People v. Ireland, Cr. 12805

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation40 A.L.R.3d 1323,450 P.2d 580,70 Cal.2d 522,75 Cal.Rptr. 188
Decision Date28 February 1969
Docket NumberCr. 12805
Parties, 450 P.2d 580, 40 A.L.R.3d 1323 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Patrick IRELAND, Defendant and Appellant.

Sheela, Lightner, Hughes, Hilmen & Castro, Sheela, O'Laughlin, Hughes & Castro and Peter J. Hughes, San Diego, for defendant and appellant.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., William E. James, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Thomas Kallay, Deputy Atty. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

SULLIVAN, Justice.

Defendant Patrick Ireland was charged by indictment with the murder of Ann Lucille Ireland, his wife. He entered pleas of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity and, after a trial by jury, was found guilty of murder in the second degree. Defendant's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was personally withdrawn by him, and he was sentenced to imprisonment for the term prescribed by law. He appeals from the judgment.

Defendant, a high school teacher, and Ann Lucille Ireland, the deceased, were married in 1957 while defendant was attending college. They had two children, born in 1958 and 1960, respectively. In 1963 they began to experience marital difficulties and Ann entered into the first of a series of secret extramarital affairs. Defendant soon began to doubt his wife's fidelity and to make accusations against her. Ann at first denied her involvement, and defendant's accusations resulted in a number of violent physical encounters between them in which Ann sustained injuries. The relationship continued in this turbulent and unhappy state for several years.

Early in 1967, Ann consulted an attorney and commenced an action for divorce. The parties continued to live together, however, and undertook several attempts to revive their marriage. Their efforts were unsuccessful, and Ann soon became involved in an extramarital relationship with the salesman for a company which had installed a swimming pool at the Ireland residence. Defendant was informed of this by a family friend, and when he accused Ann she admitted her involvement and shortly thereafter promised to sever the relationship in the interest of the family. Defendant, in order to make certain that Ann would keep her promise, hired a private detective to follow her. Apparently Ann's relationship with the salesman was terminated by the latter when he learned of the private detective, but this did not result in improved relations between the Irelands.

During this period defendant began to suffer from headaches, nervousness, and fatigue, and consulted a doctor who prescribed medication for these conditions.

On April 24, 1967, the Irelands met with a conciliation counsellor attached to the county conciliation court. As a result of this meeting defendant and Ann agreed to seek the services of the Western Behavioral Institute in a last effort to save their marriage; apparently Ann's consent to this step was obtained with some reluctance on her part. 1 After the meeting defendant suggested that they have lunch together but Ann was not willing to do so and they returned to their home. Ann went out to her hairdresser that afternoon, and when she had returned and the children had been put to bed the Irelands discussed their meeting with the conciliation counsellor and their future appointment at the Western Behavioral Institute. Defendant agreed to undertake certain changes in their relationship such as diminishing the influence of his parents, who lived nearby, and allowing Ann to assume a more positive role in the family. Ann again expressed to defendant a willingness to make efforts in the interest of renewed family harmony.

On the morning of April 25, Ann displayed a sullen and incommunicative attitude in response to defendant's attempts to engage in conversation with her. Defendant made efforts to be relieved from his teaching duties but was unsuccessful in doing so and taught five classes during the day. When he returned home between 3:30 and 4 p.m., Ann was not at home, but shortly thereafter she returned from the market where she had been shopping. During the day defendant had taken the various medications which had been prescribed for him, and prior to Ann's return from the market he drank two coffee mugs of wine. Upon her return defendant, Ann, and their daughter went out to purchase chlorine for their pool and to do other errands, and on their way home defendant suggested that they have dinner at the home of a friend. Ann did not wish to do so, and they returned home where she prepared dinner for the family. Defendant at this time had another coffee mug of wine and took a rest until he was called for dinner. After dinner defendant lay down again and had another coffee mug of wine. 2

Sometime between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. on April 25, 1967, defendant shot and killed his wife Ann by firing into her at close range two .38 caliber bullets from a pistol which he usually kept in his bedroom. Defendant himself testified that he had no memory of the actual shooting or of certain events occurring thereafter, and the only known details of the homicide were provided at trial by the testimony 3 of his six-year-old daughter, Terry, in whose presence the shooting took place.

