Court of San Joaquin County, No. SP081070B, Terrence Van Oss,
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Stetler, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for
Defendant and Appellant.
D. Harris, Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Assistant
Attorney General, Sean McCoy and A. Kay Lauterbach, Deputy
Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
J., expressing the unanimous view of the court.
P.3d 1207] [211 Cal.Rptr.3d 55] --A jury convicted defendant,
Angelo Michael Melendez, of the first degree murder of Koi
Wilson under the special circumstance of murder in the
commission of robbery, of the attempted premeditated murder
of Ricky Richardson, and of first degree residential robbery.
It also found true personal firearm-use allegations. After a
penalty trial, the jury returned a verdict of
death. The court denied the automatic motion to modify the
verdict and imposed a judgment of death. This appeal is
automatic. We affirm the judgment.
the night of December 12 to 13, 2000, defendant and Latroy
Taylor entered the Stockton home of Ricky Richardson [211
Cal.Rptr.3d 56] and Koi Wilson. Within a few minutes, Wilson
was fatally shot, Richardson was shot and seriously wounded,
and money and marijuana were taken from the house. At a joint
trial, the prosecution theory was that defendant and Taylor
committed the robbery together and, based largely on
Richardson's testimony, that defendant alone shot the two
victims. Defendant admitted he was present during the
robbery, but he claimed Taylor was the shooter, and he did
not know that Taylor intended to commit a robbery.
Richardson was the only surviving eyewitness to the events in
the house that night other than defendants themselves. He
testified that he is a rap artist who made and marketed
compact discs. He wrote his own lyrics. He also sold
marijuana and had a part-time job. Koi Wilson was his
fiancé e and the mother of their infant daughter. He
and Latroy Taylor were good friends and saw each other on a
regular basis. Richardson had known defendant since he was
four or five years old. Defendant was more than 20 years
older than Richardson and had been a friend of
Richardson's father. Richardson called defendant "
and Wilson were at their Stockton home the evening of
December 12, 2000. Their baby was sleeping in a back bedroom.
At some point, Taylor came to the house. Richardson was not
surprised to see Taylor, and he opened the front door to let
him in. As he did so, to his surprise, he also saw defendant
outside. Richardson let both of them in the house. Defendant
asked to use the bathroom and went inside the bathroom.
Richardson and Taylor went into the den, where Taylor asked
for some marijuana. Wilson was sitting on a couch. Richardson
also sat down, with Wilson sitting between Richardson and
Taylor. Richardson and Taylor smoked some marijuana.
Richardson saw that Taylor had a gun, but that did not
surprise him because Taylor often carried a gun.
came out of the bathroom and asked Taylor whether he had
gotten " what he came for." Defendant then shot
Richardson in the abdomen, causing him to " fl[y] back
on the couch." Richardson saw defendant point a smoking
gun at him. Wilson started screaming, and defendant shot her
twice. Richardson heard a total of three shots.
pretended to be dead because he feared he might be shot
again. But he was able to perceive Taylor taking items from
the house. He heard activity in the back bedroom and the baby
crying. Later, Richardson [384 P.3d 1208] heard activity
outside and was able to observe Taylor and what appeared to
be another person rolling out two safes. Defendant was still
pointing the gun in the den.
point, Richardson heard Taylor tell defendant, "
'Make sure they dead.'" Defendant responded,
" 'Oh, yeah. They dead.'" About three to
five minutes after the first shot, Taylor and defendant left.
Richardson heard a car driving away. He immediately called
911 on his cellphone and told the dispatcher he had been
shot. Police and other responders were dispatched at 1:08
a.m., December 13, 2000, and arrived within minutes.
was dead at the scene, having been shot twice through the
chest. Richardson was shot once in the abdomen. He required
emergency medical care, multiple surgeries, and a lengthy
hospital stay to [211 Cal.Rptr.3d 57] save his life. As of
the time of trial, the bullet was still embedded in him, and
he was paralyzed below the waist.
officers testified that the house appeared ransacked when
they entered it. The baby was crying in the bedroom. Three
.45-caliber Speer shell casings were found on the floor and
two spent bullets were found under Wilson's body.
