People v. Morgan, S055130.

Citation67 Cal.Rptr.3d 753,170 P.3d 129
Decision Date15 November 2007
Docket NumberNo. S055130.,S055130.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
PartiesTHE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Edward Patrick MORGAN, Defendant and Appellant.

Michael J. Hersek, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, Therene Powell and C. Delaine Renard, Deputy State Public Defenders, for Defendant and Appellant.

Bill Lockyer and Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorneys General, Robert R. Anderson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey J. Koch and Randall D. Einhorn, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


Defendant Edward Patrick Morgan appeals from a judgment of the Orange County Superior Court imposing the death penalty following his convictions for first degree murder (Pen.Code, § 187),1 kidnapping (§ 207, subd. (a)), and unlawful penetration with a foreign object (§ 289). The jury also found true special circumstance allegations that defendant committed the murder while engaged in the commission or attempted commission of (1) a kidnapping (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(ii)), and (2) the unlawful penetration with a foreign object (id., subd. (a)(17) (xi)). This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).)


In the early morning hours of Friday, May 20, 1994,2 defendant pulled and then dragged 23-year-old Leanora Wong to the far end of an enclosed area in the parking lot of Bergen Brunswig Corporation, a company located behind the Australian Beach Club (the Club) in the city of Orange. The two had met for the first time in the Club that night. Once defendant and Wong were inside the enclosure, defendant twice inserted a sharp serrated object into Wong's genital area, choked or strangled her, hit her head against concrete, and beat her repeatedly. Wong went into traumatic shock and died due to a combination of all of her injuries and the loss of blood.

Hours earlier, at approximately 10:30 p.m. on May 19, defendant and his friend Robert Bogard were at the Club when defendant grabbed a waitress by her upper arm. Defendant pulled her towards him and squeezed her arm "really hard" as he told his friends she was "the most beautiful girl" and that he was going to take her "to Vegas tonight and marry her." She pushed defendant away because he was hulling her and reported the incident to the Club bouncers.

About the same time, Wong and her friend Rebecca Klein arrived at the Club in Wong's car. About 11:45 p.m., Wong and Klein were walking through the Club when defendant grabbed Wong's arm and pulled her to him. Klein heard Wong and defendant talking and exchanging their names and ages. The waitress who had been grabbed earlier by defendant noticed him showing pictures in a wallet to a young Asian woman who met Wong's description. Defendant repeatedly leaned over to Klein and said, "I really like your friend."

At approximately 1:15 a.m., Wong called out Klein's name. Klein looked up and saw defendant and Wong exiting the Club. Defendant "had a hold of both of her arms," but it appeared to Klein that Wong was leaving voluntarily. Immediately thereafter, Klein said goodbye to other friends and went outside. She expected to find Wong there because they had agreed neither would leave the Club without the other. Alarmed that Wong was not standing outside the Club's door, Klein searched for her "everywhere," including in cars parked nearby. She sought the help of her friends and the Club's security guard. Unable to locate Wong and concerned for Wong's safety, Klein left a note on Wong's car telling her to call when she got home. Klein then went home and called the police.

At the time, defendant was living at Bogard's residence, sleeping in the living room. Bogard had driven defendant to the Club that evening. Sometime after 1:30 a.m., Bogard left the Club after unsuccessfully searching for defendant to give him a ride home.

Bergen Brunswig's security cameras captured images of Wong and defendant from 1:23 a.m. to 1:41 a.m. on the morning of the murder. When first seen, the two appear to be walking side by side as they entered the north gate entrance to the company's parking lot (the lot). A still frame from the security camera videotape showed defendant and Wong six seconds later. The two had moved approximately four or five feet further into the lot. Their relative positions had changed. Defendant was continuing to walk south, away from the Club, but Wong now was behind him. Her lower body appeared to be trying to pull away from defendant. Her right arm was extended forward and appears to be on defendant's bent right arm. Defendant's left arm is not visible, but defendant concedes the photograph "suggests [he] is holding onto some part of Ms. Wong's body." Ten minutes later, the videotape showed defendant and Wong3 approaching a short flight of stairs that led from the lot up into a concrete enclosure. One minute later, a camera showed defendant leaning over Wong at the foot of those stairs. Two minutes later, it showed defendant standing above Wong, walking backwards, and dragging her with him. The camera caught defendant leaning against an air conditioning unit in the enclosure, leaving and returning to the enclosure three times, and finally walking away from the area near where Wong's body was located.

