IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA
Plaintiff and Respondent,
RICHARD ALLEN McWHORTER,
Super. Ct. No. 65352A
Defendant and Appellant.
A jury convicted defendant Richard Allen McWhorter of the first degree
murders of Shirley and Joey Jordan (Pen. Code, § 187),1 and first degree
residential robbery (§ 212.5, subd. (a)). Special circumstance allegations of
multiple murder (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)) and robbery murder (§ 190.2, subd.
(a)(17)(A)) were found true in connection with each count of murder.2 After a
penalty trial, the jury returned a verdict of death. The trial court denied the
automatic motion to modify the penalty verdict (§ 190.4, subd. (e)) and imposed
the death sentence. This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).) We shall order
one of the two multiple-murder special circumstance findings and an erroneously
imposed parole revocation fine stricken from the judgment, and affirm the
judgment as modified.
All further statutory references are to the Penal Code unless otherwise
Defendant was acquitted of the charge of first degree burglary; the related
burglary-murder special-circumstance allegation was found not true.
A. Guilt Phase
The victims in this case, Shirley Jordan and her 10-year old son, Joey, were
murdered in their Bakersfield apartment on September 11, 1995. Their badly
decomposed bodies were discovered approximately one week later by friends and
neighbors suspecting foul play. The prosecution‟s evidence, including admissible
portions of defendant‟s taped confession, established that defendant and his wife
Billie were friends and neighbors of the Jordans and had moved away from
Bakersfield one week before the murders, hoping to find work in Las Vegas.
Defendant, who was broke, returned alone to Bakersfield on September 11, went
to the Jordan‟s apartment, killed mother and son, stole $3,000 from Shirley‟s
bedroom dresser drawer, then fled the area, returning to Las Vegas that same
1. Prosecution Evidence
a. Defendant and his wife Billie leave Bakersfield
In early September 1995, defendant and his wife, Billie McWhorter, lived
in a small duplex at 1016 Wilson Avenue, unit B, in Oildale, a town near
Bakersfield. Billie testified that Shirley Jordan and her 10-year-old son, Joey,
whom they had known for several years, lived in the adjoining unit A. While
neighbors they had become good friends and would often socialize together.
Billie testified neither she nor defendant was employed at that time. Their
sole sources of income were unemployment and Social Security benefits, totaling
$650 per month, which had run out. At the beginning of September 1995, Billie
had a checking account with approximately $1 on deposit. She had been out of
work since April 1994; defendant had been unemployed since early 1995.
While neighbors, Shirley told the McWhorters she had saved $7,000, and
could even buy a new car if she wanted to. On July 4, 1995, Shirley lent
defendant $1,500 so that he could start a landscaping business. The loan was
memorialized in a written agreement signed by Shirley, defendant, and Billie, with
the money to be repaid in 90 days. Defendant bought a truck and some
landscaping equipment with the money but could not find any work.
In early September 1995, defendant and Billie decided to move to Las
Vegas to try to find work there. As the McWhorters were broke, Shirley lent them
another $350. On Monday, September 4, 1995, defendant and Billie drove to
Tehachapi and spent the night with Billie‟s daughter and son-in-law, Brenda and
James Doty. The following day, Billie stayed behind while defendant drove alone
toward Las Vegas in his truck with all his landscaping equipment to look for work.
Defendant‟s truck broke down outside of Mojave. He called James Doty
and arranged to have Doty pick up his belongings and equipment from the
disabled truck. Defendant hitchhiked to Las Vegas, arriving at the home of
Billie‟s son, Eric Roesler, in the late afternoon.
Defendant had no change of clothes when he arrived, so Roesler lent him a
T- shirt with distinctive markings. Several days later, defendant told Roesler he
was going back to Bakersfield to meet his mother so he could borrow money to
get his truck fixed. Prior to defendant‟s leaving Las Vegas, Roesler gave
defendant a large, white-handled knife, saying he wanted it returned.
On Sunday, September 10, 1995, defendant hitchhiked from Las Vegas to
Mojave. James Doty drove to Mojave from Tehachapi and picked him up.
Defendant told Doty he came back to get a loan from his mother so he could buy
another vehicle. That evening, Billie called her ex-mother-in-law, Rosalie Se1f,
and asked Self to pick them up from the Doty residence the next morning and
drive them back to Bakersfield so defendant could meet with his mother.
On Monday morning, September 11, 1995, Rosalie Self and her partner,
Bob Amos, picked up defendant and Billie from Tehachapi and drove them back
to their home in Oildale, which was not far from the Wilson Avenue apartment
complex where the Jordans lived. Defendant left the Self/Amos residence, alone
and on foot, at approximately 10:00 a.m. that same morning. He told Self and
Amos his mother was going to lend him money to purchase a vehicle, and that he
was going to meet her at the Yum-Yum Donut shop a short distance from their
home. Billie asked to go with him, but did not.
Defendant returned at approximately 4:00 p.m. that afternoon. Billie, Self,
and Amos were sitting on the porch eating hamburgers. Defendant walked over to
Billie and handed her $3,000 in cash in large denomination ($100 and $50) bills.
Billie asked defendant why he had been gone so long; defendant claimed his
mother had to go to the bank for the money.
Defendant‟s mother, Mary Headrick, testified that she never met with
defendant on Monday, September 11, 1995; she lived in Tulare and had not
traveled to Bakersfield on that date; and defendant never discussed borrowing
money from her.
As the group sat on the porch, Self suggested that defendant and Billie buy
a van to live in. Defendant commented that it would be cheaper to buy a van in
Las Vegas and announced he and Billie were leaving for Las Vegas on a bus that
same evening. Prior to leaving, Billie washed the clothes defendant was wearing
while defendant took a shower and changed into clean clothes. Defendant also
produced Roesler‟s white-handled knife, which he gave to Amos. Self and Amos
then drove defendant and Billie to the bus station, where they left for Las Vegas
on the 7:00 p.m. bus. Billie testified they arrived sometime after midnight and
checked into a hotel. Billie‟s son, Eric Roesler, testified that upon their return to
Las Vegas, defendant told him he had borrowed money from his mother.
b. Discovery of the victims’ bodies
Early on the morning of Monday, September 11, 1995, 13-year-old Chris
Barton called Joey to see if he wanted a ride to school. Joey and Chris were
friends and schoolmates; Chris‟s grandmother usually drove them to school every
day. Joey told Chris he was not going to school that day because he was feeling
sick. That was the last time Chris ever spoke to Joey, and she never saw Joey or
his mother, Shirley, again.
Upon returning from school that afternoon, Chris called Joey and left a
message on the Jordans‟ answering machine. A few days later, Chris went to
Joey‟s house and knocked on the door but no one answered. Both she and her
grandmother called and left additional messages on the Jordans‟ answering
machine, but never received a return call.
Joey was absent from school on Monday, September 11, 1995, and never
returned. The last day he attended school was Friday, September 8, 1995. He had
been present at school every day for the two weeks prior to that date. The school
attendance officer called the Jordan home each day Joey was absent, leaving
messages inquiring about his absences. The calls were never returned.
On Monday, September 18, 1995, Brian LaPeer, a neighbor of the Jordans,
went to their apartment after his sister-in-law noticed a bad smell emanating from
the unit. He found a window open two to three inches, pried off the screen, pulled
the blinds apart and saw a body lying on a bed in the bedroom. LaPeer and his
sister-in-law called the police. He also noticed the Jordans‟ lawn was dying,
which was unusual because Shirley was known to frequently water it to keep it
green. LaPeer testified his young son and Joey often played together, with the last
time having been three days to a week before the bodies were discovered.
Fire Captain Tom Pulcher and other fire personnel arrived at the Jordan‟s
residence in response to the 911 call. They found the front door locked, with a
window on the northwest side of the residence open several inches. The inside of
the window screen was covered with flies, and a strong odor was emanating from
within which Captain Pulcher associated with death. The front door was forced
open and Captain Pulcher entered the apartment alone. Upon entering the
apartment, he found it noticeably warmer inside than outside. He looked into the
bedroom, saw the decomposing bodies of Shirley and Joey, secured the crime
scene, and waited for law enforcement officers to arrive.
Kern County Sheriff‟s Deputy Steven Comstock was the first officer to
arrive at the scene, followed by Kern County Homicide Detectives Rosemary
Wahl, John Soliz, and Sergeant Glenn Johnson. Detective Wahl noticed several
advertising-type newspapers had collected on the steps at the front door. She and
Detective Soliz entered the apartment and observed a backpack on the living room
floor with what appeared to be its contents — a purse, a pile of coupons, a
notebook, two coin purses, and Shirley Jordan‟s checkbook register — strewn
about the floor.
A prescription bottle and a yellow pill box that had separately marked
compartments for each day of the week were found on an end table. There were
pills in every compartment of the pill box except for Sunday‟s.
Shirley Jordan‟s body was found on the bedroom floor next to one of two
single beds. Joey‟s body was spanning the two beds. Both were in an advanced
state of decay.
The drawers of a dresser in the bedroom were found open. The front of the
drawers was spattered with blood; the sides of the drawers had no blood spatter on
them. Hanging out of one of the open drawers was a bed sheet or nightgown with
no blood spatter on it. On the north wall next to Shirley‟s body was a second
dresser, also with its drawers open. The wall surfaces above and next to the
dresser were covered with blood spatter. Blood spatter was also found on the open
door that led from the living room into the bedroom, on the door frame, and on a
vacuum cleaner in the living room near that doorway. Three strands of bloody
hair were found on a bedpost. A bloody shoeprint or impression was found on the
floor close to where Shirley‟s body lay.
The backdoor to the residence, which was in the kitchen, was locked at the
knob but not deadbolted. Two to three drops of blood spatter were found on the
kitchen linoleum floor. On one wall of the kitchen, four feet above the floor, was
a large indentation in the drywall with two strands of hair stuck to the wall a short
distance below it. There were no signs of forced entry into the house.
Detective Wahl found a disposable camera on a bookcase in the living
room. The exposed film was later developed, revealing the last photograph taken
was of defendant in the Jordans‟ living room, wearing the T-shirt with distinctive
markings that Roesler had lent him when he first arrived on foot in Las Vegas
without belongings on September 5. The Jordans‟ answering machine, with the
various unanswered messages left on the tape starting on Monday, September 11,
was also recovered as evidence.
The Jordans‟ apartment, unit A, was attached to unit B. Detective Wahl
checked unit B, found it unoccupied, and found mail inside addressed to
c. Crime scene blood spatter evidence
Kern County Crime Lab Criminalist Jeanne Spencer collected samples of
blood spatter from the dresser, the door to the bedroom, a bedroom wall, the
vacuum cleaner, and the kitchen floor. Using enzyme testing, she was able to
identify all the spatter as human blood that have come from the same source.
However, because no control samples were available from the victims,3 she
could not tell whose blood it was. She also collected a wadded-up paper towel
from the floor of the living room and a roll of paper towels from the kitchen, both
of which contained blood stains. She likewise determined both items had human
blood on them, and that the blood could have come from the same source as all the
blood spatter samples.
Spencer also compared the hair strands recovered from just below the
indentation in the kitchen wall, and from one of the bed posts, to both the victims‟
and defendant‟s hair samples. She found the hairs could have come from Shirley,
but did not come from defendant or Joey. She noted one of the hairs had no root,
suggesting it might have been torn off. Spencer also examined the white-handled
knife defendant had given Amos that was recovered by police, and found no blood
Supervising Criminalist Gregory Laskowski, an expert in blood spatters,
stains, patterns and events, examined the scene a few days after the bodies were
discovered. He identified the blood on the front of the dresser drawers as
“medium-velocity” blood spatter events, which would be associated with kicking,
bludgeoning, stabbing, or punching. He concluded the spatter patterns were
probably caused by more than two or three discrete events, and that the source of
the blood was “impact-generated,” meaning the force that caused the spatter was
moving towards the dresser. The absence of blood on the sides of the drawers
evidenced that they were closed at the time of the events causing the spattering.
Blood and hairs were found adhered to a bedpost. Laskowski determined
the blood on the bedpost and surrounding area had come from a source six to ten
Dr. Walker, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsies, testified
there was no testable or uncontaminated blood left in the bodies given their
advanced state of decomposition.
inches away, and that the spatters were caused by mechanical force such as that
associated with a punch, kick, or blow, with the blow driving the part of the body
with the open wound against the bedpost.
Laskowski also observed a shoeprint or impression on the carpet in the
bedroom, the source or nature of which was uncertain. His initial impression was
that the print may have been made by a cowboy boot. At trial, he testified the
impression could also have been made by a smooth-soled shoe or boot, or possibly
could have been made by a large limb like a thigh or by a knee.
Based on his overall examination of the crime scene, Laskowski
determined there were probably three to four spatter events in the area of the
dresser, one to two in the area of the bedpost at the foot of one bed that contributed
to the spatter stain across the bottom of the bedroom door, two to three on the
north wall between the second bed and the dresser, one at the foot of the bed
where Shirley‟s head rested, and at least one event that resulted in blood being
spattered on the living room carpet outside the bedroom entryway.
d. Autopsy results
Dr. Fred Walker, a forensic pathologist, performed autopsies on the bodies
the day after they were discovered. Dr. Walker was employed as a medical
examiner in Monterey County, had come to Kern County to fill in temporarily for
another pathologist, and had previously worked as a medical examiner in Phoenix,
Arizona, where he gained extensive experience working with bodies in advanced
states of decomposition.
Dr. Walker acknowledged this case was particularly challenging because
the advanced state of decomposition of both bodies made determining the causes
of death difficult. For that reason, he visited the crime scene to gather as much
relevant information as possible. He also conferred with Laskowski, reviewed the
victims‟ medical records, and spoke with the toxicologist, who prepared no written
report4 but who orally informed Dr. Walker he had not detected any substance that
would be of further significance in helping establish the causes of death.
Dr. Walker testified both bodies were in an advanced state of
decomposition, with a large number of maggots on the bodies and clothing. The
internal organs of both victims had “liquefied” to the point where, in Joey‟s case,
Dr. Walker had difficulty identifying some of the vital organs. He observed a lot
of tissue loss from Shirley‟s face, and found multiple bruises on her body. One
bruise between her shoulder blades measured seven inches by three inches; one in
the center of her back measured eight inches by three inches; one on her right
buttock measured eight inches by four inches; one on the back of her right thigh
measured two inches by two inches; one behind her right knee measured three
inches by three inches; and one on her left calf measured six inches by two inches.
Because of their approximate size and shape, the three “upper” bruises could have
been inflicted by the same object.
Shirley‟s body was X-rayed. There was no evidence of broken bones or
teeth. There were no obvious signs of defensive wounds to her hands or
fingernails. Her clothes also appeared free of tears or holes that might have
resulted from stabbing or shooting. Dr. Walker believed it more likely than not
that Shirley had suffered trauma to her face, although the loss of facial tissue was
likely exacerbated by subsequent maggot activity and decomposition, which
would have obscured the original injury. He noted Shirley had been taking
nitroglycerine, reviewed her medical records, and concluded she suffered from
Ron Smith, the retired Kern County toxicologist who worked on the case,
testified he conducted a preliminary toxicological screening and reported the
results to the coroner‟s investigator. He prepared no formal report, due in part to
the circumstance that there was very little testable material available for further
coronary artery disease, which itself could have made her succumb more readily to
blunt force trauma injuries associated with a physically violent attack.
Joey‟s body was in a more advanced state of decomposition due to its
smaller size. Joey had several obvious injuries to the front upper part of his body.
An abraded contusion was found on his chin; this injury could have been caused
by a glancing blow or a fall onto a blunt surface. He also had a large patch of
skin, measuring five inches by three inches, missing at the juncture of the base of
his neck and his chest, exposing his breastbone, the ends of the adjoining collar
bones, and his carotid arteries and trachea. This wound area, too, evidenced
considerable maggot infestation, with the advanced state of decomposition
obscuring the nature or source of the injury inflicted before death.
Dr. Walker found two bruises under Joey‟s scalp at the back of his skull,
and another bruise in the deep tissue on the left side of his neck. The pressure
from a thumb, fingers, or a blow could have caused these bruises, consistent with
someone‟s restraining or holding the victim down against the bed, possibly to
smother him. As with Shirley, there was no evidence of defensive injuries
observed on Joey‟s hands or fingernails, nor any conclusive evidence of fatal stab
Dr. Walker concluded both deaths were homicides, but because he could
not determine the exact cause of either death, he certified them as “homicidal
violence of [an] undetermined nature.” Given the state of decomposition, Dr.
Walker estimated the deaths could have occurred from two to ten days prior to
discovery of the bodies.
e. Defendant’s arrest and interrogation
Sometime after the bodies were discovered, Billie spoke with James Doty
and learned Shirley and Joey were dead. After hearing the news, she, defendant,
her son Eric Roesler, and his girlfriend Sylvia sat down and tried to figure out
where defendant and Billie had been when the deaths could have occurred.
Roesler testified that during this conversation, defendant expressed concern that
the murder investigation might focus on him given his status as an ex-felon.
A few days later, defendant and Billie used $1,800 of their $3,000 to
purchase a van in Las Vegas, and also purchased a small trailer. Shortly
thereafter, Roesler and his girlfriend split up, and Roesler began living with Billie
and defendant in the van. Roesler testified he did not contribute any money
toward the purchase of the van or trailer.
By this time Detective Wahl had learned from the ongoing investigation
that the McWhorters and Jordans had been close friends and adjacent neighbors;
that defendant and Billie had vacated unit B shortly before the murders; that
defendant owed Jordan $1,500, as evidenced by the signed loan note found at the
crime scene; and that defendant gave Billie $3,000 on the afternoon of September
11, 1995. Detective Wahl arranged to speak with defendant and Billie on
September 25. The McWhorters returned to Bakersfield and the conversation took
place at the Dotys‟ residence in nearby Tehachapi.
Defendant told Detective Wahl he and Billie moved out of unit B, which
was adjacent to the Jordans‟ apartment, on September 4, 1995. He claimed the
last time he saw Shirley and Joey was on the day before he and Billie moved out.
Detective Wahl asked defendant whether he was aware Shirley kept a large
amount of cash in her apartment. Defendant acknowledged being aware of that
fact, adding that Joey had remarked that his mother had a lot of money. Billie told
Detective Wahl they had borrowed $1,500 from Shirley. Defendant
acknowledged the signed note for the loan would be in Shirley‟s possession.
