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Name: People v. Cunningham
Case #: E063206
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 02/17/2016
Summary

Where doctors medically induced a coma to save the victim’s life, the evidence supported an enhancement for infliction of great bodily injury which caused the victim to become comatose. A jury convicted defendant of attempted murder (Pen. Code, §§ 664/187), robbery (Pen. Code, § 211), and found true that defendant inflicted great bodily injury which caused the victim to become comatose (Pen. Code, § 12022.7, subd. (b)). Defendant admitted a prior prison term enhancement (Pen. Code, § 667.5, subd. (c)) and two prior serious felonies (Pen. Code, § 667, subds. (a)(1), (c), (e)). He received life Three Strikes sentences plus a determinate term. On appeal, defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support the great bodily injury enhancement because the victim’s coma had been medically induced. Held: Affirmed. Penal Code section 12022.7, subdivision (b) provides a five-year enhancement where a defendant personally inflicts great bodily injury which causes the victim to become comatose due to brain injury. For purposes of this enhancement, a victim is comatose if she is in a state characterized by profound unconsciousness. This enhancement applies whether the defendant causes the comatose state directly or indirectly by inflicting injuries that require doctors to induce a coma to treat a brain injury. In this case, there was substantial evidence that doctors sedated the victim to induce a complete lack of consciousness in order to save her life and repair damage done to her skull and brain by defendant. This is sufficient evidence to support the enhancement.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/E063206.PDF