Court: Superior County: Riverside Judge: Robert G. Spitzer Super. Ct. No. RIF73193
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cantil-sakauye, C. J.
A Riverside County jury convicted defendant William Alfred Jones of the first degree murder of his elderly neighbor Ruth Eddings (Pen. Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 189),*fn1 and further found true the three special circumstance allegations that the murder took place during the commission of rape, sodomy, and burglary (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)). The jury additionally convicted defendant of the arson of Eddings's home (§ 451, subd. (b)), and also found true various sentencing enhancement allegations -- that defendant had two prior "strikes" (§§ 667, subds. (c) & (e), 1170.12, subd. (c)), had two prior serious felony convictions (§ 667, subd. (a)), and had served a prior prison term (§ 677.5, subd. (b)). Following the penalty phase of the trial, the jury returned a verdict of death. After conducting an automatic review and declining defendant's request to modify the jury's verdict (§ 190.4, subd. (e)), the trial court sentenced defendant to death for the first degree murder count, and also imposed an indeterminate term of 25 years to life, with an additional determinate term of five years, for the arson count. This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).)
We affirm the judgment in its entirety, and order that the abstract of judgment be corrected to conform to the trial court's oral pronouncement as to the judgment on the arson count.
I. FACTS A. The Guilt Phase
During the early morning hours of June 19, 1996, a fire was reported at the mobilehome residence of Ruth Eddings. After the fire was extinguished, her nude body was discovered lying facedown on the living room floor. An autopsy revealed that she had died before the fire started as the result of injuries consistent with blunt force trauma and strangulation.
Defendant, who lived with his parents in a mobilehome next door to Eddings, became the focus of the police investigation almost immediately. He was interviewed at home that morning and afternoon, and then interviewed at the police station later that evening and the following day. During the course of the questioning, defendant admitted responsibility for the fire and for Eddings's death. He also admitted to having sexual intercourse with Eddings and to ejaculating between her legs, although he was unsure if actual penetration occurred.
Because defendant admitted that he killed Eddings and set her residence on fire to conceal the death, the central issue for the jury to resolve at trial related to intent. The prosecution's theory of the case was that defendant committed burglary by entering the residence with the intent to sexually assault Eddings, and that he killed Eddings during the commission of rape and sodomy, or during an attempt to commit these crimes. The defense's theory was that defendant went to Eddings's home simply "to make sure she was not hurt, or anything," that he was intoxicated at the time, and that her death resulted from defendant accidentally falling on Eddings. The defense maintained that defendant had no intention of killing or having sexual contact with Eddings when he went to her home, and that if any sexual assault occurred, it occurred post-mortem.
1. The prosecution's case-in-chief
At the time of her death, Ruth Eddings stood four feet 11 inches tall, weighed 90 pounds, and was 81 years of age. She lived in Riverside County in a mobilehome next to defendant's parents, Mina and Bill Jones, with whom she had had a friendly relationship for almost 20 years. By defendant's own account, Eddings was "a nice person" who had treated defendant well, including paying him to do small jobs around her house.
At the time of the murder, defendant stood almost six feet tall, weighed approximately 200 pounds, and was 39 years of age. He had been living with his parents for a year and a half following his release on parole after serving more than four years in prison for two felony convictions for sexual assault on a minor. On the day of Eddings's death, defendant was home alone, as his parents recently had left on their first vacation since defendant moved in with them.
Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Philip Matheny testified that he was on duty as a patrol officer in the early morning hours of June 19 when, at approximately 4:40 a.m., he was instructed to assist fire department personnel responding to a structure fire with possible people inside. After the fire was extinguished, investigators inspected the structure -- a single-wide mobilehome trailer with attached outbuildings -- and determined that the fire, which involved only the rear portion of the residence, had been started using accelerant in the living room and inside the front door. A Camel cigarettes book of matches was found in the driveway, and the label of a Blitz brand gasoline container was lying in defendant's parents' yard near the chain-link fence that ran between the two properties. Eddings's badly burned body was discovered inside the trailer. She was unclothed, lying facedown with her legs spread apart and her head pointing away from the front door.
(b) Defendant's statements to law enforcement officers
Deputy Matheny testified that he made contact with defendant on the morning of the fire. Defendant told Deputy Matheny that he was staying with his parents, although they were in the State of Washington at the time, and that defendant had been sleeping when a young lady pounded on the window of his mobilehome, telling him there was a fire next door and requesting that he call the fire department.
Later that afternoon, defendant was interviewed at his parents' mobilehome by Riverside County Sheriff's Detective Eric Spidle. Donald Jones, defendant's brother, and Deputy District Attorney Patricia Erickson*fn2 were present during the interview, which lasted approximately two and one-half hours and took place while they sat at the kitchen table or walked around outside. Detective Spidle testified that when he asked defendant for matches, defendant handed him a matchbook with advertising for Camel cigarettes on the cover -- the same advertising Detective Spidle had seen on the cover of the matches found earlier in Eddings's driveway. Another, similar book of matches later was found in defendant's bedroom closet. Also found on defendant's parents' property was a Blitz brand gasoline container -- the same brand as the gasoline container label found earlier in their yard near the fence bordering Eddings's property. Detective Spidle also observed a "fresh" scratch on the side of defendant's face.
