People v. Trujeque

Citation61 Cal.4th 227,349 P.3d 103,188 Cal.Rptr.3d 1
Decision Date28 May 2015
Docket NumberNo. S083594.,S083594.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Tommy Adrian TRUJEQUE, Defendant and Appellant.

Michael J. Hersek, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, and Christina A. Spaulding, Deputy State Public Defender, for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, Jaime L. Fuster, Joseph P. Lee and Eric J. Kohm, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.



In 1999, a jury convicted defendant Tommy Adrian Trujeque of first degree murder of Max Facundo (Pen.Code, § 187, subd. (a) ),1 second degree murder of Raul Luis Apodaca (§ 187, subd. (a) ), and second degree robbery of Ronni Mandujano and Spartan Burgers restaurant (§ 211 ). As to all three counts, it found that defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, respectively, a knife, a screwdriver, and a handgun. (Former §§ 12022, 12022.5, subd. (a)(1), 12022.53, subd. (b).)

Waiving a jury trial, defendant stipulated to a 1971 prior second degree murder conviction alleged as a special circumstance, and admitted other prior convictions alleged in the information. As to both murder counts, the jury found true the special-circumstance allegation of multiple murder (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3) ), while the trial court found true the prior murder special-circumstance allegation (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(2) ). After a penalty trial, the jury returned a verdict of death. The court denied the automatic motion to modify the verdict (§ 190.4), and imposed a sentence of death, along with an additional consecutive term of 25 years to life in prison for the robbery count. The trial court also sentenced defendant to various consecutive sentence enhancements, all of which were stayed pending imposition of the death judgment. This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).)

Defendant's 1999 trial took place more than a decade after the murders of Facundo and Apodaca, and the delay in prosecution is the subject of various claims defendant raises on appeal. For reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of conviction for the second degree murder of Apodaca, and reverse the penalty judgment based on our setting aside both the prior murder and multiple murder special-circumstance findings. (See post, 188 Cal.Rptr.3d at p. 45, 349 P.3d at p. 141.) Although we must reverse the penalty judgment, we have included additional factual background as necessary to provide context.

I. Factual and Procedural Background
A. Guilt Phase
1. Prosecution evidence
a. Murder of Max Facundo

The prosecution presented evidence that on June 21, 1986, defendant stabbed and killed Max Facundo, the abusive boyfriend of defendant's cousin, Charlene Trujeque.2

When Charlene was 16 or 17 years old, defendant began writing letters to her while he was incarcerated. In the letters, defendant asked about his family and told Charlene to stay out of trouble. Charlene's mother, Elena Trujeque, read the letters defendant had sent and became concerned. In particular, Elena thought one of the letters read more like a “love letter” than a “cousinly” letter because defendant said he would protect Charlene if anybody hurt her, and that she “mean[t] the world to” him. He also wrote “you'll always be mine and you'll always be close to my heart.” Elena also discovered that Charlene was accepting collect telephone calls from defendant, who was still incarcerated. Elena and Charlene's father, Charlie Trujeque, tried to stop Charlene from getting “too friendly” with defendant, but Charlene continued to write to him.

In 1984, when Charlene was about 20 years old, she began dating Facundo and often stayed at his house. Though their relationship appeared fine at first, during the final months of their relationship, Facundo began to beat up Charlene when she refused to do drugs with him. She did not tell her parents (defendant's uncle and aunt) about the beatings, but they would see her bruised face when she came home. Elena recalled seeing injuries on Charlene, including black eyes and bruises, on 15 to 20 separate occasions. Though Charlene lied to her parents about how she got her injuries, Elena said “everybody knew” that Facundo beat up their daughter. While Charlene's parents were upset and afraid for her life, they voiced their concerns only to Charlene, and repeatedly asked Charlene to end her relationship with Facundo.

Although Charlie did not verbally threaten Facundo, he told Elena that he was going to beat up Facundo and once ran after him with a baseball bat. On one visit, after Facundo refused to let them see their daughter, Charlie and Elena went to the police to report the domestic violence. However, the parents were told that the police could not do anything unless Charlene reported it herself.

After defendant was released from prison in May 1986, he and Charlene met for the first time at her parents' house. Charlene did not mention Facundo to defendant and she did not have any visible injuries. According to Elena, the two talked all night.

On the evening of June 21, 1986, the day Facundo was killed, Charlene was at her parents' house and sported a black eye. Defendant came over with another cousin, Raymond Guzman. Almost as soon as they got there, defendant and Raymond called Charlie outside to talk. They spoke for about five minutes. When Elena asked Charlie what they had talked about, Charlie would not respond; he seemed nervous and afraid. However, sometime earlier, Charlie had asked defendant to break Facundo's leg or arm to teach him a lesson, but not to hurt him too badly.

