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The People v. Edwin Lamar Hood

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA THIRD APPELLATE DISTRICT (San Joaquin)


December 21, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
EDWIN LAMAR HOOD, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.

(Super. Ct. No. SF114579A)

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

P. v. Hood

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

Defendant Edwin Lamar Hood was convicted of receiving stolen property (a motor vehicle) and sentenced to prison. He contends on appeal that (1) his conviction is not supported by sufficient evidence, and (2) the trial court erred in instructing the jury on consciousness of guilt.

We conclude (1) there is sufficient evidence for reasonable jurors to find that defendant received the car from his cohorts with knowledge that it was stolen, and that he had a measure of control over the car; and (2) the trial court's instruction on consciousness of guilt was supported by Detective Nhem's testimony and defendant's inconsistent statements.

We will affirm the judgment.

BACKGROUND

Brandon Buckley and his fiancee, Robin Carter, lived in Stockton and owned a 1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88. On April 12, 2010, at 7:15 a.m., Carter discovered that the Oldsmobile had been stolen. Buckley called the police.

Stockton Police Officer Steven Williams received the dispatch that a white 1980's Oldsmobile had been stolen from the area. Five minutes later, while Williams was driving southbound on Davis Road, he saw an Oldsmobile that matched the broadcast description approaching from the opposite direction. As Williams passed the Oldsmobile, its four occupants ducked down. Williams described the four occupants as Black males.

Williams made a U-turn and, having lost sight of the car, began to check the area. Williams sent a message to Detective Nhem of the Delta regional auto task force and continued his search.

Detective Nhem testified that he received Officer Williams's message around 9:15 a.m. Driving an unmarked car, Nhem began checking the area for the white Oldsmobile. Within about five minutes, Nhem found the Oldsmobile as it was being backed into the driveway of a residence. The driver, a Black male, was the sole occupant. Nhem drove past the Oldsmobile and made a U-turn. When he passed the car a second time, it was unoccupied. Nhem parked around the corner and waited. Officer Williams parked his marked patrol car nearby.

About six minutes later Detective Nhem saw the Oldsmobile, now occupied by three Black males, drive away. Nhem followed the car and advised Officer Williams that it was in motion. The Oldsmobile made a couple of turns and was about to enter a court that contained multiple duplex housing units. Not wanting the car to reach a residence, Nhem activated his blue and red lights. The Oldsmobile immediately stopped its entry into the court and then backed up a couple of feet. The car accelerated and sped away.

Detective Nhem and Officer Williams pursued the Oldsmobile. At one point during the pursuit, Nhem looked down the street and saw three Black males running. Two males were on one side of the street and defendant was on the other. As Nhem proceeded toward them, he saw that the Oldsmobile had been abandoned on an adjacent street.

Detective Nhem detained defendant, who was carrying a pair of gloves and a bright green construction-type vest. About 20 minutes had elapsed since Nhem received Officer Williams's message. Nhem advised defendant of his constitutional rights and said that he wanted to talk to him about the white Oldsmobile. Defendant answered that he did not know what Nhem was talking about, that he was "just in town from the Bay Area visiting family or relatives," and that he "was going around the neighborhood checking for work."

Detective Nhem asked defendant about the pursuit, and defendant said he didn't know anything about it. Nhem told defendant that he didn't believe him because the car had been abandoned in the area, he had seen defendant and two other Black males running from the area, and defendant was carrying gloves with him. (Detective Nhem testified that, based on his training and experience, car thieves wear gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints in stolen cars.)

Detective Nhem asked defendant whether he was the driver or where he was seated. Defendant admitted that he was in the car but said he was not the driver, adding that he just met the two other guys that morning and obtained a ride from them.

Detective Nhem asked defendant how he came to be in the car. Defendant said he went to a gas station that morning and met the two guys. After they left the gas station, they got into a car chase. Nhem asked defendant about street names and the general vicinity of the gas station, but defendant said he didn't know because he wasn't from the area. Nhem said he knew the car left a residence at Comstock and that it did not go to a gas station before the police chase.

Defendant explained that the men took him to a neighborhood where the two guys went into a house but he remained in the car. Detective Nhem said that wasn't true, because he drove by the car twice and on the second pass no one was in the car. Nhem pressed defendant for further details but defendant said he didn't know.

An examination of the Oldsmobile revealed that the left side of the steering column was busted, the driver's window was off its railing, and the rear passenger wing window was broken. Buckley testified that there was glass on the back seat and floor when the car was returned to him. The glove box had been "ripped apart." Paperwork and tools that Buckley kept in the glove box were spread around the car. A few items were missing, including two tires that had been in the trunk.

A jury convicted defendant of receiving stolen property, a motor vehicle (Pen. Code,*fn1 § 496d, subd. (a); count 2), but acquitted him of driving or taking the vehicle (Veh. Code, § 10851, subd. (a); count 1). The trial court found that defendant had a prior serious felony conviction (§ 667, subds. (b)-(i)) and that he served two prior prison terms (§ 667.5, subd. (b)). Defendant was sentenced to state prison for six years.*fn2

DISCUSSION

I

Defendant contends that his conviction is not supported by "sufficient evidence that he received the vehicle into his possession." (Italics omitted.) Specifically, he argues there was (1) no evidence the car was in a place that was under his domination; (2) no conduct or statements implying a right or expectation of control over the car; (3) no evidence he drove the car; (4) no evidence contradicting his explanation of how he came to be in the car; (5) insufficient evidence he aided or abetted anyone else who had driven or received the car; and (6) insufficient evidence of his consciousness of guilt. We are not persuaded.

