People v. Dickey, No. S025519.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtBROWN, J.
Decision Date23 May 2005
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Colin Raker DICKEY, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. S025519.

28 Cal.Rptr.3d 647
35 Cal.4th 884
111 P.3d 921

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Colin Raker DICKEY, Defendant and Appellant

No. S025519.

Supreme Court of California.

May 23, 2005.

Rehearing Denied July 13, 2005.1

Certiorari Denied February 21, 2006.


28 Cal.Rptr.3d 654
James W. Haworth, under appointment by the Supreme Court, San Francisco, for Defendant and Appellant

Bill Lockyer, Attorney General, Robert R. Anderson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Jo Graves, Assistant Attorney General, Jean M. Marinovich and J. Robert Jibson, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

Certiorari Denied February 21, 2006. See 126 S.Ct. 1347.

BROWN, J.

A jury found defendant Colin Raker Dickey guilty of the murders of Marie Caton and Louis Freiri, finding true special circumstances of felony-murder robbery, felony-murder burglary, and multiple murder. (Pen.Code, § 190.2, subds. (a)(3), (17)(A)(G).)2 The jury also found defendant guilty of first degree robbery with regard to each of the victims, and first degree burglary. At the penalty phase, the jury fixed the punishment for the murders at death. This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).)

We affirm the judgment in its entirety.

I. FACTS

A. Guilt Phase

1. The Prosecution Case

The murder victims were Fresno residents—Marie Caton, 76, and Louis Freiri, 67, a friend and boarder of Mrs. Caton's. Their bodies were discovered by one of Mrs. Caton's daughters, Lavelle Garratt. Mrs. Garratt or her sister checked on their mother every day, "[b]ecause she was lonely, because she was our mother, because we loved her and we wanted to see her."

Late in the afternoon of November 8, 1988, when Mrs. Garratt could not reach her mother by telephone, she drove to her house. She found Mrs. Caton on the floor of her bedroom, covered with a bloodstained blanket. Mrs. Caton had been beaten so badly her eyes bulged out of their sockets like golf balls. Mrs. Caton also had knife wounds on her chest and a jagged cut on her back. She lingered for 11 days, but never regained consciousness. The cause of death was respiratory failure associated with "shock lung syndrome," the shock having been caused by her injuries.

Mr. Freiri wore a brace on his right leg and required a cane. Mrs. Garratt found him facedown, stretched across the archway between the dining room and the living room. A chair, wall, and window blinds near his body were bloodstained. Pieces of his cane were found in the living

28 Cal.Rptr.3d 655
room and one of the bedrooms. Mr. Freiri had been stabbed in the chest, armpit, and forearm; he also had a bone-deep laceration on his forehead. He was stabbed with such force that two of his ribs were broken. He died of blood loss

Mrs. Garratt told the police she suspected her son, Richard Cullumber. Cullumber was, Mrs. Garratt believed, a drug addict, and he asked his grandmother Mrs. Caton for money—cash she would take out of a buffet drawer—almost every day. Mrs. Caton "grew up during the Depression and she was afraid of being hungry again, I guess, and so she hid money all over." Among other caches, Mrs. Caton kept at least $6,000 in cash in a metal box placed inside a suitcase stored under her bed. She also kept a smaller sum in another suitcase.

Cullumber, also known as "R.C.," lived in an apartment in Fresno, along with defendant, Gail Goldman, Richard Buchanan, and two other men. The night of the murders Cullumber packed his bag and left the apartment. He returned several days later but fled again when informed the police were looking for him. On November 12, 1988, after a high-speed police chase, Cullumber, cornered, killed himself.

The pistol Cullumber used to shoot himself was registered to Mr. Freiri. He had earlier warned the driver of a car he commandeered, "I need the car; I've already killed a woman."

Two knives possibly linked to the murders were discovered in Mrs. Caton's kitchen—a butcher knife and a steak knife. The steak knife (People's exhibit No. 18) was, in the opinion of defendant's housemates Gail Goldman and Richard Buchanan, identical to a knife belonging in their apartment.

