People v. Munoz

Citation140 Cal.App.3d 404,189 Cal.Rptr. 404
Decision Date18 February 1983
Docket NumberCr. 13964,15029
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Edward MUNOZ, Defendant and Appellant.

Quin A. Denvir, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, and Augustus E. Noland, Deputy State Public Defender, for defendant and appellant.

George Deukmejian, Atty. Gen., Robert H. Philibosian, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Arnold O. Overoye, Asst. Atty. Gen., Eddie T. Keller and W. Scott Thorpe, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

WIENER, Associate Justice.

The ringing of three shots shattered the calm of Oceano on a Sunday night, May 11, 1980. John Klima had been murdered. The shots had come from the interior of a 1955 blue Victoria Ford driven by 18-year-old Edwardo Ramirez. A jury determined that defendant Edward Munoz was a passenger in the rear of that vehicle and was the person responsible for Klima's tragic and senseless killing. Munoz was convicted of first degree murder (Pen.Code, §§ 187/189) 1 while personally using a firearm (§ 12022.5) and sentenced to prison for 27 years to life.

Munoz attacks the judgment entered on the jury verdict with a barrage of arguments. Some of those arguments involve issues on the cutting edge of the criminal law which are awaiting resolution in cases pending before the California Supreme Court. Specifically, he claims the felony-murder rule should be abolished (see People v. Dillon (Crim. 21964, hg. granted April 16, 1981)) and two surreptitious tape recordings of his conversations while he was a pretrial detainee should have been suppressed (see Robinson v. Superior Court (S.F. 24185, hg. granted June 25, 1980); People v. Maxie (Crim. 21556, hg. granted July 16, 1980); People v. Crowson (Crim. 22415, hg. granted Dec. 30, 1981).) Inherent in Munoz' latter argument requesting suppression of the tapes is whether the California Supreme Court's decision in De Lancie v. Superior Court (1982) 31 Cal.3d 865, 183 Cal.Rptr. 866, 647 P.2d 142, established an exclusionary rule and, if so, whether that rule should be applied to cases tried but not yet final before De Lancie. The issue of retroactivity is also before the California Supreme Court in Donaldson v. Superior Court (L.A. 31424, hg. granted May 29, 1981). Recognizing that little, if any, practical benefit will be gained by adding our views to the issues before the Supreme Court, we reject Munoz' contention the felony-murder rule is invalid on the basis of established precedent (see People v. Ramos (1982) 30 Cal.3d 553, 590, 180 Cal.Rptr. 266, 639 P.2d 908, mod. 30 Cal.3d 879a) and limit our discussion on his suppression argument to the issue of retroactivity. As we shall explain, we conclude any exclusionary rule emanating from De Lancie should not be applied to cases pending on appeal if tried before De Lancie was decided. Although Munoz' claim of insufficiency of the evidence to support a verdict of premeditated first degree murder has merit, we decide the error is harmless in light of our conclusion the jury resolved his guilt on the basis of the felony-murder rule. We also reject his claims of trial (People v. Cardenas (1982) 31 Cal.3d 897, 184 Cal.Rptr. 165, 647 P.2d 569, mod. 31 Cal.3d 941a) and instructional errors and therefore affirm the judgment. We also deny his consolidated writ of habeas corpus.


In reviewing a claim of insufficiency of the evidence to support a first degree murder conviction, we must examine the entire record in the light most favorable to the judgment in order to determine whether it discloses substantial evidence such that a reasonable trier of fact could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In making this determination, we must presume in support of the judgment the existence of every fact the trier could reasonably deduce from the evidence. We may not, however, limit this review to the evidence favorable to the People for the issue must be resolved on the whole record in order to evaluate properly whether the evidence of each of the essential elements is substantial. This evidence must be reasonable, credible and of solid value. (People v. Johnson (1980) 26 Cal.3d 557, 575-578, 162 Cal.Rptr. 431, 606 P.2d 738.) Because of this mandate, and Munoz' alibi theory of defense, the facts are stated in a detailed fashion to assure a careful analysis of his insufficiency argument.

Ramirez was a key witness for the prosecution; he alone fingered Munoz as the killer. Although Ramirez was biased because of his bargain with the district attorney, 2 Between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. on May 11, 1980, Ramirez, Munoz and Galvan started to go "cruising." Ramirez was driving; Munoz was alone in the back seat. Between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m., Munoz and Galvan went into Ophelia Yracheta's house for about five minutes. When they returned Peter Salinas was with them. Salinas and Munoz had a short, whispered conversation in the back seat. Salinas left and Munoz, Galvan and Ramirez drove off.

