People v. Daniels, S095868

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation400 P.3d 385,3 Cal.5th 961,221 Cal.Rptr.3d 777
Decision Date31 August 2017
Docket NumberS095868
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. David Scott DANIELS, Defendant and Appellant.

3 Cal.5th 961
400 P.3d 385
221 Cal.Rptr.3d 777

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
David Scott DANIELS, Defendant and Appellant.


Supreme Court of California

Filed August 31, 2017

Michael J. Hersek, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, Gail R. Weinheimer, Kate LaGrande Chatfield and Gary D. Garcia, Deputy State Public Defenders, for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris and Xavier Becerra, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Assistant Attorney General, Ward A. Campbell, Stephanie A. Mitchell, Sean M. McCoy, Larenda R. Delaini and Christopher J. Rench, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

221 Cal.Rptr.3d 781


3 Cal.5th 966

On January 8, 2000, defendant David Scott Daniels pleaded guilty to 11 counts of robbery ( Pen. Code, § 211 ; all undesignated statutory references are to the Penal Code), one count of carjacking (§ 215, subd. (a)), and one count of vehicle theft ( Veh. Code, § 10851 ). He admitted enhancements for the

400 P.3d 389

personal use of a firearm (former § 12022.53, subd. (b)) as to the robbery and carjacking counts, and further admitted that he had suffered two prior strike convictions within the meaning of the "Three Strikes Law" (§§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12).

On January 19, 2001, Daniels was convicted by court trial of the first degree murder of LeWayne Carolina (§§ 187, 189); the second degree murder of LaTanya McCoy (§ 187); deliberate and premeditated attempted murder of Tamarra Hillian (§§ 664, 187); attempted robbery ( §§ 664, 211 ); first degree robbery ( § 211 ); residential burglary (§ 459); and evading arrest causing serious bodily injury ( Veh. Code, § 2800.3 ). The court found true special-circumstance allegations that the murder of LeWayne Carolina occurred while Daniels was engaged in the commission of robbery and burglary (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)), and found true a multiple-murder special-circumstance allegation (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)). It also found true various allegations for personally discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury (former § 12022.53, subd. (d)), personally using a firearm (former § 12022.53, subd. (b)), and personally inflicting great bodily injury (former § 12022.7, subd. (a)).

On January 31, 2001, the court imposed the death penalty and an indeterminate term of life without the possibility of parole for 45 years, consecutive to an indeterminate sentence of 441 years to life, to be served consecutively following a determinate term of 125 years. The court subsequently heard and denied Daniels's automatic application for a new trial and modification of death sentence. This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).)

Based on the opinions that follow, the judgment of death is reversed because Daniels's waiver of his right to jury trial on penalty was invalid. The

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sentence of death in connection with the conviction of second degree murder (count 21) is vacated as unauthorized, and the superior court is directed to issue an amended judgment as to this conviction reflecting the appropriate sentence of 15 years to life. The judgment in all other respects is affirmed, including the judgment of guilt as to all counts tried, the true findings of special circumstances, and all convictions entered by way of guilty plea. The case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

The lead opinion of Justice Cuéllar, joined by Justice Werdegar and Justice Liu, expresses the opinion of the entire court on all issues except part II.D (Knowing and Intelligent Waiver of the Right to Jury Trial). Justice Liu writes a concurrence to the lead opinion, which Justice Cuéllar signs. Justice Corrigan dissents from part II.D of the lead opinion in an opinion joined by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Chin. Justice Kruger issues an opinion concurring in part with, and dissenting in part from, part II.D of the lead opinion.


Cuéllar, J.

The jury lies at the heart of California's criminal justice system and its capital sentencing

221 Cal.Rptr.3d 782

scheme. Despite the costs and practical burdens associated with juries, the federal Constitution requires safeguards "[t]o protect against inappropriate incursions" on a defendant's exercise or waiver of the fundamental right to a trial by a jury of his or her peers. ( People v. Collins (2001) 26 Cal.4th 297, 307, 109 Cal.Rptr.2d 836, 27 P.3d 726 ( Collins ).) Our state Constitution proclaims that "[t]rial by jury is an inviolate right and shall be secured to all." ( Cal. Const., art. I, § 16.) And California statutes afford capital defendants the right to a jury trial not only with respect to adjudication of guilt or innocence, but also with respect to determinations regarding special circumstance allegations and the decision to impose the death penalty. (See Pen. Code, § 190.4, subds. (a), (b) ; all further unmarked statutory references are to the Penal Code.)

