People v. Zapien, No. S004762

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtGEORGE; LUCAS; MOSK; KENNARD
Citation4 Cal.4th 929,846 P.2d 704,17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122
Parties, 846 P.2d 704 The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Conrad Jess ZAPIEN, Defendant and Appellant. Crim.
Decision Date04 March 1993
Docket NumberNo. 26289,No. S004762

Page 122

17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122
4 Cal.4th 929, 846 P.2d 704
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Conrad Jess ZAPIEN, Defendant and Appellant.
No. S004762.
Crim. No. 26289.
Supreme Court of California,
In Bank.
March 4, 1993.
Rehearing Denied April 29, 1993.

Page 128

[4 Cal.4th 946] [846 P.2d 710] Crosby, Heafy, Roach & May, Chris G. Gasparich, Miller, Starr & Regalia and Michael J. Hassen, Oakland, for defendant and appellant.

John K. Van de Kamp and Daniel E. Lungren, Attys. Gen., Steve White, Richard B. Iglehart and George Williamson, Chief Asst. Attys. Gen., Edward T. Fogel, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., Carol Wendelin Pollack, Acting Asst. Atty. Gen., Donald E. De Nicola, Thomas L. Willhite, Jr., Susan Lee Frierson and Robert F. Katz, Deputy Attys. Gen., Los Angeles, for plaintiff and respondent.

GEORGE, Justice.

Defendant was convicted, following a jury trial, of first degree murder (Pen.Code, § 187, subd. (a)) 1 with the special circumstances that the killing was committed during the course of a burglary and an attempted robbery (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)). Defendant also was convicted of first degree burglary (§ 459) and attempted robbery (§ 664/211). The jury found that defendant personally used a knife (§ 12022, subd. (b)) and a firearm (§ 12022.5, subd. (a)) in the commission of each offense. The allegations that defendant previously had been convicted of voluntary manslaughter and robbery, and had served prior prison terms for these offenses, were tried to the court and found true. (§§ 667, subd. (a), 667.5, subds. (a) and (b).) The penalty phase was tried to the jury, which fixed the punishment at death. After denying the motion for modification of the penalty verdict, the trial court entered judgment accordingly. This appeal is automatic. (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 11; § 1239, subd. (b).) We affirm the judgment.

FACTS

During a period of at least one year preceding the May 19, 1984, murder of Ruby Gonzales, she had an affair with Yeyo Blanco, who was married to defendant's sister, Inez Blanco. By April 1984, Yeyo Blanco had moved into Ruby Gonzales's house in Lompoc, in Santa Barbara County. He told his wife that he and Gonzales wanted to get married and that Gonzales was going to have an operation, at his expense, to reverse a tubal ligation so they could have children together.

On several occasions during this period, Inez Blanco had public arguments and physical altercations with Gonzales and threatened to have her [4 Cal.4th 947] killed. On one occasion shortly before the murder, Inez Blanco saw Gonzales wearing an expensive gold bracelet that belonged to Yeyo Blanco. The bracelet bore the name "Yeyo" spelled out in diamonds, some of which had come from jewelry that had belonged to Inez Blanco's grandmother. Inez Blanco demanded the bracelet, but Gonzales refused to give it to her.

May 18, 1984, the day preceding the murder, was the wedding anniversary of Yeyo and Inez Blanco. Inez Blanco, who lived in Lompoc, twice visited her husband at work

Page 129

[846 P.2d 711] in Oxnard that day and attempted to hold his hand, but he refused and asked her to leave.

Later that day, Inez Blanco was in her automobile, stopped at a stop sign in Oxnard, when defendant called to her. She had not seen him for a long time and invited him to enter the vehicle. Defendant, who had "a drug problem," asked his sister to loan him money. She declined. Defendant searched under the automobile's floor mats and found some coins which Inez Blanco said he could keep. They later parted, and Inez Blanco drove home to Lompoc.

Approximately 3 a.m. on May 19, 1984, Inez Blanco was awakened by a telephone call from defendant, who asked for an advance of money from their mother's estate, of which Inez Blanco was executrix. She refused. Inez Blanco later told a police officer that her brother had seemed desperate for money.

