2008) 44 Cal.4th
332, 358; People v. Morgan (2007) 42 Cal.4th 593, 620.)
Defendant also contends that instruction in the language of CALJIC Nos.
1.00, 1.02 (modified),28 2.21.2, 2.22, 2.27, 2.50 (modified),29 2.51, 8.20, and 8.67
individually and collectively diluted the reasonable doubt standard because it
urged the jury to decide material issues by determining which side had presented
relatively stronger evidence, and thus implicitly replaced the beyond a reasonable
28 The modified CALJIC No. 1.02 instruction, which referenced the
testimony of Bradley Nelson, is set forth ante, at pages 48-49.
29 The modified CALJIC No. 2.50 is set forth ante, at pages 39-40.
doubt standard with a preponderance of the evidence test. We have previously
rejected similar arguments as to many of these instructions, noting that CALJIC
Nos. 1.00, 2.21.2, 2.22, 2.27, and 2.51 are unobjectionable when, as here, they are
“ „accompanied by the usual instructions on reasonable doubt, the presumption of
innocence, and the People‟s burden of proof.‟ ” (People v. Kelly (2007) 42 Cal.4th
763, 792 (Kelly); see People v. Lindberg (2008) 45 Cal.4th 1, 33-35 [there is no
reasonable likelihood CALJIC No. 2.50, when considered with other instructions,
would lead the jury to believe the prosecution was not required to prove all
elements of the murder and the special circumstance allegation beyond a
reasonable doubt].) A similar analysis pertains to the language of CALJIC No.
1.02 as modified. Moreover, we have previously concluded that CALJIC No.
8.20, which defines deliberate and premeditated murder, does not dilute the
prosecution‟s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. (People v. Tate
(2010) 49 Cal.4th 635, 697-698.) For the same reasons, we reject defendant‟s
challenge to CALJIC No. 8.67, which defines deliberate and premeditated
Defendant further contends that CALJIC Nos. 1.00, 1.02 (modified), 2.01,
and 2.51 diminish the prosecution‟s burden by erroneously telling the jury it was
to decide between guilt and innocence, instead of determining whether guilt had
been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. We have rejected this argument as to
CALJIC Nos. 1.00, 2.01, and 2.51, and the same reasoning applies to CALJIC No.
1.02 as modified. (People v. Crew (2003) 31 Cal.4th 822, 847-848.) CALJIC No.
2.51 (evidence of motive) does not shift the burden of proof to the defendant to
show an alternative motive to that advanced by the prosecution. (People v.
Solomon (2010) 49 Cal.4th 792, 827.) CALJIC No. 2.21.2 (witness willfully false
in one material part) does not lighten the prosecution‟s burden of proof by
allowing the jury to credit prosecution witnesses after finding only a mere
probability of truth in their testimony. (People v. Solomon, at p. 827.) CALJIC
No. 2.27 (sufficiency of a single witness to prove a fact) does not suggest the
defendant has the burden of proof. (People v. Brasure (2008) 42 Cal.4th 1037,
1059.) Finally, there is no reasonable likelihood a jury would understand the
language “precluding the idea of deliberation” in CALJIC Nos. 8.20 and 8.67 as
requiring the defendant to eliminate the possibility of premeditation. (Hartsch,
supra, 49 Cal.4th at p. 506.)
C. Penalty Phase Issues
1. Challenges to the death penalty statute
Defendant challenges California‟s death penalty statute on numerous grounds
that we have repeatedly rejected.
Contrary to defendant‟s assertion, the death penalty statute is not
unconstitutional because it does not require “unanimity as to the truth of
aggravating circumstances, or findings beyond a reasonable doubt that an
aggravating circumstance (other than § 190.3, factor (b) or (c) evidence) has been
proved, that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors, or that
death is the appropriate sentence.” (People v. Lynch (2010) 50 Cal.4th 693, 766
(Lynch).) Nothing in Cunningham v. California (2007) 549 U.S. 270, Blakely v.
