County Superior Court No. SM980198, Hon. Carrie M. Panetta,
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Evan Beckman for Defendant and Appellant.
D. Harris, Attorney General Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant
Attorney General Jeffrey M. Laurence, Assistant Attorney
General Laurence K. Sullivan and Rene A. Chacon, Deputy
Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
1999, defendant Norman Willover was sentenced to two
consecutive terms of life without the possibility of parole
(LWOP) for crimes he committed as a juvenile. In 2014,
defendant filed a petition for recall and resentencing
pursuant to Penal Code section 1170, subdivision
(d)(2). After a hearing, the trial court
denied his resentencing petition. On appeal, defendant claims
the trial court erroneously denied his petition based solely
on the circumstances of his crimes and that the relevant
factors weighed in favor of recall and resentencing. For
reasons that we will explain, we will affirm the trial
The Underlying Offenses
following summary of defendant’s underlying offenses is
taken from this court’s nonpublished opinion
(People v. Willover (Oct. 19, 2000, H019899)),
issued after he appealed from his convictions.
December of 1997, defendant, age 17, was living in a
residential treatment center in Provo, Utah. One day, he left
the treatment center without authorization. He bought a
Ruger.22-caliber pistol from a teenager in Pleasant Grove,
Utah. He then left for the Monterey area, with the gun in his
black backpack. He stated that he planned to use the gun to
rob and kill people and to settle scores with rival gangs.
defendant arrived in Monterey on January 31, 1998, he
obtained ammunition for his gun and loaded it. Later that
day, defendant got together with Joseph Manibusan, Adam
Tegerdal, and Melissa Contreras. The four young people drove
around the Monterey area in Tegerdal’s Mercury Cougar.
Defendant had the gun, bullets, and clips in his backpack.
and Manibusan discussed robbing someone. Manibusan directed
Contreras, who was driving, where to go. He told her to pull
over near the Monterey Sports Center. Defendant and Manibusan
left the vehicle with the gun, saying they had seen someone
with a purse. They returned shortly, saying they could not
find the person they had been looking for.
then took over driving. He drove onto the Monterey Wharf,
where Priya Mathews and Jennifer Aninger were drinking coffee
and talking. Defendant and Manibusan discussed whether the
women had a purse. Defendant yelled out to the women,
“Give me your money.” The women could not hear
him, however. Defendant said something vulgar and then fired
nine shots at the two women. Four bullets hit Mathews and two
bullets hit Aninger.
was hit in her upper arm, thigh, and the middle of her back.
The bullet that entered the middle of her back punctured her
lungs, aorta, and heart. She died at the scene.
entered Aninger’s brain and left arm but she survived.
She had three operations on her brain, and as a result of the
shooting she lost her senses of smell and taste. She had no
use of her left arm until after surgery several months later,
which enabled her to regain only some use of the arm.
defendant shot Mathews and Aninger, Manibusan drove the car
to Tegerdal’s house, where the group got into
Tegerdal’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo in order to escape
police detection. Along the way, Manibusan told defendant
that he “wanted his turn.”
again drove. He handled defendant’s pistol and asserted
that he wanted to find someone to rob. He drove to Salinas
and then to Seaside, where he noticed Frances Olivo walking
on the sidewalk.
asked if Manibusan was going to rob Olivo. Manibusan said
yes, drove the car up to Olivo, and motioned her over.
Manibusan shot at
Olivo about six times, hitting her with three bullets. The
bullets entered Olivo’s breast, chest, and shoulder.
She died at the scene.
February 4, 1998, a few days after the shootings, defendant
gave his backpack to a friend. The gun, clips, and bullets
were inside the backpack. Defendant told his friend that the
gun was “heated, ” meaning it was stolen or had
been used in a crime. Defendant was arrested that same day.
Convictions and Jury Findings
was convicted of first degree murder of Mathews and first
degree murder of Olivo (§ 187, subd. (a)), attempted
premeditated murder of Aninger (§§ 664, 187, subd.
