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People v. Cook

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, Second Division

April 28, 2015

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
VICTORIA SAMANTHA COOK, Defendant and Appellant.

[CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]]

APPEAL from the Superior Court of Riverside County. No. SWF10000834 Dennis A. McConaghy, Judge.

Page 342

COUNSEL

Thomas K. Macomber, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

Page 343

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Julie L. Garland, Assistant Attorney General, Steven T. Oetting and Tami Falkenstein Hennick, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

MILLER J.

Defendant and appellant Victoria Samantha Cook pled guilty to the misdemeanor offense of driving with a suspended license (count 4-Vehicle Code, § 14601.1, subd. (a)). Thereafter, a jury convicted defendant of three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter for the respective deaths of Zaria Williams (Williams), Christine Giambra (Giambra), and Cedric Page (Page) (counts 1-3-Pen. Code, § 192, subd. (c)(1)).[1] The jury additionally found true three allegations attached to the count 1 offense that defendant had personally inflicted great bodily injury upon Giambra, Page, and Robert Valentine (Valentine) (§ 12022.7, subd. (a)). The court sentenced defendant to an aggregate term of incarceration of nine years, eight months, striking punishment for the enhancements as to Giambra and Page, but imposing a three-year consecutive term for the enhancement as to Valentine.

On appeal, defendant makes four assignments of error: (1) the court erred in excluding evidence of the victims’ propensity for reckless driving as a potential defense of legal necessity; (2) the People committed prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct in ostensibly alluding to the pristine driving records of the victims and witnesses; (3) the section 12022.7[2] enhancements must be reversed because the statute explicitly forbids its application to cases of manslaughter; and (4) the trial court abused its discretion by denying defendant’s request for release of juror information. We reverse the true findings on the section 12022.7, subdivision (a) enhancements. In all other respects, we affirm the judgment.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Austin Welch (Welch) testified that on June 2, 2009, he was driving home eastbound on Highway 74 from work. He witnessed the driver of a charcoal gray Ford Fusion, later determined to be defendant, driving erratically. Traffic slowed in the right lane, in which defendant was traveling; defendant then pulled out abruptly into the fast lane in front of a silver Audi whose driver, later identified as victim Page, was forced to slam on his brakes.

Page 344

Defendant immediately sped up as Page slowed to allow space between the two cars. Defendant later changed back into the slow lane. As traffic slowed in that lane, defendant once again changed lanes back into the fast lane without signaling, cutting Page off and forcing Page to slam on his brakes and swerve to avoid hitting defendant’s ...


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