At the conclusion of the interview, Detective Spidle asked whether defendant would be willing to accompany him to the police station. Defendant agreed, and Detective Spidle drove him to the Riverside police station, arriving at approximately 4:00 p.m. Defendant waited in the reception area for half an hour until the deputy district attorney arrived, after which defendant was taken into a room with detectives and the deputy district attorney, and was advised of his rights to counsel and to remain silent. Defendant signed a written waiver of those rights, and Detective Spidle began to interview him.*fn3 Over the course of the session, the detectives offered defendant food, and gave him coffee, soda, and cigarettes. Defendant's demeanor varied from cooperative and inquisitive, to confused, nervous, and argumentative, and, in the detectives' opinion, he exhibited nonverbal signs of deception. Scratches on defendant's face, arms, hands, abdomen, hips, upper thigh, and legs were photographed, and the photographs were introduced as exhibits at trial.
At Detective Spidle's prompting, defendant detailed his activities prior to the fire. He explained that he had arrived home from work at approximately 6:00 p.m., and then went to a neighbor's house for about half an hour. Afterward, he drove to the store and purchased a 12-pack of beer and some groceries. When he returned home, he "cranked up the radio and just sat down and relaxed and drank a couple of beers." At approximately 8:00 or 8:30 p.m., defendant went outside to wash his hands with gasoline in order to remove construction adhesive. He brought the gas can back to the house in case he needed it for his rototiller the following day.
Detective Spidle suggested defendant might have "drank too much" and "accidentally" started the fire, a claim defendant repeatedly denied, saying, "I would not hurt that woman." He claimed he had "no problem" with Eddings, that he "liked that lady," and that she had "always been sweet" to him. Defendant at first denied ever going over to Eddings's house the previous night, but when questioned regarding the gasoline, he suddenly "remembered" going over to "check on" Eddings at approximately 9:00 p.m., after noticing she had not taken the newspaper he had left for her on their common fence. Defendant said he knocked on Eddings's door and asked, "Are you alright?" and Eddings "yelled out . . . that she was in the tub." Defendant revised this story almost immediately, claiming instead that he walked over with a beer, jumped the fence, knocked on Eddings's door, said, "Ruth, it's me," but failed to get a response, then tried to open the door and found it locked, so he returned home. He insisted, however, that he did not enter Eddings's residence, that he drank only four beers the entire evening, and that he drank only two before going over to check on Eddings. When asked about the scratch on his face, defendant repeatedly claimed it occurred at work.
As the questioning continued, another detective stated that he had talked to defendant's brother Donald. Donald told the detective that he had "a real bad feeling" that with their parents gone and defendant being left home alone, something bad was going to happen, and that he purposefully had not asked defendant whether he "had done this" -- referring to the homicide and arson -- because Donald was afraid defendant had. Defendant expressed disbelief concerning Donald's statement, and asked to speak to his brother. The interview continued, however, at which time defendant again changed his story about what had transpired the night before.
This time, defendant said he drank "at least six beers" before going over to check on Eddings at approximately 9:00 p.m. after noticing she had not taken the newspaper from the fence. When there was no response to his knocking, he opened the door, entered the trailer, and found Eddings lying on the floor naked. He "shook her head" and said her name, but Eddings did not respond. Noticing blood on her face and realizing she was dead, defendant "just freaked out." He went home and sat down on the couch: "[E]verything was running through my head . . . until . . . I got the gas can and I went over there and started the fire . . . [b]ecause I was scared . . . [bec]ause I don't want to go back to prison . . . I just didn't know what else to do . . . my fingerprints were all over." Defendant returned to Eddings's home three times, each time spraying lighter fluid or gasoline, before getting the fire to start. He repeatedly insisted, however, that he did not attack Eddings: "I did not murder this person. . . . I did not kill her. . . . I didn't hurt her." He told the detectives that he would "rather shoot myself" than go back to prison and asked for a gun so that he could "get this life over with."
When asked to account more specifically for the hours between 9:00 p.m. and 4:30 a.m., defendant stated that he "remembered" additional details. He said that between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, he "did nothing but just sit at home freaking" before deciding to change his clothes, get in his truck, and "split." As he was driving, however, defendant began to worry about his fingerprints being discovered in Eddings's trailer. He therefore returned to Eddings's trailer at approximately midnight and, after several attempts, finally set it on fire. Defendant then returned to his home and took a shower "to try to clear his head." Later that morning, he washed his clothes and shoes. When asked whether detectives were going to find evidence of bodily fluids on Eddings, such as ejaculate, defendant said he might have dripped sweat on Eddings because sweat "was pouring off" his face when he turned her head, touched her wrist to see if she had a pulse, and put his head on her back to listen for sounds of breathing. He further admitted the scratch on his face had not occurred at work, but probably was from bumping into furniture in the darkness of Eddings's trailer. When asked about a bruise on his right hand, defendant thought he must have struck it on his way out of Eddings's trailer. But he continued to deny that there had been any kind of struggle or fight with Eddings.
Detective Spidle reviewed defendant's story a final time with him before terminating the interview at approximately 9:00 p.m. Defendant was placed under arrest and processed for booking into county jail, where he was received at approximately 1:40 a.m. The following evening, June 20, 1996, Detective Spidle brought defendant back to the Riverside police station and conducted a second taped interview session after defendant signed another written waiver of his rights. This interview lasted less than two hours.
