People v. Rivera

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtKAUS; BIRD; GRODIN; MOSK; LUCAS
Citation221 Cal.Rptr. 562,710 P.2d 362,41 Cal.3d 388
Parties, 710 P.2d 362 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. David RIVERA, Defendant and Appellant. Crim. 24122.
Decision Date31 December 1985

Page 562

221 Cal.Rptr. 562
41 Cal.3d 388, 710 P.2d 362
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
David RIVERA, Defendant and Appellant.
Crim. 24122.
Supreme Court of California,
In Bank.
Dec. 31, 1985.

[41 Cal.3d 390]

Page 563

[710 P.2d 363] Jeffrey J. Gale, Sacramento, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for defendant and appellant.

John K. Van de Kamp, Atty. Gen., Robert B. Shaw, Deborah D. Factor and Jesus Rodriguez, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

Christopher N. Heard, San Jose, as amicus curiae for plaintiff and respondent.

KAUS, Justice. *

Defendant David Rivera appeals after a jury convicted him of murder (Pen.Code, § 187) and burglary (Pen.Code, § 459). We reverse for error in the admission of evidence of a prior charged robbery. (People v. Thompson (1980) 27 Cal.3d 303, 314, 165 Cal.Rptr. 289, 611 P.2d 883; People v. Haston (1968) 69 Cal.2d 233, 246, 70 Cal.Rptr. 419, 444 P.2d 91.)

[41 Cal.3d 391] On the night of June 12, 1981, four youths burglarized the Stop-N-Go Market in Rialto, San Bernardino County. Four 6-packs of beer were taken from the all-night convenience store. In the course of the getaway, one of the youths, Roland Paez, stabbed the murder victim, a customer at the market who gave chase and attempted to stop the thieves.

Cresencio Quiroz was one of the two youths who entered the store and took the beer. In a taped confession Quiroz implicated defendant Rivera. Later, in separate trials, Quiroz and Paez were convicted of first degree murder and burglary. David Rodriguez, the alleged driver of the getaway vehicle, pleaded guilty of being an accessory to murder.

Three months after the crime, defendant, then seventeen years old, was arrested at his home. He was advised of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694. On the [710 P.2d 364] way to the police station, defendant asked the arresting officer, Detective Shroads, to contact his father. At the station, after Miranda advisements were repeated, defendant denied responsibility for the burglary and killing and refused to take a polygraph test. Soon thereafter, however, he made a taped statement, confessing to the burglary, but insisting that he did not stab the victim. His description of the events surrounding the crimes matched that of the other perpetrators and the witnesses.

After the confession defendant met privately with his father and stepmother. About two hours after the interrogation he was transported to juvenile hall by Officer Joseph Cirilo. Cirilo had been on duty the night of the crime and had arrived at the scene before other officers, but had not

Page 564

seen the getaway car. As he and defendant drove to juvenile hall, Cirilo asked defendant "out of curiosity" which way the perpetrators had fled after the crime. Defendant responded by explaining their route.

Defendant was charged with murder on a felony-murder theory. He moved pretrial to suppress all statements made to the police on grounds there had been no adequate waiver of his Miranda rights. Applying the criteria enumerated in People v. Lara (1967) 67 Cal.2d 365, 62 Cal.Rptr. 586, 432 P.2d 202, the trial court found overwhelming evidence that defendant fully knew and understood the rights that he waived orally and in writing. The court denied the motion to suppress.

At trial, evidence of defendant's confession was introduced and Cirilo described his conversation with defendant. Defendant testified on his own behalf, insisting he had been at a party at his sister's house at the time of the incident. He claimed he knew of the crime because Paez bragged to him about it after the perpetrators returned to the party. He said he lied in his [41 Cal.3d 392] confession to Shroads because he wanted to "cover" the others and because he did not want to be labelled a "snitch." He stated that when he finally implicated Paez as the actual killer, he did so because he thought he might be able to avoid going to juvenile hall. He denied making any admissions to Officer Cirilo.

