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Name: People v. Daniels
Case #: H032497
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/04/2009
Summary

Evidence of prior rape conviction was properly admitted in prosecution for kidnap for rape. Appellant was convicted of kidnap for rape and numerous prior convictions. On appeal, he contended that the trial court prejudicially erred in admitting evidence of his 1990 prior rape conviction under Evidence Code sections 1101, subdivision (b) and 1108. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that the facts of the 1990 rape were sufficiently similar to support an inference that appellant acted with the same intent on both occasions. Evidence of appellant’s intent had substantial probative value. The damage to his case from the admission of the evidence was only that which naturally flowed from the relevant, highly probative evidence. Therefore the risk of undue prejudice did not substantially outweigh the substantial probative value, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the evidence. The trial court did not err by excluding expert testimony on alcoholic blackouts. Appellant also contended that the trial court abused its discretion in excluding expert testimony on alcoholic blackouts or the effects of alcohol on memory. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that there was substantial support for the trial court’s finding that the proposed testimony would be unduly time consuming, misleading, and confusing to the jury. Even if it erred in excluding the testimony, the error was harmless. The evidence against appellant was strong, and no rational juror would have disregarded it to make the speculative inferential leap which would have been necessary to apply the expert’s confusing proposed testimony. The jury was properly instructed on kidnap of an incapacitated person. Appellant also challenged the jury instruction that allowed the jury to find him guilty if he “used enough force to take and carry away an unresisting person with a mental impairment.” He contended that there was no legal authority to support the relaxation of the force requirement for kidnap where the victim is unconscious or incapacitated. The appellate court rejected that argument as well, finding that when a person is incapacitated or unconscious, the amount of physical force required for kidnap is merely the amount needed to carry the victim away. The instruction given was therefore proper.