At the outset, Detective Spidle told defendant he believed something physical had happened between defendant and Eddings, and asked defendant to "consider telling the complete truth," so that defendant's mother would not have to worry about there being "someone else out there." He also told defendant that he had talked to defendant's family and they did not believe his story, but rather thought "[defendant] did this."
After requesting and being allowed to speak to his mother by telephone, defendant admitted that he "hurt" Eddings. He said he went over to Eddings's residence and knocked on the door. Eddings was home and let him in: "Then, she threw her arms up and we got into wrestling match . . . . It got out of hand and I killed her." Defendant was "surprised" with how much Eddings fought back, and he agreed with the detective that she "put up a good fight." He described how he choked her, while both of them were in a standing position, until she was unconscious. Defendant further admitted to sexually assaulting Eddings: "Yes, I did attack her. Yes, I killed her, and yes, I had sex with her. Yes." When asked if he had "wanted sex" when he went over to Eddings's trailer, defendant responded: "Yeah, I did at the time." He said Eddings was on her stomach and had ceased struggling when he put his penis "down between her legs" and, although he "couldn't tell if [his penis] was in or not," it "didn't take [him] very long to ejaculate." Defendant claimed Eddings "was alive before the fire," but that "she wasn't alive during the fire" because he remembered "checking." He thought the choking killed her, and he was convinced that he would be sentenced to death for his actions: "I already know I'm goin' to the death chamber . . . because I know the special circumstances in a murder."
Dr. Robert DiTraglia, a forensic pathologist and the Riverside County coroner who conducted Eddings's autopsy, testified concerning the cause of her death -- strangulation and blunt force trauma -- and the extent of her injuries. Based on the number and severity of the injuries she suffered, the organs involved, and the amount of hemorrhaging associated with the injuries, Dr. DiTraglia estimated that it took two to 20 minutes for Eddings to die after suffering all of her injuries. Although she additionally suffered thermal damage to over 90 percent of her body, Dr. DiTraglia concluded that Eddings likely died before the fire started, because there was no evidence of soot in her airways, and the level of carbon monoxide in her blood was within normal limits. The density of Eddings's skeletal structure was within the normal limits for a woman of her age and, in Dr. DiTraglia's opinion, any existing osteoporosis had not affected the bodily injuries she suffered. Although Eddings had atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries which is common in the elderly, Dr. DiTraglia did not believe this played a role in Eddings's death, confirming "[s]he did not die of a heart attack."
The extensive nature and severity of the thermal injury to Eddings's body caused by the fire -- in some places, the skin and subcutaneous tissue were severely burned, in others places, there was no skin or subcutaneous tissue remaining at all -- had a "profound effect" on the ability to recover certain types of evidence during the autopsy. As Dr. DiTraglia explained, "it's impossible to evaluate the presence of abrasions, bruises, lacerations when the tissue doesn't even exist." Dr. DiTraglia was able to recover some evidence from Eddings's body cavities. A small square piece of cloth with charred edges was pulled from her vaginal cavity. The manner in which the cloth was present in the vagina suggested it had been forced inside with a penetrating object. A swab of Eddings's rectal cavity also tested positive for defendant's semen, a circumstance defendant did not contest.
An internal examination of Eddings's chest cavity revealed 23 rib fractures located on all four sides of her ribcage, a series of injuries that Dr. DiTraglia described as "quite extreme" and "quite traumatic." In Dr. DiTraglia's opinion, these rib fractures could not have occurred from one impact, and could not have been caused by falling from a standing position. Rather, the number and location of the breaks to the ribcage evidenced "multiple impacts" from a force that was "significant, severe, and applied in multiple locations at multiple times." Severe hemorrhaging associated with the rib fractures further indicated that Eddings was alive at the time these injuries were inflicted.
Eddings also suffered a "dramatic" and "very severe" spinal fracture that displaced the spine, severed her spinal cord completely, and left her paralyzed, with no voluntary muscle movement, from the waist downward. A "tremendous amount" of force was required to produce this kind of blunt force trauma. As with the rib fractures, extensive bleeding into the surrounding tissue associated with this injury indicated it was inflicted before her death. When asked whether the spinal fracture could have occurred from Eddings falling from a standing position, Dr. DiTraglia responded, "absolutely not."
Elsewhere, on the cervical spine, Eddings's neck was fractured in four places, as characteristic of strangulation. Dr. DiTraglia explained that while it is not uncommon for just one neckbone to break in a typical strangulation scenario, Eddings's case was extreme, as all four neckbones were fractured. There was hemorrhaging associated with all of the fractures, indicating that Eddings was alive when these injuries were inflicted. The unusual number of fractures indicated that a "compressive force" was applied to Eddings's neck "for some period of time." Dr. DiTraglia further explained that it takes approximately 60 seconds for death from strangulation to occur. Thermal damage to the neck area -- the majority of skin and subcutaneous tissue was absent -- destroyed any evidence of soft tissue injury caused by the strangulation. Similarly, microscopic examination of the brain for injuries consistent with strangulation, such as brain swelling, was precluded by thermal changes to the cerebral tissue resulting from the heat of the fire.