"On appeal, the test of legal sufficiency is whether there is substantial evidence, i.e., evidence from which a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that the prosecution sustained its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. [Citations.] Evidence meeting this standard satisfies constitutional due process and reliability concerns. [Citations.] [¶] While the appellate court must determine that the supporting evidence is reasonable, inherently credible, and of solid value, the court must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, and must presume every fact the jury could reasonably have deduced from the evidence. [Citations.] Issues of witness credibility are for the jury. [Citations.]" (People v. Boyer (2006) 38 Cal.4th 412, 479-480.)

Section 496d, subdivision (a), provides in relevant part: "Every person who . . . receives any motor vehicle . . . that has been stolen or that has been obtained in any manner constituting theft . . . , knowing the property to be stolen or obtained, or who conceals, . . . withholds, or aids in concealing . . . or withholding any motor vehicle . . . from the owner, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, shall be punished . . . ." The jury was instructed with CALCRIM No. 1750.*fn3

The evidence showed that, within five minutes of receiving Officer Williams's message, Detective Nhem observed the Oldsmobile as it was being backed into the driveway of a residence. The driver, a Black male, was the sole occupant. In his ensuing interview with Nhem, defendant admitted that he remained in the car while the other two males went into a house. The evidence showed that the car had a busted steering column, a broken rear wing window and glass on the back seat and floor. The driver's window was off its railing, the glove box was ripped apart, and paperwork and tools were spread around the car. The Oldsmobile subsequently led police in a high-speed chase shortly before defendant was apprehended carrying gloves.

On this record, reasonable jurors could conclude that defendant received the Oldsmobile from his cohorts knowing it was stolen, and that he had a measure of control over the car. (People v. Land (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 220, 223, fn. 2.) Nonetheless, defendant argues we must "proceed with due deference to the jury's necessarily implicit findings," referring to the acquittal on count 1 for driving or taking the vehicle. The Attorney General agrees with defendant that the acquittal on count 1 indicates a jury determination that defendant did not "take" or "drive" the car. But the acquittal on count 1 may only mean that the jury did not find true one of the elements necessary to convict defendant on count 1, such as the intent to deprive the owners of their vehicle. It does not necessarily mean that the jury determined defendant never backed the car into the driveway or never had some measure of control over the car. Reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and presuming every fact the jury could reasonably have deduced from the evidence, there is sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that defendant "received" the stolen car.

Because there is sufficient evidence to support the conviction on count 2, it is not necessary to consider defendant's challenges to other items of evidence. His conviction for receiving the stolen car is supported by substantial evidence. (People v. Boyer, supra, 38 Cal.4th at pp. 479-480.)

II

Defendant also contends that the trial court erred when it instructed the jury, over his objection, on consciousness of guilt. He claims the objection should have been sustained because his statements to Detective Nhem "were not shown to be false." We disagree.

The trial court instructed the jury in relevant part as follows: "If the defendant made a false or misleading statement before the trial relating to the charged crime knowing the statement was false or intending to mislead, that conduct may show he was aware of his guilt of the crime, and you may consider that in determining his guilt. . . . [¶] Now, if you conclude that the defendant made a statement, it's up to you to decide its meaning and importance. However, evidence that the defendant made such a statement cannot prove guilt all by itself. If the defendant fled or tried to flee immediately after the crime was committed, that conduct may show that he was aware of his guilt. If you conclude that the defendant fled or tried to flee, it's up to you to decide the meaning and importance of that conduct. However, evidence that the defendant fled or tried to flee, again, cannot prove guilt all by itself." (CALCRIM Nos. 362, 372.)

The trial court is required to instruct the jury on applicable principles of law. When testimony is properly admitted from which an inference of a consciousness of guilt may be drawn, the court has a duty to instruct on the proper method to analyze the testimony. (People v. Edwards (1992) 8 Cal.App.4th 1092, 1103-1104.)

Defendant claims that CALCRIM No. 362 is inherently and unduly prejudicial in all cases. But CALCRIM No. 362 is the successor to CALJIC No. 2.03, which has been consistently upheld by the California Supreme Court. (People v. McGowan (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 1099, 1103-1104, fn. 3.)

In this case, CALCRIM No. 362 was supported by Detective Nhem's testimony and defendant's inconsistent statements to Detective Nhem. When Nhem said he wanted to talk about the white Oldsmobile, defendant responded that he did not know what Nhem was talking about. And when Detective Nhem asked defendant about the pursuit, defendant said he didn't know anything about it. However, defendant subsequently admitted that he had been inside the car.

In addition, defendant told Detective Nhem that he had been "going around the neighborhood checking for work." But Nhem observed defendant and two other men running through the neighborhood, and he did not see defendant approach any of the residences. Defendant attempted to distance himself from his cohorts by claiming they went into a house but he remained in the car. Detective Nhem noted, however, that he had driven by the car twice and, on the second pass, no one was in the car. There was no evidence that when Nhem made his second pass in the unmarked car, defendant ducked down to be out of Nhem's view.

Under the circumstances, reasonable jurors could deduce that defendant's statements to Detective Nhem were willfully false or misleading.

Because the foregoing evidence adequately supports the giving of CALCRIM No. 362, it is not necessary to consider Detective Nhem's testimony that defendant's claim to have met the other males at a gas station was false.

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed.

We concur: ROBIE , Acting P. J. BUTZ , J.


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