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The People v. Robert Lee Stringfellow

April 12, 2012

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
ROBERT LEE STRINGFELLOW, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



(Super. Ct. No. 07F04222)

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

P. v. Stringfellow

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NOT TO BE PUBLISHED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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.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 Robert Lee Stringfellow was convicted of five counts of second degree burglary, two counts of possession of a completed check with intent to defraud, and two counts of identity theft. The trial court sustained two strike allegations and sentenced defendant to 25 years to life in prison.

Defendant contends on appeal that the trial court erred in instructing the jury with CALCRIM No. 372 (defendant's flight as evidence of awareness of guilt), because (1) there is no substantial evidence that defendant fled, (2) the instruction is improper where identity is the main issue, and (3) CALCRIM No. 372 violates due process because it presumes the crime was committed, it misleads the jury into presuming the crime was committed, and it varies significantly from Penal Code section 1127c.

Defendant's contentions lack merit. We will affirm the judgment.

BACKGROUND

Between May and June 2006, a check payable to defendant in the amount of $3,000 was deposited to defendant's account at Washington Mutual Bank. The check was made on Leandro Valdivia's credit card account, but Valdivia did not write the check or authorize the payment to defendant.

Around that same time, Sharyn Johnson wrote checks to Mervyn's, Macy's and AT&T and put the checks in her home mailbox for postal pickup. Two checks, originally made out for around $10, were subsequently altered without Johnson's permission to indicate that they were payable to defendant in the amounts of $810 and $1,000.03.

Karen Daly learned in September 2006 that a check for $1,807 had been written, without her authorization, to defendant on her credit account. That same month, Malia Arnold discovered that a "convenience" check -- a check linked to her credit card account -- had been written in the amount of $2,000, payable to defendant, with the notation "car purchase." Arnold did not write the check. The checks on the Arnold and Daly accounts were deposited to defendant's account at Patelco Credit Union.

James Parker noticed in October 2006 that some of his mail was missing and that other mail addressed to him was on the street by his house. He subsequently learned that a $1,400 check had been written to defendant on Parker's credit card account. Parker did not know defendant and did not authorize the check. On October 19, 2006, defendant tried to deposit the check at Patelco's branch on Howe Avenue. The teller sent an instant message to the branch manager, Edward Polkenhorn, after noticing a flag on defendant's account. Polkenhorn grabbed the check and went to the back of the branch to make inquiries, calling 911 and Patelco's internal audit unit in San Francisco. Polkenhorn's inquiries took 20 to 30 minutes. Defendant waited in the teller line for much of that time, but about five minutes before the police arrived, defendant left the check at the credit union and drove off. The following day, defendant returned to the Howe Avenue branch. Patelco permitted him to deposit the check so that it could confirm that the check was invalid.

A postal inspector testified that the signatures on the fraudulent checks matched the signature on defendant's ...


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