People v. Jetson

Decision Date24 July 2020
Docket NumberB292229
PartiesTHE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. TIMOTHY JETSON, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals


California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

(Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. KA106873)

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Juan Carlos Dominguez, Judge. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded with directions.

Sally Patrone Brajevich, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Steven D. Matthews, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, and Roberta L. Davis, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


Jose Reyes Suazo, a known gang member, attempted to shoot Timothy Jetson in the head not long after a drug deal went south. The gun jammed, and Jetson escaped unharmed. For the next two days Suazo taunted Jetson with threatening text messages. Jetson bought a gun and began carrying it with him for protection. Two days after Suazo attempted to kill Jetson, Suazo drove to a motel where Jetson had been living, looking for Jetson. Jetson saw Suazo before Suazo saw Jetson. Jetson ran up to Suazo while he was still sitting in his car and shot him three times, killing him.

Jetson pleaded no contest to possession of a firearm by a felon, and a jury convicted him of voluntary manslaughter. The trial court sentenced Jetson to a prison term of 23 years four months and imposed various fines and fees. Jetson appealed, challenging his conviction and sentence on numerous grounds.

We affirm the conviction because substantial evidence supported the verdict and none of Jetson's evidentiary or procedural arguments has merit. We reverse his sentence and remand for a limited trial and for resentencing, however, because Jetson's admission of a prior serious felony conviction was not knowing and voluntary. We also strike a one-year prior prison term enhancement under Penal Code section 667.5, subdivision (b), and remand for the trial court to allow Jetson to request a hearing and present evidence on his ability to pay the fines and fees the trial court imposed.

A. Suazo Attempts To Kill Jetson

Jetson met Suazo in June 2014 when Jetson bought a television from Suazo, who installed the television in Jetson's motel room. Jetson and Suazo developed a business relationship in which Jetson sold Suazo and his uncle Richard Baxter crack cocaine, and Suazo's stepfather worked on Jetson's two cars. The relationship was "friendly at first," but Jetson thought Suazo and Baxter believed Jetson "owed them something," including more money for the television.

Suazo and Baxter told Jetson they were members of criminal street gangs and had committed multiple violent crimes. Suazo bragged to Jetson he was a member of the East Side Bolen gang and served 10 years in prison for murder and extortion. Suazo also told Jetson he stabbed a neighbor and arranged to have a cousin killed for being a "snitch" while Suazo was on trial. Jetson read two newspaper articles Suazo showed him about the incident that stated Suazo "asked for permission" from the Mexican Mafia to have his cousin killed. Jetson also saw Suazo punch the owner or manager of the motel where Jetson lived in the face, after which Jetson was asked to leave the motel.

Baxter told Jetson he was in the Mexican Mafia and recently had been released from prison after serving 19 years of a life term. Jetson believed members of the Mexican Mafia would kill anyone who crossed them. Jetson overheard Suazo and Baxter talk about having guns, and they told Jetson they "put in work all the time," meaning they committed acts of violence for the benefit of their gangs.

On July 25, 2014 Jetson and his girlfriend went to Suazo's house to deliver drugs to Suazo and Baxter. Baxter met Jetson in the driveway, and after giving him the drugs Jetson asked Baxter to pay him. Baxter said he would pay Jetson when he wanted and went into the house with Suazo. In hindsight, Jetson said Baxter apparently took Jetson's request for payment as a sign of disrespect. Jetson's girlfriend said she needed to use the restroom and went into the house. When she came out, she told Jetson all of the lights in the house were off, and Suazo and Baxter were peeking out the windows. Jetson said he was about to leave when Baxter came outside and said, "'Man, we're gonna pay you the money, man.'" Jetson responded, "'Man, you all can keep the money.'" Baxter said, "'People can die for that.'"

