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Name: People v. Uecker
Case #: C058061
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/24/2009

The crime of stalking (Pen. Code, sec. 646.9) requires that the perpetrator repeatedly harass the victim and make a credible threat with the intent to place the victim in reasonable fear of her safety. The threat includes a threat implied by a pattern of conduct or combination of verbal, written, or electronically communicated statements, and conduct made with the intent to place the targeted person in reasonable fear. The threat must be made with the apparent ability to carry it out so as to cause the target of the threat to reasonably fear for her safety, regardless whether defendant had the intent to actually carry it out. Appellant followed victim #1 almost every work day and/or placed notes on her car for approximately seven months, despite her clearly conveyed message to him that she was not interested. This pattern of conduct, his written notes and verbal statements, implied he was going to do whatever it took to get her to go out with him. This was sufficient evidence he stalked her. With victim #2, a real estate agent, appellant called her over 30 times in three weeks, despite her evidenced desire to him to cut off contact with him. This, too, was sufficient evidence of stalking. Evidence of defendant’s listing as a sex offender is relevant to establish the stalking victim’s fear. Victim #2 discovered that appellant was a registered sex offender on a Megan’s Law database. Thereafter, appellant left a message stating, “Hey, I just want, you know, out of dodge and by now, you probably know why.” The court admitted the evidence to show that appellant made a credible threat with the intent to place the victim in reasonable fear, in so far as he knew that she knew he is a sex offender. The appellate court observed that an issue in the case was whether defendant’s conduct toward victim #2 rose to a credible threat to her safety. The credible threat was the link between appellant’s intent to place victim #2 in reasonable fear of her safety and the reasonable fear she felt. Because of her knowledge that defendant is a registered sex offender it was rationale for her to interpret his conduct and statements in a different light and tended to prove her fear was reasonable. Thus, the evidence was relevant and its probative value was greater than its prejudicial value and it was not error to admit it. The court also rejected appellant’s claim that the trial court erroneously admitted specific witness testimony (prior sexual assault victims’ testimony); denied a Romero motion; and ruled that the 50 years to life penalty was not cruel and unusual under either the state or federal constitution.