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Name: People v. Nunez (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 362
Case #: G061346
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 11/20/2023

Provocation to reduce first degree murder to second degree murder must come from the victim, not a third party. After hearing a rumor that the victim had raped a child, and being encouraged to exact revenge, defendants Gallegos and Nunez chased and beat the victim with metal pipes, and Gallegos stabbed him with a knife six times. In response to a jury question, the trial court instructed that in order for provocation to reduce first degree murder to second degree murder, the provocation must come from the victim, not a third party. Gallegos was convicted of first degree murder and related…

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Name: People v. Suazo (2023) 95 Cal.App.5th 681
Case #: F082140
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/19/2023

A predrinking intent to drive is not required before a jury may find implied malice supporting a second degree Watson murder (People v. Watson (1981) 30 Cal.3d 290). Defendant, while intoxicated, drove his vehicle at a high rate of speed off the highway and into an area occupied by an adjacent tractor supply business. When the vehicle hit agricultural equipment the passenger was ejected and killed. Defendant fled. He was convicted of second degree implied malice Watson murder, as well as other counts. He appealed. Held: Remanded for resentencing. Defendant contended the evidence was insufficient to support his murder conviction,…

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Name: People v. Berg
Case #: H043511
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/25/2018

Trial court properly excluded evidence of defendant's voluntary intoxication because he was charged with possessing a controlled substance in jail, which is a general intent crime. Berg was charged with knowingly possessing methamphetamine in a jail (Pen. Code, § 4573.6) after a search conducted two days following his misdemeanor arrest for public intoxication. At trial, the prosecution moved to exclude testimony about Berg's intoxication at the time of his arrest. Berg argued that the intoxication evidence was relevant to his ability to be aware of the presence of contraband and that the jury should be allowed to determine how intoxication…

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Name: People v. Jackson
Case #: E065757
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 04/17/2018

Trial court's finding that defendant was competent to stand trial at the time of his plea and at sentencing was not supported by substantial evidence. Jackson was charged with lewd acts on a minor in San Bernardino County. A doubt was declared as to his competency and criminal proceedings were suspended. Jackson was declared incompetent to stand trial and committed to Patton State Hospital (Pen. Code, § 1370). The hospital staff found he suffered from mild mental retardation, had a limited capacity to understand legal proceedings, and was unlikely to become competent. However, hospital staff changed their mind in one…

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Name: People v. Shiga
Case #: B256009
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 11/29/2016

Defendant's arson conviction reversed where the trial court was unaware of its discretion to deny a "gray area" defendant's Faretta motion. Shiga set fire to a Catholic church and was charged with arson (Pen. Code, § 451.5, subd. (a)) and other offenses. Prior to trial three doctors evaluated his competence to stand trial. Two of the doctors found him competent while the third found him incompetent. After Shiga and his attorney disagreed about advancing a mental health defense, Shiga asked to represent himself. The prosecutor urged the trial court to conduct a separate evaluation of Shiga's mental competency to represent…

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Name: Jackson v. Superior Court (Riverside County)
Case #: E064010
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 05/24/2016

Defendant who has been committed as incompetent for the maximum period, but who is not gravely disabled, is not entitled to release from custody where new charges are currently pending. In 2008, Jackson was charged with a lewd act on a child (Pen. Code, § 288, subd. (b)). He was found incompetent to stand trial and committed to Patton State Hospital. In May 2015, the trial court ordered defendant's release because he had reached the maximum period of commitment authorized by law (Pen. Code, § 1370, subd. (c)(1)). The prosecution then secured an indictment in a new case, related to…

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Name: People v. Herrera
Case #: B261842
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 05/16/2016

Trial court's improper restriction on defendant's use of psychiatric testimony regarding his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) requires reversal of murder conviction. A jury convicted defendant of first degree murder and found that he personally used a knife (Pen. Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 12022, sub. (b)(1)). During trial he claimed that PTSD, stemming from repeated sexual abuse he suffered as a child, caused him to fear that the deceased, who was a long-time friend, was going to molest him, and he reacted violently. The court restricted the evidence from defendant's forensic psychologist, holding the defense expert could not testify about…

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Name: People v. McGehee
Case #: C073027
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/26/2016

Trial court committed harmless error by failing to instruct jury that defendant's mental illness should be taken into account when determining whether his false statements evidenced a consciousness of guilt. McGehee stabbed his mother 10 times and then lied to his sister to keep her from finding the body. The defense argued that McGehee suffered from schizophrenic delusions involving demons and that he killed his mother during such an episode. The jury was instructed that if MGehee made any false or misleading statements related to the crime, that conduct may show consciousness of guilt. (CALCRIM No. 362.) The jury was…

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Name: People v. James
Case #: A139463
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 07/14/2015

Reversal was required where court refused instruction on unconsciousness as a defense and there was ample evidence that defendant suffered a psychotic episode and was unaware of his actions. James was charged with aggravated mayhem and assault for an attack on a victim. The evidence included testimony that appellant was incoherent, acting very bizarre, and unable to comply with police orders at the time of his arrest. A defense expert testified that James suffered a severe psychotic episode at the time of the incident and that he did not have an awareness of what took place. Although James was a…

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Name: People v. Gana
Case #: G048644
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/05/2015

Trial court did not err by refusing to instruct the jury on involuntary manslaughter based on brandishing a firearm because there was no evidence that the defendant drew or exhibited the firearm in a rude, angry, or threatening manner. Gana shot her husband in the chest, killing him, and then chased her two sons and shot at them, injuring one. Gana made incriminating statements to police and medical personnel indicating that she had been depressed and planned to kill her husband and sons before killing herself. Evidence presented during her trial indicated that her chemotherapy drugs may have caused a…

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