People v. Parker

Decision Date19 May 2022
Docket NumberS113962
Citation13 Cal.5th 1,510 P.3d 404,293 Cal.Rptr.3d 813
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Calvin Lamont PARKER, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court

Kathryn K. Andrews, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant.

Xavier Becerra and Rob Bonta, Attorneys General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney General, Holly D. Wilkens, Theodore Cropley, Quisteen S. Shum and Kristen Ramirez, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

Opinion of the Court by Groban, J.

This automatic appeal follows from defendant Calvin Lamont Parker's 2002 conviction and death sentence for the murder of Patricia Gallego. Defendant was found guilty of first degree murder in violation of Penal Code1 section 187, subdivision (a), and the jury also found true the lying-in-wait special circumstance (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(15)), as well as the special circumstance allegations that defendant intentionally killed Gallego for financial gain (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(1)), while engaged in the commission or attempted commission of rape (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)). After a penalty trial, the jury returned a verdict of death. We affirm the judgment.

A. Guilt Phase
1. Prosecution's Evidence

Defendant and Gallego were roommates who met while she was dating his former roommate, Charles Ijames, in 1997. Gallego was a Brazilian citizen and had moved to the United States in 1996. In 1998, after Gallego had dated Ijames for some time, defendant told Ijames that Gallego had offered to pay him $5,000 if he would marry her. Ijames understood the offer to be purely transactional, not romantic. Ijames got the impression defendant was uneasy about Gallego's request and that he would turn her down.

Gallego and Ijames broke up in late 1998, and Gallego went back to Brazil. She returned to the United States in late 1999. Ijames and defendant stopped living together in November 1999, and about six months after that, defendant told his friend Leilani Kaloha that he was moving in with Gallego. Defendant told Kaloha that he had known Gallego previously, that he planned to marry her in exchange for money, and that they were moving in to make their marriage appear plausible. A month or two after defendant told Kaloha he planned to marry Gallego, Kaloha asked defendant if that was still the case, and defendant said it was not. Marilyn Powell, defendant's ex-girlfriend, learned defendant and Gallego no longer planned to marry some months after moving in together, and Powell thought defendant was upset about the change in plans.

Gallego held two jobs while living with defendant. She was a server at Yakimono restaurant and a supervisor at Café Chloe. Several days before her disappearance, Gallego told Eudes De Crecy, the owner of Café Chloe, that she wanted to change her life and move out of the apartment she shared with defendant. De Crecy observed that Gallego was stressed, tired, and unhappy in the days immediately preceding her disappearance.

Gallego was last seen after her shift at Café Chloe on August 10, 2000; she did not return for her next scheduled shift on Monday, August 14 or any time before that shift. Several days after she was last seen, a man who identified himself as Gallego's roommate called both restaurants to tell them Gallego returned to Brazil temporarily and asked them not to terminate Gallego's employment.

In late July 2000, defendant wrote a letter to his supervisor at work requesting time off in August. He explained that his mother had terminal cancer, and despite the store's understaffing, his request for nearly a week of leave, from August 7–12, was granted. In fact, pursuant to the parties' stipulation, defendant's foster mother, Eva Nunn, did not have cancer or any other terminal illness, and he had not spoken with her in over three years.

In the months leading up to Gallego's disappearance, defendant began calling Wells Fargo Bank, where Gallego did her banking, to check on the status of her accounts. He called on June 20 and 28, 2000, and on July 18, 2000.

On August 12, 2000, defendant rented a U-Haul truck, which he parked overnight outside of his apartment. Later that day, defendant bought a "45-gallon roughneck trash can with wheels" and a hand drill at a Home Depot. He then went to a Wells Fargo Bank branch, where he cashed a $300 check written from Gallego's account to him.

The next morning, defendant purchased bolt cutters from a Home Depot store, where he also rented a Rug Doctor carpet cleaning machine. That evening, around 5:00 p.m., a man was seen parking a U-Haul next to dumpsters located outside a PetSmart. The U-Haul held garbage bags and a Rug Doctor carpet cleaning machine; the man was seen throwing two large garbage bags into a dumpster, flicking an object — later revealed to be a human fingertip — into the brush nearby, and driving away. That night, Josh Dubois, defendant's upstairs neighbor, heard a great deal of noise coming from defendant's apartment between 3:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. He testified he heard duct tape being torn off of a roll numerous times, as well as car doors opening and closing outside of the apartment's windows.

