People v. Lucas

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation60 Cal.4th 153,333 P.3d 587,177 Cal.Rptr.3d 378
Decision Date21 August 2014
Docket NumberNo. S012279.,S012279.
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. David Allen LUCAS, Defendant and Appellant.

60 Cal.4th 153
333 P.3d 587
177 Cal.Rptr.3d 378

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
David Allen LUCAS, Defendant and Appellant.

No. S012279.

Supreme Court of California

Aug. 21, 2014.

See 3 Witkin, Cal. Evidence (5th ed. 2012) Presentation at Trial, § 139.

Thomas Lundy, Santa Rosa, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Bill Lockyer and Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Robert R. Anderson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, Holly D. Wilkens and William M. Wood, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


[333 P.3d 617]

A jury found defendant David Allen Lucas guilty of the first degree murders of Suzanne Jacobs, Colin Jacobs, and Anne Swanke (Pen.Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 189),1 the attempted murder of Jodie Santiago Robertson ( §§ 187, 664), and the kidnappings of Swanke and Robertson (§ 207, subd. (a)). The jury also found that he personally used a knife during each crime (§ 12022, subd. (b)) and inflicted great bodily injury upon Swanke and Robertson (§ 12022.7). The jury further found true the special circumstance allegation of multiple murder (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)). The jury acquitted defendant of the murder of Gayle Garcia and was unable to reach verdicts on the murders of Rhonda Strang and Amber Fisher.2 On the allegation that he had a prior serious felony conviction for rape, the jury found the allegation true (§§ 667, subd. (a), 1192.7, subd. (c)(1)). Following the penalty phase of the trial, the jury returned a verdict of death. The trial court denied defendant's motions for new trial (§ 1181) and for modification of the penalty to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole ( § 190.4, subd. (e)) and sentenced him to death. The court also sentenced defendant to a 17–year term for the attempted murder of Robertson.3

This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).) We affirm the judgment.

I. Facts and Proceedings

From May 1979 to November 1984, there were six unsolved throat-slashing killings in the San Diego area. A seventh victim, Jodie Santiago Robertson, survived her throat-slashing injuries, and, in December 1984, she identified defendant as her attacker. Following defendant's arrest, police investigated defendant's possible involvement in the other killings, which eventually resulted in these consolidated proceedings charging defendant with six murders and Robertson's attempted murder. Because defendant makes extensive arguments contesting the consolidation and joint trial of these crimes and their cross-admissibility, we also include a factual summary of the crimes for which defendant was acquitted or that ended in mistrial.

A. Guilt Phase
1. The Homicides of Suzanne and Colin Jacobs

The 1979 killings of Suzanne and Colin Jacobs were unsolved for approximately five years until the investigation focused on a suspect, John Massingale, who had purportedly confessed to the crimes. At the time of defendant's arrest in late 1984, Massingale was in custody in San Diego awaiting trial for the Jacobs killings. Investigators reevaluated the evidence in the Jacobs killings and linked defendant to those killings, largely because of a handwritten note found at the crime scene that matched defendant's handwriting. After further investigation, detectives developed a case against defendant based on boot print evidence, hair evidence, a vehicle linked to defendant, and his lack of an alibi. Authorities later dropped all charges against Massingale, released him, and instead charged defendant with the Jacobs killings. Eventually, defendant's presentation at trial focused heavily on the evidence that had purportedly linked Massingale to the killings of Suzanne and Colin Jacobs.

a) Prosecution Evidence
(i) The Events Leading to the Homicides

On May 4, 1979, Michael and Suzanne Jacobs lived in a small white wood-frame house in the eastern end of San Diego, California

[333 P.3d 618]

, with their three-year-old son, Colin, and their two dogs. That day, Michael and Suzanne were expecting the delivery of a new dinette set.

Michael awoke that morning and started his normal workday routine by getting ready for work. He left the house at 6:00 a.m. and drove away in the family vehicle. Michael also kept in his driveway a blue off-road Volkswagen Beetle with the top cut off and outfitted with a roll bar.

Margaret Harris, a neighbor and friend who lived across the street from the Jacobs house, testified that she did not see Suzanne outside her house as she usually did every morning. Instead, she had seen a maroon or wine-colored sports car with a black top parked in the Jacobses' driveway between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. Harris believed the car was an MGB and described it as having sun-damaged paint.4

Later that morning, around 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Harris telephoned Suzanne, but no one answered. She assumed that Suzanne had been picked up by whoever had arrived in the sports car. About this same time, Michael also telephoned Suzanne but got no answer.

