27 Cal.4th 287, S017869, People v. Hughes

Docket Nº:S017869
Citation:27 Cal.4th 287, 116 Cal.Rptr.2d 401, 39 P.3d 432
Party Name:People v. Hughes
Case Date:January 28, 2002
Court:Supreme Court of California

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27 Cal.4th 287

116 Cal.Rptr.2d 401, 39 P.3d 432

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,


KRISTIN WILLIAM HUGHES, Defendant and Appellant.


Supreme Court of California

January 28, 2002

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Fern M. Laethem, State Public Defender, Jeffrey J. Gale, Acting State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, Erik Larson, Therene Powell, Douglas G. Ward and Donald J. Ayoob, Deputy State Public Defenders, for Defendant and Appellant.

Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, David P. Druliner, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Ronald A. Bass, Assistant Attorney General, Joan Killeen, Donna B. Chew and Morris Lenk, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.



Defendant Kristin William Hughes appeals from a judgment of the Monterey County Superior Court imposing a sentence of death following his conviction of first degree murder (Pen. Code, § 187), 1 first degree robbery (§ 211), first degree burglary (§ 459), and sodomy (§ 286, subd. (c)). The jury found true the special circumstance allegations that the killing was committed in the perpetration of burglary (§ 190.2, subd. (a) (17) (G)), robbery (id., subd. (a) (17) (A)), and forcible sodomy (id., subd. (a) (17) (D)), and it also found true the allegations that, as to all four counts, defendant personally used a deadly or dangerous weapon, a knife (§ 12022, subd. (b)). 2

In addition to sentencing defendant to death on the murder conviction, the trial court imposed a total determinate term of 14 years and eight months on the remaining convictions, but stayed that term pending this appeal of the death judgment. Defendant's appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).) We affirm the judgment in its entirety.

I. Facts and Procedure

On September 7, 1989, after ingesting cocaine and alcohol for much of the prior day and night, defendant reported for work as a construction laborer, but soon passed out at the jobsite. Richard James, defendant's boss, found him lying on the ground with his eyes partially open. Defendant jumped up and attempted to speak, slurred badly, and had trouble standing. James told defendant to go home and "straighten himself up."

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Defendant's home was in Pacific Grove, less than one-half of a mile from the jobsite. Defendant recently had moved into Jan Bishop's studio apartment. Upstairs from Bishop resided Kim Hickman, a masseuse employed at a shop in Monterey.

Hickman returned from the shop to her apartment at approximately 12:00 noon to clean it in preparation for vacating the premises. (During the prior two weeks she had been sleeping at her boyfriend's home, during which time she had begun moving her possessions to his house.) Defendant had met Hickman briefly the prior day, when she had dropped off a birthday present for Bishop at Bishop's apartment.

Shortly after 8:00 p.m., an apartment complex neighbor, Olav Kvaslerud, noticed water seeping through his living room ceiling. Kvaslerud went to Hickman's unit to investigate the leak, but received no response. He then inquired at Bishop's unit, to determine whether there was leakage there as well. Defendant answered the door and did not appear to be intoxicated. Defendant accompanied Kvaslerud to his apartment, where they viewed the leak, which had turned a "little reddish." Kvaslerud asked defendant whether he thought the liquid contained blood. Defendant did not answer, and left.

Kvaslerud looked inside Hickman's apartment from a window and saw a woman's body. He called the police, who found Hickman's door unlocked. Pacific Grove Officers Heredia and Cox arrived, and observed Hickman on her back in the kitchen, dead, her clothes pulled or torn away, and her ankles and legs propped up against the wall. There was an object (later determined to be defendant's suspenders) wrapped around her neck. Hickman had suffered numerous deep stab and puncture wounds to her chest. Her shirt was soaked in blood, which had flowed and commingled with water dripping from the open, defrosting refrigerator.

Detective Kennedy and Detective Uretsky of the Pacific Grove Police Department were summoned to the scene. They noticed that Hickman was wearing rubber cleaning gloves, and that there was a small scouring sponge saturated with blood and water next to her. Blood was spattered and apparently had been smeared and streaked with a sponge on the walls, stove, and refrigerator. A bloodied hunting knife was on the kitchen floor. Blood was found on various other objects throughout the unit. There were no signs of forced entry into the apartment.

After the police arrived, Bishop walked to the nearby beach at Lover's Point to look for defendant. She saw him there and yelled to him that she thought Hickman had committed suicide. Bishop returned to the area of her

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apartment, where she sat down outside. Approximately 15 minutes later, defendant also returned and sat next to Bishop, but told her he could not stay because the presence of the police cars made him nervous.

After transferring control of the crime scene to Kennedy and Uretsky, Officers Heredia and Cox went outside to maintain security and prevent persons from entering the premises. They cordoned off the area with tape and spoke with several individuals to determine whether they had information or might be witnesses.

At approximately 11:45 p.m., Heredia and Cox saw defendant walking near the crime scene. Heredia, in uniform, walked toward defendant and had a brief conversation with him. Heredia inquired whether he could help defendant, and defendant replied that he lived in apartment No. 2. Heredia thought that to be odd, because the officers had spoken with Bishop, who had not mentioned having a boyfriend, husband, or roommate. Heredia asked defendant whether anyone else had spoken with him before Heredia had done so. Defendant replied that he had been there when the police first arrived, and an officer had spoken with him then and had told him that the situation was not "that big a deal" and that defendant could return in a few hours. Heredia told defendant that the situation was "more involved" and that the officers likely would be at the scene until at least late the next day. Defendant replied that this was fine with him and that he would return the next day.

Officer Heredia thought that these responses seemed strange under the circumstances. Although he and Officer Cox had been first on the scene, he had not seen defendant speaking with any other officer earlier in the evening. At that point, Heredia decided that Detective Kennedy should speak with defendant, and he summoned Kennedy, who joined the officers and defendant about a minute later. Upon Kennedy's arrival, Heredia noticed, and pointed out, what appeared to be bloodstains on defendant's jacket, which was draped on his arm.

Throughout these exchanges, the officers smelled alcohol on defendant's breath and noticed that he had glassy eyes, seemed slightly intoxicated but not "drunk," and although somewhat unsteady, did not have trouble standing. Detective Kennedy found defendant's speech to be slightly slurred.

Detective Kennedy observed that defendant wore a white shirt bearing a small stain that appeared to be blood, that the front of defendant's jeans was wet, and that defendant was smoking a Kool brand cigarette. When Kennedy asked defendant whether the jacket on his arm belonged to him, defendant

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replied that it did. Kennedy asked about the stains on the jacket, and defendant replied that they were from rust. Kennedy informed defendant that he was investigating an assault, and asked whether he could take his jacket and have a criminalist check it for blood. Defendant replied, "Go ahead," and gave the jacket to Kennedy. The detective took the jacket to a criminalist who was in the crime scene apartment, where he learned that a blood-saturated Kool brand cigarette had been found on the floor directly above Hickman's right shoulder. The tests on the jacket were inconclusive for fresh blood.

During the few minutes in which Detective Kennedy was having the jacket tested, Officers Heredia and Cox remained with defendant. Kennedy returned, stated that the tests were inconclusive, and asked defendant whether he would travel to the police station to speak with him there. Defendant replied, "Sure." Subsequently, Heredia retrieved a cigarette butt—later determined to be Kool brand—that defendant had discarded on the ground.

Detective Kennedy testified that because defendant lived near the victim, he wanted to interview defendant in order to determine whether he had information relating to the homicide investigation, and that it was more appropriate to speak at the station, rather than on the dark street. Defendant was cooperative and...

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