People v. Allen

Decision Date31 December 1986
Citation42 Cal.3d 1222,729 P.2d 115,232 Cal.Rptr. 849
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 729 P.2d 115 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Clarence Ray ALLEN, Defendant and Appellant. Crim. 22879.

William M. Lyons, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for defendant and appellant.

John K. Van de Kamp, Atty. Gen., Steve White, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Arnold O. Overoye, Asst. Atty. Gen., Ward A. Campbell and Garrett Beaumont, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

GRODIN, Justice.

This is an automatic appeal from a judgment imposing death under the 1978 death penalty legislation. (Pen.Code, §§ 190-190.5.) 1 We affirm the verdict of guilt, the finding of special circumstances, and the judgment of death.


The sordid events leading to the charges that underlie this appeal go back to 1974 and include a large cast of characters: Numerous victims and third party witnesses, various prison witnesses, and at least 10 members of defendant's "crime family." For reasons that will appear below, it is necessary to outline the sequence of events in detail.

In June 1974, defendant, then 44 years old, decided to burglarize Fran's Market in Fresno. He had known the owners of the market, Ray and Frances Schletewitz, for over a decade. He enlisted the assistance of his son Roger, Carl Mayfield, and Charles Jones; the latter two were ostensibly employees in defendant's security guard business and worked for him and his son in various criminal pursuits.

Roger Allen invited the Schletewitz's 19-year-old son, Bryon, to an evening swimming party at defendant's house. While he was swimming, the Fran's Market keys were taken from his pants pocket. Later that night, while Bryon was on a date arranged by defendant with 17-year-old Mary Sue Kitts, defendant, Mayfield and Jones used Bryon's keys to burglarize his parents' market. They removed a safe and took it to the house of Jones' wife, Charlotte, where they opened it and divided the booty--$500 in cash and over $10,000 in money orders.

Defendant, with help from his son Roger, Mary Sue Kitts, defendant's girlfriend Shirley Doeckel, and two additional persons--Barbara Carrasco and her stepson, Eugene Furrow--cashed the stolen money orders at southern California shopping centers by using false identifications. Thereafter Mary Sue Kitts contacted Bryon Schletewitz and tearfully confessed defendant had burglarized Fran's Market and that she had been helping to cash the stolen money orders with a fake identification and a wig provided by defendant.

Bryon went to Roger Allen's house to confront him with this story. Roger admitted the Allen family had burglarized the store, and Bryon confirmed to Roger that Mary Sue Kitts had confessed to him. When Roger Allen told his father, defendant, of Bryon's accusation based on Mary Sue Kitts' confession, defendant responded that they (Bryon and Mary Sue Kitts) would have to be "dealt with."

Defendant subsequently told Ray and Frances Schletewitz he had not burglarized their store and that he loved Bryon like his own son. He threatened the Schletewitzes, however, by hinting to them that someone was planning to burn down their house. He also intimidated them by having his son Roger pay Eugene Furrow $50 to fire several gunshots at their home one midnight.

Around this same time defendant called a meeting at his house and told Charles Jones, Carl Mayfield, and Eugene Furrow that Mary Sue Kitts had been talking too much and should be killed. Defendant called for a vote on the issue of Mary Sue's execution; it was unanimous that she should be killed. One reason for the unanimous vote was that those present feared defendant if they did not go along with his plans: He had previously told criminals working with him that he would kill snitches and that he had friends and connections to do the job for him even if he was locked up; he had stated that the "secret witness program" was useless because a good lawyer could always discover an informant's name and address; finally, he had numerous times referred to himself as a Mafia hitman. He kept a newspaper article about the murder of a man and woman in Nevada, and claimed he had blown them in half with a shotgun.

After the vote, defendant developed a plan to poison Mary Sue Kitts by tricking her into taking cyanide capsules at a party to be held at Shirley Doeckel's apartment in Fresno. He sent Carl Mayfield and Eugene Furrow to a winery (one of his security guard clients) to pick up the cyanide for the job. Defendant also put some stepping stones from his house in the back of Charles Jones' truck, to be used to weigh down Mary Sue Kitt's body, which was to be dumped into a canal after the murder.