Washington (2004) 542 U.S. 296, Ring v. Arizona (2002) 536 U.S. 584, or
Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) 530 U.S. 466, affects our conclusions in this
regard. (People v. Thomas (2011) 51 Cal.4th 449, 506; People v. Smith (2007) 40
Cal.4th 483, 526.) No burden of proof is constitutionally required, nor is the trial
court required to instruct the jury that there is no burden of proof. (People v.
Taylor (2009) 47 Cal.4th 850, 899; People v. Bennett (2009) 45 Cal.4th 577, 632.)
That certain noncapital sentencing proceedings may assign a burden of proof to
the prosecutor does not mean the death penalty statute violates a defendant‟s rights
to equal protection or due process. (People v. Rogers (2006) 39 Cal.4th 826, 893
(Rogers); People v. Manriquez (2005) 37 Cal.4th 547, 590 (Manriquez).) Given
the absence of any equal protection or due process violation, we reject defendant‟s
further bald contention that the existence of any burden of proof in noncapital
sentencing proceedings demonstrates the death penalty statute violates his right to
be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The trial court need not instruct that
there is a presumption of life. (People v. Gamache (2010) 48 Cal.4th 347, 407.)
2. Asserted instructional error
a. Challenges to CALJIC No. 8.88
Defendant challenges the court‟s instruction under the language of CALJIC
No. 8.88 on grounds we have repeatedly rejected. Contrary to his assertion, the
language “so substantial” and “warrants” in that instruction is not impermissibly
vague. (Jackson, supra, 13 Cal.4th at p. 1243.) Nor, as he further contends, does
the instruction imply that if the aggravating evidence is “so substantial in
comparison with the mitigating circumstances” that death is the only available
sentence. (Id. at pp. 1243-1244.) The instruction is not constitutionally flawed
because it fails to inform the jury that if it determines the mitigating factors
outweigh the aggravating factors, it is required to return a sentence of life
imprisonment without the possibility of parole. (Id. at p. 1243.)
b. Challenges to CALJIC No. 8.85
Defendant challenges CALJIC No. 8.85, which instructs the jury on the
factors set forth in section 190.3, on various grounds we have repeatedly rejected.
Thus, “we reject the claim that section 190.3, factor (a), on its face or as
interpreted and applied, permits arbitrary and capricious imposition of a sentence
of death.” (Dykes, supra, 46 Cal.4th at p. 813; see Tuilaepa v. California (1994)
512 U.S. 967, 975-976, 978-979.) We further reject the contentions that
admission of evidence regarding a defendant‟s unadjudicated criminal activity is
constitutionally impermissible; section 190.3, factor (b), as written or interpreted
by this court, fosters arbitrary and capricious application of the death penalty; and
the jury should be instructed that it must unanimously find such evidence true
beyond a reasonable doubt. (People v. Martinez (2010) 47 Cal.4th 911, 968;
Rogers, supra, 39 Cal.4th at p. 894; People v. Cain (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1, 69-70.)
Moreover, “[u]se of the same jury that has adjudged a defendant guilty of first
degree murder with special circumstances to determine at the penalty phase
whether he or she committed unadjudicated criminal acts does not violate the
impartial-jury requirement of the Sixth Amendment.” (Rogers, at p. 894.)
The trial court was not required to delete inapplicable factors from the
instruction (People v. Watson (2008) 43 Cal.4th 652, 701), or “instruct that the
jury can consider certain statutory factors only in mitigation.” (People v. Valencia
(2008) 43 Cal.4th 268, 311.) Nor is there a reasonable likelihood the jury would
conclude that the absence of evidence of a mitigating factor was aggravating.
(People v. Jackson (2009) 45 Cal.4th 662, 694-695.) Use of the adjectives
“extreme” and “substantial” in section 190.3, factors (d) and (g) is constitutional.
