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The People v. Ernest Junior Maea

December 14, 2010


APPEAL from the Superior Court of San Bernardino County. (Super.Ct.No. FMB008276) William Jefferson Powell IV, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hollenhorst J.

P. v. Maea



California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.




Defendant Ernest Junior Maea appeals from his conviction of second degree murder (Pen. Code,*fn1 187, subd. (a); count 1) and attempted murder (§§ 664, 187, subd. (a); count 2) with associated enhancements. Defendant contends: (1) the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury sua sponte on voluntary manslaughter based on theories of sudden quarrel or heat of passion and imperfect self-defense, and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the death certificate into evidence because it contained information that was more prejudicial than probative. We find no prejudicial error, and we affirm.


A. Prosecution Evidence

On May 17, 2006, Kevin McClennon*fn2 visited the home of Faasauvale Sele in Twenty-nine Palms; Kevin had been drinking. At one point, while Sele was talking on the telephone, Kevin passed him a note offering to be the godfather to Sele's child. The note upset Sele, and he and Kevin got into a fistfight. After the fight, Kevin, who appeared to have a broken nose, got into his van as if to leave, and he and Sele were "talking trash" to each other. Sele challenged Kevin to fight, but Kevin refused to get out of the van. Kevin drove the van more than once toward the house as if he was going to hit it. Sele threw a large planter at the van; the planter broke from the impact. Kevin finally drove away.

Later that day, Kevin telephoned defendant at defendant's work. When defendant returned home, he told his girlfriend, Lashara McClennon, who was also Kevin's daughter, about the fight. Defendant said he was going to talk to Sele.

Sometime after 11:00 p.m. on May 17, 2006, Sele agreed to go to Banning with Majadi Morgan to get some methamphetamine. Just as they were leaving, defendant knocked on the door. Morgan balled up his fist as if to take a swing, but he did not actually swing his fist at defendant. Sele said it was "cool," and he and Morgan went outside with defendant. Morgan sat on the hood of his car, while defendant and Sele talked a few feet away. Defendant wanted to know what the fight with Kevin had been about. Morgan testified that the men laughed and joked about the situation and how stupid it was. Sele apologized for what had happened.

Morgan got into his car to listen to some music, while defendant and Sele continued to talk outside. Morgan thought he heard defendant say, "All right, homie. I'll get at you tomorrow. I'm going to talk to him about what happened today." Sele replied, "All right." Sele suddenly yelled "no" loudly. Morgan saw defendant point a gun at Sele and shoot him twice. Defendant then turned the gun on Morgan and shot him three times through the back window of the car. Morgan testified that nothing about the circumstances leading to the shooting had been aggressive or negative, and he had seen no struggle between Sele and defendant. Neither Morgan nor Sele had a gun that night, and Morgan had never seen Sele with a gun.

Sele died from a bullet wound to the left upper chest; he had also been shot in the left shoulder. The pathologist testified that, because there was no soot or stippling present, the shots had been fired from at least one to two feet away. Morgan was shot three times but survived. A deputy testified that based on trajectory analysis of the shots fired into Morgan's car, the shooter was located near the right rear quarter panel of the vehicle when the shots were fired. Before he died, Sele told his mother's boyfriend that defendant had been the shooter.

Kevin and his wife arrived at Sele's house while the police and paramedics were there. Kevin began yelling at Morgan and told him to "shut up," or he knew what he was going to get. Morgan took that to be a threat. Because of the threat and because he was on parole, Morgan was not entirely truthful with the police at first. However, after he was released from the hospital, he identified defendant as the shooter.

In a search of defendant's apartment, police found an empty gun case inside a cooler on the kitchen floor. The police obtained a serial number from the case and determined that the gun with that serial number had been reported stolen in 2006. The registered owner of the gun lived about two blocks from Sele's house, and the owner suspected Sele of the theft. No gun was recovered.

Gunshot residue (GSR) tests were done on defendant, Kevin, Sele, and Morgan. The tests were negative for Kevin and Morgan. Two GSR particles were found on Sele's left hand and none on his right hand. One GSR particle was found on defendant's left hand and none on the right hand. The deputy concluded the tests showed that Sele and defendant might have discharged a firearm, handled a ...

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