People v. Carrasco, S077009.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtLIU
Citation330 P.3d 859,59 Cal.4th 924,175 Cal.Rptr.3d 538
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Robert CARRASCO, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. S077009.,S077009.
Decision Date04 August 2014

59 Cal.4th 924
330 P.3d 859
175 Cal.Rptr.3d 538

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
Robert CARRASCO, Defendant and Appellant.

No. S077009.

Supreme Court of California

Aug. 4, 2014.

See 5 Witkin & Epstein, Cal.
Criminal Law (4th ed. 2012) Criminal Trial, § 204.

[175 Cal.Rptr.3d 551]

Robert R. Bryan, San Francisco, under appointment by the Supreme Court, and Cheryl J. Cotterill for Defendant and Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C. Hamanaka and Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorneys General, Sharlene A. Honnaka, Jamie L. Fuster and Roberta L. Davis, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


Defendant Robert Carrasco was convicted of the first degree murders of George Camacho and Allan Friedman, the second degree robbery of Friedman, and escape from jail. (Pen.Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 189, 211, 4532, subd. (b)(1); all undesignated statutory references are to this code.) The jury also found true weapon-use sentence-enhancement allegations and special circumstance allegations that defendant committed multiple murders and that the murders were especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel. (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3), (14), former §§ 1203.06, subd. (a)(1), 12022.5, subd. (a).) In addition, as to the Camacho murder, the jury found true the special circumstance allegation of financial gain, and as to the Friedman murder, the jury found true the special circumstance allegation of robbery murder. ( § 190.2, subd. (a)(1), (17).) The jury returned a death verdict, and the trial court entered a judgment of death. This appeal is automatic. (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 11, subd. (a); § 1239, subd. (b).) For the reasons that follow, we vacate the true findings on the two section 190.2, subdivision (a)(14) special-circumstance allegations ( post, pt. II.B.6.c.) and otherwise affirm the judgment.

I. Facts
A. Guilt Phase
1. Prosecution Case

a. Camacho murder

On December 16, 1994, around 1:30 a.m., George Camacho was shot and killed at the Ross Swiss Dairy (the dairy) located on Albion Street in Los Angeles.

Dennis Martinez Morales testified that he lived in a camper that looked out on Albion Street and was located about 900 feet from the dairy. Between 1:30 and 1:45 a.m. on December 16, 1994, Martinez heard two to four gunshots. He then saw a person walk up the street from the direction of the dairy. The person was about six feet tall, dressed in dark clothing, wearing a black ski mask, and carrying a gun. The person got into the passenger side of a dark-colored car with louvers in the back, and the car sped away from the dairy.

Michael Fernandez testified that between 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. on December 16, 1994, he was driving his boss to her home on Albion Street. Fernandez observed a commotion by the entrance to the dairy and three people running from the area. They were wearing dark blue shirts and dark pants, and they jumped into a “Camaro, Trans Am-type” of car. Fernandez also observed a fourth individual walk past him, a 30– to 40–year–old Hispanic male with a thick mustache who was wearing dark baggy pants, a black or blue and white muffler, and a dark sweatshirt with a hood over his head. The man got into a Toyota with louvers in the back and a

[175 Cal.Rptr.3d 552]

driver seated inside. Fernandez heard laughter and saw the Toyota leave, with the other car behind it, driving down Albion Street away from the dairy. The headlights on both cars were off.

Defendant was linked to the murder by his statements to coworkers. On December 16, 1994, Efrain Bermudez, who worked at the dairy, saw Camacho arrive at work around 1:25 a.m. Bermudez put on his bandana, walked out the dairy gate entrance, and less than a minute later heard six to eight gunshots. Bermudez saw two men, both about six feet tall and dressed in solid black, run to a car and enter on the rear passenger side. One man had come from the dairy, and the other had come from the parking lot. The car “peel[ed] out” and left, followed by a second car located farther down the block. Bermudez ran back into the dairy and saw Camacho bleeding from gunshot wounds.

Around 1:00 a.m. the following night, defendant told Bermudez “not to speak to nobody,” and asked Bermudez, “Didn't you see me?” Bermudez said, “No.” Defendant said, “I saw you. Uh-huh, you were putting on your bandana.” Bermudez was speechless. Defendant also asked Bermudez if he had seen Camacho, and Bermudez said he “saw him bleeding to death.” Defendant said, “Good.” That same day, defendant bragged incessantly “about what he did.”

