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The People v. Jeffrey Berrouet

December 16, 2010

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
JEFFREY BERROUET, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Superior Court of San Bernardino County. John P. Vander Feer, Judge. Affirmed. (Super.Ct.No. FBA800433)

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

P.

v.

Berrouet CA4/2

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

OPINION

I

INTRODUCTION

On August 27, 2008, a third amended felony complaint charged defendant and appellant Jeffrey Berrouet and co-defendant Dudzai Prosper Pswatai with (1) murder of Robert Mastrangelo (the victim) under Penal Code*fn1 section 187, subdivision (a) (count 1); (2) kidnapping of the victim under section 207, subdivision (a) (count 2); and (3) second degree robbery of the victim under section 211 (count 3). The complaint also charged co-defendant Pswatai with solicitation of murder under section 653f, subdivision (b). Moreover, the complaint alleged that counts 1, 2, and 3 were committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang, within the meaning of section 186.22, subdivision (b)(1)(C). The complaint further alleged that, with respect to counts 1, 2, and 3, a principal personally used a firearm, a handgun, under section 12022.53, subdivisions (b) and (e)(1); a principal personally and intentionally discharged a firearm, a handgun, under section 12022.53, subdivisions (c) and (e)(1); and a principal personally and intentionally discharged a firearm, a handgun, which proximately caused great bodily injury and death to the victim under section 12022.53, subdivisions (d) and (e)(1).

At the arraignment on February 17, 2009, defendant entered a plea of not guilty and denied the allegations. The next day, pursuant to a plea agreement, defendant pled guilty to first degree felony murder, based on his participation in a robbery, in exchange for a sentence of 25 years to life and a dismissal of the remaining counts and allegations. Moreover, pursuant to the plea agreement, defendant agreed to testify in the proceedings related to co-defendant Pswatai.

On March 11, 2009, defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. An amended motion was filed on June 25, 2009. The People opposed defendant's motion. On September 11, 2009, at the conclusion of the evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied defendant's motion. Thereafter, on October 19, 2009, the trial court sentenced defendant to 25 years to life in state prison.

On October 27, 2009, defendant filed a notice of appeal. That same day, the trial court granted defendant's request for a certificate of probable cause. On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. For the reasons set forth below, we shall affirm the judgment.

II

STATEMENT OF FACTS*fn2

On June 14, 2008, a jogger discovered the victim's body on the side of the road in Barstow. The victim, clothed only in underwear, had a gunshot wound to his head, a gunshot wound below his left nipple, an injury to the rear of his head, and a wound in the center of his stomach. He also had bruises on his legs; his ankles were bound with a piece of black cloth.

The victim's sister, Kimberly, who had reported the victim missing, told police that she last saw her brother alive on June 11, 2008, when she dropped him off at a fast food restaurant. The victim was to meet with defendant, also known as "Flutter" or "Slutter," at the restaurant. Also, the victim, an aspiring rap music star known as "Self Sufficient," may have been involved in the sale of the drug ecstasy.

Defendant's girlfriend, Celina Sanchez,*fn3 told police that on June 10, 2008, defendant and co-defendant Pswatai (also known as "Baby IQ") were angry. They talked about doing an "Alpha Dog" (kidnapping, holding hostage, tying up and killing) to someone who wronged defendant and co-defendant. The next day, defendant and co-defendant Pswatai borrowed Sanchez's vehicle to talk to someone. After they returned to Sanchez's house, she saw co-defendant Pswatai counting a large sum of money. On June 12, defendant borrowed Sanchez's vehicle again. Defendant returned the car, washed and without the floor ...


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