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The People v. Louis Riley James

March 7, 2012

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
LOUIS RILEY JAMES, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. SF10123)

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

P. v. James

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 Louis Riley James shot Kenneth Painter dead near a mountain road outside Nevada City in a drug deal gone wrong. A jury found defendant guilty of murdering Painter by personally discharging a firearm and of possessing marijuana for sale. The court sentenced him to 52 years to life in prison.

Defendant appeals, claiming the court improperly denied his motion to substitute appointed counsel, abused its discretion in sentencing him, and incorrectly calculated his credits. We award defendant 13 extra days of credit and affirm the judgment as modified.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

A

The Prosecution's Case

Defendant was a drug dealer. The victim Painter was a drug supplier. Defendant was introduced to Painter by a mutual acquaintance, Gabriel Marsch.

On April 5, 2010, Painter had planned to sell 15 pounds of marijuana to defendant. In the afternoon, with the marijuana in his Jeep, Painter talked to defendant on the phone about the transaction. Later that afternoon, Painter got a text and rushed off to complete the sale. Painter drove his jeep up a mountain road outside the city limits of Nevada City with defendant following in his pickup. Defendant returned down the mountain road about 45 minutes to an hour later, but Painter did not.

In the evening, defendant called his then-girlfriend, Misty Farley, asking for a ride. He said he was on Highway 20 past Nevada City. When Farley picked him up, defendant was "dirty" and "[i]t looked like he had . . . red rusty colored dirt" on his jeans. When Farley told him he looked "real dirty," defendant said "'It's not dirt.'" Farley was under the impression it was blood, but no conclusive evidence of blood was ever found in her car.

Later that evening, defendant told Farley he had killed a man because that man had stolen some marijuana from a woman he knew. Defendant said he shot the man in the stomach, there was a struggle, and then he shot the man again in the stomach and eventually in the head. Defendant complained of a sore back, explaining he had to carry the body on his back. He hid some of the evidence by burning his clothes and jacket.

Three days later, Painter's truck was discovered outside Nevada City. A day after that, Painter's body was discovered nearby. Painter died of a gunshot wound to the head and one to the abdomen. The gunshot to the head was inflicted from between one and 12 inches away.

The house in which defendant was staying was searched about a week after Painter was murdered. In the backyard were ashes in a wheelbarrow that were consistent with burned clothes. In defendant's storage unit was about 10 pounds of marijuana.

Defendant was arrested and while in jail, he spoke to a friend over the telephone. In the recorded conversation, defendant talked about paying Farley money for "this problem [to] go[] away."

B

The Defense

Defendant testified on his own behalf. Painter paid him $1,000 to assist with a drug deal and picked defendant up in his Jeep on the way to the drug deal. When they reached the site where the deal was supposed to take place, defendant saw two Hispanic gentleman sitting in a truck and then saw Marsch (the one who had introduced defendant and Painter) get out of the driver's side. Painter told defendant to grab the marijuana while Painter was going to talk with one of the men. As defendant was trying to get the marijuana from the back of the Jeep, he heard a gunshot and saw Painter and Marsch wrestling in the front seat. Defendant heard another gunshot, and Painter "cr[ied] ...


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