Before the night of Camacho's murder, Bermudez had frequently seen defendant carry a .380–caliber gun. After the murder, defendant carried what appeared to be a .45–caliber weapon. Andrew Nunez, who worked at the dairy, frequently saw defendant carry a nine-millimeter gun after Camacho's murder. About two weeks after Camacho's murder, defendant pointed the gun at Nunez and said, “You think I did it.”

Several months earlier, Camacho had been terminated from his job at the dairy, and defendant had assumed Camacho's shift from 1:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Camacho later regained his job and was scheduled to return to work on December 16, 1994. About a week before that date, defendant told Nunez he hated to give up Camacho's shift because he would lose about $9,000 a month from body shop work he could no longer perform during the day and from reductions in his dairy salary.

Harry Holton testified that he had fired Camacho around October 1994. Defendant bid for and was awarded Camacho's position. About two and a half months later, Holton learned from Robert Rios, a union representative, that Camacho had been wrongfully discharged and was going to return to his former shift. Holton told defendant this information. Defendant was “not pleased” and said losing the shift would cost him about $60,000 a year.

On December 16, 1994, defendant worked from 3:25 p.m. to 11:53 p.m. and was not working at 1:30 a.m. After Camacho died, defendant took over his shift, which was the same shift defendant had before Camacho's return to the dairy.

Anthony Morales testified that he had worked with defendant at the dairy. Defendant had carried a gun at work and was upset that Camacho was returning to work because defendant “wanted his job to do body work on cars during the day.” On December 16, 1994, after Camacho's murder, Morales, defendant, and Mario Baltazar went to lunch. Defendant said he had shot Camacho and described the murder. Defendant said he had waited in front of the gate about half a block from the dairy with three other men and a woman. When Camacho was inside, “they ran towards him and shot him.” They wore black hooded shirts or sweatshirts and drove two vehicles. Greg Janson, defendant's supervisor,

[175 Cal.Rptr.3d 553]

paged defendant to let him know Camacho was out in the yard working where defendant would be able to shoot him. After the murder, he and the woman drove to the beach, and defendant threw the guns into the ocean. Defendant told Morales and Baltazar that “if anybody said anything, ... he has plan B.”

Janson testified, and his prior statement to police was read into the record. Janson described defendant as Hispanic with black hair and brown eyes, about five foot eleven inches tall, and 39 years old in February 1996. Janson had supervised defendant for five years and often saw defendant carry a .380–caliber weapon. After defendant was told Camacho would be returning to work, defendant said “he would make sure he didn't come back” so that defendant did not “lose his ... hours.” After Camacho's murder, defendant told Janson he was responsible and threatened to also “take care of” anyone that got “in his way.”

At some point during the six to eight months after Camacho's murder, coworker Steve Apodaca reprimanded defendant for horseplay, and defendant said, “You could be fired for horse playing, but not for shooting somebody.”

The pathologist testified that Camacho was shot nine times; four of the wounds were fatal. His blood contained .38 micrograms of methamphetamine at the time of death. He died three hours after he was admitted to the hospital.

Seven spent .380–caliber semi-automatic casings and four .380–caliber fired bullets were recovered at the murder scene. Ballistics testing revealed that the casings had all been ejected from the same gun and that the fired bullets had all been fired from the same gun. The murder weapon was never recovered.

b. Friedman murder

On October 24, 1995, Allan Friedman was shot and killed during a failed drug deal on Chicopee Avenue in Los Angeles County.

Shawna Ryder testified that on October 24, 1995, she lived on Chicopee Avenue. Around 1:30 or 1:45 p.m. that afternoon she heard a sequence of “pop, pop, pop,” two men briefly arguing in muffled voices, and then another sequence of “pop, pop, pop.” She recognized the second sequence of popping sounds as gunshots and called 911 as she left her home to investigate. A blue Honda drove away with two individuals inside. A black Jeep was parked in front of her home, and a young man with long hair was hanging out of the vehicle and bleeding. Ryder and her neighbors pulled the man from the car. One neighbor gave her the license plate number of the Honda, which she relayed to the 911 operator.

The Honda was spotted and chased that night by Los Angeles Police Detective Harry Hollywood. The driver, Shane Woodland, ultimately abandoned the vehicle and fled into a home, where he was captured. Defendant's fingerprint was subsequently found on the cap of a hair spray can in the glove compartment of the Honda. A nine-millimeter bullet casing was in the right rear seat floorboard area. The murder weapon was never recovered.

Woodland testified that on October 24, 1995, he was 17 years old and worked with defendant at Perry's Auto Body Detail. The shop was owned by Javier “Gabby” Chacon. Woodland had lived at Chacon's...

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