(People v. Valencia, at p. 311.) The federal Constitution does not require the jury
to make “ „written findings of the factors it finds in aggravation and mitigation.‟ ”
(Dykes, at p. 813.)
c. Refused defense instructions
Defendant requested two instructions.30 The court declined to give
Instruction B because it was adequately covered by existing instructions, and
30 The proposed instructions provided:
(footnote continued on next page)
declined to give both Instructions B and C because they were argumentative.
There was no error. The failure to instruct the jury that a mitigating factor does
not have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt but may be found to exist if there
is any evidence to support it, as requested here, or on the lack of need for
unanimity on the existence of mitigating factors, does not impermissibly foreclose
full consideration of the mitigating evidence or lead to arbitrary results.
Instruction “in the language of CALJIC No. 8.85 allowed consideration of „any
other circumstance which extenuates the gravity of the crime, even though it is not
a legal excuse for the crime, and any sympathetic or other aspect of the
defendant‟s character or record that the defendant offers as a basis for a sentence
less than death, whether or not related to the offense for which he is on trial.‟ ”
(footnote continued from previous page)
“The mitigating circumstances that I have read for your consideration are
given as examples of some of the factors that a juror may take into account as
reasons for deciding not to impose a death sentence in this case. A juror should
pay careful attention to each of those factors. Any one of them may be sufficient,
standing alone, to support a decision that death is not the appropriate punishment
in this case. But a juror should not limit his or her consideration of mitigating
circumstances to these specific factors. [¶] A juror may also consider any other
circumstances relating to the case or to the defendant as shown by the evidence as
reasons for not imposing the death penalty. [¶] A mitigating circumstance does
not have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. A juror may find that a
mitigating circumstance exists if there is any evidence to support it no matter how
weak the evidence is. [¶] Any mitigating circumstance may outweigh all the
aggravating factors. [¶] A juror is permitted to use mercy, sympathy and/or
sentiment in deciding what weight to give each mitigating factor.” (Instruction B.)
“If the mitigating evidence gives rise to compassion or sympathy for the
defendant, the jury may, based upon such sympathy or compassion alone, reject
death as a penalty. A mitigating factor does not have to be proved beyond a
reasonable doubt. A juror may find that a mitigating circumstance exists if there is
any evidence to support it no matter how weak the evidence is.” (Instruction C.)
(Avila, supra, 46 Cal.4th at p. 722.) There is no reasonable likelihood the jury
understood the instructions to mean that mitigating evidence had to be proved
beyond a reasonable doubt or that unanimity was required for the existence of
mitigating factors. (Lynch, supra, 50 Cal.4th at pp. 765-766 [trial court properly
refused to give an instruction similar to defendant‟s proposed instruction C];
People v. Lewis (2009) 46 Cal.4th 1255, 1317; Avila, at p. 722 [trial court properly
refused to give an instruction substantially similar to defendant‟s proposed
instruction B].) Thus, “[n]o additional instructions were required.” (Kelly, supra,
42 Cal.4th at p. 799.)
3. Failure to provide intercase proportionality
Defendant contends intercase proportionality review is constitutionally
required. We have repeatedly rejected this claim. (Stevens, supra, 41 Cal.4th at p.
212; see Pulley v. Harris (1984) 465 U.S. 37, 50-51.) “Nor does the circumstance
that intercase proportionality review is conducted in noncapital cases cause the
death penalty statute to violate defendant‟s right to equal protection and due
process.” (Farley, supra, 46 Cal.4th at p. 1134.) “[C]apital and noncapital
defendants are not similarly situated and therefore may be treated differently
without violating constitutional guarantees of equal protection of the laws or due
process of law.” (Manriquez, supra, 37 Cal.4th at p. 590.)
4. Asserted violation of international law
Defendant contends that his sentence of death violates international law. We
have found no violations of law that preclude imposition of the death penalty in
this case, and defendant “points to no authority that „prohibit[s] a sentence of
death rendered in accordance with state and federal constitutional and statutory
requirements.‟ ” (Stevens, supra, 41 Cal.4th at p. 213.)
