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Name: People v. Davis
Case #: A125490
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 04/30/2010
Summary

Penal Code section 790, subdivision (b), permitting consolidation of intercounty murder charges, is not limited to serial murders. A Contra Costa County grand jury returned an indictment in which appellant was charged with the 2006 murder of her infant son which occurred in Contra Costa County, as well as the 2004 murder of a second infant son which occurred in Alameda County; a special circumstance allegation pursuant to Penal Code section 190.2, subdivision (a)(3); and a venue allegation pursuant to Penal Code section 790, subdivision (b). Penal Code section 790, subdivision (b) permits a single trial of intercounty murder charges, accompanied by a multiple-murder special-circumstance allegation, so long as the charged murders are connected together in their commission, as defined in Penal Code section 954. Focusing on footnote 7 in Alcala v. Superior Court (2008) 43 Cal.4th 1205, wherein the Court discussed serial killers in its interpretation of section 790, subdivision (b), the trial court found that section 790, subdivision (b) is directed at serial killers, of which appellant is not one, and granted appellant’s motion to set aside the venue allegation, ordering the Alameda County charges severed and returned to Alameda County. Utilizing an abuse of discretion standard, the appellate court concluded that the trial court erred. The only requirement for joinder of intercounty special circumstance murders is that they be connected together in their commission, as defined in section 954. Here, the grand jury had evidence that the two offenses concerned similar victims, methods of killing, and motives — factors that adequately supported a finding of offenses connected together in their commission, per section 954.