People v. Lancaster, No. S073596.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtCorrigan
Citation41 Cal.4th 50,158 P.3d 157,58 Cal.Rptr.3d 608
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Andrew LANCASTER, Defendant and Appellant.
Decision Date24 May 2007
Docket NumberNo. S073596.
58 Cal.Rptr.3d 608
41 Cal.4th 50
158 P.3d 157
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
Andrew LANCASTER, Defendant and Appellant.
No. S073596.
Supreme Court of California.
May 24, 2007.

[58 Cal.Rptr.3d 613]

Roger Teich, San Francisco, and David Groom, Salem, OR, under appointments by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Bill Lockyer and Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorneys General, Robert R. Anderson,

[58 Cal.Rptr.3d 614]

Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C. Hamanaka, Assistant Attorney General, Sharlene A. Honnaka and Zee Rodriguez, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


A jury sentenced defendant Andrew Lancaster to death, after finding him guilty of first degree murder and kidnapping for purposes of extortion. The jury found true the special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed during the commission of a kidnapping, and also found that defendant personally used a firearm. This appeal is automatic.


A. Guilt Phase

The victim, Michael Taylor, was a former reporter and producer for radio station KPFK in Los Angeles. After leaving KPFK, he planned to start an unlicensed microwave radio station along with Robert Marston and Tyrone Floyd (who were also former KPFK employees). In January 1996, Taylor told Marston and Floyd that he had found a financial backer named Mzee Shambulia. Marston ordered equipment for assembling a transmitter, an amplifier, and an antenna. He used his own money, having received no funding from Shambulia., The parts for the amplifier did not arrive until mid-April.

Defendant, who went by the name "Hodari Lumumba," was an associate of Shambulia. He attended several meetings between Shambulia and Taylor's group in early 1996. At one of those meetings, Shambulia pulled Marston aside and asked him if the equipment was going to be delivered on time. Marston told him that he was having some trouble, but could arrange for a loan of equipment if necessary. Shortly after this meeting, Taylor called Marston and referred to a $2,000 payment he thought Shambulia had given to Marston to buy equipment. Marston had not received that payment, and he expressed a "high degree of anxiety" to Taylor. Taylor assured him he would correct the situation, and in a subsequent phone call said he was seeking alternative financing.

Marston and Taylor became more concerned when Shambulia showed Taylor a site for installing the station's equipment that Taylor considered a "phony location." After that, Marston decided not to deliver any equipment to Shambulia's group. Taylor and Floyd were also troubled by Shambulia's plan to sell commercial air time on the station. Taylor and Floyd were contemplating a "people's radio station" funded by donations. They wrote Shambulia what Floyd described as "basically ... a Dear John letter saying we [were] going to keep the microwave station, that we had the transmitter and we were going to start our own station and they were welcome to do whatever...."

At some point, Shambulia did give Marston a money order for $220. Marston returned the money order by registered mail on Friday, April 19. Taylor then received a phone call informing him that Shambulia was extremely angry. On April 21, Taylor told Marston that defendant had telephoned, saying to tell Marston that "if they don't get their equipment, things are going to get rough." The same day, Taylor told Floyd that defendant had "stated that if he didn't get the transmitter back, that it would get nasty."

Floyd testified that Taylor was quite frightened after defendant's warning. On the afternoon of April 21, Taylor and Floyd went to a party together. Floyd noted at one point that Taylor was so nervous he was shaking. The next day, Floyd spoke with Taylor twice about their plans for the station. During the, around 8:00 p.m., Taylor was excited about

58 Cal.Rptr.3d 615

the project. Around midnight, however, Floyd received a call from Taylor that he described as "very strange." Taylor asked him to call some social activists in Philadelphia. Floyd was puzzled, both because it was odd for Taylor to call that late and because his request to call people in Philadelphia made no sense. Floyd said Taylor's demeanor was unusual, and different from their earlier conversation.

Floyd and Taylor were to meet the next morning, but Floyd was unable to reach Taylor by telephone. He went to see Taylor, and noticed his car was gone. He called and paged Taylor repeatedly. In the evening, he got a call from someone who hung up when he answered. Floyd called back using the "star 69" function. The person who answered said they had heard Floyd was trying to start a radio station, and offered to come to his house with a $3,000 donation. Floyd refused to disclose where he lived, but agreed to meet the person at a coffee shop. When he arrived, Floyd recognized defendant's car parked on the street, and saw a man wearing a baseball cap sitting in the car.

