People v. Anderson

Decision Date13 October 1987
Citation240 Cal.Rptr. 585,43 Cal.3d 1104,742 P.2d 1306
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 742 P.2d 1306, 56 USLW 2278 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. James Phillip ANDERSON, Defendant and Appellant. Crim. 21287.

Phillip Dutch, Los Angeles, for defendant and appellant.

Jay Bloom, Deputy Atty. Gen., San Diego, for plaintiff and respondent.

MOSK, Justice.

This is an automatic appeal (Pen.Code, § 1239, subd. (b)) from a judgment of death under the 1978 death penalty law (id., § 190.1 et seq.).

Defendant was convicted of the offenses of first degree murder (Pen.Code, § 187), kidnapping for the purpose of robbery (id., § 209), and robbery (id., § 211), against Donna Coselman and Louise Flanagan. As to each murder, two special-circumstance allegations were found to be true: multiple murder (id., § 190.2, subd. (a)(3)) and felony murder-robbery (id., subd. (a)(17)(i)).

As we shall explain, we conclude that the judgment must be affirmed as to guilt. We also conclude that three of the four special-circumstance findings must be upheld. Specifically, in spite of the fact that the jurors were not instructed in accordance with Carlos v. Superior Court (1983) 35 Cal.3d 131, 197 Cal.Rptr. 79, 672 P.2d 862, and People v. Turner (1984) 37 Cal.3d 302, 208 Cal.Rptr. 196, 690 P.2d 669, that they were required to find that defendant had acted with intent to kill before they could find the felony-murder and multiple-murder special-circumstance allegations to be true, we conclude that the special-circumstance findings cannot be vacated on that ground: we overrule Carlos and Turner and hold that on the facts of this case the court was not obligated to instruct on intent to kill. Finally, we conclude that the judgment must be reversed as to penalty: in violation of People v. Ramos (1984) 37 Cal.3d 136, 287 Cal.Rptr. 800, 689 P.2d 430, the court instructed the jury in accordance with the so-called Briggs Instruction on the gubernatorial commutation power.


On March 4, 1979, Fred Anders (Fred), his sister Sheila Anders (Sheila), and her friend, defendant James Anderson (defendant), were driving on Interstate 10 in Coachella. A car was stranded on the side of the road; standing nearby were Donna Coselman (Coselman) and her grandmother, Louise Flanagan (Flanagan), who were passing through the area. Fred pulled over. While Flanagan remained with the disabled vehicle, Coselman entered Fred's car and was taken to an orange grove off Interstate 10. Flanagan was later retrieved and was also driven there. Shortly thereafter Fred set off from the grove in his car and left Sheila and defendant behind. He soon came across a police officer and told him there was a problem involving the two women. Not long afterwards Coselman was found, with a rope around her neck, dead from strangulation. Sheila and defendant were arrested as they were walking not far from the grove. Sheila had Flanagan's purse and watch; her own purse contained Coselman's wallet. The next day Flanagan's body was found, with a rope around the neck, hanging from a tree in the grove.

On their arrest, defendant and Sheila made separate statements to the police. Defendant said he had stayed with Flanagan at the disabled vehicle while Fred and Sheila drove off with Coselman; sometime later Fred and Sheila returned alone, picked up Flanagan, and again drove off; he remained with the disabled vehicle; Fred and Sheila returned alone yet again and picked him up; as they were traveling, Fred "developed some kind of attitude problem" and ordered Sheila and him out of the car; he had never been in the grove.

Sheila stated that after stopping to help the disabled vehicle, Fred, defendant, and she drove off with Coselman; when they arrived at the grove, Fred and defendant went off on foot with Coselman while she stayed with the car; a very short time later, defendant returned and said Fred wanted the two of them to go and bring back Flanagan; they did so; on their return, defendant set out to find Fred and then Flanagan set out to find Coselman; defendant soon returned alone and the two of them (defendant and Sheila) started to look for Flanagan; soon they heard the car start, and defendant unsuccessfully tried to catch up with it as it drove away; they then started walking out of the grove and as they did came across and picked up a purse and a watch that were lying on the ground; although she did not know who killed Coselman--she had not learned of the death until after her arrest--she believed it must have been Fred because defendant was not away from the car long enough to have done the deed.

