People v. Sánchez

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation375 P.3d 812,63 Cal.4th 411,204 Cal.Rptr.3d 682
Decision Date23 June 2016
Docket NumberNo. S045423.,S045423.
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Edgardo SÁNCHEZ, Defendant and Appellant.

63 Cal.4th 411
375 P.3d 812
204 Cal.Rptr.3d 682

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent
Edgardo SÁNCHEZ, Defendant and Appellant.

No. S045423.

Supreme Court of California

June 23, 2016.

204 Cal.Rptr.3d 698

Michael J. Hersek, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, and Sara Theiss, Deputy State Public Defender, for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, Joseph P. Lee and Corey J. Robins, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


375 P.3d 826
63 Cal.4th 419

A jury convicted defendant, Edgardo Sánchez, of the first degree murder of Officer John A. Hoglund under the special circumstances of murder to prevent arrest, murder of a peace officer, and murder in the commission of

63 Cal.4th 420

robbery; of the first degree murder of Lee Chul Kim under the special circumstance of murder in the commission of robbery; of the attempted murder of Luis Enrique Medina; and of 26 counts of robbery, two counts of attempted robbery, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and two counts of assault with a stun gun. The jury also found true the special circumstance allegation of multiple murder and that defendant personally used a firearm as to many, although not all, of the counts. After a penalty trial, the jury returned a verdict of death. The court denied the automatic motion to modify the verdict and imposed a judgment of death. This appeal is automatic. We reverse one robbery count, modify the determinate prison sentence accordingly, and otherwise affirm the judgment.

I. The Facts

A. Guilt Phase

1. Overview

Defendant and several cohorts, usually including his two codefendants, Jose Contreras and Benjamin Navarro, committed seven separate takeover-style armed robberies of business establishments from December 1991 to May 1992.1 During one

204 Cal.Rptr.3d 699

robbery, defendant and Contreras shot the store owner to death. During another robbery, defendant applied a stun gun to two victims to try to coerce one of them to unlock a safe. While leaving the scene of the final robbery, defendant shot to death a police officer responding to a silent alarm.

Videotape containing images of all three defendants captured portions of the last robbery. Numerous eyewitness identifications and other evidence also connected defendant to the crimes.

At trial, defense counsel conceded that defendant was involved in some of the robberies, and that the videotape of the final robbery showed defendant committing it. But he argued there was a reasonable doubt about his involvement in some of the robberies and about his guilt of some of the specific crimes.

2. Prosecution Evidence

a. Outrigger Lounge

During the evening of December 31, 1991, the Outrigger Lounge in Sun Valley was crowded with customers preparing to celebrate the New Year.

63 Cal.4th 421

Around 8:00 p.m., at least three men entered the lounge and, at gunpoint, ordered the customers to go to the floor. The gunmen spoke English with an Hispanic accent.

One gunman, identified as defendant, wielded a short shotgun. He jumped over

375 P.3d 827

the bar, knocking down the bartender, Robert Lehman, in the process. Pointing his shotgun at Lehman, defendant took Lehman's wallet, watch, and money clip. He also took around $410 from the cash register. Defendant then forced Lehman to go to the office, where defendant took about $800 from the safe.

The perpetrators also took property at gunpoint from customers Walter deWitt, Margaret Tucker, Eugene Engelsberger, Praneet Gallegos, Marjorie Livesley, Lois Skinner, and Dennis Sorenson. The owner of the lounge, Jeannette Luettjohann, testified that the gunmen took about $1,600 in cash and $125–130 worth of food. One gunman hit John Tucker, Margaret's husband, with the butt of a shotgun, breaking two ribs.

Anne Pickard, Sorenson's girlfriend, who was in the restroom when the robbery began, came out in time to see people on the floor. She later identified defendant as the man with the short shotgun. She had previously identified him from photographic and live lineups with differing degrees of certainty. Barbara Salazar, an employee, tentatively identified defendant from a photographic lineup as one of the gunmen. Engelsberger identified defendant from a photographic lineup. Gallegos identified defendant as the man with the shotgun in court and from a photographic lineup. Some witnesses identified Contreras and Navarro as gunmen with various degrees of certainty.

Livesley identified a gold chain found on defendant's person when he was later arrested as one that had been taken from her during the robbery.

For this incident, defendant was convicted of robbing Margaret Tucker, Eugene Engelsberger, Praneet Gallegos, Jeanette Luettjohann, Marjorie Livesley, Lois Skinner, Robert Lehman, and Walter deWitt, and of assaulting John Tucker with a deadly weapon.

b. El 7 Mares Restaurant

On the evening of April 18, 1992, around 8:00 p.m., as many as six armed men invaded the El 7 Mares Restaurant in Los Angeles. All were speaking Spanish; some witnesses said they had Central American accents. One perpetrator, holding a shotgun, told two others to “[t]ake care of the guard.” The men took private security guard Rene Aguilar's equipment,

204 Cal.Rptr.3d 700

including his handcuffs, and later led him at gunpoint to the kitchen area. A gunman

63 Cal.4th 422

entered the office of Magdaleno Urrieta, the restaurant manager, and forced him to turn over $5,000–$5,500 in cash. The gunmen then forced customers and employees, including Urrieta, into the kitchen and told them to lie facedown on the floor.

