People v. McDaniel

Citation12 Cal.5th 97,493 P.3d 815,283 Cal.Rptr.3d 32
Decision Date26 August 2021
Docket NumberS171393
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Don'te Lamont MCDANIEL, Defendant and Appellant.

Michael J. Hersek and Mary K. McComb, State Public Defenders, under appointments by the Supreme Court, Peter R. Silten and Elias Batchelder, Deputy State Public Defenders, for Defendant and Appellant.

Molly O'Neal, Public Defender (Santa Clara), and Michael Ogul, Deputy Public Defender, for California Public Defenders Association and Santa Clara County Public Defender as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Phillips Black and John Mills for Hadar Aviram and Gerald Uelman as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Shilpi Agarwal, Summer Lacey and Brian W. Stull for American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California and American Civil Liberties Union Foundation as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

U.C. Berkeley School of Law, Elisabeth Semel, Berkeley, and Erwin Chemerinsky, Culver City, for Governor Gavin Newsom as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Keker, Van Nest & Peters, Steven A. Hirsch, Jo W. Golub and Jason George, San Francisco, for Vicente Benavides Figueroa and Manuel Lopez as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and Steven L. Mayer, San Francisco, for George Gascón; Natasha Minsker for Gil Garcetti; Diana Becton, District Attorney (Contra Costa), Chesa Boudin, District Attorney (San Francisco), Jeffrey F. Rosen, District Attorney (Santa Clara), and Tori Verber Salazar, District Attorney (San Joaquin), as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Xavier Becerra and Rob Bonta, Attorneys General, Gerald A. Engler and Lance E. Winters, Chief Assistant Attorneys General, James William Bilderback II, Assistant Attorney General, Dana M. Ali, Jaime L. Fuster and Kathy S. Pomerantz, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

Kent S. Scheidegger and Kymberlee C. Stapleton for Criminal Justice Legal Foundation as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Respondent.

Mark Zahner, Robert P. Brown, Chief Deputy District Attorney and Philip P. Stemler, Deputy District Attorney, for California District Attorneys Association as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Respondent.

Hogan Lovells US, Christopher J. Cox, Gurtej Singh, Menlo Park, Rupinder K. Garcha, William M. Regan, Allison M. Wuertz, Daniel J. Petrokas and Peter W. Bautz for Janet C. Hoeffel, Rory K. Little, Emad H. Atiq and James Q. Whitman as Amici Curiae.

Opinion of the Court by Liu, J.[283 Cal.Rptr.3d 41][12 Cal.5th 108]

Defendant Don'te Lamont McDaniel was convicted of two counts of first degree murder for the shootings of Annette Anderson and George Brooks, two counts of attempted murder for the shootings of Janice Williams and Debra Johnson, and possession of a firearm by a felon. ( Pen. Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 664 & 187, subd. (a), former 12021, subd. (a)(1); all undesignated statutory references are to the Penal Code.) The jury found true the special circumstance of multiple murder. ( § 190.2, subd. (a)(3).) The jury also found true the allegations of intentional discharge and use of a firearm, intentional discharge resulting in great bodily injury and death, and commission of the offense for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in association with a criminal street gang. ( §§ 12022.53, subd. (d), 122022.53, subds. (d) & (e)(1), 186.22, subd. (b)(l).) After the first penalty phase jury deadlocked, a second jury delivered a verdict of death on December 22,

[283 Cal.Rptr.3d 42]

2008. This appeal is automatic. ( § 1239, subd. (b).) We affirm.

A. Guilt Phase
1. Prosecution Case

The events occurred in and around Nickerson Gardens, a large public housing complex in Southeast Los Angeles. In 2004, the Bounty Hunter Bloods gang was active in Nickerson Gardens, with about 600 members registered in law enforcement databases.

McDaniel and Kai Harris were members of the Bounty Hunter Bloods, as was one of the victims, Brooks.

On April 6, 2004, at 3:30 a.m., officers responded to reports of gunshots at Anderson's apartment in Nickerson Gardens. Entering through the back door,

[12 Cal.5th 109]

they observed the bodies of Anderson and Williams. Williams appeared to be alive. Brooks's body was slumped against the refrigerator. In the living room, an officer observed Johnson, who had a gunshot wound to the mouth and was trying to stand up.

