People v. Griffin, Cr. 7309

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtMcCOMB; GIBSON; PETERS
Citation383 P.2d 432,32 Cal.Rptr. 24,60 Cal.2d 182
Parties, 383 P.2d 432 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Eddie Dean GRIFFIN, Defendant and Appellant.
Decision Date18 July 1963
Docket NumberCr. 7309

Page 24

32 Cal.Rptr. 24
60 Cal.2d 182, 383 P.2d 432
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Eddie Dean GRIFFIN, Defendant and Appellant.
Cr. 7309.
Supreme Court of California, In Bank.
July 18, 1963.
Rehearing Denied Aug. 14, 1963.

Page 26

[383 P.2d 434] [60 Cal.2d 185] Ellery E. Cuff and Erling J. Hovden, Public Defenders, Charles A Maple and James L. McCormick, Deputy Bublic Defenders, for defendant and appellant.

Stanley Mosk, Atty. Gen., Albert W. Harris, Jr., and Robert R. Granucci, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

McCOMB, Justice.

This is an automatic appeal, pursuant to section 1239, subdivision (b), of the Penal Code, after a jury found defendant guilty of first degree murder and fixed the penalty at death.

Defendant contends:

First. That the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction.

This contention is devoid of merit. December 2, 1961, defendant encountered Eddie Seay and a friend of Eddie's named Al on a street corner in Los Angeles and asked directions to the 41st Street Club, a nearby bar. After receiving the directions, defendant give Eddie a quarter, which was applied toward the purchase of a bottle of wine.

About nine o'clock Eddie and Al entered the 41st Street Club and sat in a booth with Essie Mae Hodson and two other people. Eddie had been living with Essie Mae since 1957 and referred to her as his common law wife.

Defendant, who was standing at the counter, was invited to the booth to join Eddie and the group. They drank wine and beer through the evening until Al left. Essie Mae left about one o'clock, and Eddie and defendant remained in the bar [60 Cal.2d 186] until two o'clock. Eddie was fairly intoxicated and though defendant was, also.

At defendant's request for a place to stay that night, Eddie took him to the apartment he shared with Essie Mae and told him he could sleep on a day bed in the living room. Eddie then retired to the bedroom with Essie Mae and went to sleep.

Later the noise of a struggle awakened Eddie, and he went into the living room, where Essie Mae told him, in defendant's presence, that she had gotten up to go to the bathroom and that defendant had put his hand over her mouth and tried to make her accept him.

Eddie advised defendant to go and drink some coffee, and took him down the back stairs. On the way downstairs defendant asked if he could come back upstairs and if Eddie would talk to Essie Mae for him. Eddie refused, took defendant outside, and went back upstairs the front way, locking the door.

Five minutes later Eddie heard defendant knocking and calling and the sound of glass breaking as defendant let himself in the back door.

Eddie got up, put on a pair of trousers, went to the back stairs, and again took defendant downstairs. Meanwhile, Essie Mae went out onto a balcony.

At the bottom of the stairs defendant hit Eddie two or three times, causing some injuries. Eddie was able to break away and ran over to the 41st Street Club, where someone he knew agreed to go with him back to the apartment building. They were unable to find Essie Mae, and Eddie never saw her alive again.

About seven o'clock the next morning Alfredo Villasenor walked down an alley behind the apartment building, looking for a piece of scrap lumber. In the alley was a very large trash box containing several feet of sawdust and some scrap wood. Villasenor saw defendant come out of the box buttoning his trousers and asked him what he was doing. Defendant replied, 'Nothing,' and walked away.

Villasenor searched around for a piece of wood and finally looked into the box. There he saw Essie Mae. She had blood on her clothes, was trembling, and had apparently suffered a severe beating. Villasenor called to someone working in an

Page 27

[383 P.2d 435] adjacent trailer lot, who, in turn, called the police.

The officers found Essie Mae sitting on top of the sawdust in the box. She appeared to be under great shock, was bleeding[60 Cal.2d 187] from the head, and could barely state her name. There was mud on her face, her clothes were wet, and there was blood in the sawdust.

Essie Mae was taken to Central Receiving Hospital, barely conscious and unable to answer questions. She was treated for her injuries, namely, bleeding from the left middle are; a skull fracture; bleeding bruises on the left side of her scalp, both eyes, forehead, and lips; a three-inch cut in her scalp; multiple abrasions of her ankles, hip, and back; and a lack of blood pressure.

Essie Mae died the next afternoon. An autopsy was performed the following day, and the cause of her death was determined to be 'subdural hematoma, which was operated with skull fracture.'

An examination of her genital organs failed to disclose the presence of spermatazoa. The coroner testified, however, that this would not preclude the possibility of her having had intercourse late on the night of December 2 or early morning, December 3. He also testified that a woman with the extensive injuries suffered by her would be in great pain and it would be very difficult for such a person to engage in voluntary sex relations.

In addition, the prosecution produced expert testimony to the effect that the venereal disease commonly known as gonorrhea would destroy the ability of a male to produce spermatazoa. Defendant admitted to police officers that he had had both gonorrhea and syphilis.

There were blood stains at the foot of the back stairs, drag marks in the alley, and blood stains and a woman's wig in the sawdust box. Essie Mae had worn such a wig.

Defendant was arrested in Mexicali, and when questioned by officers freely and voluntarily told them that on the evening of December 2 he was at the 41st Street Club, where he met Essie Mae, Eddie, and some other people and had a number of drinks with them; that during the evening he gave Eddie a $10 bill with which to buy some wine; that Eddie disappeared with the change after an argument; that Essie Mae also left; that he inquired where they lived and went there; that Essie Mae let him in and, after some discussion, told him not to worry, that she would make good the missing change by letting him have intercourse with her; that they had just begun when Eddie came in the room and started a fight, in which Essie Mae joined and which continued down the back stairs and into the alley; that Eddie ran off; and [60 Cal.2d 188] that Essie Mae, even though she ahd been his several times in the fight, took him to the trash box, where she voluntarily engaged in the intercourse. Defendant said he left the box when he heard Villasenor, who he though was a watchman, pass by.

The foregoing evidence substantially sustained the findings of fact of the jury.

In a criminal prosecution the weight of the evidence is for the jury to determine in the first instance, and the trial court after the verdict in the second instance. If, as in the present case, the circumstances reasonably justify the verdict of the jury, an opinion of this court that those circumstances might also reasonably be reconciled with the innocence of the defendant will not warrant interference with the determination of the jury. (People v. Wein, 50 Cal.2d 383, 398(13), 326 P.2d 457; People v. Newland, 15 Cal.2d 678, 681, 104 P.2d 778.)

People v. Craig, 49 Cal.2d 313, 316 P.2d 947, and People v. Granados, 49 Cal.2d 490, 319 P.2d 346, are clearly distinguishable from the present case. In neither case was there direct or circumstantial evidence that the defendants had raped, or attempted to rape, their victims; and in the Craig case the only circumstantial evidence relative to that issue tended to the conclusion that the defendant did not attempt to perpetrate a

Page 28

[383 P.2d 436] rape (49 Cal.2d at p. 318(2a, 3), 316 P.2d at p. 950).

Under those two cases, evidence that the defendant has brutally beaten or murdered his victim is insufficient to establish an intent to commit rape.

In the present case, the evidence is sufficient to establish an attempted rape.

First, there was evidence of defendant's assault on Essie Mae while she was in the apartment and his failure to deny her accusation that he was trying to rape her.

Second, defendant was seen buttoning his trousers as he walked away from the trash box, where Essie Mae sat bruised and bleeding. (Cf. People v. Cheary, 48 Cal.2d 301, 317(20), 309 P.2d 431.)

Third, defendant admitted that he began an act of intercourse with Essie Mae in her apartment, entered the sawdust box with her with the intent of having intercourse, and did, in fact, have intercourse with her there. In this connection, the testimony of the autopsy surgeon that a woman with the injuries suffered by Essie Mae would not be likely [60 Cal.2d 189] to engage in a voluntary act of sexual intercourse is also important.

The facts which defendant asserts establish his innocence are equally consistent with his guilt.

Second. That the evidence of defendant's assault on Amada Encinas was inadmissible on the issue of penalty.

This contention is likewise without merit. In the trial of the penalty issue the principal evidence produced by the prosecution related to a similar offense committed by defendant on December 19, 1961, in Mexicali, Mexico.

December 4, 1961, defendant left Los Angeles and travelled to Calexico, where he obtained a job at a cotton compress. There he met a man named Willie Kerr and told him his name was Willie Fairchild. Defendant told Kerr he did not have a place to stay, and Kerr let him have a room at the house which he shared with his common law wife, Amada Encinas, across the border in Mexicali.