As part of the autopsy, the vaginal canal and the rectum were removed and dissected. As with other areas of Eddings's body, severe thermal injury to the skin and subcutaneous tissue surrounding the genitalia prevented an evaluation for the presence of external trauma such as abrasions, bruises, or lacerations. Neither did Dr. DiTraglia observe any internal trauma to the vagina or anal cavity, although visible charring to portions of the internal tissue inhibited his examination. The general absence of trauma to the genital area did not, standing alone, signify to Dr. DiTraglia that Eddings had not been raped or sodomized. He cited studies indicating that of women who survived being raped, only 10 to 30 percent show genital trauma, and that the vast majority display no such indications.
Over defense objection, Dr. DiTraglia was permitted to testify as to his opinion that Eddings was raped and sodomized, and that she was alive at the time she was raped and sodomized. His opinion was based on the totality of the anatomical findings and evidence in this case, as well as Dr. DiTraglia's training and experience in cases of rape murder. This included, among other things, the array of Eddings's injuries consistent with being subdued by force prior to being sexually assaulted, the presence of a foreign object in Eddings's vagina apparently placed there by a penetrating object, the presence of defendant's sperm in her rectum, the prone position of Eddings's body when it was discovered, statements made by defendant, the rarity of necrophilia in Dr. DiTraglia's experience, and the circumstance that strangulation and blunt force trauma are "by far" the leading cause of death in rape murder cases. Dr. DiTraglia explained that because rape is both "a very intimate event" and an "inherently violent act," the cause of death typically is very intimate (choking versus gunshot wounds) and "the trauma, when it is present, is often severe and brutal, like it was in this case."
(d) Evidence of other crimes
Over defense objection, the prosecution introduced evidence relating to an incident in 1990 in which defendant sexually assaulted minor Toni P. This evidence was admitted at the guilt phase for the limited purpose of evaluating defendant's state of mind and any specific intent he might have harbored on the evening Eddings was killed.
Toni P. testified that in March 1990, she was 16 years of age and had been living in Riverside County for almost a year in the residence of her uncle, John Seneff, and her aunt, Sandra Seneff, who was defendant's sister. The Seneffs' two young children also were living in the house, as was Donald Jones, defendant's brother.
On the morning of March 16, after Sandra and John had left for work and the children had left for school, defendant arrived at the residence and spoke to Donald briefly. Donald then left for a job interview, leaving Toni P. alone with defendant for the first time since they had been acquainted. As she was preparing to leave the house, defendant asked Toni P. where she was going, and she replied that she was going to school. Defendant said, "No, you're not," put his hands on her shoulders, and pushed her through the hallway into a back bedroom. Once in the room, defendant pushed Toni P. to the floor, forcibly removed her clothes, pulled his own pants down, and put his penis in her mouth until he ejaculated, all the while holding her down on the floor as she cried and said "no" and "stop." Afterwards, he attempted to put his penis in her vagina, though Toni P. was not sure if penetration occurred. Defendant then stood up looking disoriented, pulled Toni P. to her feet, walked her into the bathroom, locked the door behind them, and handed her a wet washcloth for her face. After warning her not to say anything or she "would regret it," he left Toni P. crying in the bathroom. She immediately called a friend, who told her to report the incident to the police. Toni P. then changed her clothes and ran to the home of neighbors who were sheriff's deputies, and the neighbors called the police. Toni P. stated that she did not notice any indication that defendant was intoxicated during this incident.
2. The defense's case (a) Defendant's testimony
Defendant briefly took the stand in his own defense. He testified that on the evening of Eddings's murder, he consumed two beers on his way home from work at approximately 4:30 p.m. on June 18, 1996, four or five more beers once at home, and then went to the store to buy another six-pack of beer, which he consumed at home before going over "just to check up on" Eddings at approximately 9:00 p.m. He explained that he went to Eddings's home despite knowing she sometimes went to bed early and despite thinking that she might be in bed already. Holding an open can of beer, he knocked on Eddings's door. Eddings let him in, but then "went off" on defendant because he was drinking, knocked the beer can out of his hand, and began swinging at him. According to defendant, "It got out of hand and I killed her."
On cross-examination, over defense objection, the prosecution questioned defendant concerning his activities on June 18 and 19, in and around Eddings's residence, and his prior statements to law enforcement officers concerning those events. Also over defense objection, the prosecution impeached defendant with his prior felony convictions in the Toni P. case, and with certain prior incidents of assault.
Defendant admitted that he lied to Detective Spidle about several things during the course of his interviews. For example, he told Detective Spidle that he had not set the fire that night, and that he had not hurt Eddings and did not kill her, but none of this was true. He told Detective Spidle, as well as his brother Donald, that he went to Eddings's house and found her dead, but that was not true. Defendant also admitted he lied to Detective Spidle when he told him he was not drunk that night, and that he understated the amount of beer he had consumed.
Defendant further admitted to grabbing Eddings in the hallway and putting both his hands around her throat. He stated that he choked her, she went limp, and they fell. Defendant also admitted to having "sex" with Eddings, disrobing her, sticking his penis "down there," and ejaculating, but claimed he did not know whether vaginal or anal penetration occurred. When asked whether he strangled Eddings to death, defendant responded, "I guess so."
With respect to the Toni P. incident, defendant denied assaulting her. He recalled telling the arresting law enforcement officer in 1990 that he had not touched "that little girl" and that the last sexual encounter he had had was oral copulation by a prostitute. Defendant admitted, however, that he had been convicted of felony sexual assault with the intent to commit rape, and of felony forced oral copulation of Toni P.