Floyd went to the front of the coffee shop and made a telephone call. When he hung up and turned around, defendant was standing a foot or two away, wearing a baseball cap. Defendant looked from side to side and moved his index finger back and forth near his belt, where Floyd saw a bulge that appeared to be a gun. Floyd asked defendant when he had last seen Taylor. Defendant "froze" and said he had seen him that day at a homeless center. Floyd left quickly and moved his family to a safe place. The next day, he filed a missing person report for Taylor. Shortly thereafter, he learned that Taylor had been killed.

The events immediately preceding the murder were related primarily through the testimony of defendant's accomplices, Shawn Alexander and Jornay Rodriguez.1 Alexander was 19 years old in April 1996. He became friends with defendant in 1996, and visited Taylor's house several times with him. On April 21, defendant told Alexander that Shambulia was going to pay defendant to kill Taylor. Alexander would get $1,000 for helping. Nevertheless, the next day when defendant asked him to help pick up some stereo equipment from Taylor, Alexander said that he thought he would only be loading the equipment into defendant's car. Defendant, Rodriguez, and Alexander went together to see Taylor. Alexander had known Rodriguez for a long time, and had introduced him to defendant.

Taylor was not home when they arrived. When they returned around midnight, Alexander remained in defendant's car while Rodriguez and defendant went inside. They came back with Taylor in 10 or 15 minutes. Defendant had a gun, which Alexander described as a 9-millimeter. Rodriguez and Taylor got into Taylor's car, while defendant returned to his own car. Defendant told Alexander they would follow Taylor, and that Taylor "was going down that night." Defendant followed Taylor's car to a secluded area near some train tracks.

When they arrived, defendant told Alexander they would be "paid for this." Defendant took a rope, a container of liquid, and duct tape from his trunk; he also had his gun. The four men walked to a spot near the tracks, and defendant asked Taylor where the equipment was. Taylor did not reply. Defendant asked another question, and angrily pushed Taylor to the

58 Cal.Rptr.3d 616

ground. After making another inquiry, defendant threw liquid from the container onto Taylor's face. Taylor shook his head, as if his eyes were burning. Defendant told Alexander to tape Taylor's mouth. Alexander tried, but the tape slipped. After looking at Taylor's face, Alexander said he could not do it. Rodriguez tied Taylor up. Defendant had his gun drawn; Alexander did not see Rodriguez with a gun.

Defendant told Alexander to check Taylor's pockets. Alexander took a pager, a pack of cigarettes, and a lighter from Taylor. Defendant told Taylor he would ask one last time where the equipment was. When Taylor said that Floyd had it, defendant responded, "you lied to me." He then gave his car keys to Alexander and Taylor's keys to Rodriguez, and told them to meet him at his house, which was nearby. As Alexander walked away, he heard several gunshots. He turned and saw defendant holding the gun.

Alexander went to defendant's house, and defendant drove him home. Alexander asked why defendant shot Taylor. Defendant said only that Taylor had tried to get up, and he shot him in the head and chest. Alexander kept Taylor's pager. Several days later, defendant inquired about it, and Alexander told him he had been "cutting off the number" when he received pages. Defendant said that was a stupid thing to do, because he needed some information. He told Alexander he was going to call the numbers on the pager.

Rodriguez was about 20 years old on April 22, 1996. He had known defendant for less than a month. He did not know why they were visiting Taylor, whom he had never met, but he went with defendant into Taylor's house. Rodriguez did not recall the initial conversation, but said that eventually defendant raised his shirt, exposing a 9-millimeter gun, and told Taylor, "we're going to take a little ride." Taylor was speaking on the telephone at that point. After Taylor hung up, defendant demanded to know where "the radio equipment" was. Taylor said nothing, and left the house with Rodriguez and defendant walking behind him.

One of Taylor's housemates testified that as she left her room on the night of April 22, 1996, she saw Taylor on the phone in his room with two men facing him. She waved to him, but he did not respond, which was unusual. She was downstairs when the three men left the house. She saw them go out together and heard Taylor's car driving away.

Rodriguez testified that defendant told him and Taylor to get into Taylor's car, and instructed Taylor where to drive. Defendant went back to his car. Rodriguez pointed a .25 caliber automatic handgun as Taylor drove. When they reached their destination, Rodriguez put his gun away. Defendant had...

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