People v. McCarrick, A136822

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Citation6 Cal.App.5th 227,210 Cal.Rptr.3d 838
Decision Date30 November 2016
Docket NumberA136822
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Monica MCCARRICK, Defendant and Appellant.

6 Cal.App.5th 227
210 Cal.Rptr.3d 838

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
Monica MCCARRICK, Defendant and Appellant.


Court of Appeal, First District, Division 4, California.

Filed November 30, 2016

James Kyle Gee, under appointment by the First District Appellate Project, for Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Rene A. Chacon, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Joan Killeen, Deputy Attorney General, for Respondent.

Rivera, J.

6 Cal.App.5th 229

Defendant Monica McCarrick appeals a judgment entered upon a jury verdict finding her guilty of two counts of first degree murder (Pen. Code,1 § 187 ), with a multiple-murder special circumstance finding (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)), and two counts of

210 Cal.Rptr.3d 841

assault on a child under the age of eight resulting in death (§ 273ab, subd. (a)). She pleaded both not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. In the sanity phase of the trial, the jury found defendant was sane at the time she committed the crimes. The trial court sentenced defendant to two consecutive terms of life without the possibility of parole for the two murders and stayed the sentences for the remaining

6 Cal.App.5th 230

counts. (§ 654.) On appeal, defendant contends that the evidence does not support the jury's sanity verdict and that the trial court committed instructional error. We shall affirm the judgment.


A. Guilt Phase

1. The Crimes and Crime Scene

On the evening of October 12, 2010, defendant killed her three-year-old twin daughters, Lily and Tori Ball, with a sword. A downstairs neighbor heard loud thumping from defendant's apartment. An hour or two later, a fire alarm went off, and the neighbor saw smoke coming from one of the windows. He ran upstairs and kicked in the front door, but it was blocked, and he was unable to enter. He succeeded in breaking a sliding glass door; when he entered the apartment, he saw a sword on the floor, covered in blood.

Firefighters arrived and found the door to the apartment slightly ajar but difficult to open. They forced the door open, found a fire in a closet near the front door, and extinguished it. They then found the bodies of Lily and Tori close to the door. One of the bodies had been blocking the door. The girls had both suffered severe lacerations, and were dead. The firefighters found defendant in the kitchen and carried her out. She was unconscious and had sustained injuries, including cuts to her throat and wrist.

A search of the apartment revealed an assault rifle and a shotgun in the living room and a box with a loaded handgun and additional live rounds. In the hallway was a straight-bladed sword covered with blood. Near it was a lighter with blood on it. Two high chairs had been overturned in the dining room, with their food trays removed. The high chairs were completely soaked in blood. On a table facing the highchairs was a laptop computer playing an animated children's program. In the kitchen, a landline telephone was on the counter; both the telephone and the countertop were covered in blood. Water was running from the bathroom faucet, and blood was in the sink and on the counter. A cell phone was on the bathroom floor, and on a stool was a novel by James Patterson, Double Cross (2007). The book was about a serial killer, and it was open to a page that contained the words, "My daughter is dead."

2. The Injuries

The doctor who performed the autopsies on the two girls testified about their injuries. Tori had 11 cutting wounds to her face, two cutting wounds to

6 Cal.App.5th 231

her neck, a gaping wound on the front of her neck, nine superficial cutting wounds to her chest, two deep stab wounds on her chest, one of which penetrated her heart and the other her lung, a deep stab wound to her abdomen as well as three small superficial cutting wounds to the abdomen, and wounds on her hands and arms consistent with defensive wounds. Lily had five cutting wounds to her face, four to her neck, and nine to her chest; a large gaping wound to the front of her neck that had severed her larynx and cut the carotid arteries; multiple defensive wounds to her hands and arms; and a six-inch-deep stab wound to her abdomen. Neither girl had

210 Cal.Rptr.3d 842

inhaled smoke, which meant they were dead before the fire started.

Defendant had multiple injuries and was in critical condition. She had two large lacerations to her throat and multiple cuts and lacerations on her arms and wrists. On one of her arms the tendons that flex the wrist and fingers were severed. She had a large laceration on her upper thigh and large lacerations on each ankle, which cut the Achilles tendons. Tests for alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine were negative.

3. Observations of Defendant's Fiancé

Defendant and her two daughters lived with defendant's fiancé, Robert Paulson. Defendant and Paulson had known each other about a decade previously and renewed their relationship over Facebook around Thanksgiving of 2009. They became engaged in May 2010, and defendant and her daughters moved to California from Pennsylvania during the last week of August 2010. Paulson's job required large amounts of travel, and on September 9, shortly after the couple moved into their new apartment, he was called away for a month-long assignment in Minnesota. On October 11, Paulson was told he would have to go to Alaska for five to 10 days after the Minnesota assignment ended, rather than returning home. Defendant was upset when Paulson told her about the extension of his trip.

