People v. Taylor, No. S

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtPANELLI; LUCAS; MOSK
Citation801 P.2d 1142,52 Cal.3d 719,276 Cal.Rptr. 391
Parties, 801 P.2d 1142 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Freddie Lee TAYLOR, Defendant and Appellant. 004714. Crim. 25505.
Decision Date31 December 1990
Docket NumberNo. S

Page 391

276 Cal.Rptr. 391
52 Cal.3d 719, 801 P.2d 1142
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Freddie Lee TAYLOR, Defendant and Appellant.
No. S 004714.
Crim. 25505.
Supreme Court of California,
In Bank.
Dec. 31, 1990.

Page 394

[52 Cal.3d 729] [801 P.2d 1145] George L. Schraer, under appointment by the Supreme Court, San Diego, for defendant and appellant.

John K. Van de Kamp, Atty. Gen., Steve White, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., John H. Sugiyama, Asst. Atty. Gen., Dane R. Gillette and Ann K. Jensen, Deputy Attys. Gen., San Francisco, for plaintiff and respondent.

PANELLI, Justice.

Defendant Freddie Lee Taylor was convicted of the first degree murder of Carmen Carlos Vasquez (Pen.Code, § 187), 1 robbery in an inhabited dwelling (§ 213.5), attempted rape (§§ 261, 664), and three counts of burglary (§ 459). Three prior conviction enhancements were found true: robbery, burglary, and battery with great bodily injury. Two special circumstances were found true: that the murder was committed while defendant was engaged in the commission or attempted commission of robbery (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(i)) and burglary (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(vii)). A special circumstance allegation that the murder was committed while defendant was engaged in the commission or attempted commission of attempted rape (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(iii)) was found not true. The jury fixed the penalty at death; this appeal is automatic. (Cal. Const., art VI, § 11; Pen.Code, § 1239, subd. (b).)

52 Cal.3d 730

GUILT PHASE FACTS

Prosecution Case

Mrs. Carmen Carlos Vasquez, an 84-year-old widow, lived alone in Richmond. Her son, Edward Vasquez, stopped by to visit his mother the afternoon of January 22, 1985, and noticed that his key "worked funny," as if the door were unlocked. His mother always kept the doors locked; her children all had keys to let themselves in. When he entered, Mr. Vasquez saw his mother's body on the floor. He called the police, reporting that she appeared dead. Mrs. Vasquez's underpants were torn, exposing her vagina. The genital area was swollen and bruised, and there were small areas of hemorrhage in the vaginal wall. While the injuries and the condition of the victim's panties were consistent with rape, a rape kit collected at the scene revealed no semen, sperm, acid phosphatase, or foreign pubic hair. Mrs. Vasquez had been beaten about the head and neck, fracturing many facial and nasal bones. There were between five and nine separate blows to the head. Nine ribs were fractured. The

Page 395

[801 P.2d 1146] cause of death was traumatic head and neck injuries.

The intruder had entered through the back door, breaking the glass in the door. Defendant's palm print was found on a piece of glass on the floor near the back door. The print appeared to have been placed there after the glass had been broken. Defendant's fingerprints were found on the inside latch of the screen door, which had been opened by cutting a hole in the screen and reaching inside to unlatch the door. Defendant's fingerprints were also found on the doorjamb between the kitchen and living room. The parties stipulated that at the time of the crime defendant owned a pair of shoes within the class of shoes that could have left the shoe print lifted from a piece of glass by the back door. Another shoe print was found in the house, but it came from a different shoe than the print left on the glass.

A television set and a telephone were missing from the victim's house.

Defendant's grandmother lived across the street from the victim. Defendant had stayed with his grandmother off and on. The last time defendant visited her was the evening before the victim's body was found.

Defense Case

The defense presented no evidence, choosing to rest on the state of the evidence and argue that the prosecution had not met its burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense argued that, based on the fact that certain fingerprints and a footprint which had been found in the [52 Cal.3d 731] victim's home had not been identified, it was possible that someone else was in the house with defendant and killed the victim.

GUILT PHASE CONTENTIONS

1. Photographs of Victim While Alive

The prosecution presented three photographs of the victim while alive for her son to identify. Defense counsel objected on the ground that one was sufficient and that the two that depicted children with the victim should not be allowed. After the victim's daughter identified the photographs, the court admitted them into evidence over defense objection that two of them were cumulative.