On December 19, 1961, while Amada was preparing lunch, defendant asked her for a towel. When she took it into his room, he grabbed her, hit and kicked her, tore her clothes off, and tried to rape...

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24 practice notes
  • People v. McClellan, Cr. 11728
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 20 August 1969
    ...687, 16 Cal.Rptr. 370, 365 P.2d 426; People v. Hamilton (1963) 60 Cal.2d 105, 32 Cal.Rptr. 4, 383 P.2d 412; People v. Griffin (1963) 60 Cal.2d 182, 32 Cal.Rptr. 24, 383 P.2d 432; People v. Hines (1964) 61 Cal.2d 164, 37 Cal.Rptr. 622, 390 P.2d Thus in People v. Purvis, supra, at pages 95--9......
  • People v. Phillips
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 31 December 1985
    ...is required to fix the penalty, is a subject which could well receive legislative attention." (Ibid.) 19 Compare People v. Griffin (1963) 60 Cal.2d 182, 191, 32 Cal.Rptr. 24, 383 P.2d 432, holding admissible evidence of a prior crime for which defendant obtained an acquittal. This ruling wa......
  • People v. Tolbert, Cr. 10681
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 15 April 1969
    ...44 Cal.Rptr. 30, 401 P.2d 382; People v. Teale, 63 Cal.2d 178, 187(6), 45 Cal.Rptr. 729, 404 P.2d 209; People v. [70 Cal.2d 801] Griffin, 60 Cal.2d 182, 188(2--3), 32 Cal.Rptr. 24, 383 P.2d 432, rev'd on other grounds, 380 U.S. 609, 85 S.Ct. 1229, 14 L.Ed.2d 106; People v. Robillard, 55 Cal......
  • People v. Morse, Cr. 8684
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 10 April 1969
    ...which were the basis of that prior judgment. (Cf. People v. Purvis (1959) 52 Cal.2d 871, 881, 346 P.2d 22; People v. Griffin (1963) 60 Cal.2d 182, 189--191, 32 Cal.Rptr. 24, 383 P.2d 432, reversed on other grounds in Griffin v. California, Supra, 380 U.S. 609, 85 S.Ct. 1229, 14 L.Ed.2d 106;......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • People v. McClellan, Cr. 11728
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 20 August 1969
    ...687, 16 Cal.Rptr. 370, 365 P.2d 426; People v. Hamilton (1963) 60 Cal.2d 105, 32 Cal.Rptr. 4, 383 P.2d 412; People v. Griffin (1963) 60 Cal.2d 182, 32 Cal.Rptr. 24, 383 P.2d 432; People v. Hines (1964) 61 Cal.2d 164, 37 Cal.Rptr. 622, 390 P.2d Thus in People v. Purvis, supra, at pages 95--9......
  • People v. Phillips
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 31 December 1985
    ...is required to fix the penalty, is a subject which could well receive legislative attention." (Ibid.) 19 Compare People v. Griffin (1963) 60 Cal.2d 182, 191, 32 Cal.Rptr. 24, 383 P.2d 432, holding admissible evidence of a prior crime for which defendant obtained an acquittal. This ruling wa......
  • People v. Tolbert, Cr. 10681
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 15 April 1969
    ...44 Cal.Rptr. 30, 401 P.2d 382; People v. Teale, 63 Cal.2d 178, 187(6), 45 Cal.Rptr. 729, 404 P.2d 209; People v. [70 Cal.2d 801] Griffin, 60 Cal.2d 182, 188(2--3), 32 Cal.Rptr. 24, 383 P.2d 432, rev'd on other grounds, 380 U.S. 609, 85 S.Ct. 1229, 14 L.Ed.2d 106; People v. Robillard, 55 Cal......
  • People v. Morse, Cr. 8684
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • 10 April 1969
    ...which were the basis of that prior judgment. (Cf. People v. Purvis (1959) 52 Cal.2d 871, 881, 346 P.2d 22; People v. Griffin (1963) 60 Cal.2d 182, 189--191, 32 Cal.Rptr. 24, 383 P.2d 432, reversed on other grounds in Griffin v. California, Supra, 380 U.S. 609, 85 S.Ct. 1229, 14 L.Ed.2d 106;......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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