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People v. Johnson

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division

November 19, 2013

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
RYAN JAMES JOHNSON, Defendant and Appellant.

Superior Court County No. F435613 of San Luis Obispo Barry T. LaBarbera, Judge.

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COUNSEL

Peter Gold, 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, Assistant Attorney General, Steven E. Mercer and Peggy Z. Huang, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

YEGAN, J.

The "mastermind" of an armed home-invasion robbery who sends his accomplices to do his bidding can be convicted of first degree murder if one of his accomplices engages in provocative conduct and the victim kills in reasonable response to that conduct. In these circumstances malice is implied by law and imputed to the "mastermind" despite his absence from the scene of the crime.

Ryan James Johnson appeals from the judgment entered after his conviction by a jury of first degree murder (Pen.Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 189), [1] first degree residential burglary (§§ 459, 460, subd. (a)), conspiracy to commit robbery (§§ 182, subd. (a)(1), 211), and two counts of first degree residential robbery. (§§ 211, 212.5, subd. (a).) The jury found true firearm enhancements within the meaning of section 12022, subdivision (a)(1). Appellant was sentenced to prison for 26 years to life. The murder conviction was based on the provocative act murder doctrine. In People v. Baker-Riley (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 631 [143 Cal.Rptr.3d 737], we affirmed the first degree murder conviction of appellant's codefendant and accomplice, Jesse Baker-Riley. Appellant and Baker-Riley were separately tried.

Appellant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction of first degree murder, (2) the trial court erroneously instructed the jury, (3) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of a prior residential robbery, and (4) his sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the federal and state constitutions. We affirm.

Facts

Peter Davis lived in Los Osos. He had a physician's recommendation for medical marijuana and grew marijuana plants in his backyard. A narcotics

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expert testified that he had a sufficient quantity of marijuana to be a supplier to people seeking to purchase it.

Appellant knew Davis and on July 18, 2009, he told Janine Lindemans that he "and his homies are taking care of something" and " '[w]e are going to come up big.' " Appellant explained "that they were taking care of somebody that was selling pot or dope... in our town, meaning Los Osos, and that the person had no business doing business like that in []our town, and that [appellant]... [and] his homies were basically doing a home invasion." Lindemans asked, " 'Are you talking about a home invasion robbery?' " Appellant replied, " 'Well, yeah, I guess, if you want to call it that.' " Appellant identified one of his "homies" as "Kelsey" (Kelsey Alvarez). Appellant said that they were going to "take... Pete's [Peter Davis's] pot, and that they had a gun." They intended to use the gun during the robbery. Appellant boasted "that he was running things, " and he appeared to be "pretty proud of himself that he was the shot caller."

That same day Peter Davis and his friend, Dylan Baumann, were inside Davis's residence when they heard a knock on the door. Davis opened the door and saw two persons whom he did not recognize. They were Kelsey Alvarez and Jesse Baker-Riley. Baker-Riley "pulled out a large firearm and put it in [Davis's] face." Baker-Riley and Alvarez entered the residence. Baker-Riley said to Baumann, "[S]it down or I'll shoot you." Baumann testified that Baker-Riley "put his gun on my kneecaps and told me he was going to shoot off my kneecaps."

Baker-Riley demanded cash and marijuana. Baumann emptied his pockets of all items, including a cell phone. Baker-Riley took the ...


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