People v. Sanchez, Cr. 10070

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Citation70 Cal.2d 562,75 Cal.Rptr. 642,451 P.2d 74
Decision Date10 March 1969
Docket NumberCr. 10070
Parties, 451 P.2d 74 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Armando SANCHEZ, Defendant and Appellant.

Charles E. Voltz, San Francisco, under appointment by the Supreme Court, and Kenneth W. Graham, Jr., Los Angeles, for defendant and appellant.

Paul N. Halvonik and Marshall W. Krause, San Francisco, as amici curiae on behalf of defendant and appellant.

Thomas C. Lynch, Atty. Gen., Albert W. Harris, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert R. Granucci and Karl S. Mayer, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

SULLIVAN, Justice.

On application by defendant after our decision herein (People v. Sanchez (1967) 65 Cal.2d 814, 56 Cal.Rptr. 648, 423 P.2d 800), we granted his petition to recall the remittitur and vacated the decision wherein we had affirmed a judgment imposing the death penalty for a violation of Penal Code section 4500 (assault with deadly weapon by an inmate of a state prison undergoing a life sentence). 1 We took such action because the appellate record on which he had reviewed the trial proceedings was incomplete 2 in a respect which is critical to our determination as to whether defendant's extrajudicial confessions were voluntary.

We set forth the relevant facts. 3 On April 23, 1965, defendant, an inmate at the State Prison at San Quentin undergoing a life sentence, was assigned to work under the supervision of Ralph Canning in the prison clothing factory. Canning and Chester Malin were civilian foremen in the factory; Stanford Raymond, not present on the day in question, was superintendent. No correctional officers were assigned to the factory area.

During the noon lunch period Canning and Malin were eating together in the superintendent's office enclosure within the factory. Defendant while on his way to lunch learned from another inmate that Canning intended to write a report about defendant's involvement in a sex complaint. Upset by this information and unable to eat his lunch, defendant returned to the clothing factory and entered the superintendent's office to discuss the matter with Canning in Malin's presence. In the ensuing discussion, defendant denied complicity in any sex offense, while Canning insisted that it was nevertheless his duty to report the matter. During the conversation defendant seemed 'very irritated.' Canning refused to discuss the matter further during the lunch hour and defendant eventually returned to his assigned station in the factory. Defendant testified that when he commenced work at his machine he could not concentrate on the job. He made a cup of coffee, but could not concentrate on drinking it. While returning his cup to its place in a drawer, he found a knife there.

About 2 p.m. Malin was asked by another inmate to inspect a machine which was claimed to be malfunctioning. After testing it for a few minutes, Malin looked up to notice inmates gathered in the vicinity of the superintendent's office. Upon investigation he found Canning's body lying face down on the office floor. Defendant was standing 34--40 feet away with blood on his clothing. An autopsy subsequently revealed that Canning had suffered 16 stab wounds in the area between his upper chest and upper thighs, varying in depth up to three inches. Two of the wounds punctured the heart, causing death.

Sergeant Beighley, a correctional officer, was called and arrived within a few minutes. The officer, upon seeing the body, asked, 'Who did this?' Malin pointed to defendant, who was standing nearby. Beighley did not know defendant and had no recollection of having seen him before. He walked up to defendant who thereupon surrendered the knife. Beighley dropped it on the floor, placed his foot on it, and proceeded to search defendant for other weapons. He noticed that defendant's clothing was covered with blood. As he was searching defendant, Beighley inquired, 'Why did you do it?' Defendant replied, 'He was going to give me a sex beef.' Beighley rejoined: 'You have got something worse than a sex beef now.'

The other inmates then left the clothing factory. As they were checked out, Malin observed each one but saw no one with blood on his clothing.

About 2:30 p.m. defendant was brought to the captain of the prison's correctional officers, Captain Hocker, to be interrogated. The latter advised defendant that he had a right to remain silent and not answer any questions, that he had a right to an attorney if he so desired, and that anything he said could be used against him. Defendant nevertheless chose to tell Captain Hocker what had happened. He stated that some time after his first talk with Canning he armed himself with a weapon and again attempted, unsuccess fully, to discuss the matter of the report Canning proposed to make. He then stated that he commenced to stab his victim. The foregoing conversation was not recorded.

