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The People v. Amir A. Ahmed

January 21, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
AMIR A. AHMED, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



Super.Ct.No. RIF145548 APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County. Sharon J. Waters, Judge. Affirmed as modified.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richli Acting P.J.

CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION*fn1

OPINION

Defendant Amir A. Ahmed shot his girlfriend once in the abdomen. According to the girlfriend, this occurred during an argument, shortly after defendant said, "Bitch, I'll shoot you." Defendant testified in his own behalf (although he contends in this appeal that he was forced to do so, because the girlfriend volunteered prejudicial information about him, and the trial court erroneously refused to grant a mistrial). According to defendant, there was no argument; the shooting occurred by accident, as he was trying to unload the gun.

A jury found defendant not guilty of either attempted murder (Pen. Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 664) or attempted voluntary manslaughter (Pen. Code, §§ 192, subd. (a), 664), but guilty of assault with a firearm (Pen. Code, § 245, subd. (a)(2)). An enhancement for the personal use of a firearm (Pen. Code, § 12022.5, subd. (a)) and an enhancement for the personal infliction of great bodily injury under circumstances involving domestic violence (Pen. Code, § 12022.7, subd. (e)) were both found true. Defendant admitted two 1-year prior prison term enhancements. The trial court sentenced defendant to a total of 13 years in prison.

We find no error affecting the conviction. However, we do agree with defendant that the imposition of separate and unstayed sentences on both the firearm use enhancement and the great bodily injury enhancement violated Penal Code section 654 (section 654). Hence, we will stay the firearm use enhancement.

I

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. The Prosecution's Case.

Defendant and victim Larin Romo lived together "[o]ff and on." They had a daughter together. The relationship was always "rocky"; they "fought all the time . . . ." During the relationship, they both used methamphetamine.

On August 7, 2006, defendant called Romo and asked her to come over to his apartment. At that point, they had been broken up for about a month.

Around 1:00 a.m. on August 8, Romo arrived with two friends, Mike McPeak and Christina Solares. Defendant was just getting home himself; he entered the apartment with them. Defendant and Romo started arguing. After 10 or 15 minutes, Solares and McPeak left.

Defendant and Romo continued to argue about their relationship. Romo called defendant "names." Romo was sitting on the kitchen floor; she was taking "stuff" out of bags and putting it away. Defendant was sitting at a table about 10 feet away. He had a gun. Romo saw him put it away in a bag. This was "normal"; she had known him to carry a gun before. He "might have" said "something like, [']Bitch, I'll shoot you.[']"

Suddenly, Romo was shot in the stomach. She heard the shot, but she was not looking at defendant when it was fired. Defendant carried her into the bedroom and laid her on the bed. He was upset and crying. At first, he did not want to call for help. In Romo's opinion, "he was more worried about himself getting in trouble than he was about me dying." She promised him "if he called the cops, that [she] wouldn't tell them that he did it." Defendant then called 911.

When police officers arrived, defendant let them in. Romo told them she had been out on the balcony when she was shot by an unknown person. Defendant consented to a search of the apartment. In a desk drawer in defendant's bedroom, inside a box of staples, the officers found a .38-caliber handgun magazine.*fn1 They did not find any gun or any shell casings.

Romo had been struck by a single bullet, which entered her lower front abdomen, broke her pelvis, and lodged in her hip. It perforated her colon twice and her small intestine seven times. These wounds would have been fatal if not promptly treated.

The next day, August 9, the police interviewed defendant. He said he did not know who shot Romo. The police also searched his apartment again. This time, they found a single live .38-caliber bullet. It was in a ring box, under the cardboard supporting a ring.

Also on August 9, the police interviewed Romo at the hospital. She said again that she had been out on the balcony when she was shot, and she did not know who shot her. However, she also said, "I'm afraid to tell you who shot me."

On August 15, the police interviewed Romo again at the hospital. They told her they knew that defendant was the one who shot her, and it was time for her to be honest. This time, Romo said that defendant shot her. She added, "[H]e was mad at me and he just shot me, like nonchalantly, like whatever." Her statement was consistent with her testimony at trial.

While Romo was in the hospital, she told a friend, "Blur[*fn2 ] shot me." She added, "[I]f he hadn't been afraid, he would have let me die." During a CAT scan, Romo told the technician, "My baby's daddy shot me." She likewise told the discharge nurse that she had been shot by the father of her child.

As of February 2007, Romo was in jail.*fn3 She realized that the bullet was coming to the surface, because her "hip was starting to swell and the skin was turning black . . . ." At first, she ignored it, because she did not want "them" to have the bullet to use as evidence against defendant. Once the wound started bleeding, however, she sought medical attention. The bullet was removed and found to be .38 caliber. It was tarnished and corroded, which made it impossible to determine what kind of gun it had been fired from.

In February 2007, at the preliminary hearing, Romo testified that she was out on the balcony and did not know who shot her. At trial, she explained that she lied because she was "afraid" -- not of defendant, but of some people who knew defendant and who had told her "to keep [her] mouth shut." She was also afraid because she was going to be in custody, where "[t]hey don't like snitches." In addition, she wanted to protect defendant.

In May 2007, the police interviewed Romo one more time. She admitted that, during the argument, she called defendant a "sand nigger." Otherwise, her statement was consistent with her testimony at trial.

B. Defense Evidence.

Defendant admitted shooting Romo, but he denied doing so intentionally.

Defendant testified that it was Romo who asked to come over and visit him. When she called, he was at the home of his friend Darrin. Darrin owed defendant $100 but did not have the money, so he gave defendant a .38-caliber semiautomatic instead. He told defendant there was one bullet in it.

Defendant got back to his apartment just as Romo, McPeak, and Solares were arriving. All four of them were "on" methamphetamine. Defendant had been up for a couple of days and was not thinking straight. He denied that he had any argument with Romo or that she called him any names.

Defendant testified that he asked McPeak to take the gun, because he (defendant) was on parole. Defendant then proceeded to unload the gun. He racked the slide twice -- once to move the bullet into the chamber, and once to "pop" the bullet out of the gun. This left the hammer cocked. Defendant then pulled the trigger to release the hammer. Actually, however, there was a ...


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