On October 3, 1995, Detective Wahl and Sergeant Johnson traveled to Las
Vegas to again speak with defendant. Defendant, Billie, and Roesler were
contacted in the parking lot of Sam‟s Casino, where they were living in the newly
purchased van. During the conversation, defendant told Detective Wahl, in
Billie‟s and Roesler‟s presence, that the three of them had pooled their money to
buy the van. Defendant said they paid $1,800 for the van and did not borrow any
money to purchase it. At no time during the conversations in Tehachapi or Las
Vegas did defendant state he had been in the Oildale/Bakersfield area on
September 11, or that he had borrowed additional money from Shirley Jordan on
f. The first taped statement/confession
The following day, October 4, 1995, defendant was arrested for murder and
taken to a Las Vegas police station, where he waived his Miranda rights (Miranda
v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436) and agreed to give a tape-recorded statement to
Detective Wahl and Sergeant Johnson.
Defendant again stated he and Billie moved from Wilson Avenue on
September 4, 1995. Billie stayed behind in Tehachapi at her daughter Brenda
Doty‟s home, while defendant drove to Las Vegas to look for landscaping work.
His truck broke down en route and he hitchhiked the rest of the way to Las Vegas,
where he stayed with Billie‟s son Eric for four or five nights. He hitchhiked back
to Tehachapi the following Sunday. Self and Amos picked up Billie and
defendant the next morning, Monday, September 11, and they returned to the
Self/Amos residence in Oildale. Defendant stated he left the residence alone
around noon, walked around the neighborhood looking for a truck to purchase, and
returned at 2:00 p.m., after which he and Billie left on the 7:00 p.m. bus for Las
Defendant stated they bought the van on Wednesday, September 13, for
$1,800 in cash, and began living in it. The money used to purchase the van came
from his hitting several casino jackpots and finding $200 in the casino bathroom,
plus $900 that Eric put in as a “50/50” partner in defendant‟s new landscaping
Defendant again stated the last time he saw the Jordans was the morning
before he and Billie moved out of Unit B. He denied returning to the Jordans‟
apartment on Monday, September 11. He denied he and Billie were in need of
money, claiming they had $1,600 to $1,800 in cash when they moved out. The
detectives had learned defendant and Billie had not paid their September rent upon
Defendant was confronted with the fact he had lied by failing to relate that
he returned to the Self/Amos residence on Monday, September 11, with $3,000
which he gave to Billie, falsely telling her and the others that he had borrowed it
from his mother. Detective Wahl and Sergeant Johnson told defendant they
believed he killed Shirley and Joey Jordan because he was broke and needed
money. At first defendant denied it. Upon further questioning, he admitted he
lied about borrowing the $3,000 from his mother, but did not explain from where
he obtained the money. He acknowledged knowing Shirley kept a lot of cash in
her residence, and volunteered his opinion that she was extremely frugal.
As the questioning continued, defendant ultimately admitted to killing
Shirley and Joey.5 He stated he went to see Shirley on September 11, that they sat
and talked for awhile, and that at some point he pulled out the knife Roesler had
given him and demanded money from her. He stated they struggled and he first
stabbed her, and then stabbed Joey. He washed the blood off the knife, returned to
the Self/Amos residence, and gave the knife to Bob Amos.
Facts from the interrogation relevant to defendant‟s claim that his
confession to the murders was coerced, and that he made it up solely to obtain
lenient treatment for his wife Billie, is discussed in greater detail in connection
with that claim.
As the interview continued, defendant provided additional details. He
explained that Shirley had invited him in through the back door and he was
surprised to see Joey home from school. He told Shirley he and Billie were
“having it pretty rough” and needed to borrow some more money. Shirley
responded by stating, “You guys are draining me.” She went into the kitchen and
when she returned, defendant stood up, pulled out the knife Eric had lent him, told
her he was desperate, and demanded all the money in the house. He grabbed her,
stating, “Shirley, I don‟t want to hurt you. Now just tell me where the money is.”
She did not comply; they started wrestling on the floor, at which point he
“whacked” her a couple of times. He then “lost it” as Joey came running out. He
grabbed Joey, they all fell to the floor, and he stabbed Shirley in the chest. He
then decided he had to kill Joey to prevent him from being a witness to the crime.
Defendant claimed he stabbed both victims in the living room and left their bodies
in that room.
Defendant then entered the bedroom and found the money in a dresser
drawer. He washed the blood off his hands and knife in the kitchen sink, left
through the back door, and returned to the Self/Amos residence, where he gave
Billie the money and Amos the knife. He showered and changed his clothes, then
he and Billie took a bus to Las Vegas that same evening.
When confronted with the fact that the bodies were found in the bedroom
and not the living room, defendant insisted he killed both victims in the living
room, then sat watching them for a long time after they were dead.
Finally, defendant admitted he lied when he said he and Billie had $1,800
at the time they moved out, and lied about Eric going in “50/50” with him on the
van. He also admitted he was broke when he killed Shirley and Joey.
g. The second taped statement/recantation
On October 12, 1995, eight days after defendant confessed to the murders,
Kern County Sheriff‟s Detective John Soliz went to Las Vegas to reinterview
defendant at the request of the district attorney who charged the case. Detective
Soliz had had no prior contacts with defendant. During this second interview,
defendant recanted much of his earlier statement, now claiming he did not know
how the Jordans were killed, and asserting he made up the version of events he
told the detectives one week earlier “to keep my wife from going to jail.”6
Defendant now claimed, “I was scared to death to even talk to them other
officers[s] and then when they got me up here that night badgering me, I just made
up that story.”
Defendant now claimed that after leaving the Self/Amos residence on
Monday morning, September 11, after telling Billie he was going to meet his
mother to borrow money, he realized she would not lend him any money so he
decided to ask Shirley for a loan. He arrived at Shirley‟s apartment between 11:00
and 11:30 a.m. They had coffee, he told her his truck had broken down, and he
asked her for a $3,000 loan. She entered her bedroom, closed the door, and
returned with $3,000, which she gave to him, stating she had an additional $4,300
in reserve at that time. No such sum of money was found in the apartment after
the murders. Defendant explained he did not tell Detective Wahl and Sergeant
Johnson about this loan because he was scared: “I mean just, I don‟t know why.
I‟m an ex-con, scared to death. I mean a murder was committed.” After Shirley
lent him the money they talked some more and Joey took defendant‟s picture with
a disposable camera. He left the Jordans‟ apartment at 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. The
Defendant does not claim the second taped interview was itself coercive,
and concedes he properly waived his Miranda rights prior to furnishing the second
reason he lied to Billie about where he had obtained the $3,000 was because she
was a jealous woman and he did not want her to think he and Shirley were having
an affair. At the conclusion of the interview defendant again insisted he did not
kill Shirley or Joey and did not know who did.
2. Defense Evidence
Angelica Herrera was a close friend of both Shirley and the McWhorters.
Herrera testified Shirley had in the past mentioned what a good friend defendant
was, how she liked having him around to fix things, and how well defendant got
along with Joey. Herrera also testified Billie was jealous toward defendant,
recounting that once Billie had gotten mad at Herrera for hugging defendant in what
Billie felt was an inappropriate manner.
Cynthia Durham had known Shirley for seven or eight years, from the time
the two were neighbors in another Wilson Avenue apartment complex — 1319
Wilson Avenue. Although claiming they had been best friends and had seen each
other every day, Durham was unaware Shirley had moved to 1016 Wilson Avenue
until months after she moved.
Durham testified Shirley came to her house on the morning of
September 11, which was Durham‟s son‟s birthday, and asked if Dunham and the
boys wanted to meet for pizza that evening. She testified Shirley then called her
between 4:00 and 4:30 p.m. that same afternoon, sounded nervous and scared,
cancelled the plans because something had come up, and hung up quickly before
Durham could learn what was going on. Durham claimed she tried to call Shirley
back, got the answering machine, and left a message. Durham
acknowledged talking to Detective Soliz shortly after she learned of the Jordans‟
death, but denied telling him that the pizza date she and Shirley had planned was in
Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist and private defense consultant in
this case, testified the most common cause of multiple deaths, where there is no other
obvious cause, is carbon monoxide poisoning. Based on his review of the
photographs of the crime scene and Dr. Walker‟s autopsy report, he believed both
deaths were the result of asphyxia caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. He also
believed the bodies were only in the “beginning” stages of decomposition,
estimating the deaths had occurred three to five days prior to their discovery.
Dr. Baden also concluded the many bruises Dr. Walker identified on Shirley‟s
body were not sustained while she was alive, but rather were “postmortem
Defendant‟s wife Billie (who had cooperated with and testified for the
prosecution) was called by the defense to testify that when they moved out of
unit B, defendant moved a washing machine into the storage shed adjacent to the
Jordans‟ Unit A. She recalled defendant “bumped” a gas valve connected to the
adjoining water heater, which caused a momentary gas leak until he could shut the
valve and tighten it, “and then it was okay.”
David Faulkner, a forensic entomologist with the San Diego Natural
History Museum, testified about the use of insects to determine time of death in
homicide cases. Approximately two years after the murders, Faulkner viewed
photographs of the crime scene and examined Shirley‟s clothes, on which he found
crushed insect remains. Using these insect remains, which he assumed had been
No message from Durham was found on the Jordans‟ answering machine
after the murders. Detective Soliz testified on rebuttal that he spoke with Durham
two days after discovery of the bodies, at which time she told him the last time she
talked to Shirley was “last month,” meaning August, when they discussed meeting
with their boys for pizza.
crushed at the time Shirley‟s body was removed from the scene, and ambient
temperature data gleaned from weather reports for the relevant time period,
Faulkner estimated the victims‟ deaths occurred four to five days before the bodies
were discovered on September 18.
Rod Englert, a retired law enforcement officer and private forensic
consultant, testified for the defense regarding the blood spatter evidence at the
crime scene. After reviewing the police and autopsy reports and photographs of
the scene, Englert concluded the evidence of each of the distinct blood spatter events
in the bedroom, except for one, was inconsistent with “cast off” spatter caused by
blunt trauma, and consistent with spatter caused by “expectorated” (i.e., coughed
up) blood. Englert could not, however, explain the several drops of blood found
on a wall near a fan that had been knocked over in the bedroom, which clearly was
“cast off” spatter.
Englert believed the blood-stained wadded-up paper towel found in the
living room had a “nasal blowing pattern” indicating it had been used by someone
with blood coming from his or her nose. Ultimately, it was Englert‟s opinion that
Shirley “was coming out of the bathroom on her hands and knees when she turned
and coughed that blood against the dresser, and proceeded forward and either
coughed it to the right or to the left, moving about.”
3. Prosecution Rebuttal Evidence
Dr. Robert Hall, a professor of entomology from the University of Missouri
and an expert in the field of forensic entomology, reviewed the materials in the
case and defense witness Faulkner‟s conclusions about estimating the time of
death through examination of the dead insect remains. Dr. Hall testified that the
fact the crushed insect specimens were not properly collected or preserved injected
uncertainty into any estimation of how long the insects had lived, and that any
conclusion as to when the insects died was pure speculation. He also testified there
was no way to discern how long it took the insects to find and reach the bodies inside
the residence, and that Faulkner‟s assumption that they had accessed the body
within an hour was sheer speculation. Dr. Hall concluded that “the entomological
evidence in this case cannot rule out a seven-day time frame.”8
Criminalist Laskowski was also recalled and testified the blood stains on the
paper towels found in the living room were clearly transfer stains and did not come
from someone blowing his or her nose and expectorating blood into the towels.
B. Penalty Phase
1. Prosecution Evidence
Evidence was introduced that defendant had previously suffered felony
convictions of grand theft person in 1977, forgery and felon in possession of a
weapon in 1984, and robbery in 1985. Additionally, defendant was committed to
the California Youth Authority for a term of 11 months for burglary when he was
15 years old.
One of the victims of the 1985 robbery, Terry Wendt, testified about
defendant‟s conduct in perpetrating that crime. On January 18, 1984, Wendt was
working as a bartender in Redding, California. His girlfriend was also present in
the bar that evening. Defendant entered the bar, produced a gun, ordered them into
the bathroom, at one point cocked the gun while pointing it at Wendt, kicked Wendt
in the groin, and then stole money and other items from the bar before fleeing.
Walter Newport, a former police officer for the City of Bakersfield,
testified about events underlying defendant‟s conviction of grand theft person
from Alvin Tepel in January 1977. Newport testified that Tepel suffered lacerations
The defense then presented a surrebuttal witness, Dr. Neal Haskell, a
“private international forensic entomology consultant,” who agreed with defense
expert Faulkner that, based on the dead insect remains, the victims had died
approximately four to five days prior to discovery of the bodies.
on his head, two black eyes, a bloody mouth, and a missing front tooth; the interior
of Tepel‟s residence was found covered with blood stains; and Tepel had to be
transported to the hospital as a result of the incident.
2. Defense Evidence
Defendant‟s mother, Mary Headrick, testified defendant was 50 years old at
the time of trial and he was one of two sons born during her marriage to Aulvis
McWhorter. Shortly after the children were born, the McWhorters split up and
Headrick married Frank Heath, with whom she had two more children.
Heath was an alcoholic and both physically and mentally abusive to
Headrick and her two sons from her first marriage. He would beat defendant and
his brother Troy and he beat her in front of them as well. She recounted one
incident in which Heath cut the heads off the family‟s pet chickens. Headrick
testified she called the police “[t]oo many times to remember” in connection with the
beatings. When defendant was in fifth grade, Headrick moved numerous times to
get away from Heath, but he would find out where they lived, “sweet talk” his way
back into their lives, and the cycle of drinking and violence would begin anew.
Headrick testified Heath would single out defendant for beatings, that defendant
would never cry, and that over time defendant seemed to become “a loner.”
Headrick and Heath separated when defendant was 12 or 13 years old.
Headrick testified defendant was a good-hearted child, was never disrespectful,
helped her with her other children, cleaned the kitchen, cooked, and ironed clothes.
Defendant‟s brother, Troy McWhorter, testified about his and defendant‟s
upbringing in the home of their stepfather, Frank Heath. Troy ultimately dropped
out of high school, joined the military and served in Vietnam, married, had two
children, and became an engineering supervisor for a railroad where he worked for
the next 30 years. At the time of trial he had been married for 31 years and had
been a reserve deputy for the Kern County Sheriff's Department for 21 years.
Troy testified Heath was an alcoholic who was intoxicated most of the
time, and described him as a mean man who was physically and mentally abusive.
Life with Heath was “horrendous.” Heath would single out defendant for beatings
because he looked like his father. When Heath beat the boys, he would pull them
by their hair and kick them like a football. Once, when defendant was three years
old, Heath forced him to eat chili peppers until he cried. Troy recalled calling the
police on Heath when he beat their mother. He recalled the occasion when Heath
killed the family‟s chickens and made him and defendant pluck them, and another
occasion when Heath killed their pet rabbit in front of them, nailed it to a wall, then
ate it for dinner.
Troy testified defendant got married when he was 18 and had subsequently
been divorced and remarried several more times. Defendant had three children
from his prior marriages, with whom he was not close. Troy was not aware that
defendant had been convicted of robbery in Shasta County or grand theft in Kern
Dr. William Pierce, a clinical psychologist, was hired by the defense to
develop a psychological and social profile of defendant. He interviewed
defendant, his mother, his brother, an ex-wife, and his friend Angelica
Herrera, reviewed materials relating to defendant‟s prior incarcerations, and
conducted a series of psychological tests. Dr. Pierce concluded defendant showed no
signs of organic brain damage or injury, was of average intelligence, was emotionally
constricted, and had difficulty when tasks became too complex or ambiguous. He
further believed defendant would adjust well to structured prison life.
William Reinhart, a former warden of Eagle Mountain Community
Correctional Facility, a private prison in Desert Center, California, reviewed
defendant‟s California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation files.
Reinhart felt defendant could adapt well to prison life and, if he were sentenced to
life without the possibility of parole, would likely be assigned to a “level 4” facility
with numerous restrictions placed on him.
A. Jury Selection Issues
1. Death Qualification of Jurors
Defendant contends he was denied his constitutional right to an impartial
jury when the trial court excused for cause two prospective jurors, Robert C. and
Margaret P., who expressed strong reservations about their ability to vote for the
death penalty. We find no error.
A trial court may discharge a juror whose views on the death penalty
“ „would prevent or substantially impair the performance of his duties as a juror in
accordance with his instructions and his oath.‟ ” (Wainwright v. Witt (1985) 469
U.S. 412, 424; People v. Rodrigues (1994) 8 Cal.4th 1060, 1146 (Rodrigues).) A
prospective juror can properly be excused for cause if he or she is unable to
conscientiously consider all of the sentencing alternatives, including the death
penalty where appropriate. (People v. Barnett (1998) 17 Cal.4th 1044, 1114;
Rodrigues, supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 1146.) There is no requirement that the
prospective juror‟s bias against the death penalty be proved with unmistakable
clarity. (Wainwright v. Witt, supra, 469 U.S. at p. 424.) Rather, the trial judge
need only determine that the prospective juror would be unable to faithfully and
impartially apply the law in the case before him or her. (Rodrigues, supra,
8 Cal.4th at p. 1147.)
Prospective Juror Robert C.
In responding to the jury questionnaire about his views on the death
penalty, Prospective Juror Robert C. indicated, “I‟m not sure what my feelings
[about the death penalty] are.” He checked a box indicating he “might be able to
vote to impose the death penalty in an appropriate case depending on the facts and
During sequestered Hovey voir dire (Hovey v. Superior Court (1980) 28
Cal.3d 1, 80), the trial court explained the process of weighing aggravating and
mitigating factors toward reaching a penalty determination. When asked if he was
a person who could go through such a process before making a decision about
imposing the death penalty, Robert C. opined that he was not. When asked if he
could vote to impose the death penalty if the aggravating circumstances
outweighed the mitigating circumstances, he responded, “I‟m not sure I could.”
When pressed further as to whether he could ever vote for death where
“appropriate,” he responded, “I don‟t know if I could come to that conclusion. I
don‟t know.” He further indicated his church was opposed to the death penalty
and that he would feel “uncomfortable” trying to set aside his faith in voting to
impose death. When asked by the court, “[C]an you write down on a piece of
paper, for example, death penalty is appropriate and say that in open court?” he
responded, “I don‟t know if I can.” When asked, “You can‟t make a commitment
as to whether or not you could do or you could say death is appropriate. Is that
just kind of the bottom line?” he responded affirmatively.
