People v. Lynch

Decision Date12 August 2010
Docket NumberNo. S026408.,S026408.
Citation237 P.3d 416,50 Cal.4th 693
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Franklin LYNCH, Defendant and Appellant.







[114 Cal.Rptr.3d 72]

Michael J. Hersek, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, Jay Colangelo and Denise Kendall, Assistant State Public Defenders, Ellen J. Eggers and Alison Bernstein, Deputy State Public Defenders, for Defendant and Appellant.

Bill Lockyer and Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorneys General, Robert R. Anderson and Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorneys General, Ronald S. Matthias and Gerald A. Engler, Assistant Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


Defendant Franklin Lynch was convicted of the first degree murders of Pearl Larson, Adeline Figuerido, and Anna Constantin; the residential burglary of Larson, Figuerido, Constantin, Bessie Herrick,

[114 Cal.Rptr.3d 73]

and Ruth Durham; and robbery of Figuerido, Constantin, Herrick, and Durham.

(pen.code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 189, 211, 459.) 1 the jury also found true the special circumstance allegations of burglary murder and robbery murder as to all three murder victims, the multiple-murder special-circumstance allegation, and allegations that defendant personally inflicted great bodily injury on Herrick and Durham, who were persons 60 years of age or older. (§§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3), (17), former §§ 1203.075, 1203.09, subd. (a), 12022.7.) The jury returned a death verdict, and the trial court entered a judgment of death. This appeal is automatic. ( Cal. Const., art. VI, § 11, subd. (a); § 1239, subd. (b).) For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment.

I. Factual Background
A. Guilt Phase
1. Prosecution evidence

Between the months of June and August 1987, 2 defendant beat and robbed, or attempted to rob, five elderly Caucasian women in their homes. Three of the victims died as a result of the attacks.

a) Death of Pearl Larson

Late in the evening on June 24, 76-year-old Pearl Larson was found dead in her home. She had lived in a corner house on Wake Avenue in San Leandro with her teenage grandson. Larson was found lying on a bed, with the card holder portion of a wallet and some coins next to her. Her hands were bound with nylon stockings. Her housecoat was pulled up over her head, and she was not wearing underwear. Subsequent investigation revealed no evidence of a sexual assault. An autopsy revealed Larson died by asphyxia caused by a garment that was tied around her head, covering her face and part of her neck. There was bruising on her face, particularly around her left eye, caused by blunt trauma. She had a contusion on the back of her head that “went deeply into the skin of the scalp down to the bone.” The skin on her left ring finger was significantly abraded and bruised around the area of her ring.

Earlier that day, between 11:30 and 11:45 a.m., Jolevia Jones, Larson's gardener, and his cousin had arrived to work at Larson's house. Jones, who was approximately 80 years old, spoke with Larson for a few minutes.

About 11:00 a.m. on June 24, Jacqueline Brown, who lived across the street from Larson,observed Larson's grandson leave on a skateboard. At11:20 a.m., she saw a man, whom she later identified as defendant, standing in Larson's yard. Defendant walked along the side of the house, went to some bushes and appeared to be urinating, and carefully looked around. He then walked to the front of the house and Brown lost sight of him. Around noon, Brown saw defendant jump over the bushes, which were about five feet tall, and run away. Larson typically parked her car under a tree each summer morning to get it out of the sun. Between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. on June 24, Brown observed Larson's vehicle still parked under the tree.

Bettie Agliano, a friend of Larson's, had plans to meet with her on June 24. Agliano called Larson at home at 12:15 p.m., and at various times during the rest of the afternoon, but no one answered the telephone.

[114 Cal.Rptr.3d 74]

b) Death of Adeline Figuerido

On July 28, 89-year-old Adeline Figuerido was killed in her home. She lived on 143rd Avenue in San Leandro with her two daughters, Marie and Olivia Figuerido. Her house was separated from the next building on the left by an undeveloped half-acre lot and Bay Area Rapid Transit tracks.

Marie and Olivia made lunch for their mother around noon each day. On July 28, they left her at the house around 10:30 a.m. and returned around 11:45 a.m. to discover their mother's body in the dining room. She was covered with a bedspread and her hands were tied behind her back with an electrical cord. A different bedspread was wrapped around her head. The house had been ransacked, and fine jewelry and cash were missing.

An autopsy revealed numerous blunt trauma injuries to Figuerido's face, head, and neck. The bones in her face near and around her right eye, and her mandible on the left side, were fractured. There was extensive hemorrhaging in the neck area, indicating sufficient force was applied to stop circulation to the brain and to interfere with her breathing. She died from blunt trauma to the head and neck.

Between about 11:15 and 11:30 a.m. on July 28, Jan Morris, who worked across the street from the Figuerido residence, saw a man whom she later identified as defendant standing on the Figueridos' driveway. Defendant walked down the driveway toward the front of the house, looked in both directions, turned around, and walked rapidly to the back of the house.

On July 27, the day before Figuerido's murder, between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m., Irma Casteel observed a man whom she later identified as defendant walk to the end of the dead-end street, stand there, and then turn around and walk back. There were two corner houses at the end of the street, one ofwhich was occupied by an 89-year-old woman, and the other by a similarly aged couple. Casteel lived about one block from the Figuerido residence.

c) Death of Anna Constantin

On August 13, 73-year-old Anna Constantin was attacked in her home. Constantin lived with her daughter, Vickie Constantin, in a home at the corner of Blossom Way and Bancroft Avenue in San Leandro. When Vickie arrived home from work that evening about 5:45 p.m., she discovered her mother had been beaten so severely she was almost unrecognizable. Some rooms were “messier” than others, items were out of place, and the back screen door had been cut. A gold bracelet, gold chains, and cash were missing from the home.

Constantin was taken to Eden Hospital. Her treating physician, Dr. Chuc Van Dang, testified that her face was swollen and bruised, and she had bruises on her shoulders, back, and other parts of her body. Her left maxilla, or cheek bone, and a right rib were fractured. These facial injuries and bruising were caused by blunt trauma. In addition, Constantin had an open scalp wound two inches long that extended down to the skull. The wound became infected and grew larger over time, so that eventually Constantin's skull was visible. Dr. Dang saw Constantin about 6:00 p.m. on August 13, and opined that her injuries had been inflicted “very recent[ly],” and no more than six hours before 6:00 p.m. Adele Manos, who had been driving down Bancroft Avenue around 3:15 or 3:20 p.m. that day, saw a man, whom she later identified as defendant, come out from the hedges about a block from the intersection of Bancroft and Blossom, and look around.

[114 Cal.Rptr.3d 75]

The man walked down Bancroft toward Blossom.

Around 5:00 p.m., defendant sold a bracelet identified as belonging to Vickie Constantin to a secondhand dealer. A few days later, he gave Mackie Williams, an acquaintance, two necklaces that were also identified as belonging to Vickie Constantin.

Anna died on September 28 of pulmonary emboli due to deep leg vein thromboses or blood clots. Constantin's thromboses were the result of treatment for and complications from her August 13 injuries.

d) Attack on Ruth Durham

Eighty-eight-year-old Ruth Durham lived alone on Alden Road in Hayward. Her daughter and son-in-law lived next door in a corner house at the intersection of Alden Road and Boston Road. In the late afternoon of August 15,Durham left her daughter's house and returned home. She sat down in a chair in her living room, and shortly thereafter was struck on both sides of her face. She remembered nothing further about the attack. About 5:30 p.m., after being alerted by a neighbor, Durham's son-in-law discovered her sitting bloody and beaten on the steps of her front porch. She was taken to Eden Hospital. Dr. Kenneth Miller, an emergency room physician at the hospital, testified Durham had massive swelling deformities of her face. Both sides of her jaw, and her right maxilla were fractured. Miller opined that Durham's injuries were the result of blunt trauma. After leaving the hospital, Durham needed to live with her daughter because she was no longer capable of caring for herself.

The screen on Durham's back door had been torn just above the handle. Her house was ransacked, and cash and personal belongings were missing. A man later identified as defendant had been seen by neighbors at the intersection of Alden and Boston Roads across the street from Durham's house at about 4:30 p.m. on the day of the attack.

e) Attack on Bessie Herrick

Around 3:30 p.m. on August 17, 74-year-old Bessie Herrick and her husband, Frank Herrick, returned to their home at the corner of Royal and Bartlett Avenues in Hayward. About 10 to 15 minutes later, Frank went outside to water the garden. While engaged in this activity, he observed a man, whom he later identified as defendant, jogging on Royal Avenue. Five minutes later, Frank returned to the house, peered inside through a window, and saw defendant hitting his wife, who was lying on...

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