(a)), aggravated mayhem (§ 205), and giving false
information to a peace officer (§ 148.9, subd. (a)). The
charges of first degree murder were brought on the theory
that they were “perpetrated by means of discharging a
firearm from a motor vehicle, intentionally at another person
outside of the vehicle with the intent to inflict
death.” (§ 189.)
jury found true three special circumstance allegations:
multiple murders (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)); murder during
the commission of attempted robbery (id., subd.
(a)(17)); and drive-by shooting (id., subd.
(a)(21)). The jury also found that defendant personally
discharged a firearm causing great bodily injury or death
(§ 12022.53, subd. (d)) and intentionally inflicted
great bodily injury or death as a result of discharging a
firearm from a vehicle during the commission of a felony or
attempted felony (§ 12022.55).
defendant’s sentencing hearing, held on April 2, 1999,
the prosecutor argued that LWOP was the presumptive sentence
for a special circumstance murder committed by a 16- or
17-year-old juvenile, pursuant to section 190.5, subdivision
(b). The prosecutor advocated for an LWOP sentence, noting
that two psychiatric evaluators had concluded defendant was
faking symptoms of a mental illness and that a third
evaluator had referred to defendant as “the most cold
blooded, callous killer.” The prosecutor argued that if
defendant was given a sentence other than LWOP, “he
will come back again looking for someone to kill.”
trial counsel argued that defendant suffered “from a
mental condition that reduced culpability” and that
defendant was a “grossly immature” young man who
had “little or no ability to control his own
aggression.” Defendant’s trial counsel argued
that the crimes “were committed in so close a period of
time as to indicate a single period of aberrant
behavior” and that defendant had “played a minor
or passive role” in the second murder.
Defendant’s trial counsel noted that defendant had been
diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and that
antisocial behavior was commonly seen in young males but that
“most people by the time they’re in their forties
or they’re in their fifties do not generally tend to
exhibit these tendencies.” Defendant’s trial
counsel requested the trial court impose a sentence that
would give defendant “the opportunity to be released
from custody at some time during his life if he can
demonstrate to the authorities... that he is law abiding,
that he is able to control himself, and that he does not
present a danger to public safety.”
announcing its sentencing decisions, the trial court first
rejected defendant’s claim that he was suffering from a
mental illness that significantly reduced his culpability for
the crimes. The trial court noted it had read the letters
submitted in support of defendant, which all suggested
“[t]hat it would be a miscarriage of justice
somehow” if petitioner received an LWOP sentence. The
trial court noted that “all of the doctors and the
counselors involved in this case over the years” had
characterized defendant as argumentative, explosive,
controlling, defiant, resistant to feedback, and a danger to
society, with poor impulse control. The court described
defendant as “a textbook example and the product of
poor, indifferent and inadequate parenting, ” noting
that defendant’s mother would often “blow up,
call him a loser, give him a knife and ask him to kill
her.” The court believed that “[c]ommon sense
dictates that [defendant] must never be allowed the
possibility of drawing another breath in freedom.”
trial court ultimately sentenced defendant to two consecutive
LWOP terms for the two first-degree murders, a consecutive
term of 15 years to life for the attempted premeditated
murder, and two consecutive terms of 25 years to life for the
allegations that he personally discharged a firearm causing
great bodily injury or death. The trial court stayed the
terms for the remaining counts and enhancements.
Appeal and Habeas Corpus Petitions
appealed following his convictions, and this court modified
the judgment to reflect that defendant’s sentence for
the attempted premeditated murder was life with the
possibility of parole instead of 15 years to life.
February 28, 2013, defendant filed a petition for writ of
habeas corpus in the trial court, alleging that his LWOP
sentence violated the Eighth Amendment. That petition was
denied on January 13, 2014.
March 10, 2014, defendant filed a petition for writ of habeas
corpus in this court, again arguing that his LWOP sentence
violated the Eighth Amendment. This court ...