People v. Mendoza, No. S008621.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtKENNARD, J.
Citation24 Cal.4th 130,99 Cal.Rptr.2d 485,6 P.3d 150
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Manuel MENDOZA, Defendant and Appellant.
Decision Date24 August 2000
Docket NumberNo. S008621.

99 Cal.Rptr.2d 485
24 Cal.4th 130
6 P.3d 150

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Manuel MENDOZA, Defendant and Appellant

No. S008621.

Supreme Court of California.

August 24, 2000.

Rehearing Denied November 1, 2000.


99 Cal.Rptr.2d 496
Fern M. Laethem and Lynne S. Coffin, State Public Defenders, under appointments by the Supreme Court, Virginia C. Lindsay and William T. Lowe, Acting Chief Assistant State Public Defenders, and Irene Kiebert, Deputy State Public Defender, for Defendant and Appellant

Daniel E. Lungren and Bill Lockyer, Attorneys General, George Williamson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Carol Wendelin Pollack, Assistant Attorney General, Keith H. Borjon, Robert Henry, Susan Lee Frierson and Paul M. Roadarmel, Jr., Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

KENNARD, J.

A jury convicted defendant Manuel Mendoza of one count of residential robbery (Pen.Code, § 212.5),1 four counts of robbery (§ 211), three counts of kidnapping for purposes of robbery (§ 209, subd. (b)), two counts of commercial burglary (§ 459), one count each of forcible rape (§ 261, subd. (a)(2)) and arson with great bodily injury (§ 451), and murder (§ 187, subd. (a)).

The jury found true allegations that defendant inflicted great bodily injury on a person over the age of 60 years during the commission of the residential robbery, the forcible rape, the arson, and the murder. (§ 1203.09, subd. (a).) The jury also found true the special circumstance allegations that defendant committed the murder during the commission of robbery, rape, and arson. (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(A), (C), (H).) Defendant was sentenced to death. This appeal is automatic. (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 11; Pen.Code, § 1239, subd. (b).)

I. Facts and Proceedings

Defendant was convicted in this case of crimes based on four separate events, which we discuss below.

A. Guilt Phase

1. Prosecution's Case

a. Robbery of Jung Wang

At 4:00 p.m. on February 5, 1986, Jung Wang was working at Mickey's Liquor on Huntington Drive in Los Angeles when a man pointed a gun at Wang and demanded money. The man took about $20 in cash lying next to the cash register and left, and Wang called the police. Wang identified defendant as the robber in a photographic lineup, a live lineup, at the preliminary hearing, and at trial.

b. Kidnapping and Robbery of Piedad Saiz, Maria Galvez, and Leo Pena

At 2:20 p.m. on February 6, 1986, after closing her bar, La Copa de Oro, on Huntington Drive in Los Angeles, Piedad Saiz left with Antonio Duran, Maria Galvez, and Leo Pena. As they walked towards Saiz's car, a white 1983 Buick Regal, a man asked for a ride to North Broadway, saying he had run out of gas. Saiz turned him down. Saiz and her companions entered

99 Cal.Rptr.2d 497
the car. As Saiz started to drive away, the man hung onto the passenger door. When Saiz stopped at a traffic signal a few blocks away, the man got into the backseat while brandishing a gun. He ordered Saiz to continue driving. After traveling three to four blocks, the man ordered everyone out of the car and told Saiz to leave the key in the ignition. He then lined everyone up on the sidewalk and ordered them at gunpoint to turn over their purses and wallets. Saiz, Galvez, and Pena complied; Duran did not. The man drove away in Saiz's car. Saiz and her companions then walked to Huntington Drive, where they flagged down a police officer

In a photographic lineup and at a live lineup, Saiz identified defendant as the kidnapper and robber. Pena identified defendant at a photographic lineup and at trial. Duran was unable to identify defendant at trial. Galvez did not testify.