A criminal defendant is permitted to waive his or her jury trial rights—but only if the record demonstrates the waivers are express, voluntary, knowing, and intelligent. ( Collins , supra , 26 Cal.4th at p. 305, 109 Cal.Rptr.2d 836, 27 P.3d 726.) That proves to be a problem in this case. We, the undersigned, cannot conclude that defendant David Scott Daniels's

400 P.3d 390

waivers of jury trial were knowing and intelligent, in compliance with constitutional requirements. That this error results in unquantifiable prejudice is the reason we would reverse Daniels's guilt convictions, the true findings of special circumstances, and the penalty of death. Our view on this issue, however, does not today command a majority of the court. Thus, we concur in the court's reversal of the penalty of death, while we dissent from the judgment to affirm Daniels's trial convictions and special-circumstance findings.

3 Cal.5th 968

Because the court reverses the judgment of death, we need not address Daniels's claims challenging specific aspects of his trial relating to his death sentence, or California's death penalty scheme more generally. We analyze Daniels's remaining claims only to the extent they seek to attack his convictions or the special-circumstance determinations. With the exception of Daniels's claim maintaining that his jury trial waiver was invalid, discussed in part II.D, the court unanimously agrees with the reasoning and resolution of Daniels's claims examined below.


A. Guilt Phase Evidence

The People presented the following evidence during the guilt phase of trial. Daniels did not present any guilt phase evidence or argument.

1. Armed Robberies and Carjacking

From November 26 through December 27, 1999, Daniels committed several armed robberies of businesses in Sacramento. The robberies proceeded in substantially the same fashion: Daniels would enter a bank or store, pull out a firearm or insinuate that he had a firearm, and demand money from the cash register. On one occasion, Daniels led a customer and a clerk to the back of the store, took $25 from the customer's wallet, and bound the customer's and clerk's necks and faces with cable wire before taking $1,000 dollars from the store's cash register.

On January 1, 2000, Daniels approached Gabriel Tover and Lisa Lovado outside a Blockbuster Video in Stockton, holding what looked to be a machine gun or an Uzi. Daniels pointed his firearm at Tover and demanded the keys to a silver 1995 Chevrolet Camaro; Tover obliged. After also taking Lovado's purse and Tover's wallet, Daniels got into the car and drove off.

221 Cal.Rptr.3d 783

In connection with these and similar incidents, Daniels pleaded guilty on January 8, 2001, to 11 counts of armed robbery with use of a firearm, one count of carjacking with use of a firearm, and one count of vehicle theft. In addition, Daniels admitted he had suffered two prior strike convictions within the meaning of the Three Strikes Law (§§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12).

2. LeWayne Carolina Homicide

Jennifer O'Neal and Daniels were dating and had known each other about four years. At approximately 6:30 p.m. on December 28, 1999, Daniels picked up O'Neal and O'Neal's eight-year-old daughter in his car. O'Neal

3 Cal.5th 969

noticed that Daniels had, under his clothing, a Tec-9 firearm tied around his neck with a shoelace. Daniels told O'Neal he needed the firearm for protection, explaining that he was "on the run" and not going back to prison.

Around 8:00 p.m., Daniels, O'Neal, and O'Neal's daughter went to the Ramada Inn on Auburn Boulevard, where O'Neal rented a room. Daniels made a phone call in the lobby, as well as some calls in the hotel room. Daniels smoked three cocaine cigarettes between approximately 8:00 and 9:30 p.m. Daniels, O'Neal, and O'Neal's daughter left the hotel together by car.

They picked up a woman named Marcie, then drove to Martina Daniels's house in South Sacramento where they picked up Martina and her friend Lamar. Lamar recommended a place where Daniels could buy illegal drugs. Daniels drove the car and its passengers to an apartment complex on Mack Road. He seemed "very high" and "very hyper." His driving was "okay, a little fast, but he was driving normally." When they arrived at the Stonegate apartment complex, Daniels indicated he would be right back, and both he and Lamar exited the car. O'Neal described Daniels's demeanor as "very aggressive" and observed that "he was

400 P.3d 391

not in a normal state of mind. He was not rationally thinking." Martina, Marcie, O'Neal, and O'Neal's daughter waited in the car.

Around 9:00 p.m. that same evening, Tamarra Hillian arrived to visit Ray Jedkins, a friend of hers from high school, at Jedkins's apartment. Jedkins's cousin, LeWayne Carolina, was also at the apartment. As Hillian sat in the apartment living room watching television, there was a knock at the door. Jedkins answered the door and spoke with...

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