In addition to his knife wounds, Mr. Freiri had a four-inch-long ligature wound, caused by a cord that was wrapped around his neck. It was a cotton cord of the color, weave, and texture used in venetian blinds. The venetian blinds in Mrs. Caton's house were intact, but a venetian blind kept in the hall closet of the apartment defendant shared with Cullumber and the others was missing its cord. On the night of the murders, Gene Buchanan saw defendant remove a venetian blind from the closet of their apartment, walk into the bedroom with it, and then replace it in the closet. Goldman testified it was Cullumber who had done that. Defendant's thumbprint was found on a slat from the venetian blind found by the police in the apartment closet.3

The case against defendant rested on the testimony of Gail Goldman and Gene Buchanan.4

a) The Testimony of Gail Goldman5

Goldman shared a one-bedroom apartment in Fresno with defendant, Cullumber,

28 Cal.Rptr.3d 656
Buchanan, and two other men. According to Detective Doug Stokes, Goldman told him "about a venetian blind that had been in the hall closet that was ... taken by the suspect, Dickey, ... into a bedroom and that the cord was removed from that venetian blind and then the venetian blind was placed back inside the hall closet." However, when she testified, Goldman said it was Cullumber who took the venetian blind out of the closet and went into the bedroom with it. Later, she testified, the blind had been replaced in the closet, but the cord was missing from a blind in the bedroom

At approximately the same time that Cullumber was engaged with the venetian blind, defendant walked into the kitchen and opened a drawer containing knives and other silverware.6 According to Detective Stokes, Goldman told him defendant removed a knife from the drawer and left the kitchen with it. Again according to Detective Stokes, when he came to the apartment investigating the murders, he showed Goldman a knife. She told him, "I have a knife exactly like that knife, or they are twins."

After the activity just described, Goldman testified, defendant and Cullumber left the apartment. They had no money, Goldman believed, when they left. If Cullumber had money, he spent it on drugs; before defendant left he asked Goldman for money to buy cigarettes. However, when they returned, Cullumber gave Goldman $40 or $50 in cash, saying it was in partial payment of what he owed her. Cullumber then packed his clothes and left.

Sometime thereafter, while Goldman and defendant were watching the news on television, they saw a story about this crime. Defendant became upset when he learned Mr. Freiri was dead and that Mrs. Caton, while near death, was still alive. He told Goldman to come into the bedroom, that he wanted to talk to her. Buchanan followed them into the bedroom.

Defendant told them he had accompanied Cullumber to the home of Mrs. Caton. On the one hand, defendant said that Cullumber had assured him "nothing was going to happen." On the other hand, defendant admitted he had gone with Cullumber "[t]o help [him] get the money." With Mrs. Caton present, defendant looked for money in her bedroom, where Cullumber told him it could be found. When defendant stepped out of the bedroom and saw Mr. Freiri slumped over in a chair, he "knew something had happened." Cullumber "went berserk. He came into the bedroom and started beating up on his grandmother." Defendant and Cullumber found $700, which they split.

Defendant was crying, "like he was sad," when he confessed to Goldman and Buchanan. Later, when defendant learned Mrs. Caton had died, "he wasn't as depressed as he was before."

While he was confessing, defendant said maybe he should turn himself in. Goldman advised him against it. When Detective Stokes first asked Goldman whether she knew anything about these crimes, Goldman denied that she did. Defendant was a good friend of hers, she still liked him, and she did not want to do anything to get him into trouble. She did not want to tell on anyone, especially someone she liked as much as she liked defendant. Buchanan told her he was going to turn defendant in for the reward. By contrast, Goldman testified at the preliminary hearing only because she had been subpoenaed. During a break, Goldman told the prosecutor she wanted to make sure defendant

28 Cal.Rptr.3d 657
knew she was not the one who turned him in. She was afraid for her life. "I always felt that if you would inform on somebody they would kill you or have you killed." Defendant said he was not concerned that someone would betray him, "because if they did, they wouldn't do it again." On the other hand, Goldman thought that her relationship with defendant was such that "it would take an awful lot to make him hurt me."