When defendant asked Charlene how she got her black eye and if her boyfriend did it, she would not say. Defendant repeatedly asked Charlene whether Facundo would be coming by later because defendant wanted to “meet him and talk to him.” Charlene could tell defendant was angry about her black eye, so she asked him to promise not to hurt Facundo. He replied that promises were made to be broken, but that she need not worry because nothing would happen.

When Facundo came to Charlie and Elena's house to pick up Charlene, defendant asked Charlene if they would drop off both defendant and Raymond at the home of Raymond's sister, Pat Perez, in South Gate. Facundo agreed to do so, and the four left in Facundo's car. Defendant and Raymond were seated in the back, Charlene was in the front passenger seat, and Facundo was driving. Facundo pulled out a cigarette dipped in PCP, began smoking it, and shared it with Charlene and Raymond. At some point, Facundo pulled over to let Charlene drive. They arrived at Pat's house around 10:45 p.m. Charlene exited the car to let Raymond out of the backseat. She and Raymond walked towards Pat's home, and waited for Facundo and defendant to follow. When she heard yelling, Charlene turned around and saw Facundo and defendant struggling. She ran towards them and screamed for them to stop. Charlene held Facundo, who was covered in blood, and they fell onto the ground. Defendant fled the scene. Facundo died of multiple stab wounds

to the chest.

When the police arrived at the scene of the stabbing, Charlene was still screaming. The police handcuffed her hands and feet and placed her on her stomach in a patrol car. They eventually transported her to the police station. Charlene's blouse was ripped and she had cuts on her chest and right forearm. Detective Terry McWeeney of the South Gate Police Department interviewed both Charlene and Raymond while they were in custody. Charlene told the detective she saw Facundo lying in the street, but did not see defendant or Raymond. She never told the police that defendant had killed Facundo.

Pat called Charlie and Elena and told them that defendant had killed Facundo and that the police had already taken Charlene and Raymond to the station. They tried calling the police station, but could not get any information. They returned home. Defendant later called Charlie and Elena's house and asked for a ride. According to Elena, they picked defendant up at a 7–Eleven convenience store on the corner of Firestone and Atlantic in South Gate. He asked to be dropped off at his mother's house in El Sereno. During the drive, defendant told Charlie and Elena that he killed Facundo. Charlie yelled at him, [W]hy did you do it,’ and told defendant he never wanted him to kill Facundo. Elena testified defendant told her, Tia [meaning “aunt” in Spanish], you don't have to worry anything more about this anymore.’ Elena also testified defendant told her he “had no remorse. He did it like—like it was nothing. He didn't know the guy, like I didn't know him. He had no feelings for him, so he just done [sic] him away.”

Hours after the murder, around 2 or 3 a.m., Sergeant Russell Beecher of the South Gate Police Department received a call from a man identifying himself as defendant. The caller said that he was the one who murdered Facundo and that Charlene and Raymond, who were in custody, should be released. On June 26, 1986, defendant was arrested at his mother's house in El Sereno for the murder of Facundo. The charges, however, were dropped on July 2, 1986 for lack of probable cause.

For over a decade, the case remained dormant until 1998 when defendant—who at the time was serving a life sentence for an unrelated armed robbery—contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and confessed to Facundo's murder, along with the murder of Raul Apodaca and another armed robbery, in order to receive the death penalty. In June 1998, he was charged with the 1986 murder of Facundo in a three-count complaint.

b. Murder of Raul Apodaca

At trial, the prosecution also presented evidence that on January 23, 1987, defendant and Jesse Salazar3 killed Raul Luis Apodaca at an East Los Angeles upholstery shop owned by Richard “Conejo” Rivera.4 Rivera dealt drugs from the shop, which...

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  • Table of Cases null
    • United States
    • Full Court Press California Guide to Criminal Evidence Table of Cases
    • Invalid date
    ...173 Cal. App. 3d 1221, 219 Cal. Rptr. 679 (1st Dist. 1985)—Ch. 5-A, §2.2.3(1)(b)[2][a]{2}; §3.1.2(1); §4.2.2(2) People v. Trujeque, 61 Cal. 4th 227, 188 Cal. Rptr. 3d 1, 349 P.3d 103 (2015)—Ch. 4-C, §3.2.2(1); §3.5.3(1)(b)[1]; §3.6.4; Ch. 5-E, §3.2.1(3)(c)[4] People v. Trujillo, 32 Cal. 2d ......
  • Chapter 5 - §3. Right of confrontation & out-of-court statements
    • United States
    • Full Court Press California Guide to Criminal Evidence Chapter 5 Exclusion of Evidence on Constitutional Grounds
    • Invalid date
    ...v. Garton (2018) 4 Cal.5th 485, 506-07; Perez, 4 Cal.5th at 456; People v. Leon (2015) 61 Cal.4th 596, 603-04; People v. Trujeque (2015) 61 Cal.4th 227, 276.Note When introducing or relying on testimonial statements in a forensic report, the person who made the statements in the report gene......

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