People v. Weaver, No. S033149.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtCHIN
Citation12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4080,139 Cal.Rptr.3d 355,273 P.3d 546,53 Cal.4th 1056
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. La Twon R. WEAVER, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. S033149.
Decision Date16 April 2012

12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 4080
139 Cal.Rptr.3d 355
273 P.3d 546
53 Cal.4th 1056

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
La Twon R. WEAVER, Defendant and Appellant.

No. S033149.

Supreme Court of California

April 16, 2012.

[139 Cal.Rptr.3d 361]

James S. Thomson and Elisabeth Semel, Berkeley, under appointments by the Supreme Court; Saor E. Stetler, Ty Apler and Charles D. Weisselberg for Defendant and Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gary W. Schons, Assistant Attorney General, Holly D. Wilkens and Angela M. Borzachillo, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.


[273 P.3d 552] [53 Cal.4th 1060] After defendant La Twon R. Weaver 1 waived a jury trial, the court found him guilty of the first degree murder of Michael Broome ( Pen.Code, § 187, subd. (a)) 2 under the special circumstances of robbery and burglary murder ( § 190.2 subd. (a)(17)), of robbery (§ 211), and of burglary (§ 459). It also found defendant personally used a firearm in committing each of the offenses (§ 12022.5, subd. (a)) and personally inflicted great bodily injury in committing the robbery and the burglary (§ 12022.7, subd. (a)). After a penalty trial, the court returned a verdict of death, and it imposed that sentence. This appeal is automatic. ( § 1239, subd. (b).) we affirm the judgment.

I. The Facts
A. Guilt Phase

On May 6, 1992, while robbing a jewelry store, a man identified as defendant shot and killed the store's owner, Michael Broome. The only contested issue at trial was whether defendant was the man who committed the crime. Defendant challenged the prosecution evidence and elicited evidence on cross-examination of prosecution witnesses, but he presented no guilt phase witnesses of his own.

[139 Cal.Rptr.3d 362]

Broome owned Shadowridge Jewelers, located in a shopping center in Vista, California. Sometime after 4 p.m. on May 6, 1992, Patricia Arlich, who owned a nearby store, walked into the alley behind her store to smoke a cigarette. She noticed a car drive past the jewelry store and toward her store. She paid attention because the car was driving slowly. As the vehicle passed, she saw that defendant was the passenger and another African–American male was driving. Arlich returned to her store.

Before 5 p.m. that day, Kimberly Decker was driving out of the shopping center parking lot and stopped beside a car in which defendant was the passenger and another African–American man was the driver. Both men were “slouched down in their seats.” Decker stopped beside the vehicle so [53 Cal.4th 1061] she could look both ways before entering traffic and found herself looking right at defendant. She smiled but he looked at her “like drop dead.” Decker said, “ see ya,” and drove away.

About 30 to 40 minutes after she first saw defendant, Arlich observed him again walking by her in the direction of the jewelry store. Around that time, Stephanie Swihart observed defendant sitting on a bench in front of the jewelry store. Ricky Black arrived at the shopping center shortly before 5 p.m. to leave flowers at a Crown Books store for a woman he had met there. He waited in his car for about 20 minutes to see if she had found the flowers. During this time, he observed defendant walking back and forth in front of Shadowridge Jewelers “looking very nervous, looking around.” Lisa Stamm, a sales clerk at Shadowridge Jewelers, also observed defendant sitting in front of the store for a while.

Mary Deighton, another sales clerk at Shadowridge Jewelers, and Stamm each testified about what happened next. Around 5:15 p.m., defendant entered the store, grabbed a customer named Lisa Maples around the neck, and placed a gun to her head. He held the gun in his left hand. Defendant forced Maples to the back of the store behind the counter and said something like, “Don't push any damn buttons. Load up the goods.” Deighton raised her hands over her head. Broome walked over and stood in front of Deighton.

Defendant forced Broome, Deighton, and Stamm to the corner of the store where the [273 P.3d 553] safe was located and demanded that Broome produce the keys to the safe, saying, “Come on man, I know you've got the keys.” Stamm testified that defendant “was waving [the gun] around, but he kept it on [Maple's] head most of the time.” Broom had his hands in the air. Deighton testified that Broome told defendant he did not have the keys but that defendant should “take the girl's keys.” Broome was “saying, ‘Just calm down, we'll give you what you want.’ ” Then, Stamm testified, defendant pulled the hammer of the gun back until it clicked and pulled the trigger. He shot Broome in the chest from a range of three to four feet. Both Deighton and Stamm testified that Broome had offered no resistance, made no sudden moves, and kept his hands raised.