5. Effect of vacating special circumstance finding
Defendant contends that if we vacate the special circumstance finding that he
committed the murder while engaged in the attempted commission of oral
copulation, his death judgment must be reversed. We have not vacated this special
6. Asserted cumulative error
Defendant contends that cumulative guilt and penalty phase error requires
reversal. We have found no error. Moreover, where we have assumed error, we
have found no prejudice. Nor do we discern cumulative prejudice.
We affirm the judgment.
CANTIL-SAKAUYE, C. J.
See next page for addresses and telephone numbers for counsel who argued in Supreme Court.
Name of Opinion People v. Dement
Original Appeal XXX
Opinion No. S042660
Date Filed: November 28, 2011
Judge: Stephen R. Henry
Michael J. Hersek, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, and William T. Lowe,
Deputy State Public Defender, for Defendant and Appellant.
Bill Lockyer and Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Robert R. Anderson, Chief Assistant Attorney
General, Mary Jo Graves, Assistant Attorney General, Patrick J. Whalen and Jeffrey D. Firestone, Deputy
Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Counsel who argued in Supreme Court (not intended for publication with opinion):
William T. Lowe
Deputy State Public Defender
221 Main Street, Tenth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Jeffrey D. Firestone
Deputy Attorney General
1300 I Street
Sacramento, Ca 94244-2550
Automatic appeal from a judgment of death.
|Mon, 11/28/2011||53 Cal. 4th 1, 264 P.3d 292, 133 Cal. Rptr. 3d 496||S042660||Automatic Appeal||submitted/opinion due|
|1||The People (Respondent)|
Represented by Attorney General - Sacramento Office
Jeffrey D. Firestone, Deputy Attorney General
P.O. Box 944255
|2||Dement, Ronnie Dale (Appellant)|
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974
Represented by Office of the State Public Defender-Sf
William T. Lowe, Deputy State Public Defender
221 Main Street, 10th Floor
San Francisco, CA
|Sep 26 1994||Judgment of death|
|Oct 12 1994||Filed certified copy of Judgment of Death Rendered|
|Feb 19 1999||Filed:|
Applt's Applic. for appointment of Counsel.
|Feb 22 1999||Order appointing State Public Defender filed|
To represent Applt for the direct Appeal.
|Mar 5 1999||Filed:|
Letter from Superior Court, dated 3-1-99, Advising Record on Appeal Was mailed Via Ups to Applt's Counsel on 2-24-99.
|May 25 1999||Application for Extension of Time filed|
By Applt to request correction of the Record.
|May 26 1999||Extension of Time application Granted|
To 7-30-99 To request Record correction
|Jul 26 1999||Application for Extension of Time filed|
By Applt to request correction of the Record.
|Jul 28 1999||Extension of Time application Granted|
To 9-28-99 To request Record correction
|Sep 23 1999||Application for Extension of Time filed|
By Applt to request Corr. of the Record.
|Sep 28 1999||Extension of Time application Granted|
To 11/29/99 To Applt To request Corr. of the Record. no further Exntensions of time Are Contemplated.
|Nov 24 1999||Application for Extension of Time filed|
By Applt to request Corr. of the Record.
|Dec 2 1999||Extension of Time application Granted|
To 1/28/2000 To Applt To request Corr. of the Record. no further Eot will be Granted.
|Jan 31 2000||Received copy of appellant's record correction motion|
applt's motion to correct, augment and settle the record on appeal. (23 pp.)
|Aug 23 2000||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Oct 31 2000||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Dec 26 2000||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Feb 27 2001||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Apr 30 2001||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jun 28 2001||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Aug 27 2001||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Oct 26 2001||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Dec 26 2001||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Feb 27 2002||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Apr 29 2002||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jun 28 2002||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Aug 30 2002||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Oct 30 2002||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Dec 31 2002||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Mar 3 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Mar 20 2003||Record on appeal filed|
Clerk's transcript 21 volumes (5383 pp.) and reporter's transcript 25 volumes (4718 pp.), including material under seal; ASCII disks. Clerk's transcript includes 3013 pp. of juror questionnaires.