When discussing the plan to murder Mary Sue Kitts, defendant overruled Charles Jones' suggestion that she be sent somewhere until "things died down." He also dismissed Shirley Doeckel's objection to a murder being committed in her apartment. Shortly before the party started at Shirley Doeckel's apartment, defendant also told Eugene Furrow that it was just as easy to get rid of two persons as one if he (Furrow) did not take Mary Sue's life.

Defendant left Shirley Doeckel's apartment shortly before Mary Sue Kitts arrived, having first arranged for his operatives to call him from a nearby phone booth to report on the progress of the execution plan. When Mary Sue Kitts arrived she refused to take the "pills" without wine, and Mayfield and Jones so informed defendant by phone; defendant told Furrow to kill Mary Sue one way or the other because he just wanted her dead. The partygoers later brought wine, beer and "reds" to the apartment but Mary Sue still did not take the cyanide. Defendant subsequently met Furrow outside the apartment and stressed that "he didn't care how it was done but do it." Defendant told him he had people surrounding the apartment and that he (Furrow) would be killed if he tried to leave. Thereafter, when Furrow and Mary Sue Kitts were left alone in the apartment, he began to strangle her only to be interrupted by a call from defendant asking if he had killed her yet. Furrow answered, "no"; defendant ordered, "do it" and hung up. Furrow then strangled Mary Sue to death.

Furrow called defendant and told him to come pick up the body. Charles Jones, who was with the defendant when he received the call, then announced he wanted nothing to do with the murder. Defendant told him it was already done and that he was equally involved with the others. Defendant, Shirley Doeckel and Jones then went to pick up the body, which they wrapped and put in defendant's Cadillac trunk. He again warned Jones that they were all equally involved.

Defendant and Shirley Doeckel, in the Cadillac, led Jones and Furrow, in Jones' car, to defendant's house, where they transferred the body to Jones' car and then drove, defendant in the lead, to the mountains. They stopped after passing over a canal. Furrow and Jones tied the stones with wire to the body pursuant to defendant's instructions and, while defendant watched for traffic, threw the body into the canal.

Defendant variously threatened and bragged to all of his cohorts after the murder. When Carl Mayfield asked defendant how "everything went" a few days later, defendant said, "everything went okay," meaning that Mary Sue Kitts had been killed.

When Mayfield later asked how Furrow was doing, defendant said he was no longer in existence, explaining it is easy to go to Mexico, get someone killed, and have the body disposed of for only $50. About six months after the murder, when Mayfield asked defendant if he was worried about others talking, defendant said he was not afraid, that "things would be taken care of" if that happened, that he would have snitches killed, and that he would take care of "secret witness" informers even if he was locked up.

He told Charles Jones and others that "talking was a spreading disease and that the only way to kill it was to kill the person talking." When Jones and others gathered at defendant's house, defendant stated that "none of [these] people talked," that "they first took what was coming," and that, if they did not, "he would get them from inside or outside prison." When Jones' home was burglarized some time after the murder and Jones told defendant about the burglary, defendant told Jones the burglary showed he could be easily reached. He later gave Jones a key that Jones discovered fit his residence, and told Jones in front of Jones' five-year-old son he knew Jones "would like his kids to grow up without harm."

Defendant made several statements to Shirley Doeckel after Mary Sue's murder, telling her, among other things, that Furrow was no longer around and repeating his claim that he had killed a woman in Las Vegas. He also spoke often with Barbara Carrasco, telling her he had "offed Mary Sue Kitts because she was opening her mouth about the money orders," that he involved Furrow in the murder because "he wanted to get him in deep so he couldn't talk about the armed robberies and other things that he knew," and that "he would have put Furrow in the same hole if Furrow didn't go along with the murder." Speaking about Mary Sue Kitts herself, defendant told Barbara Carrasco that they "had to ride her up, wet her down and [feed] her to the fishes."

Despite his boasts, defendant had not killed Furrow. In fact, he thereafter used him--along with Charles Jones--to rob an elderly couple at their jewelry store in August 1974. Unhappy with Furrow's performance, however, defendant told him he would have shot him a long time ago if not for Barbara Carrasco (Furrow's adoptive mother).

In early 1977 defendant brought some new employees, Allen Robinson and Benjamin Meyer, into his crime family. He told Meyer he previously "had a broad helping them who got mouthy so they had to waste her" and that "she sleeps with the...

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