Between 3 and 3:30 p.m. a deputy district attorney accompanied by a stenographic reporter interrogated defendant. Upon being advised again of his constitutional rights, defendant requested the assistance of counsel, and an unsuccessful attempt was made to obtain one.

On the following day Captain Hocker and a Lieutenant Moody approached defendant and advised him of his rights to remain silent and to an attorney and cautioned that anything he said could be used against him. Defendant did not request an attorney and made statements at this interrogation which are consistent with those he made earlier in Captain Hocker's office.

Defendant took the stand to testify in his own behalf. He stated that after seeing the knife in the drawer as he was returning his coffee cup he blacked out and that he remembered nothing until he regained consciousness in the adjustment center shortly after his first interview with Captain Hocker. He testified further that he had a similar experience in 1958 when he assaulted an inmate. He was impeached to some extent, however, when he admitted on cross-examination that during the trial for the earlier assault he had described that attack in detail and when an investigating officer testified that defendant had related details of the prior attack to him soon after it occurred.

Defendant contends on appeal 4 (1) that there is insufficient evidence to establish that he acted with malice aforethought; (2) that he was mentally incapable of malicious conduct; (3) that the admission in evidence of his statement made to Sergeant Beighley constitutes reversible error under the rules announced in Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) 378 U.S. 478, 84 S.Ct. 1758, 12 L.Ed.2d 977 and People v. Dorado (1965) 62 Cal.2d 338, 42 Cal.Rptr. 169, 398 P.2d 361; 5 (4) that his confession made in Captain Hocker's office was involuntary; (5) that, even assuming it was voluntary and that he had been properly advised of his rights in accordance with Escobedo and Dorado, defendant, because of his then physical condition was unable to make an intelligent waver of such rights; (6) that defendant's confession at the prison hospital was involuntary; (7) that the trial court committed prejudicial error in admitting in evidence, over defendant's objections, certain photographs of the victim's body; (8) that the trial court committed prejudicial error by failing to instruct the jury on diminished capacity with respect to malice aforethought; (9) that the prosecutor committed prejudicial misconduct during his closing argument to the jury; (10) that the denial of appointed counsel for defendant in connection with his post-conviction remedies constituted a denial of due process and equal protection of law; (11) that the exclusion from the trial jury of persons opposed to the death penalty denied defendant his rights guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution; and (12) that the application of the mandatory death penalty to Penal Code section 4500 constitutes a denial of equal protection of law. As we shall explain, we have concluded that, on the record which has been made complete since our first opinion, defendant's fourth contention above has merit and his conviction should be reversed. In view of this conclusion, we deem it unnecessary to discuss defendant's other contentions.

We have no doubt that, if our inquiry were confined to the testimony of Captain Hocker as to events transpiring in his office, which testimony is corroborated by that of defendant on Voir dire, we would be compelled to the conclusion that the confession was properly received. Thus, as we have noted, Captain Hocker advised defendant of his constitutional rights in the manner required by Dorado, and defendant personally testified that the captain made no threats or promises which tended to induce the statements defendant made; that defendant understood these warnings; that he knew he had the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent if he chose to do so; that he knew that anything he might say could be used against him, but that he told Captain Hocker he wanted to talk about what happened in the clothing factory; and that he told the captain the truth of what had happened. 6

There are, however, other matters which bear on the admissibility of the confession. When the prosecution proposed that Captain Hocker testify as to the content of the conversation in his office, defense counsel objected on the ground of involuntariness based on events taking place immediately Before defendant entered the office. On Voir dire the captain then testified that at the time defendant entered the office he 'appeared to have sustained an injury' about the face, and 'was bleeding slightly from the nose.' When the captain had seen the defendant a few minutes before the interview while he was being taken from the clothing factory to the prison adjustment center, no injuries were apparent. Defendant testified on Voir dire that his first recollection after the...

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