Prospective Juror Margaret P.
In responding to the jury questionnaire about her views on the death
penalty, Prospective Juror Margaret P. indicated she had “mixed feelings” about it
and that “jurors should not have the burden of deciding if another person lives or
dies.” She further indicated she had told her husband that she “never wanted to be
on a trial where a death penalty was determined by a jury.” She concluded by
writing, “Even if I agreed to a guilty verdict, I would find it very difficult to
impose the death penalty — it is a decision I would rather not make.”
During sequestered voir dire, Margaret P. reaffirmed her responses to the
death penalty questions in the jury questionnaire. She told the trial court she felt
“very strongly” that jurors should not have to make a decision involving the death
penalty; that she did not know if she could do it; and that she would rather have
the judge determine the appropriate sentence. When asked by the court if she
would follow the law regardless of her feelings, she responded, “I honestly don‟t
know.” When asked by the prosecutor if she could “as a personal decision that
you need to make” ever vote for the death penalty in an appropriate case, she
replied, “The way I feel about it, I could not make that decision.”
The high court has explained that even where a juror gives ambiguous or
conflicting answers to inquiries about his or her views on the death penalty, the
trial court is in the best position to evaluate those responses, and its determination
as to the juror‟s actual state of mind is binding on appeal. (Wainwright v. Witt,
supra, 469 U.S. at pp. 428-429; see People v. Phillips (2000) 22 Cal.4th 226, 234;
Rodrigues, supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 1147.) Any ambiguities in the record are to be
resolved in favor of the trial court‟s determinations, and the reviewing court
determines only whether the trial court‟s findings are fairly supported by the
record. (People v. Crittenden (1994) 9 Cal.4th 83, 122; People v. Howard (1988)
44 Cal.3d 375, 417-418.)
Manifestly, neither of these two prospective jurors was improperly excused
Defendant‟s further claim, that the standard California courts apply to this
issue is different from, and fails to comport with, that applied by the high court in
Gray v. Mississippi (1987) 481 U.S. 648 and Adams v. Texas (1980) 448 U.S. 38,
has previously been rejected by this court. (See People v. Schmeck (2005)
37 Cal.4th 240, 263.)
B. Guilt Phase Issues
1. Voluntariness of First Statement (Confession)
Defendant claims his confession was coerced and that the trial court erred by
finding only the latter portion of the taped statement involuntary and inadmissible.
Specifically, he claims Detective Wahl and Sergeant Johnson threatened to hold
his wife Billie in custody and charge her as an accessory to his crimes if he did not
confess; threatened to involve his mother by calling her as a witness in the case;
and lied to him when indicating they had a witness who had seen him near the
Jordans‟ apartment on the day in question. Defendant argues further that the trial
court did not properly consider the totality of circumstances in determining
voluntariness when it ruled only the second portion of his taped statement
involuntary and inadmissible.
1. Motion to exclude confession and recantation
Defendant filed a pretrial motion to exclude his confession (first statement,
October 4, 1995) and subsequent recantation (second statement, October 12, 1995)
on grounds they were coerced, involuntary, unreliable, and untrue. At the hearing
on the motion the parties stipulated he had validly waived his Miranda rights
before each interview.
Sergeant Johnson testified for the prosecution at the hearing on the motion.
He recalled advising defendant he had a warrant for his arrest for murder and
transporting him to a Las Vegas police station. He also advised Billie McWhorter
and Eric Roesler of defendant‟s arrest, telling them he wanted to talk with them
about any additional knowledge they might have regarding the murders. Sergeant
Johnson testified Billie voluntarily agreed to be interviewed and was transported to a
Las Vegas police station for that purpose.10
Sergeant Johnson testified that at the time he believed Billie was very
possibly a coconspirator in defendant‟s crimes. The detective had learned from
other relatives that defendant told them he received $3,000 from his mother when he
was in Bakersfield, had given the money to Billie, and had then used the money to
buy a van and a trailer. Johnson testified that in speaking with defendant the
evening before his arrest, defendant, in Billie‟s presence, had stated that he, Billie,
and Roesler had pooled their money to buy the van upon arriving in Las Vegas.
Defendant said nothing about borrowing money from his mother. The fact that Billie
at times may have had possession of the stolen money, and the fact that she did not
correct defendant when he made the false statement to the detectives about the alleged
source of the money used to buy the van, led Sergeant Johnson to suspect Billie
herself may have been implicated in some way in the criminal episode.
In support of the motion, the defense called Dr. Stephen Estner, a forensic
psychiatrist. In preparation for his testimony at the hearing, Dr. Estner had
reviewed the transcript and audiotape of defendant‟s statement and met with him for
several hours to discuss the circumstances of his confession. Dr. Estner found
defendant did not suffer from any mental abnormalities but “has a very big soft
spot regarding Billie.”
Dr. Estner reviewed portions of defendant‟s first taped statement, identifying
the areas where he believed Detective Wahl and Sergeant Johnson had made
comments intended to play into defendant‟s sensitivities concerning his family
members. He identified one instance where Sergeant Johnson told defendant he
Billie‟s trial testimony confirmed she was not arrested or taken into
custody; she voluntarily agreed to go to the police station to furnish a statement
and was told that afterwards she would be returned to the van.
had read in a newspaper that his brother, Troy McWhorter, whom Johnson knew,
had recently undergone triple bypass surgery. Dr. Estner found this significant
because defendant had sensitivities about his brother, given the extent to which
their lives had diverged — with defendant‟s having a history of run-ins with the
law while Troy had become a law enforcement officer.
Dr. Estner also identified instances in which he believed Sergeant Johnson
was playing on defendant‟s sensitivity to the possibility his mother would become
involved in the case. In one instance Sergeant Johnson told defendant he was
dragging his family into the investigation. In another he suggested defendant
himself had involved his mother as a potential witness by lying about meeting and
borrowing money from her on September 11. In another instance, Johnson
suggested to defendant that unless he confessed his mother would become a
witness and would have to “ride this roller coaster with you.” In another he told
defendant he had “sucked” his mother and Billie into the situation and was pulling
everyone down around him. Dr. Estner also noted an instance where defendant
told the officers he did not want his mother involved and Detective Wahl pointed
out that she was going to have to become involved unless he told them the truth.
Dr. Estner also pointed to exchanges concerning Billie‟s possible complicity
in the crimes. In one instance, Detective Wahl told defendant she was not
convinced Billie was not somehow involved in the crimes, and had not yet decided
if Billie was “going to go with you too.” In another, Sergeant Johnson suggested
Billie might be an accessory after the fact, which Estner believed was the point at
which defendant became consciously aware of the officers attempting to use Billie
to pressure him to confess. In another, Sergeant Johnson put further pressure on
defendant when he told him, “the ball‟s in your court.”
Finally, Dr. Estner identified Sergeant Johnson‟s comment to defendant at
page 86 of the transcript, “You have my word as a man to man that she [Billie]
goes if you give me enough details about the homicides that I can show . . . ,” as
the point at which defendant “gets the message” that he could save Billie by
making a detailed confession. Dr. Estner concluded defendant‟s will was
psychologically and emotionally overborne to the point where he believed he could
protect Billie and his other family members only by confessing.
2. Trial court’s ruling
The trial court found the first portion of the first taped statement, up to
Sergeant Johnson‟s comment about letting Billie go, which included defendant‟s
summary confession to having killed Shirley and Joey Jordan, to be neither coerced
nor involuntary. Specifically, the trial court disagreed with defendant‟s claim that
Detective Wahl or Sergeant Johnson had improperly used Billie as leverage to
coerce him into confessing to the murders during that first portion of the interview.
The court gave the following reasons for its conclusion:
“[T]he Court [is] of the opinion that the officer is accurately, Officer
Johnson is accurately telling the defendant that he will consider what information
he has which might relate to [Billie‟s] involvement in any of the events, particularly
those events after the killing, and it is quite clear that the scenario as, as presented to
the defendant and the theory outlined by Officer Johnson was . . . that Billie was in
possession of [a] large sum of money [a] short period of time after the killing and
was continuously with the defendant for [a] period of several days thereafter, during
which time, of course, that money was spent to buy a vehicle and a trailer. And that,
of course, that scenario as painted was [a] scenario [of] Billie being a person who
was benefitting from the large amount of money that had been possessed by the
defendant in a manner in which was apparently unexplained to the investigators and
unaccounted for to the investigators relative to Billie‟s possession thereof or
involvement in the spending thereof or her knowledge of that money being used and
spent for the van and trailer. Obviously, she was with Mr. McWhorter throughout
all of that process and was benefitting from the purchase of the van, driving in it,
residing in it, and so, of course, quite clearly the question is whether she was a
person who knowingly was in possession of stolen property or property that had
been purchased and is now possessed resulting from [a] large amount of cash that,
obviously, inferentially she should [have] known or could [have] known or actually
did know was the result of illegal activities of Mr. McWhorter. And if to what
extent she knew that or had knowledge of that, what was that knowledge as to the
means or the way in which he came in possession of that large sum of money, in
excess of some $3,000.”
In contrast, the court found the second portion of the statement, everything
following Sergeant Johnson‟s comment to defendant about letting Billie go, to have
been induced by a clearly expressed promise of benefit to Billie and therefore
inadmissible. The court gave the following reasons for that conclusion:
“Now at the top of page 86, however, the nature of the colloquy changes,
and the defendant, Mr. McWhorter, specifically asks a very direct question, „I‟ve
got your word she‟s gone, she gets to go?‟ And both of the officers specifically and
directly answer, yes. Now up and until that time the Court‟s of the considered
opinion, although certainly the evidence is . . . very, spread over, of course,
approximately 40 pages, the Court is of the opinion up and until that time there
was no promise of benefit that induced the statement or any statements
theretofore made or implied promise of benefit, the officers appropriately
interchanged with the defendant and discussed with the defendant what . . .
information that he might provide might be probative of or helpful of. [¶]
Nevertheless, at this point they specifically give him the promise that she would be
released if he continued to give additional statements thereafter. [¶] And the
Court‟s of the opinion that there was a promise of benefit made at that point and
that the promise of benefit was so clear and specific that statements made by
the defendant thereafter are involuntarily obtained, and therefore, statements
made after, after that exchange as reflected at page 86 of the transcript lines one and
two are inadmissible because of . . . their being involuntarily obtained.”11
Defendant‟s trial counsel thereafter informed the court that in light of its ruling
the defense was electing to introduce the entirety of the first taped statement to the
jury, including the second portion that the court had ruled involuntary and
inadmissible, to give the jury “a full flavor of what transpired” during the interview.
Counsel explained this decision as a tactical one, intended to show the jury that
defendant‟s confession was not reliable because the details he gave about the crime
scene and manner of death were at odds with the facts of the case. The court
determined the decision was a matter of trial tactics and confirmed for the record
that defendant understood and consented to it.12
Accordingly, defendant‟s claim is that the first portion of the statement, up
to Sergeant Johnson‟s comment about letting Billie go and including his initial
summary confession, should have also been found coerced and involuntary, and
b. Applicable law
The law governing voluntariness of confessions is settled. “In reviewing
the voluntary character of incriminating statements, „ “[t]his court must examine
the uncontradicted facts surrounding the making of the statements to determine
independently whether the prosecution met its burden and proved that the
The court also found the second taped statement (recantation) sufficiently
attenuated from the first and thus voluntary and admissible.
The court also gave a limiting instruction, requested by the defense, that
told the jury they could consider the second portion of the statement (after
Sergeant Johnson‟s comment on page 86) only “for the limited purpose of
showing, if it does, that the assertions made by Mr. McWhorter in part I of the
conversations were false or untrustworthy.”
statements were voluntarily given without previous inducement, intimidation or
threat. [Citations.] With respect to the conflicting testimony, the court must
„accept that version of events which is most favorable to the People, to the extent
that it is supported by the record.‟ ” ([People v. Hogan (1982) 31 Cal.3d 815,]
835.)‟ (People v. Thompson (1990) 50 Cal.3d 134, 166.) „In order to introduce a
defendant‟s statement into evidence, the People must prove by a preponderance of
the evidence that the statement was voluntary. [Citation.] . . . When, as here, the
interview was tape-recorded, the facts surrounding the giving of the statement are
undisputed, and the appellate court may independently review the trial court‟s
determination of voluntariness.‟ (People v. Vasila (1995) 38 Cal.App.4th 865,
873.)” (People v. Maury (2003) 30 Cal.4th 342, 404 (Maury).)
“A statement is involuntary if it is not the product of „ “a rational intellect
and free will.” ‟ (Mincey v. Arizona (1978) 437 U.S. 385, 398.) The test for
determining whether a confession is voluntary is whether the defendant‟s „will
was overborne at the time he confessed.‟ (Lynumn v. Illinois (1963) 372 U.S. 528,
534.) „ “The question posed by the due process clause in cases of claimed
psychological coercion is whether the influences brought to bear upon the accused
were „such as to overbear petitioner‟s will to resist and bring about confessions not
freely self-determined.‟ [Citation.]” [Citation.] In determining whether or not an
accused‟s will was overborne, “an examination must be made of „all the
surrounding circumstances — both the characteristics of the accused and the
details of the interrogation.‟ [Citation.]” [Citation.]‟ (People v. Thompson, supra,
50 Cal.3d at p. 166.)” (Maury, supra, 30 Cal.4th at p. 404.)
“A finding of coercive police activity is a prerequisite to a finding that a
confession was involuntary under the federal and state Constitutions. (People v.
Benson (1990) 52 Cal.3d 754, 778, citing Colorado v. Connelly [(1986)] 479 U.S.
[157,] 167.) A confession may be found involuntary if extracted by threats or
violence, obtained by direct or implied promises, or secured by the exertion of
improper influence. (Benson, supra, at p. 778.) Although coercive police activity
is a necessary predicate to establish an involuntary confession, it „does not itself
compel a finding that a resulting confession is involuntary.‟ (People v. Bradford
(1997) 14 Cal.4th 1005, 1041.) The statement and the inducement must be
causally linked. (Benson, supra, at pp. 778-779.)” (Maury, supra, 30 Cal.4th at
Defendant first argues the trial court‟s ruling itself reflects it did not
properly consider the totality of circumstances because it found only the second
portion of the first statement to be coerced, involuntary and inadmissible. He
contends that instead of examining the totality of circumstances surrounding the
confession, the trial court “scoured the record” to find a promise of benefit, which
it believed was a prerequisite for finding the statement coerced. Defendant
concludes that the court, in so doing, “narrowed the test for voluntariness and
committed reversible error.”
The record belies the claim. In ruling on the motion, the trial court
indicated it had carefully reviewed the transcript of the first statement as well as
listened to the audiotape. The court‟s detailed explanation of its ruling on the
motion alone spans nearly 20 pages of the reporter‟s transcript. In the course of
that ruling, the court stated for the record its understanding that “the statement and
the colloquy between an officer and a defendant and the interactions and what is
said respectively and the way the statement develops is, of course, to be taken in its
entirety and not to be taken in isolated segments, but is to be viewed contextually
and to be viewed as a whole and not in snippets or parts, but should be viewed in its
entirety, and that, of course, is what the Court has done.” Our own independent
review of the record confirms that the court exhaustively considered every aspect
of defendant‟s claim that the officers, through their questioning and references to
defendant‟s family members, unduly coerced him into confessing to the murders.
The fact that the trial court ultimately focused on Sergeant Johnson‟s
unequivocal “promise of benefit” to let Billie go if defendant furnished enough
details about the homicides, and the court‟s determination to exclude as
involuntary only that portion of the statement following Sergeant Johnson‟s
remark, does not itself establish that the court failed to consider the totality of
circumstances in reaching its ruling. Defendant would seemingly have us
conclude that faithful adherence to the totality of circumstances test requires that
the entirety of any taped interrogation giving rise to an incriminating statement
later challenged on voluntariness grounds must be found either wholly admissible
or wholly excludable, but he cites no precedent in support of that inflexible
proposition. As will be shown, our own independent review of the totality of
circumstances surrounding the first interview convinces us that, up to the point
where Sergeant Johnson made the comment about letting Billie go, all of
defendant‟s statement, including his initial summary confession to having killed
the victims, was established to have been freely and voluntarily given.
Defendant claims the detectives “threatened” to call his mother as a witness
in the case unless he confessed. The matter arose when Sergeant Johnson told
defendant the police knew he was lying when he claimed he met his mother and
borrowed $3,000 from her in Bakersfield on September 11. Defendant responded
that he did not want his mother involved. Sergeant Johnson at one point
commented to defendant, “Like I say, you know. Yes, we‟re gonna talk to your
mom. Because, because you, you pulled her in this. I didn‟t pull her in this. You
said that when you left Rose‟s house — you said that you went down to meet your
mom. Your mom gave you some money, lent you some money. . . . And you
wanted me a while ago not to involve your mom. Now if you stick with that story
and you don‟t tell me why you did it, yeah, your mom‟s gonna be on the stand.
Because you pulled her in it. I didn‟t. I didn't make up your mom‟s, uh, name. I
didn‟t make up your mom‟s story. So if you want her to ride this roller coaster with
you because all of a sudden you‟re afraid of, of —”
With regard to the comments about defendant‟s mother, we do not read
Sergeant Johnson‟s remarks as “threatening” to involve her as a witness in the
case unless defendant confessed. Rather, the officers, in essence, were telling
defendant that by lying about having borrowed the money from his mother, he
himself was involving her in the case as a potential witness, which was an accurate
observation. As the trial court observed in its lengthy ruling, “by virtue of
[defendant‟s] representations . . . the mother was quite anticipatorily a witness who
could be a witness who would be available, necessary to impeach that particular
information or contradict that information. And of course, there‟s nothing that
the Court can determine from that statement that is anything other than
representation that that‟s not true and the mother is in a position to provide
testimony that plans to meet the fact that — or any assertion that he received
money from her was untrue. [¶] So the officers from time to time quite
appropriately state as fact that because of comments he‟s made, representations of
fact that Mr. McWhorter has made, as a result thereof he is bringing others into the
picture, including his mother. And certainly they challenge him to . . . change that
information or admit that it‟s inaccurate information. And there‟s nothing that the
Court can determine that by virtue of those challenges and those statements that
someone such as his mom could very well be a witness if that were the continuing
presentation of fact by the defendant, certainly is not a threat or an aspect of coercion
that the Court finds or feels or determines is of such a nature that it reaches the legal
standard of a threat such that it would make the statement obtained at any point
Defendant next claims the officers‟ comments about his brother, Troy
McWhorter, were also improperly coercive. Again we must disagree. In directing
the course of the casual conversation about defendant‟s brother, Sergeant Johnson
was able to probe and learn more facts about whether defendant was being truthful
in claiming his mother had lent him the money on September 11. For example,
the officer asked defendant how Troy and his mother were doing, and then asked,
“When‟s the last time you talked to her or seen her? Or Troy too?” Detective
Wahl then asked defendant if Troy lived in Bakersfield, and when defendant
answered yes, the detective followed up by asking, “And your mom lives in
Bakersfield?” The officers thereby learned from defendant‟s next response that
his mother lived in Tulare, not Bakersfield.
