People v. Samayoa, S006284

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation938 P.2d 2,15 Cal.4th 795,64 Cal.Rptr.2d 400
Decision Date19 June 1997
Docket NumberNo. S006284,S006284
Parties, 938 P.2d 2, 97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4760, 97 Daily Journal D.A.R. 7699 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Richard Gonzales SAMAYOA, Defendant and Appellant.

Page 400

64 Cal.Rptr.2d 400
15 Cal.4th 795, 938 P.2d 2, 97 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4760,
97 Daily Journal D.A.R. 7699
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
Richard Gonzales SAMAYOA, Defendant and Appellant.
No. S006284.
Supreme Court of California.
June 19, 1997.
As Modified on Denial of Rehearing Aug. 13, 1997.

Page 411

[15 Cal.4th 810] [938 P.2d 13] Susan D. Shors, under appointment by the Supreme Court, San Francisco, for Defendant and Appellant.

Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General, George Williamson, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, Holly D. Wilkens, William M. Wood and John T. Swan, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

GEORGE, Chief Justice.

Following the guilt phase of a jury trial, defendant Richard Gonzales Samayoa was convicted of two counts of first degree murder (Pen.Code, §§ 187, 189) 1 and one count of residential burglary (§ 459). A jury found true the allegations that defendant used a deadly weapon (a wrench) during the commission of the crimes (§ 12022, subd. (b)), had served three prior prison terms (§ 667.5, subd. (b)), and previously had been convicted of two serious felonies (§ 667, subd. (a)). The jury also found true one multiple-murder special-circumstance allegation--i.e., that in the present proceeding defendant was convicted of more than one offense of murder (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)), and two felony-murder special circumstances--i.e., that each murder was committed in the course of a burglary (§ 190.2, former subd. (a)(17)(vii)). Following the penalty phase of the trial, the jury returned a verdict imposing a sentence of death.

We conclude that the judgment must be affirmed in its entirety.

15 Cal.4th 811


A. The Guilt Phase Evidence

1. The prosecution case

(a) Evidence of the commission of the crimes

In December 1985 Nelia Silva resided with her husband, Ronaldo, and their two-year-old daughter, Katherine, on Piedra Street in Southeast San Diego. Defendant lived across the street from the Silva family. On the morning of December 18, 1985, Ronaldo Silva walked his daughter across the street to a babysitter's home and left his daughter there. At approximately 6 p.m., Mrs. Silva returned from work and picked up her daughter from the babysitter.

Page 412

[938 P.2d 14] Mr. Silva arrived home at approximately 7:30 p.m. that evening. He opened the garage door, observed his wife's car parked in the garage, and smelled smoke. He entered the kitchen through the interior garage door and found smoke spewing from the stove top where food was burning. After calling out for his wife and receiving no response, he looked down the hallway and saw the bodies of his wife and daughter lying on the floor in pools of blood. After touching his wife and daughter, he realized they were dead and ran outside seeking help. At 8 p.m., San Diego Police Department officers arrived at the Silva residence and entered through the garage. They discovered the bodies of a small child and a woman lying in the hallway. The child was nude from the waist down, with a large indentation in her head. The woman also was nude from the waist down, wearing only a shirt, and her face was smashed.

Outside the residence, Mr. Silva was comforted by Raul and Deana Samayoa, defendant's brother and sister. Raul and defendant lived across the street with their mother and other members of the Samayoa family.

Detective Richard Carey of the San Diego Police Department arrived at the scene at 9:35 p.m. Approaching the hallway from the kitchen, he observed large pools of blood in the area of the woman's body and the child's head, and blood spattered on the walls and in the three bedrooms off the hallway.

That evening a police department technician searched the area surrounding the Silva residence. He found a wrench and several pieces of jewelry on the ground near an area spattered with blood. He was unable to lift fingerprints from the wrench, the jewelry, or the interior of the residence. Missing from the house were a jewelry box and jewelry, and Mrs. Silva's purse.

[15 Cal.4th 812] Blood samples taken from the two victims and from defendant all were determined to be type A. Mr. Silva knew of defendant, but neither he, nor to his knowledge his wife, ever had spoken with him.

