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The People v. Brian Wright

April 4, 2012


(Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BA358919) APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Frederick N. Wapner, Judge. Affirmed.

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


Brian Wright appeals from the judgment entered following his conviction by jury of second degree murder (Pen. Code, § 187) with personal use of a deadly and dangerous weapon (Pen. Code, § 12022, subd. (b)(1)) and an admission he suffered a prior felony conviction (Pen. Code, § 667, subd. (d)). The court sentenced appellant to prison for 31 years to life. We find the court had no sua sponte duty to instruct the jury on voluntary or involuntary intoxication causing unconsciousness and there was no Wheeler*fn1 error. We affirm the judgment.


1. People's Evidence.

Viewed in accordance with the usual rules on appeal (People v. Ochoa (1993) 6 Cal.4th 1199, 1206), the evidence, the sufficiency of which is undisputed, established that in July 2009, the decedent Lindval Baptist (Lindval), his cousin Earl Baptist (Earl), and appellant lived in a Los Angeles apartment. Earl rented the apartment from appellant, and Earl and Lindval sold drugs from it. Appellant was a drug user and Earl gave appellant drugs as payment for rent. Lindval also gave drugs to appellant. About 1:00 a.m. on July 11, 2009, Earl left the apartment.

During an early morning in July 2009, Dorothy Martin went to the above apartment and bought drugs from Lindval. Martin went with appellant to his bedroom and smoked the drugs. Someone knocked on the front door to the apartment and appellant answered the door. Two persons were at the door, and they later left. Appellant returned to the bedroom, spoke with Martin, and appeared to be angry. Martin testified appellant indicated "[Lindval] . . . was fooling around with [appellant's] girlfriend, [or] disrespected him or something." Appellant left the bedroom, closed its door, and said he would lock it.

Later, Martin heard persons conversing. At some point, she heard someone beating on something, i.e., she heard about 10 pounding noises. Appellant reentered the bedroom and said they had to leave. He was nervous and had a hammer in his hands. The hammer had blood on it. Appellant gave the hammer to Martin and the two left the apartment.

About 6:00 a.m. on July 11, 2009, appellant went to the apartment of Cynthia Fentroy, his fiancee. Appellant had a hammer wrapped in black plastic. Fentroy asked him why the hammer had blood on it, and appellant replied, " 'I killed him. I told you I was going to do it. I killed him' " Appellant also said, " 'You know who I'm talking about.' " Appellant said that he stood over the victim with a hammer in his hand, told the victim to tell the truth and confess his sins, and hit the victim in the forehead. Appellant said that he kept hitting the victim. Fentroy told police that appellant was bragging somewhat about it. Appellant told Fentroy that appellant murdered the victim. Appellant said he did all this for Fentroy.

Fentroy saw blood on appellant's clothing and shoes. Appellant emptied a sock containing money and perhaps 30 crack cocaine rocks. More money was stashed in an alley on Montclair, and he wanted Fentroy to retrieve it.

Earl returned to the apartment about 9:00 a.m. on July 11, 2009, and found Lindval lying on the floor inside the apartment. Lindval was wearing only boxers, and there was blood all over a wall. Lindval died as a result of 21 blunt force injuries to his head.

2. Defense Evidence.

In defense, appellant testified he was a crack cocaine addict and, during the last few days prior to July 10, 2009, he felt he was being poisoned. Later during his testimony, he denied he had testified he had been poisoned, and claimed he had testified he had been drugged.

On July 10, 2009, appellant had been drinking all day. At some point on July 10, 2009, appellant saw blood on his face, he was getting "high," and he went berserk. Appellant found cigarette burns on his chest, red crosses drawn in blood on his forehead, and did not know what had happened. He testified he did not know "what was in the dope or what it was." During the late hours of the day, Fentroy came to the apartment, the two used crack cocaine, and the two slept. Fentroy later got up, left the room, and, still later, returned to bed. Appellant suspected that, during the interim, she had had sexual relations with Lindval. About 11:30 p.m., Fentroy left. Appellant's mother testified to the effect on July 10, 2009, appellant told her that when he awoke, he had "needle sticks in [his] arm."

Appellant testified that perhaps about 1:00 a.m. on July 11, 2009, Martin arrived. Appellant had not slept for four or five days and, during that time, he was using cocaine. After Martin arrived, the two smoked crack cocaine and drank in appellant's bedroom. Appellant told Martin that he loved Fentroy and was "feeling kind of down," and he told Martin what had happened. Appellant testified he thought "we were drugged."

Appellant left the bedroom, awakened Lindval, and asked Lindval if he had disrespected Fentroy. Lindval looked at appellant, laughed, then shoved him hard against a stereo. Appellant grabbed a hammer and from that point he "lost it," must have "snapped," and did not know what happened afterwards. Appellant knew he hurt Lindval but did not intend to hurt him. Appellant did not know ...

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