People v. Staden, A111629 (Cal. App. 2/7/2008), A111629

Decision Date07 February 2008
Docket NumberA111629
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
PartiesTHE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. KURT D. VON STADEN, Defendant and Appellant.


Following a jury trial in three separate cases which were consolidated for trial, defendant was convicted of two counts of possession of methamphetamine (Health & Saf. Code, § 11377, subd. (a)), carrying a concealed dirk or dagger (Pen. Code, § 12020, subd. (a)), along with two misdemeanor offenses: unlawful display of evidence of registration to a peace officer (Veh. Code, § 4462.5), and possession of an unlawful smoking device (Health & Saf. Code, § 11364).1 In another case separately and subsequently tried before a jury he was found guilty of burglary (Pen. Code, § 459), and grand theft (Pen. Code, § 487, subd. (a)).2 The jury in one proceeding and the trial court in another found that he sustained multiple prior felony convictions within the meaning of sections 1203 and 1170.12, and committed offenses while released on bail (§ 12022.1). In a single sentencing proceeding he was sentenced under the three strikes law to an aggregate term of 39 years and 8 months to life in state prison. Defendant was also ordered to pay multiple restitution fines, parole revocation fines and court security fees (§§ 1202.4, 1202.45, 1465.8.)

In this appeal defendant complains of multiple errors committed during the two trials: evidence of prior convictions was erroneously admitted; instructional errors were made related to the burglary and carrying a concealed dagger charges; he was improperly denied a jury trial or an opportunity to present a defense on one of the prior strike allegations; and the finding of a prior strike conviction is not supported by the evidence. He also claims that sentencing errors occurred: an upper term was imposed in violation of Blakely v. Washington (2004) 542 U.S. 296 (Blakely), and Cunningham v. California (2007) 549 U.S. ___ [166 L.Ed.2d 856, 127 S.Ct. 856] (Cunningham); multiple restitution fines were erroneously imposed in the consolidated case; and the order to pay court security fees violated ex post facto proscriptions and section 3. We conclude that no prejudicial errors occurred in either the two trials or in the sentencing of defendant, and affirm the judgment.

Case Number SC122889A

While Deputy Michael Brovelli of the Marin County Sheriff's Office was on patrol at about 12:30 a.m. on November 22, 2001, he noticed a black Corvette that did not have a license plate lamp. Brovelli detained the Corvette, which was driven by defendant; a woman identified as Danielle Hoff occupied the front passenger seat. After defendant was unable to produce a driver's license, registration or proof of insurance, Deputy Brovelli conducted a "warrant search" and discovered that his driver's license was suspended. Defendant was arrested, handcuffed and pat searched. The deputy felt a "hard object" on defendant's waistband "which was concealed by his shirt." After lifting the shirt, Deputy Brovelli discovered that the object "was a dirk" inside a sheath.

During a search of the Corvette, Deputy Brovelli discovered a "counterfeit registration tab" affixed to the rear window of the vehicle. A "clear plastic bag with a white crystal-like substance inside of it" that was subsequently identified as methamphetamine was found between the driver's seat and the center console. A bag seized from the rear seat contained hypodermic needles, a marijuana pipe and some cotton balls. Hoff stated that the bag belonged to her, and she was subsequently arrested for possession of hypodermic syringes.

Defendant was transported to the police station, where he agreed to talk to Deputy Brovelli. When asked about the dirk, defendant said that it "came from Pakistan," and he carried it "for no particular reason." He indicated that a friend gave him the "fake registration" about six weeks before, and he knew nothing more about it. Defendant also stated that he "didn't know anything about any drugs" found in the plastic bag.

Case Number SC124442A

On May 14, 2002, at about 6:00 p.m., as Sergeant Jeff Edwards of the Marin County Sheriff's Office drove through the intersection of Park Street and San Geronimo Valley Road, he observed defendant working on the engine of a red Corvette. Although the Corvette had a "2002 tab" on the license plate, the registration had expired in 1994. Sergeant Edwards contacted defendant, who stated that he "had just purchased the car a few months ago," and the "2002 tab was on the vehicle when he had purchased it." The officer then conducted a consent search of defendant and the Corvette. Edwards observed a Marlboro cigarette box on the front passenger seat; inside it was a plastic baggie that contained a "white, powdery substance." The officer suspected that the powder was methamphetamine or cocaine, but when asked defendant said "it was battery acid." Edwards conducted an "NIK field test" which was "presumptive positive" for methamphetamine.4 Defendant was placed under arrest. When asked about the methamphetamine, defendant said, "What's there to talk about?"

