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Name: People v. Kraft
Case #: S013187
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/10/2000
Subsequent History: Rehearing denied 10/18/00
Summary

In a capital prosecution, the trial court did not err when it denied appellant’s motion to sever 16 homicide counts and try them separately in 16 trials. Most of the evidence on the various charges was cross-admissible. The fact that the murders were not committed in exactly the same way did not preclude cross-admissibility. The motion to suppress evidence seized from appellant’s house, car, and business was properly denied. Appellant was stopped by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for driving on the shoulder of the road. The detention was not unduly prolonged, given that the CHP officer suspected that appellant was driving under the influence. As appellant failed the field sobriety tests, the arrest was lawful. The CHP officer then tried to rouse appellant’s passenger, who he thought was asleep. When he discovered that the passenger was dead, he sought a warrant to search the vehicle. The warrant was not overbroad, and authorized the search for the items seized from the vehicle. The record provided ample support for the conclusion that all the items taken from the vehicle were either taken pursuant to a valid warrant or because they were in plain view. Likewise, the subsequent warrant to search appellant’s home was supported by probable cause, and all items seized from his home were either within the scope of the warrant or in plain view. Further, the search of appellant’s former place of business was also lawful because the probable cause supporting the warrant was based on the lawful searches of appellant’s car and home. As there may have been a tactical reason for retaining a juror whose brother-in-law was a friend of one of the victims, the record does not adequately support a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. There was no error where the court admitted testimony from a long-time resident of Huntington Beach who testified that the location where the body had been found was known as “Airplane Hill,” a name which had been found on appellant’s cryptic list seized from his car. The witness personally knew the area by this name, and therefore the testimony was not hearsay. There was no abuse of discretion where the trial court admitted a handwritten coded list of appellant’s victims. The item at issue, a notebook containing a sheet of paper with 61 cryptic entries the prosecution maintained was a list of charged murder victims as well as several uncharged victims, was relevant. The probative value outweighed any potential prejudicial effect. The fact that the prosecution could link numerous entries on the list to the victims suggests that the document was what the prosecution suggested it was. Although the list constituted hearsay, it was admissible under the exception for statements by a party. There was sufficient evidence of mayhem where the coroner testified that it was possible that the victim’s penis and scrotum were severed at the time of death. There was no authority for appellant’s contention that the trial court should have augmented the juror fees for such a lengthy trial. Due process does not require augmentation of statutory juror compensation, and excusing jurors due to potential financial hardship does not violate the cross-section requirement. Appellant’s argument that the seizure of pharmacy records from him violated his right to privacy was waived, as it was not raised below in the trial court. Even if the claim was not waived, there was no error requiring reversal. There was sufficient evidence that the murder of one victim took place during the commission of sodomy, given the pattern of offenses which involved gaining control of the victims through drugs and/or alcohol, followed by killing, sexual misconduct, and mutilation. There was sufficient evidence of mayhem where the coroner testified that it was possible that the victim’s penis and scrotum were severed at the time of death. There was sufficient evidence to support the murder convictions on all the victims. The trial court’s refusal of appellant’s pinpoint instructions regarding the identity of the killer did not deprive him of due process. The jury was adequately instructed by means of CALJIC 2.90 and 2.91, and appellant’s proposed instructions were argumentative. The trial court’s refusal of appellant’s pinpoint instructions regarding the identity of the killer did not deprive him of due process. The jury was adequately instructed by means of CALJIC 2.90 and 2.91, and appellant’s proposed instructions were argumentative. The giving of an instruction regarding modus operandi was not error because of the commonality of certain features of the various offenses. The task of determining the degree of distinctiveness and the number of circumstances necessary to establish appellant’s guilt was a matter for the jury. The court did not err when it denied appellant’s motion to have the jury view the scene where one victim’s body was found. Photographs and testimony were admitted, and the jury was able to draw its own inferences. There was no authority for appellant’s contention that the trial court should have augmented the juror fees for such a lengthy trial. Due process does not require augmentation of statutory juror compensation, and excusing jurors due to potential financial hardship does not violate the cross-section requirement.