Super. Ct. No. CR150456) Trial court: Napa County Trial judge: Hon. Rodney Stone
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rivera, J.
CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION*fn1
Defendant Jack Kenneth Davis appeals a judgment entered upon a jury verdict finding him guilty of possession of a deadly weapon, specifically a billy (Pen. Code, former § 12020, subd. (a)*fn2 ), and displaying false evidence of registration (Veh. Code, § 4462.5). The jury acquitted him of the charge of carrying a dirk or dagger. (§ 12020, subd. (a).) The trial court suspended imposition of sentence and placed defendant on probation for three years. On appeal, defendant challenges his weapon conviction on both statutory and constitutional grounds. We shall affirm the judgment.
Defendant was driving his pickup truck in January 2010. A sheriff's deputy, Osvaldo Hernandez, stopped him for making an unsafe lane change. Although the truck had a current registration sticker, when Hernandez asked him for his registration, defendant told Hernandez that his registration had expired. A call to dispatch confirmed that the registration had indeed expired.
Hernandez asked defendant to step out of his truck and asked if he had any weapons on him. Defendant said he had a pocket knife. Hernandez found one knife clipped to the outside of defendant's right front pants pocket, which Hernandez understood to be lawful because it was not concealed, and a second knife inside defendant's vest. Hernandez asked defendant if he had any other weapons, and defendant said he had a bat in the back seat of his vehicle. Hernandez found the bat. A number of holes had been drilled partially through the handle, and it had a leather wrist strap. Hernandez believed the holes would make the bat lighter or make it easier to grip it. The bat had been painted black, and in two separate places had two red lightning bolts drawn on it. Hernandez asked defendant why he had the bat, and defendant said he repossessed vehicles late at night and needed the bat for protection. Hernandez also found some tools in defendant's vehicle, which had red "SS" lightning bolts imprinted on them. Defendant told Hernandez he was an electrician and used the lightning bolts to mark his tools.
Hernandez testified that double lightning bolt markings were used by neo-Nazi white supremacist groups and skinheads. Hernandez was part of the gang task force, and had been informed that members of these types of groups could be violent and might have weapons with them. Hernandez believed the bat was being carried for use as a weapon. When asked if he considered the bat a billy, he testified, "Yes, I would classify it as a modified baseball bat, billy club."
In 1996, during a search of defendant's residence, police officers found and seized a black billy club from his bedroom. At the time, defendant admitted the billy club belonged to him. An officer told him it was illegal to have the billy club. Defendant was convicted of possessing the billy club. In her testimony at trial in this case, an officer who was involved in the 1996 search testified that if she had found the bat at issue in this case, she would have considered it a billy and confiscated it.
A friend of defendant's testified in his defense that defendant used the bat to play with a dog at the friend's automotive shop. The friend testified that the lightning bolts were defendant's "trademark," which he used to mark all his tools to prevent other people from taking them. Defendant's long-time girlfriend and his stepdaughter testified that defendant put the lightning bolt symbol on his tools and that they did not know defendant to be a skinhead or a member of a neo-Nazi or white supremacist group. His girlfriend also testified that defendant kept the bat in the back of his truck and that he used it to play with a dog.
Defendant testified that he supplemented his income by repossessing vehicles for a finance company. In the course of his work, he had "been shot at, [had] had baseball bats swung at [him], [had] been hit in the face by girls, [had] been kicked, punched . . . ." He testified that when Hernandez stopped him and asked him about weapons, he forgot to mention the knife in his vest, but that it was not concealed. When Hernandez asked if there were other weapons in the truck, defendant mentioned the baseball bat as a "common courtesy." He said that when he painted the bat and put holes in the handle, he was "just screwing around," and that he put lightning bolt signs and drilled holes in the hammers in his toolbox to identify them and help him get a better grip. The strap allowed him to walk with the bat hanging from his wrist. He said he had never hit anyone with the bat or pulled it out, but that it was a "security blanket," and he wanted to have it available in case he was threatened during a repossession. He ...