People v. Harris

Decision Date20 April 1984
Docket NumberCr. 21633
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 679 P.2d 433 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Lee Edward HARRIS, Defendant and Appellant.

Donald L.A. Kerson, Deputy State Public Defender, Los Angeles, for defendant and appellant.

John R. Gorey, Deputy Atty. Gen., Los Angeles, for plaintiff and respondent.


1. Proceedings.

This is an automatic appeal from a judgment imposing a penalty of death, prosecuted under the 1977 death penalty legislation (Stats.1977, ch. 316, §§ 4-14, pp. 1256-1262, former Pen.Code, §§ 190-190.6.) In an information filed October 16, 1979, defendant was charged with the murder of Hattie Marie Crumb and the murder of her husband, Robert L. Crumb. Each murder charge was accompanied by three special circumstance allegations. Those charges alleged the murders were committed during the commission of a robbery in violation of Penal Code section 211 (former Pen.Code, § 190.2, subd. (c)(3)(i)); that the murders were committed during the commission of a burglary in violation of Penal Code section 459 (former Pen.Code, § 190.2, subd. (c)(3)(v)); and that defendant was personally present and with the intent to cause the deaths physically aided or committed such act or acts causing the deaths of two human beings (former Pen.Code, § 190.2, subd. (c)(5)). The information also alleged in count III that defendant had committed burglary of the Crumb residence. Count IV charged defendant with the robbery of Hattie Marie Crumb in violation of Penal Code section 211, and count V charged defendant with the robbery of Robert L. Crumb.

A jury found defendant guilty of all counts and found true the special circumstance allegations as to counts I and II. The jury determined that the penalty for defendant should be death. Defendant's motions for a new trial and to reverse the penalty verdict were denied. Defendant's appeal is automatic.

2. Facts.

The case against defendant was largely based on the testimony of Terry Avery, who was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. Avery's testimony was substantially corroborated by physical evidence and by expert witnesses.

Avery, who was 18 years old at the time, met defendant and Charles Moore in Denver, Colorado. In November 1977, the trio travelled in a stolen car from Denver to Kansas. In Lawrence, Kansas, they were involved in the abduction and the murder of Sam Norwood, the manager of a Woolworth store. Following that incident, the three took a bus from Kansas to Los Angeles for the purpose of robbing the apartment managers of a building in which Moore had lived in Long Beach.

Moore, Avery and defendant arrived in Los Angeles on November 30, 1977. Moore told defendant about the managers' jewelry collection and that the managers collected rents on the first of each month.

Moore took the others to the apartment building managed by the Crumbs at 921 East Broadway in Long Beach. They gained entry to the front gate of the building by waiting for a tenant, followed him as he unlocked the gate, and headed for the managers' apartment. Moore may have put on a stocking mask before he knocked on the door. When Mrs. Crumb cracked open the door, Moore pushed it in. Mrs. Crumb recognized Moore and he pushed her back into the living room. Moore and defendant had guns drawn as they entered the apartment; Avery followed them inside. Defendant grabbed the victim's husband from the couch and hit him with the gun. Moore struck Mr. Crumb with the butt of his gun and asked Mrs. Crumb for the rent receipts. She responded that the receipts had been deposited. Both victims were struck again with the guns, and then were tied up with the adhesive tape. Their hands were bound behind their backs, and they were gagged.

Avery was told to go into the bedroom to look for jewelry. She found and took jewelry from several containers and display cases. Defendant and Moore then entered and ransacked the bedroom looking for more jewelry.

Avery returned to the living room and defendant, who was kneeling over Mrs. Crumb, told Avery to go into the kitchen and find a knife. Avery found several knives in the kitchen, but lied to defendant, saying that she could not find any. Defendant went into the kitchen, found a butcher knife, returned to the living room and gave it to Moore. Defendant told Avery to pick up a pocketknife from a coffee table. She handed it to him. He opened the blade, returned it to Avery and told her to stab Mrs. Crumb. Avery superficially stabbed Mrs. Crumb while defendant twisted the gag around the victim's mouth. Defendant became angry with Avery, telling her that she had not done it right. Defendant took the pocketknife from Avery, and she returned to the bedroom. Looking back into the living room, Avery saw Moore stabbing Mr. Crumb with the butcher knife as defendant went over to hold down Mr. Crumb's legs. Moore stabbed Mr. Crumb for two or three minutes, then Moore started stabbing Mrs. Crumb in the back with the butcher knife. Moore then removed a diamond ring from her finger. Either defendant or Moore went through Mr. Crumb's wallet.