As he arranged for the red Corvette to be towed, Sergeant Edwards discovered that the VIN on the vehicle did not match the VIN of the license plate, and the license plate "was registered to a subject out of Santa Rosa." When asked about the discrepancy defendant said that he owned "five different Chevy Corvettes, and that he had switched the [license] plates so he could drive that car around for the day."

Case Number SC126580A

Defendant was detained by two San Rafael Police Department officers on the morning of October 10, 2002, as he drove a black Corvette on A Street in San Rafael. Officer Ray Fernandez recognized defendant as the driver of the Corvette. He also noticed that defendant was wearing a long leather jacket. Defendant stepped out of the vehicle and onto the sidewalk to be pat searched as requested by Officer Fernandez. During the pat search the officer detected two hard objects in the right pocket of the jacket: one square in shape, which turned out to be a pack of cigarettes; and the other cylindrical, which the officer recognized as a glass drug pipe. When Officer Fernandez asked defendant if "he had the drugs that went with the pipe," defendant motioned to the right pocket of his jacket. The officer extracted a "baggie of suspected narcotics" out of the jacket pocket, which testing revealed to be 2.38 grams of methamphetamine, along with a silver cigarette lighter. Inside the Corvette the officer found a shirt, a wallet that contained $280 in cash, and a black, hand-held drug scale. When questioned later at the police station defendant admitted that the drug pipe and drugs were "for his own use." Defendant added that he "had been addicted to methamphetamine for about three years."

Case Number SC136369B

The burglary and grand theft offenses occurred on Sunday, July 18, 2004, at a vacant residence owned by Martha Thomson at 71 Casneau Avenue in San Rafael. Martha Thomson and her late husband Walter lived in the house for many years, but it had been empty for the past five years before the burglary. The Thomsons' son Paul had been "keeping an eye" one the house and "cleaning up" every weekend beginning in February of 2004. The house was filled with the Thomsons' personal belongings, some valuables, and furniture. On Sunday, July 11th, Paul visited the house, cleaned up, then locked the front door and secured the windows before he left.

On the afternoon of July 18, 2004, a neighbor, Jenny Gaetani, and her friend Janet Chapman, observed two women on the porch of Thomsons' residence as they climbed into the house through a window. The women were carrying shopping bags. After one of the women disappeared into the house, Chapman and Gaetani yelled at the other, "What do you think you're doing?" One of the women began to leave, and said to the other, "We've got to get out of here." Another neighbor "came running up with a telephone" when Gaetani asked for help.

As the two women were walking down the driveway Gaetani again asked, "What are you doing?" They replied, "we're here to clean the Thomsons' house," and claimed they were "working for somebody by the name of Jeff Brown." They continued to walk down the street, past two parked cars, a silver Corvette registered to defendant, and a yellow pickup truck with Oregon license plates. The women then turned around, entered a yellow pickup truck, and began to drive away. Gaetani "stopped them" and asked where they were going. They said "down the hill to call this Jeff Brown," so Gaetani "let them go," although she "jotted down the license plate" of the yellow pickup truck and gave it to the police.

As Gaetani was on the phone with the police, "two men came out from the Thomsons' driveway," defendant and Keith Tadder, and "started walking up the hill." One of the men was carrying a backpack over his shoulder that "looked like it had stuff in it." Gaetani yelled at them to "stop," but they "just kept on walking." In response to Gaetani's query, defendant said that he was "not Jeff Brown," but rather was "Mr. Thomson's son," which Gaetani's husband knew to be untrue.

Before the two men reached the silver Corvette that had been parked next to the yellow pickup truck, police cars arrived. Gaetani said, "Those are the men. Go get them." The two men were detained and pat searched by the police. Tadder possessed a "very high tech" silver lighter and a "formal butter knife," but neither he nor defendant had any weapons. Defendant was carrying two nylon bags which "appeared to be full." He put the bags on the ground when confronted by the police. Defendant and Tadder were then handcuffed and placed in different police cars while an investigation at the scene...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT