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People v. Townsend

March 15, 2010

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT
v.
REBIO TOWNSEND, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. F427526) (San Luis Obispo County). Roger D. Randall, Judge.*fn1

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

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Here we conclude possession of a "Molotov cocktail" is an offense involving an implied threat to use force or violence under the mentally disordered offender (MDO) Act. (Pen. Code, § 2962.)*fn2

Rebio Townsend appeals a judgment committing him to the Department of Mental Health for treatment as an MDO following his conviction of possession of destructive devices, Molotov cocktails. (§ 12303.) We affirm.

FACTS

Townsend filed a petition for a hearing (§ 2966, subd. (b)) following a Board of Prison Terms determination that he met the MDO criteria. He waived his right to a jury trial.

At trial, psychiatrist David Fennell testified that Townsend met all the criteria for an MDO commitment. He said Townsend has a "schizoaffective disorder," impaired impulse control, a severe mood disorder, "low frustration tolerance," and "mental-health symptoms since approximately 1978." Fennell also opined that Townsend's disorders are not in remission; he has "auditory hallucinations," has threatened medical staff, has a "lack of insight into his illness and . . . his need for treatment," has a long history of a "schizoaffective disorder," and he "distorts reality."

Townsend's commitment offense in October 2006 involved possession of "two unlighted Molotov cocktails." At the time of this offense, Townsend had "paranoid delusions." These included his delusional beliefs that his neighbors were "involved in systematically burglarizing homes . . . [and] malfeasance with the payment of mortgage payments . . . ." Townsend told law enforcement officers that "he carries [Molotov cocktails] for self-protection."Prior to his commitment offense, Townsend also had an arson conviction in March 2006.

Following his commitment offense, when he was a patient at a state hospital in 2008, Townsend sent a letter to a neighbor stating that he had placed 40 Molotov cocktails on her property. After the neighbor reported this incident, the police went to her yard and found 12 Molotov cocktails. Townsend subsequently told police that he was going to use the Molotov cocktails against "bad guys in the neighborhood."

At the conclusion of the prosecution's case, the trial court admitted several exhibits, including a psychological evaluation by forensic psychologist Richard A. Blak, In that report, Blak stated, "It appears that [Townsend] at the time of the controlling offense was certainly in a delusional state with ongoing paranoid ideations, particularly believing that he needed to carry an explosive device to protect himself." He noted that in his prior arson offense, a police officer saw Townsend pouring gasoline on a fire and ordered him to stop. But Townsend "responded 'shoot me' and then spun around spilling gasoline in the direction of the officer." Blak also said that in Townsend's 2008 letter to the neighbor about planting Molotov cocktails, Townsend "indicated that he would use them when released" from the state hospital.

Townsend did not testify and did not present a defense.

DISCUSSION

A Commitment Offense Within the MDO Act

Townsend contends that his commitment offense does not fall within the ...


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