Homicides:People v. Coker
First degree murder conviction reversed because sheriff continued to question suspect after he had invoked right to counsel, thus violating Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
Chico Enterprise Record News Story on Coker
People v. Davis Case #E026922
First degree murder conviction reversed based on the trial court's refusal to give a defense requested instruction that the victim's previous threats justified appellant acting more quickly and taking measures for his and his family's safety. Because the evidence as to whether appellant was acting in the defense of others was closely balanced, because the evidence of premeditation was weak, and because the jury may have thought that the victim's antecedent threats were relevant solely as evidence of premeditation, the failure to so instruct was prejudicial.
People v. Flores, et. al. Case # E031344
Second degree murder conviction reversed for failure to properly instruct the jury that when confronted with deadly force there is not duty to retreat before exercising the right to self defense.
Assault with Deadly Weapon:
People v. Dennis, Case#D034992,
Conviction for battery with serious bodily injury (plus prison and strikes) reversed due to prosecutorial misconduct in argument to jury which commented on defendant's failure to testify (Griffin error). The prosecutor not only referred to defendant's failure to testify, he emphasized the "holes" in defendant's case which only defendant could fill. The Court of Appeal concluded the comments were improper because they crossed the fine line between acceptable comments and forbidden remarks. Further, the prosecutor interrupted the court as it tried to give a cautionary instruction to the jury. Because defendant relied on a self-defense theory, the comments were prejudicial, requiring reversal.
Assault with Firearm
People v. Woodson, Case #E029266,
Conviction of assault with a firearm reversed, because jury violated instruction that defendant could not be convicted of assault because it is a LIO of the attempted murder. One year prison prior stricken because both a 5-year serious felony prior enhancement and prison prior enhancement based on the same conviction cannot be imposed.
People v. Howard, Case #E025763,
Conditional reversal for Wheeler error. Trial court erred in concluding defendants in robbery trial had failed to make prima facie showing prosecution had challenged jurors based on group bias. Trial court should have found prima facie showing and asked the prosecution to explain its reasons. Reversed and remanded with directions for trial court to hold a hearing to determine whether it is still feasible for the prosecution to explain its reasons for the challenges. If so, and if the stated reasons are found to be bona fide, then the judgment will be reinstated; if not, then a new trial must be granted. If judgment is reinstated, armed principal enhancement must be stricken.
Criminal Law • Trials • Appeals • Writs
Special Expertise in Murder and other Serious Felonies