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The People v. Ramiro Leon

April 29, 2011


Super. Ct. No. CRF084846

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

P. v. Leon



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 confrontation between two rival gangs, the Nortenos and Surenos, began on a school bus and moved to Campbell Park in Woodland. It ended with a drive-by shooting; defendant fired out of a car, wounding a boy and just missing a young woman in her car. A jury convicted defendant of deliberate, premeditated attempted murder (Pen. Code, §§ 664, subd. (a); 187, subd. (a)*fn1 ) with gang (§ 186.22, subd. (b)(1)) and discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injury (§ 12022.53, subd. (d)) enhancements; shooting at an occupied motor vehicle (§ 246) with a gang enhancement; and malicious discharge of a firearm from a vehicle (§ 12034, subd. (c)) with enhancements for gang activity and discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury. Sentenced to state prison for 55 years to life, defendant appeals. He contends there is insufficient evidence the attempted murder was willful, deliberate and premeditated. He also requests correction of several sentencing matters, as to which the People concede error. We modify the judgment to correct the sentencing errors and otherwise affirm.


There are over 700 validated gang members in Woodland. Because gang members are most active between the ages of 14 and the late 20's, gangs are a problem in high schools. The predominant gang problem in Woodland stems from the number of Nortenos and Surenos, with Nortenos outnumbering Surenos. The governing body for Nortenos is the prison gang Nuestra Familia, while the governing body for Surenos is the prison gang Mexican Mafia; the two gangs were formed as rivals. The parties stipulated that both Nortenos and Surenos qualify as criminal street gangs under section 186.22.

Gang life is all about preserving one's reputation. To this end, no act of disrespect can go unanswered or the member, and the gang, loses credibility. There are no levels of disrespect; any act must be answered. Gangs equate fear with respect and believe in street justice by retaliation. A member gains status in the gang by committing crimes. Drive-by shootings are common between Surenos and Nortenos, but Surenos consider them cowardice and an edict from the Mexican Mafia declares them not allowed.

East Side Trece or EST is the prominent group of Surenos in Woodland. One has to earn rank to get a gang tattoo. At the time of the shooting, defendant was bald and had several tattoos on his head. These included "Sur," "EST," "530," and "Fuck the World." The area code for Woodland is 530 and it is common for gang members to have tattoos of their area code. Defendant was an active member of the Surenos.

Defendant attended Cache Creek High School. The bus from the high school stopped near Campbell Park. That area is known as Norteno turf. On the school bus, Nortenos sit in back and the Surenos in front. On the day of the shooting, the bus was full and there was a lot of yelling and clay was thrown. There were always problems on the bus, but that day it got out of control. At Fourth Street, a group met the bus and someone spit on it. They talked about meeting at Campbell Park to fight.

B.C., a Cache Creek student who associated with Surenos, saw defendant and two others walking towards Campbell Park; they asked for a ride. Some other Surenos went to the park in a red Scion. When the group of Surenos got to the park they did not fight because there were too many people and they would get jumped.

Defendant said he had a gun and B.C. said, "let's go get it." Defendant got his gun and said he wanted "[t]o do a drive-by." He claimed he was going to shoot in the air. Since B.C. did not want to drive defendant with the gun, she called R.R. R.R. had a pearl white Chrysler 300. The car has tinted windows. The group wanted defendant to go with R.R. because her car had darker windows. Defendant wore black with a blue bandanna across his face. He got in the rear passenger seat of the Chrysler.

J.S. drove her green Honda to the park and stayed inside. J.Z. got off the school bus at Campbell Park as usual. He was ...

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