People v. Myles, No. S097189.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtCANTIL–SAKAUYE
Citation2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 5424,53 Cal.4th 1181,274 P.3d 413,12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4575,139 Cal.Rptr.3d 786
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. John MYLES, Defendant and Appellant.
Decision Date26 April 2012
Docket NumberNo. S097189.

12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4575
139 Cal.Rptr.3d 786
2012 Daily Journal D.A.R. 5424
274 P.3d 413
53 Cal.4th 1181

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
John MYLES, Defendant and Appellant.

No. S097189.

Supreme Court of California

April 26, 2012.

139 Cal.Rptr.3d 793] John F. Schuck, Palo Alto, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, Annie Fraser, Jeffrey J. Koch and Holly D. Wilkens, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


[274 P.3d 419

[53 Cal.4th 1186] A jury convicted defendant John Myles and a codefendant, Tony Tyrone Rogers, of the first degree murder of Fred Malouf (Pen.Code, § 187, subd. (a)),1 and found true the special circumstance allegations that the murder was committed while defendant and Rogers were engaged in the commission of robbery ( § 190.2, subd. (a)(17) (A)).2 The jury also convicted defendant of the second degree robbery of two other victims ( § 211), and unlawful possession of a firearm (former § 12021, subd. (a)(1) (now § 29800, subd. (a)(1); Stats.2010, ch. 711)).3 IN CONNECTION WITH [139 Cal.Rptr.3d 794] the murder and robbery counts, the jury found true the allegations that defendant personally used a handgun. ( § 12022.5, subd. (a).)

In a separate, subsequent proceeding, the same jury convicted defendant of the first degree murder of Harry “Ricky” Byrd, and found true the special circumstance allegation that defendant had been convicted of more than one murder and the allegation that defendant personally used a handgun in the murder. (§§ 187, subd. (a), 190.2, subd. (a)(3), 12022.5, subd. (a).) After the penalty phase, it returned a verdict of death. Defendant moved for new trial (§ 1181), and for modification of his sentence to life without the possibility of parole (§ 190.4, subd. (e)). The trial court denied the motions and sentenced

[274 P.3d 420]

him to death.4 Defendant's appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).) For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment.

[53 Cal.4th 1187] I. Facts
A. Guilt Phase Evidence
1. Prosecution evidence
a. The murder of Harry “Ricky” Byrd 5

Juli Inkenbrandt was a methamphetamine user. On April 11, 1996, she borrowed a neighbor's Buick sedan to drive her drug dealer friend, Jshakar Morris, and defendant to the West Side neighborhood in San Bernardino. They told her they needed to “collect some money.” Morris sat in the front passenger seat and defendant, whom Inkenbrandt did not know, sat in the backseat behind Morris. Inkenbrandt's one-year-old daughter was in a car seat to the left of defendant in the backseat.

Inkenbrandt drove to an area known as California Gardens. As she headed down Magnolia Avenue, defendant directed her to pull up to a group of young men who were talking in the front yard of a house. Inkenbrandt stopped the car in the middle of the street and defendant yelled out of the left backseat window something to the effect of “You guys know Smoke?” They shrugged their shoulders and said, “No.” One member of the group, Harry “Ricky” Byrd (Ricky), suggested to defendant that he “[g]o check on the dark side.” The young men then resumed their socializing.

Defendant and Morris directed Inkenbrandt to continue driving. Unbeknownst to defendant and Morris, they passed Ricky's cousin, Gary Lee, who was standing outside talking with Darion “Smoke” Robinson.

After several minutes of driving around, defendant directed Inkenbrandt to return to where the young men were gathered on Magnolia Avenue. Driving in the same direction as at the time of the initial encounter, Inkenbrandt pulled the Buick closer to the group as defendant instructed. Defendant again yelled to them from the left backseat window, this time asking whether they would “give Smoke a message for him.” Ricky, who was leaning on the side of a friend's car that was parked between him and the Buick, replied, “Okay. What's the message?” Defendant reached over the baby in the car seat, [139 Cal.Rptr.3d 795] pointed two guns out the window, and fired twice. The young men dropped to the ground for cover, and the Buick drove off. Ricky suffered a fatal gunshot wound to his upper chest. Another bullet struck the driver's seat headrest in the parked car.

[53 Cal.4th 1188] As Inkenbrandt sped away from the scene at defendant's direction, they again passed Gary Lee and Darion Robinson, who were still outside talking. This time, defendant shot at them with what sounded to Lee like a .22–caliber revolver. The two men ducked behind a parked car until the Buick was gone. They then pursued their assailant by car, but lost sight of the Buick as it headed toward Interstate 215. However, Lee thought that he recognized the car and the driver, and he drove to an area where he believed he might find them.

When defendant's group arrived back at Inkenbrandt's apartment complex, defendant and Morris instructed her to park behind the buildings. Defendant then removed the shell casings from inside the vehicle and they left, telling Inkenbrandt to forget what she had seen. Inkenbrandt used the Buick to run some errands. On her return 15 to 20 minutes later she parked in her normal parking spot in front of the buildings. Shortly after her arrival, defendant and Morris ran up to her, asking for a ride to an area where they sold drugs. Inkenbrandt dropped them off as requested, then returned home, again

[274 P.3d 421]

parking in the front of the apartment complex.

At some point when the Buick was parked in front of the apartment complex, Lee and Robinson had driven by and located it. Seeing no one in the Buick, they returned to Magnolia Avenue, where they discovered that Ricky had been fatally shot. After hearing witnesses describe the car involved in that shooting, Lee realized that it was the same car from which shots had been fired at him. When Lee led police officers to where he had spotted the vehicle, it was no longer there. However, police were on the scene moments after Inkenbrandt returned to the apartment complex after dropping off defendant and Morris. A witness from the Magnolia Avenue shooting was sitting in the back of an unmarked police vehicle and he identified the Buick and Inkenbrandt as the driver. When police then contacted Inkenbrandt in her apartment, she told them what had happened from “the beginning to the end.” As she explained at trial, she talked with the officers about the incident because she “wasn't going down for a murder I didn't commit that they were stupid enough to do.”

Approximately three weeks after the shootings, two other eyewitnesses attended a live lineup and identified defendant as the gunman. They also identified him at trial. Inkenbrandt likewise identified defendant, first by photograph, then at a live lineup, and finally at trial. Although one other eyewitness to the shooting had never been asked to view a photographic array or attend a live lineup, he positively identified defendant at trial.

Investigating officers searching the area where Ricky was shot recovered a live .380–caliber round of ammunition and a spent .380–caliber shell casing. [53 Cal.4th 1189] The .380–caliber round bore an “FC” headstamp and the casing had a Winchester headstamp. During the investigation of the shooting, a search of a room at the Phoenix Motel in San Bernardino yielded defendant's fingerprints and clothing, along with eight live .380–caliber rounds of ammunition, one live .22–caliber round, and two expended .22–caliber shell casings. One of the .380–caliber rounds discovered in the motel room had an “FC” headstamp like the live round found at the scene where Ricky was [139 Cal.Rptr.3d 796] shot. And ballistics testing showed that the bullet that killed Ricky was of the same variety as bullets in the live .380–caliber rounds found at the scene of the shooting and at the Phoenix Motel.

In connection with the subsequent shooting incident at the Pepper Steak Restaurant in nearby Colton, officers searched a vehicle parked in the lot of an apartment building in San Bernardino. They found inside the trunk a Lorcin .380–caliber semiautomatic handgun wrapped in a towel. Although the prosecution's firearms expert could not state conclusively that the bullet that killed Ricky had been fired from the Lorcin, he expressed the view that it could have been. The parties stipulated at trial that, if called to the stand, witnesses would testify that a person they believed to be defendant possessed a Lorcin semiautomatic handgun.

b. Robbery Murder at the Pepper Steak Restaurant

Nine days after Ricky Byrd's murder, defendant, with 17–year–old Tony Tyrone Rogers, used a firearm to commit a robbery that led to another death.

On April 20, 1996, Fred Malouf (hereafter sometimes Fred), his wife Donna Malouf (Donna),6 and Donna's mother went to the Pepper Steak Restaurant in Colton at around 8:00 p.m. for coffee. Donna was an employee of the restaurant and had worked the morning shift that day. Fred was a retired captain in the Colton Police Department.

After the Malouf party sat down in a booth at the back of the restaurant, a waitress named Krystal Anderson walked over to say hello. Donna testified at trial that moments later, defendant came running through the restaurant yelling, “It's a robbery. I'll shoot. Get your money out.” He was holding a large semiautomatic gun in his right hand.

[274 P.3d 422]

A mask came across his mouth and nose, and he was wearing a beanie on his head.

Donna further testified that she immediately rose from the booth and started walking toward the kitchen because she knew that a gun was kept [53 Cal.4th 1190] there. Before she reached her destination, however, defendant ran up and grabbed her by the hair. He yelled and cursed at her, wanting to know whether she was the manager and where the safe was located, and threatening to “blow [her] head off.”...

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