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People v. Brown

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

September 30, 2014

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
WILLIE LEE BROWN, Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County. No. RIF078113 James S. Hawkins, Judge.

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COUNSEL

John L. Dodd, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney General, Anthony Da Silva and Peter Quon, Jr., Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

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OPINION

RAMIREZ P. J.

This is an appeal by defendant and appellant Willie Lee Brown, a “Three Strikes” prisoner who was serving an indeterminate life sentence, following the trial court’s order denying defendant’s petition to recall his sentence under the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012, added by Proposition 36 (the Reform Act). (Pen. Code, § 1170.126.)[1] On appeal, defendant argues (1) a trial court has the authority to strike a disqualifying prior conviction allegation under section 1385 and People v. Superior Court (Romero) (1996) 13 Cal.4th 497 [53 Cal.Rptr.2d 789, 917 P.2d 628] (Romero) at a sentencing recall hearing brought under section 1170.126; and (2) because the trial court believed it did not have such authority, the matter must be remanded. For the reasons explained below, we reject defendant’s contention.

I

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[2]

On September 22, 1997, a store manager at a Moreno Valley Payless/Rite Aid store saw defendant place two cameras into his briefcase before walking into the store’s restroom. When the manager entered the restroom, he heard defendant behind a closed stall door tearing boxes. The manager found empty camera boxes in the stall after defendant exited the restroom. Defendant was apprehended by the store manager and a security guard as he was about to exit the store. The two cameras, valued at a total of $169.98, were recovered from defendant.

After police were contacted and defendant waived his constitutional rights, a sheriff’s deputy interviewed defendant. Defendant, who was not carrying any identification, told the deputy that his name was “Willie James Lewis” and his birth date was January 1, 1965. After the deputy established defendant’s identity using his fingerprints, the deputy issued defendant a citation and released him. The deputy later received information that defendant was wanted on a no-bail felony warrant for violating parole on a robbery case. Defendant was apprehended on March 26, 1998, during a traffic stop in Moreno Valley.

On October 2, 1998, a jury convicted defendant of petty theft with a prior theft conviction (§ 666). In a bifurcated proceeding, the trial court found true that defendant had suffered two prior prison terms (§ 667.5) and three prior

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serious and violent felony strike convictions (§§ 667, subds. (c) & (e)(2), 1170.12, subd. (c)), to wit, a 1978 robbery (§ 211); a 1991 robbery (§ 211); and a 1991 oral copulation by force (§ 288a, subd. (c)). On November 17, 1998, defendant was sentenced to a total term of 27 years to life in state prison with credit for time served.

On November 6, 2012, the electorate passed Proposition 36, also known as the Reform Act. Among other things, this ballot measure enacted section 1170.126, which permits persons currently serving an indeterminate life term under the “Three Strikes” law to file a petition in the sentencing court seeking to be resentenced to a determinate term as a second striker. (§ 1170.126, subd. (f).) If the trial court determines, in its discretion, that the defendant meets ...


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