Defendant next suggests the officers lied to him by telling him someone
had seen him near the Jordans‟ apartment on September 11 in order to coerce his
confession. The record does not establish this was a lie. It is true that by the time
of trial, two years after defendant furnished his statements, no such percipient
witness was called to testify, but the reasons for that could be many. Defendant
himself stated in his subsequent recantation to Detective Soliz eight days later that a
pregnant young woman who lived across the way from the Jordans saw him leave
their residence on September 11. Moreover, the defense had an opportunity to ask
Sergeant Johnson who this witness was when he testified at the hearing on the
motion to suppress the confession, but failed to do so. In any event, it is settled
that deception alone does not necessarily invalidate a confession. (People v.
Thompson, supra, 50 Cal.3d at p. 167.)
Finally, defendant points to those instances he deems “threats to involve
[his] wife criminally,” citing to portions of the first part of the statement where the
detectives refer to Billie‟s possible involvement as an accessory after the fact.
As the trial court observed, defendant himself was the first one to bring up
Billie when he stated, “You know, my wife‟s in another room [at the police station]
scared to death I imagine.” In response, Detective Wahl told defendant, “No, she‟s,
she‟s fine. I, I talked to her. And she‟s fine. I mean, she‟s not happy about it but
she‟s, she‟s fine.”
Thereafter, defendant was confronted with the numerous lies he had been
telling, including his lie to Billie that the $3,000 he gave her on September 11 had
come from his mother. Sergeant Johnson told defendant they had given him the
opportunity to tell the truth and he had not. The officers told him they believed he
had killed Shirley and Joey because he was broke and needed money. Sergeant
Johnson commented, “You said you wanted your family out of it. You wanted to
save the — a few people a little heartache. Well, you‟re not, . . . you‟re dragging
everybody within your family into this thing.” Defendant continued to deny killing
the Jordans, and Sergeant Johnson replied that he could prove it. At this point,
Detective Wahl stated, “Well, I‟ve — you know, another thing that bothers me, too,
is, uh, I‟m not convinced that Billie wasn‟t involved.” Defendant replied, “Billie
wasn‟t involved in anything „cause nothing happened,” to which Detective
Wahl responded, “And, uh, you know, I — I haven‟t really decided yet if Billie‟s
going to go with you too.”
The questioning continued. Defendant stated to the officers, “Okay . . . let
me tell you this. If, if you‟ve got all this so-called evidence and witnesses, and you
know I was gone for a couple of hours from [the Self/Amos residence], and you
know for a fact Billie was there, then you know . . . good and well I‟m not saying I
did anything, and I didn‟t, but you know damned good and well she didn‟t, and
couldn‟t have, and wasn‟t with me anywhere. So how can you sit there and say
you‟re not sure.” When defendant next stated, “[S]he doesn‟t have any
knowledge,” Sergeant Johnson replied, “Who took the money? Who took the
blood money? Who‟s living in the van?” Detective Wahl added, “Mm-hmm.
And who, who was lying about where they got the money yesterday and didn‟t say
anything?” Defendant responded, “What‟s she supposed to do, jump up and call
me a liar?”
Defendant again repeated that Billie was “scared to death” and asked the
officers to “please let her go.” At this point, defendant admitted he had lied when
he said he borrowed money from his mother, and attempted to convince the officers
Billie was not an accessory after the fact. Sergeant Johnson and Detective Wahl
responded that they did not think Billie was involved in the actual murders, but
again explained why she could be found an accessory after the fact given that she
received the money, was living in the van purchased with the money, and had
remained silent in the face of defendant‟s lies to the officers the previous evening
about the source of the money used to buy the van.
Sergeant Johnson next told defendant, “The ball‟s in your court. You call the
shots on, on what‟s gonna happen tonight . . . with Billie.” Defendant responded,
“I don‟t see why you can even think about arrestin‟ my wife for anything.” Sergeant
Johnson replied, “Because you‟re not bein‟ truthful.” Defendant asked, “Because
you want me to admit to murder?” Sergeant Johnson replied, “Cause I‟m, I‟m, no,
I want you to tell me the truth. I‟m gonna to [sic] charge you with murder. And I‟m
gonna convict you of murder.”
Defendant next commented to Sergeant Johnson, “[F]or a nice guy to try to
bulldog me into telling you something to, to get that little girl in trouble, that‟s pretty
goddamn cold,” to which Johnson replied, “You know, I‟m not doing that. You‟re
the one doing that.” When defendant disagreed, the officer added, “because you‟re
not being truthful.” The exchange on the matter of whether Billie could be deemed
an accessory after the fact continued, with Sergeant Johnson finally commenting,
“[Y]ou may think I‟m trying to pressure you by holding Billie over your head. I‟m
just being realistic. That‟s all, I‟m being realistic.” Defendant responded, “Well it
sounds to me like you want me to admit to, admit to it so you‟ll let her go.”
Johnson replied, “No, you know what, you know what I want you to do? I want
you to tell me the truth. And so far you haven‟t been telling me the truth. You‟ve
lied to me all this time here then all of a sudden at the end you say, you know what,
she didn‟t know anything about that. Why should I believe that?” Defendant
replied, “Because it‟s the truth.”
Detective Wahl told defendant to consider that they already had enough
evidence to get a warrant for his arrest for the murders. When Sergeant Johnson
then asked, “And where‟d you get the money when you left the house?,” defendant
responded, “Well I think that‟s gonna be between me and my lawyer but I damn
sure, I damn sure didn‟t murder for it.” The exchange continued. Defendant again
stated, “[I]t‟s not fair that you‟re holding my wife over my head.” Sergeant Johnson
replied, “You know what, oh, I didn‟t put her up there. You did.” Defendant
disagreed, telling the officer, “You stood there and told me if I don‟t tell you that I
did this, that you‟re gonna hold her as an accessory.” Sergeant Johnson
responded, “And I told you, I told you that I wouldn‟t accept that unless you told
me details. Did not, did I not? I‟m not looking for you just to say okay I did it, let
her go. I won‟t accept that. I will not accept that. And again, do not shift the
blame on other people for something that you‟ve done. I‟m not over here because
I‟m a bad guy. I‟m not over here because of me. I‟m over here because of you.
Billie‟s down here because of you. Eric‟s down here because of you. So don‟t try to
At this point in the interrogation defendant admitted he had gone to the
Jordan residence on September 11, claiming he and Shirley sat and talked for a
while. He then stated that at some point he pulled out the knife Roesler had lent
him and demanded money from Shirley. They struggled and he stabbed her, and
then stabbed Joey. He admitted he “cleaned the knife up,” returned to the
Self/Amos residence, and gave the knife to Bob Amos.
After telling the officers he had killed the victims, defendant stated, “Now
will you let my wife go please.” Sergeant Jordan explained he would still have to
talk to Billie, but then said “if what you‟re telling me is true” he would let Billie
(and Roesler) go. The Sergeant then indicated he wanted defendant to “go back
over this in a little bit more detail,” to which defendant replied, “What do you
want from me. I just want my wife out of here.” Sergeant Johnson stated, “You
haven‟t been able to share this with anybody and now is the time you can share it
with me. And yes it‟s going to, it‟s going to benefit your wife. Because if you tell
me (unintelligible).” Defendant asked, “I got your word she‟s gone, she gets to
go?” Both Sergeant Johnson and Detective Wahl answered, “Yes.” Defendant
asked again, “[D]o I have your word?” Sergeant Johnson then made the comment
on which the trial court based its determination to exclude the remainder of the
statement as involuntary. He responded, “You have my word as a man to man that
she goes if you give me enough detail about the homicides that I can show . . . .”
Defendant commented, “[The] details of what, I just told you what I did,” to which
Sergeant Johnson replied, “I know, I know. But I said I need specifics . . . .” The
questioning continued, with defendant going over the events surrounding the
murders and providing additional details.
Defendant argues these facts are analogous to those in People v. Trout
(1960) 54 Cal.2d 576 (Trout), overruled on another ground in People v. Cahill
(1993) 5 Cal.4th 478, 510, footnote 17, in which the defendant‟s confession was
found coerced and inadmissible. We disagree.
In Trout, the defendant was suspected of complicity in the kidnapping and
armed robbery of an Oakland grocer and his wife. No woman was thought to be
involved when the incident came to the attention of the police. Eight armed officers
entered the Trouts‟ residence late at night through an unlocked door with guns
drawn. The Trouts‟ three young children were asleep in the bedrooms. The
defendant and Mrs. Trout were separated and questioned, with Mrs. Trout saying
she had been at church on the evening of the robbery. Sometime after midnight, the
Trouts were taken in different automobiles to the Oakland police station. Mrs. Trout
gave a written statement to the police at 3:00 a.m. The defendant was taken to a
cell that had no sleeping facilities. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. the next morning he
was interrogated four times, with Mrs. Trout present on two or three of the
occasions as he was being questioned. Twice between interrogation periods Mrs.
Trout was sent in to talk to the defendant. At 3:30 that afternoon, the defendant, in
the presence of his wife, made an oral confession. Immediately following the
confession, Mrs. Trout was released from custody. (Trout, supra, 54 Cal.2d at
The defendant in Trout testified his confession was not true and that his
knowledge of the details of the crimes had been obtained from newspaper
accounts and from the police during the interrogation. The police led him to
believe his wife would be retained in custody until he confessed, and the only reason
he made the confession was to secure her release. While he was at home the
police told him that his wife could remain there if he would give them a statement,
and, when he answered that he could not confess because he did not know anything
about the crimes, one of the officers, whose name he did not know, asked him
what “manner of man” he was to allow her to go to jail when all he had to do was
confess. (Trout, supra, 54 Cal.2d at p. 580.) Shortly after he arrived at the police
station his wife was crying and tried to sit near him but was forbidden to do so.
The interrogating officer told him Mrs. Trout should be at home with the children,
that she could go home immediately if he confessed, and that all he had to do was
“ „come clean and confess, clear this thing up, and she could go home with the
children.‟ ” (Ibid.) The first time the interrogating officer sent Mrs. Trout to talk to
the defendant, she was crying and told him she had been informed she could go home
if he confessed. At the second visit she said she had been taken home for a short
while, that the baby cried for her when she left, and that she wanted to go home and
“ „just couldn‟t bear it.‟ ” (Ibid.)
According to the testimony of Mrs. Trout, the police told her when they
first arrived at her home that she would not be arrested if her husband would tell
them “what they wanted to know.” (Trout, supra, 54 Cal.2d at p. 581.) At the police
station, two officers told her they did not want her there, that she belonged at home
with the children, and that she could go home if her husband told them all he knew
about what happened. The interrogating officer also told her she would be released
if her husband confessed to the crime, and that “when she would be released”
depended entirely upon him. After she had been taken home for a brief visit and
had held her baby, she conveyed “ „that message‟ ” to the defendant. (Ibid.)
This court found the Trouts‟ version of events truthful and compelling, and
found the defendant‟s confession involuntary. (Trout, supra, 54 Cal.2d at pp. 583-
585.) The facts of Trout, however, are plainly distinguishable from those now before
us. Here, the investigating officers were not using the specter of hardship that would
be wrought upon defendant‟s innocent wife or children to encourage him to confess, as
was the case in Trout. Defendant knew Billie had not been taken into custody
against her will, as was the defendant‟s wife in Trout. He was with Billie when
she voluntarily agreed to go to the police station along with him to furnish her own
statement after she was told she would then be free to leave, whereas defendant
was being formally placed under arrest for the homicides regardless of the
outcome of his own interrogation. Mrs. Trout was not herself suspected of any
criminal activity in connection with the robbery-kidnapping under investigation,
whereas here, the officers had cause to suspect Billie‟s complicity in defendant‟s
crimes as an accessory after the fact. Billie was living in a van that the officers
suspected was purchased with stolen funds, and was likely aware defendant had
lied, to her as well as other family members, about where he had obtained the
$3000. In short, Billie was not brought in to visit with defendant for the purpose
of encouraging him to confess to the homicides, as was patently the case with
Trout‟s wife, who was uninvolved in the crimes for which he was under
investigation but who was nonetheless transported to the station house to talk with
her husband while their young children remained at home.
In contrast to Trout, we find two Court of Appeal decisions — People v.
Jackson (1971) 19 Cal.App.3d 95 (Jackson) and People v. Abbott (1958) 156
Cal.App.2d 161 (Abbott) — much closer on point with the facts of this case.
In Jackson, supra, 19 Cal.App.3d 95, the victim was killed during an
attempted burglary or robbery of his home where, according to information given
the defendant, he kept a valuable coin collection. Defendant admitted firing the
fatal shots when the victim resisted, but contended it was error to admit certain
incriminating statements he made to police officers, claiming they were coerced.
Defendant‟s wife had also been arrested in connection with the homicide at the
same time as defendant. Citing Trout, supra, 54 Cal.2d 576, the defendant argued
his confession was involuntarily obtained under an implied promise by the police
to release his wife in exchange for it. (Id. at p. 97.)
The record in Jackson showed that after the defendant and his wife were
arrested, they were taken to the police station and placed in separate rooms for
interrogation. Officer Ross testified at the suppression hearing that defendant
asked, “ „What are you holding my wife for?‟ ” to which he replied, “ „We don‟t
know anything yet and we'll have to talk to you.‟ ” (Jackson, supra, 19
Cal.App.3d at p. 98.) Then, when asked if he was waiving his rights, defendant
stated, “ „I‟ll give up the right to remain silent just to get my wife out of this,
nothing more.‟ ” (Id. at pp. 98-99.) Later, in response to further questions,
defendant stated, “ „I‟ll just give you what information I can to get my wife out of
this. You know, as soon as possible, because she‟s got a heart condition and I
don‟t want to put her through any more than I already have.‟ ” (Id. at p. 99.)
Officer Ross testified the subject of defendant‟s wife “ „was brought up strictly by
him,‟ ” and that he told defendant that “ „after I got [sic] through talking to her and
comparing what you told me with what she says, if I have reason to feel she‟s not
involved in it, I‟m sure as hell not going to book her.‟ ” (Ibid.)
The Jackson court concluded, “Unlike People v. Trout, supra, 54 Cal.2d
576, 583-584, upon which defendant relies, there were no inducements nor, of
course, were there any threats. At most there was a simple statement of fact by the
officer that defendant‟s wife would be released if further investigation convinced
him and his superiors that she had no connection with the crime despite the
suspicious circumstances which defendant, by his own admissions, had created.”
(Jackson, supra, 19 Cal.App.3d at p. 100.)
The Jackson court observed that “the facts of this case are further
distinguishable from Trout in that here there were reasonable grounds for the
detention of defendant‟s wife, whereas in Trout no woman was involved in the
crimes when their occurrence was originally brought to the attention of the
police.” (Jackson, supra, 19 Cal.App.3d at p. 100.) The court concluded, “Since
the simultaneous arrests of defendant and his wife occurred before defendant‟s
confession, and since they were both based on reasonable grounds the trial court
properly held that there was no coercion or inducement within the meaning of the
Trout decision.” (Ibid.)
The Jackson court also relied on Abbott, supra, 156 Cal.App.2d 601. Finding
the factual situation before it closely analogous to that in Abbott, the court
explained, “There, as here, defendant‟s wife (albeit common law) was also taken
into custody because she was living with defendant; there, as here, the officer told
defendant that if the latter told the truth and there was no evidence to hold his
wife, she would be released. The [Abbott] court observed that „the officers made it
clear to defendant that Miss Bell would not be prosecuted if their investigation
failed to disclose evidence of her guilt, but this was not a threat to prosecute her if
defendant did not confess the crime nor a promise to release her if he did. The
fact, alone, that the principal motive for a confession is that it will probably result
in the exoneration of another person who is suspected of complicity in the offense
does not render the confession involuntary.‟ (P. 605.) Likewise, as here, „The
officers believed that [defendant], and he alone, could implicate her or exonerate
her. In justice to her it was their duty to learn, if they could, whether her further
detention was warranted and this required the interrogation of [defendant]. If he
felt himself under pressure to make a statement it came from the conditions he had
created which placed Miss Bell under suspicion. If he made the statement
willingly it was, in a legal sense, voluntary.‟ (P. 605.) The reasoning of the
foregoing observations and statements controls here.” (Jackson, supra, 19
Cal.App.3d at pp. 99-100.)
Jackson and Abbott support the trial court‟s determination that Detective
Wahl‟s and Sergeant Johnson‟s comments to defendant about Billie‟s possible
involvement as an accessory after the fact, and her possible role as a witness in
defendant‟s case — up to the point where Sergeant Johnson remarked he would let
her go if defendant gave further details about the murders — did not render the
first part of the statement coerced or involuntary. This court‟s decision in People
v. Howard (1988) 44 Cal.3d 375 (Howard), is further instructive on the point.
In Howard, supra, 44 Cal.3d 375, a death penalty case, the defendant
contended the police had used psychologically coercive techniques in questioning
him, and had impliedly promised that his 16-year old son, Gary, Jr., and
defendant‟s girlfriend, Joy Stevens, would not be charged in connection with the
murder under investigation if he confessed. These “ „implied threats,‟ ” defendant
alleged, “ „contain[ed] the corollary threat‟ ” that if he did not talk, his son and
girlfriend would be harmed by “ „taking the fall‟ ” for him. (Id. at p. 394.)
Shortly after his arrest, the defendant in Howard waived his Miranda
rights, requested to speak with an officer, and furnished a taped statement. The
defendant at first denied any involvement in the murder under investigation,
claiming that on the morning of the murder he went with his son and girlfriend to visit
relatives. (Howard, supra, 44 Cal.3d at p. 395.) Soon, however, he admitted having
thrown the gun used in the murder into a lake, supposedly at the request of his
girlfriend‟s stepfather, Richard Lemock. (Id. at p. 395.)
