People v. McCowan, Cr. 16786

Decision Date29 September 1978
Docket NumberCr. 16786
Citation149 Cal.Rptr. 611,85 Cal.App.3d 675
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of California, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Gary Lynn McCOWAN, Defendant and Appellant.

Quir Denvir, State Public Defender, Clifton R. Jeffers, Chief Asst. State Public Defender, Ezra Hendon, Tanya Neiman, Deputy State Public Defenders, San Francisco, for defendant and appellant.

Evelle J. Younger, Atty. Gen. of the State of Cal., Jack R. Winkler, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Crim. Div., Edward P. O'Brien, Asst. Atty. Gen., W. Eric Collins, Dane R Gillette, Deputy Attys. Gen., San Francisco, for plaintiff and respondent.

McBRIDE, * Associate Justice.

We are considering two separate criminal trials of defendant McCowan. He was tried by jury on a charge of attempted robbery (violation of Pen.Code, § 664/211) committed in Salinas September 17, 1976. 1 A second information charged him with burglary (violation of Pen.Code, § 459) committed October 18, 1976, at the Prunedale library in Monterey County; on this charge he waived a jury and was tried to the court on the transcript of the preliminary hearing.

He was convicted in both trials and was sentenced to the California Youth Authority on sentences to run concurrently.

The attempted robbery was a purse snatching incident. At about 5 p. m., the victim was opening the trunk of her automobile when she heard someone running and yelling. She looked up and saw two young men; one of them, whom she later identified as the appellant, was doing the yelling. He veered toward her and grabbed her purse. She held on to it and was dragged about 15 feet before it split apart, spilling the contents and causing her to fall down. Appellant ran on and disappeared from her sight.

At the police station the following day she was asked to view six photographs. She immediately selected appellant's as being that of the man who had attacked her. Later, at the trial she emphasized that her in-court identification was based on what she remembered the man looking like when he grabbed her purse.

Witness Shear testified that appellant picked him up between 6:30 and 7 p. m. on that same day and that appellant told him that he had tried to take an old lady's purse, that she fell when the strap broke, and he ran off.

Appellant was arrested by Officer Herrera, who pulled appellant's car over at about 9:38 p. m. that same evening. At that time the officer observed small pieces of tape on the front license plate of appellant's car, which impaired visual determination of the numbers. Shear also testified that appellant had stopped the car after they left a gasoline station, where they had not paid for fuel received, had walked to the rear of the car and returned with black electric tape in his hands.

Appellant's defense to the attempted robbery charge was alibi; its establishment at trial was attempted through the testimony of his mother, his sister and his former girl friend, who placed him at home all that day until 8:30 p. m. One Gary Ake, the sister's boyfriend, testified that Shear told him appellant did not commit the purse snatch.

Appellant raises the issue that he was denied a fair trial because the trial court refused to give jury instructions proffered by him bearing on eyewitness identification. 2 One of them is nearly identical to CALJIC No. 2.91, which was given. No. 2 primarily repeats No. 4 and CALJIC No. 2.91, which was given. No. 3, paraphrasing language found in United States v. Wade (1967), 388 U.S. 218, 228, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149, attempts to instruct the jury on the dangers of eyewitness testimony. It does not state a principle of law or establish a basis for instructing a jury. Moreover, it is incorrect in stating that eyewitness testimony was the only evidence connecting appellant to the crime. There was in addition thereto appellant's admission to Shear and the inference of guilt which could be made from the taped license plates. No. 5 was objectionable because it would have served to focus the jury's attention on the testimony of the victim, and to charge the jurors how it should be viewed. It is improper to single out a particular witness in the instructions. (People v. Smith (1977) 67 Cal.App.3d 45, 49, 136 Cal.Rptr. 387; People v. Grant (1970) 11 Cal.App.3d 687, 690, 89 Cal.Rptr. 784.) No. 6 has its genesis in United States v. Wade, Supra. It is not true as stated therein that witnesses are unlikely to change their testimony. Reasonably able cross-examiners frequently cause them to change or qualify identification testimony.

Appellant's instructions are argumentative, redundant or otherwise objectionable and were properly rejected. Appellant says that he "sought to highlight . . . attempted to emphasize." This is properly left to oral argument. Appellant has not mentioned CALJIC No. 1.01, routinely given by trial courts in criminal cases. It correctly states the law on avoidance of emphasis in instructing, and reads, in part, "If the court has repeated any rule, direction or idea, or stated the same in varying ways, no emphasis was intended and you must not draw any inference therefrom. You are not to single out any certain sentence or any individual point or instruction and ignore the others. You are to consider all the instructions as a whole and are to regard each in the light of all the others."