Paulson and defendant spoke on the telephone several times on October 12, the day of the killings. One of the calls took place during the evening, on defendant's cell phone. Defendant was incoherent and "jumbled," and sounded like she was running around the house doing something. Paulson heard defendant "freaking out," and "hysterical noises going on in the background." She told him, "If Tori and Lily are okay tell them that it was an accident." He heard her say, "It's okay. It's going to be okay. We are going to make a fire. We are going to make a fire"; then he heard a fire alarm go off, and then a scream, and then the call ended. He tried to call the apartment several times but got no response.

6 Cal.App.5th 232

4. Defendant's Recent Behavior

On the morning of the day of the killings, the assistant manager of the apartment complex where defendant lived asked defendant to move her car because it was blocking other parking spots. At first, defendant would not open her apartment door. Defendant had a hard time telling the assistant manager what she wanted her to do and why the car was parked the way it was. The assistant manager watched the girls while defendant moved the car.

On the morning of the same day, the assistant manager had noticed defendant had a work order to have her locks changed. Defendant later called to ask whether the maintenance department had changed the locks. The girls were crying in the background, and defendant seemed to want the assistant manager to help her with the girls.

Terry Fay, the paternal grandmother of Lily and Tori, lived in southern California. She spoke with defendant often by telephone, and she had cared for the girls on occasion. On October 11, 2010, defendant called Fay and asked, "Who is going to take the girls?" Fay thought defendant needed someone to take care of the girls. Fay told defendant that if she brought the girls to her home, Fay and her family would begin proceedings to have custody of them. Defendant did not sound rational during the conversation. She told Fay that Paulson had had a vendetta against her for 10 years and was kicking her out.

210 Cal.Rptr.3d 843

5. Defense Evidence

a. Defendant's Fiancé

Robert Paulson was called as a defense witness. He testified that he had previously had a relationship with a woman named Jill who killed herself with one of Paulson's guns in April 2010, several months after their relationship ended.

While defendant was living in Pennsylvania, she appeared happy and stable. She was working at a dental office and going to school. She was supportive as Paulson coped with Jill's death. When defendant moved to California, she looked for a school so she could get a license to be a dental assistant in the state. Paulson provided money when defendant needed it. Paulson thought defendant was a good mother, and she never did anything to make him think she would harm her daughters.

Paulson noticed that defendant changed two or three weeks after he left on his business trip, and in the two and a half weeks before the killings they had

6 Cal.App.5th 233

a series of communications that led Paulson to believe her behavior was "slowly deteriorating." She found a synopsis for a horror movie Paulson was writing with a friend, which he described as a "slasher" film about a man stalking children on a beach, in which "everyone died." Defendant was upset and thought Paulson had written the story about her and that he might hurt her. She repeatedly brought the subject up during their conversations during Paulson's absence and suggested he had resumed their relationship in order to hurt her. Defendant also questioned Paulson about whether he had driven Jill to suicide, accused him of being with another woman, and said his female friends hated her. She expressed her fear of a UPS delivery man and said he had entered the apartment. At times she said she would not leave the apartment because someone was sitting in a car outside. She thought a Facebook post by a friend of Paulson's, which made a joke about breaking up with a girlfriend using "Dobermans, tasers, and rounds," referred to her. Her mood went "up and down"; Paulson would spend hours reassuring her, she would seem fine, and the next day she would be upset again. She also indicated she wanted help with the children.

When Paulson told defendant he had to go to Alaska for a few days after the Minnesota job, she was upset and they fought. She...

To continue reading

Request your trial
30 cases
  • McCarrick v. Pallares, 2:17-cv-02652-JKS
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • November 19, 2020
    ...if they survived, could be taken into consideration in deciding whether [McCarrick] knew what she did was wrong.People v. McCarrick, 210 Cal. Rptr. 3d 838, 841-50 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016). At the conclusion of the two-week guilt phase of trial, the jury found McCarrick guilty as charged of two ......
  • Xiong v. Hatton, 1:19-cv-00569-DAD-SKO (HC)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • November 21, 2019
    ...Axis I diagnosis contributed to the symptoms he exhibited at the time of the crimes. (See, e.g., People v. McCarrick (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 227, 247-248 [considering jury instruction indicating that a defendant could be found insane if a disease or defect caused by drug use combined with an e......
  • People v. Davis, C082954
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • January 21, 2020 stipulate that evidence presented at the guilt phase may be considered at the sanity phase. (E.g., People v. McCarrick (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 227, 235.) The parties proceeded as if they had agreed that the guilt phase evidence could be considered at the sanity phase. However, no stipulatio......
  • People v. Dixon, A140051
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 3, 2017 a reasonable likelihood the jury applied the instruction in an impermissible manner.' [Citations.]" (People v. McCarrick (2016) 6 Cal.App.5th 227, 245.) " ' "[A]ny theoretical possibility of confusion [may be] diminished by the parties' closing arguments . . . ." ' [Citation.]" (People v......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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