Around 11:30 a.m. on August 14, 2000, defendant visited a Wells Fargo Bank branch and attempted to cash a $350 check written from Gallego's account to him. The bank's computers were unable to process the check, and defendant left the bank without having completed the transaction.

That evening, defendant called Anna Ching, Yakimono's owner, to tell her Gallego's mother had had an accident in Brazil, and Gallego flew there temporarily. Defendant conveyed that Gallego needed her job and asked that Ching not terminate her employment. The next day defendant telephoned Loic Vacher, a manager at Café Chloe, and told him a similar story: that Gallego went to Brazil "because one of her parents was in the hospital" and that she planned to return and "didn't quit or something like that."

Early in the morning on August 14, 2000, Steve Gomez, a maintenance worker for a PetSmart shopping center, was looking through the dumpsters behind the PetSmart store, a practice he engaged in routinely to search for discarded items he could take home to his pet. That morning, as he looked through some discarded trash bags, he saw several fingertips. Gomez contacted his supervisor, Cauhtemoc Topete ("Temo"), who called law enforcement. Temo noted the fingers appeared to be burned, and Gomez believed the fingertips were feminine.

San Diego Police Officer Phillip Franchina responded to the PetSmart parking lot and saw "severed fingers" among the trash in the dumpsters. James Francis Hergenroeather, a homicide detective with the San Diego Police Department, responded to the PetSmart scene, where he removed and cataloged items found in and around the dumpsters. The items found included: eight fingertips found in and around the dumpsters;2 cigarettes and lighters; "two yellow rubber gloves with red stains"; a razor blade; an empty bottle of "Tile Action" cleaner; wet paper towels; duct tape packaging, tape, and bolt cutters with a Home Depot sticker attached; and a separate bag containing many items, among them a banana peel, a pair of jeans, a hand drill, a wet washcloth, and empty perfume bottles labeled "Bath and Body Works Splash Freesia" and "Dazzling Gold Estee Lauder."

Within the bag containing the banana peel, Detective Hergenroeather also found two pieces of paper with writing on them. The first paper read, "Please do not disturb. Sleeping. Thanx [sic]." The second was a handwritten "to-do" list, which included the following items and notations: "2-4am; M-Th; shaver cord; dish wash gloves; Adidas jacket; knit cap inside-out; long black nylon (Nike sweats); digi cam (scanner); cucumber; get info ? software for moving, altering, or enlarging photos; burn palms + face thoroughly; (small hand truck & drawer for extraction from apt.); 2 S.A.S.E. letters re: 11 day hiatus to visit w/ grieveng [sic] relatives; need these checks; 5-day hiatus for me; Su ? Th & slave screams; Ads in Reader + Internet Baby!!; on Aug. 2nd/10th/ & 15th; ensure 7,200.00 avail...; close all windows + kitchen; lock doors; on her stomach; (shave + plug a virgin pussy & clenching ass cheeks pound 'em); (rub your nuts ... lubed-up tits & lubed-up asshole!!!); (your nuts ...); (30 & afraid to take a dick — what a fuckin' joke)." The list also had a drawing on it showing two people lying on top of each other with the caption, "um you got daddy all big n wet, now let's spank that tight lil asshole."

On the morning of August 13, 2000, Dale Kaler noticed a mattress left in the roadway along the fence line of his neighbor, Scott Carroll's, house. Their daughters, who had been running a lemonade stand that day, noticed the mattress was bloodstained. Kaler and Carroll notified the San Diego Police Department, and officers responded.

On the evening of August 14, 2000, Debra Desrosiers was walking with a friend in her Carlsbad neighborhood when they noticed a duct-tape-wrapped trash can in a ditch off the road. The trash can was out of place, particularly in the well-manicured subdivision, so they decided to kick the trash can and noted it was heavy. Desrosiers's walking partner lifted the trash can's lid, and both women saw what appeared to be flesh and dark hair in the can and immediately called the police. A body was found in the trash can, ultimately identified as Gallego.

On August 15, 2000, defendant telephonically transferred the $4,670.02 balance of Gallego's savings account to her checking account. Later that day, he was arrested at the apartment he shared with Gallego.

Detectives Hergenroeather, Holmes, and Washington searched the home. The apartment looked clean, the windows were closed, and Gallego's bedroom and bathroom appeared to have been cleaned. In Gallego's bedroom, a bed frame and mattress were propped against a wall, and there was a...

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