At approximately 12:30 p.m., deliveryman Louis Hoeniger arrived at the Jacobs residence to deliver the shipment of dinette furniture. For approximately 10 minutes waiting for someone to answer the door, Hoeniger heard no response, except for the barking of the Jacobses' dogs in their backyard. Harris observed the delivery truck arrive at the Jacobs residence and saw the deliveryman leave the dinette furniture on the front porch. This surprised Harris because she knew Suzanne was expecting the delivery.

Around 5:00 p.m., Michael returned home and was puzzled by the discovery of their new dinette furniture on the front porch because Suzanne was supposed to receive the shipment. Michael entered the house and discovered blood all over the bathroom. As he backed out of the bathroom, he saw Colin lying dead on the bedroom floor.

Michael walked out of the house and called out across the street to Margaret and Ed Harris, who were outside. Michael appeared to be in shock and collapsed on the ground. Michael was unable to talk, so the Harrises went into the Jacobs home to investigate. They discovered Colin's body just inside the entrance of the master bedroom and Suzanne's body further inside the master bedroom. Mrs. Harris called the police.

(ii) The Scene of the Crime

Emergency units and San Diego police officers arrived at the Jacobs residence and secured the crime scene to examine and collect evidence. There was a significant amount of blood on the bathroom floor and on the floor of the hallway leading to it. There was blood on the front and inside of the bathtub. On the bathroom rug was a folded, torn scrap of paper with handwritten printing that read “Love Insurance” and “280–1700.” 5 The note had a bloodstain on it. Child-sized bloody footprints, consistent with Colin's, led from the bathroom to inside the master bedroom where his body was found.

Colin's throat had been severely slashed. Because of the amount of blood found in the bathroom, the child-sized bloody footprints leading from it, and the amount of blood on the front of Colin's clothing, Detective Gary Gleason believed Colin's throat had been cut in the bathroom but that he had survived long enough to walk down the hallway where he collapsed inside the master bedroom.

The master bedroom showed signs of a violent struggle. A padded railing had been dislodged from the edge of the waterbed and was lying on the floor. The bedsheets were out of place and had bloodstains. There was a smear of blood on the top of a chest of drawers, and items on it had toppled over or

[333 P.3d 619]

fallen to the floor. Next to the entrance to the master bedroom, there was a smear of blood on the light switch and the adjacent door and frame.

Suzanne's fully clothed body lay sprawled on the floor between the waterbed and the chest of drawers. In both of her clenched hands were several strands of blond hair. She had bruising across her back near her bra strap and her shirt had been torn in that area. Suzanne's throat had been slashed from ear to ear.

Because of the sheer volume of blood on the floor of the master bedroom, no one could have walked around the bodies without leaving footprints. Adult-sized bloody footprints with a distinctive Vibram-sole pattern were visible in the master bedroom, leading out of the bedroom, through the hallway and toward the kitchen. All the adult-sized footprints appeared to be made by one person because they were all the same size and had a consistent right-left pattern.

In the living room, the television had been left on; on top of it was a wine glass with some wine in it and an ashtray containing a cigarette butt. Around the television were more bloody footprints with the same Vibram-sole pattern. The footprints led toward the dining room and then into the kitchen.

In front of the kitchen sink, the footprints overlapped as if someone had stood over them repeatedly. Blood was on the kitchen sink, faucets, and the drain trap. Blood was on a washcloth in the sink, the soap holder, and a green paper towel left on the kitchen counter—all consistent with a bloodied assailant having used the sink to wash.

(iii) The Forensic Evidence
(1) The victims' injuries

According to forensic pathologist David Katsuyama, Colin's throat had been slashed by at least two distinct cuts—one that extended from the left side of his neck across the throat, and the other that extended to the right side behind his ear—leaving a gaping wound that nearly extended to the backbone. Because the cuts had severed his jugular vein and carotid artery, he bled to death. Colin also had severe cuts on the tips of two fingers, his right thumb, and the palm of his left hand below the base of the thumb.

According to Dr. Katsuyama, Suzanne's throat had been slashed by at least six distinct cuts that transected the skin, fatty tissue, cartilage, and muscles of the neck leaving a gaping wound that exposed the backbone. Her right jugular vein and...

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