|Mar 20 2003||Appellant's opening brief letter sent, due:|
April 29, 2003.
|Apr 22 2003||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (1st request)
|Apr 22 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Apr 25 2003||Extension of time granted|
to 6/30/2003 to file appellant's opening brief.
|Jun 23 2003||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (2nd request)
|Jun 23 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jun 25 2003||Extension of time granted|
to 8/29/2003 to file appellant's opening brief.
|Aug 22 2003||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (3rd request)
|Aug 22 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Aug 27 2003||Extension of time granted|
to 10-28-2003 to file AOB.
|Oct 21 2003||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (4th request)
|Oct 21 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Oct 28 2003||Extension of time granted|
to 12/29/2003 to file appellant's opening brief.
|Dec 24 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Dec 24 2003||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (5th request)
|Jan 5 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 2-27-2004 to file AOB. The court anticipates that after that date, only two further extensions totaling 120 additional days will be granted. Counsel is ordered to inform his or her assisting attorney or entity, if any, and any assisting attorney or entity of any separate counsel of record, of this schedule, and to take all steps necessary to meet it.
|Feb 23 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Feb 23 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (6th request)
|Mar 1 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 4/27/2004 to file appellant's opening brief. The court anticipates that after that date, only two further extensions totaling 120 additional days will be granted. Counsel is ordered to inform his or her assisting attorney or entity, if any, and any assisting attorney or entity of any separate counsel of record, of this schedule, and to take all steps necessary to meet it.
|Apr 22 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (7th request)
|Apr 22 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Apr 28 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 6/28/2004 to file appellant's opening brief. The court anticipates that after that date, only two further extensions totaling about 120 additional days will be granted. Counsel is ordered to inform his or her supervising attorney, if any, of this schedule, and to take all steps necessary to meet it.
|Jun 21 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jun 21 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. 8th request)
|Jun 25 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 8-27-2004 to file AOB. The court anticipates that after that date, only two further extensions totaling about 130 additional days will be granted. Counsel is ordered to inform his or her supervising attorney, if any, of this schedule, and to take all steps necesary to meet it.
|Aug 20 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (9th request)
|Aug 20 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Aug 25 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 10/25/2004 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only one further extension totaling about 70 additional days is contemplated. Counsel is ordered to inform his or her supervising attorney, if any, of this schedule, and to take all steps necessary to meet it.
|Oct 18 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
by State P.D.
|Oct 18 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (10th request)
|Oct 25 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 12/23/2004 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only two further extensions totaling about 90 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by 3/24/2005.
|Dec 16 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (11th request)
|Dec 16 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Dec 22 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 3/22/2005 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only one further extension totaling about 30 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by 3/24/2005.
|Feb 15 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (12th request)
|Feb 15 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Feb 22 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 4/25/2005 to file appellant's opening brief. The court anticipates that after that date, only one further extension totaling about 60 additional days will be granted. Counsel is ordered to inform his or her supervising attorney, if any, of this schedule, and to take all steps necessary to meet it.
|Feb 23 2005||Filed letter from:|
respondent, dated 2/23/2005, advising this court that respondent will oppose any further extensions of time requests beyond 6/24/2005 to file appellant's opening brief.
|Apr 18 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Apr 19 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (13th request)
|Apr 21 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 6/21/2005 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only one further extension totaling about 60 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by 8/21/2005. Counsel is ordered to inform his or her supervising attorney, if any, of this schedule, and to take all steps necessary to meet it.
|Jun 14 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jun 14 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (14th request)
|Jun 17 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 8/22/2005 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, no further extension is contemplated. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by 8/20/2005.
|Jun 22 2005||Filed letter from:|
DAG Jeffrey Firestone, dated 6/21/2005, advising court of respondent's opposition to current extension of time and any further extension of time to file appellant's opening brief.
