People v. Williams

Citation212 Cal.Rptr.3d 728,7 Cal.App.5th 644
Decision Date17 January 2017
Docket NumberB259659
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Jarrod WILLIAMS et al., Defendants and Appellants.

Charlotte E. Costan, Burbank, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Jarrod Williams.

Jennifer A. Mannix, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Alphonso Williams.

Joanna McKim, San Diego, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant James Wilson.

Verna Wefald, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Jonathan Wilson.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, Steven D. Matthews, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, and David E. Madeo, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

JOHNSON, J.

A jury convicted Jarrod Williams, Alphonso Williams, James Wilson, and Jonathan Wilson1 of multiple counts of kidnapping to commit another crime, second degree robbery, kidnapping, and felony false imprisonment, in connection with a series of robberies targeting retail electronics stores. All four appeal, and we affirm in part and reverse in part.

BACKGROUND

An information filed October 11, 2013 charged Jarrod, Alphonso, James, and Jonathan with 29 counts, including second degree commercial burglary (Pen. Code,2 § 459 ), second degree robbery (§ 211), attempted second degree robbery (§§ 664, 211), kidnapping to commit another crime (§ 209, subd. (b)(1)), and false imprisonment by violence (§ 236), on 10 occasions between April and September 2012. The information named Jarrod in all 29 counts, Alphonso in 19 counts, James in 16 counts, and Jonathan in seven counts. (The information also named another defendant, Mister Johara Richardson, in eight counts, but the jury acquitted him on all counts after trial.)

The charges against Jarrod were commercial burglary (count 1); kidnapping to commit another crime (counts 2, 4, 7, 10, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 25); robbery (counts 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 22, 26, 27); attempted robbery (counts 23, 24); and false imprisonment by violence (counts 28, 29). Two counts, 23 and 24, also alleged that Jarrod was armed with a handgun, and counts 4 through 29 alleged that Jarrod committed the crimes while on bail.

The charges against Alphonso were kidnapping to commit another crime (counts 4, 7, 10, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 25), and robbery (counts 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 22).

The charges against James were kidnapping to commit another crime (counts 7, 10, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20), and robbery (counts 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 22). Count 15 alleged that James used a deadly weapon, a knife.

The charges against Jonathan were kidnapping to commit another crime (counts 16, 18, 20), and second degree robbery (counts 17, 19, 21, 22.)

All four defendants pleaded not guilty.

I. Prosecution Evidence
A. The charged robberies

The prosecution presented evidence of a series of robberies in 20123 at Radio Shacks and cell phone stores, during which multiple robbers pushed store employees into the back rooms of the stores before fleeing with cell phones, cash, and other merchandise.

1. Counts 2 and 3, Riverside, April 25 (robbery and kidnapping) (Jarrod)

The store manager at a Diamond Wireless store in Fontana (where cell phones were kept in a locked cage) testified that a window was smashed sometime after she locked the store and left at 8:45 p.m. on April 24, 2012, but the next day nothing was missing. (The jury acquitted Jarrod of the commercial burglary charge in count 1 regarding this event.)

The night of April 24, Jarrod called Steve Prado, a current employee of the Riverside Diamond Wireless store who used to work with Jarrod at the store in Riverside. Jarrod told Prado he had broken the window at the Fontana store, and offered Prado $3,000 for the key to the merchandise cages at the Riverside store. Prado refused.

The next morning, April 25, at 9:50 a.m., Prado and Monique H. prepared for the 10:00 a.m. opening of the Riverside store. Jarrod texted Prado that he was outside the store. To discourage Jarrod from robbing the store, Prado replied (falsely) that the district manager was there. Prado then heard the doorbell ring at the exterior door to the back room and froze, knowing it was Jarrod.

Monique H. opened the door thinking it was a coworker, and saw a man dressed in black and wearing a ski mask. Repeatedly saying "shut the fuck up," the man grabbed her, showed her a knife, held it to her neck, and pulled her about 25 feet to a corner of the back room so that she faced the wall. Prado entered the back room and saw the man with the knife. A second man whom he recognized as Jarrod knocked Prado to the floor with his forearm. Having worked with Jarrod also, Monique H. recognized Jarrod's voice. After a few minutes, the man with the knife ordered Monique H. to lie on the floor face down next to Prado, who was also face down. Monique H. heard the men taking phones.

