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Name: People v. Garcia
Case #: A098872
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 03/02/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. granted 5/12/04: S124003

Appellant was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. On appeal, he challenged the jury’s return visit to the crime scene during deliberations. First, he argued that it was error for the court to have precluded him, and his counsel, from being present. The appellate court rejected that argument. A second visit to the crime scene during deliberations did not constitute the taking of evidence, when an initial visit was made for this purpose. The jury simply reviewed the evidence it had already seen at the first visit in order to refresh its collective memory. The appellate court analogized the return visit as similar to a readback of testimony or viewing physical evidence in the jury room. Appellant also challenged the dispersal of the jurors during the visit, claiming that some jurors observed evidence which other jurors did not. The appellate court also rejected that claim, finding that no improper jury separation occurred because the entire jury remained at the crime scene, even though jurors went to different parts of the property, (analogizing to one juror looking at a photograph in the jury room which other jurors did not view.) Appellant further challenged the court’s response to a juror question before leaving for the crime scene revisit. The juror asked if he could use a laser pointer to “shoot a line” at the scene. The court denied his request, telling the jurors to use whatever was present at the scene. The appellate court found this issue waived, as it was not raised by appellant until after the jury verdict, in his motion for new trial.