Broome fell to the floor and began moaning. Deighton heard him say over and over, “Oh, my God. I have been shot. I'm dying. Please help me. It hurts.” During this time, defendant continued to hold Maples around the neck and wave the gun back and forth at everyone. Stamm testified that defendant “was still insisting for jewelry, and so we couldn't go to Mike and help him. [53 Cal.4th 1062] [Defendant] was still saying, ‘Give me everything you have, give me everything.’ ” Stamm started removing jewelry from the diamond case and throwing

[139 Cal.Rptr.3d 363]

it to defendant. Some of the jewelry fell to the floor.

Martin You, who owned a video store next door, heard a loud sound and, thinking a shelf might have fallen in the jewelry store, ran to see if Broome needed help. Through the window, he saw defendant holding a gun on a customer and realized the sound had been a gunshot. In order to distract defendant, You kicked the stopper holding the front door open, causing the door to close. Defendant turned when he heard the sound and saw You. You saw defendant “eye to eye” and got a good look at him before You ran back into his store. Defendant turned, shoved Maples away, and moved toward the front door. Stamm testified that defendant “was trying to grab at the ground, and I wasn't sure if he got anything. He was grabbing at the ground. And then he immediately ran ... out of the store.” Deighton fled out the back door and ran to a nearby flower shop where she called 911. Stamm pushed the store's silent alarm buttons and called 911.

Kari Machado, who had parked her car a few doors from the jewelry store, heard the gunshot. She looked in the direction of the sound and saw defendant run from the jewelry store.

Timothy Waldon, Christopher Church, and Christopher White were on the sidewalk about two stores down from the jewelry store. Waldon heard a loud sound and looked around to see what had caused it. He saw a man run out of the jewelry store and into the parking lot. Waldon and Church followed the man and saw him enter a vehicle. After about 30 seconds, the vehicle pulled away. Waldon and Church observed the number on the vehicle's license plate. Later Church gave that number to White, who wrote it down. It was 1DNC734.

Around 5:15 p.m., just after the crime was committed, Joann Stone, an off-duty deputy sheriff who happened to be driving nearby, observed the vehicle in which defendant had fled the shopping center. It was “going too fast for the traffic.” The vehicle swerved around several cars by going into the emergency lane, then veered across three lanes and began tailgating a car in the left lane. The car quickly changed lanes again, cutting off another car, then veered back into the left lane and stopped for a red light in the left turn lane. Deputy Stone pulled in behind the car and followed it as it turned left and then, a short distance later, left again into the Shadowridge Woodbend apartment complex. It parked in space No. 72.

[53 Cal.4th 1063] Deputy Stone observed defendant leave the car, walk to apartment No. 113, and appear to be “trying the door.” She stopped a short distance away and wrote some notes, including the car's license plate number, 1DNC734. Then she drove back past the apartment just as defendant was leaving. Defendant had changed his clothes. He had entered the apartment wearing a dark jacket and exited wearing a white long-sleeved sweatshirt. Deputy Stone left the apartment complex and drove back toward the shopping center, where she saw emergency vehicles. She spoke to a fellow deputy sheriff and [273 P.3d 554] learned that the vehicle she had followed had been involved in a crime. Deputy Stone relayed her observations to the sheriff's dispatcher over the radio.

Jeannine Angelo lived in the Shadowridge Woodbend apartment complex. Around the time of the crime, she heard sirens and stepped outside her apartment. She saw defendant walking down an embankment through some ivy near the laundry room. He stopped near a wall, bent down, and then straightened. After he stood up, defendant noticed Angelo, and

[139 Cal.Rptr.3d 364]

they looked at each other for a moment. Angelo smiled at defendant, but defendant “just looked kind of frightened.” Defendant turned and walked back up the hill through the ivy. As defendant left, Angelo noticed police officers arriving. She told the officers what she had seen and showed them the spot in the ivy where defendant had bent down. The police found in the ivy three gold bracelets that Deighton and Stamm testified defendant had taken during the robbery.

Around 5:30 p.m., that day, several sheriff's deputies responded to the Shadowridge Woodbend apartment complex. They observed defendant come out of apartment No. 113 carrying a laundry basket containing clothes. Deputy Donald Phelps testified that defendant was wearing a shirt that appeared “fresh,” as if he had just put it on.

Michael Broome had stopped breathing by the time paramedics arrived at the jewelry store. He died of a single gunshot wound through his chest from a .44 caliber bullet manufactured by Remington.


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