Defendant also admitted that in September 1972, while he was in high school, he walked into a classroom and stabbed a teacher, Norma Knight, whom he did not know, several times in the back with a knife. He also admitted that in 1975, he went to the home of Barbara C., who was the mother of his girlfriend at the time, and "jumped on her," although he did not remember anything else about the incident because he was "on drugs real heavy" at the time.
On redirect examination, defendant admitted that he killed Eddings, but claimed that he had not gone to her house intending to kill her, nor did he go there intending to have sexual contact with her. Defendant said he had both hands on Eddings's neck when they began to fall, and used one hand to try to prevent the fall, but was unable to prevent his body from landing on top of hers. Eddings stopped breathing after they landed on the floor, and she was not breathing or moving when he put his penis between her legs. Defendant presumed the choking killed her because he "had her by the neck." When defendant spoke to Detective Spidle on June 20, he had not slept for three days, and had not eaten for 48 hours. He was "scared" and "hurting" over what had happened, and did not remember making all of the statements he made during the interview.
Defendant further testified that he had not intended to rape Barbara C., the mother of his girlfriend. He said he had a drug problem at that time, and had been using drugs on the day of the incident.
Dr. Barry Silverman, a medical expert in anatomic and clinical pathology, testified concerning his review of the coroner's report of Eddings's autopsy, Dr. DiTraglia's trial testimony, photographs taken at the scene and at the coroner's office, and the police reports in the case. Dr. Silverman concurred that Eddings died of blunt force trauma and strangulation. His testimony focused on two issues: the amount of force required to cause Eddings's injuries, and whether or not penetration of her vaginal and rectal cavities had occurred prior to death.
Dr. Silverman testified that menopausal and postmenopausal women do not produce the hormone estrogen. Additionally, because Eddings had undergone a radical hysterectomy, she was not producing androgens, which in menopausal and postmenopausal women normally are converted into estrogen-like compounds. Her estrogen levels around the time of her death, therefore, would have been zero. The lack of estrogen in elderly women "causes profound changes in [their] bone structure." In this regard, in Dr. Silverman's opinion, Eddings showed signs of "severe" osteoporosis. Osteoporosis weakens the structure of the bones and makes them "much more" prone to fracture. Eddings further displayed symptoms of kyphosis or a hump in the spine, a condition that renders the vertebral column more prominent and, therefore, more prone to fracture.
In light of Eddings's bone structure, and considering that she was 81 years of age and weighed 90 pounds, and that defendant was over six feet tall and weighed 180 to 200 pounds, Dr. Silverman agreed with defense counsel that Eddings's traumatic injuries could have been caused by a single "tackling blow" in which defendant fell on her in a forceful manner. The injuries also were consistent with the application of a "bear hug" or "squeeze," followed by "a fall with weight on top of the fall." If Eddings's injuries had been caused by multiple blows, Dr. Silverman would have expected to see other evidence of blunt force trauma. For example, punching or kicking blows "telescope into the body," such that organs deep in the rib cage, the spinal cord, the skin, and the muscles would be injured. Eddings's autopsy protocol, however, did not show any deep injury to her brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, large intestine, small intestine, or stomach. Dr. Silverman would have expected those organs to display injury if Eddings had been subjected to "a savage beating." Additionally, although 90 percent of Eddings's body had been burned, thermal injury would not have affected the ability to detect subdural hematoma or deep organ injury, because house fires do not generate the degree of heat necessary to destroy all soft tissue. He conceded on cross-examination, however, that the fire would have destroyed any evidence of external bruising.
Dr. Silverman also explained how the cessation of estrogen production in menopausal and postmenopausal women affects the skin, causing it to become thinner and affecting its elasticity. In particular, the skin of the female genitalia "becomes cellophane thin in elderly females lacking estrogen" and "highly susceptible to trauma." Secretion of mucus in the female tract, which acts as a lubricant, also is negatively affected. Consequently, in the case of forcible rape that occurs before death, Dr. Silverman opined there should be "more significant injury" in a postmenopausal woman than in a woman of childbearing years. As noted earlier, during Eddings's autopsy, the female genitalia were removed and examined for signs of injury; no injury was observed. Dr. Silverman also indicated that if the cloth found in Eddings's vaginal cavity had been inserted prior to death, he would expect to see evidence of injury, such as blood on the cloth; none was reported. Similarly, if forcible sodomy had occurred prior to death, he would have expected to observe injury to the rectal cavity; none was found. He opined that thermal injury would not have affected the finding of such trauma, had it existed. Dr. Silverman further disputed the relevance of studies cited by Dr. DiTraglia indicating that only between 10 and 30 percent of women in cases of rape sustain genital injuries. He opined that (1) the percentages referred to women who had survived rapes, and that rape murders are "much more brutal" and result "in more significant and severe injury," and (2) the characteristics of postmenopausal woman are different -- Eddings's age and physical condition made her bones "very fragile" and her skin "paper thin." Given the brutal nature of the crime alleged in this case, Dr. Silverman expected "that there would be peroneal, vaginal and anal, rectal injuries." Consequently, he concluded that penetration of those areas in Eddings must have occurred after death.
