People v. Coefield, Cr. 5198

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtEdmund G. Brown, Atty. Gen., Clarence A. Linn, Deputy Atty. Gen.; GIBSON; CARTER
Citation236 P.2d 570,37 Cal.2d 865
PartiesPEOPLE v. COEFIELD.
Decision Date26 October 1951
Docket NumberCr. 5198

Page 570

236 P.2d 570
37 Cal.2d 865
PEOPLE

v.
COEFIELD.
Cr. 5198.
Supreme Court of California, in Bank.
Oct. 26, 1951.
Rehearing Denied Nov. 19, 1951.

Page 571

[37 Cal.2d 867] Robert H. Kroninger, Oakland, and Harold C. Faulkner, San Francisco, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Atty. Gen., Clarence A. Linn, Deputy Atty. Gen., J. F. Coakley, Dist. Atty., Folger Emerson, Asst. Dist. Atty., Vernon L. Goodin, Deputy Dist. Atty., all of Oakland, for respondent.

GIBSON, Chief Justice.

Defendant was charged by information with the murder of Melvin Tokus. A jury

Page 572

found him guilty of murder of the first degree and made no recommendation as to punishment. See Pen.Code, § 190. Defendant's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was withdrawn, his motion for a new trial was denied, and the death penalty was imposed. This appeal is automatic under section 1239(b) of the Penal Code.

On the evening of October 7, 1949, defendant and two other men, Jolby and Anderson, met and agreed to rob the Three Point Liquor Store in Oakland and planned the part each of them was to play. Defendant and Jolby, who were both armed, entered the store shortly after midnight when no customers were on the premises. Anderson remained outside temporarily, apparently acting as lookout, and then followed his companions into the store. In the meantime, defendant asked for two bottles of wine and when they were brought by Tokus, the clerk, defendant announced that it was a 'stickup' and directed Tokus to place the store's money in a paper bag and give it to Anderson. Jolby disarmed the store's watchman and Tokus and the watchman were then ordered into a back room and robbed of their wallets. To aid in making an escape, defendant struck Tokus on the head with his gun and knocked him to the floor, and Jolby struck the watchman several blows on the head with his gun. Tokus started to rise, and defendant struck him again on the head. At that moment the gun discharged, and the bullet entered Tokus' brain, causing his death. After the shot, defendant removed a wristwatch from Tokus' arm, and the robbers left [37 Cal.2d 868] the store and drove to San Francisco, where they divided the proceeds of the robbery.

Defendant took the stand in his own behalf and admitted that he entered the store with a gun for the purpose of robbery and told the clerk it was a 'stickup,' that he and Jolby forced Tokus and the watchman into the back room where he took Tokus' wallet, that he struck Tokus on the head with his gun, knocking him down, and struck him again when he started to rise, and that he hit Tokus on the head for the purpose of 'knocking him out' to permit escape after the robbery, and took the wristwatch after the shooting. Defendant stated that he heard a shot when he struck Tokus the second time but did not know he had shot Tokus, that he was holding the gun by the handle but his finger was not on the trigger and he did not pull it, and that he did not intend to discharge the gun or kill anybody.

The evidence is clearly sufficient to support the verdict of murder in the first degree in view of the provisions of section 189 of the Penal Code that 'All murder * * * which is committed in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate arson, rape, robbery, burglary, or mayhem, is murder of the first degree.' Defendant argues that it must first be shown that there was a murder, not merely a killing, and that to have a murder there must be a malicious killing and an intent to kill. See Pen.Code, § 187. It has been held, however, that when one enters a place with a deadly weapon for the purpose of committing robbery, malice is shown by the nature of the attempted crime, and the law fixes upon the offender the intent which makes any killing in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate the robbery a murder of the first degree. People v. Bostic, 167 Cal. 754, 760-761, 141 P. 380; see People v. Milton, 145 Cal. 169, 171-172, 78 P. 549; People v. Olsen, 80 Cal. 122, 126-127, 22 P. 125. Other cases have pointed out that such a killing is murder of the first degree by force...

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86 practice notes
  • People v. Dominguez, No. H022727.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 14, 2004
    ...or attempted commission of an enumerated felony may render the killer guilty of first degree murder. (People v. Coefield (1951) 37 Cal.2d 865, 868, 236 P.2d 570 [killing in course of robbery "is murder of the first degree by force of section 189 of the Penal Code, regardless of whether it w......
  • People v. Gutierrez, No. S018634.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 15, 2002
    ...felony; neither intent to kill, deliberation, premeditation, nor malice aforethought is needed. (See, e.g., People v. Coefield (1951) 37 Cal.2d 865, 868-869 [236 P.2d 570]; see, generally, 1 Witkin & Epstein, Cal.Criminal Law [ (2d ed. 1988) ] Crimes Against the Person, § 470, p. 528; see a......
  • People v. Huynh, D060327
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 10, 2013
    ...(§ 189.) The killing is first degree murder “regardless of whether it was intentional or accidental.” (People v. Coefield (1951) 37 Cal.2d 865, 868, 236 P.2d 570.) The requisite mental state is simply the specific intent to commit the underlying felony because only felonies which are inhere......
  • People v. Hill, Cr. 9126
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 27, 1967
    ...knowledge on the part of Saunders as to the modus operandi and probable consequences in the case at bench. (See People v. Coefield (1951) 37 Cal.2d 865, 870, 236 P.2d 570.) Accordingly, no error Saunders next contends that the admission of the various statements of his codefendants prejudic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
86 cases
  • People v. Dominguez, No. H022727.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • December 14, 2004
    ...or attempted commission of an enumerated felony may render the killer guilty of first degree murder. (People v. Coefield (1951) 37 Cal.2d 865, 868, 236 P.2d 570 [killing in course of robbery "is murder of the first degree by force of section 189 of the Penal Code, regardless of whether it w......
  • People v. Gutierrez, No. S018634.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 15, 2002
    ...felony; neither intent to kill, deliberation, premeditation, nor malice aforethought is needed. (See, e.g., People v. Coefield (1951) 37 Cal.2d 865, 868-869 [236 P.2d 570]; see, generally, 1 Witkin & Epstein, Cal.Criminal Law [ (2d ed. 1988) ] Crimes Against the Person, § 470, p. 528; see a......
  • People v. Huynh, D060327
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 10, 2013
    ...(§ 189.) The killing is first degree murder “regardless of whether it was intentional or accidental.” (People v. Coefield (1951) 37 Cal.2d 865, 868, 236 P.2d 570.) The requisite mental state is simply the specific intent to commit the underlying felony because only felonies which are inhere......
  • People v. Hill, Cr. 9126
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • April 27, 1967
    ...knowledge on the part of Saunders as to the modus operandi and probable consequences in the case at bench. (See People v. Coefield (1951) 37 Cal.2d 865, 870, 236 P.2d 570.) Accordingly, no error Saunders next contends that the admission of the various statements of his codefendants prejudic......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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