People v. Ayala, No. S013188.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtMOSK, J.
Citation24 Cal.4th 243,99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532,6 P.3d 193
Docket NumberNo. S013188.
Decision Date28 August 2000
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Hector Juan AYALA, Defendant and Appellant.

99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532
24 Cal.4th 243
6 P.3d 193

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Hector Juan AYALA, Defendant and Appellant

No. S013188.

Supreme Court of California.

August 28, 2000.

As Modified on Denial of Rehearing November 15, 2000.


99 Cal.Rptr.2d 538
Anthony J. Dain, San Diego, under appointment by the Supreme Court, Dain & Li and Gisela Caldwell, for Defendant and Appellant

Daniel E. Lungren and Bill Lockyer, Attorneys General, George Williamson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, William M. Wood and Keith I. Motley, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

MOSK, J.

The San Diego County District Attorney filed an amended information on January 20, 1987, charging defendant with three murders and other offenses. The information alleged that the crimes all occurred on or about April 26, 1985.

Count 1 charged defendant with murder in the death of Jose Luis Rositas (Pen. Code, § 187; all unlabeled statutory references are to this code). Counts 2 and 3 contained the same charge in the deaths of Marcos Antonio Zamora and Ernesto Dominguez Mendez respectively. Count 4 charged him with the attempted murder of Pedro Castillo (§§ 187, 664), and count 5 with robbing him (§ 211). Count 6, which the superior court later dismissed and which the jury did not consider, charged him with robbing Zamora. Counts 7, 8, and 9 charged him with the attempted robbery of Dominguez, Rositas, and Zamora respectively (§§ 211, 664). The first six counts were accompanied by allegations that defendant personally used a firearm (§ 12022.5).

The amended information alleged that defendant committed the special circumstances of multiple murder (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)) and murder in the attempted commission of robberies (§ 190.2, former subd. (a)(17)(i), now subd. (a)(17)(A)).

The amended information further alleged that defendant had been convicted of other offenses: of robbery in 1972, of burglary in 1975, and of possessing controlled narcotic substances for sale in 1982.

The case was called for trial on January 17, 1989. William Woodward and Gloria Michaels represented the People, and Barton C. Sheela III and Glorene Franco represented defendant. (Woodward would later withdraw to join the bench. See post, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d at p. 560, 6 P.3d at p. 219.) On August 1, 1989, the jury convicted defendant of all the offenses charged but one: the attempted robbery of Rositas. (None of the determinate terms are at issue here.) The jury also found, with respect to counts 1 through 5 and count 8 (the latter having been renumbered from count 9 following dismissal of count 6 as described in the previous paragraph), that defendant had personally used a firearm within the meaning of section 12022.5. It further found the special circumstance allegations true. Defendant waived his right to have the prior offense allegations tried before a jury, and the court found them true. The parties stipulated before the jury that he had suffered the convictions.

The penalty phase began August 14, 1989. On August 31, the jury returned a verdict of death on counts 1, 2, and 3, and the court entered judgment in accordance

99 Cal.Rptr.2d 539
with it. The appeal to this court is automatic

The Guilt Phase

Facts

The prosecution theorized that defendant herein, Hector Juan Ayala, his brother Ronaldo Medrano Ayala, and Jose Moreno murdered Dominguez, Rositas, and Zamora, after holding them captive in an automobile repair shop. (Moreno, tried under the name Joseph Juarez Moreno, was acquitted in a separate trial.) They would also have killed Castillo, but he improvised an escape plan and, though shot, survived to testify. Castillo provided the information that led to defendant's arrest and served as the prosecution's key witness at trial.

Opening statements and presentation of evidence began on May 30, 1989. San Diego Police Detective Richard Carey testified that on April 26, 1985, his homicide team was summoned to an automobile body repair shop located at 999 South Forty-third Street, between Logan and National Avenues in southeast San Diego. He found Dominguez's, Zamora's and Rositas's bodies in the shop office. All had been shot. A forensic pathologist, Dr. David Masamichi Katsuyama, testified that each had died from two gunshots to the head.

