People v. Silveria

Decision Date13 August 2020
Docket NumberS062417
Citation10 Cal.5th 195,471 P.3d 412,267 Cal.Rptr.3d 303
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Daniel Todd SILVERIA and John Raymond Travis, Defendants and Appellants.

Michael Hersek and Mary K. McComb, State Public Defenders, under appointments by the Supreme Court, John Fresquez, Timothy Foley, Jessica K. McGuire and Kristin Traicoff, Deputy State Public Defenders, for Defendant and Appellant Daniel Todd Silveria.

Mark E. Cutler, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant John Raymond Travis.

Kamala D. Harris and Xavier Becerra, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette and Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorneys General, Jeffrey M. Laurence, Assistant Attorney General, Alice B. Lustre and Arthur P. Beever, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

Opinion of the Court by Groban, J.

Defendants Daniel Todd Silveria and John Raymond Travis were convicted by separate juries1 of the first degree murder and second degree robbery of James Madden, and the second degree burglary of a LeeWards crafts store. ( Pen. Code,2 § 187, subd. (a), former §§ 189, 211, 212.5, subd. (b), 459, 460.2.) The juries also found true robbery-murder and burglary-murder special-circumstance allegations and an allegation that defendants personally used a knife in committing the murder.3 (Former §§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17), 12022, subd. (b).) Silveria was also convicted of the second degree robberies of Ben Graber at Gavilan Bottle Shop and Ramsis Youssef at Quik Stop Market, and stipulated that on May 2, 1995, he had pled guilty to the second degree burglary of Sportsmen's Supply. (§§ 211, former §§ 212.5, subd. (b), 459, 460, subd. 2.)

Silveria and Travis also had separate penalty juries. Each jury deadlocked, and the court declared mistrials. Defendants were retried before a single penalty jury, the jury returned death verdicts, and the trial court entered judgments of death. This appeal is automatic. ( Cal. Const., art. VI, § 11, subd. (a); § 1239, subd. (b).) For the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgments.


On the night of January 28, 1991, Silveria, Travis, Christopher Spencer, Matthew Jennings, and Troy Rackley, a juvenile, robbed and killed James Madden while he was working as the manager of a LeeWards crafts store in Santa Clara County. The indictment charged all four adult perpetrators, but the cases of Spencer and Jennings were severed.

A. Guilt Phase

During interviews with different law enforcement officers, Silveria and Travis waived their Miranda rights, and ultimately confessed their involvement in Madden's murder, including the circumstances that both men had stabbed Madden and Silveria had used a stun gun on him. ( Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, 444–445, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694.) Silveria also confessed his involvement in several other crimes, including the burglary of a gun store in which coperpetrator Jennings had obtained a stun gun, the Quik Stop robbery, and the robbery of a liquor store on Blossom Hill Road in which Silveria had used the stun gun. Each defendant's statement was played for his jury.

1. Prosecution Evidence
a. Theft of stun gun and stun gun robberies

On January 24, 1991, about 1:00 a.m., a PARALI/AZER stun gun was taken during a burglary of a Sportsmen's Supply tackle and gun store located in an unincorporated area of Santa Clara County. About an hour later, at 2:20 a.m., Silveria, Rackley, and Jennings robbed Ramsis Youssef, a cashier at a Quik Stop Market located in San Jose. Rackley used a stun gun on Youssef during the robbery. A videotape of the crime was played for the jury. About 10:00 p.m. that night, Silveria, Rackley, and Jennings robbed Ben Graber, a temporary assistant at the Gavilan Bottle Shop, which was located on Blossom Hill Road in San Jose. A stun gun was used on Graber.

b. Madden's murder

Silveria and Travis were hired to work for Madden at the LeeWards crafts store on September 3, 1990. They failed to appear for three consecutive scheduled shifts, and were permitted to resign rather than be terminated on November 15, 1990.

On the night of January 28, 1991, Silveria, Travis, Spencer, Jennings, and Rackley drove to LeeWards to rob the store. Madden's truck was parked in the back lot and Spencer slashed the tire in order to prevent Madden from leaving. Silveria and Travis watched the front of the store until the last customer and the cleaning crew had left and Madden had locked the front doors. Silveria and Spencer then surprised Madden as he left the store by the back door. Madden was led back inside and ordered to turn off the store alarm. He was unsuccessful in doing so, and the alarm was triggered at 10:53 p.m.

