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Name: People v. Lepere (2023) 91 Cal.App.5th 727
Case #: G061393
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/16/2023
Subsequent History: Modified 6/2/2023
Summary

Motion to suppress DNA evidence was properly denied where the affidavit supporting the search warrant was sufficiently detailed and established probable cause. In 2021, through the use of a genealogy website and DNA extracted from a rape kit, defendant became a person of interest in a 1980 rape and murder case. A search warrant of defendant’s house was issued and items seized from his trash linked him to the crime. He was convicted of murder. On appeal, he argued the police officer’s affidavit in support of the search warrant lacked probable cause and his motion to suppress the DNA evidence was improperly denied. Held: Affirmed. The affidavit provided the officer’s detailed description of the crime scene, contained another detective’s opinion that defendant was a suspect, summarized the DNA investigation, and outlined the FBI’s “Investigative Genealogy” technique. While a more fact-intensive description of “Investigative Genealogy” may have been helpful, the level of detail in the affidavit was adequate. Even if the court were to find the affidavit was not sufficiently detailed, under the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule, it would not be necessary to exclude the evidence.

Defendant’s claim of prosecutorial misconduct was forfeited, and defendant did not establish ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to object. On appeal, defendant argued the prosecutor engaged in burden shifting and misstated the jury instructions during closing argument, but the court found these claims forfeited. Further, defendant could not show he was prejudiced by counsel’s failure to object, as the prosecutor accurately stated the burden of proof at the beginning of closing argument and the court gave the correct jury instructions. It is not reasonably probable that the jurors misapplied the law, or that an objection and/or a curative instruction would have resulted in an outcome more favorable to defendant. Moreover, undisputed DNA evidence and defendant’s testimony provided overwhelming evidence of his guilt.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/G061393M.PDF