In re Miles

Citation213 Cal.Rptr.3d 770
Decision Date19 January 2017
Docket NumberG046534
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Parties IN RE Guy Donell MILES on Habeas Corpus.

California Innocence Project, Jan Stiglitz, Justin Brooks, San Diego, Alexander Simpson and Alissa Bjerkhoel for Petitioner.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney General, Barry Carlton, Garrett Beaumont and Adrianne S. Denault, Deputy Attorneys General for Respondent.

OPINION

MOORE, ACTING P.J.

"The Habeas Corpus secures every man here, alien or citizen, against everything which is not law, whatever shape it may assume."Thomas Jefferson.

Guy Miles is in state prison for 75 years to life. A jury convicted him of armed robbery and he has been in custody for almost 19 years. For all of those years, Miles has claimed that he was wrongfully convicted. But he has now presented "new evidence" to this court that is of "such decisive force and value that it would have more likely than not changed the outcome at trial." (Pen. Code, § 1473, subd. (b)(3)(A).)1

Thus, Miles has secured a writ of habeas corpus.

IINTRODUCTION

On June 29, 1998, three men committed an armed robbery at a small loan office in Fullerton. Two employees were on duty. Weeks later, both of the victims separately looked at a six-pack lineup and picked out Miles as one of three robbers. Although no physical evidence linked Miles to the crime scene, and several alibi witnesses placed him in Las Vegas on the day of its occurrence, a jury convicted Miles of the armed robbery along with one codefendant.

Miles filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in this court, attaching declarations from his codefendant and two other men. All three confessed to their role in the robbery; all three have sworn under penalty of perjury that Miles was not at the loan office and had nothing to do with the robbery. We issued an order to show cause and ordered evidentiary hearings, which have now taken place.

The law has changed since Miles first filed his petition. Prior to January 1, 2017, in order to grant habeas relief, we needed to find that the "new evidence" completely undermined the prosecution's case and pointed " "unerringly to innocence." " (In re Johnson (1998) 18 Cal.4th 447, 462, 75 Cal.Rptr.2d 878, 957 P.2d 299, italics added.) Although the new evidence is compelling, it did not completely undermine the prosecution's case, nor did it point unerringly to innocence. The two robbery victims have never wavered in their identifications of Miles as one of the culprits. And the three confessors are all convicted felons who are likely shielded from prosecution by either the double jeopardy clause or the statute of limitations. But after Miles filed his petition, the California Legislature lowered the standard for granting habeas corpus relief. Effective January 1, 2017, habeas relief is now granted when: "New evidence exists that is credible, material, presented without substantial delay, and of such decisive force and value that it would have more likely than not changed the outcome at trial." (§ 1473, subd. (b)(3)(A).)

Under the recently amended statute, the three confessions qualify as "new evidence" and Miles meets the new standard for habeas corpus relief. Thus, we will grant the petition and vacate Miles' convictions. If the prosecution elects to pursue a new trial, the jury will be able to consider the new evidence. If there is not a new trial within the statutory timeframe, Miles is to be released from custody. (§ 1382, subd. (a).)

IIFACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL SUMMARY

On June 29, 1998, A. Holguin was working at Trio Auto Parts in Fullerton, which was located in a strip mall next to Fidelity Financial Services (Fidelity). Just prior to 6:00 p.m., Holguin noticed three black men in a car in the parking lot. Two of the men, Accomplice One and Accomplice Two, were walking towards Fidelity. Accomplice Two stared at Holguin and made a hand gesture, which Holguin characterized as a gang sign. Accomplice Three entered the auto parts store and began talking with Holguin about parts for a 454 engine in a 1975 Caprice, a rare engine for that car.

Accomplice One and Accomplice Two knocked at the front door of Fidelity, which primarily makes car loans to people with bad credit. Employees M. Patlan and T. Gomez were inside. Generally, the front door is unlocked during business hours, but the door is locked when there are only two employees on duty. Patlan unlocked the front door, let the two men in, and returned to his position behind the counter. Accomplice One, who was thin and wearing a suit, said that he wanted to make a car payment for his brother. Accomplice Two, who was stockier and wearing a light colored shirt and jeans, asked if he could use the restroom.

Accomplice Two went to the backroom, passing by Gomez's desk. In less than a minute, Accomplice Two rushed out from the backroom towards the front counter. As he passed Gomez's desk, she looked up and saw the back of Accomplice Two's head. Accomplice Two struck Patlan from behind on the left side of the face and the ear.