After going over defendant‟s story, the interrogating officers informed him
that his son, Gary, Jr., had shown the police where defendant had parked in the
vicinity of the murder. Defendant was told he was putting himself “ „on the point
of calling your son a liar.‟ ” (Howard, supra, 44 Cal.3d at p. 395.) One officer
observed that Gary, Jr., was a 16-year-old boy worried about his father. The
officer then stated that he knew Lemock was involved in the murder and believed
defendant was as well. The officer stated he could not make any promises to
defendant, and suggested defendant should “be guided by his own integrity and
conscience „to square your part of this thing away.‟ ” (Ibid.)
During a break in the interrogation, the police interviewed the defendant‟s
girlfriend, Joy Stevens, and Gary, Jr. When the interrogation recommenced,
defendant insisted neither his son nor girlfriend were involved. The officers
described the information they had already obtained, commenting, “ „Joy gave it
up. Gary Junior gave it up. Everybody is giving it up except Gary Senior.‟ ”
(Howard, supra, 44 Cal.3d at p. 396.) When defendant expressed disbelief, the
officers played portions of the taped statements of defendant‟s son and girlfriend,
at which point he was told, “[T]here‟s a woman involved that you say you love.
There‟s a kid you — you said before you loved.” (Ibid.) Stevens could be heard
crying on the tape as she recounted her story and answered questions. One officer
then suggested defendant was “ „letting [his] chick and son take [the] fall,‟ ”
adding, “ „I know you wouldn‟t want somebody else, especially someone you
loved — ride [sic] a beef for you.‟ ” (Ibid.) The officers told defendant his son
and girlfriend loved him, and that it had been hard for Gary, Jr. to tell the truth.
The defendant then stated Lemock had offered him $1,500 to kill the
victim. When one of the officers asked a question about something Gary, Jr. said,
defendant responded, “ „This isn‟t gonna involve him?‟ ” (Howard, supra, 44
Cal.3d at p. 396.) The officers assured defendant they did not “ „want‟ ” his son or
his girlfriend. The defendant proceeded to admit further details of the crime, at
one point asking if his girlfriend would be put in jail. The interrogating officer
explained she had already gone home that evening, stating, “ „Hey I — I can‟t
promise she never will [be wanted] . . . . But the other side of things, we let her go;
but if we wanted her, Gary, we‟d kept [sic] her.‟ ” (Id. at p. 397.)
The defendant in Howard testified his motivation for talking with the police
was to avoid trouble for his son and girlfriend. We explained, “when a reviewing
court considers a claim that a confession has been improperly coerced, if the
evidence conflicts, the version most favorable to the People must be relied upon if
supported by the record. (People v. Hogan [(1982)] 31 Cal.3d [815,] 835; People
v. Jiminez (1978) 21 Cal.3d 595, 609.)” (Howard, supra, 44 Cal.3d at p. 398.)
“ „[M]ere advice or exhortation by the police that it would be better for the
accused to tell the truth when unaccompanied by either a threat or a promise does
not render a subsequent confession involuntary.‟ (People v. Jiminez, supra, 21
Cal.3d at p. 611.) In terms of assessing inducements assertedly offered to a
suspect, „ “[when] the benefit pointed out by the police . . . is merely that which
flows naturally from a truthful and honest course of conduct,” the subsequent
statement will not be considered involuntarily made. [Citation.]‟ (Id. at pp. 611-
612.) The police statements here constituted such permissible inducements.”
(Howard, at p. 398.) We distinguished Trout, supra, 54 Cal.2d 576, explaining
that defendant‟s son and girlfriend “were important witnesses and the police were
fully justified in exploring the facts with them.” (Id. at pp. 398-399.)
Here, as in Howard, defendant‟s wife Billie was an important witness to
various events that preceded and followed the murders. Moreover, she was herself
being questioned as a possible accessory after the fact to defendant‟s crimes, based
on evidence the officers had already gathered before interviewing defendant. We
are further in agreement with the trial court‟s observation below that defendant
was a “very mature individual, obviously, he interacted well in the discussion in the
sense that his answers were responsive to questions made. He gave answers that
were certainly reflective of his independence of suggestions made to him by
officers. He was articulate in expressing himself. He showed substantial mental
agility in interacting with the officers and in responding to various thrusts and
efforts of the officers to, to in effect, catch him in what they perceived as untruths or
lies. [He] did not appear to be fooled at any time by the nature of the
questions or what the questions were calling for. He was responsive and at times,
apparently, intentionally evasive when presented with questions that he had not the
interest to respond to.” The “mental level and intelligence” of the accused is a
factor to be considered when assessing the voluntariness of incriminating
statements. (Jackson, supra, 19 Cal.App.3d at p. 101, citing People v. Sanchez
(1969) 70 Cal.2d 562, 571-572.)
Having independently reviewed the totality of circumstances surrounding
defendant‟s confession, we conclude the first part of the statement, up to the point
where Sergeant Johnson made his express offer to let Billie go in exchange for
additional details about the crimes, was freely and voluntarily given and properly
2. Attenuation of Second Statement (Recantation)
Defendant sought to suppress his second statement in the same pretrial
motion by which he sought suppression of his first statement. The motion, as it
pertained to the second statement, was denied. He now contends the trial court
erred when it found the second taped statement (including his recantation) fully
admissible on the basis that it was sufficiently attenuated from that portion of his
initial statement that was found involuntary. The argument is unavailing.
The precise question here is whether the retraction was the tainted product
of the portion of defendant‟s first statement that the trial court excluded, which
came after defendant had already confessed to the murders.
On October 12, 1995, eight days after defendant confessed to the murders,
Kern County Sheriff‟s Detective John Soliz went to Las Vegas to reinterview
defendant at the request of the district attorney who had charged the case.
Detective Soliz had had no prior contacts with defendant. During this second
interview, defendant recanted much of his earlier statement, now claiming he did
not know how the Jordans were killed and asserting he made up the version of
events he told to Detective Wahl and Sergeant Johnson “to keep my wife from
going to jail.” Defendant told Detective Soliz, “I was scared to death to even talk
to them other officers[s] and then when they got me up here that night badgering
me, I just made up that story.”
Defendant went on to tell Detective Soliz his new and purportedly truthful
version of events. He claimed that after leaving the Self/Amos residence on the
morning of September 11, he realized his mother would not lend him any money
so he went to the Jordan residence to ask Shirley for another loan. He and Shirley
had coffee, he told her his truck had broken down, and he asked her for a $3,000
loan. Shirley entered her bedroom, closed the door, and returned with $3,000,
which she gave to him. Defendant stated he did not tell Detective Wahl and
Sergeant Johnson about this loan because he was scared, explaining, “I mean just,
I don‟t know why. I‟m an ex-con, scared to death. I mean a murder was
committed.” After Shirley lent him the money, they talked some more and Joey
took his picture with a disposable camera. He left the Jordan residence at 1:30 or
“Previous decisions have acknowledged that where—as a result of
improper police conduct—an accused confesses, and subsequently makes another
confession, it may be presumed the subsequent confession is the product of the
first because of the psychological or practical disadvantages of having „ “let the
cat out of the bag by confessing.” ‟ (See People v. Johnson (1969) 70 Cal.2d 541,
547 (Johnson); People v. Spencer (1967) 66 Cal.2d 158, 167.) Notwithstanding
this presumption, „no court has ever “gone so far as to hold that making a
confession under circumstances which preclude its use, perpetually disables the
confessor from making a usable one after those conditions have been removed.” ‟
(Spencer, supra, 66 Cal.2d at p. 167, citing United States v. Bayer (1947) 331 U.S.
532, 540-541; see United States v. Toral (9th Cir. 1976) 536 F.2d 893, 896; United
States v. Knight (2d Cir. 1968) 395 F.2d 971.) Thus, the foregoing presumption is
rebuttable, with the prosecution bearing the burden of establishing a break in the
causative chain between the first confession and the subsequent confession.
(Johnson, supra, 70 Cal.2d at pp. 547-548; In re Pablo C. (1982) 129 Cal.App.3d
“A subsequent confession is not the tainted product of the first merely
because, „but for‟ the improper police conduct, the subsequent confession would
not have been obtained. (Johnson, supra, 70 Cal.2d at p. 549.) As the United
States Supreme Court has explained: „[N]ot . . . all evidence is “fruit of the
poisonous tree” simply because it would not have come to light but for the illegal
actions of the police. Rather, the more apt question in such a case is “whether,
granting establishment of the primary illegality, the evidence to which instant
objection is made has been come at by exploitation of that illegality or instead by
means sufficiently distinguishable to be purged of the primary taint.” ‟ (Wong Sun
v. United States (1963) 371 U.S. 471, 487-488; Johnson, supra, 70 Cal.2d at
p. 548.) The degree of attenuation that suffices to dissipate the taint „requires at
least an intervening independent act by the defendant or a third party‟ to break the
causal chain in such a way that the second confession is not in fact obtained by
exploitation of the illegality. (People v. Sesslin (1968) 68 Cal.2d 418, 428; see
People v. Rich (1988) 45 Cal.3d 1036, 1081.)” (People v. Sims (1993) 5 Cal.4th
Here, of course, defendant‟s second statement was a recantation, not a
second confession, but for purposes of determining its voluntariness we find the
same principles of attenuation apply.13 We agree with the trial court‟s
determination that the second taped statement was sufficiently attenuated from that
portion of defendant‟s first statement that was found involuntary and excludable
(which portion itself came after defendant had already confessed to the murders).
The sufficient indices of attenuation include: (1) defendant was properly
In likelihood defendant sought to suppress his second statement because,
after recanting his confession of one week earlier, he then furnished Detective
Soliz with an assertedly truthful accounting of events that placed him in Shirley
and Joey‟s apartment on the afternoon of September 11, the critical date and time
Mirandized at the start of the second interview, as he acknowledges; (2) more than
a week transpired between the first and second interviews;14 (3) the second
interview was conducted, not by the same officers who had conducted the first
interview, but by Detective Soliz, who had had no prior contacts with defendant
and had not reviewed the tape of the first interview before he conducted the
second interview; (4) Detective Soliz made no attempt to exploit any information
obtained in the first statement, the latter portion of which was later determined to
be involuntary. Indeed, when asked by defendant about charges relating to Billie,
Detective Soliz told him that, to his knowledge, she was not going to be charged;
(5) as the trial court found, defendant‟s “maturity and ability to again handle
himself in a fashion that reflects maturity and sophistication and articulation”
served to cleanse any taint; and (6) defendant‟s second statement was furnished in
an effort to recant his earlier confession, a circumstance we find weighs in favor of
a finding that he gave it freely and voluntarily.
3. Exclusion of Defense Expert Gregory Haussmann’s Testimony
One defense theory presented below was that Shirley and Joey Jordan died
accidently of carbon monoxide poisoning. Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic
pathologist and private defense consultant in this case, testified that the most
common cause of multiple deaths, where there is no other obvious cause, is carbon
monoxide poisoning. Based on his examination of the photographs of the crime
scene and Dr. Walker‟s autopsy report, Dr. Baden concluded both deaths were the
result of asphyxia caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Compare Lyons v. Oklahoma (1944) 322 U.S. 596, 604, in which a 12-hour
interval between an involuntary confession obtained by physical beating and
psychological coercion and a subsequent confession constituted sufficient attenuation,
and U.S. v. Patterson (9th Cir. 1987) 812 F.2d 1188, 1189-1190, in which a three-
hour interval between an involuntary confession obtained by a brutal beating and a
subsequent confession constituted sufficient attenuation.
Billie McWhorter was also called by the defense in support of this defense
theory. She testified that when she and defendant moved out of the apartment next
to the Jordans, defendant moved a washing machine into a water heater shed
adjacent to the Jordans‟ unit. Billie further recalled that defendant “bumped” a
natural gas valve leading to the water heater, which caused a momentary gas leak
until he could shut the valve off and tighten it, “and then it was okay.”
Additionally, the jury saw photographs (including a conventionally enlarged
photograph) showing that the bathroom window between the residence and the
shed was slightly open.
Prior to trial, the defense disclosed to the prosecution a report in which
Gregory Haussmann, an engineer with Failure Analysis Associates, a forensic
engineering consulting firm in Menlo Park, set forth his conclusion “that a lethal
concentration of carbon monoxide could have been produced by a water heater
attached to the deceased[s‟] residence, could have entered the dwelling residence
through a „partially opened‟ window and may have caused the death of two
persons therein.” The prosecutor filed a pretrial motion to exclude the anticipated
testimony on grounds it was based on speculation and conjecture, was unsupported
by evidence that could reasonably be relied on by the expert, and was more
prejudicial than probative under Evidence Code section 352.
An evidentiary hearing was conducted pursuant to Evidence Code section
402 to determine whether a proper foundation for Haussmann‟s expert opinion
testimony could be laid pursuant to Evidence Code section 801.15 Haussmann
Evidence Code section 801 provides, in relevant part, “If a witness is
testifying as an expert, his testimony in the form of an opinion is limited to such
an opinion as is [¶] . . . [¶] (b) Based on matter . . . perceived by or personally
known to the witness or made known to him at or before the hearing, whether or
not admissible, that is of a type that reasonably may be relied upon by an expert in
forming an opinion upon the subject to which his testimony relates . . . .”
testified at the hearing. At its conclusion, the trial court ruled Haussmann‟s expert
opinion testimony inadmissible. Defendant contends the ruling was an abuse of
discretion. We disagree.
“[T]he value of an expert‟s opinion depends on the truth of the facts
assumed.” (1 Witkin, Cal. Evidence (4th ed. 2000) Opinion Evidence, § 28,
p. 558.) “Where the basis of the opinion is unreliable hearsay, the courts will
reject it.” (Id., Unreliable Hearsay, § 36, p. 567; see, e.g., Pacific Gas & Elec. Co.
v. G.W. Thomas Drayage & Rigging Co. (1968) 69 Cal.2d 33, 43-44 [rejection of
expert opinion testimony based on unreliable hearsay not an abuse of discretion].)
It is settled that a trial court has wide discretion to exclude expert testimony,
including hearsay testimony, that is unreliable. (People v. Carpenter (1999) 21
Cal.4th 1016, 1061; People v. McDonald (1984) 37 Cal.3d 351, 373.)
We conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling
Haussmann‟s testimony inadmissible on grounds that it was unduly speculative,
based on unreliable hearsay, and without an adequate foundation.
First, Haussmann‟s conclusion — that it was possible an “exhaust vent” on
top of the water heater had become dislodged several inches when defendant
installed the washing machine in the shed adjacent to the Jordans‟ unit, thereby
causing a fatal carbon monoxide leak — was based solely on a defense
investigator‟s hearsay report recounting an interview with Billie McWhorter.
Because neither the defense investigator nor Billie was called to testify and
authenticate the report at the hearing, it remained unsubstantiated hearsay.16
The court made its pretrial ruling without prejudice, indicating it would
entertain a defense request to reconsider its ruling based on evidence introduced at
trial. Defendant never renewed his request to call Haussmann as a witness after
Billie testified for the defense that defendant installed a washing machine in the
shed, causing a momentary natural gas leak, which he fixed. Indeed, the
information in the defense investigator‟s report was later contradicted by Billie‟s
Second, hearsay problems aside, the report could not have served as a
sufficiently reliable source of information on which Haussmann could base his
expert opinion. Haussmann testified his opinion hinged on whether the water
heater‟s “exhaust vent” had become dislodged. But he conceded at the
foundational hearing he had no proof the vent had actually become dislodged, and
indicated he would base the entirety of his testimony on inferences to be drawn
from the defense investigator‟s report of the gas valve bumping incident recounted
by Billie. The investigator‟s report, however, made no specific mention of the
water heater‟s exhaust vent, much less that it had become dislodged.
Third, the record reflects that a new or different water heater was installed
in the Jordans‟ unit at some point in the ensuing two years between the Jordans‟
deaths and defendant‟s trial. The actual water heater and exhaust vent that
Haussmann speculated had caused a carbon monoxide leak that killed the Jordans
was no longer available for his or anyone else‟s inspection by the time of trial.
Haussmann speculated at the hearing that the replaced water heater must have
been old, and thus more susceptible to having its exhaust vent become dislodged.
But no facts were known about the model, age, size, or condition of the water
actual trial testimony. For example, the report indicated Billie had stated that
defendant, on two or three occasions while he was installing the washing machine
in the shed, “jump[ed] over the washer and ran to the alley to turn off the gas.”
Billie testified at trial that she was standing outside the shed while defendant was
installing the washing machine, suggesting she did not actually witness the events
occurring inside the shed. Moreover, at trial she testified defendant “bumped” a
gas valve while moving the washing machine, which caused a momentary natural
gas leak until he could shut the valve and tighten it, “and then it was okay.” The
investigator‟s report, in contrast, noted Billie had said defendant “somehow moved
the water heater which caused the gas to leak.” In short, although the defense
called Billie as a witness at trial on the point, her testimony ultimately did not
furnish a factual basis for Haussmann‟s expert opinion that if the water heater had
been moved, such movement likely caused its exhaust vent to become dislodged,
thereby likely causing carbon monoxide fumes (as opposed to natural gas) to enter
the victims‟ apartment more than a week later, proving fatal to the Jordans.
heater installed in the shed at the time of Shirley‟s and Joey‟s deaths in September
Nor is there any merit to defendant‟s claim that this asserted error is of
constitutional dimension because it violated his Sixth Amendment right to present
a defense. The defense theory that the victims may have died from carbon
monoxide poisoning, weak though it was, was presented to the jury through the
testimony of Billie McWhorter, who testified defendant installed the washing
machine in the shed before moving out and “bumped” a natural gas valve in the
process; through photographic evidence of the bathroom window between the
residence and through the adjacent shed, depicting the window slightly open or
ajar; and the testimony of defense expert Dr. Baden, a forensic pathologist who
furnished his opinion that the Jordans likely died of asphyxia from carbon
monoxide poisoning. Although Haussmann‟s expert opinion — that a dislodged
water heater exhaust vent could have caused the release of carbon monoxide
fumes and the fatal poisoning of the Jordans — was properly excluded as
speculative and lacking adequate foundation, defendant was not otherwise
precluded from presenting this defense through admissible testimony and
4. Exclusion of Defense Expert Norman Perle’s Testimony
Defendant next claims the trial court abused its discretion when it ruled that
the foundational requirements for admission of the opinion testimony of Norman
It is noteworthy that nothing in the foundation proffered for Haussmann‟s
opinion testimony, and nothing in Dr. Baden‟s trial testimony proffered in support
of the carbon monoxide asphyxia defense, served to explain why deadly carbon
monoxide fumes would not have escaped into the Jordans‟ apartment during the
one-week period between the time defendant installed the washing machine in the
shed before moving away on September 4, 1995, and the earliest date on which
Shirley and Joey could have died, September 11, 1995.