Defendant contends that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to object to the admission of all of the photographs on relevancy grounds pursuant to People v. Ramos (1982) 30 Cal.3d 553, 577-578, 180 Cal.Rptr. 266, 639 P.2d 908. (See also People v. Hendricks (1987) 43 Cal.3d 584, 594, 238 Cal.Rptr. 66, 737 P.2d 1350; People v. Hovey (1988) 44 Cal.3d 543, 571, 244 Cal.Rptr. 121, 749 P.2d 776; People v. Kimble (1988) 44 Cal.3d 480, 499, 244 Cal.Rptr. 148, 749 P.2d 803.) Defendant bears the burden of proving ineffectiveness of counsel. To establish entitlement to relief defendant must show (1) that trial counsel failed to act in the manner to be expected of reasonably competent attorneys acting as diligent advocates and (2) that it is reasonably probable that a more favorable determination would have resulted in the absence of counsel's failings. (People v. Lewis (1990) 50 Cal.3d 262, 288, 266 Cal.Rptr. 834, 786 P.2d 892.)

We need not decide whether counsel acted incompetently in failing to object to the admission of all of the photographs of the victim while alive because defendant would still be unable to show that counsel's deficiency resulted in prejudice--that is, that a more favorable determination was reasonably probable had those photographs not been admitted. The photographs were innocuous, and the evidence against defendant, though circumstantial, was extremely strong. Defendant's palm print was on a piece of glass from the broken door, and it had been placed there after the glass had been broken. Defendant's fingerprints were found on the inside latch of the screen door and on a doorjamb between the kitchen and living room. Defendant owned a pair of shoes that could have left the footprint on the broken glass from the back door. Finally, defendant's grandmother lived across the street from the victim, and defendant had often stayed with his grandmother. Defendant was at

Page 396

[801 P.2d 1147] his grandmother's house the night before the victim's body was found.

[52 Cal.3d 732] Defendant claims the introduction of the photographs was prejudicial because this was a "close case." Defendant bases his claim primarily on the fact that the jury deliberated for at least 10 1/2 hours before reaching a verdict on the issue of guilt. He relies on cases in which jury deliberations of this length were said to have shown that the case was close (People v. Cardenas (1982) 31 Cal.3d 897, 184 Cal.Rptr. 165, 647 P.2d 569; People v. Rucker (1980) 26 Cal.3d 368, 162 Cal.Rptr. 13, 605 P.2d 843; People v. Woodard (1979) 23 Cal.3d 329, 152 Cal.Rptr. 536, 590 P.2d 391; People v. Collins (1968) 68 Cal.2d 319, 66 Cal.Rptr. 497, 438 P.2d 33; People v. Bennett (1969) 276 Cal.App.2d 172, 80 Cal.Rptr. 706), but none of these cases involved allegations of special circumstances carrying a potential penalty of death. Here, the jury had to determine the issue of guilt on four charges and the truth of three special circumstances. The length of the jury's deliberations cannot be said to be unduly significant in light of the gravity of its task.

We conclude that there is no reasonable probability of a more favorable result had the jury not seen and heard about the three photographs of the victim while alive. Thus we reject defendant's claim of ineffectiveness of counsel for failing to object to their admission into evidence.

2. Aiding and Abetting Instruction

At defendant's request the trial court instructed on the defense theories of aiding and abetting, unjoined perpetrators, and conspiracy. As relevant here, the court instructed pursuant to CALJIC No. 3.00 (1981 rev.): "One who aids and abets is not only guilty of the particular crime that to his knowledge his confederates are contemplating committing, but he is also liable for the natural and reasonable or probable consequences of any act that he knowingly aided or encouraged."

Defendant contends that the court should also have instructed the jury that it must determine the question of whether under the facts of the case an unplanned crime is a reasonable or probable consequence of the act the defendant knowingly aided. CALJIC No. 3.00 was revised in 1987 to include such a statement in response to a suggestion made in People v. Hammond (1986) 181 Cal.App.3d 463, 469, 226 Cal.Rptr. 475.

The People assert that defendant is barred from complaining because he failed to request that the instruction be so clarified. (See People v. Anderson (1966) 64 Cal.2d 633, 639, 51 Cal.Rptr. 238, 414 P.2d 366.) Defendant responds with citation to People v. Jones (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1090, 255 Cal.Rptr. 464, where the Court of Appeal found the omission of this clarification erroneous.

