People v. Hardenbrook, Cr. 5939

Citation309 P.2d 424,48 Cal.2d 345
Decision Date12 April 1957
Docket NumberCr. 5939
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of California, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. David J. HARDENBROOK, Defendant and Appellant.

Page 424

309 P.2d 424
48 Cal.2d 345
The PEOPLE of the State of California, Plaintiff and Respondent,
David J. HARDENBROOK, Defendant and Appellant.
Cr. 5939.
Supreme Court of California, In Bank.
April 12, 1957.

Page 426

[48 Cal.2d 347] Russell Yeager, Public Defender, Imperial County, El Centro, for appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Atty. Gen., and William E. James, Deputy Atty. Gen., for respondent.

[48 Cal.2d 348] CARTER, Justice.

This is an automatic appeal from a judgment imposing the death penalty after a jury verdict finding the defendant guilty of first degree murder and fixing the penalty as death. Defendant was found sane by a jury after trial on his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. The record does not disclose that a motion for a new trial was made by or on behalf of defendant.

Defendant, David J. Hardenbrook, was the adopted son of the victim of the homicide, Mrs. Eleanor Hardenbrook. Defendant admitted both prior to and during the trial that he shot his adoptive mother through the back of the head while he was visiting her at her home on Saturday, March 17, 1956. The major question involved concerns the degree of the crime whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain a finding of murder in the first degree or whether it shows only second degree homicide. The admissibility of certain evidence from which the jury could have inferred that the crime was premeditated is questioned as being erroneous and prejudicial.

On Thursday, March 15, 1956, defendant borrowed a .22 caliber automatic pistol with the avowed purpose of using it for target practice. Scott, a witness for the People, testified that he saw the defendant on the night of March 15th, at the Tropics Bar and Cafe in Imperial at about 8 o'clock in the evening and that defendant was showing a .22 automatic pistol to some people sitting at the bar and that defendant said the gun was his. Scott testified that he, the defendant and three other persons left the cafe and bar after about an hour and went to Brawley; that defendant wanted to stop at his mother's house; that they stopped and defendant went in, had something to eat, came back out and they all proceeded to another bar just outside of Brawley. During this time the gun was in the back of Scott's car. After going to another bar Scott drove defendant back to the El Centro Hotel where he was living; defendant was 'pretty sickening drunk' and left the gun in Scott's car.

On Friday, March 16th, Scott saw defendant leaving the Post parking lot on the outside of the naval air station base and stopped his car so that defendant could get in. Scott and defendant then drove to El Centro where Scott bought some bullets for the gun so that they could do some target practicing. They drove towards Imperial and then to a place called New River where they did some target shooting. Out of a box of 50 shells, nine were left and defendant wanted to save them. During the target shooting defendant asked Scott [48 Cal.2d 349] if he knew where a silencer could be bought and what it would cost. On their way back defendant said someone at the gate wanted

Page 427

a ride back into town and when they came back out again they picked up the hitch-hiker, Potter, and went into town. At this time it was about dusk and around 7 o'clock. When defendant got out of the car at El Centro he took the gun out of the glove compartment and got a paper bag into which to put it. During the ride into El Centro the matter of a silencer was again discussed.

Potter, who was sitting in the back of the car during the ride into El Centro, testified that Scott, who was driving, looked 'over to Hardenbrook and he said, 'Where are you going to kill your mother?' So Hardenbrook looked over at Scott and he says, 'In the bedroom, I guess.' They got to talking about how much a silencer cost, or where he could get one, and Scott said he didn't have any idea what they cost or where to get one.' Potter testified that later that night when he got back to the base he stopped over where he worked and told the story to a 'guy named Hum.' This portion of Potter's testimony was denied by both defendant and Scott.

Defendant testified that he had been adopted by the deceased when he was about 2 months old; that he had lived with her up until 'fairly recently' when he had moved to the El Centro Hotel where he lived alone. He testified to borrowing the gun and showing it to several people at the Tropics bar; to the target shooting and to discussing the matter of a silencer for the gun but said that he asked about it just out of curiosity. He told how he and Scott picked up Potter and gave him a ride into town. He testified that after he got out of the car with the gun he went into a grocery store and got a paper bag in which to carry the gun; that he then went back to the El Centro Hotel and 'put up the gun' and hitchhiked from there to Brawley and went to his mother's home where he had dinner with her after which they listened to the radio and played canasta; that he then hitchhiked back to El Centro to his hotel. He said he did not take the gun with him on Friday night when he went to his mother's home. He testified that his mother told him that if he would come back in the morning she would launder his clothes for him; that he got up around 9:30 on the morning of Saturday, the 17th, and hitchhiked from El Centro to Brawley taking the laundry and the gun with him. He said that he took the gun with him so that he could clean it before returning it; that when he arrived at his mother's home he put the aluminum[48 Cal.2d 350] box containing his clothes and the gun on a table; that he waited until his mother was out of the room and then took the gun out of the box and put it between two pillows on the couch because his 'mother doesn't approve of firearms of any type.' After...

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28 cases
  • People v. Nicholas, Cr. 18506
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 19, 1980
    ...Bennett, 60 Cal.App.3d 112, 131 Cal.Rptr. 305; People v. Heideman, 58 Cal.App.3d 321, 130 Cal.Rptr. 349; see also People v. Hardenbrook, 48 Cal.2d 345, 353-354, 309 P.2d 424). Defendant's argument is predicated on an inept analogy to cases which turn on the prosecutorial election as to whic......
  • People v. Milan, Cr. 15377
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • March 28, 1973
    ...doubt that the defendant is guilty of first degree murder as that offense is defined by the statute. (See also People v. Hardenbrook, 48 Cal.2d 345, 353--354, 309 P.2d 424.) A similar rule has been applied in burglary cases (People v. Failla, 64 Cal.2d 560, 569, 51 Cal.Rptr. 103, 414 P.2d 3......
  • People v. Ketchel
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • May 7, 1963
    ...error; the evidence sustains such a description, despite its flamboyant character. (See, for instance, People v. Hardenbrook (1957) 48 Cal.2d 345, 352, 309 P.2d 424, references to 'mother-killer' and 'sneaky' mother-killer.) "In the argument before the jury, any reasonable inference may be ......
  • People v. Rodriguez, Cr. 7452
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • July 29, 1970
    ...unfairly. (People v. Wein, 50 Cal.2d 383, 396, 326 P.2d 457; People v. Harris, 219 Cal. 727, 732--733, 28 P.2d 906; People v. Hardenbrook, 48 Cal.2d 345, 353, 309 P.2d 424.) Accordingly, a prosecutor may us appropriate epithets where warranted by the nature of the case and the evidence addu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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