Criminalists testified that the three casings came from the
same gun. The two bullets had also been fired from the same
gun, possibly a .45-caliber handgun.
testified that about $ 27,000 and four pounds of marijuana
were taken from his home. Originally he had told the police
about $ 20,000 had been taken, and he did not mention the
marijuana. He did not want to admit to possessing the
who was in considerable pain at the time, told the original
dispatcher that Taylor had shot him, although he also told
her that defendant was present. He testified that at the time
he was primarily interested in getting help for himself and
Wilson, and he felt betrayed by Taylor. He believed that, but
for Taylor, defendant would never have come to his house. He
explained, " The reason I kept saying Latroy was because
I felt like he shot me ...,
because I trusted him. ... [W]hen I woke up, I was still
saying Latroy because it was ... just registered in my head
that he was the one who set that up." Detective David
Anderson, who investigated the case, spoke with Richardson
briefly on December 19, 2000, in the hospital. At that time,
Richardson said Taylor shot Wilson and defendant shot him.
When Anderson next spoke with Richardson, on February 8,
2001, Richardson said defendant shot both of them. At trial,
Richardson testified positively that defendant was the one
who shot both him and Wilson. He also testified that he never
saw Taylor pull out his gun.
the shooting, Taylor traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, where
he was arrested. Defendant was arrested in Seattle,
and the codefendant, Taylor, each presented evidence
attempting to show that the other was the shooter.
October 1, 2000, the police confiscated a .45-caliber
handgun, loaded with Speer ammunition, from Taylor's
possession. A criminalist testified that a gun of that
caliber and with similar ammunition fired the shots in this
case. The criminalist also testified that, due to gunpowder
particles found on Wilson's tank top, at least one of the
shots was fired from within a few feet of her. No gunpowder
was found on Richardson's clothes, suggesting he was shot
from farther away. The criminalist also testified about the
direction of the shots and opined that the shooter was in the
same room as the victims or in the entryway.
Police Officer Eric Gauthreaux testified that he arrived at
the scene of the shooting at 1:08 a.m., on December 13, 2000.
Richardson told him that " Latroy" had shot him and
Wilson. Richardson also said that " Angelo was with
Yarborough, defendant's nephew and a distant relative of
Taylor's, testified that in the early morning hours of
the night of the shooting, defendant came to his house. He
let defendant inside, and defendant paced back and forth in
Yarborough's bedroom. About 45 minutes to an hour later,
Taylor arrived. He had a gun with a clip like a .45-caliber
gun and a bag. Defendant went outside. A short time later,
Yarborough saw defendant and Taylor [211 Cal.Rptr.3d 58]
" tussling" outside. Yarborough also [384 P.3d
1209] saw money in Taylor's hand. He said that Taylor was
trying to give defendant some money but defendant " hit
the money out of his hand" and it fell to the ground.
Defendant then went back into the house. Yarborough gave
Taylor his cellphone and the keys to his car, and Taylor
testified. He said he was asleep the evening in question when
Taylor called him on the telephone. Taylor said he wanted to
speak with him about defendant's girlfriend. Taylor had
called her a " bitch," and he indicated he wanted
to discuss the situation with defendant. Defendant agreed to
see him, and Taylor came to his house. Defendant got in the
car and, with Taylor driving, they left. Eventually, they
drove to Richardson's house. Defendant did not know where
Richardson lived and was unaware it was his house. They
entered the house, with Taylor saying he wanted some
marijuana. Richardson hugged defendant and called him "
asked to use the bathroom. While in the bathroom, he heard
four to five gunshots. He opened the bathroom door and saw
Taylor holding a pistol. He asked what was going on and ran
out the door. He was " in shock and little bit [of]
fear." He ran down the street, but then he returned,
grabbed Taylor by the collar, and " slammed him" to
the ground. He asked Taylor why he did these things. Taylor
said, " They both dead." Defendant responded,
" Who's both dead?" He punched Taylor and then
asked him to take him home. They then drove away.
driving, Taylor said it would be " all right" and
offered to give defendant money. Defendant said he did not
want any money. At his request, Taylor drove him to his
sister's home, where Tino Yarborough lived. He "
cussed" Taylor and hit him again. Then Taylor left.
Later Taylor returned to Yarborough's house. Defendant
went outside to " kick his ass." Taylor again
offered defendant money. Saying he did not want any,
defendant slapped the money out of Taylor's hand and onto
the ground. Eventually, Taylor left.
stayed in Stockton for several days, then went to Seattle,
where he was arrested. He had previously intended to go to
Seattle. He testified that he did not report the incident to
the police because Taylor's " Sutter Street gang
members" had threatened him.
called as a witness Larry Rhodes, who had known defendant for
about 40 years. On May 17, 2001, Rhodes spoke with Detective
Anderson, the police investigator in this case, at Deuel
Vocational Institute, where Rhodes was an inmate. Rhodes told
Anderson that defendant had told him, " 'Yeah, I
shot his black ass,'" referring to Richardson. But
Rhodes testified at trial that he had lied to Detective
Anderson, and defendant did not say that.