|Aug 15 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Aug 15 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (15th request)
|Aug 22 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 9-20-2005 to file AOB. After that date, no further extension will be granted. Extension granted based upon Deputy SPD William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing the brief by 9-20-2005.
|Sep 13 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Sep 13 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (16th request)
|Sep 16 2005||Extension of time granted|
to October 20, 2005 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, no further extensions will be granted. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender William Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by October 20, 2005.
|Oct 20 2005||Application to file over-length brief filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (120,887 word brief submitted under separate cover; 410 pp.)
|Oct 21 2005||Order filed|
appellant's application for leave to file opening brief longer than 95,200 words is granted.
|Oct 21 2005||Appellant's opening brief filed|
(120,887 words; 410 pp.)
|Nov 14 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file respondent's brief. (1st request)
|Nov 17 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 1/20/2006 to file respondent's brief.
|Jan 13 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to file respondent's brief. (2nd request)
|Jan 20 2006||Extension of time granted|
to 3/21/2006 to file the respondent's brief. After that date, only one further extension totaling about 60 additional days is contemplated. Extension is granted based upon Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey D. Firestone's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by 5/21/2006.
|Mar 14 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to fle respondent's brief. (3rd request)
|Mar 20 2006||Extension of time granted|
to May 22, 2006 to file respondent's brief. After that date, no further extension of time is contemplated.
|May 15 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to file respondent's brief. (4th request)
|May 22 2006||Extension of time granted|
to June 21, 2006 to file respondent's brief. Extension is granted based upon Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey D. Firestone's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by June 21, 2006. After that date, no further extension will be granted.
|Jun 16 2006||Application to file over-length brief filed|
to file respondent's brief. (110,566 word brief submitted under separate cover; 345 pp.)
|Jun 19 2006||Order filed|
Respondent's "Application and Declaration In Support of Request For Leave to File Respondent's Brief Longer Than 95,200 Words" is granted.
|Jun 19 2006||Respondent's brief filed|
(110, 566 words; 345 pp - not including attachment)
|Jun 19 2006||Note:|
Appellant's Reply Brief due: July 10, 2006
|Jun 26 2006||Filed:|
"Errata to Respondent's Brief - Request to Amend By Interlineation Cover Sheet."
|Jul 3 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (1st request)
|Jul 6 2006||Extension of time granted|
to September 8, 2006 to file appellant's reply brief. After that date, six further extensions totaling about 320 additional days are contemplated. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by end of July 2007.
|Sep 5 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (2nd request)
|Sep 7 2006||Extension of time granted|
to November 7, 2006 to file appellant's reply brief. After that date, only five further extensions totaling about 260 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by the end of July 2007.
|Oct 31 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (3rd request)
|Nov 2 2006||Extension of time granted|
to January 8, 2007 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only five further extensions totaling about 260 additional days are contemplated. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by July 2007.
|Jan 2 2007||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (4th request)
|Jan 5 2007||Extension of time granted|
Good cause appearing, and based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing the appellant's reply brief after July 2007, counsel's request for an extension of time in which to file that brief is granted to March 9, 2007. After that date, only four further extensions totaling about 200 additional days are contemplated.
|Mar 2 2007||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (5th request)
|Mar 8 2007||Extension of time granted|
to May 7, 2007 to file appellant's reply brief. After that date, only three further extensions totaling about 150 additional days are contemplated. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by the end of September 2007.
|Apr 30 2007||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (6th request)
|May 4 2007||Filed:|
respondent's "Notice of Intent to Oppose Further Extensions of Time for Reply Brief Beyond October 4, 2007."
|May 4 2007||Extension of time granted|
to July 6, 2007 to file appellant's reply brief. After that date, only two further extensions totaling about 90 additional days are contemplated. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by the end of September 2007.