Silveria instructed Madden to open the safe and remove the money. The money was placed into a duffel bag. Silveria and Travis bound Madden's hands and feet respectively together with silver duct tape. At 11:02 p.m., a Honeywell Protection Services operator dispatcher called Madden, and he gave her the pass card number to clear the alarm. Madden's mouth was then taped. Silveria held the duffel bag and repeatedly said, "Let's go." Travis said, "[N]o," and told Spencer to kill Madden. Spencer slit Madden's throat with a knife, and he and Travis repeatedly stabbed Madden. Silveria then stabbed Madden once, and used the stun gun on him. The five perpetrators fled to a Redwood City motel where they divided the money from the robbery.

About 8:00 a.m. the next morning, Madden's body was discovered in the store. Travis later told law enforcement officers that all of the perpetrators knew when they went to LeeWards they would have to kill Madden. The perpetrators chose LeeWards because it excited everyone to kill Madden. If one of the female supervisors had been present instead, Travis would have simply tied her up because he "got along with all the women over there."

Later that day Silveria purchased a Honda Civic and he and Travis purchased a Datsun 280Z; both vehicle down payments were in cash. On a Tuesday in January 1991, Silveria showed his friend Gregg Orlando a wad of cash, and said, "We killed somebody last night."4 On the night of January 29, 1991, Silveria and Travis were arrested in the Oakridge Mall parking lot. A PARALI/AZER stun gun, silver duct tape, and $694 were found in Silveria's vehicle.

The cause of Madden's death was 32 stab wounds to his neck, chest, and abdomen. Forensic pathologist Dr. Parviz Pakdaman, who performed Madden's autopsy, opined Madden was alive when some of the wounds to his neck and chest were inflicted. Dr. Robert Stratbucker, a medical doctor and biomedical engineer, testified that a stun gun generally causes "a very intense kind of ... sharp pain."

2. Defense Evidence

In Silveria's statement to police, he told officers that he had placed jeans, L.A. Gear shoes, and a T-shirt that he had worn during Madden's murder in an Oakridge Mall garbage can. At trial, Silveria called only one witness, Elizabeth Skinner, a Santa Clara County crime lab criminalist, apparently to attempt to demonstrate that Silveria had a minimal role in the murder. Skinner testified that she had received from the Santa Clara Police Department a T-shirt, Levi's, and a pair of L.A. Gear shoes, that she was told were found in an Oakridge Mall dumpster, to test for the presence of blood. No blood was detected on the T-shirt or the shoes. A small spot on the Levi's tested presumptively positive for the presence of blood, but Skinner could not ascertain whether the stain was human blood. Skinner also tested shoes and jeans that she had been told had been collected at some point from Travis. She found human blood on the shoes and inside a front pocket of the jeans.

Travis presented no defense evidence.

B. Penalty Retrial

Many of the individuals discussed in the testimony shared the same surname, so for clarity, we use first names to identify certain witnesses.

1. Prosecution Evidence

Much of the guilt phase evidence regarding Madden's murder, the Sportsmen's Supply burglary, and the Graber and Youssef stun gun robberies was introduced at the 1997 penalty retrial. Evidence of Travis's 1990 first degree burglary conviction was also admitted. (Former §§ 459, 460, subd. 1.)

a. Silveria's former testimony

Silveria's statement to law enforcement was not admitted, but portions of Silveria's first penalty phase testimony were read to the jury.

Silveria had worked at LeeWards from early September 1990 to Thanksgiving of 1990, and was instrumental in Travis being hired there. At times during this period, Silveria was homeless and used marijuana and methamphetamine.

Silveria described Madden as "just a really nice guy." Madden's wife and young daughter occasionally visited him at the store. Silveria was terminated by Madden because of his work absences, but Madden allowed him to resign so that his future employment would not be adversely affected. Silveria then went to work at Toys "R" Us apparently for the Christmas holiday season.

On January 26, 1991, the Saturday before the capital crime was committed, Travis was adamant that "Madden [would] need[ ] to be killed because he could identify us." Silveria saw no need for anyone in the store to be harmed, and was "taken aback," and immediately protested. Silveria and Travis debated the point. Silveria was feeling "horribly sick" that night, and left the discussion to lie down. His illness was not related to the discussion of killing Madden.

On Sunday, January 27, while Silveria was still "very sick," the topic of killing Madden arose again. Spencer held a knife and said he would be willing to stab Madden. Silveria did not intend to kill Madden and did not believe his coperpetrators would actually do so because they were not generally violent. Although Silveria initially suggested wearing disguises, the perpetrators did not do so. Silveria was ultimately not concerned if he was identified during the...

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