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Name: People v. Misa
Case #: D046582
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/21/2006

Sufficient evidence supported a conviction for torture under Penal Code section 206. The appellate court rejected the defendant’s argument that the evidence produced at trial did not support the jury’s finding that he acted with the specific intent to cause cruel or extreme pain or that he acted for revenge, persuasion, or sadistic purposes. The intent necessary for a torture conviction does not require that the defendant acted with premeditation or deliberation or that he intended to cause prolonged pain. The evidence at trial showed that the defendant had used a golf club to strike the victim in the head with sufficient force to crack the victim’s skull, that he continued to the taunt the victim after the victim had suffered substantial and visible injuries, that he refuse to allow others to seek medical help for the victim, and that he sat across from the victim eating breakfast while the victim vomited and lapsed in and out of consciousness. The totality of the circumstances, including the level of violence, the nature of the victim’s injuries, and the defendant’s callous indifference to the victim’s suffering, support an inference of an intent to cause cruel pain and suffering. The court further held that the trial court did not err in imposing two enhancements under Penal Code section 667, subdivision (a), once on a determinate term imposed for assault, and once on the indeterminate term imposed for the torture count. The defendant argued that under People v. Tassell (1984) 36 Cal.3d 77, the prior conviction enhancement was a status enhancement that could be imposed only once. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument and held that the controlling case was People v. Williams (2004) 34 Cal.4th 397, which rendered Tassell inapplicable to indeterminate terms imposed under the Three Strikes law. The defendant here had only one prior serious felony conviction and thus did not receive an indeterminate term under the strikes law, but instead received an indeterminate term for the torture count. However, as noted in Williams, the Three Strikes law differs from Penal Code section 1170.1 in that it fails to draw a distinction between status enhancements and enhancements related to the nature of the offense. Thus, the trial court properly imposed a five-year enhancement as to each count.