The next day Suazo sent Jetson a text message stating: "What the fuck happened last night? My uncle said you guys disrespected him and that's why he told you to leave. . . ." Later that day Suazo sent Jetson another text message stating he was in Pomona and had Jetson's money. Jetson picked up a friend before going to meet Suazo because he was nervous. Jetson and his friend met Suazo and Baxter in a parking lot. Suazo and Baxter got out of Suazo's car, and Suazo walked up to Jetson while he was still seated in his car. Suazo put a gun to Jetson's head, and said, "This is [what you get] when you disrespect my family. . . . You want to play?" Jetson tried to bat the gun away and put his car into gear while his friend got down on the floorboard. Suazo tried to shoot Jetson, but his gun jammed, and Jetson was able to drive away. Suazo fired shots at the back of Jetson's car as he drove away.

Jetson hid the car at a friend's house, but he did not call the police. "If I called the police," he said, "they will label me as asnitch and more people would have been trying to kill me." The day after the shooting, July 27, 2014, Suazo sent a text message to Jetson telling him he was lucky the gun jammed. "You now see I'm good at this game when you play with my fam[ily]. So you want to keep playing. You see yourself. God had to be on your side. Ha ha ha for now."

B. Jetson Kills Suazo

After Suazo tried to kill Jetson, Jetson bought a gun on the street for $40 for protection and moved to a different motel. When Suazo continued to send text messages to Jetson, Jetson replied, "I just wanted to talk to you cause this is all about my money. You don't want to pay me?" Jetson also sent a message stating, "I'm scared. I just want to talk to you. I don't want no problems." Jetson continued to deliver drugs to customers at his previous motel despite hearing that Suazo and Baxter were looking for him there.

On July 29, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Jetson delivered drugs to a customer at his former motel and then walked across the street to a restaurant next to a liquor store. After crossing the street Jetson saw two cars approaching the motel, one of which he recognized as Suazo's. Jetson thought someone must have called Suazo to tell him Jetson was at the motel, and he was scared. Jetson ran behind the liquor store and saw Baxter get out of one of the cars and walk toward the motel. Jetson thought Baxter was going to the motel to find him and kill him. Suazo remained in his car on the street looking toward the motel. Jetson slowly approached the street from the parking lot behind the liquor store when someone Jetson knew rode by on a bicycle. Jetson did not acknowledge the cyclist because he did not want to give awayhis position, but according to Jetson the motion caused Suazo to turn his head and see Jetson. Jetson testified that he and Suazo made eye contact and that he saw Suazo reach for something he believed was a gun. Jetson ran up to within a few feet of Suazo's car, pulled his gun from his pocket, and shot Suazo three times, killing him.

Jetson saw Baxter coming across the street, and he ran back the way he had come, around the far corner of the building, and across the street. Eventually Jetson found someone to give him a ride to his new motel.

Baxter got into Suazo's car and drove it to Suazo's house with Suazo's body in the car. He did not call 911 or seek medical attention for Suazo, but Suazo's girlfriend called 911 when Baxter arrived at the house.

Jetson later returned to the restaurant where he had parked his car and drove to the home of a friend where he spent the night. Along the way he threw his gun out the window. Jetson said he did not call the police because he was afraid there were still people "looking for [him]."

C. The Police Arrest Jetson, and the People Charge Him with Murder

Two days after the shooting police officers arrested Jetson at his friend's house. Two detectives interviewed Jetson at the police station. Jetson initially denied he knew about the shooting, but ultimately told the detectives he shot Suazo because he believed Suazo was going to kill him. Jetson also told the detectives Suazo was looking at the motel when Jetson ran up to Suazo's car and shot him.

The People charged Jetson with murder (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a), count 1)1 and possession of a firearm by a felon (§ 29800, subd. (a)(1), count 2). The People alleged Jetson committed both offenses for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in criminal conduct by gang members, within the meaning of section 186.22, subdivision (b). The People also alleged Jetson personally used a firearm within the meaning of section 12022.53, subdivision (b), personally and intentionally discharged a firearm within the meaning of section 12022.53, subdivision (c), and personally and intentionally discharged a firearm causing great bodily injury or death within the meaning of section 12022.53, subdivision (d). The People also alleged...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT