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Name: People v. Morris
Case #: C060358
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 06/22/2010

A Penal Code section 667.9, subdivision (a) enhancement (elder or developmentally disabled victim) requires proof the defendant knew, or reasonably should have known, the victim was a person who qualified under the statute. Appellant snatched a purse belonging to someone he was acquainted with by virtue of shopping at the same market. A jury convicted appellant of robbery and also found true an enhancement alleging the victim was developmentally disabled. (Pen. Code, sec. 667.9, subd. (a).) Appellant argued there was insufficient evidence to sustain the enhancement because, while he referred to the victim as a “crazy lady,” he did not know, or reasonably should have known, she was developmentally disabled within the meaning of the statute. The court agreed. While the jury could have inferred appellant knew the victim had some kind of mental impairment, the concepts of mental impairment and developmental disability as used in the statute are not coextensive. To satisfy the knowledge requirement for the enhancement, there had to be evidence that appellant knew the victim was mentally impaired, and knew (or reasonably should have known) that as a result, she has a severe, chronic disability that was likely to continue indefinitely and that resulted in her being substantially functionally limited in three or more areas of life activity identified in the statute. In this case, all appellant knew when he snatched the victim’s purse was that she had some sort of mental impairment.