People v. Marshall, S007766

Citation15 Cal.4th 1,61 Cal.Rptr.2d 84,931 P.2d 262
Decision Date27 February 1997
Docket NumberNo. S007766,S007766
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Parties, 931 P.2d 262, 97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 1418, 97 Daily Journal D.A.R. 2119 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Sammy MARSHALL, Defendant and Appellant.

Page 84

61 Cal.Rptr.2d 84
15 Cal.4th 1, 931 P.2d 262, 97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 1418,
97 Daily Journal D.A.R. 2119
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
Sammy MARSHALL, Defendant and Appellant.
No. S007766.
Supreme Court of California.
Feb. 27, 1997.

Rehearing Denied April 30, 1997.

Page 86

[15 Cal.4th 10] [931 P.2d 264] Kenneth W. Oder and John J. Lyons, Los Angeles, under appointments by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General, George Williamson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Carol Wendelin Pollack, Assistant Attorney General, [15 Cal.4th 11] Donald E. deNicola, Susan L. Frierson, John R. Gorey and Jaime L. Fuster, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


In this death penalty case, a jury convicted defendant Sammy Marshall of one count of first degree murder (Pen.Code, § 187; all

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[931 P.2d 265] statutory references are to the Penal Code unless otherwise indicated), two counts of robbery (§ 211), two counts of attempted forcible rape (§§ 664, 261, subd. (a)(2)), and one count of kidnapping (§ 207). The jury found to be true special circumstance allegations that the murder was committed during the commission or attempted commission of robbery (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(A)) and rape (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(C)). Defendant was sentenced to death. This appeal is automatic. (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 11; § 1239, subd. (b).)

We affirm defendant's convictions for first degree murder, one count of robbery, two counts of attempted forcible rape, and kidnapping. We reverse the conviction for one count of robbery, set aside the special circumstance findings, and reverse the judgment of death.


Defendant's convictions are based on crimes committed against two women, Durneall H. (one count each of robbery, attempted rape, and kidnapping) and Sharon Rawls (one count each of robbery, attempted rape, and murder).

A. Prosecution Evidence

1. Crimes against Durneall H.

On March 15, 1986, at approximately 3 a.m., Durneall H. was walking in the vicinity of 81st Street and Central Avenue in Los Angeles. Defendant approached her and asked if she wanted to "get high." She told him, "No, I don't get high," and started to walk away. Defendant then grabbed her by the neck, choked her, and beat her head against a wall as he dragged her through an alley towards an abandoned apartment building at 1118 East 80th Street. Defendant told H. that he was going to rape and kill her.

As H. struggled to break free, a bus pass bearing her picture fell out of her pocket. Defendant picked up the bus pass and put it in his pocket. When H. [15 Cal.4th 12] saw someone come to the window of a nearby apartment, she screamed for help, and defendant fled.

2. Crimes against Sharon Rawls

On April 13, 1986, at approximately 5:15 a.m., Hattie Foster was awakened by the sounds of a woman screaming "please, please stop." Hattie woke up her husband, John, who got up and opened a window. John determined that the screams were coming from an abandoned apartment building at 1118 East 80th Street, behind the Fosters' home. Grabbing a three-foot-long machete, John went outside and approached the abandoned apartment building. A man, whom John had never seen before, came out of the front entrance with shoes in his hand. When confronted by John, standing tall at six feet four inches and weighing two hundred seventy-two pounds, the man looked nervous. He denied being with a woman in the building, and walked away. (No one ever located or identified this man.) John then saw defendant looking at him from a window in the abandoned building.

Apparently in response to a telephone call from Hattie Foster, Los Angeles Police Officers Joseph Avila and Charlotte Smith arrived at the scene at 6 a.m. John Foster was still in front of the abandoned building. Defendant came out of the building, pushing a bicycle. The officers stopped him and conducted a patdown search. Upon retrieving a knife, the officers handcuffed defendant and ordered him to kneel. Defendant denied any wrongdoing. He said that he had been with his girlfriend in the building and that there was another man in the building. Defendant then reached into his right front pants pocket, pulled out a piece of paper, and dropped it to the ground. When Officer Avila picked up the piece of paper and put it in defendant's left front pocket, defendant said, "This is not mine." The item was later determined to be a letter from Superior Warehouse Grocers responding to a request from Sharon Rawls for a check-cashing card. The handwriting of Sharon Rawls and her sister was on the back of the letter, which also bore Sharon Rawls's fingerprint.