The men left the store by the back door (leading to a stairway down to the parking lot) with more than 20 iPhones, each valued at over $500, and a trash can.

A witness, who was sitting in his car in the parking lot near the store waiting for the mall to open, saw two black men, one taller than the other, descend the stairs and walk to a tan vehicle. They carried merchandise boxes, a trash can, and a white trash bag. The man who got into the driver's seat wore sunglasses, a grey beanie with tassels, and black gloves with white outlines, like bones. The witness, who was 10 feet away, saw the face of the other man as he got into the passenger seat, and in a photo lineup identified that man as Jarrod. At 9:36 a.m. that day, Jarrod's cell phone (registered to his wife Anisha Williams) had pinged off a cell tower at the mall.

Later that night Jarrod called Prado, who agreed to help him sell the cell phones. A "fence" paid $19,000, which Prado gave to Jarrod, who then gave Prado $3,000. Jarrod drove a gold Toyota. Prado was serving a prison sentence when he testified.

2. Counts 4, 5, and 6, Fontana, May 8 (robbery and kidnapping) (Jarrod and Alphonso)

On May 8, Vanessa Martinez, who was pregnant, worked in the front area of the Diamond Wireless Store in Fontana, which had an all-glass façade bordering the sidewalk. About 7:00 p.m., she and co-worker Aaron Aguilar observed a dark green Toyota Camry parked backwards, with its windows up and the engine idling. A few minutes before the 8:00 p.m. closing time, Aguilar walked to the break room in the rear of the store to put on his jacket.

A man wearing a hoodie and a skeleton mask and holding a five- to six-inch kitchen knife and a white trash bag ran into the store. He approached Martinez, said, "get the fuck up. This is not a joke. I'm robbing you," and asked "where is the other guy?" Grabbing Martinez by the arm, he pushed her about 40 feet to the back of the store, through a door, into a hallway, and into the break room; she was terrified. Aguilar saw the man open the door to the break room; he was holding the knife to Martinez's stomach. He told Aguilar not to look at his eyes and to go to the middle of the conference room/storeroom, about 20 feet farther back (and reachable only by going through the break room). This room contained the vault holding the cell phones. Aguilar thought he recognized the robber's voice, perhaps from company meetings. The man took Aguilar and Martinez to the conference room/storeroom, which could not be seen from the street, and told them to lie face-down, and that if they looked up he would kill them. He demanded their cell phones, and threw them into the breakroom.

Martinez heard a knock at a back entrance, which the man opened to let another man run in. Both men wore hoodies, masks, and gloves; one was taller. Seeming to know where things were, the second man went through the break room into the conference room/storeroom, and took about $33,000 worth of cell phones from the vault (which was left open during store hours). Both men left by the back door. Aguilar locked the front and back doors, pressed the emergency button, and called the police. The car in front of the store had departed.

3. Arrest of Jarrod, May 10

Detectives serving a search warrant on May 9 or 10 noticed a gold 2005 Toyota Camry arrive at Jarrod's home, driven by Jarrod's wife Anisha. Jarrod came out, spoke to Anisha, and returned inside with her. Jarrod and Richardson then came out; Richardson put a plastic bag in the trunk of the Camry, and they drove away. The detectives detained them, opened the trunk, and found in the plastic bag 23 of the 25 items stolen from the Fontana Diamond Wireless store on May 8, including numerous cell phones and iPads in original boxes. Two beanie caps (one tasseled) and a pair of batting gloves were also recovered from the Camry. A police search of Jarrod's residence discovered four gray hoodies, three beanies, empty electronic boxes, a pair of batting gloves (black with white designs), and a black-handled knife. Martinez identified the knife as the one used in the robbery.

Jarrod was arrested and released on bail on May 11.

4. Counts 7, 8, 9, Willow Street/Long Beach, June 19 (robbery and kidnapping) (Jarrod, Alphonso, and James)

Around 9:00 a.m. on June 19, Jorge Magana arrived for work at a Radio Shack on Willow Street in Long Beach. Through the floor-to-ceiling glass windows at the front of the store, he saw a green Toyota Camry circling the parking lot, driven by a man who looked like the rapper Drake, with two other black people in the car. In court, he identified the driver as Alphonso. A man walked into the store wearing a beanie and gloves, with his face covered and carrying a folding knife which Magana identified as the knife shown in the prosecution's photographic exhibit 4. The man told Magana to lie face-down on the floor "or I'm going to...

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