People v. Stankewitz

Decision Date05 August 1982
Docket NumberC,Cr. 20705
Citation32 Cal.3d 80,184 Cal.Rptr. 611,648 P.2d 578
CourtCalifornia Supreme Court
Parties, 648 P.2d 578, 23 A.L.R.4th 476 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Douglas Ray STANKEWITZ, Defendant and Appellant. In re Douglas Ray STANKEWITZ on Habeas Corpus. r. 21310.

Quin Denvir, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, and Steven W. Parnes, Deputy State Public Defender, for defendant and appellant.

George Deukmejian, Atty. Gen., Robert H. Philibosian, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Arnold O. Overoye, Asst. Atty. Gen., Paul V. Bishop, Edmund D. McMurray, Garrett Beaumont and Robert D. Marshall, Deputy Attys. Gen., for plaintiff and respondent.

BIRD, Chief Justice.

This case is before the court on automatic appeal. (Pen.Code, § 1239, subd. (b).) 1 Appellant was convicted of the murder, kidnap and robbery of Theresa Greybeal. (§§ 187, 207, 211.) The jury also found to be true two special circumstances, that the murder was willful, deliberate, and premeditated and was committed during the commission or attempted commission of (1) robbery and (2) kidnaping. (Former § 190.2, subds. (c)(3)(i) and (ii).) 2 A judgment of death was imposed.


Late in the evening of February 7, 1978, the 19-year-old appellant left Sacramento with his mother and brother, an older man named J. C., and three young companions, Teena Topping, Marlin Lewis and 14-year-old Billy Bob Brown. Appellant was driving and the group's destination was Fresno.

They reached Manteca about 1 a. m. on February 8, and stopped at a 7-11 store for oil. Manteca police saw the car "irregularly parked" and ran a check on the license plate. Incorrect information was received that the vehicle had been stolen. 3 Several officers approached the car with drawn guns and frisked several of the occupants. The police officers told the group that they suspected that the car was stolen, and requested that they follow the officers to the Manteca police station. After several hours at the station, during which the police were unable to confirm the status of the vehicle, the group was told it was free to leave, but that the car was being impounded. Appellant asked directions to the local bus depot.

The group then went to an all-night doughnut shop near the bus station which was not yet open. After two hours had passed, appellant and J. C. left for about fifteen minutes. When they returned, Billy Bob Brown saw appellant give Teena Topping a pistol, and heard him tell her to place it in a bag.

About 8 or 9 a. m., the group went to the bus station. After several hours of waiting, appellant, Brown, Lewis and Topping decided to try to hitchhike. Appellant's mother and brother and J. C. remained at the bus station. Appellant and his three friends succeeded in hitchhiking as far as Modesto, but were unable to obtain a ride any farther. When the weather turned rainy and cold, the four walked to a nearby K-Mart store, where they stayed for several hours. Appellant indicated he would hot wire a car so the group could steal it and drive it to Fresno, but a search of the K-Mart parking lot for an unlocked car was apparently unsuccessful. Brown's sister in Fresno was called, but she would not come and pick up the group unless they made it as far as Merced.

A plan was formed to follow a K-Mart shopper to her car and then steal it. About 5 p. m., Theresa Greybeal left the store, followed by appellant, Lewis and Topping. When Ms. Greybeal entered her car, Teena Topping pushed her over and got into the driver's seat. Lewis jumped in the back seat and opened the passenger door for appellant. Appellant pulled a pistol on Ms. Greybeal, and Lewis brandished a knife as Brown also got in the car. Topping drove the car to the freeway, where she turned south towards Fresno.

Once on the freeway, appellant told Ms. Greybeal not to worry because they were going to let her out in Fresno. Ms. Greybeal, who had been crying, calmed down somewhat and remarked that this would not have happened if she had her dog with her. Appellant displayed the holstered pistol and said, "This would have took care of your dog." Appellant then passed the pistol back to Lewis, who thereafter held it against Ms. Greybeal's back. Topping asked for money, and Ms. Greybeal handed $32 to Lewis. She also gave Topping her wristwatch, with the comment that insurance would cover the loss.