When Sheriff's Deputy Nathanson arrived at the scene, he took custody of defendant. The deputy noticed a bloodstain on defendant's sweatshirt, an injury on his right hand, and fresh abrasions on his right elbow.

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[931 P.2d 266] No money or other property belonging to Rawls was found on defendant when he was booked at the jail.

Another deputy, William Gleason, found the body of 27-year-old Sharon Rawls, a prostitute, on the floor of a bathroom in the abandoned building. Her pants and underpants were pulled down around the lower parts of her [15 Cal.4th 13] legs, and a wad of cloth was stuffed in her mouth. There were a number of abrasions on her face, on the back of her neck, on her elbows, on her fingers, and inside her mouth. No money was found on Rawls's person.

The next day, April 14, 1986, the police searched defendant's room at 1160 East 80th Street and found victim Durneall H.'s bus pass.

The autopsy of Sharon Rawls was performed by Deputy Medical Examiner Susan Selser. Dr. Selser did not testify at defendant's trial, where the medical evidence was presented by her supervisor, Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, an expert in forensic pathology and the Chief of Forensic Medicine of the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's Office. Based on his experience, a review of Dr. Selser's report, and photographs, Dr. Sathyavagiswaran attributed Rawls's death to "asphyxia due to compression of her neck and also obstruction of her airway."

Douglas Ridolfi, a senior criminalist with the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, testified that a large amount of semen was found both in Rawls's vagina and on her panties, and that some of the semen came from someone who was a blood type A secretor. Defendant is a type O non-secretor, as was murder victim Rawls. 1 In Rawls's vagina, Ridolfi discovered a "foreign enzyme" that could not have lasted very long within a vaginal sample. He attributed the enzyme to intercourse occurring shortly before Rawls's death. Ridolfi stated that "based on [defendant's] enzyme markers, I felt that he could be included as a possible donor of more recently deposited semen." The bloodstain on defendant's sweatshirt was consistent with Rawls's blood type, which is shared by approximately 6 percent of the general population in Los Angeles County.

B. Defense Evidence

The defense presented no evidence at the guilt phase of the trial.


A. Prosecution Evidence

At the penalty phase of defendant's trial, Bettina Weinstein testified that in August 1977 defendant followed her home from a bar. When she refused his sexual advances, he hit her with his fist and started to strangle her. She managed to escape, and ran towards her apartment, followed by defendant. [15 Cal.4th 14] When Weinstein's friend appeared at the door of Weinstein's apartment, defendant left.

Defendant stipulated to these prior convictions: rape by threat or force of Patricia T. in 1975; assault with force likely to inflict great bodily injury on Bettina Weinstein in 1978; and false imprisonment by violence, menace, fraud or deceit of Maria Fabela in 1981.

B. Defense Evidence

Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Thomas Halstead stated that during the trial defendant was kept in a high security area in the county jail; that his cell measured six feet by eight feet; that he was confined to the cell twenty-three and a half hours a day (except for court appearances); and that he was allowed out of the cell for one-half hour a day to walk in the hallway, talk to other inmates, and use a pay phone. On cross-examination, Deputy Halstead said that after the trial defendant would be moved to the state prison where, Deputy Halstead had been told, conditions of confinement "are much nicer."

Richard Marshall, defendant's father, testified that defendant, who was 42 years old at the time of trial, had in his younger days been a good student who, while attending

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[931 P.2d 267] school, worked in a grocery store to help support his family. Defendant's father expressed his love for defendant, as did Mary Starks, defendant's aunt.

Farrell and Antoinette Banks, close friends of defendant, told of their high regard for defendant, who would often take their children to the beach and to parks. Another friend, Irene Ball, stated that defendant was living with her and her family at the time of his arrest, and that in previous years defendant would come to her home and take her children hiking. She did not believe that defendant had killed Sharon Rawls. Anna Ball, Irene Ball's daughter, testified that she "basically" agreed with her mother's testimony.


A. Defendant's Representation

1. Facts

More than two years elapsed between defendant's arraignment in superior court in this matter and the commencement of trial. The pretrial proceedings were prolonged in part because of defendant's ambivalence about and [15 Cal.4th 15] dissatisfaction with his various counsel. Even when he secured pro se status, he made repeated motions for advisory or second counsel, and these motions required repeated continuance of trial. The record discloses evidence of manipulation on defendant's part, as well as a certain antipathy to commencing trial. Some account of the pretrial...

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