People v. Hendricks

Decision Date29 February 1988
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 749 P.2d 836 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Edgar M. HENDRICKS, Defendant and Appellant. Crim. 22388.
[749 P.2d 837] William M. Goodman, Topel & Goodman, San Francisco, for defendant and appellant

Charles R.B. Kirk, Deputy Atty. Gen., San Francisco, for plaintiff and respondent.

LUCAS, Chief Justice.

This is an automatic appeal (Pen.Code, § 1239, subd. (b); further statutory references are to this code unless otherwise indicated) from a judgment of death under the 1978 death penalty law (§ 190.1 et seq.). As we shall explain, we conclude that the judgment should be affirmed in its entirety.

Defendant was charged with murdering James Parmer and Charleston Haynes. (§ 187.) He was also charged with robbing the two men (§ 211) and with burglarizing Parmer's residence (§ 459). Four special circumstances were alleged: (1) felony murder for the Parmer robbery (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(i)); (2) felony murder for the Parmer burglary (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(vii)); (3) felony murder for the Haynes robbery; and (4) multiple murder (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)). (In a related case, People v. Hendricks (1987) 43 Cal.3d 584, 238 Cal.Rptr. 66, 737 P.2d 1350, we reviewed defendant's convictions of two additional murders, affirming the convictions but reversing the death penalty.)

In the summer of 1980 defendant was working as a "hustler"--a male prostitute for men--in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the course of his trade he would also rob his customers. He had a paid sexual encounter with Joseph N. at the San Francisco residence the latter shared with victim Parmer, who was also homosexual. A few days later defendant returned to the residence and broke in. He shot Parmer six times at point-blank range, the last three times as Parmer lay unconscious on the floor. He then took various items including Parmer's checkbook, and fled. He subsequently had a paid sexual encounter with victim Haynes in the latter's San The jury found defendant guilty as charged on all counts except the robbery of Haynes; as to that count it found him guilty of grand theft, a lesser included offense. The jury also found all the special circumstance allegations to be true, with the exception of the allegation based on the robbery of Haynes.

Francisco hotel room. He shot Haynes five times at point-blank range, the last three times as Haynes lay prone on a bed. He then took various items including Haynes's checkbook, and fled.

In the penalty phase the prosecution presented evidence that in the summer of 1980 defendant also murdered Harry Carter and James Burchell-- who were both homosexuals--in Los Angeles, and Virginia Hernandez in Oakland. The defense introduced evidence to show that defendant had suffered neglect and abuse from his early years, and was the victim of homosexual rape as a teenager; defendant had a stable and responsible relationship with a woman and had acted as a father to her young son; in the summer of 1980, however, after the woman's son had been sexually abused by other boys and the woman had ended their relationship, defendant lost control of himself. The defense also presented the testimony of a psychologist, Dr. Linda Carson, who opined in substance that defendant had killed out of "homosexual rage"--i.e., under an irresistible impulse springing from fear that he was in fact homosexual. In rebuttal the prosecution called a psychiatrist, Dr. Victor Reus, who disagreed with Dr. Carson's opinion. He stated that defendant had the capacity to premeditate, deliberate, harbor malice, and form the specific intents to steal and kill.

The jury fixed the penalty at death, and judgment was entered accordingly.


Defendant raises a number of contentions relating to the issue of guilt; none, as we shall show, is meritorious.

A. The Checkbooks

He first claims the court erred in failing to bar the introduction of Parmer's and Haynes's checkbooks as fruits of his allegedly unlawful arrest. Even if the court did err, however, the error was plainly harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Subsequent to the challenged arrest, defendant fled from the state. After he was rearrested, he gave tape-recorded statements to the police. In these statements, which were played to the jury, he admitted taking the checkbooks.

B. Cross-examination of Dr. Carson

Defendant next contends the court erred in ruling that Dr. Carson, the defense psychologist, would be subject to cross-examination on the Carter, Burchell, and Hernandez homicides if she testified. We disagree.

After the prosecution rested its case in the guilt phase, defense counsel informed the court that he would call Dr. Carson to give testimony on defendant's state of mind at the time of the killings. The prosecutor announced that if defendant tendered a mental defense, he would cross-examine the psychologist on the three uncharged homicides. Defense counsel objected. The court then conducted a hearing in camera to receive and evaluate counsel's offer of proof. Counsel established that Dr. Carson would testify in substance that defendant acted out of "homosexual rage" in the Parmer and Haynes homicides. The court ruled that if defendant tendered a mental defense through Dr. Carson's testimony, the prosecution would be entitled to cross-examine her on the uncharged homicides for impeachment purposes. Thereupon the defense rested without putting on any evidence.