Upon conviction, defendant was found unamenable to treatment by the Youth Authority and was sentenced to state prison for a term of 25 years to life on the murder count, with a concurrent sentence on the burglary.

On appeal, defendant challenges the admission of his confession and the statement to Officer Cirilo as violative of his privilege against self-incrimination. He also contends that the confession was involuntary, motivated by promises made by the police. Additionally, defendant assigns error in the admission of a prior offense.

We address first the alleged error in the admission of the prior offense, an armed robbery committed about a year and a half before the instant offenses. Over defendant's objection, evidence of the prior offense was admitted on cross-examination. The prosecution offered the evidence to show identity, knowledge, and common scheme and design. (Evid.Code, § 1101, subd. (b).) 1 The trial court found the past and present crimes to have enough shared characteristics to permit introduction of the evidence to prove identity. We disagree.

In order for evidence of a prior crime to have a tendency to prove the defendant's identity as the perpetrator of the charged offense, the two acts must have enough shared characteristics to raise a strong inference that they were committed by the same person. It is not enough that the two acts contain common marks: "[T]he inference of identity arises when the marks common to the charged and uncharged offenses, considered singly or in combination, logically operate to set the [710 P.2d 365] charged and uncharged offenses apart from other crimes of the same general variety and, in so doing, tend to suggest that the perpetrator of the uncharged offenses was the perpetrator of the charged offenses." (People v. Haston, supra, 69 Cal.2d 233, 246, 70 Cal.Rptr. 419, 444 P.2d 91, italics added; accord, People v. Thompson, supra, 27 Cal.3d at p. 316, 165 Cal.Rptr. 289, 611 P.2d 883.)

In the present case the prosecution sought to justify the admission of the prior offense on the basis of the following "highly distinctive similarities" between the prior offense and the charged conduct: (1) both crimes [41 Cal.3d 393] occurred on a Friday night; (2) both occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m.; (3) both involved convenience markets; (4) both markets were in Rialto; (5) both markets were located on street corners; (6)

Page 565

both crimes involved three perpetrators; (7) both involved getaway vehicles; (8) prior to both crimes, two or three people were observed standing outside the store; (9) defendant used an alibi defense in both cases: when accused of the prior offense, he claimed to have been with his brother all night; in the current case he claims he spent the evening with his sister.

Taken alone or together, however, these characteristics are not sufficiently unique or distinctive so as to demonstrate a "signature" or other indication that defendant perpetrated both crimes. Convenience stores are often on street corners and are prime targets for crimes; undoubtedly many of these offenses occur late on Friday evenings and involve a getaway car and more than one perpetrator; finally, alibi is a common defense. Moreover, the dissimilarities between the two crimes are significant: (1) the prior offense was armed robbery, a crime against the person, whereas the charged offense was planned as a burglary, a crime against property; (2) the prior involved the taking of money, while the charged crime involved the taking of beer; (3) the coperpetrators in each case were different. In addition, in an attempt to reduce the prejudicial effect of the evidence, the court excluded any mention that guns were used in the prior offense, which further distinguishes it from the present crime, involving no such firearm. In short, the prior offense was a robbery at gunpoint; the charged crime was a "snatch" burglary plus a stabbing. In these circumstances it was error to allow the prior conviction into evidence.

Having found error in the admission of the prior offense, we must assess its prejudicial effect. For the purposes of our analysis, we assume no error in the admission of the confession and other statements made to the police. Nonetheless, it is reasonably probable that absent the admission of the prior robbery a result more favorable to defendant would have been reached. (People v. Watson (1956) 46 Cal.2d 818, 836-837, 299 P.2d 243.) Defendant testified he had lied to Shroads in order to "cover" for the other perpetrators and because he thought his cooperation would spare him from going to juvenile hall. Quiroz implicated defendant in his own confession; 2 but there was also evidence that Quiroz was a member of a rival gang, and an enemy of the defendant. Finally, no witnesses were able to identify defendant, and no physical evidence linked him with the crimes. Thus any evidence of defendant's prior criminal behavior could easily have influenced the jury to convict. 3 We therefore reverse the judgment.