Prosecution Case

The prosecution theorized that the murders resulted from a robbery attempt that failed because it was based on the perpetrators' incorrect speculation that Dominguez had just returned from Mexico with a quantity of narcotics or cash.

Juan Manuel Meza testified that about a month before the killings Ronaldo Ayala, in the presence of Meza and defendant, proposed to rob the automobile body shop. Thereafter, Meza attended a meeting that defendant had called at his house. Defendant emerged from the bedroom displaying a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver in poor condition. He or Ronaldo Ayala asked Meza if they could use some of Meza's guns, which were of better quality, for the impending robbery of "a large quantity of drugs" that defendant said Dominguez was then obtaining "from the other side of the border." (Meza testified that he owned a variety of firearms: a .45-caliber, .357-caliber and .380-caliber, all presumably pistols; a 30-30, a 30-06, and an AR-15 rifle; and an Uzi.) The three discussed a plan for the crime, in which they would tie up the victims and wait for Dominguez's wife to arrive in an orange van with the drugs during that evening. The victims were all to be killed.

Castillo was Dominguez's employee. He testified that Dominguez and Zamora, who was Dominguez's brother-in-law, ran a heroin distribution business at the shop. Castillo helped to prepare, package, and deliver heroin. Defendant was also a heroin user.

Castillo testified that a week before the killings he spoke with defendant about Dominguez's whereabouts. Dominguez was in jail, apparently for minor offenses. But Dominguez told Castillo to tell anybody asking that he was in Mexico, and Castillo so told defendant. Defendant did not believe Castillo, so Castillo told the truth. But defendant appeared skeptical of that information also, so Castillo reverted to his story that Dominguez was traveling south of the border.

About noon on the day of the killings, Castillo injected a dose of heroin off the premises and returned to work at the shop. The drug had a stabilizing effect on Castillo, who also testified that using it that day did not impair his ability to work.

About 5:00 p.m. Castillo, defendant, Ronaldo Ayala, Moreno, and Dominguez were all present on the premises. Later, around dusk, Castillo looked up and saw defendant pointing a pistol at him. He escorted him to the office at gunpoint, where Ronaldo Ayala, also armed with a gun, was holding Dominguez, Zamora, and

99 Cal.Rptr.2d 540
Rositas captive. They had all been bound with duct tape

Defendant said to Dominguez something like, "Didn't you know you had to go through us?"

Moreno then bound Castillo's hands behind his back with duct tape. When Moreno was taping him he tried to shift his hands so as to keep them as free as possible.

Ronaldo Ayala announced that he "[w]anted $10,000 or someone was going to die," Castillo further testified. Dominguez responded, "Hey, homeboy, nunca te h[e] hecho nada [I've never done anything to you]." Apparently nobody had $10,000, but Castillo volunteered that he had hidden some money under the driver's seat of a tow truck parked outside—a ruse, as he had money only in his pocket. At that time, defendant extracted the pocket money, accused Castillo of lying, and stabbed him in the upper left leg.

Moreno left to inspect the tow truck. On his return, he informed his accomplices that the truck contained no money. Ronaldo Ayala urged that Castillo be taken out to get the money, but defendant, speaking to Castillo, said he preferred to "blow you away." Castillo responded, "Gosh, it's there, homeboy.... It's in the truck. I just put it there."

Ronaldo Ayala shoved defendant and quieted him. Then, with a gun in one hand, he began to escort Castillo outside, holding him by his jacket with the other hand and warning him that if he tried to run when the garage door opened—precisely Castillo's plan—he would kill him.

Ronaldo Ayala told Moreno to open the garage door slowly, and Castillo feigned that he was trying to squeeze under it, but could not do so. In fact his feint was disguising the fact that he was propping the door up with his body. Unknown to the assailants, the door was defective, and would slam down unless supported. Once Moreno had raised it far enough for Castillo to escape, and also had relaxed his own hold on the door (which Castillo could sense by the door's weight on him), Castillo bolted underneath, and the door slammed down, surprising Ronaldo Ayala and Moreno.