|Jun 29 2007||Request for extension of time filed|
to fiel appellant's reply brief. (7th request)
|Jul 9 2007||Extension of time granted|
Good cause appearing, counsel's request for an extension of time in which to file the appellant's reply brief is granted to September 4, 2007. The court anticipates that after that date, only one further extension totaling about 60 additional days will be granted. Counsel is ordered to inform his or her supervising attorney, if any, of this schedule, and to take all steps necessary to meet it.
|Aug 29 2007||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (8th request)
|Sep 4 2007||Opposition filed|
to extension of time for reply brief beyond November 3, 2007.
|Sep 6 2007||Extension of time granted|
Good cause appearing, counsel's request for an extension of time in which to file the appellant's reply brief is granted to November 5, 2007. The court anticipates that after that date, only one further extension totaling about 30 additional days will be granted. Counsel is ordered to inform his or her supervising attorney, if any, of this schedule, and to take all steps necessary to meet it.
|Oct 29 2007||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (9th request)
|Nov 5 2007||Extension of time granted|
Good cause appearing, and based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing the appellant's reply brief by January 4, 2008, counsel's request for an extension of time in which to file that brief is granted to January 4, 2008. After that date, no further extension will be granted.
|Dec 26 2007||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (10th request)
|Dec 31 2007||Extension of time granted|
Good cause appearing, and based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing the appellant's reply brief by February 3, 2008, counsel's request for an extension of time in which to file that brief is granted to February 4, 2008. After that date, no further extension will be granted.
|Jan 28 2008||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (11th request)
|Feb 1 2008||Extension of time granted|
Good cause appearing, and based upon Deputy State Public Defender William T. Lowe's representation that he anticipates filing the appellant's reply brief by March 6, 2008, counsel's request for an extension of time in which to file that brief is granted to March 6, 2008. After that date, no further extension will be granted.
|Mar 3 2008||Application to file over-length brief filed|
appellant's reply brief.
|Mar 5 2008||Order filed|
Appellant's "Application for Leave to File Reply Brief Longer than 47,600 Words" is granted.
|Mar 5 2008||Appellant's reply brief filed|
(55,404 words; 199 pp.)
|Jan 20 2011||Exhibit(s) lodged|
from superior court - People's Exhibits: 8, 9, 10 - photos, 31 - photo, 33 - diagram
|Jun 28 2011||Oral argument letter sent|
advising counsel that the court could schedule this case for argument as early as the September calendar, to be held the week of September 5, 2011 in San Francisco. The advisement of "focus issues," notification that two counsel are required, and any request for oral argument time in excess of 30 minutes must be submitted to the court within 10 days of the order setting the case for argument.
|Jul 28 2011||Case ordered on calendar|
to be argued Tuesday, September 6, 2011, at 1:30 p.m., in San Francisco
|Aug 8 2011||Received:|
appearance sheet from Deputy State Public Defender, William Lowe, indicating 45 minutes for oral argument for appellant.
|Aug 8 2011||Filed:|
appellant's focus issues letter, dated August 8, 2011
|Aug 9 2011||Received:|
appearance sheet from Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey D. Firestone, indicating 45 minutes for oral argument for respondent.
|Aug 16 2011||Filed:|
respondent's focus issues letter, dated August 15, 2011.
|Aug 26 2011||Received:|
respondent's additional authorities letter, dated August 24, 2011
|Aug 29 2011||Received:|
respondent's second additional authorities letter, dated August 26, 2011
|Sep 6 2011||Cause argued and submitted|
|Nov 23 2011||Notice of forthcoming opinion posted|
To be filed Monday, November 28, 2011 at 10 a.m.
|Oct 21 2005||Appellant's opening brief filed|
|Jun 19 2006||Respondent's brief filed|
|Mar 5 2008||Appellant's reply brief filed|
s042660-1-appellants-opening-brief.pdf (8628468 bytes) - Appellants Opening Brief
s042660-2-respondents-brief.pdf (7877423 bytes) - Respondents Brief
s042660-3-appellants-reply-brief.pdf (8992074 bytes) - Appellants Reply Brief