Supreme Court of California Justia
Citation 51 Cal. 2d 445, 334 P.2d 573
People v. Richardson

People v. Richardson , 51 Cal.2d 445

[Crim. No. 6346. In Bank. Jan. 30, 1959.]

THE PEOPLE, Respondent, v. WILMA LEE RICHARDSON, Appellant.


Frank J. Baumgarten for Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Attorney General, Clarence A. Linn, Assistant Attorney General, and Peter T. Kennedy, Deputy Attorney General, for Respondent.



A jury found defendant guilty of possessing narcotics in violation of section 11500 of the Health and Safety Code. On this appeal she claims that there was an unlawful search and seizure and that there is insufficient evidence to show knowing possession.

Defendant was taken into custody on the morning of January 2, 1957, by Inspector Noel and three other officers. Noel and one of the other officers testified at the trial and related substantially the same facts with respect to the arrest. Upon entering the building in which defendant's apartment was located, the officers, who did not have a warrant, saw defendant open her door and walk down a hallway to the rear of the building. Her door was left ajar, and the officers entered and began to conduct a search. When defendant returned a few minutes later, she was placed under arrest, and a vial of narcotics was found in her skirt pocket. She said, "Well, I guess you have got me good this time," and, when questioned as to where she had obtained the narcotics, she replied, "I'd rather not say." She did not deny knowing that the narcotics were on her person.

Inspector Noel testified that the officers had gone to defendant's apartment because of information obtained from two sources on the morning of the arrest. A man who was known to the inspector as James Allen and who claimed to be living with defendant came to the inspector's office and said that defendant was selling narcotics at her apartment. Shortly thereafter, Noel was told by Inspector Ohlson, who did not testify at the trial, that Ohlson had received the same information from Randolph Clark. According to Noel, both Allen and Clark had, on previous occasions, given the authorities information which led to arrests, and, in his opinion, they were reliable informers. A photograph was introduced into evidence, which Noel identified as being that of James Allen.

Defendant took the stand and said that she was living with a James Allen at the time she was taken into custody but that [51 Cal.2d 447] he was not the man whose photograph was in evidence. She testified that she had not known of the presence of narcotics on her person, and she denied making the incriminating remarks attributed to her by the officers. Her explanation was that one of her boarders, Randolph Clark, had quarreled with her and that, while she was washing clothes shortly before the arrest, Faye Robertson, a woman living with Clark, had asked her to keep something for a few minutes and had put an object wrapped in a five-dollar bill into her skirt pocket. According to defendant, the vial of narcotics was wrapped in a five-dollar bill when found by the police, and she then saw the vial for the first time. The officers testified, however, that there was no five-dollar bill in defendant's pocket, and, when Faye Robertson was called to the stand by the People, she testified that she did not know of any quarrel between defendant and Clark and that she had not given defendant the narcotics.

The defense called a witness who testified that his name was James Allen, that he had formerly lived at defendant's address, and that he had never given Inspector Noel information about defendant or anyone else. It was stipulated that the witness was not the informer referred to by Noel.

[1] The evidence against defendant, if legally secured, clearly warrants the jury's implied finding that she knowingly possessed narcotics, and the only claim of error which need be discussed is the assertion that the evidence against defendant was obtained as the result of an unlawful search and seizure.

[2] Defendant did not object at any point in the trial to the admission of evidence on the ground that it was obtained by an unlawful search and seizure, and she may not raise the matter for the first time on appeal. (People v. Goldberg, 152 Cal.App.2d 562, 572 [314 P.2d 151]; People v. Williams, 148 Cal.App.2d 525, 532 [307 P.2d 48]; see People v. Kitchens, 46 Cal.2d 260, 262 [294 P.2d 17]; cf. Robison v. Superior Court, 49 Cal.2d 186, 187 [316 P.2d 1].) [3] Moreover, the record permits the determination that, notwithstanding the absence of a warrant, the arrest and ensuing search were justified because there was reason to believe that defendant had committed a felony. Noel's testimony regarding James Allen, with whom he dealt personally, is alone sufficient for this purpose, without resort to his testimony about the information he received indirectly from Randolph Clark. The position taken by defendant, although not entirely clear, appears to be that the showing made by her with respect to Allen compels [51 Cal.2d 448] the conclusion that the alleged informer either did not exist or was not reliable. Obviously, however, defendant succeeded, at most, in creating a conflict in the evidence for the trial court to resolve, and the court was entitled to believe Noel and to determine that the communication in question was in fact made by an informer known to Noel as James Allen and that, in view of the informer's past reliability, there was reasonable cause for the arrest and search.