[41 Cal.3d 394] Although we reverse on the above-stated grounds, for the guidance of the trial court in the event of a retrial we address defendant's challenge to the admissibility of the confession and subsequent statements to the police.

In pretrial proceedings and at trial, defendant sought to exclude the confession on grounds his waiver was not knowingly and intelligently made under the dictate of Miranda and, further, that the confession [710 P.2d 366] was involuntary in the traditional sense, motivated by promises made by the police. Defendant's request that Detective Shroads contact his father, made after arrest during transport to the station, was submitted merely as a factor to be considered in support of the dual challenge to the validity of theconfession. The specific objection that the request to contact his father constituted an invocation of the privilege against...

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50 practice notes
  • People v. Tapia, No. F017223
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 8, 1994
    ...Likewise here, the differences to which appellant points are not significant. Moreover, appellant's reliance on People v. Rivera (1985) 41 Cal.3d 388, 221 Cal.Rptr. 562, 710 P.2d 362, is misplaced. In Rivera, the uncharged crime was introduced to establish identity, not intent. Moreover, "t......
  • People v. Ruiz, Cr. 21370
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 29, 1988
    ...they were committed by the same person. It is not enough that the two claimed offenses share some common marks. (People v. Rivera (1985) 41 Cal.3d 388, 392, 221 Cal.Rptr. 562, 710 P.2d 362.) The long settled rule in California is that the "inference of identity arises when the marks common ......
  • People v. Medina, No. S012644
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 30, 1995
    ...380, 402-403, 27 Cal.Rptr.2d 646, 867 P.2d 757 [admissibility to show common plan or scheme]; [906 P.2d 33] People v. Rivera (1985) 41 Cal.3d 388, 392, 221 Cal.Rptr. 562, 710 P.2d Although defendant disputes the sufficiency of the People's showing of distinctive common marks, we think there......
  • People v. Huber
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 30, 1986
    ...the perpetrator of the charged offenses." (Id., 69 Cal.2d at pp. 245-246, 70 Cal.Rptr. 419, 444 P.2d 91; accord People v. Rivera (1985) 41 Cal.3d 388, [181 Cal.App.3d 621] 392, 221 Cal.Rptr. 562, 710 P.2d 362; People v. Alcala (1984) 36 Cal.3d at 604, 632, 205 Cal.Rptr. 775, 685 P.2d 1126; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
50 cases
  • People v. Tapia, No. F017223
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • June 8, 1994
    ...Likewise here, the differences to which appellant points are not significant. Moreover, appellant's reliance on People v. Rivera (1985) 41 Cal.3d 388, 221 Cal.Rptr. 562, 710 P.2d 362, is misplaced. In Rivera, the uncharged crime was introduced to establish identity, not intent. Moreover, "t......
  • People v. Ruiz, Cr. 21370
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 29, 1988
    ...they were committed by the same person. It is not enough that the two claimed offenses share some common marks. (People v. Rivera (1985) 41 Cal.3d 388, 392, 221 Cal.Rptr. 562, 710 P.2d 362.) The long settled rule in California is that the "inference of identity arises when the marks common ......
  • People v. Medina, No. S012644
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • November 30, 1995
    ...380, 402-403, 27 Cal.Rptr.2d 646, 867 P.2d 757 [admissibility to show common plan or scheme]; [906 P.2d 33] People v. Rivera (1985) 41 Cal.3d 388, 392, 221 Cal.Rptr. 562, 710 P.2d Although defendant disputes the sufficiency of the People's showing of distinctive common marks, we think there......
  • People v. Huber
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 30, 1986
    ...the perpetrator of the charged offenses." (Id., 69 Cal.2d at pp. 245-246, 70 Cal.Rptr. 419, 444 P.2d 91; accord People v. Rivera (1985) 41 Cal.3d 388, [181 Cal.App.3d 621] 392, 221 Cal.Rptr. 562, 710 P.2d 362; People v. Alcala (1984) 36 Cal.3d at 604, 632, 205 Cal.Rptr. 775, 685 P.2d 1126; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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