Wong's body was discovered at approximately 3:30 a.m. on May 20. Three sixfoot high concrete walls surrounded the enclosure in which Wong was found. The stairs leading to the enclosure were at its northwest corner. Wong's body was in the southeast corner, behind the air conditioning unit that filled the center of the enclosure. The distance between the point inside the north gate where defendant can be seen on a photograph taken from the security videotape in front of Wong and possibly pulling her in the direction of the stairs leading to the enclosure and the foot of the stairs was 208 feet. The distance from the foot of the stairs to Wong's body was 37 feet.

Wong had been "beaten very badly" about her face. Her bra was pushed up, her breasts were exposed, and her jeans and underpants were pulled down to just above her knees so that "her vaginal area was exposed." Her underpants were soaked with blood. Pools of blood underneath her buttocks, as well as blood smears and streaks on and near her body, revealed that Wong had been turned from her stomach onto her back at some point and that her bloody hair had dragged across the south wall. Boot prints on Wong's body and in the blood on the concrete floor in the enclosure had a pattern consistent with the boots that defendant was wearing at the Club. One of the boot print bruises was above Wong's right breast.

Scuff marks consistent with the heels of Wong's shoes were found along the concrete walkway at the north side of the enclosure, and one of Wong's shoes was off when she was discovered. An earring, a pendant, and dark hair were found between the steps and Wong's body, and defendant's bloody palm print was on a radiator bar coming from the air conditioning unit.

Wong's autopsy revealed severe injuries to the head and neck caused by a blunt instrument such as a fist or boot. Her nose was pushed to one side, and her chin had a gaping laceration. Bleeding in her neck muscles and hemorrhages in her eyes revealed that Wong had been strangled or choked and had experienced asphyxiation for a period of time. Injuries to a nipple and a wrist were consistent with bite marks. Wong's right arm and elbow, as well as her buttocks, had injuries consistent with her having been dragged across a concrete surface while alive. Five of Wong's ribs were fractured, and she had shoulder injuries consistent with someone stomping on her. Fractures on the front and back of Wong's skull could have been caused by a strong person repeatedly shoving her head against a wall or onto concrete.4 Those two traumas caused bleeding inside the skull and swelling of the brain. At some point while Wong was alive, her tongue hemorrhaged when it "got caught, most likely between [her] teeth."

The autopsy additionally revealed massive bleeding in the area of Wong's vagina and anus. The opening of the vagina was cut, and a rigid object that was sharp and serrated had twice been thrust approximately four inches into the deep soft tissue of Wong's perineal area between her vaginal and anal openings. Foreign material consistent with concrete was found inside the entire tract of this injury. The pathologist believed a knife or cylindrical steel rebar pipe had cut Wong's vaginal opening and been thrust into the perineum. Wong's anal opening also was cut, and the anus was dilated. The dilation could have been caused by the insertion of a penis, but the laceration was caused by a sharp object similar to the one inserted into the vaginal opening. Wong's' cervix was bruised. The "degree of trauma and associated bleeding" caused by the genital injuries established that Wong was alive when they were inflicted.

Bogard awoke between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. on March 20 to find defendant asleep on the floor. Defendant told Bogard he had "walked home"; later that day, defendant told Bogard that he had paid people he met at a gas station to take him home. When the two met after work that afternoon, Bogard noticed that defendant had changed his appearance by shaving off his long sideburns.

At 8:30 a.m. on Friday, May 20, defendant called Donna Tatum, a woman he was dating at the time:. He convinced her to pick him up at 9:00 p.m. She drove him to her home in Ontario. That night, Tatum noticed scratches on defendant's hands and arms.

That same evening, Bogard saw a television newscast about the murder of a woman near the Club. Based upon the description given, he suspected defendant might have been involved. He met with police and provided information about defendant and Sonya Marvin, defendant's girlfriend who lived in Plumas County.

Defendant spent the day and night of May 21 at...

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