People v. Davis

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation208 P.3d 78,46 Cal. 4th 539,94 Cal.Rptr.3d 322
Decision Date01 June 2009
Docket NumberNo. S056425.,S056425.
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Richard Allen DAVIS, Defendant and Appellant.
208 P.3d 78
94 Cal.Rptr.3d 322
46 Cal. 4th 539
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
Richard Allen DAVIS, Defendant and Appellant.
No. S056425.
Supreme Court of California.
June 1, 2009.

[208 P.3d 94]

Phillip H. Cherney, Visalia, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Robert R. Anderson and Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorneys General, Gerald A. Engler and Ronald S. Matthias, Assistant Attorneys General, and Bruce Ortega, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


A jury found defendant Richard Allen Davis guilty of the first degree murder of 12-year-old Polly Hannah Klaas (Pen.Code, §§ 187)1 as well as the burglary of her home (§ 459), robbery (§ 211), kidnapping (§ 207, subd. (a)), and an attempted lewd act against her (§ 664/288, subd. (a)). As to the murder, the jury found to be true special circumstance allegations of burglary, robbery, kidnapping, and attempted lewd act upon a child under the age of 14. (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17).) With respect to other crimes, the jury found that defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon during the commission of these crimes, that he personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victim, and that he knew or reasonably should have known that his victim was 14 years old or younger. (§§ 12022, subd. (b), 12022.7, 211/459/667.9, subd. (a).)

The jury also found defendant guilty of two counts of false imprisonment (§ 236), two counts of assault with a deadly weapon (a knife) (§ 245, subd. (a)(1)), and two counts of robbery (§ 211) for crimes he committed against Polly's classmates, Kate M. and Gillian P. In addition, the jury found that defendant used a deadly and dangerous weapon in committing these crimes (§ 12022, subd. (b)), and that he knew or reasonably should have known that each of these victims was 14 years old or younger (§§ 211/667.9, subd. (a).)

The jury further found that defendant personally inflicted great bodily injury on Polly Klaas after having served two or more prior separate prison terms. (§ 667, subd. (a)(1).) Finally, the jury found that defendant had four prior serious felony convictions (§ 667, subd. (a)), and that he had served three prior prison terms (§ 667.5(b)).

At defendant's penalty trial, the jury returned a verdict of death. The trial court denied defendant's motion for a new trial (§ 1181) as well as the automatic motion to modify penalty (§ 190.4, subd. (e)), and sentenced defendant to death. This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).) We affirm the judgment in its entirety.


A. Guilt Phase

1. Prosecution's case

a. Defendant's release on parole: June to October 1993

Defendant, who had a long criminal history that included convictions for assault, burglary, kidnapping, and robbery, was paroled from state prison on June 27, 1993. In early July 1993, defendant gained admission into the Turning Point Shelter in San Mateo, a transitional housing facility for the homeless. While at Turning Point, defendant initially worked at a precision sheet metal company, later as a painter.

On the weekend of August 21-23, 1993, defendant took a bus to visit his sister and brother-in-law, Darlene and Richard Schwann, who lived on the Coyote Valley Indian Reservation in Ukiah. The bus stopped at a depot in Petaluma near Walnut Park and Wickersham Park, which were frequented by transients and drug users. That

208 P.3d 95

same weekend, defendant bought Richard Schwann's 1979 Ford Pinto hatchback, after which he quit his job. He used the car to make several trips to Ukiah to visit the Schwarms from September through November 1993. During this period, defendant told an employee at Turning Point that he had gone to Petaluma to look for his mother, and on two different occasions he told one of his employers that he was visiting family in Petaluma.

At least four witnesses saw defendant loitering around Walnut Park and Wickersham Park in Petaluma in August and September of 1993. Defendant stood out because of his disheveled appearance, his yellow headband, his heavily tattooed arms, his public drinking, and his peppered-gray hair and beard. On at least one of those occasions, he was seen drinking and laughing in the park with his sister Darlene.

On either September 30 or October 1, 1993, defendant entered the Seductions adult store in Ukiah and bought a blue Rough Rider condom that the proprietor, Jeannette Turner, was "pretty sure ... was studded or ribbed."

b. The disappearance of Polly Klaas: October 1, 1993

Eve Nichol lived with her daughters, 12-year-old Polly Klaas and six-year-old Annie, in a small three-bedroom house in Petaluma near Walnut Park and Wickersham Park.2 On Friday, October 1, 1993, Polly had a slumber party at her home with two classmates, 12-year-old Kate M. and 12-year-old Gillian P.

