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People v. Mason

California Court of Appeals, Second District, First Division

August 6, 2013

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
TYRONE MASON, Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. BA385609 Terry A. Bork, Judge.

Waldemar D. Halka, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Linda C. Johnson, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, and Gary A. Lieberman, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

JOHNSON, J.

Appellant Tyrone Mason challenges his conviction for failure to register as a sex offender. He argues reversal is required because the trial court committed prejudicial instructional error, there is insufficient evidence to support the conviction, and that the lifetime registration requirement violates his right to equal protection, due process and privacy and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. We conclude that prejudicial instructional error requires reversal.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

By amended information, Mason was charged with one count of committing corporal injury upon a cohabitant (Pen. Code, § 273.5, subd. (a)), [1] and one count of failing to register as a sex offender (§ 290, subd. (b)). The information also alleged two prior convictions: a 1996 conviction for spousal rape (§ 262, subd. (a)(1)), and a 2004 conviction for failure to register as a sex offender (§ 290, subd. (A)(1)(D)). (§ 667.5, subd. (b).) The spousal rape conviction was also alleged as a “strike” under the “Three Strikes” law. (§§ 667, subds. (b)–(i); 1170.12, subds. (a)–(d).) Mason pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations.

A jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of corporal injury upon a cohabitant, but convicted Mason of failure to register as a sex offender. (§ 290, subd. (b).) The jury found true allegations that Mason had been “convicted [in 2004] of a violation of... [s]ection 290[, subdivision] (A)(1)(D), FAILURE TO REGISTER: SEX OFFENDER, ” and in 1996 of a “violation of... [s]ection 262[, subdivision] (A)(1), SPOUSAL RAPE.”

The trial court found that Mason had suffered the prior convictions (§ 1025, subd. (c)), and that the spousal-rape conviction was a serious and violent felony within the meaning of Three Strikes law. (§§ 667, subds. (b)–(i); 1170.12, subds. (a)–(d).) Mason was sentenced to a total term of five years in prison.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Prosecution case

In March 2011, Alma Minnick was living with Mason and with Rayna Payton, Minnick’s roommate. They lived in a one-bedroom residence at 668 E. 51st Street in Los Angeles. Mason and Minnick, who were engaged, had lived together about four years.

On March 19, 2011, Minnick called 911 to report that Mason had physically abused her and she wanted him “to leave my... place.” Minnick told the dispatcher that Mason “may pay on the bills but he don’t pay no rent.” Minnick and Mason yelled at one another during the 911 call and, at one point, Minnick said, “I’m going in my house, ” and “I’m going in my room.” Mason was heard in the background saying, “You mean our!”

Minnick told the officers who responded to the 911 call that she and Mason “had been in a four-year dating relationship and... had been living together for the duration of the four years.” Payton also said that Minnick and Mason were her roommates. ...


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