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Brian Sum v. Ken Clark

August 24, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Timothy Jbommer United States Magistrate Judge



Petitioner is proceeding with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Following a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of attempted murder, assault with a firearm, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, possession of a firearm by a felon, discharging a firearm with gross negligence as well as enhancements for using a firearm, discharging a firearm at an occupied motor vehicle and inflicting great bodily injury. Petitioner seeks relief on several grounds; specifically: (1) the trial court should have instructed the jury sua sponte that one may use lethal force to protect a third person who faces imminent death or great bodily injury ("Claim I"); (2) Petitioner could not be lawfully convicted for shooting a firearm in a grossly negligent manner because it is a lesser included offense of shooting a firearm at an occupied building ("Claim II"); and (3) the sentence for possession of a firearm by a felon should have been stayed pursuant to Section 654 of the California Penal Code because the evidence was insufficient to establish multiple criminal intents ("Claim III"). After counsel was appointed, Petitioner filed a motion to stay and abey these proceedings so that he could exhaust a federal double jeopardy argument to the extent that Claim II was construed as including. For the following reasons, the motion to stay and abey should be denied.


At approximately 10:00 p.m. on May 12, 2005, police responded to a shooting near a house on Hickock Drive in Stockton. When they arrived, they found approximately 20 to 30 people standing in the street near a duplex across the street from the house. The victim, Than Lach, a resident of the duplex, lay on the sidewalk near his front door, bleeding from a gunshot wound to the leg. The front of the duplex, including both front doors and the garage, was damaged from being hit by bullets. A group of people attending a party stood in the front yard of the house in the proximity to where the shots had come.

Lach later told police he was inside his duplex when he heard a commotion outside. He rushed outside to look for one of his children. There was a large group of people, including the defendant across the street, some of them arguing with each other. Lach stood by his garage and watched as several people tried to push the defendant away from the fight. Defendant became upset and fired a handgun twice into the air. Just then, a red car drove up the street, turned in front of Lach's house and stopped. Seconds later, as defendant walked towards the car, Lach heard "six, seven, eight" gunshots. Lach turned to go back inside the duplex and was hit in the leg with a bullet. As he lay on the ground, he heard "three to four" more gunshots. [FN2] Lach was taken to the hospital where he told police defendant "was shooting at the red car as it was leaving." [FN2] Lach testified that all of the windows in the red car were rolled up, and there were no gunshots from the car.

Shirley Logan, Lach's neighbor and a resident of the other half of the duplex, told police she was watching television when she heard "two loud booms." She heard people talking and went outside to investigate. As Logan stood outside talking to her neighbors, a small red car drove slowly down the street and made a U-turn in front of the duplex. Logan heard at least six or seven gunshots and saw muzzle flashes from across the street. [FN3] She turned and ran inside the duplex, continuing to hear gunfire as she entered her home to call 911. [FN3] Logan testified that she did not see any muzzle flashes coming from the car.

Youn Seraypheap, a detective with the City of Stockton Police Department, was assigned to investigate the shooting. On May 24, 2005, Seraypheap and his partner, Detective Villanueva, interviewed defendant's mother, Toeur Mork, in front of her home. Mork first claimed she knew nothing about the shooting, telling detectives she left the party between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. that evening with her husband and her youngest son because she had to be at work by 9:00 p.m. Mork said defendant was still at the party with his wife, Rinda Hoeurn, and their son when she left. Seraypheap and Villanueva next interviewed Hoeurn. Seraypheap told Hoeurn that defendant admitted to the shooting, and asked her to tell the truth about what happened. Hoeurn told them that, at some point during the party, "two or three carloads of Cambodian and Laotian people" from Modesto showed up and parked in the street. An argument later erupted between the group from Stockton and the group from Modesto. When the people from Modesto got back into their cars (one a red Acura Integra and another a Honda Accord) to leave, Hoeurn saw defendant shoot a handgun "two or three times" in the direction of the cars. Hoeurn ducked down and heard additional shots fired, which she believed came from the cars although she did not see any muzzle flashes. After the shooting, Hoeurn got into Mork's car with defendant and his family and went home.

When detectives finished questioning Hoeurn, they called Mork back outside. Seraypheap accused Mork of lying to them. Mork admitted she was inside the house watching television when she heard gunshots. She learned defendant was involved in the shooting and immediately left the party with her husband, her youngest son, defendant, Hoeurn, and her grandson. Mork told Seraypheap that, in the car on the way home, her husband yelled at defendant for shooting a gun.

Police canvassed the area and found six shell casings in the street between the house and the duplex. Four shotgun shells -- two live rounds and two expended rounds -- were also found in the driveway of the house where the party occurred. (Slip Op at p. 2-5.)


Petitioner was arrested and charged with: assault with a firearm (Count I); shooting at an inhabited dwelling (Count II); attempted murder of Lach (Count III); attempted murder of John Doe (the unknown driver of the red Acura) (Count IV); felon in possession of a firearm (Count V); and negligent discharge of a firearm (Count VI).

At trial, Mork denied ever hearing gunshots or seeing anybody shoot a gun, and denied telling Seraypheap that her husband yelled at the defendant in the car on the way home for shooting a gun. Hoeurn testified that she and her family (including the defendant) left the party when a friend told her there was some kind of problem. Hoeurn also denied hearing or seeing anyone shooting at the party, and denied telling Seraypheap anything else about the shooting.

Near the end of the prosecution's case in chief, defense counsel requested, among other things, that the jury be instructed on self-defense based on Hoeurn's pretrial statements regarding possible shots fired from the red Acura. The court denied the request for ...

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