(Super. Ct. No. 10F00420)
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hoch , J.
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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.
A jury convicted defendant Charles Dean Thomas of felonious driving in willful disregard for the safety of others while fleeing from a pursuing peace officer. (Veh. Code, § 2800.2, subd. (a).) The trial court found defendant guilty of misdemeanor driving with a suspended or revoked license. (Veh. Code, § 14601.2, subd. (a).) The trial court also found true the allegations that defendant had a prior serious felony conviction for first degree burglary (Pen. Code, §§ 459, 667, subds. (b)-(i)*fn1 ) and had served three prior prison terms (§ 667.5, subd. (b)).
At sentencing, the trial court denied defendant's motions to strike the prior serious felony conviction under People v. Superior Court (Romero) (1996) 13 Cal.4th 497 (Romero) and to reduce the felony conviction to a misdemeanor. The court imposed a six-year prison sentence along with a concurrent 180-day jail term for the misdemeanor conviction.
On appeal, defendant (1) asks this court to conduct an independent review of the trial court's in camera review of evidence produced in response to his Pitchess*fn2 motion for discovery of the personnel records of the arresting officer, (2) contends the trial court erred in allowing the pursuing peace officer to testify as an expert on estimating the speed of vehicles, (3) argues that his motion to strike his prior serious felony conviction should have been granted, and (4) asserts the trial court erred in refusing to reduce his felony conviction to a misdemeanor.
We have independently reviewed the contents of the sealed record on appeal relating to defendant's Pitchess motion and find no error in the trial court's denial of the motion. We also conclude that the trial court did not err in allowing the peace officer to testify as an expert on vehicle speed or in denying defendant's motions to strike the prior strike conviction and to reduce the current felony conviction to a misdemeanor. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment.
On the morning of January 16, 2010, California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Ward was on duty in full uniform and driving a marked patrol vehicle. While driving along 23rd Avenue in Sacramento, Officer Ward noticed a parked red pickup truck with an expired registration tag in the parking lot of a market. When the officer saw the truck pull out of the parking lot, he made a U-turn to stop the pickup truck and issue a citation for the expired registration.
Officer Ward observed the truck drive through an intersection without stopping or even slowing down for a posted stop sign. The officer then observed the truck proceed at about 30 miles an hour through a residential neighborhood. Officer Ward activated the emergency lights on his patrol vehicle but the truck did not stop. Instead, the truck made a quick turn onto Sierra Vista Avenue and the officer had to accelerate to nearly 50 miles an hour to catch up. While catching up to the truck, the officer saw the truck make a quick turn onto Mendocino Boulevard without stopping at a posted stop sign.
When the truck swerved into the opposite lane of traffic on Mendocino Boulevard, Officer Ward activated his siren in addition to his emergency lights. The truck then ran a stop sign at approximately 40 miles an hour, accelerated to more than 55 miles an hour, and overtook a light-colored sedan that had been traveling in the same direction. At the end of Mendocino Boulevard, the truck sped past a stop sign and made a right turn onto Fruitridge Road at such a high speed that the officer "was convinced at that point in time this is where [an] accident was going to occur." To avoid a line of cars stopped at a red light at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the truck turned into a gas station. Officer Ward entered the gas station from another direction and was able to cut off the truck's avenue of escape.
Officer Ward exited his vehicle and drew his service weapon. The driver, later identified as defendant, "put his hand up in a gesture that he was not going to evade [the officer] any longer." Defendant's brother, Paul Thomas,*fn3 was a passenger in the truck. After being arrested, defendant repeatedly told Officer Ward that "he didn't want to go to jail and that's why he ran."
Paul testified that he was riding in defendant's truck when he saw the flashing red lights from a police vehicle. Paul told defendant, "there's a cop behind us." According to Paul, defendant drove carefully down Del Norte Avenue, rolled slowly through a stop sign before turning onto Fruitridge Road, and stopped for the officer at the gas station. Paul opined that the officer pulled defendant over for the "California stop" even though his brother had driven past the stop sign at only "three or four miles an hour." Paul testified that he could not remember defendant making any statements while being followed by the officer.
However, during an interview with a private investigator who was hired by the defense, Paul stated that defendant urged him to get into the truck quickly with the words: "[H]urry, come on, the police are coming." As defendant sped off, Paul asked: "[W]hat the hell are you doing?" Defendant "kept saying that he didn't want to go to jail." Paul responded "that he shouldn't do this." According to Paul, defendant did not stop at stop signs and drove at speeds up to 50 miles an hour. ...