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The People v. Patthana Vannalee

March 9, 2012

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
PATTHANA VANNALEE, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 08F02517)

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

P. v. Vannalee 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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 Patthana Vannalee stabbed his sister and slashed her face with a knife, causing quadriplegia and the loss of one eye. In a bench trial with merged sanity and guilt phases, the trial court found that although defendant was suffering from a mental illness, he was sane at the time of the offense. The court found defendant guilty of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and mayhem. The court sentenced him to 25 years in prison. On appeal, defendant contends the court erred in finding him sane because the evidence he was insane was of such character that no reasonable person could reject it. Finding no error, we will affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Prior To The Assault

Several months before he assaulted his sister, defendant was temporarily staying at a friend's house when it was targeted in a drive-by shooting. Several months later, and just weeks before assaulting his sister, defendant was "jumped" and beaten. Family members*fn1 testified defendant's behavior significantly changed after he was "jumped." He refused to go outside, wanted his family members to close all of the curtains and turn off the lights, crawled around on the floor, and begged them not to leave the house out of fear "enemies" would hurt them. Defendant also claimed he was able to determine whether someone was dead by looking into a person's eyes. He would have conversations with the dog and randomly laugh to himself.

The Day Of The Assault

On March 28, 2008, defendant was living with his parents and two sisters, Lisa and Bouala. Defendant's sisters were watching a movie in a bedroom with Bouala's boyfriend, now husband, Christopher Kim.

There were conflicting accounts of the events leading up to the stabbing. Police interviews from the night of the event report that Bouala, Christopher, and Lisa said defendant briefly entered the bedroom once, and Christopher explained that defendant had an "intense" look on his face. At trial, however, Bouala and Lisa testified defendant entered the room several times throughout the movie, acting strangely, crawling around on the floor as if imitating a dog, and laughing.

Several minutes after defendant left the bedroom, Lisa went to her bedroom. Shortly after Lisa left, Christopher and Bouala heard a banging sound coming from Lisa's room. The two left the bedroom to determine the source of the noise and discovered defendant standing in Lisa's room holding a knife. Lisa had blood streaming down her face. Bouala screamed "Sam, what the F are you doing? You know that's your sister. That's your younger sister."

Again, there was inconsistent testimony on how defendant replied to Bouala's exclamation. Christopher heard defendant say in English, "[s]he is a demon; I told you." Bouala heard defendant say in English, "I have to kill her; she is a ghost, a monster, a demon." Lisa heard defendant say in Laotian, "kill the demon; it's possessing Lisa."

Christopher grabbed defendant and tried to take the knife from him. Defendant would not let go. During the struggle, defendant told Christopher he was not going to hurt him. The scuffle took Christopher and defendant toward the front door, where defendant eventually let go of the knife and ran out of the house.

Defendant ran to the house of his long-time friend, Parnuwatt Mouangvong, several hundred yards from defendant's home. Defendant repeatedly knocked on Mouangvong's bedroom window, but the knocks were ignored. In the early morning hours, Sacramento police came to Mouangvong's house looking for defendant and informed Mouangvong defendant had stabbed his sister. Defendant hid in a garbage can until 8:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m., when he again knocked on the bedroom window. Mouangvong let defendant ...


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