Patricia Saldivar, a friend of defendant's, testified that on the morning of February 7, 1986, she saw defendant drive a white car that she thought might have been a white Regal Cutlass. Defendant said the car was his mother's. That same morning, Ann DiPrima, defendant's girlfriend, saw defendant drive a white Monte Carlo or Regal, which defendant said he had taken from a bar. On February 10, the police found Saiz's white Buick Regal parked in front of DiPrima's home.

c. Burglaries of Chung Hing News and Ying On Association

At 6:00 p.m. on February 6, 1986, Ha Luong, president of the Chung Hing News on West Bernard Street in Los Angeles, locked the office and left. The next morning, he discovered that the office had been burglarized. Taken were a sound mixer, a drum set, two speakers, three amplifiers, two or three microphones, a guitar, and a bass.

At 2:00 p.m. on February 7, 1986, Joseph Wong, president of the Ying On Association, located above the Chung Hing

News, locked and left the office. At 8:30 the next morning, the burglary of the office was discovered. Missing were five guns registered to certain members of the association, firecrackers, a television, a video cassette recorder (VCR), $200 in cash, and 30 unopened cartons of cigarettes.

When Patricia Saldivar saw defendant on the morning of February 7, 1986, there was a set of drums in the backseat of the car he was driving. That same morning, defendant's girlfriend, Ann DiPrima, saw drums and music stands in the trunk of the car defendant was driving. Defendant also had a gun, later determined to belong to a member of the Ying On Association that had been burglarized on February 7. Defendant left 15 cartons of cigarettes at DiPrima's house as well as a bag of firecrackers. Defendant told DiPrima that he had obtained the items from Chinatown. DiPrima thereafter found in her backyard two large speakers with Chinese writing on them.

d. Rape, Robbery, Arson Causing Great Bodily Injury, and Murder of Mary Frances Litovich

On February 7, around 1:30 p.m., Philip DiPrima, the father of Ann DiPrima, defendant's girlfriend, confronted defendant, who was in Ann's bedroom, about the recent theft of three guns from the DiPrima's home. DiPrima told Ann to call the police. When DiPrima asked defendant, "Why are you stealing from me?" defendant answered that he needed money to support his cocaine habit. When DiPrima asked if there was a gun in the case defendant was holding, defendant told him there was. DiPrima then told defendant he had a choice between going out the window with the gun and taking his chances with the police or letting DiPrima help him get into a drug rehabilitation program.

By that time, Officer Stephen Perry of the Alhambra Police Department had arrived outside the house. DiPrima convinced defendant to follow him through the

99 Cal.Rptr.2d 498
house and out the front door. As they came out of the front door, Officer Perry told defendant to put his hands up. Defendant dropped the gun case, ran back into the house, went out a side door, and climbed over a fence

Officer Perry radioed for assistance and gave the police dispatcher a description of defendant. Officer Richard Hinds and Officer Brace Nyquist helped Officer Perry search the neighborhood for defendant. Officer Nyquist saw a man matching Officer Perry's description climb a fence on Stockbridge Avenue.

Between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m., defendant came through the back door of his friend Patricia Saldivar's house on Poplar Street near Stockbridge Avenue. When he left, defendant asked Saldivar to water down the cement in the back of her house so that dogs could not smell his scent.

During the search for defendant, Officer Hinds was checking the 3600 block of Stockbridge Avenue when Mary Frances Litovich came out of her home and told him that her dog and several other dogs in the neighborhood had been barking. Officer Hinds told her to go back into the house.

When Philip DiPrima told Officer Perry that he did not want to press charges against defendant, Officer Perry called off the search at 2:02 p.m. and the police left the area.

Between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m., Richard Davila and Rudy Alarcon were in front of Litovich's house on Stockbridge Avenue when they heard an explosion and a woman scream "help me" three or four times. When the men saw smoke streaming out of a window on the side of the house, they went to the house to try to fight the fire. Through a window, Davila saw Mary Frances Litovich lying on a bed nude and struggling unsuccessfully to get up. The mattress, curtain, and walls were on fire; the flames around the bed were about a foot high. Davila found a hose in the backyard and aimed it through the window in an attempt to soak down the bed. After his efforts to reach Litovich inside the house were unsuccessful, Alarcon helped Davila in hosing down the fire. They were then joined by Jaime Villanueva, James Zito, and a neighborhood boy.

