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People v. Dawkins

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Third Division

October 20, 2014

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
RODNEY LASHAWN DAWKINS, Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. YA084616, Alan B. Honeycutt, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Katherine J. Galston, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

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Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, Chung Mar and Jessica C. Owen, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.



Rodney Lawshawn Dawkins appeals from the judgment after a jury trial in which he was convicted of first degree burglary. (Pen. Code, § 459.) After the jury returned its verdict, appellant admitted he had a prior serious felony conviction that also constituted a strike within the meaning of the Three Strikes law (Pen. Code, §§ 667, subds. (a)-(i), 1170.12, subds. (a)-(d)) and he had served a prior separate prison term for a felony (Pen. Code, § 667.5, subd. (b)).

At sentencing, the trial court denied appellant’s motion pursuant to People v. Superior Court (Romero) (1996) 13 Cal.4th 497 [53 Cal.Rptr.2d 789, 917 P.2d 628] to sentence him as if he had no prior strike conviction. It sentenced him to an aggregate term in state prison of 14 years, consisting of a doubled middle term of four years, or eight years, enhanced by five years for the prior serious felony conviction and by one year for having served a prior separate prison term.[1]


Appellant contends the audio recording of the 9-1-1 call was inadmissible in evidence as it was not properly authenticated.


1. The trial evidence.

We view the evidence in the light most favorable to the judgment. (People v. Ochoa (1993) 6 Cal.4th 1199, 1206 [26 Cal.Rptr.2d 23, 864 P.2d 103].)

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a. The deputies’ and victim’s trial testimony.

On June 15, 2012, Olivia Flores lived with her husband and children in an upstairs apartment, No. 7, at 1020 108th Street in Los Angeles County. About 2:00 p.m. that day, she locked her apartment and left home to go to the Laundromat. She gave no one permission to break open the only door to her apartment, an interior front wooden door and an exterior security screen. Shortly after 5:00 p.m., Flores’s sister, another resident of the same apartment complex, telephoned Flores and instructed her to return home. Flores did so.

In the meantime, about 5:00 p.m., an anonymous caller telephoned the local 9 1-1 operator to report a burglary in progress at the apartment house next door and to the west of her 1028 108th Street residence. Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs Zuniga and Dan Ramirez (Deputy Ramirez), who were in uniform, responded immediately and during the 9-1-1 call in their marked police vehicle. As the deputies approached the apartment complex, they had their flashing multi-colored lights on and their siren was operating.

Deputy Ramirez testified the complex in question was a two-story apartment building. The apartment doors all faced one way. Apartment No. 7 was on the second floor. The one outside hallway for gaining access to the second floor apartments had a staircase at each end, front and rear, and the staircases were the exclusive means for reaching the second floor apartments. The deputies entered the complex using the front staircase. They found Flores’s doors ajar and damage to the wooden door indicating there may have been a forced entry. There was no one inside the apartment. The deputies returned curbside, again departing from the second floor by using the front staircase. Residents started emerging from their apartments to see what was going on.

The deputies canvassed the area, looking for the anonymous 9-1-1 caller. Flores approached the deputies and identified herself as the occupant of apartment No. 7. According to Deputy Ramirez, at the same time, appellant walked out to the sidewalk from the area alongside the apartment complex and inside the fencing surrounding the complex. His demeanor was nonchalant.

Deputy Ramirez testified that the complex had a rear yard, but the only reasonable access to the rear of the complex is the walkway that runs to the back of the complex. The complex’s rear yard is surrounded by tall fencing, most of which is topped with barbed wire, making an escape out the rear of the complex through its rear yard difficult at best. The front of the complex is also gated.

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Appellant was wearing dark jeans and a gray shirt. He was about 40 years old and matched the description of the suspect described to the deputies by the 9-1-1 operator. In his right hand, appellant was carrying a black duffel bag.

As appellant walked out of the rear yard, Flores spontaneously identified the black duffel bag in appellant’s hand as hers. Appellant was detained, and the deputies opened the duffel bag. Flores identified its contents as belonging to her. Inside the duffel bag were about 10 items of miscellaneous women’s clothing, two electronic handheld gaming sticks and a framed photograph of a graduation certificate for Flores’s daughter. There were no other African American men in the area of the apartment complex.

The deputies arrested appellant. They advised him of his Miranda rights, and he waived those rights. (Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436 [16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602].) When asked whether he had entered apartment No. 7, appellant claimed he had done so to get a few things. He added, “Who gives a sh-- if I push the door open; ...

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