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People v. Leath

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Fourth Division

June 20, 2013

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
BRANDON LEATH, Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. BA376905, Leslie A. Swain, Judge.

Michael Chelvam for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, Linda C. Johnson and Elaine F. Tumonis, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

SUZUKAWA, J.

Following the denial of his motion to suppress evidence (Pen. Code, § 1538.5), [1] defendant Brandon Leath pled guilty to two counts of second degree robbery. (§211.) He now appeals from the judgment of conviction, urging that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. We affirm.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

I. The October 7, 2010 Armed Robbery

On October 7, 2010, Osmara Merlo, Jorge Vasquez, and Daniel Guillen were robbed at gunpoint near the corner of 43rd Place and Sixth Avenue in Los Angeles. Two suspects approached in a dark SUV, pointed a gun at Merlo’s head, and told her to give them her purse. When Vasquez and Guillen approached, the suspects pointed the gun at them and told them to empty their pockets. Vasquez handed the suspects an iPod, iPhone, and a Zune player, and the suspects took Guillen’s phone and wallet from his pockets. The suspect with the gun then told Merlo, Vasquez, and Guillen to turn around and run.

Officers arrested defendant and codefendant Timothy Brewer shortly after the robbery. A subsequently filed information charged defendant with three counts of second degree robbery; it also alleged defendant had committed a serious or violent felony as a juvenile.

II. The Suppression Motion

On March 2, 2011, defendant moved to suppress all physical evidence seized from his person and vehicle, as well as all statements he made to the arresting officers, on the grounds that the arresting officers lacked probable cause or a reasonable suspicion to detain him.

The court held a hearing on the motion on April 29, 2011. Officer John Ishigami testified at the suppression hearing that on October 7, 2010, at about 11:30 p.m., he and his partner, Officer Quinata, were dispatched to investigate an armed robbery at 43rd Street and 6th Avenue in Los Angeles. The officers spoke to the three victims, who said they had been walking home when a dark SUV came towards them. The person on the passenger side of the SUV got out first, approached Merlo, pointed a gun at her, and said, “Give me your stuff.” She handed over her purse. Merlo’s friends, Vasquez and Guillen, ran towards her to see what was going on, and the suspects “pocket checked” them at gunpoint. The suspects then said, “Four-Eighth Street. Start running.” Officer Ishigami said that “Four-Eighth Street” refers to a street gang in the area.

The victims described the suspects as African-American men, approximately 20 years of age. One suspect was wearing a blue Cardinals jacket. The victims said the SUV was either burgundy or dark in color. They were not able to otherwise describe the SUV.

While Officers Ishigami and Quinata were speaking to the suspects, two additional officers, Leary and Holliman, arrived. Officer Ishigami told Officers Leary and Holliman what they had learned—i.e., that the suspects were members of the Four-Eighth Street gang and were driving a dark SUV. Officers Leary and Holliman spoke to the ...


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