Both Robert and Hattie Crumb died of multiple stab wounds. All of the fatal wounds were inflicted with the butcher knife. Defendant did not stab either victim.

The trio returned to the Kona Motel, where they examined the jewelry. Avery received two rings and a bracelet, and defendant and Moore kept the rest. Defendant dismantled the guns, put the parts in a bag, and left the motel for 10 or 15 minutes saying he was going to throw the parts of the guns in the ocean. Avery, who was upset over the incident, returned by bus to Denver the following morning.

Several weeks later, Avery met with defendant and Moore in an apartment in Colorado. About two days later, she contacted the police and told them where to find Moore and defendant.

About one year later, police officers involved in the investigation of the murder of the manager of the Woolworth store in Lawrence, Kansas, drove defendant from Denver to Kansas. During that automobile ride, defendant, having been advised of his rights, admitted that he, Moore and Avery killed two people in Long Beach in 1977.

Defendant presented no witnesses at the guilt phase, and no substantial controversy surrounds the facts regarding the crimes leading to this trial. Defendant's primary contention concerns the system of selection of the jury venire.

3. Use only of voter registration lists deprives defendant of his right to a jury drawn from a representative cross-section of the community.

Prior to jury selection defendant moved to quash the jury venire on the ground that use of the voter registration list as the sole source for the jury pool in Los Angeles County deprived defendant of his right to a trial by an impartial jury drawn from a fair cross-section of the community, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and by article I, section 16 of the California Constitution. Defendant claims that the use of the voter registration list as the sole source for the pool of jurors leads to the systematic exclusion and significant underrepresentation of Blacks and Hispanics, because of the low percentage of those eligible who register coupled with the proportionally lower registration rate of minorities compared to the White population. Respondent urges this court to reject defendant's claim because his statistical showing was based on total population figures rather than more refined data showing the ethnic breakdown of those eligible to serve as jurors.

(a) Burden of proof.

The problem of narrowing readily available census figures to reflect a population defined to include only those presumptively eligible for jury service raises two fundamental questions presented by this case: Is use of total population figures sufficient to make a prima facie case of a violation of defendant's right to a jury drawn from a representative cross-section of the community? Which party has the burden of showing that a more narrowly defined population would or would not result in a disparity of constitutional consequence? We conclude that because of the difficulty in obtaining more accurate figures for jury eligibility, the defendant can present a prima facie case by showing through the use of total population figures a significant underrepresentation of a cognizable class. The burden then shifts to the state to demonstrate either that with more refined statistics, the underrepresentation would be reduced to a constitutionally insignificant disparity, or that there exists a compelling justification for the procedure which results in the underrepresentation.

(b) Evidence at defendant's motion to quash the jury venire.

At the motion to quash the jury venire, the parties stipulated that the trial court could read and consider the testimony in a similar case of Raymond Arce, the Director of Juror Services Division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. That testimony described the procedure employed at the time of this trial to select potential jurors. The jury commissioner drew names randomly from the list of the registrar of voters and mailed questionnaires to the people selected. Completed questionnaires were used to exclude individuals as prospective jurors and to compile the master jury pool. No follow-up procedure was used to pursue those who did not return the questionnaire.

In Mr. Arce's view, the main problem with use of sources in addition to voter registration would be the avoidance of duplication of potential jurors when the lists have few common characteristics except for name and address. At the time of this trial, however, 29 of the 46 California counties were using multiple sources for identifying potential jurors. Since July 1, 1981, the use of multiple source lists has been required by Code of Civil Procedure section...

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