(When he testified, defendant also denied making the
statement.) Detective Anderson testified that Rhodes had
wanted an early discharge from custody in return for his
testimony, but Anderson refused to make any offer.
Taylor's investigator testified that Rhodes had told him
that if he, Rhodes, were called to testify, he would say that
the statement was a lie.
Wilson's mother and sister testified about her and her
death's impact on them. Additionally, the prosecution
presented evidence of defendant's other violent crimes
and felony convictions.
P. and Yolanda D. testified about an incident in September
1980, when [211 Cal.Rptr.3d 59] they were around 18 years
old, in which defendant and Howard Gaines, armed with a
shotgun and a rifle, took them to a field and then to
Yolanda's apartment. In the apartment, Gaines raped
Yolanda. Defendant tried to rape Christine, thrusting the
shotgun under her throat and threatening to kill her in the
process. But she successfully resisted, at one point inducing
herself to vomit to discourage defendant. Defendant later
threatened to kill Christine and her family after he got out
of prison if she told anybody about what he had done.
after this incident, on September 19, 1980, defendant and
Gaines assaulted two other young girls, Lynette D. and Adela
J. When Adela testified, she claimed not to remember much of
what had occurred. Accordingly, [384 P.3d 1210] portions of
her previous testimony were read into the record as prior
inconsistent statements. She had testified that she, Lynette,
Gaines, and defendant, went to a house in Sacramento. There,
defendant demanded that Adela convince Lynette to have sex
with Gaines, and said that she was to hit Lynette if
necessary. Adela observed Gaines hit Lynette in the face. She
heard defendant say " that if they didn't kill her
[Lynette], they would go to the state penitentiary for
beating her up."
and Gaines then drove the girls to a cornfield. Defendant
said they were going to kill Lynette. He had a knife, and he
ordered Adela not to look or they would cut her throat.
Gaines and defendant dragged Lynette, " crying and just
screaming," away from the car. After a while, defendant
returned, and then Gaines put Lynette back in the car. They
drove to a house in Conway, where defendant obtained a gun.
Defendant said he was going to shoot Lynette. When Adela
started crying and pleading, he also threatened to shoot her
in the head if she " didn't shut up." They
drove to another location, where Gaines took Lynette out of
the car. Defendant told Adela to " shut
up ... or I was going to get what she got." Adela then
saw Gaines shoot Lynette. Lynette grabbed her stomach and
fell to the ground, where Gaines shot her " again and
was shot once in the stomach and twice in the head, but she
survived. She was in the hospital for 11 months, comatose
much of that time. At the time of trial, some 23 years after
the shooting, Lynette was in a " semi-coma,"
required care 24 hours a day, and was paralyzed from the neck
this incident, defendant was convicted of assault with intent
to commit murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and
dissuading a witness.
Beck testified that on November 18, 1988, she was in a
relationship with defendant. At trial, she claimed not to
remember what happened that day, so her previous statements
to the police were admitted as prior inconsistent statements.
She had told the police that defendant hit her in the face
with his fist, took her into the house, continued to hit her
in the face, and choked her with his hands. At trial, she
denied that defendant had hit her.
Lee testified that on May 24, 1998, when defendant was her
boyfriend, they quarreled. Defendant punched a hole in the
wall of her house and, in the presence of her children,
threatened to kill them all. He also grabbed her by the
throat, inflicting visible marks.
1980, defendant was convicted of shooting into an inhabited
dwelling. In 1992, he was convicted of grand theft from the
person. In 1994, he was convicted of possession of cocaine.
mother, two sisters, and a brother testified about his
difficult childhood [211 Cal.Rptr.3d 60] and good qualities.
His daughter testified about her relationship with him and
her love for him. Gwen Taylor testified about the help and
good advice she received from defendant when she very much
needed it. She had lived with him for a while, although she
could not remember which years.
Sammunkan Surulinathan, a psychiatrist, testified that
defendant voluntarily came to see him on December 11, 2000,
complaining of depression and hearing voices. Defendant said
he had " paranoid delusions of being watched and
followed." He also said he liked to play with his nieces
and nephews. Dr. Surulinathan prescribed Prozac for his
depression, as well as an antipsychotic medication.