Terry testified that after she had gone to bed on the evening in question she heard her parents talking in the den where her mother had been watching television; that she asked her parents what they were talking about and they replied that they were talking about the television program; that her parents were really 'talking about who was going to leave first'; that defendant shortly thereafter 'got the gun in his pocket,' returned to the den, and asked Ann to go outside by the swimming pool and talk; that Ann refused to go and defendant pulled her off the couch where she was lying; that Ann fell to the floor and she, Terry, then went into the room and began crying; the defendant then sat down in a chair and Ann climbed back upon the couch; that defendant then took the gun from his pocket, and said 'Now what, Ann?' and fired three shots at Ann; that the first shot went into the window and the second and third shots struck Ann in the eye and chest; that defendant then went into the front room and 'was sitting and rocking and crying'; and that she, Terry, then stayed on the couch with her mother Ann, until neighbors arrived.

Defendant's first contention relates to certain testimony introduced by the prosecution in rebuttal. After defendant had taken the stand in his own defense and had related the background material set forth above (text preceding fn. 2, Ante)--and had in the course of his testimony detailed an incident several years before the homicide in which Ann had attacked defendant with a knife in the course of an argument--the prosecution called as a witness Mrs. Janice Blount, a family friend who had known defendant for some 11 years. Mrs. Blount first testified that early in April defendant had visited her and they had discussed Ann's infidelity. Then the prosecution sought to elicit from Mrs. Blount the substance of a telephone conversation which she had had with Ann on the morning of April 25. An objection was interposed on the ground of hearsay and argument ensued out of the presence of the jury. The prosecutor offered to prove through the testimony of Mrs. Blount that Ann had stated to her on the telephone: 'I know he's going to kill me. I wish he would hurry up and get it over with. He'll never let me leave.'

The prosecutor argued that this statement was admissible to show Ann's state of mind immediately prior to her death. Such state of mind was relevant, he urged, 'to show the probabilities of the decedent's conduct * * * that she would not have done anything to provoke him.' The defense took the position that Ann's state of find was not relevant to any issue in the case because the proposed evidence, 'doesn't tend to rebut anything that was put in (because) all Ireland testified to was that he was getting the silent treatment, not that there was any aggressive conduct on her part.' The court overruled the objection in the following language: 'Well, as I understand it, it rebuts several things--Oh, I am not going to argue the matter. I think it's admissible.' Mrs. Blount then proceeded to testify before the jury in accordance with the offer of proof.

It is clear that the evidence here in question is hearsay evidence within the meaning of section 1200, subdivision (a), of the Evidence Code, which we set forth in the footnote. 4 The only purpose for its admission was to show that the matters therein stated were true. The physical fact that the words in question were spoken by Ann had no possible bearing upon the issues in the case except insofar as that fact tended to prove the truth of the matters asserted in those words. (Cf. Smith v. Whittier (1892) 95 Cal. 279, 293--294, 30 P. 529; see generally Witkin, Cal. Evidence (2d ed.1966), §§ 463--471, pp. 425--433.)

It is urged that the statement in question was nevertheless admissible to show Ann's existing mental or physical state under the exception to the hearsay rule stated in section 1250, subdivision (a), of the Evidence Code, which we also set forth in the footnote. 5 As the italicized portion of that subdivision demonstrates, however, the exception is applicable only when the declarant's state of mind (1) is itself an issue in the case, or (2) is relevant to prove or explain acts or conduct of the declarant.

It is clear at the outset that the declarant Ann's state of mind on the day of her death was not Itself an issue in the case (cf. People v. One 1948 Chevrolet Conv. Coupe (1955) 45 Cal.2d 613, 620--622, 290 P.2d 538, 55 A.L.R.2d 1272; Adkins v. Brett (1920) 184 Cal. 252, 255--256, 193 P. 251) and that the hearsay statement was therefore not admissible under subdivision (a)(1) of section 1250. The People's reliance on People v. Brust (...

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