The gunmen took a watch and about $200 from customer Nelson Hernandez and about $8,000 worth of jewelry from his wife; money from the cash register; around $290 from waitress Lupe Guizar; and a watch, chain, wedding ring, and wallet containing about $80 from Urrieta.

Aguilar and Guizar identified defendant and his codefendants as among the gunmen. Aguilar described defendant as short and Contreras as tall.2 Nelson Hernandez identified Navarro as one of the gunmen; he identified a watch found in a residence linked to defendant as similar to the watch taken from him. Aguilar's handcuffs were later found in Navarro's home.

For this incident, defendant was convicted of robbing Magdelano Urrieta, Nelson Hernandez, Lupe Guizar, and Rene Aguilar.

c. Mercado Buenos Aires

On April 24, 1992, around 5:25 p.m., at least four gunmen invaded the Mercado Buenos Aires supermarket in Van Nuys. One gunman said, “This is a robbery. Hands upon your head.” Witnesses said the men spoke Spanish with what sounded like a Central American accent.

The store owner, Manuel Rodriguez, observed one gunman grab a well-dressed customer by the hair and, apparently believing the customer was the owner, tell him, “You're going to show us where the money

375 P.3d 828

is.” Manuel told the gunmen to leave the customer alone, as he, Manuel, was the owner. A gunman took Manuel into the store office and demanded that he give him money. Manuel turned over cash, checks, and food stamps worth about $3,000 and told the gunmen there was no more money. Manuel's wife Clelia Rodriguez was brought into the office with a gun pointed to her head. One gunman told another to cut off one of her fingers to force Manuel to say where the rest of the money was. The gunman also threatened to kill her if Manuel did not say where more money was. Manuel responded that there was nothing else but to take what they wanted.

Eventually, the gunmen herded Manuel, Clelia, their son Paul, a customer, and two employees, Dario de Luro and Arturo Flores, into a back bathroom.

63 Cal.4th 423

Manuel Rodriguez testified that the gunmen took his chain and wedding ring, Clelia's chain and bracelet, and de Luro's wallet and watch. He believed they took wallets and watches from others before they entered the bathroom. Paul Rodriguez testified that the gunmen took his necklace and ring and a wallet from de Luro.

Manuel Rodriguez identified defendant from photographic and live lineups and at trial as the man who pointed the gun at his wife. He identified Cordova as the gunman who threatened to cut off Clelia's finger and, with less certainty, Navarro as another gunman. He testified that defendant and Cordova seemed to be giving the orders. Paul Rodriguez identified defendant from photographic and live lineups and at trial as the gunman giving the orders. With less certainty, he identified Cordova as another of the gunmen. Manuel

204 Cal.Rptr.3d 701

and Paul identified a necklace and a bracelet found on defendant's person when he was later arrested as similar to items taken during the robbery.

For this incident, defendant was convicted of robbing Manuel Rodriguez, Paul Rodriguez, Clelia Rodriguez, Arturo Flores, and Dario de Luro.

d. Woodley Market

On the morning of May 4, 1992, around 9:35 a.m., three or four gunmen entered the Woodley Market, a food store in Van Nuys. Owner Lee Chul Kim had just returned from the bank carrying cash in a brown leather bag. One gunman approached employee Victor Cisneros, pointed a gun at him, and forced him to go to the back of the store and lie down. The gunman spoke Spanish with what Cisneros described as an “El Salvadoran” accent. Another gunman approached Teresa Torres, a cashier, and told her not to touch anything.

Employee Guillermo Galvez observed Kim running from a gunman, identified as defendant, who was following Kim and pointing a handgun at him. While he was running, Kim dropped the money bag and the keys to the store cash drawer. Employees Eduardo Rivera and Galvez observed Kim, followed by defendant, run to the meat freezer and try to close the door.3 Rivera heard Kim say something that sounded as if he was “in fear, like [he was] terrorized.” As defendant attempted to and eventually succeeded in opening the freezer door, Galvez heard Kim crying “please don't do anything to...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 cases
  • People v. Sánchez
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 23 Junio 2016
    ...63 Cal.4th 411375 P.3d 812204 Cal.Rptr.3d 682The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondentv.Edgardo SÁNCHEZ, Defendant and Appellant.No. S045423.Supreme Court of CaliforniaJune 23, 2016.204 Cal.Rptr.3d 698 Michael J. Hersek, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, and Sara The......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT