People v. Ortiz, 031519 CAAPP2, B285058

Docket Nº:B285058
Opinion Judge:MURILLO, J.
Party Name:THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. EDWIN ORTIZ, JR. et al., Defendants and Appellants
Attorney:Matthew Alger, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Clinton Alford, Jr. Vanessa Place, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Edwin Ortiz, Jr. Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Deputy Attorney Ge...
Judge Panel:We concur: EDMON, P. J.LAVIN, J.
Case Date:March 15, 2019
Court:California Court of Appeals

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,


EDWIN ORTIZ, JR. et al., Defendants and Appellants


California Court of Appeals, Second District

March 15, 2019


APPEALS from judgments of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Ct. No. GA097507 Michael Villalobos, Judge.

Matthew Alger, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Clinton Alford, Jr.

Vanessa Place, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Edwin Ortiz, Jr.

Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, Paul M. Roadarmel, Jr. and Stephanie A. Miyoshi, Deputy Attorneys General for Plaintiff and Respondent.



Defendant Clinton Alford, Jr. (hereafter, Alford) stands convicted of human sex trafficking, forcible rape of a child over 14, assault (three counts), unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, kidnapping, and human trafficking to commit another crime. Defendant Edwin Ortiz, Jr. (hereafter, Ortiz) stands convicted of human trafficking, assault (two counts), kidnapping, and human trafficking to commit another crime.

On appeal, they challenge several of the trial court's evidentiary rulings, contend that the trial court committed instructional error, and that they should be resentenced on the firearm enhancements. Alford separately contends that his attorney was ineffective and that the court's rulings created cumulative prejudice. Ortiz separately challenges the court's refusal to instruct on the defense of duress. Only their claims on the firearm enhancements have merit. The judgments are affirmed. The matter is remanded for the limited purpose of allowing the court to exercise its sentencing discretion on the firearm enhancements.


I. Facts

A. Generally as to S.T.

S.T. was 11 years old the first time she was exposed to prostitution. She grew up in foster homes and by the time she was 15 years old, began engaging in prostitution herself.

Approximately four months later, in March, 2015, she met Alford. At the time, she had been stranded by her pimp because he had been beaten up by Alford. S.T. knew Alford was a pimp, and he told her that he could give her lodging, food and protection. They had sex the first day they met, and she believed she was Alford's girlfriend. Even though she was only 15, S.T. told Alford that she was 17 and that her birthday was in November of that year. They had sex regularly until the incident in November. Alford said it would not be long before she turned 18, “so it wasn't a big deal.” She thought it was better to say she was 17 instead of 18 so that she would have an excuse for not having an I.D., or being able to rent motel rooms on her own.

The day after meeting Alford, he took her to San Bernardino where she engaged in prostitution. She worked as a prostitute every day and gave all her money to Alford. To ensure this, Alford would make her remove her clothes and inspect her body. She made approximately $400 on a slow night, and “a rack, ” or $1, 000 on a busy night. Her services were advertised on an Internet service called “Backpage, ” and during “dates” Alford would listen to what occurred via his muted cell phone. He required that she spend no more than 15 minutes with a client, and would punish her if she spent too much time. She had approximately 30 customers a day.

S.T. was tattooed with a number “3” in relation to Alford because it represented a group he had created.1 The group included Alford, Ortiz and a third individual named Glenn Jackson. Jackson's girlfriend was a prostitute named Keisha. S.T. tried to run away from Alford twice. After the first time, she returned to him because she was told by other pimps and prostitutes that Ortiz, Jackson and Alford were “going to places [she] used to work with guns” demanding that people turn her in otherwise “no one could work.” S.T. believed Ortiz worked for Alford.

In October, 2 S.T. was pulled over for a traffic stop while driving Alford's red Ford Mustang. Alford was seated in the passenger seat, and was arrested when the officer found a small amount of marijuana, a loaded.22 caliber handgun, and $2, 000 in the glove compartment.3 S.T. was not arrested, but gave the officer a false name because she did not want to return to foster care.