Soon after the fire was reported at 2:40 p.m. firefighters arrived and put out the fire. Arson investigator Anthony Jakubowski determined that a water-soluble flammable liquid, such as rubbing alcohol or cooking sherry, had been poured over the bed and distributed throughout the room and then ignited with an open flame.

Around 3:30 p.m., homicide detective Raymond Dance of the Los Angeles Police Department arrived at the crime scene. In the living room Dance saw a television, a VCR, and other items stacked in the middle of the floor. A Polaroid camera and a camera box were on the chair in the dining room. In an unoccupied bedroom, jewelry and watches were scattered across the floor. In the bedroom containing Litovich's body, dresser drawers had been pulled out and items of jewelry and clothing were on the floor.

Detective Dance examined Litovich's badly burned body. She was lying on her back on a twin bed, with her blouse and bra pulled above her breasts. Her right wrist was tied to one bedpost with the electrical cord from a lamp, while her left wrist was tied to the other bedpost with the electrical cord from a clothes iron. The electrical cord from a clock was looped around her neck. The cords were still attached to the appliances.

Elizabeth Morales, who resided on Sheffield near Stockbridge Avenue, testified that at 2:40 p.m. on the day of the...

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1183 practice notes
  • People v. Horning, No. S044677.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 16, 2004
    ...of the felony, that is, the commission of the felony was not merely incidental to an intended murder." (People v. Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, 182, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 485, 6 P.3d The standard jury instructions were modified to reflect this holding. Today, as at the time of trial, CALJIC No. 8......
  • People v. Enraca, No. S080947.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 6, 2012
    ...P.3d 78; [137 Cal.Rptr.3d 144] People v. Pollock, supra, 32 Cal.4th at p. 1185, 13 Cal.Rptr.3d 34, 89 P.3d 353; People v. Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, 187, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 485, 6 P.3d 150.) Here, defendant showed lack of remorse while fleeing the scene. As they drove away Lester Maliwat as......
  • People v. Snyder, No. A094701.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 27, 2003
    ...predicate felony for a felony-murder charge and constituted the basis for a murder conviction on that theory. (People v. Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, 176-177, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 485, 6 P.3d 150; People v. Smithey (1999) 20 Cal.4th 936, 975-978, 86 Cal.Rptr.2d 243, 978 P.2d 1171; People v. Hol......
  • People v. McWhorter, No. S068536.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 6, 2009
    ...inference of consciousness of guilt from flight. This claim too has previously been considered and rejected. (People v. Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, 179-180, 99 Cal. Rptr.2d 485, 6 P.3d 10. Cumulative Prejudice Defendant asserts the cumulative effect of all the alleged guilt phase errors ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1182 cases
  • People v. Horning, No. S044677.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 16, 2004
    ...of the felony, that is, the commission of the felony was not merely incidental to an intended murder." (People v. Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, 182, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 485, 6 P.3d The standard jury instructions were modified to reflect this holding. Today, as at the time of trial, CALJIC No. 8......
  • People v. Enraca, No. S080947.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 6, 2012
    ...P.3d 78; [137 Cal.Rptr.3d 144] People v. Pollock, supra, 32 Cal.4th at p. 1185, 13 Cal.Rptr.3d 34, 89 P.3d 353; People v. Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, 187, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 485, 6 P.3d 150.) Here, defendant showed lack of remorse while fleeing the scene. As they drove away Lester Maliwat as......
  • People v. Snyder, No. A094701.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 27, 2003
    ...predicate felony for a felony-murder charge and constituted the basis for a murder conviction on that theory. (People v. Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, 176-177, 99 Cal.Rptr.2d 485, 6 P.3d 150; People v. Smithey (1999) 20 Cal.4th 936, 975-978, 86 Cal.Rptr.2d 243, 978 P.2d 1171; People v. Hol......
  • People v. McWhorter, No. S068536.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 6, 2009
    ...inference of consciousness of guilt from flight. This claim too has previously been considered and rejected. (People v. Mendoza (2000) 24 Cal.4th 130, 179-180, 99 Cal. Rptr.2d 485, 6 P.3d 10. Cumulative Prejudice Defendant asserts the cumulative effect of all the alleged guilt phase errors ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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