Defendant and Sheila were charged by information with two counts each of murder, kidnapping for the purpose of robbery, and robbery. As special circumstances it was alleged that each murder was committed (1) in conjunction with another murder and (2) during the commission of a robbery. After a preliminary hearing both were held to answer. They moved for separate trials and change of venue, but were unsuccessful.

At trial Fred's testimony for the prosecution was in substance as follows. Catching sight of Coselman and Flanagan by their disabled car, defendant told him to stop and they both inspected the vehicle. He believed all that was needed to repair the car was to reconnect a wire. Defendant, however, said he would do the job and instructed him to get back into his car. He then coaxed Coselman into Fred's car and told Fred they were taking her to buy a replacement part.

Once on the highway, Fred continued, defendant instructed him to take the first off-ramp. Defendant then told Coselman he was going to rob her and she gave him all her money from her purse. He next directed Fred to the orange grove. There defendant left the car with Coselman and Sheila and tied Coselman to a tree. He told Fred that while Sheila stayed at the grove they would go back to get Flanagan. He (Fred) then refused to go but stayed with Coselman while Sheila and defendant drove back to get Flanagan. He then untied Coselman and tried to persuade her to go with him to the police, but she refused because she was afraid for her grandmother's life.

Defendant and Sheila, Fred went on, returned with Flanagan. While Sheila and Flanagan remained in the car, defendant retied Coselman and told him to go back to the vehicle. He soon heard Coselman scream. He ran back and saw defendant strenuously pulling a rope behind Coselman as she lay face down on the ground. Defendant again directed him to go back and he did so. Defendant then came to the car and, accompanied by Sheila, took Flanagan into the grove. Defendant told him to stay where he was. He nevertheless began to follow. When defendant noticed, he yelled at him to return to the car. As he began running back he saw Coselman lying face down on the ground. He shook her and spoke to her, but she did not respond. He then ran to the car and left to find the police. In complying with defendant's orders with regard to these incidents, he acted out of fear.

A few days before the crimes in question, Fred continued, defendant talked to him about robbing a gasoline station, and suggested that they shove the attendant into the bathroom and tie him up with a rope. He refused, and the robbery never took place.

Expert testimony was presented on behalf of the prosecution to the effect that shoeprints had been discovered near the victims' bodies and that they matched the shoes worn by defendant and Sheila when they were arrested.

Defendant testified in substance as follows. After stopping by the disabled vehicle, Fred brought Coselman into the car with Sheila and him and drove to the orange grove. Then, at Fred's direction, he and Sheila drove back to retrieve Flanagan. When they returned, he found Fred forcing Coselman to orally copulate him. Fred asked for the car keys; he handed them over and then walked back to the car. About five minutes later Fred met him, Sheila, and Flanagan at the car, and said he had lost the keys. He and Sheila went in one direction to look for them, and Fred and Flanagan went in another. He soon came on Coselman's body. He then heard the car start up, and as he was running back Fred drove away. He and Sheila then started walking toward the main road. As they walked, they noticed a purse with its contents partially spilled. As they were picking up the contents, he saw drag marks on the ground, followed them, and found Flanagan's body hanging from a tree. He and Sheila then continued to walk until they were apprehended by the police and arrested.

Sheila did not take the stand, but presented a defense of diminished capacity through three experts who had interviewed her and formed opinions as to her mental state at the time of the incidents in question. Their testimony was, in brief, as follows: Sheila had a mental defect known as "inadequate personality"; she was accordingly incapable of harboring the requisite intent for first degree murder--i.e., premeditation and deliberation--and probably did not have the requisite intent to commit robbery or kidnapping; her complicity in the crimes, if any, was not intentional, but solely a product of her emotional attachment to defendant--which was so strong that in order to support him she had actually worked as a prostitute.

In rebuttal to defendant's version of the events, a prosecution expert testified that no semen was found in Coselman's mouth.

The jury convicted defendant of first degree murder, kidnapping, and robbery, and found all the special circumstance allegations true. They convicted Sheila of kidnapping, robbery, and murder in the second degree. At the penalty phase they fixed defendant's punishment at death.


Defendant makes a number of contentions related to the issue of guilt. None, as we shall explain, establishes reversible error.

A. Bruton-Aranda Error

Defendant's main contention is that the introduction of certain...

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