B. Facts involving S.T. (Counts 2-8, and 11)

On November 9, Alford was again arrested, this time with Ortiz. Jackson told S.T. of their arrest and that she and Keisha were to earn bail money. S.T. intended to do this on her own, and Alford told her how much he needed. She went to Pasadena to make money and then attempted to go to Fresno. On her way to Fresno, someone called and told her to return to Alford's house.4 She returned in a Greyhound bus, and took a taxi cab to Alford's home. She could not afford the entire fare so Alford's sister picked her up with her boyfriend, “Brainiac.” When the pair picked up S.T., Brainiac and Alford's sister got into an argument. Brainiac hit the front windshield, causing the sister to pull over. S.T. then “butted in, ” angering Brainiac, who jumped into the backseat and began choking her. Alford's sister intervened, and stopped the altercation. Brainiac did not touch S.T.'s face, hit her legs or arms, or burn her with a cigarette.

By this time, Alford was out of jail and Brainiac was delaying S.T.'s return to Alford's home. S.T. spoke to Alford and told him that “she was being held hostage.” She eventually arrived at Alford's house, and Alford arrived a half-hour later. She believed Alford was angry with her because she had not followed his instructions.

On November 10, Alford, Ortiz, S.T., Keisha, and Jackson went to a motel in Pasadena. S.T. believed they were going to celebrate her birthday because they had purchased a bottle of Hennessey. At some point, someone ordered pizza. Once in the room, Alford questioned S.T. about the numbers, pictures, and text messages in her phone which revealed that she had been in Fresno. He slapped her face. When he discovered a photo that particularly angered him, he ordered her to remove her clothes in the bathroom. After discovering that she had paid someone in Fresno who he believed to be a pimp, he returned, removed his jewelry, and beat S.T. for about 20 minutes. He then called Ortiz into the bathroom and ordered him to punch S.T. while Alford held her arms. He told Ortiz where to hit her, and when it appeared that Ortiz was pretending to hit her, Alford ordered him to stop pretending. Ortiz then hit S.T. for approximately 10 minutes.

That night, S.T. feared for her life because she believed this incident was different from other times she had been punished. Alford told her that she “didn't deserve” the number “3” and burned her with a cigarette near the tattoo on her chest. He bent her over the counter and inserted his penis into her anus, causing her to cry. She had previously told Alford that she had been raped anally when she was four or five and did not want to have anal sex with anyone. He stuck tissue into her vagina and penetrated her with his penis. Afterward, he told her to take a cold shower.

S.T. tried to escape during a lull in the beatings, but Jackson grabbed her neck and pushed her towards the bed. Alford and Ortiz returned, and Alford ordered her to return to the bathroom. He made her turn on the cold water in the shower and stand in it. He pulled her by the hair, causing some of it to fall out. Alford and Ortiz continued to beat her until she eventually lost consciousness. She was awakened when water was thrown on her the next morning.

That day, Alford told her to get dressed because she was still going to make money for him regardless of how she looked. S.T. was in pain, barely able to walk, and one side of her face was “hanging.” Alford told Ortiz to hide in the closet while S.T. was working to ensure her silence.

A man responded to an ad on Craigslist and was directed to the motel. A woman with a crown tattoo met him downstairs, walked him to a room, and accepted $100. When he entered, he noticed that S.T. was limping, had a black eye, and bruises on her knees, face and arms. S.T. indicated through hand gestures that there was someone in the closet with a gun and to call 911. The two then crouched on the ground and made “a couple of faking sex kind of sounds.” The man left and called 911.

Meanwhile, Alford entered the room and demanded payment. When S.T. told Alford that someone had taken the money, he called her names, told her the beating was not over, and ordered her back into the bathroom. S.T. was terrified.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremiah Song responded to the...

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