[52 Cal.3d 733] In this case, we need not decide whether defendant had a duty to request the clarification because it is clear that any error in failing to include this provision was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. (See People v. Dyer (1988) 45 Cal.3d 26, 60-64, 246 Cal.Rptr. 209, 753 P.2d 1; People v. Adcox (1988) 47 Cal.3d 207, 243-244, 253 Cal.Rptr. 55, 763 P.2d 906.) When the present case was tried Carlos v. Superior Court (1983) 35 Cal.3d 131, 197 Cal.Rptr. 79, 672 P.2d 862 was the governing law. Carlos required the jury to find that defendant intended to kill Mrs. Vasquez in order to find the special circumstance true. The jury was instructed that in order to find...

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61 practice notes
  • People v. Kennedy, No. S037195.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • July 25, 2005
    ...does not necessarily qualify the murderer for the death penalty. We have previously rejected this contention. (People v. Taylor (1990) 52 Cal.3d 719, 747-748, 276 Cal.Rptr. 391, 801 P.2d 1142; People v. Anderson (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1104, 1147, 240 Cal.Rptr. 585, 742 P.2d B. Triple-counting Sam......
  • People v. Kipp, No. S004784
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • June 22, 1998
    ...a more favorable verdict. (See People v. Raley, supra, 2 Cal.4th 870, 895, 8 Cal.Rptr.2d 678, 830 P.2d 712; People v. Taylor (1990) 52 Cal.3d 719, 731, 276 Cal.Rptr. 391, 801 P.2d 1142; People v. Kelly (1990) 51 Cal.3d 931, 963, 275 Cal.Rptr. 160, 800 P.2d B. Jury Instructions 1. Circumstan......
  • People v. Rodriguez, No. S122123.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 20, 2014
    ...observed. The [168 Cal.Rptr.3d 422]court did not abuse its discretion in finding the testimony not speculative. ( People v. Taylor (1990) 52 Cal.3d 719, 739, 276 Cal.Rptr. 391, 801 P.2d 1142.) Defendant cites People v. Sergill (1982) 138 Cal.App.3d 34, 187 Cal.Rptr. 497, where the appellate......
  • People v. Pinholster, No. S004616
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 20, 1992
    ...record that defendant needed more time to develop a response, we see no reasonable possibility of prejudice. (See People v. Taylor (1990) 52 Cal.3d 719, 737, 276 Cal.Rptr. 391, 801 P.2d Defendant argues that failure to move for continuance is not determinative in this context; it is only wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
61 cases
  • People v. Kennedy, No. S037195.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • July 25, 2005
    ...does not necessarily qualify the murderer for the death penalty. We have previously rejected this contention. (People v. Taylor (1990) 52 Cal.3d 719, 747-748, 276 Cal.Rptr. 391, 801 P.2d 1142; People v. Anderson (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1104, 1147, 240 Cal.Rptr. 585, 742 P.2d B. Triple-counting Sam......
  • People v. Kipp, No. S004784
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • June 22, 1998
    ...a more favorable verdict. (See People v. Raley, supra, 2 Cal.4th 870, 895, 8 Cal.Rptr.2d 678, 830 P.2d 712; People v. Taylor (1990) 52 Cal.3d 719, 731, 276 Cal.Rptr. 391, 801 P.2d 1142; People v. Kelly (1990) 51 Cal.3d 931, 963, 275 Cal.Rptr. 160, 800 P.2d B. Jury Instructions 1. Circumstan......
  • People v. Rodriguez, No. S122123.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 20, 2014
    ...observed. The [168 Cal.Rptr.3d 422]court did not abuse its discretion in finding the testimony not speculative. ( People v. Taylor (1990) 52 Cal.3d 719, 739, 276 Cal.Rptr. 391, 801 P.2d 1142.) Defendant cites People v. Sergill (1982) 138 Cal.App.3d 34, 187 Cal.Rptr. 497, where the appellate......
  • People v. Pinholster, No. S004616
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • February 20, 1992
    ...record that defendant needed more time to develop a response, we see no reasonable possibility of prejudice. (See People v. Taylor (1990) 52 Cal.3d 719, 737, 276 Cal.Rptr. 391, 801 P.2d Defendant argues that failure to move for continuance is not determinative in this context; it is only wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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