Her v. Jacquez, 2: 09 - cv - 612 - JAM TJB

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
Decision Date15 April 2011
Docket Number2: 09 - cv - 612 - JAM TJB
PartiesKINSON HER, Petitioner, v. FRANCISCO JACQUEZ, Warden, Respondent.

KINSON HER, Petitioner,
FRANCISCO JACQUEZ, Warden, Respondent.

2: 09 - cv - 612 - JAM TJB


Filed: April 18, 2011
April 15, 2011



Petitioner, Kinson Her, is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner is currently incarcerated after a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, premeditated attempted murder and discharging a firearm from a vehicle. The jury also found true that Petitioner caused great bodily injury, discharged a firearm and committed the offense to benefit a criminal street gang. In his amended federal habeas petition, Petitioner raised several claims; specifically: (1) there was insufficient evidence to convict Petitioner of murder and attempted murder ("Claim I"); (2) there was insufficient evidence for the jury to find that Petitioner used a firearm during an enumerated felony ("Claim II"); (3) there was insufficient evidence to support the gang enhancement ("Claim III"); trial

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counsel was ineffective in several respects ("Claim IV"); the trial court erred in not accepting letters from Petitioner as motions regarding his personal conflicts with his trial counsel ("Claim V"); (6) the trial court erred in denying Petitioner's motion for an interpreter at trial ("Claim VI"); (7) the trial court erred in denying Petitioner's motion to exclude any opinion of a bandana ("Claim VII"); (8) the trial court erred in denying Petitioner's motion to bifurcate the gang enhancement ("Claim VIII"); (9) the trial court erred in allowing the gang expert to give prejudicial testimony about a hypothetical question that misrepresented the facts of the case ("Claim IX"); (10) the trial court erred in allowing the gang expert to characterize Petitioner as a "hard core killer" ("Claim X"); (11) the gang expert's testimony violated the Confrontation Clause ("Claim XI"); (12) the trial court abused its discretion in considering the gang detective as an expert ("Claim XII"); (13) the trial court erred by failing to declare a mistrial during voir dire based on prejudicial questions posed by the prosecutor to the prospective jurors ("Claim XIII"); (14) the trial court erred by failing to declare a mistrial when a prosecution witness had illegal and prohibited communication with the jury ("Claim XIV"); (15) the trial court erred denying Petitioner's "995" motion because Petitioner's sentence violates the Equal Protection Clause as one person serving a life sentence can be released before another person serving a life sentence ("Claim XV"); (16) the trial court erred by admitting prejudicial and inflammatory testimony from a witness who believed that threats and reprisals he had suffered were connected to his testimony against Petitioner ("Claim XVI"); (17) the trial court erred instructing the jury using CALJIC No. 5.55 ("Claim XVII"); (18) the trial court erred in instructing the jury using CALJIC No. 2.71.5 ("Claim XVIII"); (19) the trial court erred using CALJIC Nos. 2.03, 2.06, 2.51 and 2.52 (Claim XIX"); (20) the trial court erred in failing to rewrite CALJIC No. 2.90 ("Claim XX"); (21) the trial court erred in instructing the jury using CALJIC No. 5.17 ("Claim XXI"); (22) prosecutorial misconduct in allowing a witness to communicate with the jurors ("Claim XXII"); (23) Petitioner was deprived of his due process right to be sentenced to a term of either a high, medium or low penalty ("Claim XXIII"); (24) Petitioner's statement to police was obtained

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in violation of his Constitutional rights ("Claim XXIV"); (25) Petitioner's sentence of twenty-five years to life imprisonment violates the Eighth Amendment as it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment ("Claim XXV"); (26) the Court of Appeal's decision in not remanding for re-sentencing violated Petitioner's due process rights ("Claim XXVI"); and (27) cumulative error ("Claim XXVII"). As explained infra, some of these Claims have been withdrawn by Petitioner as stated in his traverse. For the following reasons, Petitioner's habeas petition should be denied.


This case arises from a drive-by shooting involving rival Hmong gangs. Defendants Her and Lao were members or affiliates of the gang "Masters of Destruction" or "Menace of Destruction," better known by the acronym MOD.

On February 3, 2002, Her and Lao attended a Super Bowl party at Xang Thao's home in Meadowview. After the game, they departed with several MOD members in a minivan driven by Her's cousin, Rindy Her (Rindy).

