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The People v. Jose Mario Armendariz

February 8, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
JOSE MARIO ARMENDARIZ, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 06F03703)

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

P. v. Armendariz

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

A jury found defendant Jose Mario Armendariz guilty of murder in the first degree (count one) and aggravated assault by a life prisoner with malice aforethought causing death (count two). (Pen. Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 4500.)*fn1 The court sentenced defendant to a term of life without the possibility of parole on count two, and a term of 25 years to life on count one (which the court stayed under section 654).

On appeal, defendant contends the trial court abused its discretion and violated his constitutional rights in (1) restraining him during trial; (2) denying him the right to be present and the right to testify at trial; and (3) denying his Marsden motion.*fn2 We shall affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On May 25, 2005, defendant was a state prison inmate who shared a cell with Ramon Escobar. On that date, defendant and Escobar had recently returned to their cell from the recreation yard--and the cell door had been locked with only the two of them inside--when correctional officers heard defendant shouting in Spanish. Officers ran to the cell.

The responding officers looked into the cell and saw Escobar lying in a large pool of blood. Defendant, who was standing in the cell, had blood covering most of his clothing but no significant injuries.

Escobar was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers noticed that a substantial amount of Ramen noodles were strewn throughout the cell and on Escobar's body. Also inside the cell, a rope made from a towel or sheet was attached to the upper bunk.

A pathologist performed an autopsy on Escobar's body. The pathologist found Escobar had sustained blunt force trauma to his head, and had ligature furrows on his neck, possibly from the use of the rope that was found in the cell. Escobar was also found to have had a small amount of food in his trachea (airway). The pathologist concluded the cause of death was blunt force injuries to the head and ligature strangulation.

A criminalist compared the pattern from the soles of defendant's shoes to the injuries on Escobar's head and concluded that defendant's shoes may have caused the injuries.

DISCUSSION

I. Use of Restraints at Trial

On appeal, defendant contends the trial court abused its discretion in restraining him during trial because there was no showing of manifest need. We conclude that any such error was harmless.

On the first day of trial, before the jury heard testimony, the court heard testimony from Correctional Sergeant Daniel Rosensteel regarding the ...


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