Goldman had "had 20 surgeries on [her] stomach," and depending on how much pain she was in, she used "speed ball cocaine and heroin" or other "street drugs" to kill the pain.

b) The Testimony of Gene Buchanan

One evening in November 1988, defendant took a venetian blind from the hall closet of the apartment he shared with Buchanan, Cullumber, Goldman, and two others. Defendant took the blind into the bedroom and shortly thereafter replaced it in the closet. Buchanan looked into the bedroom. On the bed was a knife belonging to Gail Goldman, a knife with a bone handle and a serrated edge. People's exhibit No. 18 was that knife, or else it looked exactly like Goldman's knife.

Defendant and Cullumber left the apartment around 9:00 p.m. That night everyone living in the apartment was broke, or claimed to be. However, when defendant and Cullumber returned, defendant opened his wallet and said, "I got $350," and, "call the connection."

Buchanan ordered drugs, which were injected by defendant, Cullumber, Goldman, and Buchanan. Afterwards, Cullumber asked...

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471 practice notes
  • People v. McWhorter, No. S068536.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 6, 2009
    ...and defendant's other federal Constitutional rights, has also previously been rejected by this court. (See, e.g., People v. Dickey (2005) 35 Cal.4th 884, 928, 28 212 P.3d 735 Cal.Rptr.3d 647, 111 P.3d 921 (Dickey); People v. Box (2000) 23 Cal.4th 1153, 1217, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 69, 5 P.3d 130 (B......
  • People v. Gutierrez, No. S073253.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 19, 2009
    ...possibility of parole. We have repeatedly rejected these arguments and find no reason to hold otherwise here. (People v. Dickey (2005) 35 Cal.4th 884, 929, 28 Cal.Rptr.3d 647, 111 P.3d H. Presumption of Life Defendant argues that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury regardi......
  • People v. Mckinnon, No. S077166.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • October 12, 2011
    ...instruction been given.” ( People v. Carpenter (1997) 15 Cal.4th 312, 393, 63 Cal.Rptr.2d 1, 935 P.2d 708; see People v. Dickey (2005) 35 Cal.4th 884, 905, 28 Cal.Rptr.3d 647, 111 P.3d 921; People v. Stankewitz (1990) 51 Cal.3d 72, 94, 270 Cal.Rptr. 817, 793 P.2d 23.) “ ‘Since the cautionar......
  • People v. Morgan, No. S055130.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 15, 2007
    ...as it does not contain disparate sentence review (i.e., comparative or intercase proportionality review). (People v. Dickey (2005) 35 Cal.4th 884, 931, 28 Cal.Rptr.3d 647, 111 P.3d 8. The guarantee of equal protection of the laws does not require this court to give capital defendants the sa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
470 cases
  • People v. McWhorter, No. S068536.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 6, 2009
    ...and defendant's other federal Constitutional rights, has also previously been rejected by this court. (See, e.g., People v. Dickey (2005) 35 Cal.4th 884, 928, 28 212 P.3d 735 Cal.Rptr.3d 647, 111 P.3d 921 (Dickey); People v. Box (2000) 23 Cal.4th 1153, 1217, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 69, 5 P.3d 130 (B......
  • People v. Gutierrez, No. S073253.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 19, 2009
    ...possibility of parole. We have repeatedly rejected these arguments and find no reason to hold otherwise here. (People v. Dickey (2005) 35 Cal.4th 884, 929, 28 Cal.Rptr.3d 647, 111 P.3d H. Presumption of Life Defendant argues that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury regardi......
  • People v. Mckinnon, No. S077166.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • October 12, 2011
    ...instruction been given.” ( People v. Carpenter (1997) 15 Cal.4th 312, 393, 63 Cal.Rptr.2d 1, 935 P.2d 708; see People v. Dickey (2005) 35 Cal.4th 884, 905, 28 Cal.Rptr.3d 647, 111 P.3d 921; People v. Stankewitz (1990) 51 Cal.3d 72, 94, 270 Cal.Rptr. 817, 793 P.2d 23.) “ ‘Since the cautionar......
  • People v. Morgan, No. S055130.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 15, 2007
    ...as it does not contain disparate sentence review (i.e., comparative or intercase proportionality review). (People v. Dickey (2005) 35 Cal.4th 884, 931, 28 Cal.Rptr.3d 647, 111 P.3d 8. The guarantee of equal protection of the laws does not require this court to give capital defendants the sa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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