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Name: People v. Dearborne
Case #: G054763
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/21/2019

Pinning down a victim and pressing an object the victim believed to be a gun into her side constituted force sufficient for a conviction for forcible rape. A jury convicted Dearborne of various sex, kidnapping, and robbery offenses, including two counts of forcible rape in concert (Pen. Code, § 261.4, subd. (a)) and forcible oral copulation in concert (Pen. Code, § 288a, subd. (d)), after Dearborne and his girlfriend kidnapped a victim and raped her, then forced the victim into acts of prostitution with a john. On appeal, Dearborne challenged the sufficiency of the evidence of the forcible rape in…

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Name: People v. Canizales
Case #: S221958
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 06/24/2019

The "kill zone" theory for establishing the specific intent to kill required for attempted murder is proper when the only reasonable inference from the evidence is that the defendant intended to kill everyone in the zone of fatal harm to ensure the death of his primary victim. Defendants Canizales and Windfield were tried for first degree murder and two counts of attempted murder arising from a gang-related shooting. The murder victim was a bystander who was shot during the defendants' attempt to kill the targeted victim, Pride. The trial court gave a kill zone instruction as to one of the…

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Name: People v. Vasquez
Case #: B281178
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 12/27/2018

Trial court erred by failing to instruct on lesser included offense of involuntary manslaughter where substantial evidence showed the defendant lacked awareness of the victim's particular vulnerability to fatal injury. Vasquez and a codefendant were charged with special circumstance first degree murder and attempted robbery after an assault on Smith resulted in his death. Smith had metal rods in his neck from a prior surgery, making him susceptible to neck injury. The medical examiner testified most of Smith's injuries were nonlethal on their own. However, Smith's neck fractured near the rods as a result of blunt force trauma, with the…

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Name: People v. Stutelberg
Case #: D073266
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 11/21/2018

Erroneous jury instructions allowing jury to conclude that a box cutter is an inherently deadly weapon constituted legal error, requiring reversal of one count. During an altercation outside a bar, Stutelberg jabbed a box cutter at Michelle and Chris, cutting Michelle's head but not injuring Chris. Stutelberg was convicted of mayhem with a deadly weapon enhancement (Pen. Code, §§ 203, 12022, subd. (b)(1)) as to Michelle, and assault with a deadly weapon (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(1)) as to Chris. As to both deadly weapon allegations, the jury was instructed that a box cutter could be considered…

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Name: People v. Tseng
Case #: B270877
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 12/14/2018

Substantial evidence supported physician's three convictions for second degree murder of patients who died from drug overdoses where the physician was aware her prescribing practices posed a risk of death. Tseng, a doctor, worked in a clinic that had a reputation as a place where patients could easily obtain prescriptions for controlled substances. Between 2007 and 2009, nine of Tseng's patients died from drug overdoses. She was prosecuted for three counts of second degree murder and found guilty. On appeal, she argued there was insufficient evidence of implied malice to sustain the convictions. Held: Affirmed. The malice required for second…

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Name: People v. Valdez
Case #: B281975
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 10/17/2018

Defendant, who was confined in county jail awaiting trial, violated Penal Code section 243.9, subdivision (a) (battery by gassing) when he spit on a sheriff's deputy in a courtroom before returning to the courthouse lockup. Valdez was transported from the county jail to attend court proceedings on pending charges. He was held in a lockup cell connected to the courtroom before his court appearance. After his appearance was over, a sheriff's deputy instructed Valdez to return to the lockup. He spit on her face. Based on this incident, he was convicted of battery by gassing. On appeal, he argued…

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Name: In re Loza
Case #: G054978
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/28/2018

Premeditated murder conviction reversed where record did not reflect whether the verdict was based on a theory of direct aiding and abetting or a natural and probable consequences theory, which was invalidated in People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155. In 2004, Cesar Loza handed a gun to a fellow gang member, who shot and killed a rival gang member. Loza was convicted of first degree premeditated murder. On appeal, he argued the instructions allowed the jury to convict him on an invalid theory of natural and probable consequences rather than a direct aider and abettor theory. Held: Reversed. An…

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Name: In re B.M.
Case #: B277076
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 04/20/2017

Juvenile court's factual finding that a common butter knife was a deadly weapon was not wholly irreconcilable with the evidence. Appellant, a minor, attacked her sister with a metal butter knife while her sister was lying on her back in bed. The sister covered herself with a blanket for protection. Although she felt pressure from the knife through the blanket, she was not injured. The juvenile court sustained a Welfare and Institutions Code section 602 petition alleging appellant committed felony assault with a deadly weapon (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(1)). On appeal, appellant argued there was insufficient evidence that…

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Name: People v. White
Case #: S228049
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 01/19/2017

Rape of an unconscious person and rape of an intoxicated person are separate offenses and defendant may be convicted of both based on the same act. Defendant had sex with a woman in a hotel room after she drank a large amount of alcohol with him at a bar. The woman did not remember leaving the bar and her next memory after being at the bar was waking up in a bed with defendant beside her. A jury convicted defendant of both rape of an intoxicated person (Pen. Code, § 261, subd. (a)(3)) and rape of an…

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Name: People v. Alvarez
Case #: C076235
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/22/2016

Once police officer's transportation of an arrested person is no longer for legitimate law enforcement objectives, it may transmute into a kidnapping. Alvarez, while on patrol in his official capacity as a West Sacramento police officer, induced five women to provide him sexual favors to avoid being taken to jail. He was convicted of multiple counts of aggravated kidnapping, and oral copulation/rape under threat of authority and by duress. Multiple sentencing enhancements, including kidnapping in the commission of the offenses, were sustained. On appeal, Alvarez raised numerous claims. With respect to the kidnapping counts and enhancements, Alvarez claimed that some…

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