Anderson died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds. Stippling indicated that the wound to her face was inflicted at close range. Cocaine and alcohol were present in Anderson's body at the time of her death. Brooks also died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds; he suffered five wounds to the face, and stippling indicated they were fired at close range. Williams survived gunshot wounds to her mouth, arms, and legs, and she spent three to four months in the hospital. Johnson also survived gunshots to the face and chest and underwent multiple surgeries.

Physical evidence collected at the scene included ten nine-millimeter and six Winchester .357 magnum cartridge cases. Investigators found one nine-millimeter cartridge case on Brooks's stomach and two .357 magnum cartridge cases on his neck. Two nine-millimeter cartridge cases were found near Anderson's hands. Investigators also recovered drug paraphernalia, including a metal wire commonly used with a crack pipe near Anderson's hand, a glass vial containing a crystal-like substance, and a plastic bag containing a rock-like substance in Brooks's pants.

Five days later, during a traffic stop, Deputy Sheriff Marcus Turner recovered a loaded Ruger nine-millimeter gun and associated ammunition from McDaniel. McDaniel identified himself as Mitchell Reed. About one month later, Officer Freddie Piro arrested a member of the Black P-Stone gang in Baldwin Hills, an area 13 miles away from Nickerson Gardens. During the arrest, Officer Piro recovered a .375 magnum Desert Eagle handgun.

Ten of the cartridges recovered from the scene matched the nine-millimeter Ruger recovered from McDaniel. Six of the cartridges found at the scene matched the .357 magnum Desert Eagle. The examiner also analyzed projectile evidence recovered at the scene and concluded that none was fired by the nine-millimeter gun. The source of other ballistics evidence was inconclusive.

In addition to this physical evidence, the prosecution introduced testimony from the survivors of the shooting and other witnesses who placed McDaniel and Harris at or near the crime scene. The defense case consisted primarily of exploiting inconsistencies in these witnesses’ statements and the fact that many of the witnesses were intoxicated at the time of the shooting.

Williams testified that she was sitting at the table with Anderson on the evening of the shooting. Williams heard a whistle and then a knock on the

[12 Cal.5th 110]

back door. Elois Garner was at the backdoor and identified herself. Anderson opened the door, and

[283 Cal.Rptr.3d 43]

Williams saw McDaniel enter the apartment shooting. After Williams was shot, she fell on the floor and lost consciousness. Williams had known McDaniel for about 10 years.

Although Williams had a history of drug use, she denied using drugs that night, but she testified that she had been drinking. She did not see Anderson or Brooks doing cocaine, nor did she see any other drug paraphernalia in the apartment. Williams did not realize that Johnson was in the living room and thought Johnson was in jail at the time. At the preliminary hearing, Williams testified that she had "nodded off" immediately before the shooting. When confronted with this prior testimony, she admitted to being "in and out" that night and that her head was down on the table at the time of the knock on the back door. Williams first identified McDaniel as the shooter on April 12, 2004, when officers showed her a six-pack photo lineup in the hospital.

Johnson died of unrelated causes before trial, so the prosecutor read her testimony from the preliminary hearing. At 3:00 a.m. on April 6, 2004, Johnson was sleeping on the living room floor at Anderson's home. She awoke to the sound of multiple gunshots coming from the kitchen. Johnson saw McDaniel enter through the back door then exit the kitchen and head toward the hallway. She looked up and saw McDaniel in dark clothes standing over her. He shot her and then crouched down and moved toward the front door. She heard two male voices during the shooting, neither of which was Brooks's. McDaniel was the only person she saw in the living room.

When Detective Mark Hahn interviewed Johnson at the hospital on April 9, 2004, she initially said she did not see the shooter because she was asleep when she was shot. During the preliminary hearing, she explained that she did not identify McDaniel because she was afraid. On April 12, the detectives showed her a six-pack photo lineup. Johnson circled McDaniel's photograph but did not tell the police his name; instead, she wrote "shorter black boy." The court attempted to clarify whom she was comparing McDaniel to since she only saw one shooter in the house. She explained that Williams had told her at the hospital a second man was involved: "a tall, light-skinned dude at the backdoor."

The prosecution also introduced testimony from various witnesses recounting the events immediately before and after the shooting. On the night leading up to the shooting, Derrick Dillard was with Brooks at Anderson's apartment in Nickerson Gardens. Dillard and Brooks left Anderson's apartment to go to Harris's house a half-block away. After 15 minutes, they left to return to Anderson's apartment. On the way, Brooks, Harris, and Dillard ran

[12 Cal.5th 111]

into McDaniel. Brooks and...

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