After a drive of between one and one-half to two hours, the group arrived in Fresno and drove to a bar known as the "Joy and Joy." Teena Topping went into the bar and returned a few minutes later with a woman named Christine Menchaca. Menchaca got into the car and suggested going to the Olympic Hotel, which was around the corner from the Joy and Joy. Topping and Menchaca went in first, then returned after several minutes to get appellant. Several minutes after the three had re-entered the hotel, appellant returned and retrieved the pistol from Lewis. A few minutes later, appellant, Topping and Menchaca returned to the car. Appellant then appeared to be moving more slowly, in a generally tired condition, with glassy, droopy eyes.

After their return to the car, appellant and Teena Topping indicated they wanted to go to Calwa to "pick up," a term indicating they would obtain heroin. The car was driven to a street corner in Calwa. There, Topping told the others to get out and wait because she did not want anyone present when they went to "pick up." Appellant, Ms. Greybeal, Brown and Lewis got out of the car. Then Topping told Brown to get back in. From inside the car, Brown saw appellant walk toward Ms. Greybeal, who was standing to the rear of the car, looking away. Appellant raised the pistol with his left hand, steadied it with his right hand and shot her in the head from a distance of one foot. Ms. Greybeal fell to the ground, fatally wounded.

Appellant returned to the car and said to Lewis: "Did I drop her or did I drop her." Lewis replied, "You dropped her," and both laughed. As the car was driven from the scene, appellant cautioned Topping to slow down so they would not get caught. Appellant also inquired where the victim's purse was. Someone responded that it was not in the car. Lewis then said: "We made a big mistake."

After returning to Fresno, Christine Menchaca suggested going to the Seven Seas bar where she would try to sell the victim's watch. Appellant told her to try to get $60 for it. While Menchaca and Lewis were in the bar, police officers approached and asked the occupants for their names and identification. After some brief questioning, the officers left.

When Menchaca and Lewis returned from the bar, appellant suggested going to a house in Clovis where he was supposed to meet his mother. At the house, appellant tried unsuccessfully to sell the victim's watch. A girl came out and told 14-year-old Brown that his mother had put out a missing person's report on him. Brown asked to be driven home to Pinedale.

When he arrived home, Brown began to cry and told his mother what had happened. She called the police who came and took a statement from Brown. At 11 that evening, police saw Ms. Greybeal's car near the Olympic Hotel and arrested appellant, Topping, and Lewis, who were in possession of the car. The pistol that had been used to kill Ms. Greybeal was found in the car, and her watch was found in the jacket of Christine Menchaca, who was arrested nearby.

The foregoing account of the murder came primarily from Billy Bob Brown, an accomplice. Other witnesses were presented to corroborate various portions of the testimony. Appellant and his companions were observed in Manteca at the doughnut shop. Brown's sister testified regarding the receipt of phone calls from Manteca and Modesto. Other witnesses saw persons resembling Brown and appellant at the K-Mart in Modesto on February 8th. Fresno police officers testified about encountering appellant, Brown, and Topping in Ms. Greybeal's car at the Seven Seas bar about 8 p. m. An officer testified about how appellant and the others were ordered out of Ms. Greybeal's car and arrested later that night. The officers who discovered Ms. Greybeal's body were called, as well as the coroner who performed the autopsy. A criminalist testified that the results of tests performed on the physical evidence were consistent with Brown's account as to how the shooting occurred.

Also introduced at the guilt phase were 10 handwritten sheets of yellow paper seized from appellant's cell on July 7, 1978. The handwriting was identified as appellant's. These papers contained narrative scripts for Topping, Menchaca and Lewis, indicating how the kidnaping and homicide assertedly occurred. The killing was blamed on Lewis.

Appellant's counsel presented a diminished capacity defense based upon mental defect and, to a lesser extent, drug intoxication. The theory of the defense was that appellant suffered from a mental defect which, although not rendering him incapable of premeditating and deliberating, greatly reduced the likelihood that he had actually done so. If accepted by the jury, this view of the evidence would have constituted a defense to the two special circumstances, since both required a finding of premeditation and deliberation. The diminished capacity defense admitted liability for robbery, kidnapping, and second degree murder, but would have avoided a conviction of first degree premeditated and deliberate murder. 4

Dr. Leiser, a clinical psychologist, testified regarding the results of his psychological examination of appellant and his review of prior psychiatric and institutional examinations of appellant from the time he was eight years old. The intelligence tests given to appellant indicated an overall dull-normal level of intellectual functioning, below normal but "somewhat above what is commonly referred to as mentally retarded." However, performance on various portions of the test varied widely, from extremely retarded to average. These...

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