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In Re Raymond Rodel Walker

June 29, 2011


(Super. Ct. No. 91268)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hull ,j.

In re Walker



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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

In 1986, defendant Raymond Rodel Walker killed Kristine Thomas. A jury convicted him of second degree murder, and defendant is serving a prison term of 15 years to life.

On July 6, 2009, at defendant's tenth parole hearing, the Board of Parole Hearings (Board) found defendant suitable for parole. However, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (Governor) reversed the Board's decision, concluding that defendant's release would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society.

Defendant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the superior court, which was denied. He then filed a petition in this court, and we issued an order to show cause. We conclude that the Governor's decision is not supported by the record and grant defendant's petition.


The Board incorporated two documents as its factual basis for the commitment offense: our 1988 appellate decision affirming defendant's conviction and a report prepared for an earlier Board hearing.

According to our earlier decision, defendant and the victim met at a bar in downtown Oroville, where they danced, kissed and hugged. When the bar closed at 2:00 a.m., the two left together, and witnesses saw defendant slap the victim. Defendant and the victim then drove off in defendant's car to a restaurant, where they stayed until 3:15 a.m.

At 4:30 a.m., the victim's nude body was discovered at the end of a road. Officers found pools of blood and various personal items. They also discovered a single tire track near the body that extended over the victim's buttocks, across her back, and off her right shoulder. The tire had not passed over the victim's head.

An impression of the tire matched a tire from defendant's car. A criminalist also found blood and hair belonging to the victim on the undercarriage of defendant's car.

A pathologist described the victim's injuries, which included lacerations, scrapes and fractures. The pathologist opined that the victim bled to death from these injuries. She testified that most of the victim's injuries were consistent with having been run over by the defendant's car, while other injuries indicated she may have been beaten before death. The pathologist believed the victim had been alive when she was run over.

At trial, defendant admitted meeting the victim at the bar but he did not remember any further interaction with her. He said he left the bar when it closed, went to look for a friend, and drove home. He denied leaving the bar with the victim and denied killing her.

Defendant was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to a prison term of 15 years to life.

In 2005, a report was prepared for defendant's parole hearing. Because later reports referenced this report and stated that defendant's version of events had not changed, the Board incorporated the 2005 report as part of its factual findings. This version of events can actually be traced back to the report prepared 10 years earlier for the parole consideration hearing in 1995. Defendant's version of events has remained unchanged since then. This report provided:

"During the interview with [defendant] for preparation of this report he indicated that the prisoner's version as stated for previous hearings continues to remain valid. It is as follows. [Defendant] admitted that he was responsible for the death of the victim. He states that they had been drinking all evening together. They were kissing and hugging and eventually decided they wanted to have sex. They drove to an area and began to become intimate. He states that he was drunk and could not perform. He states that he felt bad, but she became angry. They began arguing and she began to talk about building her up for nothing. She slapped him and they tussled. He ended up hitting her twice. She kept getting up and getting in his face. The third time she went down and did not get up. He said he went and sat in the car, and she was still lying there. Blood was everywhere. He said he kept looking at her because he knew she was dead. He dragged her over in front of the car and turned on the headlights. He checked and determined that she was dead. He laid her down beside the front of the car. He stood there knowing that this lady was dead. Suddenly he saw ...

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