(c) Disputing the Toni P. incident
Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Albert Ewens testified concerning his interview of Toni P. in response to the police call regarding defendant's sexual assault. Toni P. told Deputy Ewens that defendant had ejaculated in her mouth and that she had spit out the ejaculate. In an attempt to locate evidence to corroborate her story, Deputy Ewens went to the bedroom in the residence where Toni P. said the assault had taken place and, using his hands and eyes, carefully looked for, but did not find, any evidence of semen on the carpet. He admitted, however, that he did not use ultraviolet illumination to fluoresce any ejaculate.
Defendant's sister, Sandra Seneff, testified that she also visually searched for evidence of semen on the bedroom carpet but did not find any. Seneff stated that she did not trust Toni P. because Toni P. had admitted to falsely accusing another family member of molesting her.
(d) Eddings's attitude toward alcohol
Helen Harrington, Eddings's daughter, testified that her mother did not keep alcohol in the house and did not drink alcohol. According to Harrington, "drunks" upset Eddings and she avoided them if possible.
3. The prosecution's rebuttal
On rebuttal, the prosecution presented additional evidence related to the Toni P. and Barbara C. incidents. Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Brett Johnson testified concerning his arrest of defendant for sexually assaulting Toni P. After arriving at defendant's residence, but before Deputy Johnson had the opportunity to explain the charges to defendant, defendant said to him: "I didn't touch that little girl. I want to turn myself in and clear this up." Deputy Johnson then took defendant into custody and transported him to jail.
Following waiver of his Miranda rights, defendant told Deputy Johnson that because he had "partied pretty hard" the night before and felt "real wasted," instead of driving all the way to his home in Mead Valley, he had decided to stop at his sister's house in the Pedley area. According to defendant, he spoke to his brother Donald outside the house, then went inside to sleep. Deputy Johnson asked defendant when was the last time he had had sex, and defendant told him he had "picked up a hooker" earlier that morning and paid her $20 for oral sex. Upon hearing from other officers that a washcloth was being retrieved as evidence in the case, Deputy Johnson asked defendant why law enforcement would want to inspect the washcloth, and defendant replied that he did not know, but then said he had had a washcloth on his head like a cold compress while sleeping. Following a few moments of silence, defendant "blurted out, 'There was come on my shirt.' " Deputy Johnson asked how it got there, and defendant explained the prostitute had gotten semen on his shirt. Deputy Johnson asked where the shirt was, but defendant told him, " 'That's not going to do you any good. It's already been washed.' "
When Deputy Johnson told defendant that a rape kit sample would be collected, defendant asked to have a doctor present to confirm the existence of some scars on his penis, which defendant thought would assist in his defense on the theory that anyone who had had contact with his penis should have noticed the scars. Deputy Johnson was present when the rape kit sample was taken. He observed a pink substance on defendant's penis; defendant explained this was calamine lotion he had applied that morning to try to heal the scars. Deputy Johnson also observed a "fresh" abrasion on one side of defendant's penis that was consistent with teeth marks. As part of the rape kit, the nurse swabbed defendant's penis. When defendant asked the purpose of the cotton swab, the nurse told him it was to collect evidence of vaginal secretions. Defendant then volunteered that he had touched the prostitute's vagina with his finger. Deputy Johnson asked what relevance this information had to possible presence of secretions on his penis, and defendant replied, "Yeah, I guess you're right."
Kathy White, a Riverside County Superior Court clerk, testified concerning a statement she heard defendant make during the Toni P. trial. During a lunch break following Toni P.'s testimony in that case, White overheard defendant talking to his brother David Jones outside of the courtroom. Defendant's brother asked him if Toni P. "was crying and carrying on." Defendant replied that she was not, that "it looked pretty good," and that he thought he was "going to beat this one too."
Finally, the prosecution played for the jury previously redacted sections of defendant's interviews with Detective Spidle. When Detective Spidle asked defendant about the incident with Toni P., he replied: "I don't know what it was. You know, all these years, you know, I had to live in that lie. . . . I don't know, then I was drinkin' a lot. . . . And . . . I was throwing money on hookers left and right. . . . Which, I thought, was better than gettin' in trouble, you know." When asked if "gettin' in trouble" meant "forcing yourself on some gal," defendant said, "Yeah. That and plus, you know, it was illegal for hookers." When asked what had happened with Barbara C., defendant replied, "Same thing, dope and beer and stuff and --." Detective Spidle then asked, "But, I mean, what did you try to do, rape her?" Defendant replied, "Yeah." Detective Spidle also asked, "[T]he sexual urge that you have that . . . causes you to wanna . . . force sex on somebody like this . . . , it doesn't differentiate between younger women and older women, does it?" Defendant responded, "I guess, I guess not. It don't look like it."
B. The Penalty Phase 1. The prosecution's case in aggravation
During the penalty phase, the prosecution presented evidence of defendant's history of violent offenses against women. Eddings's daughter, two of her nieces, and a grandniece also testified concerning the impact of Eddings's death on her family, and, over defense objection, several family photographs were shown to the jury.
