People v. Cartier

Decision Date10 June 1960
Docket NumberCr. 6514
Citation353 P.2d 53,5 Cal.Rptr. 573,54 Cal.2d 300
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 353 P.2d 53 PEOPLE of the State of California, Respondent, v. Raymond L. CARTIER, Appellant.

Robert K. Barber, San Francisco, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for appellant.

Stanley Mosk, Atty. Gen., and Norman H. Sokolow, Deputy Atty. Gen., for respondent.

McCOMB, Justice.

This is an automatic appeal from a judgment of guilty of murder in the first degree after trial before the court without a jury. The trial judge fixed the punishment at death.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the .people, the record discloses the following facts:

In November 1957 defendant, 29 years of age, resided his wife, Geneva Cartier in a single-story duplex dwelling in San Diego. Defendant and his wife had been married a few months before.

On November 11, 1957, defendant left work at approximately 3:45 p. m. and by prearrangement met his wife. They went to a bar, had a drink and made plans for Mrs. Cartier to leave her job about 7 o'clock that evening. Mrs. Cartier was then driven to her place of employment, and defendant drove home, where he changed his clothes and cut a rug in half, as requested by his wife. While at home, defendant drank one 'mixed drink' and half of a second. When he had drunk about half of the second one, he added some wine to it. This drink he also consumed.

About 5:30 defendant left home and drove to a bar, where he had a few beers. At approximately 7 p. m. he met his wife at her place of employment. They immediately went to a nearby bar for a drink, but before doing so each of them drank from a bottle which defendant had brought with him. After having one drink at the bar, they left and proceeded to another bar. Between the two bars they drank the rest of the contends of the bottle which defendant had. At this time defendant felt exceedingly happy and gave his wife the keys to their automobile. At the second bar they had two drinks, played shuffleboard, and left about 8:15 to go to another bar, the Java Cafe.

They arrived at the Java Cafe between 9 and 10 p. m. They took seats at the end of the bar and invited a waitress to have a drink with them. She accepted the offer and sat with them at the bar for approximately 45 minutes. Defendant left his wife and the waitress and went to the rest room. During his absence a sailor came into the bar with a ring which he was trying to pledge. The waitress and defendant's wife called the sailor over to show them the ring, struck a match to see it better, and in the process held the sailor's hand. Defendant was standing behind his wife while she and the waitress were looking at the ring on the sailor's finger, and defendant became very angry and violent because they were talking with the sailor. He told the sailor that if he did not take his hands off his (defendant's) wife, he would 'knock his block off,' and said, 'If you don't get away from my wife, I will kill you.' The sailor immediately turned and ran out of the bar.

Defendant's wife then tried to humor defendant back into a happy state. Thereafter defendant got into an argument with the barthender about the latter's refusal to cash a check for him. He grabbed the bartender and practically pulled him over the bar. While his wife was trying to humor defendant and quiet him, he said to her, 'You won't think none of this is so funny.' The waitress sitting with them testified: '(W)hen he said this, I could hear this part well, this part, 'You won't think none of this is so funny,' I heard that well because I was sitting right next to him, but it sounded like to me he said after 'won't,' 'You won't think none of this is so funny' maybe it wasn't 'home' but it sounded like the words to me, his words dropped when he said 'h,' 'home,' like that.'

Mr. Martinez, who lived with his wife and child in the other dwelling unit in the duplex occupied by the Cartiers, stated that on the evening in question he had gone to bed about 7 or 7:30 and was later awakened by the sound of violent quarreling coming from the Cartier residence and that he recognized the voices as being those of defendant and his wife. The quarreling lasted for about 15 minutes, during which time he heard a 'scuffling' noise 'like furniture being moved,' and then he heard defendant's wife say, 'Please, please, don't.' He testified that there was no conversation after the plea by Mrs. Cartier; that he heard between 'three and five thumps and they were just, well, hollow thumps, I had never heard anything like before this'; and that afterwards everything became silent and he went back to sleep.

Mr. Martinez was awakened later by a neighbor's calling 'Fire!' Thereupon he arose, dressed and went outside to the front of the Cartiers' part of the duplex. There he saw defendant standing on his front porch with the front door closed behind him. Defendant was facing away from the front door and was motionless. Mr. Martinez asked defendant if Mrs. Cartier was inside, and defendant replied: 'I don't know, I think she is inside.'