A forensic pathologist, Dr. Robert Bucklin, performed autopsies on both victims. Mrs. Silva's arms, hands, and fingers were covered with multiple bruises and abrasions. She had been struck with blunt force on the head and neck approximately 24 times. Multiple blunt lacerations covered both sides of her head and scalp. Dr. Bucklin testified that a blunt laceration is a crushing type of injury made with a heavy force without a sharp edge. Her jaw bones and teeth were fractured and the left cheek bone was crushed. The eyes were crushed around the orbital ridges on both sides. Upon removal of the scalp, the pathologist observed several skull fractures, one of which had caused a piece of bone to penetrate the brain, and another serious fracture along the skull base that was caused by extensive force.

The pathologist testified that Mrs. Silva would have died within several minutes following the infliction of her injuries. He further testified that the wrench (recovered from outside the residence) was consistent with and could have been the instrument that caused the injuries.

The autopsy of Katherine revealed three injuries, all blunt lacerations of the scalp. One injury on the right side was two inches long and penetrated the skull into the brain, producing hemorrhaging. The most severe injury fractured the skull base. The brain contusions caused hemorrhaging and edema. The wrench was consistent with, and could have been, the instrument that caused the injuries.

A criminalist with the district attorney's office developed a crime scene reconstruction, determining that Mrs. Silva had received many blows while she was lying on the floor. Katherine had been struck once while near the left leg of her mother and then moved along the hallway, smearing blood on the wall, where she was struck again.

Following the commission of the crimes, defendant gave various items of jewelry to family members. He gave his mother, Mercedes Samayoa, a hair comb, and gave his sister, Deana, a pearl necklace and a bracelet. Defendant's other sister, Inez Sykes, found a man's diamond gold ring sitting on her bathroom counter. Defendant told her that the ring belonged to him. Each of these items of jewelry later was identified as belonging to Mr. or Mrs. Silva.

Page 413

[938 P.2d 15] In January 1986, following defendant's arrest for a violation of his parole in another criminal case, his mother and his sister alerted the police that [15 Cal.4th 813] defendant had given them items of jewelry. On January 20, 1986, Officers Art Beaudry and Ronald Jordan met with defendant's mother, brother, and sisters at the Samayoa residence and collected the jewelry. After the officers informed the Samayoas that a jewelry box also was missing, Raul Samayoa discovered it wrapped in a blanket under a shed in the Samayoa backyard. When shown the wrench that was discovered outside the Silva residence, Raul Samayoa told the officers that it appeared similar to the one he had kept in his tool shed.

(b) Defendant's confessions to the commission of the crimes

The first interview:

On January 31, 1986, two days after defendant was arrested by his parole officer, he was interviewed by Officers Patrick Padillo and Jordan at a jail facility (he was not under arrest for the murders at this time). At the hearing on defendant's motion to exclude evidence of the ensuing confessions, Officer Jordan, who conducted the interview, testified that he knew defendant from previous contacts arising from defendant's past criminal activities. He asked whether defendant recognized him. Defendant replied that he recognized the police officer but did not recall his name. Officer Jordan told defendant he wished to question him concerning the murders that had been committed across the street from defendant's residence, and also stated that evidence had been found at the crime scene linking defendant to the homicides. Defendant denied any involvement in the murders, stating that he knew the Silvas but had never been inside their home. Officer Jordan then advised defendant of his Miranda rights (Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694), reading from a standard admonition card that he carried with him. 2 He asked whether defendant was willing to speak with the officers, and defendant replied, "Sure." During the interview, Officer Padillo took notes, interrupting intermittently in order to write down verbatim what was said, and by whom.

[15 Cal.4th 814] When Officer Jordan told defendant that hairs had been found linking him to the homicides, defendant again denied any involvement. 3 When shown a photograph of the wrench, defendant said he did not recognize it. When shown the jewelry, defendant said that he had obtained the jewelry from a friend who recently had been released from jail.

At this point, Officer Jordan asked whether he could tape-record the interview. Defendant refused. Officer Jordan then stated, "She was a fighter, wasn't she?" Defendant nodded his head affirmatively. He then related that on the day of the murders, when he saw Mrs. Silva leave her residence and walk across the street, he decided to enter the residence through the open garage door. He went into a bedroom and took the jewelry box. When leaving the bedroom, he was confronted by Mrs. Silva, holding a child. Surprised, he struck out at the infant with the wrench. Mrs. Silva held onto defendant, pulling at his shirt. According to defendant, he assaulted her two or three times and struck the infant once. He claimed he did not strike Mrs. Silva while she was lying on the ground. Defendant said he removed the sweatpants she was wearing so that the...

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