Accomplice One walked around the counter, pulled out a big barreled weapon, and demanded money. Gomez was ordered to the ground. Accomplice Two opened a drawer and a filing cabinet and picked up money and a few envelopes. The amount of money taken was later determined to be about $1,400 in cash and about $4,000 in checks. Accomplice Two told Gomez and Patlan to put their hands on their heads and walk to the backroom where the bathroom is located. They were told not to come out or open the door for 15 minutes.

Holguin was still talking with Accomplice Three when he heard a car horn honking. He looked up and saw that Accomplice One and Accomplice Two were back in the car in the parking lot. Holguin told Accomplice Three that he thought his friends wanted him to hurry up. Holguin watched as Accomplice Three got into the car and drove away.

The Investigation

After waiting 15 minutes, Gomez called 911. She described the suspects as two black males. She said Suspect One was "skinny" and was wearing a green suit. She said Suspect Two was "kind of stocky looking."

When the initial responding officer arrived, Patlan was bleeding from the mouth and right ear. As paramedics took Patlan out in a gurney he noticed a gardening glove near the door at the front entrance. The glove was booked into evidence and later tested for DNA, but the results were inconclusive. The loan office was dusted for fingerprints, but no usable fingerprints were discovered.

Patlan's and Gomez's descriptions of what occurred were largely consistent. Patlan described Accomplice One as follows: tall and thin (about 6'2" and 150 pounds) in his 20's; clean shaven; dark complexion. He said Accomplice One looked like Warren G, a rap celebrity singer. Patlan described Accomplice Two as follows: shorter and stockier (about 5'9" and 200 pounds); round face; no tattoos; possible goatee; dressed in a white polo shirt with jeans. Gomez said that when she was looking up at Accomplice Two she noticed he had a roll in the back of his neck and that he had a chubbiness to his face. Years later, Gomez said that there was no significant height difference between Accomplice One and Accomplice Two.

The next day, the police interviewed Holguin at the Fidelity office. As Holguin told the police what happened at Trio Auto Parts during the robbery, a Fidelity employee overheard the conversation. She retrieved a customer's records and walked up and said, "Is this the person that you saw in your store [?]" She showed Holguin a copy of a driver's license and he said, "That was the person." The photograph was of Bernard Teamer. The police took Teamer's financial records, which disclosed his assets, including a 1975 Chevrolet Caprice. All of the witnesses reported that all three accomplices to the robbery were in their 20's.

A Fullerton police detective investigated the robbery. The detective obtained Teamer's loan documents and started running background checks. The detective found that Teamer was affiliated with the 190 Street Crip gang out of Carson. The detective contacted a Los Angeles Sheriff's Department gang enforcement officer. The gang officer assisted the detective in obtaining possible suspect photographs. The detective conducted surveillance on Teamer, whom he saw with Harold Bailey, one of the three men who later confessed to being involved with the robbery.

The detective assembled several six-pack photographic lineups. The detective tried to include photographs of potential suspects along with people who had a similar appearance to the suspects, i.e., "fillers." In some lineups, the detective placed several suspect photographs in the same lineup.

Prior to showing the witnesses each photographic lineup, the detective gave them a written admonishment, which they read and signed. The admonition stated that any of the photographs may or may not include those involved in the crime. One of the lineups contained a photograph of Bailey, who Gomez said looked similar to Accomplice One.2 Another lineup contained a photograph of Miles. Gomez positively identified Miles as Accomplice Two. Holguin made a possible identification of Miles as Accomplice Two.

Within a few days of showing the photographic lineups, the detective arrested Miles and Teamer. Miles was arrested in Las Vegas. He waived his constitutional rights and denied any involvement in the robbery. Miles said he knew Teamer and the first time he had seen Teamer in four to five months was the previous Friday.

The detective notified Patlan by phone that he had apprehended two of the robbers. The detective later met with Patlan who positively identified Miles in photographic lineup as Accomplice Two.

The Trial

The People filed an amended information charging Miles and Teamer with two counts of second degree robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. (§§ 211/212.5, subd. (c), ...

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1 cases
  • Rushing v. Neuschmid
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • May 12, 2020
    ...to hearsay in the California Evidence Code, §§ 1220 et seq. Instead, Petitioner argued that it was admissible under In re Miles, 213 Cal. Rptr. 3d 770 (2017), a case in which the California Court of Appeal admitted a hearsay declaration despite the lack of anapplicable hearsay exception. Id......
1 books & journal articles
  • The Guy Miles Case - Race and a Wrongful Conviction
    • United States
    • California Lawyers Association California Litigation (CLA) No. 33-3, 2020
    • Invalid date
    ...the case and the three true perpetrators confessed to the crime. The Court of Appeal reversed Guy's conviction. In re Guy Miles (2017) 213 Cal.Rptr.3d 770 (ordered depublished).As is the often the case when a wrongful conviction is brought to light, however, the prosecutor threatened retria......

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