After police stopped defendant

After police stopped defendant

Defendant appealed his conviction from the Superior Court of Riverside County (California) for first degree murder. Defendant contended that the corpus delicti was not established and that certain extrajudicial statements were received in evidence in violation of the rules enunciated in Miranda. Defendant also appealed the trial court’s orders denying defendant’s motion for a new trial and for reduction of sentence.

After police stopped defendant, who was driving the victim’s car, the victim’s sister reported the victim missing. After making certain incriminating statements to the police, defendant was arrested, convicted of first degree murder, and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, the court reversed defendant’s conviction and dismissed defendant’s appeal of the trial court’s orders denying defendant’s motion for a new trial and for reduction of sentence, which were non-appealable. The court held that (1) the evidence, ADA attorney Orange County which included testimony that defendant was hitchhiking and had a revolver and that the victim, whose body was never found, was known to have frequently picked up hitchhikers, sufficiently established prima facie proof of the corpus delicti; (2) defendant was not properly advised prior to police questioning of his right to have an attorney, either retained or appointed, during the questioning; (3) the continuance of the police interrogation after defendant expressed a desire for an attorney rendered defendant’s statements inadmissible; and (4) the state failed to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant’s extrajudicial statements were nonprejudicial.

The court reversed defendant’s conviction for first degree murder. The court dismissed defendant’s appeal from the trial court’s orders denying defendant’s motion for a new trial and for reduction of sentence.

A jury convicted defendant of the first-degree murder of a deputy sheriff and of the attempted willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder of three other officers, all by use of a firearm, under Pen. Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 664, subds. (a), (e)(1), 1203.06, 12022.5. After a penalty trial, the jury returned a verdict of death. The Superior Court of Sacramento County, California, denied defendant’s posttrial motions. Appeal was automatic.

With regard to pretrial issues, the court held that, in the absence of evidence that confidential information was actually conveyed to the prosecution team as a result of the reading of defendant’s privileged legal materials by unrelated jail personnel from another county, defendant had no claim that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated. The record contained no evidence he was prejudiced in the preparation of his defense. Even though defendant was shackled unjustifiably during a portion of the voir dire, the record did not show the restraints were visible to the jury. With regard to guilt-phase issues, there was no error in the admission of out-of-court statements by defendant’s wife concerning his felony assault against her. The exclusion of defendant’s postoffense handwritten statements was not error. The evidence of attempted murder was sufficient. With regard to penalty-phase issues, the victim impact testimony was not unduly prejudicial. There was no error in the exclusion of expert testimony concerning the conditions of confinement. There was no reasonable likelihood the jury was misled as to its ability to grant defendant mercy. No prosecutorial misconduct was found.

The court affirmed the judgment in its entirety.