Other-crimes evidence may be used to impeach the testimony of an expert witness. (See People v. Nye (1969) 71 Cal.2d 356, 373-376, 78 Cal.Rptr. 467, 455 P.2d 395; People v. Jones (1964) 225 Cal.App.2d 598, 610-613, 37 Cal.Rptr. 454.) Because an expert witness may be cross-examined more extensively and searchingly than a lay witness, the court has broad discretion No abuse of discretion appears here. Because Dr. Carson's "opinion ... was at odds with the evidence introduced by the prosecution," the prosecutor was entitled to "attempt to discredit" it. ( People v. Nye, supra, 71 Cal.2d at p. 376, 78 Cal.Rptr. 467, 455 P.2d 395.) Defendant seeks to avoid this conclusion by arguing on the basis of People v. Coleman (1985) 38 Cal.3d 69, 211 Cal.Rptr. 102, 695 P.2d 189, that use of the uncharged homicides should have been barred as unduly prejudicial. But the evidence here appears to be both more probative and less prejudicial than the mentally ill woman's "[a]ccusatory statements 'from the grave,' " which were at issue in Coleman. (Id. at p. 93, 211 Cal.Rptr. 102, 695 P.2d 189.)

                to admit such evidence for impeachment.  (See  People v. Nye, supra, 71 Cal.2d at pp. 374-375, 78 Cal.Rptr. 467, 455 P.2d 395;   People v. Jones, supra, 225 Cal.App.2d at pp. 610-613, 37 Cal.Rptr. 454.)
C. Failure to Instruct

Defendant further contends the court improperly refused three instructions. The first was a proposed modification of the standard instruction defining robbery (CALJIC No. 9.10)--specifically the addition of a paragraph to the effect there is no intent to deprive another of his property if the taker has a good faith belief that he has a right to such property. In his tape-recorded statements, defendant claimed he had broken into the residence shared by Joseph N. and Parmer in order to collect money each assertedly owed him for his services as a prostitute. He relies primarily on People v. Butler (1967) 65 Cal.2d 569, 55 Cal.Rptr. 511, 421 P.2d 703, but the case is distinguishable. Defendant admitted his "right" was based on prostitution, and impliedly conceded he knew prostitution is illegal. The claim-of-right defense is inapplicable to claims based on notoriously illegal activities. (People v. Gates (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1168, 1181-1182, 240 Cal.Rptr. 666, 743 P.2d 301.)

The second proposed instruction concerned the time at which the intent to steal was formed: "If you have a reasonable doubt whether the defendant formed an intent to steal from Mr. Parmer and/or Mr. Haynes before they were shot, then you are instructed that Mr. Parmer and/or Mr. Haynes were not killed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, the crime of robbery." In refusing this charge the court expressly and correctly followed the long settled rule that an instruction that may confuse the jury should not be given. (People v. Strange (1882) 61 Cal. 496, 497.) Although they had the opportunity, defense counsel made no attempt to redraft the instruction. Relying on People v. Whitehorn (1963) 60 Cal.2d 256, 264-265, 32 Cal.Rptr. 199, 383 P.2d 783, defendant argues that the court had a duty to correct what he styles the " 'cosmetic' problem" with the instruction. The argument misses the point. The court gave CALJIC Nos. 8.21 and 9.10, which adequately cover the issue of the time of the formation of the intent to steal. Because the proposed instruction, even if properly drafted, "merely elaborate[s] upon the general instruction[s]," refusal to give it was not error. (People v. Anderson (1966) 64 Cal.2d 633, 640-641, 51 Cal.Rptr. 238, 414 P.2d 366.)

The third proposed instruction involved involuntary manslaughter. It is of course the rule that the court is under no duty to give a requested instruction when there is no substantial evidence in support. (People v. Flannel (1979) 25 Cal.3d 668, 684-685, 160 Cal.Rptr. 84, 603 P.2d 1 (plur. opn.).) "Involuntary manslaughter is ... inherently an unintentional killing." (People v. Broussard (1977) 76 Cal.App.3d 193, 197, 142 Cal.Rptr. 664 (italics added); accord, People v. Germany (1974) 42 Cal.App.3d 414, 419, 116 Cal.Rptr. 841.) As the physical evidence established, defendant shot Parmer six times at point-blank range, the last three times as he lay on the floor unconscious; he shot Haynes five times at point-blank range, the last three times as he lay prone on the bed. In light of this evidence, defendant's self-serving tape-recorded statements...

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