(a) Evidence of other crimes (1) Norma Knight
In 1972, when defendant was 15 years of age, he stabbed Norma Knight, a high school teacher, in the back with a hunting knife. Robert Packer, the former principal at defendant's high school, testified that at the time of the attack, which took place the week before school was to begin, Knight was in her classroom alone when defendant, who had not been one of her students and whom she did not know, approached her desk and asked her the time. After she directed his attention to the clock on the wall, defendant continued to approach her desk and "the next thing she knew he had plunged a knife into her back and left the room." Thomas Lindley, the former vice-principal at the high school, testified that a week after the incident, Knight was shown a photographic lineup and identified defendant as the student who had stabbed her.
Defendant was charged with the stabbing as a juvenile. He was treated at a mental health facility for two years until his repeated escapes resulted in his placement in juvenile hall. Defendant remained in juvenile hall until he was released from custody at the age of 18. Terry Garrison, a former girlfriend of defendant's and the mother of his three children, testified that defendant "laughed" when describing his attack on Knight.
Over a defense objection, victim impact evidence concerning Knight's stabbing was admitted. Lindley testified that Knight took time off from work following the incident and then returned for a period of time, but was "very frightened, very nervous, extremely apprehensive . . . in the context of her daily business," traits she previously had not exhibited on the job. She quit teaching later that same year and never returned to work. Tracy Knight -- Norma's son -- testified that following the incident, his mother had "a breakdown" one day while driving to school, thereafter was institutionalized in a mental health facility for one to two weeks, and had been under psychiatric care since that time.
In 1975, when defendant was 19 years of age, he assaulted Barbara C. in her bedroom. Barbara C., who had lived in the same neighborhood as defendant's family for 13 years and was the mother of defendant's girlfriend at the time, testified that she awoke one night in her bed to find defendant sitting on her chest with his hands around her throat "trying to strangle me." Struggling to breathe, Barbara C. managed to say, "Billy," at which time defendant stopped choking her and started to cry, saying he was on drugs or alcohol and needed help. Barbara C., who had not had a problem with defendant before this incident, said she would help him.
After defendant walked out of the bedroom, Barbara C. dressed and went into the living room to find him, but defendant had left. When she returned to her bedroom, she found a knife on her bed pillow that did not belong to her and had not been there when she went to sleep. Following this incident, defendant committed himself for a few days to Patton State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital, and then checked himself out.
Terry Garrison testified concerning her four-year relationship with defendant.*fn4 Garrison met defendant in 1975 when he was 19 years of age, had recently moved from California to St. Louis, Missouri, and was living with his uncle across the street from the restaurant where Garrison worked. They began dating, eventually moving in and living together until January 1979. Over the course of their relationship, defendant and Garrison had three children together, two girls and a boy, in addition to the two daughters Garrison had from a prior relationship.*fn5
Sometime in 1977, the relationship between defendant and Garrison deteriorated, and defendant became physically and verbally abusive. The mistreatment began with pushing and slapping, and eventually escalated to punching and kicking. The violent encounters between defendant and Garrison were often, but not always, alcohol related, and appeared to occur whenever defendant "had had a bad day." On one occasion, defendant hit Garrison in the head with an ax handle. During another argument, defendant grabbed Garrison by the neck and threw her across the bed, asking, "Why don't you understand that I love you?" Following a separate incident, Garrison had to go to the hospital for treatment for injuries to her head, an eye, and ribs inflicted by defendant.
In addition to the physical abuse, defendant also threatened Garrison, telling her that if she ever left him, "he would come and kill [her]." Defendant told Garrison of other acts of violence he had committed, such as when he was in the ninth grade and one of his teachers "made him mad so he stabbed her 21 times in the back with a paperweight," and also that he had been accused of trying to strangle a former girlfriend's mother.
Defendant and Garrison finally ended their relationship in January 1979. Defendant moved out of their residence and told Garrison he was moving back to California. He returned a month later to stay with Garrison for two or three weeks while she was five months pregnant with their son. One night during his stay, defendant shoved Garrison, face first, into a wall in the bedroom, then followed her into the bathroom and pushed her into the bathtub. He did not appear to Garrison to be using drugs or alcohol at the time, but rather was just "in one of his moods." Garrison went into labor and was taken to the hospital, where she prematurely gave birth to their son, who then remained in the hospital for several months. Garrison delivered their third child, a daughter, after she and defendant had separated.
After the relationship ended, Garrison received information from the department of family services that defendant might have molested her oldest daughter, Angela C. She called defendant and confronted him about these allegations. Defendant asked Garrison if she "really thought he was capable of something like that," to which she replied, "yes," and he laughed. Prior to this time, Garrison had never suspected defendant of abusing any of her children, because in her view, he was always a good father in her presence.
Terry Garrison's daughter from a prior relationship, Angela C., testified as to the conditions in her household during the four years Garrison lived "on and off" with defendant. During this time, defendant and Garrison both drank alcohol and frequently would fight. Angela C. witnessed defendant slap Garrison, and she herself was physically beaten by both Garrison and defendant.
Angela C. described an incident in which she and her younger sister crossed the street against defendant's instructions. Defendant ordered the sisters into the house and forced them to disrobe and lay facedown on the floor with their arms and legs spread apart while defendant sat behind them for a period of time. Angela C. further testified that defendant started to molest her when she was four or five years of age. The first time, defendant was lying down on the couch and he called Angela C. over to him. He placed her on top of his groin and started rotating his hips. When she began crying, defendant told her "not to be a baby, that he knew [her] dad taught [her] how to do that, and he wanted [her] to take off [her] pants." Angela C. refused and asked to call her mother. Defendant telephoned Garrison at work, telling Garrison that she needed to come home. Garrison returned from work angry, and when Angela C. told her that defendant had wanted her to take off her pants, Garrison slapped her in the face and sent her to bed. Defendant and Garrison then had an argument.