Mr. Martinez then tried to open the front door. Finding it locked, he forced it open by kicking it. He then entered the house and found it filled with smoke and the heat quite intense. He came out of the house and walked around to the back porch of the house, but found too much smoke there to enter. He returned to the front of the house and stood with defendant beside a car.

Defendant suddenly ran into the Martinez side of the duplex. Mr. Martinez followed him and found defendant in the kitchen trying to knock down the kitchen wall with a chair. The kitchen wall was opposite the bedroom in the Cartier side of the duplex. When said what he was doing, defendant replied that his wife was in there and that he loved her.

It was about 11:30 p. m. when the neighbor had noticed the fire. Shortly thereafter members of the fire department arrived and extinguished the fire, and the body of defendant's wife was found on the floor of the bedroom. It was lying face upward, with the head near the foot of the bed, and was covered with considerable debris, which appeared to have been bedclothes and a foam rubber mattress. Also discovered near the body were a butcher knife, a French chef's knife, and several pieces of heavy glass similar to a heavy glass ashtray. In a corner of the bedroom was found a meat cleaver. A paring knife was found of the floor beneath the shoulders of the body.

An autopsy dislosed that the body was charred over nearly the entire skin surface. Both bones of the lower right arm were fractured at a point approximately one inch above the wrist joint, and the bone fragments protruded through the flesh. A large wound extended from the collar bone on the left downward and across the midline to and including the vagina. The wound was jagged and extended through the skin, underlying fat and muscle tissue. The cartilages of the second through the tenth ribs on the left side had been separated, and the heart had been severed from the major vessels connecting to it and removed from the body. The vagina had likewise been cut out from the surrounding tissue. On the head there was a depressed fracture, oval in shape, approximately one and a half centimeters in diameter, at a point a little above the ear. An examination of the tracheobronchial tree revealed no evidence of smoke inhalation. In the opinion of the autopsy surgeon, the death of defendant's wife was caused by the cutting out of her heart.

Two experts testified that they had inspected the Cartier home after the fire, that the area of greatest burning was located in the bedroom area at a point near the foot of the bed, where the body was found; and that the fire started at that point near the floor below the level of the bottom of the bed. They further testified that the fire was of deliberate incendiary origin.

These are the questions necessary for us to determine:

First. Was there substantial evidence to sustain the trial court's finding that defendant committed first degree murder (a) with deliveration and premeditation and (b) while prepetrating mayhem?



These rules are here applicable:

(1) A homicide committed during a sudden quarrel, while the perpetrator is in the throes of violent rage, is not murder of the first degree. Such a homicide may be murder of the second degree or it may be voluntary manslaughter, dependent upon the law-invoking definitive facts to be deduced from the surrounding circumstances, including the character and extent of provocation. (See People v. Valentine, 28 Cal.2d 121, 132(4), 137(14) 169 P.2d 1; People v. Bender, 27 Cal.2d 164, 179-180(9-10a), 181-182(14-17), 186-187(10b) 163 P.2d 8; People v. Thomas, 25 Cal.2d 880, 901(16, 17), 903(9-21), 156 P.2d 7.) (2) To establish the crime of first degree murder, direct evidence of a deliberate and premeditated purpose to kill is not required. The necessary elements of deliberation and premeditation may be inferred from proof of such facts and circumstances as will furnish a reasonable foundation for such an inference, and where the evidence is not in law insufficient, the matter is exclusively within the province of the trier of fact to determine. (People v. Cole, 47 Cal.2d 99, 106(7)301 P.2d 854, 56 A.L.R.2d 1435; People v. Caldwell, 43 Cal.2d 864, 869(6), 279 P.2d 539; People v. Isby, 30 Cal.2d 879, 888(2), 186 P.2d 405.)

(3) A murder is of the first degree regardless of how quickly the act of killing follows the ultimate formation of the intention if that intention has been reached with deliberation and premeditation. (People v. Thomas, supra, 25 Cal.2d 880, 900(15), 156 P.2d 7.)

Applying the foregoing rules to the facts in the present case, the evidence discloses not only that there was quarreling upon the part of defendant and his wife but also that there was an elaborately designed and pursued killing indicative of...

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