2 the jury accepted his version of the following events.

About 10:00 p.m., Ramirez saw a man crossing the street. Munoz told Ramirez to drive up to the man and to stop the car. Munoz asked for directions to Los Angeles and the man, Klima, responded. Ramirez drove off but at Munoz' request backed the car to question the man again. Klima said to keep going the same way. Ramirez began to drive away when Munoz told Ramirez to stop. Munoz again asked Klima for directions. When Klima bent down to answer, Munoz demanded his wallet. Klima took a step backwards; Munoz shot him from a distance of four to five feet. Ramirez heard three shots from the back of the car, saw Klima grab his chest and heard him yell for help. Munoz told Ramirez to drive away, hitting him on the back of the head when he did not immediately do so. Ramirez asked why Munoz shot the man. Munoz said "For the hell of it." Ramirez testified there had been no discussion of a robbery and he did not know there was a gun in the car.

Several neighbors saw Ramirez' car drive past Klima and observed the conversation and gestures between Klima and the car's occupants. The neighbors heard shots, Klima's shout for help and saw the car speed away. Gaittan, a neighbor, rushed to help Klima and asked who had shot him. Klima answered "Young kids." Klima died from a .22 caliber gunshot wound to the chest. The 35 degree downward angle of the wound indicated that if Klima were four to five feet away from the weapon then he had been bending over or the assailant had fired from several feet above him.

After Munoz and Galvan jumped out of the car, Ramirez went home. He looked for but was unable to find a gun in the car. The next morning he found a .22 caliber pistol under a rug in the back seat and put it in the glove compartment. That same morning Salinas telephoned and asked Ramirez to meet Munoz and Galvan at Jerry Rodriguez' house. There Ramirez talked with Munoz but did not give him the gun. Ramirez left with Larry Croy. Croy saw the gun in Ramirez' glove compartment. About 7:30 p.m., Ramirez returned to Rodriguez' house. As he was giving the gun to Rodriguez, Salinas grabbed it and threw it under a bed. Ramirez told Salinas to give the gun back to Munoz.

Ramirez was arrested for murder between 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. on May 13. He first lied, telling the investigating officers he had been at his girlfriend's house on the night of the killing but later told them essentially the same facts to which he testified at trial. He blamed the murder on Munoz. He failed to mention Munoz' demand for Klima's wallet or his own possession of the gun the day after the shooting. Only after the preliminary examination--two weeks before trial--did Ramirez add these elements to his story. He explained he was afraid he could still be charged with murder and that this information might further implicate him.

Salinas relied on his privilege against self-incrimination when asked if he were with Munoz the day of the shooting, whether he possessed a .22 caliber weapon, or whether Ramirez had ever admitted shooting Klima. District attorney investigator On May 16, San Luis Obispo sheriff's detective Larry Hobson secretly recorded a conversation between Munoz, Ramirez and Galvan while the three were in custody in a sheriff's department transportation van outside the municipal court. A portion of this tape was played to the jury and a partial transcript received in evidence. 3

Ray Jauregue testified that in an interview on May 15, Salinas admitted he had put a .22 caliber revolver under the back seat of Ramirez' vehicle on May 11 before 8:30 p.m. when he was in the car with Munoz, Ramirez and Galvan. Salinas said he had forgotten to take the gun when he left the vehicle.

On May 31, personnel at the San Luis Obispo County Jail monitored and secretly recorded a conversation over the telephone in the county jail visiting center among Munoz, his mother and Aurora Galvan. A portion of this tape was also played to the jury and a transcript of the portion played was entered into evidence. 4 Of significance is Munoz' statement to Aurora that she should remember to say they had been together at Ophelia's house at the time of the crime.

Munoz was arrested two days after the killing. He testified he was at Ophelia's house on the day of the killing from between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. until the next Irma Rangel testified that on May 11, Munoz remained at Ophelia's house from about 7:45 p.m. until after 6:00 a.m. the next morning.

morning. He denied ever being in Ramirez' vehicle on May 11, 1980. He also denied handling Salinas' .22 caliber pistol, he did see Ramirez hand Salinas a gun on May 12, 1980 at Rodriguez' house. With respect to the recorded jailhouse conversation with Aurora Galvan, Munoz claimed he was just trying to get her to tell the truth. He also denied he threatened Ramirez when they...

To continue reading

Request your trial

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