Fifteen miles away, on the north side of town, a Toyota Camry was stolen. At 8:33 p.m. that same evening the stolen Camry drove past an apartment building at 3212 Western Avenue in Sacramento (3212 Western) and fired weapons at Fong Vue, Vue Heu and Yee Xiong, who were standing in front of the driveway. Heu and Xiong were both affiliated with MOD's chief rival, the Hmong Nation Society or HNS. MOD claims its territory in South Sacramento neighborhoods such as Meadowview, Valley Hi and Oak Park. HNS claims the northern part of the city for its territory, including Western Avenue, where the shooting occurred. Fong Vue died a few days later as a result of shotgun wounds to the head. Xiong suffered head injuries, but survived the attack. Xiong tentatively identified Lao as one of the shooters inside the Camry. Police found shotgun pellets around Fong Vue's body. Bullets and fragments from one or more handguns were also found around the driveway. Spent .45-caliber casings were found on the grass between 3212 Western and the adjacent building.

There was evidence that the targeted victims who were standing in front of 3212 Western had returned the gunfire: Although he denied shooting a firearm himself, residue tests on victim Xiong's hands indicated he had recently fired a gun. The rear window of

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the Camry was shattered by a bullet that the People's forensic expert determined was likely fired from outside the vehicle and which exited through the front windshield. There were also bullet marks in the rear bumper and spare tire.

Within minutes of the shooting, Police Officer Warren Estrada spotted the Camry making an illegal turn, near Fifth and G Streets in West Sacramento. When he pulled the Camry over, it initially came to a stop, then led Estrada on a high-speed chase through the adjacent neighborhood. At Second and E, three Asian males jumped out of the car and took off running in different directions. Estrada, now on foot, followed one of the fleeing suspects, who came to an embankment, leaped into the river, and began swimming. Estrada jumped in after him, and eventually pulled Lao, who had tired in the current, out of the water. In his wallet, Lao was carrying a piece of paper with the word "MOD" written on it.

Inside the Camry, police found 12-gauge shotgun casings as well as .32-caliber casings. On the floorboard in the back seat was a blue bandana with a fluid stain that was matched to Her's DNA. A blue jacket, later identified as one worn by Her, was found in the back seat of the car. Inside the jacket was a cell phone. The phone rang from a caller identified on the screen as "Xang." [FN 2] Sergeant James Duncan answered, "Where are you at?" The caller responded that they were at the end of the bridge in Old Sacramento, that there were "hella cops around," and that he should meet them on the other side of the bridge.
[FN 2] The telephone number displayed on the phone found in the blue jacket matched that of a cell phone belonging to Xang Thao, one of the Super Bowl party attendees.

Using this information, officers went to Old Sacramento and detained defendant Her's cousin Rindy, John Her, Xang Thao and others, who were standing around Rindy's minivan with Xang's cell phone.

Rindy testified that he and his companions were playing pool after the Super Bowl, when they received a call from Her telling Rindy to pick him up at the Money Store. During the call, Rindy heard Lao's voice in the background, saying, "Hurry up." The group tried to get to the Money store, but West Sacramento was inundated with police, so they drove across the bridge into Old Sacramento, where they were arrested.

At 3:00 a.m. the next morning a street sweeper working in West Sacramento recovered a .380-millimeter Beretta semiautomatic pistol and a .32-caliber Colt semiautomatic pistol lying on the side of the road north of E Street. Officers searching the area where the police chase occurred found a 12-gauge shotgun with a pistol grip near F and Second Streets in West Sacramento.

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Police later found three unexpended shotgun shells in Lao's closet that were of the same brand as the shells found in the Camry. Lao's fingerprint was lifted from a passenger door of the Camry. Her's girlfriend, Brenda Ly, testified that Her represented himself to be a member of MOD. Somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 o'clock on the evening of the shooting, Ly received a call from Her, telling her to pick him up at a pay phone booth in West Sacramento. Ly complied. On the way back to her house, Ly noticed that many police cars and helicopters were in the area and asked Her if he knew anything about it. He answered, "No," but then added, "I didn't want to tell you because I [would] rather have you not know."

Ly and Her slept together that night. Between 10:48 p.m. on February 3 and 2:53 the next morning, about 60 phone calls were made from Ly's cell phone, including some to Minnesota. Ly admitted that she only made "a few" of these calls.

Shortly before 11:00 p.m. on February 3, a series of calls was made to the cell phone of Xang Thao, who was then in police custody. Officer Corey Johnson answered the phone, and a male voice with an Asian accent at the other end repeatedly asked for Xang. Johnson kept telling the caller that Xang was busy. The caller became enraged, referred to himself as "Sac High MOD," and threatened

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