Perle, defendant‟s forensic image enhancement expert, had not been met, and
excluded Perle‟s testimony. We find no abuse of discretion.
In support of the defense theory that the Jordans died of carbon monoxide
poisoning, the defense relied on photographs of the bathroom window between the
residence and its adjacent water heater shed depicting the window slightly open or
Prior to trial, the prosecution moved to exclude the proffered opinion
testimony of defense expert Norman Perle, an expert in the field of electronic
processing of visual and audio recorded data. The motion sought to exclude a
“forensic image enhancement” Perle had created from a picture of the bathroom
window furnished by the prosecution as discovery, as well as his expert opinion
testimony regarding the image he created. The defense desired to introduce the
enhanced image, and Perle‟s testimony explaining it, for the purpose of assisting
the jury in seeing that the window was indeed slightly open or ajar.
The prosecutor argued in opposition to the motion that the enhanced image
and Perle‟s opinion testimony were inadmissible unless a proper foundation could
be laid for the image-enhancing technique he used pursuant to People v. Kelly
(1976) 17 Cal.3d 24 (Kelly) (see also Frye v. United States (D.C. Cir. 1923) 293 F.
1013.) Under the Kelly standard, evidence based upon application of a new
scientific technique may be admitted only after the reliability of the method has
been foundationally established, usually by the testimony of an expert witness who
first has been properly qualified. The proponent of the evidence must also
demonstrate that correct scientific procedures were used (Kelly, supra, 17 Cal.3d
at p. 30), and that the scientific technique concerning which the evidence is being
offered has gained general acceptance in the particular field to which it belongs.
(People v. Leahy (1994) 8 Cal.4th 587, 594 (Leahy); People v. Wash (1993) 6
Cal.4th 215, 242.)
The prosecutor argued further that the enhanced image and Perle‟s expert
opinion testimony were unnecessary because the jurors could look at the
conventional photographs themselves and determine whether or not the window
was open, and that the enhanced image should be excluded as more prejudicial
than probative under Evidence Code section 352.
In his written opposition to the motion, defendant argued that reasonable
jurors could differ in their perception of whether the window was open or closed
when viewing the conventional photograph, although defense counsel himself
stated plainly, “The window appears partially open to me.” It was further argued
that “[t]he methods used to enhance the image,” referred to as “electronic
embossing,” “employ products generally available to the public which are
produced by software companies listed on the national security exchanges.”
However, the actual software program utilized by Perle to create the enhanced
image was not identified. The defense took the position that “[e]lectronic image
and sound processing is a field which has thoroughly established its presence and
general reliability in our 1997 society”; that the Kelly foundational requirements
“rightfully require a foundational showing in situations where there is a
conceptually new procedure or technology,” but that “[t]he questions involved
here are qualitatively different from those issues.” The opposition to the motion to
exclude Perle‟s testimony concluded that “[a]n Evidence Code Section 402
hearing is inappropriate and would be a waste of court time.”
A lengthy foundational hearing was conducted on the matter at which Perle,
and prosecution expert Jim Ray, who was employed by the Kern County District
Attorney‟s Office as an evidence technician in charge of digital imaging and
video/audio services, each testified. Perle was the owner and director of the
National Audio Video Forensic Laboratory; had worked with various aspects of
recorded evidence, both audio and video, and had provided services related to
recorded evidence such as enhancements, authenticity analysis, imaging for detail
and identification, voice identification, and other forensic media services. He was
certified by an organization known as the American Board of Recorded Evidence;
and was a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners.
Perle‟s credentials notwithstanding, it will suffice to observe that he could
not identify the computer program he used to enhance or “electronically emboss”
the image in question, nor could he satisfactorily explain the full nature of the
process he used to create it.
When the prosecutor, in cross-examining Perle, observed that the
photographic image from which he created his enhanced image was in color,
whereas the enhanced image was in black and white, Perle could not recall
whether he converted the image from color to black and white. Nor could Perle
recall whether he had increased or decreased the contrast of the image. When
asked on cross-examination how the “embossing” feature of the unidentified
software program he used works, Perle answered, “Really carefully. I don‟t know
exactly what the algorithms are or how to explain this to you, but you can take a
two dimensional process image and you can emboss or deboss, which means you
can make the surface of what you‟re viewing appear to have greater detail or you
can have the background appear to have greater detail. That would be debossing.
And the emboss process is one that‟s called into play to give a viewer a different
perspective, one that would, one that would have a perception of depth. That is
the best I can explain this.”
As noted, in his written opposition to the motion, defense counsel had taken
the position that a Kelly foundational hearing would be “inappropriate” and “a
waste of court time.” Now, upon commencing his argument at the conclusion of
testimony at the hearing, defense counsel appeared to switch horses,
acknowledging the prosecution‟s objection to Perle‟s testimony on Kelly grounds,
and further acknowledging that “reliability and acceptance of procedure is relevant
in any scientifically based opinion, expert opinion.”
As the arguments continued, however, defense counsel made a number of
noteworthy concessions. He agreed Perle had not adequately described how the
“embossing process” he used works. In response to the court‟s comment that it
“never could quite figure out what he accomplished, particularly with the
embossing and sharpening aspect of the process he described,” defense counsel
responded, “I recognize in the description by Mr. Perle of the exact mechanisms
by which these programs accomplish that which they do that I was not able to find
a clear statement, myself, of the mechanism by which these computer programs
actually perform the task which they are ascribed to have done.” Acknowledging
further that Perle did not know what imaging software he had used in this case or
precisely how it worked, defense counsel added, “He doesn‟t know the exact
mechanical process by which the computer does that which it does. That‟s
something that is outside of his field of expertise.”
At one point defense counsel tried to salvage Perle‟s testimony by
seemingly abandoning his argument that the testimony satisfied the Kelly
foundational requirements and arguing instead that Perle‟s process was a “tool.”
Counsel suggested that although Perle might not know how the program did what
it did, “he is an expert in the use of these tools and is an expert in the interpretation
of the images and the products that these tools provide.”18
Finally, when the court asked defense counsel whether he agreed that the
enhanced image showed something that was not apparent in the original image,
The mere fact that a person is familiar with how to use a scientific test or
procedure does not qualify him or her to establish general acceptance in the
scientific community of, or relate the scientific bases underlying, the test or
procedure. (Leahy, supra, 8 Cal.4th at pp. 608-609.)
counsel disagreed, observing that the enlarged photograph made by conventional
photographic means also showed the window to be slightly open. He added,
“[Y]ou know, honestly, Judge, if I, if I see a weakness in the admissibility of this
evidence, opinion of Mr. Perle, it‟s that maybe it‟s not necessary because of the
[conventional] photographic enlargement shows the same thing that Mr. Perle‟s
enhanced image via the video disc shows.”
A trial court‟s finding that the Kelly foundational requirements have not
been met is reviewed for an abuse of discretion. (People v. Jablonski (2006) 37
Cal.4th 774, 805; People v. Venegas (1998) 18 Cal.4th 47, 93.) We conclude on
this record that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding Perle‟s
expert opinion testimony. Assuming for sake of argument that the ruling was
error, it was clearly harmless given that defense counsel, and Perle himself,
conceded the conventional photographic image and Perle‟s enhanced or embossed
image showed the same thing — that the window was slightly open.19
5. Exclusion of Third Party Culpability Evidence
Defendant argues the trial court erroneously precluded him from
introducing evidence that a third party, Glenn Jordan, one of Shirley‟s ex-husbands
and Joey‟s father, committed the murders. The claim must be rejected.
“We repeatedly have indicated that, to be admissible, evidence of the
culpability of a third party offered by a defendant to demonstrate that a reasonable
Defendant also argues the Court of Appeal in People v. Williams (1996) 46
Cal.App.4th 1767, found a digitally enhanced image met the Kelly foundational
requirements, and that the trial court below was bound to follow that decision.
(See Leahy, supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 595.) We disagree. Williams involved an
enhancement process known as “segmentation,” which involved “mapping” an
image through a mathematical formula to create a more discernable image.
(Williams, supra, 46 Cal.App.4th at pp. 1777-1778.) That does not appear to be
the same as the “embossing” process utilized by Perle, and even if it was, his
testimony at the foundational hearing fell far short of establishing the same.
doubt exists concerning his or her guilt, must link the third person either directly
or circumstantially to the actual perpetration of the crime. In assessing an offer of
proof relating to such evidence, the court must decide whether the evidence could
raise a reasonable doubt as to defendant‟s guilt and whether it is substantially
more prejudicial than probative under Evidence Code section 352. (See People
v. Davis [(1995)] 10 Cal.4th 463, 501; People v. Cudjo (1993) 6 Cal.4th 585, 609;
People v. Alcala (1992) 4 Cal.4th 742, 792-793; People v. Kaurish (1990) 52
Cal.3d 648, 685; People v. Edelbacher (1989) 47 Cal.3d 983, 1017-1018.)”
(People v. Bradford (1997) 15 Cal.4th 1229, 1325.)
In People v. Hall (1986) 41 Cal.3d 826, we held that “the third-party
evidence need not show „substantial proof of a probability‟ that the third person
committed the act; it need only be capable of raising a reasonable doubt of
defendant‟s guilt.” (Id. at p. 833.) “Our holding [in Hall] did not, however,
require the indiscriminate admission of any evidence offered to prove third-party
culpability. The evidence must meet minimum standards of relevance: „evidence
of mere motive or opportunity to commit the crime in another person, without
more, will not suffice to raise a reasonable doubt about a defendant‟s guilt: there
must be direct or circumstantial evidence linking the third person to the actual
perpetration of the crime.‟ (Hall, supra, 41 Cal.3d at p. 833.) We also reaffirmed
that such evidence is subject to exclusion under Evidence Code section 352.
[Citation.]” (People v. Edelbacher, supra, 47 Cal.3d 983, 1017.)
Prior to trial, the prosecution filed a motion to exclude evidence of third party
culpability. The prosecutor indicated in the motion that he had been provided with
discovery by the defense relating to third party culpability consisting of a taped
conversation between defendant‟s trial counsel, a defense investigator, and witness
Cindy Durham, a friend and former neighbor of Shirley Jordan, as well as
documents reflecting that in 1994 and again in 1996, Glenn Jordan, one of
Shirley‟s ex-husbands and the father of Joey Jordan, had been convicted of
misdemeanor infliction of corporal injury upon a spouse or cohabitant (Pen. Code,
§ 273.5, subd. (a)). In the taped interview, Durham stated that in January of 1995,
eight months before the murders, Shirley saw Glenn Jordan parked outside the
apartment complex where she was then living (prior to moving to the Wilson
Avenue apartment in which she and Joey were killed). During the interview
Durham also told the defense investigator, with some measure of prompting
according to the prosecutor, that when Shirley saw her ex-husband parked outside
her home she got a “panic stricken look on her face.”
The prosecutor argued in support of his motion that the information
presented was too speculative to be admissible, and further, that it was excludable
under Evidence Code section 352 as more prejudicial than probative.
Defense counsel filed an opposition to the prosecutor‟s motion. He reported
that according to published accounts of the murders (supposedly based on
information furnished by the police investigating the case), the Jordans‟ bodies
were discovered on September 18, 1995; that their deaths were thought to have
occurred three to five days earlier; and that defendant had been in Las Vegas
during this time frame. The opposition indicated further that one week after the
murders, Chris Barton, Joey‟s 13-year-old friend, reported to detectives she had
heard a television set in the Jordans‟ residence on the afternoon of September 12
when she went to look for Joey; that she did not hear the television when she
returned a few days later; and that she knew Joey was afraid of his father, Glenn
Jordan, and feared he “would come back and beat him up.”
Defense counsel went on to relate in the opposition to the motion that Cindy
Durham had told him that in January 1995 (eight months before the murders),
Shirley told her she was afraid of her ex-husband, who had parked in front of her
former residence on Wilson Avenue and stared through the window for several
minutes. Counsel reported that Durham told him Shirley was “panic stricken” as a
result of this incident, and further, that Shirley‟s car had been parked in front of the
apartment complex at the time.
The opposition to the motion next reported that, according to police reports,
in June 1994 (16 months prior to the murders), Glenn Jordan had struck Emily
McCoy, his “common law wife,” in the head, “forcing her face to strike a wall,” and
had again struck McCoy on April 24, 1996 (eight months after the murders),
“causing her to strike the back of her head on an object, causing a gash.” As a
result of each incident, Glenn Jordan pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of
inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. Defense counsel pointed out
that the murder investigation had revealed a dent in a wall in the Jordans‟ kitchen,
which he stated “the People assert was caused by the head of Shirley Jordan.”
The opposition next reported that a series of phone calls had been made by
Emily McCoy — one to another of Shirley‟s ex-husbands, Lewis Smith;20 another
to a former wife of Glenn Jordan‟s, Mary Frye, shortly after the murders. Frye
allegedly confirmed for McCoy that Glenn Jordan had beaten her during their
marriage; told her Shirley was afraid of Glenn; and told her Shirley would not let
Frye‟s daughter Jennifer see Joey if Jennifer disclosed to Glenn the location or
phone number of Shirley and Joey. The opposition also related that McCoy had
told defense counsel that Frye had told her that daughter Jennifer had “stated that
she had never seen her father Glenn, with anything other than cowboy boots on his
feet.” Defense counsel pointed out that prosecution criminalist Laskowski had
Although the opposition stated McCoy called Smith to learn if Glenn had
been “abusive” to Smith and Shirley‟s children (Shirley apparently had children
from her marriage with Smith), the opposition did not report how Smith responded
to McCoy‟s inquiry.
identified a shoeprint or impression on the carpet near Shirley‟s body “as a cowboy
Defense counsel also reported in his opposition to the motion that Glenn
Jordan had called the sheriff‟s department the day after the murders to state he did
not kill his ex-wife and son, telling police the last time he had seen Joey was on a
chance meeting at a bank in 1992. Counsel indicated he believed Glenn Jordan‟s
source of income was from Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and that the Kern
County District Attorney‟s Office deducted child support payments from Glenn‟s SSI
payments for Joey.
Defense counsel then summarized the defense theory of third-party
culpability in the opposition as follows: “Investigation is continuing. However, at
this time, there is corroborated evidence of propensity for violence against
[Glenn‟s] wives and children over an extended period of time before and after the
discovery of decedents. There is an on going and immediately recent expression
of fear of Glenn by decedents Shirley Jordan and Joseph Jordan. There is an act of
apparent stalking of Shirley where Glenn observes the car in front of the
apartment. There is motive in the ongoing child support payments. There is
circumstantial evidence of his commission of the offense by the dent in the wall
showing identity of modus operandi and the cowboy boot print next to the body.
Richard McWhorter was not wearing cowboy boots on September 11, 1995.”
At the hearing on the motion to exclude the defense evidence, defense
counsel added that Shirley‟s close friend Angelica Herrera was also claiming that
after moving from 1319 Wilson Avenue to 1016 Wilson Avenue, Shirley “increased
her vigilance” and “acted as though she was regularly in fear of someone or
something.” The trial court observed that neither the written nor oral offers of proof
tendered by defense counsel were in the form of a reliable sworn declaration. The
prosecutor stated he would accept defense counsel‟s offer of proof (although not the
validity of the facts averred) “[f]or expediency sake.” Defense counsel proceeded to
argue that the prosecutor‟s motion to exclude the defense evidence of third-party
culpability should be denied, outlining the anticipated evidence he had reported in
his opposition to the motion.
The prosecutor in turn argued that the evidence of Glenn Jordan‟s
misdemeanor convictions of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant
would not be admissible to show modus operandi because the defense suggestion
that Glenn‟s abuse of his current wife was consistent with the murder of Shirley
Jordan was “a huge stretch.” He further represented to the court that the defense
investigator had told him Emily McCoy was never interviewed by the defense
because “they haven‟t found [her],” and argued the information about the
incidents, to the extent gleaned from police reports, was inadmissible hearsay that
should not be admissible at trial.
The prosecutor also argued that the opinions of friends or neighbors, to the
extent they claimed to know or had observed Shirley to be fearful of someone or
something (i.e., Angelica Herrera‟s claim), did not establish that Shirley
specifically feared her ex-husband Glenn. He argued the evidence of the dent in
the kitchen wall and the shoe print or impression on the carpet near Shirley‟s body
was inconclusive, noting it “seem[ed] rather ironic” defense counsel would
include it because questions had been raised in the case (presumably by the
defense) about whether prosecution criminalist Laskowski should even be
permitted to furnish an opinion about the source of the print.21 The prosecutor
stated that although defense counsel may have felt he knew the actual source of
Laskowski initially felt the print or impression could possibly have been
made by a cowboy boot. At trial, he testified the impression was caused by a
smooth-soled shoe or boot, and could possibly have been made by a large limb like a
thigh or a knee. Defendant‟s own blood spatter expert concluded the impression
had been caused by the movement of an appendage.
the print (counsel had stated in the opposition that Glenn Jordan “always” wore
cowboy boots, and that defendant was not wearing cowboy boots on September
11), he did not believe that had been resolved “as a matter of fact” in the case.
The prosecutor argued counsel‟s suggestion that Glenn was “stalking”
Shirley by parking in front of her former residence eight months prior to the
murders was “purely speculation on the defense part,” suggesting it was just as
possible Glenn might have parked there simply to get a glimpse of his son whom
he had not seen or perhaps was not allowed to see. He further argued the
suggestion that Glenn could locate Shirley‟s new residence by searching for her
car, or type of car, on the streets of the neighborhood was at best a speculative
The prosecutor also represented he had received no discovery from the
defense concerning whether Shirley was receiving child support payments from
Glenn Jordan directly through the district attorney‟s office, stating, “I don‟t know
that that is a fact.” He surmised that if such payments had been ordered they
would likely have been ongoing for some time, and found it “rather extreme” for
the defense to infer that the desire to avoid those payments would suddenly
become a motive for murdering Shirley and Joey. He argued, “Who knows.
