California Court of Appeals, First District, Fourth Division
In re O.D., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
O.D., Defendant and Appellant.
Contra Costa County Super. Ct. No. J11-0812, Honorable Barry Baskin.
Anne Hanson Mania, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.
Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Assistant Attorney General, Eric D. Share and Sharon Birenbaum, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
O.D. appeals from juvenile court orders finding that he committed first degree burglary and declaring him to be a ward of the court. He argues that the court wrongly admitted expert testimony about a palm print implicating him in the burglary and that there was insufficient evidence to sustain the burglary finding. We disagree and affirm.
I. Factual and Procedural Background
On October 30, 2009, Marlene R. left her Antioch house at 7:30 a.m. after making sure the doors and windows were locked. When she returned at 3:30 that afternoon, she found mail strewn about in the entryway and hallway and a bedroom window open. She realized that something was wrong and called the Antioch police. Jewelry, money, iPods, and a camera were missing, and someone had unplugged her flat-screen television and stereo equipment and moved a television and other electronic equipment next to the back door.
Antioch police officer Blair Benzler responded to Marlene R.s call. He identified the open bedroom window as the burglars likely point of entry. The window was accessible only from the houses backyard, and it was not visible from the street. The glass in the window was unbroken, but the screen was cut. Several smudges and fingerprints were on the glass. Benzler suspected that the burglar avoided breaking the glass by forcing the window past the locking mechanism. He lifted several prints from the window, including a palm print on the outside of the glass. At the time of the burglary, Marlene R. lived alone and did not know O.D.
A week after the burglary, O.D. was arrested in an unrelated matter and fingerprinted.
In mid-2010, a fingerprint examiner with the Contra Costa Sheriffs Department Crime Laboratory, Stephanie Souza, examined the palm print from Marlene R.s window. She submitted the print to a computerized search on a state database of fingerprints. After the search generated possible matches,
Souza compared the palm print taken from Marlene R.s window with O.D.s prints taken at the time of his unrelated arrest and concluded that the palm print was O.D.s.
In January 2011, an Antioch police officer questioned O.D. about the burglary. O.D. denied any knowledge of it and claimed to have no memory of ...