Still bound at the hands, Castillo ran toward the street. Ronaldo Ayala and Moreno managed to open the garage door, and a shot was fired at Castillo, wounding him in the back. He fell onto South Forty-third Street. As he lay in the street he heard more shots. Then he saw a police car come into view, and the police took control of the scene.

Castillo acknowledged that he had testified falsely on prior occasions with respect to heroin-related activity at the body shop, denying any knowledge that Dominguez or Zamora sold the drug. He testified at trial that he did this for the sake of the murder victims' families: he did not want to taint their memories of the dead. He also testified that he never returned to using heroin or methadone after the killings. "I didn't need it no more" because "I accepted the Lord as my savior" some eight months later.

There was testimony that defendant's fingerprints had been found on items recovered from the body shop office. (See post, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d at p. 554, 6 P.3d at p. 214.)

A police officer, Tony D. McElroy, testified that he found Castillo in the...

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318 practice notes
  • Ayala v. Wong, No. 09–99005.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • August 29, 2012
    ...appeal of the denial of his Batson motion. A divided California Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence. People v. Ayala, 24 Cal.4th 243, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532, 6 P.3d 193 (2000). The majority held that the trial judge had erred in conducting the Batson proceedings ex parte. Id., 99 C......
  • People v. Dickey, No. S025519.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 23, 2005
    ...of aggravating factors. (People v. Lewis, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 669, 106 Cal.Rptr.2d 629, 22 P.3d 392; People v. Ayala (2000) 24 Cal.4th 243, 288-289, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532, 6 P.3d The federal Constitution does not bar consideration of unadjudicated criminal activity. (Tuilaepa v. California......
  • People v. Schmeck, No. S015008.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 25, 2005
    ...added)]; see also 37 Cal.4th 276 People v. Willis (2002) 27 Cal.4th 811, 816, 118 Cal.Rptr.2d 301, 43 P.3d 130; People v. Ayala (2000) 24 Cal.4th 243, 260, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532, 6 P.3d 193; People v. Turner (1994) 8 Cal.4th 137, 164, 32 Cal.Rptr.2d 762, 878 P.2d 521 (Turner).) In light of the......
  • People v. Rivas, H036974
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 17, 2013
    ...review applies to claims of improper admission of unduly prejudicial evidence under Evidence Code section 352. ( People v. Ayala (2000) 24 Cal.4th 243, 282, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532, 6 P.3d 193.) A trial court abuses its discretion when its ruling falls outside the bounds of reason. ( People v. B......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
318 cases
  • Ayala v. Wong, No. 09–99005.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • August 29, 2012
    ...appeal of the denial of his Batson motion. A divided California Supreme Court upheld his conviction and sentence. People v. Ayala, 24 Cal.4th 243, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532, 6 P.3d 193 (2000). The majority held that the trial judge had erred in conducting the Batson proceedings ex parte. Id., 99 C......
  • People v. Dickey, No. S025519.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 23, 2005
    ...of aggravating factors. (People v. Lewis, supra, 25 Cal.4th at p. 669, 106 Cal.Rptr.2d 629, 22 P.3d 392; People v. Ayala (2000) 24 Cal.4th 243, 288-289, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532, 6 P.3d The federal Constitution does not bar consideration of unadjudicated criminal activity. (Tuilaepa v. California......
  • People v. Schmeck, No. S015008.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 25, 2005
    ...added)]; see also 37 Cal.4th 276 People v. Willis (2002) 27 Cal.4th 811, 816, 118 Cal.Rptr.2d 301, 43 P.3d 130; People v. Ayala (2000) 24 Cal.4th 243, 260, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532, 6 P.3d 193; People v. Turner (1994) 8 Cal.4th 137, 164, 32 Cal.Rptr.2d 762, 878 P.2d 521 (Turner).) In light of the......
  • People v. Rivas, H036974
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 17, 2013
    ...review applies to claims of improper admission of unduly prejudicial evidence under Evidence Code section 352. ( People v. Ayala (2000) 24 Cal.4th 243, 282, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 532, 6 P.3d 193.) A trial court abuses its discretion when its ruling falls outside the bounds of reason. ( People v. B......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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