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People v. Govea

June 22, 2009


APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Patrick T. Meyers, Judge. Modified and affirmed. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. MA033398).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzukawa, J.


Defendant Ray Ronnie Govea appeals from the judgment entered following his retrial and conviction by jury of attempted murder, assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, aggravated mayhem, and the unlawful taking of a vehicle.*fn2 (Pen. Code, §§ 664/187, subd. (a), 245, subd. (a)(1), 205, Veh. Code, § 10851, subd. (a).) The jury also found that defendant inflicted great bodily injury upon the victim under circumstances involving domestic violence during the commission of the attempted murder and assault, and used a deadly and dangerous weapon during the commission of the attempted murder. (Pen. Code, §§ 12022.7, subd. (e), 12022, subd. (b)(1).)*fn3 He contends: (1) the trial court‟s failure to conduct a Marsden*fn4 hearing violated his constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel; (2) the court erred by failing to grant his motion for a mistrial; (3) the court improperly instructed the jury; and (4) there is insufficient evidence to support the attempted murder and aggravated mayhem convictions. In the published portion of the opinion we conclude that there was no prejudicial Marsden error, and in the unpublished portion of the opinion we find the remainder of defendant‟s claims to be without merit. We noticed that the abstract of judgment does not accurately reflect the sentence ordered by the court. We direct the trial court to modify the abstract and, as modified, affirm the judgment.


In the early morning hours of October 11, 2005, defendant and his wife, Valerie Robles, were at his mother‟s apartment.*fn5 Robles claimed she could not recall any of the events of that night due to her ingestion of methamphetamine.*fn6 She had been under the influence of the drug for several days. She knew only that she suffered injuries and ended up in the hospital. At the time of trial, she had a scar under her eye and on her elbow, bicep, and breast. A bone under her eye had shifted and caused her to have problems with vision. Robles identified a number of photographs that were taken while she was in the hospital and said they depicted her injuries. She left the hospital with stitches and staples over several areas of her body, her eye, upper torso, arms, and thigh, and a sling that she wore for several months. She denied speaking to Los Angeles County Sheriff‟s Detective Elizabeth Sheppard regarding the events that led to her hospitalization.

Detective Sheppard interviewed Robles at the hospital on October 11. Robles told her that defendant had stabbed her. She said that just prior to the stabbing, defendant was pacing and acting strange. She told defendant to come to bed. Defendant left the room and returned. He struck her in the eye, and Robles felt blood on her face. Defendant hit her under the breast. Robles realized that defendant had a sharp weapon, and she raised her arms in an attempt to ward him off. Defendant continued to stab her. Fearing that she would be killed, Robles struggled to get up and leave the room. She screamed for defendant‟s mother to help her. With the assistance of a nurse, Sheppard took photographs of Robles‟s injuries.

The photographs and Robles‟s medical records were received into evidence.

At approximately 4:00 a.m. on October 11, Steven Lord was in his apartment when he heard a woman screaming for help. He looked out of his window, saw a woman lying on the ground, and called 911. After making the call, Lord walked outside with a flashlight and approached the woman. Although it was cold outside, she was wearing only a shirt and underpants.

Los Angeles County Sheriff‟s Deputy Keith Greene received a call at about 4:30 a.m. on October 11, informing him that a person was screaming in an apartment complex. He responded to that location, arriving in approximately four minutes. As he walked toward the courtyard, he could hear a woman screaming that she had been stabbed. Deputy Greene approached the woman, later identified as Valerie Robles, who was lying on the ground. He noticed that she was bleeding from her torso and face. He asked her what had happened, and she said, "Ronnie stabbed me."

After paramedics took Robles from the scene, Greene searched unsuccessfully for a weapon. He walked to one of the nearby apartments after noticing that the front door was open and a window was broken. He looked into the apartment and noticed "a blood-splattered trail in the entryway." He entered the unit and saw Priscilla Govea. The deputy noticed blood in several areas of the apartment and took photographs.

Govea told him that she was awakened at about 4:25 a.m. by Robles‟s screaming. She came out of her room and saw Robles bleeding. As Govea picked up the phone to call 911, she saw defendant grab her car keys and leave the apartment. Govea said she did not give defendant permission to take her car. She filed a stolen vehicle report and told a deputy sheriff that her son, Ronnie Govea, had taken her car.

Defendant called no witnesses.

On December 11, the jury returned the verdict as set forth above. On January 30, 2008, defendant admitted that he had suffered one prior serious felony conviction and had served four prior prison terms. (§§ 667, subd. (a), 1170.12, subds. (a)-(d), 667.5, subd. (b).) The court denied defendant‟s motion to strike the prior serious felony conviction and sentenced him to life in prison, ordering that he serve a minimum of 14 years before becoming eligible for parole due to his prior serious felony conviction, and a consecutive determinate term of nine years, which included five years for his prior serious felony conviction. This appeal followed.


I. The Failure to Hear Defendant's Marsden Motions

Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it refused to hear his Marsden motions during the period when criminal proceedings were suspended. While we conclude that the court should have conducted a hearing even though defendant‟s ...

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