Appellant contends that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the taped license plates. The evidence warrants an inference that appellant applied the tape either before or soon after the attempted robbery; since it occurred several hours before the attempt to steal gasoline, it gives rise to a reasonable inference that appellant disguised his plates either in preparation for a robbery attempt, or to protect him in case someone had seen the license plate. It was not an abuse of discretion for the trial court to admit this evidence after weighing its prejudicial effect against its probative value.

The court did not err in admitting testimony from Charles Moss that Shear had told him of appellant's admission of the purse snatching about one week after appellant's arrest. There was contradictory evidence, presented by appellant, that Shear had not told the district attorney of appellant's admission until shortly before the trial and that he told Gary Ake the night of the arrest that appellant did not take the purse. The evidence of the prior consistent statement was properly admitted to show that Shear's testimony at trial was not a recent fabrication. (People v. Utter (1972) 24 Cal.App.3d 535, 553, 101 Cal.Rptr. 214.) 3

The burglary was of the Prunedale branch of the Monterey County library. A fingerprint on a hot plate belonging to the library and found nearby was identified as that of the appellant.

Appellant was interviewed by Detective Brown after his arrest on a charge unrelated to either of the two cases we are considering. Detective Brown did not know that plaintiff had counsel in that unrelated matter, nor did he make any inquiry about whether appellant had any counsel. But, he gave a Miranda warning, 4 which includes, of course, instruction on the right to counsel, to appointment of counsel at public expense, if necessary, and the right to defer deciding whether to talk until after consultation with counsel. Because of the ample protection afforded by such an admonition the interrogating officer is permitted to proceed to question where the existence of counsel in another case is not known to the officer, nor mentioned by the person admonished, and where he understands his rights and waives them. Nothing in Massiah v. United States (1964), 377 U.S. 201, 84 S.Ct. 1199, 12 L.Ed.2d 246, or People v. Isby (1968), 267 Cal.App.2d 484, 73 Cal.Rptr. 294, both cited by appellant, is contrary.

In the recent case of People v. Booker (1977), 69 Cal.App.3d 654, 664, 138 Cal.Rptr. 347, the court ruled that even though counsel had been appointed in another case and the police officer knew that fact, an admission to the officer was admissible in the new prosecution. The key factor was that counsel had not yet been appointed in the second case. Thus, here too the police officer's knowledge or ignorance of other representation was irrelevant, appellant not yet having been charged with and counsel not having been appointed for the burglary.

Even assuming the officer's knowledge were relevant, the trial court impliedly ruled, on substantial evidence, that he was unaware of representation by counsel in the other action. Appellant raises the question of whether the trial court decided that issue under the proper standard, arguing that such a determination must be made beyond a reasonable doubt.

Subsequent to the briefing in this case, the conflict in California law on the question of standard of proof of voluntariness of a confession has been resolved by the Supreme Court. In People v. Jimenez (1978), 21 Cal.3d 595, 147 Cal.Rptr. 172, 580 P.2d 672, the court announced as a rule of state criminal procedure that the prosecution must prove the voluntariness of every confession beyond...

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8 cases
  • People v. Hurley, 3482
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • August 8, 1979
    ...844, 145 Cal.Rptr. 264 where there were Five different witnesses who gave eyewitness identifications or People v. McGowan (1978) 85 Cal.App.3d 675, 149 Cal.Rptr. 611 where there was other corroborating evidence or People v. Ware (1978) 78 Cal.App.3d 822, 144 Cal.Rptr. 354 where there was Co......
  • People v. Wright, 24087
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    • California Supreme Court
    • June 30, 1988
    ...refused them on this ground. (People v. Martinez (1987) 191 Cal.App.3d 1372, 1378-1379, 237 Cal.Rptr. 219; People v. McCowan (1978) 85 Cal.App.3d 675, 679-680, 149 Cal.Rptr. 611.) B. Defendant's Special Instruction No. Defendant's second proposed instruction lists certain specific items of ......
  • People v. Gray, Cr. 18154
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    • April 4, 1979
    ...that his statements would be used against him. Defendant concedes the existence of contrary authority (e. g., People v. McCowan, 85 Cal.App.3d 675, 149 Cal.Rptr. 611; People v. Booker, 69 Cal.App.3d 654, 138 Cal.Rptr. The People cite People v. Duck Wong, 18 Cal.3d 178, 133 Cal.Rptr. 511, 55......
  • People v. Daniels
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    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • April 10, 2014
    ...on eyewitness identification unnecessary and improper because CALJIC No. 2.92 properly highlights relevant factors]; People v. McCowan (1978) 85 Cal. App.3d 675, 679-680[cautionary instruction on eyewitness identification rejected because it did not state a principle of law and singled out ......
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