Maybe [Glenn Jordan] felt it was the right thing that he was giving support to his
son. I don‟t know. Defense doesn‟t know.”
The prosecutor concluded by summarizing his position on the defense offer
of proof as follows: “What we‟re left with, as I said before, is a person who‟s afraid
of this third party, which is not enough under Hall. Additional to which you have
very, very attenuated potential motive to end the payments, I guess. And the
possibility, although I think evidentiary-wise it‟s never coming in, the possibility
that he was violent towards another woman. That‟s just simply not enough under
The court proceeded to rule on and grant the prosecutor‟s motion to exclude
the third party culpability evidence. It found the possible motive of ending child
support payments by killing one‟s former wife and son “very attenuated.” It found
the proffered evidence “that Mr. Jordan is a habitual wearer of cowboy boots”
insufficiently probative of identity without further evidence of a brand or size of
boot that “in a logical chain” would link the print impression found at the crime
scene to Glenn Jordan. It found the defense theory regarding the proffered
evidence of Glenn‟s past or future acts of violence against women to be largely
propensity evidence that, without more, would not likely be admissible in a trial
for murder according to the rules of evidence.
We conclude the record supports the trial court‟s ruling. The motive
defense counsel ascribed to Glenn Jordan for the murders — that of killing one‟s
former wife and son in order to end child support payments — was entirely
speculative. So too was the attempt to establish identity by linking him to the
crime scene based on hearsay evidence that his daughter had “never seen her
father, Glenn, with anything other than cowboy boots on his feet”; defense
counsel‟s own personal attestation that “Richard McWhorter was not wearing
cowboy boots on September 11, 1995”; and counsel‟s further suggestion that
Glenn Jordan‟s “modus operandi” was to beat his wives in a manner resulting in
their heads banging against walls and leaving dents in those walls.
We agree with the trial court that much of defendant‟s offer of proof
consisted of mere evidence of a propensity for violence to prove identity that
would not have been admissible in a trial for murder or, even if it was, would not
itself have established identity. As we explained in People v. Davis (1995) 10
Cal.4th 463: “Hall did not abrogate Evidence Code section 1101 as applied to such
evidence. Subsequently, in People v. Farmer (1989) 47 Cal.3d 888, we specifically
addressed the application of Evidence Code section 1101 to proposed evidence
regarding prior criminal conduct of a third party alleged to have committed the
charged offense. The defendant in Farmer offered evidence of a third party‟s
history of violent crime, on the theory that it tended to identify him as the perpetrator.
We noted that under Hall, evidence linking a third person to the actual perpetration
of the crime should be treated like any other evidence. (Id. at p. 921.) We went on
to hold, however, that the proffered evidence was properly excluded under
Evidence Code section 1101, because it was offered not to show a fact other than the
third party‟s criminal disposition, such as motive or intent, but merely to show that
the third party was the more likely perpetrator because he had a history of violence.
(47 Cal.3d at p. 921.) Such evidence does not amount to direct or circumstantial
evidence linking the third person to the actual perpetration of the crime.” (Davis,
supra, 10 Cal.4th at p. 501.)
6. Trial Court’s Neutrality
Defendant next claims the trial court “failed to maintain an atmosphere of
neutrality” and was unduly harsh to his trial counsel, undermining his right to an
unbiased jury and prejudicing his guilt and penalty verdicts. The claim is
“Although the trial court has both the duty and the discretion to control the
conduct of the trial (People v. Fudge [(1994)] 7 Cal.4th [1075,] 1108), the court
„commits misconduct if it persistently makes discourteous and disparaging
remarks to defense counsel so as to discredit the defense or create the impression it
is allying itself with the prosecution‟ (People v. Carpenter (1997) 15 Cal.4th 312,
353). Nevertheless, „[i]t is well within [a trial court‟s] discretion to rebuke an
attorney, sometimes harshly, when that attorney asks inappropriate questions,
ignores the court‟s instructions, or otherwise engages in improper or delaying
behavior.‟ (United States v. Donato (D.C. Cir. 1996) 99 F.3d 426, 434.) Indeed,
„[o]ur role . . . is not to determine whether the trial judge‟s conduct left something
to be desired, or even whether some comments would have been better left unsaid.
Rather, we must determine whether the judge‟s behavior was so prejudicial that it
denied [the defendant] a fair, as opposed to a perfect, trial.‟ (United States v.
Pisani (2d Cir. 1985) 773 F.2d 397, 402.)” (People v. Snow (2003) 30 Cal.4th 43,
First, because defendant raised no objection below on the grounds asserted
in this claim, and did not seek a jury admonition regarding any of the alleged
instances of judicial intemperance, he has failed to preserve the issue for appellate
review. (Snow, supra, 30 Cal.4th at p. 78; People v. Boyette (2002) 29 Cal.4th
381, 459; People v. Fudge, supra, 7 Cal.4th 1075, 1108.)
Even if the issue were properly before us, we would find no judicial
misconduct. Defendant points to various comments by the trial judge during voir
dire that, he asserts, “prevented defense counsel from exploring areas with
potential jurors that could lead to challenges for cause,” and did so “in ways that
attacked the integrity of counsel and painted him as someone willing to bend the
rules in order to achieve his ends.” We have reviewed each comment or remark in
the record of which defendant complains, and are satisfied there was no error,
much less error rising to the level of judicial misconduct. In many instances the
trial judge simply used the word “unfair” somewhat indiscriminately when
suggesting, for example, that counsel had posed an “unfair” hypothetical to a
prospective juror. In those instances, the court‟s remarks could not in reason have
been understood as disparaging defense counsel for being “unfair” to anyone;
rather, the court appears to have used the term broadly to refer to inartfully worded
inquiries to the jurors.
In one instance, defendant claims the court prevented counsel from probing
a prospective juror (“Mr. F.”) about his views on the death penalty. We have
reviewed the complained-of passage and find the court was merely clarifying
several of counsel‟s questions put to the prospective juror, and in no way sought to
preclude counsel from conducting a thorough voir dire. In other instances, despite
defendant‟s assertion here that comments by the court had disparaged counsel in
the eyes of the jurors, counsel ultimately thanked the court for its guidance, or
conceded that the question perturbing the court was indeed confusing or unclear.
Defendant also claims the court‟s bias against the defense in general was
apparent from the fact that it ruled against him on several of the pretrial issues
discussed above, including the exclusion of the proffered opinion testimony of
defense experts Gregory Haussmann and Norman Perle, and the exclusion of
third-party culpability evidence concerning Glenn Jordan. Since we have in each
instance found the proffered testimony or evidence properly excluded, this aspect
of defendant‟s claim of judicial bias also must fail.
7. Spousal Privilege Against Testifying
Defendant next argues the trial court erred when it refused to inform Billie
McWhorter of the statutory privilege of one spouse not to be forced to testify
against the other. (Evid. Code, §§ 970-971, 973.) The claim has no merit.
The spousal privilege is personal to the spouse seeking to avoid testifying,
and because Billie, and not defendant, was the holder of the privilege, defendant
does not have standing to raise the claim. (Evid. Code, § 918; see People v. Lucas
(1995) 12 Cal.4th 415, 490; Jurcoane v. Superior Court (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th
886, 896.) Defense counsel himself acknowledged this below. Moreover, it has
been expressly recognized that a trial court does not have a duty to advise a
witness of the spousal privilege. (People v. Resendez (1993) 12 Cal.App.4th 98,
106-108.) As explained in Resendez, nothing precluded defense counsel from
directly informing Billie of the privilege himself. (Id. at p. 109, fn. 6.) Defense
counsel acknowledged this below as well. Finally, counsel waited until after the
prosecutor had begun his direct examination of Billie to request the court to advise
her of the spousal privilege. Billie was the holder of the privilege, and once she
decided to testify at any point in defendant‟s criminal proceedings, the privilege
was waived for the entirety of the proceedings. (See Evid. Code, § 973, subd. (a).)
8. Shackling During Trial
Defendant argues that although alerted to the fact that he was shackled
while in the courtroom, the trial court failed to fulfill its duty to forbid physical
restraints unless their use was manifestly necessary. (People v. Hill (1998) 17
Cal.4th 800, 841.) The claim, too, is devoid of merit.
Before the first jury panel entered the courtroom, defense counsel requested
that defendant be unshackled.22 In response, the trial court ordered defendant‟s
waist chains removed (and inferentially, the handcuffs to which they were
attached) but did not order his leg restraints removed because defendant was
seated at counsel table and thus the leg restraints could not be observed by others
in the courtroom. There is no evidence in the record that any prospective juror
observed defendant in the leg restraints on this single occasion. “We have
consistently found any unjustified or unadmonished shackling harmless where
there was no evidence it was seen by the jury.” (People v. Tuilaepa (1992) 4
Cal.4th 569, 583-584.)
Moreover, although defense counsel made the request that defendant be
unshackled, he thereafter acquiesced in the remedy selected by the trial court —
removal of the visible waist chains — and made no further objection, thereby
waiving any claim on appeal with respect to the absence of further inquiry into the
There is no evidence in the record that defendant was shackled at any other
time during his ensuing trial.
manifest need for the concealed leg restraints. (People v. Stankewitz (1990) 51
Cal.3d 72, 95; People v. Walker (1988) 47 Cal.3d 605, 629.)
Nor do we find any merit to defendant‟s further claim that the trial court
“highlighted” the fact that he was in concealed leg restraints “by forcing [him] to
sit when introduced.” There is no evidence that anyone in the courtroom was
aware defendant was in leg restraints when he remained seated at counsel table as
counsel stood up to be introduced to the prospective jury panel. Finally, as there is
no evidence in the record that the two prospective jurors in the first panel who
were ultimately seated on defendant‟s jury could see the leg restraints, there is no
merit to defendant‟s further claim that the trial court committed reversible error
“by failing sua sponte to instruct the jury to disregard [defendant‟s] physical
9. Flight Instruction
Defendant next contends the trial court erred when, over his objection, it
instructed the jury with CALJIC No. 2.52 (flight after crime), “because the
evidence showed without contradiction that [defendant] lived out of state and
because the only evidence of flight was the fact that [defendant] did not remain in
The jury was instructed with CALJIC No. 2.52, which informed them that if
they found defendant fled, his flight was a circumstance they could consider when
The jury was instructed as follows: “Now the law says that the flight of a
person immediately after the commission of a crime or after he is accused of a
crime is not sufficient in itself to establish his guilt. But, it is a fact which, if
proved, may be considered by you in the light of all other proved facts in deciding
whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty. The weight to which this circumstance is
entitled is a matter for you to decide.”
At the threshold, we disagree with defendant‟s contention that he lived out
of state at the time of the murders and, for that reason, the flight instruction was
improperly given. At most, defendant traveled to Las Vegas and stayed with
Billie‟s son, Eric Roesler, for several days before hitchhiking back to Bakersfield
on Sunday, September 10, the day before Shirley and Joey were murdered.
Defendant and Billie had not yet purchased the van in which they were later living
in Las Vegas; it was purchased two days after the murders, on September 13. In
any event, nothing in the standard flight instruction requires that it be proved a
defendant “lived” in the area where his or her crimes were committed before an
inference of guilt may properly be drawn from facts evidencing “flight.”
A flight instruction is proper where the evidence shows a defendant
departed the crime scene under circumstances suggesting his movement was
motivated by a consciousness of guilt. (People v. Smithey (1999) 20 Cal.4th 936,
982; People v. Visciotti (1992) 2 Cal.4th 1, 60.) Within hours after the murders
defendant announced to his family members at the Self/Amos residence in Oildale,
which was in the vicinity of the Jordans‟ apartment, and to which he returned
directly after killing Shirley and Joey, that he and Billie would be leaving for Las
Vegas that same evening. Billie washed his clothes, defendant changed into clean
clothes, and they took the 7:00 p.m. bus to Las Vegas. We conclude on this
factual record that defendant‟s objection was correctly overruled and the flight
instruction properly given.
Defendant also contends the flight instruction (CALJIC No. 2.52), as well
as CALJIC No. 2.03, the instruction on consciousness of guilt, are both
impermissibly argumentative pinpoint instructions that allow juries to draw
improper inferences of guilt. The claim has been repeatedly rejected. (See, e.g.,
People v. Stitely (2005) 35 Cal.4th 514, 555 [CALJIC No. 2.03]; People v. Crew
(2003) 31 Cal.4th 822, 848-849 [CALJIC Nos. 2.05, 2.52].) He further argues the
flight instruction improperly allows “permissive inferences,” i.e., authorizes the
jury to draw an irrational inference of consciousness of guilt from flight. This
claim too has previously been considered and rejected. (People v. Mendoza (2000)
24 Cal.4th 130, 179-180.)
10. Cumulative Prejudice
Defendant asserts the cumulative effect of all the alleged guilt phase errors
requires reversal of his convictions, and consequently, of his death judgment. We
have found no error at the guilt phase. Accordingly, there is no cumulative effect
of guilt phase errors for consideration in this case. (People v. Johnson (1992)
3 Cal.4th 1183, 1255.)
C. Penalty Phase Issues
1. Two Multiple-Murder Special Circumstances
Defendant asserts it was error for the court to permit the jury to find true two
multiple-murder special circumstances, one for each count of murder. He is
correct. (See People v. Beardslee (1991) 53 Cal.3d 68, 117; People v. Warren
(1988) 45 Cal.3d 471, 489.) He further argues the error prejudiced his penalty
determination. We cannot agree. “We have consistently found such double counting
harmless because it did not result in the jury considering any inadmissible evidence.”
(Beardslee, supra, 53 Cal.3d at p. 117.) Here, as in Beardslee, “[t]he jury knew there
was a total of two murders. (People v. Odle (1988) 45 Cal.3d 386, 421-422.)”
2. Challenges to Constitutionality of Death Penalty Statute
Defendant asserts numerous grounds in support of his claim that the
California death penalty statute is unconstitutional. (See generally, People v.
Schmeck (2005) 37 Cal.4th 240, 303-305.) He acknowledges this Court has
previously rejected each of them, but raises them here in order to preserve the
claims in federal court. (Id. at p. 303.)
The claim that section 190.3, factor (a), which allows the jury to consider
“[t]he circumstances of the crime of which the defendant was convicted in the
present proceeding and the existence of any special circumstances found to be true
pursuant to Section 190.1,” is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, resulting in
the arbitrary and capricious imposition of the death penalty, has been rejected by
the high court in Tuilaepa v. California (1994) 512 U.S. 967, 975-976, and
repeatedly rejected by this court. (See, e.g., People v. Harris (2005) 37 Cal.4th
310, 365; People v. Stitely, supra, 35 Cal.4th at p. 574; Maury, supra, 30 Cal.4th
at p. 439; People v. Lewis (2001) 26 Cal.4th 334, 394 (Lewis).)
The claims that allowing the jury to consider as an aggravating factor
unadjudicated criminal activity involving force or violence under Penal Code
section 190.3, factor (b), violated defendant‟s federal constitutional rights to due
process, equal protection, and a reliable penalty determination and, to the extent
the evidence was permissible, that the failure to further instruct on the requirement
of jury unanimity violated his rights to a jury trial and to a reliable penalty
determination, have likewise been rejected in many prior decisions of this Court.
(See, e.g., People v. Turner (2004) 34 Cal.4th 406, 439; People v. Brown (2004) 33
Cal.4th 382, 401-402.)
The claim that the failure to delete inapplicable statutory sentencing factors
in CALJIC No. 8.85 introduced confusion, capriciousness, and unreliability into his
penalty determination, in violation of the Eighth Amendment and defendant‟s
other federal Constitutional rights, has also previously been rejected by this court.
(See, e.g., People v. Dickey (2005) 35 Cal.4th 884, 928 (Dickey); People v. Box
(2000) 23 Cal.4th 1153, 1217 (Box).)
The claim that it was error not to identify for the jury which of the sentencing
factors were aggravating, and which were mitigating, has likewise repeatedly been
rejected. “The aggravating or mitigating nature of the factors is self-evident within
the context of each case.” (People v. Hillhouse (2002) 27 Cal.4th 469, 509; see
also Dickey, supra, 35 Cal.4th at p. 928; Box, supra, 23 Cal.4th at p. 1217.)
Nor does the use of adjectives such as “extreme” in section 190.3,
factors (d) and (g), or “substantial” in section 190.3, factor (g), serve as an
improper barrier to the consideration of mitigating evidence. (Lewis, supra, 26
Cal.4th at p. 395; People v. Visciotti, supra, 2 Cal.4th 1, 73-75 [“extreme” as used
in § 190.3, factor (g)]; People v. Adcox (1988) 47 Cal.3d 207, 270 [“substantial”
as used in § 190.3, factor (g)].)
The claim that California‟s death penalty statute unconstitutionally fails to
define the burden of proof on whether an aggravating circumstance exists, whether
the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, and whether death is the
appropriate penalty, has previously rejected by this Court. (Maury, supra, 30
Cal.4th at p. 440.) Nor do the United States Supreme Court‟s decisions in Ring v.
Arizona (2002) 536 U.S. 584, or Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) 530 U.S. 466
compel a different conclusion. (See People v. Ward (2005) 36 Cal.4th 186, 221;
People v. Morrison (2004) 34 Cal.4th 698, 731.)
Furthermore, “[t]he [death penalty] statute is not invalid for failing to
require (1) written findings or unanimity as to aggravating factors, (2) proof of all
aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt, (3) findings that aggravation
outweighs mitigation beyond a reasonable doubt, or (4) findings that death is the
appropriate penalty beyond a reasonable doubt.” (Snow, supra, 30 Cal.4th at p.
126.) And except for prior violent crimes evidence and prior felony convictions
under section 190.3, factors (b) and (c), the court need not instruct regarding a
burden of proof, or instruct the jury that there is no burden of proof at the penalty
phase. (Box, supra, 23 Cal.4th at p. 1216; People v. Carpenter, supra, 15 Cal.4th
at pp. 417-418.) Nor is it error to fail to instruct the jury there is a “presumption of
life” at the penalty phase of the trial, analogous to the presumption of innocence at
the guilt phase (People v. Avila (2006) 38 Cal.4th 491, 615 (Avila); People v. Perry
(2006) 38 Cal.4th 302, 321), or that if they determine mitigating evidence
outweighs aggravating evidence, they must return a sentence of life without parole
(People v. Moon (2005) 37 Cal.4th 1, 42).