What has been said above makes it unnecessary to consider defendant's claim that the information allegedly given by Randolph Clark cannot be relied upon to justify the search and seizure because Noel learned of it indirectly through Inspector Ohlson, who did not testify.

The judgment is affirmed.

Shenk, J., Carter, J., Traynor, J., Schauer, J., Spence, J., and McComb, J., concurred.

Opinion Information
Fri, 01/30/195951 Cal. 2d 445, 334 P.2d 573Review - Criminal AppealOpinion issued

1THE PEOPLE (Respondent)
3THE PEOPLE (Respondent)

Jan 30 1959Opinion: Affirmed

May 28, 2010
Annotated by simms

Opinion: C.J. Gibson
Concurring Justices: Shenk, J., Carter, J., Traynor, J., Schauer, J., Spence, J., and McComb, J.

A jury convicted the defendant for possessing narcotics in violation of former section 11500 of the Health and Safety Code (now section 11350). The defendant appealed, claiming that she was arrested after an unlawful search and seizure and that the court lacked sufficient evidence to convict her.

Defendant was arrested after Inspector Noel entered her apartment building without a warrant, based on a tip from a man he believed was James Allen (a cohabitant of the defendant). After see the defendant leave her apartment the officer entered, conducted a search and arrested her upon her return. Inspector Noel had entered both the apartment building and the defendant’s apartment through doors that were left ajar. Once she was arrested, narcotics were found on her person and the defendant did not deny knowledge of possessing the drugs.
At her trial the defendant questioned the identity of the alleged informant, denied making any self-incriminating statements upon her arrest, claimed to have unknowingly had narcotics on her person. The defendant claimed that another tenant with whom she had quarreled before the arrest had framed her.

The only issue addressed by the court concerned whether the information provided to Inspector Noel by a man known to him as James Allen could support a search of the defendant’s residence and person.

The court affirmed the trial verdict, holding that the information provided to Inspector Noel gave him reasonable cause to conduct a search and arrest the defendant.

The court’s holding is based on the belief that the defendant’s claim regarding the identity of the informant did not, necessarily affect the reasonableness of Inspector Noel’s choice to rely on the information he received from the man he thought was James Allen. The defendant’s argument, if believed by the jury, could have cast doubt on the reliability of the informants allegations, but based on the information presented at trial, the jury could also (and did) decide that tip was reliable and formed a reasonable basis for the inspector’s search.

Annotation by: Ashley Simms

Key Terms: Search and Seizure, Warrantless search, Identification of Informants

Mar 12, 2009
Annotated by diana teasland

Written by Robert Gonzalez

Procedural Posture:
Defendant Keith Richardson was charged and convicted by a jury of felony-murder, rape, sodomy, and lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. Although his first trial ended in a mistrial because the jury could not reach a verdict, his second trial ended in a conviction and a death sentence. The decision was automatically appealed to the California Supreme Court, pursuant to the California Constitution. Richardson, 43 Cal.4th at 970-71.

Factual Background:
For more in-depth factual development, see Richardson, 43 Cal.4th at 970-80.

Persons Involved
Victim: April Holley was an 11-year-old girl who was raped and drowned in the bathtub the night of Saturday, December 3, 1988.

Suspects: The primary suspect in the murder was Keith Richardson, who was spotted around the house, fled the day after the murder, was linked to the crime scene through DNA, and confessed to various other witnesses. Steven Brown, another man from the area, was believed to have also been involved. Brown was charged separately, convicted, and also sentenced to death. A third suspect, fifteen-year-old Bobby Joe Marshall, Jr., was also believed to be present when the murder occurred. He was charged separately but the charges where dismissed and he subsequently testified against Richardson.

• Naomi Holley, April’s mother, dropped April off with family friends that Friday night, at the home of Melanie Lewis. Naomi Holley went to a party Saturday night without informing April of her plans.
• Tammy Holly, April’s older sister, was in jail that weekend.
• Melanie Lewis lived with her boyfriend, Richard Schnabel, and their children, including their daughter, Tawny Schnabel. They were charged with taking care of April for the weekend.
• The Marshall family consisted of Bob Marshall, Sr., his sister Linda Land, his sons, Michael and Bobby Joe Marshall Jr., and Michael’s girlfriend, Carol Brouchard. Defendant Richardson lived in the Marshall trailer, in the same tract as the Holley family.
• Roger Rummerfield and Renee Bailey were friends of the Holleys, and almost daily visitors to their house.
• Robert Hernandez was a friend of Richardson’s and lived nearby, with his uncle, Barney Hernandez.
• Jimmy Rousanvall was another friend of Richardson, who lived in a bus in the same tract.
• Tammy Petrea was a drug addict and a prostitute who was spending time at the Rousanvall bus the night of the murder.
• Brian Pounds, a friend of Richardson’s, took him to San Leandro the morning after the murder.

