California Court of Appeals, Third District, Sacramento
from a judgment of the Superior Court of Sacramento County
No. 12F02050, Michael A. Savage, Judge. Affirmed.
David Greenberg, under appointment by the Court of Appeal,
for Defendant and Appellant.
D. Harris, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief
Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Assistant
Attorney General, Eric L. Christoffersen and Jessica C. Leal,
Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
NICHOLSON, Acting P. J.
Terry Glen Shorts sexually assaulted and murdered 13-year-old
Jessica S. in 1996, shooting her in the head and leaving her
half-naked body in a park in the middle of the night. Sixteen
years later, he was connected to the crime when his DNA was
identified in samples taken from Jessica's body. At
trial, defendant conceded that he had sexual relations with
Jessica, but claimed he did not kill her. Instead, he argued
that Sammy Rodriguez did it. The jury convicted defendant of
the murder and sex offenses, and the trial court sentenced
him to life without possibility of parole, as well as other
appeal, defendant contends the trial court: (1) improperly
admitted evidence of his prior sex offenses against J.P., his
ex-girlfriend, over his Evidence Code section 352 objection,
(2) improperly excluded evidence of Rodriguez's
propensity for violence, and (3) improperly admitted lay
opinion testimony that Rodriguez did not commit the murder.
Finding no prejudicial error, we affirm.
morning of February 12, 1996, 13-year-old Jessica S.'s
body was found in Florin Creek Park in Sacramento. She was
five feet, one-and-a-half inches tall, and she weighed 90
pounds. Jessica died of a single gunshot contact wound to the
head. She also had injuries consistent with being hit in the
head with the butt of a gun and being strangled. Her pants
and underwear were off, and her bras (she wore two) were
hiked up, exposing her breasts.
mother said that Jessica left their home the night before at
around 11 p.m. or midnight with a 14-year-old boy to go to
her grandmother's house. Between 2 and 4 a.m., a woman
who lived adjacent to Florin Creek Park heard a
“horrible scream” from a female. She also heard a
man say “stop” and “don't, ” as
well as more screaming from the young female. About 10
minutes after the first scream, a gunshot rang out, and the
rectal, and oral swabs were taken during an autopsy of
Jessica's body. Sperm was found on the vaginal and rectal
swabs but not on the oral swab. No trauma was noted to
Jessica's vagina or anus.
years after the murder, in 2012, the vaginal and rectal swabs
were analyzed again, and defendant's DNA was collected
from the sperm. Additionally, three sperm heads were found on
the oral swab, but the sample did not contain enough DNA to
identify or exclude defendant.
was interviewed after his DNA was identified from
Jessica's autopsy. He denied knowing Jessica. When told
that his DNA was found, he offered a hypothetical about girls
in an abandoned house “putting themselves in
situations.” He said: “[W]e're all capable of
things that we don't believe we would do, ” but he
did not admit killing Jessica.
prosecution presented evidence under Evidence Code section
1108 that defendant sexually assaulted his ex-girlfriend,
J.P., less than three years before the murder of Jessica. He
dragged J.P. to a car and took her to a park. Pointing a gun
at her and threatening her, he strangled her, beat her, and
forced her to have oral and anal sex with him.
defense conceded that defendant had sexual relations with
Jessica but claimed that he did not kill her.
who lived with Jessica's mother at the time of
Jessica's murder testified that another man threatened to
shoot at the house if he was not allowed to sleep with
however, the defense sought to cause the jury to have doubt
about defendant's guilt by introducing evidence
incriminating Sammy Rodriguez, also known as “Coyote,
” who was 18 years old at the time of the murder.
Rodriguez testified that he had sex with Jessica once or
twice before December 1995. She had told him that her name
was Veronica and that she was 17 years old. In December 1995,
Jessica said she was a gang member at a party, and she was
beaten. Rodriguez stayed away from her after that because he
believed that the boyfriend of Jessica's mother was angry
with him because Jessica blamed Rodriquez for the beating.
Jessica's murder, Jessica's mother told the police
that Rodriguez had set up Jessica to be jumped in December
1995. Rodriguez heard that Jessica's family was blaming
him, so Rodriguez's attorney had him write down who he
was with the weekend of Jessica's murder so that he would
had a.22-caliber handgun at the time Jessica was murdered.
district attorney charged defendant by information with the
Count one-murder (Pen. Code, § 187; hereafter,
unspecified code citations are to the Penal Code).
Special circumstances-murder while committing a lewd and
lascivious act on a child (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(E));
murder while committing sodomy on a child (§ 190.2,
subd. (a)(17)(D)); and murder while ...