Gillian arrived between 7:00 and 7:15 p.m. After a few minutes, she and Polly walked to a nearby convenience store, bought popsicles, and returned home. Their walk took them past Wickersham Park. Just before Kate arrived, Gillian and Polly went out to the front doorstep to wait for Kate.

Between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m., Kate arrived with her mother. As Kate's mother got back into her car, which was blocking the sidewalk, she saw a man walking straight at her vehicle, as if he was going to crash into it, so she jerked her car forward. The man wore dark clothing; he had rather bushy, gray and brown hair (possibly swept back in a ponytail); and he was carrying something that looked like a bag. Thirteen-year-old Kamika Milstead, a nearby resident, saw defendant get out of his car and head down the same sidewalk, carrying a bag or a box.

Meanwhile, the three girls played in Polly's bedroom. As Halloween was a few weeks away, Kate, who was dressed as a "hippie," and Gillian applied makeup to Polly's face to make her look "dead." Polly later changed into a white cotton denim skirt and a pink blouse that was tied into a knot in front, and removed most of the makeup.

Around 10:00 p.m., Nichol told the girls not to stay up too late and to keep the noise down, as she and Annie were going to bed. Nichol went to her bedroom, which was separated from Polly's bedroom by a bathroom and another bedroom. She read in bed for a few minutes, with Annie next to her, and she and Annie then fell asleep.

From 10:00 to 10:30 p.m., the three girls played board games and video games. Around this same time, nearby resident Taleah Miller was returning from a movie with her uncle. As her uncle was about to drop her off, Taleah saw defendant carrying a duffel bag and walking toward her house. Because Taleah was leery of homeless people, she asked her uncle to wait until the "scary looking" defendant passed the car. As defendant passed, he looked into the car and slid his hand over his face, as if to conceal it. Defendant was wearing dark clothing; he had combed-back, collar-length dark hair and a gray-patched beard.

Around this same time, Sean Bush, Aaron Thomas, and Thomas's girlfriend were watching a movie in Thomas's "granny unit" behind Polly's home. While Bush smoked a cigarette in Thomas's doorway, he could see Thomas's bathroom, which was separately located on Nichol's back porch. At about 10:30 p.m., Bush saw defendant walking calmly and slowly up the stairs to Thomas's bathroom. When defendant noticed Bush looking at him, he turned his head away and

208 P.3d 96

reached for the bathroom door. Bush described defendant as stocky with very thick and wiry hair that was styled straight back and lighter on top than on the bottom. Unaware that anything unusual was occurring, Bush resumed watching the movie.

Meanwhile, the girls decided to set up their sleeping bags. When Polly opened the bedroom door to retrieve the sleeping bags, she discovered defendant in the doorway holding a knife and a bag. Defendant said, "Don't scream or I'll slit your throats," and promised not to hurt them if they did what he said. He told the girls to lie facedown on the floor and not to look at him. Gillian and Kate initially thought defendant was a friend of Polly or her family who was engaged in a prank. Defendant asked, "Where is [sic] the valuables?" He repeatedly told them not to be scared and "he was only doing this for the money." Defendant wondered aloud why there were so many people present and expressed surprise when Polly told him that her mother was in the house. Polly said there was money in her jewelry box and asked him not to hurt her mother and sister. Defendant was calm at first, but he sounded more "frantic" as events unfolded.

All three girls lay down in a row on Polly's bedroom floor, and defendant tied their hands using a silky cloth, cords cut from Polly's Nintendo machine, and a strap from Polly's leather purse. He also gagged them with a silky cloth. He removed the cases from pillows in the bedroom and placed them over the girls' heads. At that point, Gillian no longer believed it was a joke.

Defendant told the girls that he was going to take Polly to show him where the valuables were, that he would then return Polly to Gillian and Kate, and that he would be gone after they counted to 1,000. Defendant then took Polly out of the room, promising he would not touch her. At that point, defendant had been in the bedroom for approximately 10 minutes.

After a few minutes' counting, with no sign of Polly, Gillian and Kate freed themselves, went to Nichol's bedroom, and told her what had happened. After they all unsuccessfully searched for Polly around the house, Nichol called 911 around 11:00 p.m. Nichol did not find any personal property missing from the home, but a pair of red leggings was later discovered missing from a chest of drawers in the bedroom.

c. Police encounter near Pythian Road: October 1, 1993

Dana Jaffe lived with her 12-year-old daughter on a 192-acre parcel in Sonoma County, between Santa Rosa and...

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