On another occasion, when Angela C. was six or seven years of age, defendant was home alone with Angela C. and her sister when he instructed Angela C. to take her nightgown off and give it to her sister. Angela C. complied, but immediately put on another nightgown. Defendant ordered her to remove that nightgown as well and to come over to him. Angela did so, at which time defendant put her on his lap and raped her. When she screamed, defendant told her that he was punishing her "for being so curious." (Angela C. explained that the "so curious" comment referred to a prior evening when she had walked in on her mom and defendant: "I heard some noises in the bedroom. I thought he was hitting her again, so I walked in there and they were having sex, and he made me sit on the chair [and watch] until they were done.") Defendant then put his finger in Angela C.'s vagina "to see if [she] was pregnant." She began bleeding from her genital area and defendant put her in the bathtub. Garrison returned home shortly thereafter and noticed blood in the bath water. Defendant told Garrison that Angela C. had cut her foot, and thereafter Garrison and defendant had "a big fight."
Tina Kidwell, formerly Perfater, testified concerning her two-year relationship with defendant. Kidwell met defendant in St. Louis in 1980, when she was 18 years of age and defendant was working with Kidwell's brothers. They dated for about six months before Kidwell and her baby son moved in with defendant. She moved out three months later, but they continued to see each other.
During the course of their relationship, Kidwell and defendant often drank alcohol together. Some incidents of violence occurred while they were intoxicated, but others occurred when defendant simply "had a bad day at work." During their relationship, Kidwell estimated that defendant hit her with his closed fists approximately five times. On one occasion, Kidwell and defendant had an argument, and defendant wanted her to leave the house, but Kidwell first wanted to get a bottle of milk for her son. Defendant shoved her outside and "slammed" the door behind her. He refused to let Kidwell back in, threatening to "beat [her] ass" and telling her to "get out" of there. During another incident, defendant, apparently dissatisfied with a meal Kidwell had prepared, overturned the kitchen table and pushed Kidwell across the room. Another time, defendant became angry because Kidwell served chili that was not homemade. He threw the pot across the kitchen, shoved Kidwell, overturned the table, and then physically removed Kidwell from the house. A final incident occurred on Christmas Eve in 1982, while Kidwell was living in an apartment with her son and defendant was staying with them for a few nights. That evening, they had some neighbors over for a party. Defendant became jealous, put his fist through a window, and then left the house. Kidwell had no further contact with him after that incident.
After Kidwell stopped dating defendant, another woman, Elsie S., accused her of having a relationship with him. A fight ensued between the women, during which Kidwell cut Elsie S.'s face with a box cutter.
Elsie S. testified concerning her "on and off" relationship with defendant between 1982 and 1988. They met when Elsie S. was 21 years of age and living across the street from defendant's grandfather in St. Louis. The first time they were alone together, defendant took Elsie S. for a ride in his truck. Once parked, defendant tried to remove Elsie S.'s clothing, pulling her pants down, but she told him "no, stop." He stopped and then drove her home.
Two or three months later, defendant appeared at Elsie S.'s house, saying he wanted to talk to her and asking to take her for a ride. She complied but when they got out of the car, defendant grabbed her by the neck and pushed her into the backseat. As she struggled, defendant pulled her pants down, got on top of her, and raped her while saying, "you know you like it." Afterward, he drove her home. Elsie S. told her sister about the incident a week later, but did not tell anyone else because she "felt ashamed."
Elsie S. did not see defendant again for several months, after which she was with him at various times over the years and had sexual relations with him, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes not. She explained that she "was young and naive" and "felt like a little bit of affection was better than none." Toward the middle of their relationship, Elsie S. began to feel "used" by defendant and "hurt" that he did not feel the same way about her that she felt about him. They both dated other people at times during their relationship, which ultimately ended in 1988.
Although Elsie S. admitted to having consensual sex with defendant after they resumed a more regular relationship, she also recounted five or six other occasions when the intercourse with defendant explicitly was against her will. At various times, defendant tied her to the bed with masking or duct tape, put a knife to her throat, put his hands around her neck, inserted a foreign object in her vagina, gave her an unknown pill which caused her to become unconscious, and choked her with a pair of underwear until she could not breathe and had to tell defendant to stop. Elsie S. also called the police in 1986 when, during an argument, defendant punched her in the eye and held a knife to her blouse while threatening to "cut her beyond recognition." Police found a three-inch pocketknife in defendant's possession when he was arrested for this 1986 incident.
On cross-examination, Elsie S. testified that she instigated a fistfight with Tina Kidwell concerning defendant in 1988. The fight ended when Kidwell cut Elsie S.'s face with a box cutter.
In 1983, while living in St. Louis, defendant raped the girlfriend of an acquaintance. Cathy D. testified that on the night in question, she and her boyfriend, Harvey Temple, encountered defendant at a bar. Defendant was with another woman and the two couples decided to go to a restaurant for breakfast and then to defendant's residence. At some point the other woman left and Temple's wife arrived at the residence ...