Shortly after 5 a.m. that day, Yeyo Blanco left Ruby Gonzales's house to go to work, leaving the front door unlocked. Gonzales was awake but remained in bed. Yeyo Blanco drove by his wife's home and noticed that her Oldsmobile Cutlass automobile was not there.

Soon after Yeyo Blanco left the house, Gonzales's 13-year-old daughter Marci was awakened by the sound of her mother screaming for help. Marci seized a broom and ran into the hallway, where her mother was wrestling with a man whom Marci did not recognize. Marci began hitting the man over the head with the broom handle and then, at the urging of her mother, ran to telephone the police. Her mother was yelling, "Chato, leave me alone. I will give you the money and the jewelry." While Marci was using the telephone, she heard a gunshot. She informed the police her mother had been shot, ran back to the hall, and heard two more gunshots. Observing her three younger sisters standing in the hallway, she pushed them into a bedroom, instructing them to remain there. The assailant ran off. Because it was dark, Marci was unable to describe the attacker in detail, but said he was wearing a long-sleeved plaid shirt, a vest, and a baseball cap. Subsequently, a long-sleeved [4 Cal.4th 948] plaid shirt and a vest were found in the alley behind Ruby Gonzales's house. The shirt was stained with blood, which was analyzed and found to be consistent with the victim's blood.

An autopsy revealed that Gonzales had been stabbed five times and had been shot three times in the head and once in the shoulder with a .22-caliber firearm. The shots had been fired at close range, and any one of the head wounds would have been fatal and would have rendered the victim immediately unconscious.

Shortly after the murder, police investigators spoke with Inez Blanco, who lived a few blocks from the scene of the crime. She told them that her automobile was missing and that she might have left the keys in the vehicle.

When Yeyo Blanco returned to Ruby Gonzales's house on the day she was murdered, he removed from her bedroom his gold and diamond bracelet and $600 in cash. Upon being told by Marci that her mother had called the killer "Chato," Yeyo Blanco said he might know who that was, instructed her not to repeat that information to the police or to anyone else, and stated he "would work everything out."

Sometime during the month preceding her murder, Ruby Gonzales had been at a restaurant in Oxnard with Yeyo Blanco and happened to meet one of Inez Blanco's brothers, Valentino, who used the nickname Chato. Ruby Gonzales was with Valentino no more than five minutes on this occasion, but evidence was received establishing that, two years earlier, she had worked for a few weeks with Valentino. Valentino was in jail on the date of the murder, but the prosecution introduced into evidence photographs of Valentino and defendant to establish that the two brothers were similar in appearance.

Approximately 9 a.m. on the day of the murder, upon leaving his home in Oxnard (located approximately 100 miles from Lompoc), Pastor Joe Valdez found defendant lying on the seat of an automobile that was parked in front of Valdez's home. For some time, Pastor Valdez had attempted

Page 130

[846 P.2d 712] to rehabilitate drug addicts by referring them to Christian homes in various locations around the state. Pastor Valdez had known defendant for 20 years, was aware defendant had "a drug problem," and previously had told him that if he ever felt the need to go to a Christian home, he should see Pastor Valdez. Defendant appeared tired, and Pastor Valdez "assumed" he was under the influence of drugs. Defendant said the vehicle he was in belonged to his sister.

As the men spoke, Pastor Valdez asked defendant whether he was ready to go to a Christian home, and defendant replied he was. Pastor Valdez [4 Cal.4th 949] telephoned a colleague who operated a Christian home in Madera, gave him defendant's name, and made arrangements for him to meet defendant at the bus station. Pastor Valdez telephoned the Greyhound bus depot in Oxnard to inquire concerning the bus schedule. Although defendant had no luggage, Valdez did not find that unusual, because in his experience persons often went to Christian homes with nothing "but the clothes on their back." Pastor Valdez did not recall what clothes defendant was wearing that day but stated that defendant frequently wore either a baseball cap or a wool cap.

About the time of the murder, defendant sometimes slept in a truck parked at his brother's house in Oxnard. He did not inform anyone at that residence of his plans to leave town.

When defendant arrived at the Christian home in Madera, he registered under the false name Jess Pantoja. He appeared to be suffering from drug withdrawal.