Nor is there a requirement that California‟s death penalty sentencing
scheme provide for intercase proportionality review. (See, e.g., People v. Sapp
(2003) 31 Cal.4th 240, 317.)
Finally, as this court has repeatedly held, California‟s death penalty statute
neither constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment
(People v. Guerra (2006) 37 Cal.4th 1067, 1164; People v. Fairbank (1997) 16
Cal.4th 1223, 1255) nor violates international law (Avila, supra, 38 Cal.4th at
p. 615; People v. Boyer (2006) 38 Cal.4th 412, 489-490).
3. Improper Imposition of Parole Revocation Restitution Fine
Defendant last claims that because his sentence did not include a period of
parole, the trial court erred in imposing and then staying a $200 parole revocation
restitution fine pursuant to section 1202.45. He is correct. (See People v.
Oganesyan (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 1178, 1184-1185.) Respondent has conceded
the point. We shall therefore order the fine stricken and the judgment modified to
The judgment is modified to reflect the striking of one multiple-murder
special circumstance and the parole revocation restitution fine imposed pursuant to
section 1202.45. In all other respects the judgment is affirmed.
GEORGE, C. J.
See next page for addresses and telephone numbers for counsel who argued in Supreme Court.
Name of Opinion People v. McWhorter
Original Appeal XXX
Opinion No. S068536
Date Filed: August 6, 2009
Judge: Clarence Westra, Jr.
Attorneys for Appellant:
David S. Adams, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.
Attorneys for Respondent:
Bill Lockyer and Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorneys General, Mary Jo Graves, Chief Assistant Attorney
General, Stan Cross, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Patrick J. Whalen and Brook Bennigson, Deputy
Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
Counsel who argued in Supreme Court (not intended for publication with opinion):
David S. Adams
P. O. Box 1670
Hood River, OR 97031
Deputy Attorney General
1300 I Street, Suite 125
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
Automatic appeal from a judgment of death.
|Thu, 08/06/2009||S068536||Automatic Appeal||opinion issued|
|1||The People (Respondent)|
Represented by Attorney General - Sacramento Office
Mr. Brook Bennigson, Deputy Attorney General
P.O. Box 944255
|2||McWhorter, Richard (Appellant)|
Represented by California Appellate Project - Sf
Michael Millman, Executive Director
101 Second Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA
|3||McWhorter, Richard (Appellant)|
Represented by David S. Adams
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 1670
Hood River, OR
|4||McWhorter, Richard (Appellant)|
Represented by Michael William Clough
Attorney at Law
6114 LaSalle Ave., #833
|Aug 6 2009||Opinion: Affirmed as modified|
|Feb 26 1998||Judgment of death|
|Mar 10 1998||Filed certified copy of Judgment of Death Rendered|
|Mar 10 1998||Penal Code sections 190.6 et seq. apply to this case|
|May 26 1998||Record certified for completeness|
|Sep 23 2002||Filed:|
appellant's application for appointment of counsel (IFP form).
|Sep 24 2002||Order appointing State Public Defender filed|
to represent appellant for the direct appeal.
|Oct 15 2002||Date trial court delivered record to appellant's counsel|
(7,008 pp. record) (see Calif. Rules of Court, rule 39.50(c); the date of delivery is the date of mailing plus five days.)
|Oct 15 2002||Received:|
notice from superior court of transmittal of 7,008 pp. record to appellant's counsel on 10-10-2002.
|Oct 30 2002||Appellant's opening brief letter sent, due:|
May 13, 2003.
|Nov 22 2002||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jan 17 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Mar 13 2003||Received copy of appellant's record correction motion|
appellant's request for correction of record, applic. for settled statements, applic. for additional records and request for documentary exhibits. (21 pp.)
|Mar 20 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|May 8 2003||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (1st request)
|May 13 2003||Extension of time granted|
to 7/14/2003 to file appellant's opening brief. The court anticipates that after that date, only four further extensions totaling 240 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.
|May 19 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jul 10 2003||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (2nd request)
|Jul 10 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jul 16 2003||Extension of time granted|
to 9-12-2003 to file AOB. The court anticipates that after that date, only three further extensions totaling 180 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.
|Sep 11 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Sep 11 2003||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (3rd request)
|Sep 18 2003||Extension of time granted|
to 11/12/2003 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.
|Nov 4 2003||Record certified for accuracy|
|Nov 7 2003||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (4th request)
|Nov 7 2003||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Nov 12 2003||Extension of time granted|
to 1/12/2004 to file appellant's opening brief. The court anticipates that after that date, only two further extensions totaling 90 additional days will be granted. Cousnel 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.
|Jan 9 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jan 9 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (5th request)
|Jan 13 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 3/12/2004 to file appellant's opening brief. The court anticipates that after that date, only two further extensions totaling 90 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.
|Mar 8 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Mar 8 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (6th request)
|Mar 12 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 5/11/2004 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.
|Apr 13 2004||Record on appeal filed|
Clerk's transcript 29 volumes (5818 pp.) and reporter's transcript 52 volumes (5666 pp.), including material under seal; ASCII disks. Clerk's transcript includes 2679 pp. of juror questionnaires.
|Apr 13 2004||Letter sent to:|
counsel advising that record on appeal, certified for accuracy, was filed this date.
|May 6 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|May 6 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (7th request)
|May 12 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 7/12/2004 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only nine further extensions totaling about 500 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon Deputy State Public Defender David S. Adam's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by mid-12/2005.
|May 19 2004||Note:|
appellant's 8th request for extension of time to file AOB returned to State P.D., unfiled; it is premature.
|May 19 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jul 7 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from State P.D.
|Jul 8 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (8th request)
|Jul 15 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 9/10/2004 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only eight further extensions totaling about 440 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon Assistant State Public Defender Jay Colangelo's representation that he anticipates the brief will be filed by mid-12/2005.
|Jul 30 2004||Motion to withdraw as counsel filed|
Motion by State Public Defender to withdraw as counsel of record for appellant.
|Jul 30 2004||Motion for appointment of counsel filed|
Application of attorney David S. Adams for appointment as counsel for appellant.
|Aug 25 2004||Withdrawal of counsel allowed by order|
Good cause appearing, the application of appointed counsel for permission to withdraw as attorney of record for appellant Richard McWhorter, filed July 30, 2004, is granted. The order appointing the State Public Defender as counsel of record for appellant Richard McWhorter, filed September 24, 2002, is hereby vacated. David S. Adams is hereby appointed as counsel of record to represent appellant Richard McWhorter for the direct appeal in the above automatic appeal now pending in this court.
|Sep 7 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (9th request)
|Sep 8 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Adams.
|Sep 9 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 11/9/2004 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only seven further extensions totaling about 380 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by mid-12/2005.
|Nov 5 2004||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (10th request)
|Nov 5 2004||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Adams.
|Nov 10 2004||Extension of time granted|
to 1/10/2005 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only six further extensions totaling about 320 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by mid-12/2005.
|Nov 17 2004||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Jan 6 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Adams.
|Jan 6 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (11th request)
|Jan 10 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 3/11/2005 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only five further extensions totaling about 260 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by 12/2005.
|Mar 9 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Adams.
|Mar 9 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (12th request)
|Mar 14 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 5/11/2005 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only four further extensions totaling about 200 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by 12/2005.
|May 9 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (13th request)
|May 9 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Adams.
|May 11 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 7/11/2005 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, only three further extensions totaling about 140 additional days will be granted. Extension is granted based upon counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by 12/2005.
|Jul 8 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file AOB. (14th request)
|Jul 8 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Adams.
|Jul 12 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 9-9-2005 to file AOB. After that date, only two further extensions totaling about 80 additional days will be granted. Extension granted based upon counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates filing the brief by December 2005.
|Sep 6 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Adams.
|Sep 6 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (15th request)
|Sep 13 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 11/8/2005 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 counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by December 2005.
|Sep 23 2005||Counsel appointment order filed|
appointing Phyllis M. Quatman to represent appellant for habeas corpus/executive clemency proceedings.
|Oct 7 2005||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Nov 7 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Adams.
|Nov 7 2005||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's opening brief. (16th request)
|Nov 14 2005||Extension of time granted|
to 1-6-06 to file appellant's opening brief. After that date, no further extension is contemplated. Extension is granted based upon counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates that brief by 1-6-06.
|Dec 1 2005||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Adams.
|Dec 14 2005||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Dec 27 2005||Appellant's opening brief filed|
(91,866 words; 319 pp. - exlcuding attached appendices)
|Dec 27 2005||Respondent's brief letter sent; due:|
May 11, 2006
|Jan 9 2006||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Jan 9 2006||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Feb 14 2006||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Quatman.
|Apr 14 2006||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Quatman.
|May 4 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to file respondent's brief. (1st request)
|May 9 2006||Extension of time granted|
to July 10, 2006 to file respondent's brief.
|Jul 3 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to file respondent's brief. (2nd request)
|Jul 7 2006||Extension of time granted|
to August 9, 2006 to file respondent's brief. Extension is granted based upon Deputy Attorney General Brook Bennigson's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by August 9, 2006. After that date, no further extension is contemplated.
|Aug 3 2006||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Quatman.
|Aug 4 2006||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Aug 9 2006||Respondent's brief filed|
(95,028 words; 292 pp.)
|Aug 9 2006||Note:|
Appellant's reply brief due October 10, 2006. (rule 36(c)(1)(D))
|Aug 11 2006||Received:|
letter from DAG Brook Benningson regarding insertion of page "v" of the Table of Contents in support of Respondent's Brief.
|Oct 10 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (1st request)
|Oct 13 2006||Extension of time granted|
On application of appellant and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file appellant's reply brief is extended to and including December 11, 2006.
|Oct 17 2006||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Dec 11 2006||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (2nd request)
|Dec 11 2006||Letter sent to:|
attorney Phyllis Quatman requesting status report.
|Dec 14 2006||Extension of time granted|
to February 9, 2007 to file appellant's reply brief. After that date, only one further extension totaling about 64 additional days is contemplated. Extension is granted based upon counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by April 15, 2007.
|Jan 11 2007||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Quatman.
|Jan 16 2007||Received:|
amended declaration of service of counsel's status report (confidential).
|Feb 5 2007||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (3rd request)
|Feb 7 2007||Change of contact information filed for:|
applt counsel David S. Adams.
|Feb 7 2007||Extension of time granted|
to April 16, 2007 to file appellant's reply brief. After that date, no further extension is contemplated. Extension is granted based upon counsel David S. Adam's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by April 16, 2007.
|Mar 20 2007||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Quatman.
|Apr 16 2007||Request for extension of time filed|
to file appellant's reply brief. (4th request)
|Apr 23 2007||Extension of time granted|
to May 7, 2007 to file appellant's reply brief. Extension is granted based upon counsel David S. Adams's representation that he anticipates filing that brief by May 7, 2007. After that date, no further extension will be granted.
|May 7 2007||Appellant's reply brief filed|
(20,058 words; 96 pp.)
|May 24 2007||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Jul 2 2007||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
from atty Quatman.
|Aug 6 2007||Filed:|
Confidential declaration from atty Quatman.
|Dec 3 2007||Motion to withdraw as counsel filed|
by Atty Quatman.
|Dec 19 2007||Motion denied|
The "Motion to Withdraw as Counsel of Record and Notice of Conflict of Interest," filed on December 3, 2007, is denied.
|Feb 26 2008||Motion to withdraw as counsel filed|
attorney Phyllis Quatman's second motion to withdraw as (habeas corpus/executive clemency) counsel.
|Feb 26 2008||Motion to file document under seal filed (AA)|
attorney Quatman's request to file under seal declaration supporting her second motion to withdraw as counsel.
|Feb 26 2008||Lodged:|
conditionally under seal, declaration in support of motion to withdraw as counsel. (confidential)
|Apr 9 2008||Motion to file document under seal granted|
Good cause appearing, appointed habeas corpus/executive clemency counsel Phyllis M. Quatman's "Request to File Under Seal Declaration Supporting Second Motion to Withdraw as Counsel of Record" for appellant Richard McWhorter, filed February 26, 2008, is granted. The court expressly finds that the factors enumerated in California Rules of Court, rule 2.550(d), support granting the motion to file under seal.
|Apr 9 2008||Order filed|
In conjunction with the order filed this day permitting Phyllis M. Quatman to withdraw as appointed habeas corpus/executive clemency counsel of record for appellant Richard McWhorter with regard to the above-referenced automatic appeal now pending in this court, Quatman is ordered to reimburse this court the sum of $43,560, subject to her ability to demonstrate to the court that she should be credited, as appropriate, for habeas corpus "work performed that is determined by the court to be of value to the court." (See Guidelines for Fixed Fee Appointments, on Optional Basis, to Automatic Appeals and Related Habeas Corpus Proceedings in Cal. Supreme Ct., guideline 11 ["Court Action Upon Nonperformance of Work, and Reimbursement of Fees Upon Authorized Withdrawal of Appointed Counsel"], subpt. B.)
|Apr 9 2008||Withdrawal of counsel allowed by order|
Good cause appearing, appointed habeas corpus/executive clemency counsel's "Second Motion to Withdraw as Counsel of Record" on behalf of appellant Richard McWhorter, filed February 26, 2008, is granted. The order appointing Phyllis M. Quatman as counsel of record for appellant Richard McWhorter, filed September 23, 2005, is hereby vacated. Michael G. Millman, as Executive Director of the California Appellate Project in San Francisco, is hereby appointed to serve as interim habeas corpus/executive clemency counsel of record for appellant Richard McWhorter. Quatman is hereby directed to deliver to Executive Director Millman, within 30 days from the filing of this order, all case transcripts, case files, habeas corpus investigation work product, trial files, investigation reports, 60-day status reports, and all related materials that she has obtained from appellant or from his appellate or trial counsel, paralegals, experts and investigators, or from any other source.
|Mar 16 2009||Oral argument letter sent|
advising counsel that the court could schedule this case for argument as early as the May calendars, to be held the week of May 4 and the week of May 25, 2009, 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.
|Apr 3 2009||Received:|
letter from Deputy Attorney General, Brook Bennigson, dated April 2, 2009, regarding the scheduling of oral argument.
|Apr 22 2009||Case ordered on calendar|
to be argued Thursday, May 28, 2009, at 1:30 p.m., in San Francisco
|May 1 2009||Filed:|
respondent's focus issues letter, dated May 1, 2009.
|May 8 2009||Received:|
appearance sheet from David S. Adams, indicating 45 minutes for oral argument for appellant.
|May 11 2009||Received:|
appearance sheet from Deputy Attorney General Brook Bennigson, indicating 45 minutes for oral argument for respondent.
|May 11 2009||Filed:|
appellant's focus issues letter, dated May 8, 2009.
|May 15 2009||Filed:|
appellant's amended declaration of service for focus issues letter dated, May 8, 2009.
|May 20 2009||Withdrawal of counsel allowed by order|
The order appointing Michael G. Millman, as Executive Director of the California Appellate Project, to serve as interim habeas corpus/executive clemency counsel of record for appellant Richard McWhorter, filed October 3, 2008, is hereby vacated. Michael W. Clough is hereby appointed to represent appellant Richard McWhorter for habeas corpus/executive clemency proceedings related to the above automatic appeal now pending in this court. Any "petition for writ of habeas corpus will be presumed to be filed without substantial delay if it is filed . . . within 36 months" of this date (Supreme Ct. Policies Regarding Cases Arising From Judgments of Death, policy 3, timeliness std. 1-1.1), and it will be presumed that any successive petition filed within that period is justified or excused (see In re Clark (1993) 5 Cal.4th 750, 774-782), in light of prior habeas corpus/executive clemency counsel Phyllis M. Quatman's declaration, in support of her motion to withdraw, to the effect that she was unable to discharge her duty to investigate and, if appropriate, present a habeas corpus petition on behalf of appellant Richard McWhorter, and this court's delay in appointing replacement habeas corpus/executive clemency counsel. George, C.J., was absent and did not participate.
|May 28 2009||Cause argued and submitted|
|Jun 11 2009||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Jul 20 2009||Counsel's status report received (confidential)|
|Jul 22 2009||Compensation awarded counsel|
|Jul 29 2009||Order filed|
On the court's own motion, Phyllis Moore Quatman, former appointed habeas corpus counsel of record for condemned inmate Richard McWhorter, is hereby referred to the State Bar of California for appropriate disciplinary proceedings in light of Quatman's failure to comply, in whole or in part, with the court's order of April 9, 2008, directing her to reimburse this court the sum of $43,560 in connection with the separate order of that same date vacating her capital-related habeas corpus appointment on behalf of condemned inmate McWhorter. (See Guidelines for Fixed Fee Appointments, on Optional Basis, to Automatic Appeals and Related Habeas Corpus Proceedings in Cal. Supreme Ct., guideline 11 [Court Action Upon Nonperformance of Work, and Reimbursement of Fees Upon Authorized Withdrawal of Appointed Counsel], subpt. B.) Corrigan, J., was absent and did not participate.
|Jul 29 2009||Letter sent to:|
the State Bar of California regarding referral of Phyllis Moore Quatman.
|Aug 5 2009||Notice of forthcoming opinion posted|
To be filed Thursday, August 6, 2009 @ 10am.
|Aug 6 2009||Opinion filed: Judgment affirmed as modified|
The judgment is modified to reflect the striking of one multiple-murder special circumstance and the parole revocation restitution fine imposed pursuant to section 1202.45. In all other respects the judgment is affirmed. Majority Opinion by Baxter, J. -----joined by George, C.J., Kennard, Werdegar, Chin, Moreno and Corrigan, JJ.
|Aug 24 2009||Rehearing petition filed|
(13 pp.) Timely filed pursuant to Cal. Rules of Court, rule 8.25(b)
|Aug 25 2009||Time extended to consider modification or rehearing|
The time for granting or denying rehearing in the above-entitled case is hereby extended to and including November 4, 2009, or the date upon which rehearing is either granted or denied, whichever occurs first.
|Aug 28 2009||Filed:|
Certificate of Counsel, Word Count for Petition for Rehearing. (2,685 words)
|Dec 27 2005||Appellant's opening brief filed|
(91,866 words; 319 pp. - exlcuding attached appendices)
|Aug 9 2006||Respondent's brief filed|
(95,028 words; 292 pp.)
|May 7 2007||Appellant's reply brief filed|
(20,058 words; 96 pp.)