While April was staying with the Lewis family, a $20 dollar bill belonging to Tawny Schnabel went missing and was found in April’s coat pocket. Lewis decided to take April back home and went looking for Naomi, but they were unable to locate her. They returned to the Lewis residence, after which, April got a ride back to her house from the Schnabel’s teenage daughters. April could not get in the front door of her house, she stopped by a neighbor’s house who was home but did not answer the door, and eventually got in through the back door of her house.

At around 7:30 pm on Saturday, Richardson told Barney Hernandez that he had seen April walking around alone, that he had stopped at her residence, and that “he was gonna check her out, and he was gonna take care of it.” Richardson also asked Robert Hernandez to inject him with cocaine. Between 9 and 9:30, individuals near the Holley residence heard screams coming from the house, and one witness identified the screams as coming from April.

Later that evening, Richardson arrived at the Rousanvall bus to do cocaine with Tammy Petrea. Richardson confessed to Petrea, admitting that he (and unnamed others) had raped and drowned April Holley. He insisted that he would “take care of” Petrea as well if she told anybody. Bobby Joe Marshall, Jr. also testified that Richardson told him that he had killed April Holley later that night.

Sunday morning, Rummerfield went to the Holley residence to use the bathroom. Finding the front door locked, he went in the back door and went towards the bathroom. Upon entering, he found April lying in the tub, in a fetal position, wearing only a sweatshirt. Her head was directly under the spout and her face was partially covered with water. She also showed signs of sexual abuse.

Police and paramedics arrived and began in investigation. They did not share the details of the investigation with any bystanders. Later that morning, another witness testified to hearing Richardson and Bobby Joe Marshall, Jr. discussing the murder and concocting an alibi. Barney Hernandez testified that Richardson had blood on his shirt that morning and had shaved his goatee. That afternoon, after lurking nervously around the crime scene, Richardson left with Brian Pounds to San Leandro.

A week later, Richardson was interviewed by two detectives in San Leandro. Richardson waived his Miranda rights and appeared eager to cooperate. Richardson gave a conflicting account of what happened. He agreed to another interview the following day. After more conflicting accounts, and being prompted by false statements from the investigators, Richardson admitted to being present in the Holley residence that evening, but denied committing the murder. He later confessed to the murder, but immediately retracted the confession.

Investigators found a host of DNA evidence linking Richardson and Brown to the murder. DNA found around April’s rectum was linked to Brown. Pubic hairs found in the bathtub and on April’s sweatshirt were matched to samples from Richardson. Furthermore, an inmate in Tulare County Jail came forward saying that Richardson told him, “She wasn’t the first and she won’t be the last, motherf-ker.”

Richardson was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to death. Richardson raised a host of issues on appeal.

Questions Presented:
1) Did the prosecutor improperly use peremptory challenges to exclude any prospective juror who expressed reservations about the death penalty?
2) Did the prosecution unreasonably delay Defendant’s arraignment supporting suppression of his statement to police?
3) Did the deceptive and misleading statements used by police during their interrogation of Richardson render his statement’s involuntary?
4) Did the court irreversibly err in not compelling Brown to assert the privilege against self-incrimination?
5) Did the court err in instructing the jury that Defendant could be convicted of first degree murder based on sodomy?
6) Did the court accurately impose restitution on Defendant, pursuant to the statutory scheme?

1) The prosecutor’s use of peremptory challenges to excuse any prospective juror why expressed reservations about the death penalty did not violate the constitutional right to a representative jury, especially considering that the defense during the trial did not challenge the empaneled jury at the time nor did the defense exhaust its peremptory challenges. Id. at 983-86.
2) The short delay in arraigning Richardson (less than two days), was not unreasonable and does not warrant suppression of Richardson’s statement to the police. Id. at 990-991.
3) No, police deception during the interrogation did not make Richardson’s statements involuntary, because the deceptions used by police did not dispositively make the statements involuntary, and the totality of circumstances suggest that his statements were voluntary. Id. at 992-993.
4) It was not reversible error for the court to not compel Brown to assert his privilege against self-incrimination, because it was not necessary for the court to force Brown onto the stand merely to compel his privilege; that would only lead to improper inferences. Id. at 1010-12.
5) The court’s instruction that a sodomy charge could support a felony-murder conviction was erroneous, but the error was harmless because the jury’s findings would support a felony-murder conviction on other legal theories. Id. at 1018.
6) A remand is necessary for the court to reconsider a restitution award under the statutory scheme. Id. at 1038.