On May 22, 1984, Inez Blanco's automobile was found in a parking lot adjacent to the Greyhound bus depot in Oxnard. Defendant's fingerprints were found on the outside, driver's side rearview mirror, the inside rearview mirror, and the gearshift lever. The position of the fingerprints found on the gearshift lever indicated defendant was the last person who drove the automobile. As a result of the foregoing circumstances, a warrant was issued for defendant's arrest on a charge of auto theft.

Defendant remained in Madera for nearly two months and then transferred to another Christian home in Phoenix, Arizona, where he registered under the false name Jess Mejia. He informed the director of the program he was wanted by the police and remained there until the program closed several months later.

During his stay in Phoenix, defendant also used the false name Jess Moran. He used his roommate's Social Security card to obtain employment, from which he subsequently was discharged when it was discovered he had falsified his identity. Defendant told a friend in Phoenix that he had shot someone during a robbery, later adding that defendant was "wanted for murder in California." The witness believed, however, that defendant was referring to a robbery of a fast-food restaurant. Defendant told another...

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1409 practice notes
  • People v. Mani, C088716
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 30, 2021
    ...regardless of the considerations which may have moved the trial court to its conclusion.’ " ’ " (Ibid. , quoting People v. Zapien (1993) 4 Cal.4th 929, 976, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122, 846 P.2d 704.)10 Defendant was originally charged in this case with burglary related to the incident on January 23......
  • People v. Horning, No. S044677.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 16, 2004
    ...a declaration against interest, but it does not matter. The ruling was correct on at least one legal theory. (See People v. Zapien (1993) 4 Cal.4th 929, 976, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122, 846 P.2d Defendant also argues the prosecution did not establish the corpus delicti of the 1988 robbery, and the ......
  • People v. Gay, No. S093765.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • March 20, 2008
    ...280 Cal.Rptr. 692, 809 P.2d 351.) The various state cases cited by the People likewise do not undermine Terry. In People v. Zapien (1993) 4 Cal.4th 929, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122, 846 P.2d 704, the defendant attempted to introduce evidence of a plea bargain offered by the prosecution but rejected ......
  • People v. Snyder, No. A094701.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 27, 2003
    ...an accomplice in the charged offense. (People v. Bevins (1960) 54 Cal.2d 71, 76, 4 Cal.Rptr. 504, 351 P.2d 776; People v. Zapien (1993) 4 Cal.4th 929, 982, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122, 846 P.2d 704.) By the same token, if the evidence adduced at trial establishes as 112 Cal.App.4th 1219 a matter of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1409 cases
  • People v. Mani, C088716
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • September 30, 2021
    ...regardless of the considerations which may have moved the trial court to its conclusion.’ " ’ " (Ibid. , quoting People v. Zapien (1993) 4 Cal.4th 929, 976, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122, 846 P.2d 704.)10 Defendant was originally charged in this case with burglary related to the incident on January 23......
  • People v. Horning, No. S044677.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • December 16, 2004
    ...a declaration against interest, but it does not matter. The ruling was correct on at least one legal theory. (See People v. Zapien (1993) 4 Cal.4th 929, 976, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122, 846 P.2d Defendant also argues the prosecution did not establish the corpus delicti of the 1988 robbery, and the ......
  • People v. Gay, No. S093765.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • March 20, 2008
    ...280 Cal.Rptr. 692, 809 P.2d 351.) The various state cases cited by the People likewise do not undermine Terry. In People v. Zapien (1993) 4 Cal.4th 929, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122, 846 P.2d 704, the defendant attempted to introduce evidence of a plea bargain offered by the prosecution but rejected ......
  • People v. Snyder, No. A094701.
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 27, 2003
    ...an accomplice in the charged offense. (People v. Bevins (1960) 54 Cal.2d 71, 76, 4 Cal.Rptr. 504, 351 P.2d 776; People v. Zapien (1993) 4 Cal.4th 929, 982, 17 Cal.Rptr.2d 122, 846 P.2d 704.) By the same token, if the evidence adduced at trial establishes as 112 Cal.App.4th 1219 a matter of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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