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People v. Billie

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Sixth Division

April 4, 2017

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
ROBERT LEE BILLIE, Defendant and Appellant.

         CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]

         Superior Court County of Santa Barbara No. 1473654 Rick S. Brown, Judge[*]

          Laini Millar Melnick, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra and Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Paul R. Roadarmel, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, and David F. Glassman, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          PERREN, J.

         A defendant has a constitutional right to represent himself at trial. (Faretta v. California (1975) 422 U.S. 806, 819; People v. Welch (1999) 20 Cal.4th 701, 729.) The trial court has a concomitant duty to ensure that the proceedings are conducted in an orderly fashion and, upon a proper showing, to physically restrain the defendant for his own safety and that of others in the courtroom. (People v. Combs (2004) 34 Cal.4th 821, 837-838.) Inevitably, use of physical restraints will impair the self-represented defendant's ability to move around the courtroom. It also is difficult to conceal the restraints from the jury's view. Here the trial court conscientiously sought to balance the defendant's right to self-representation with its concern for the safety of the defendant, deputies, jurors and others in the courtroom. We believe the court properly struck that balance.

         Appellant Robert Lee Billie was charged with attempted murder (Pen. Code, §§ 664, 187, subd. (a)), [1] with special allegations of personal infliction of great bodily injury (§ 12022.7, subd. (a)), and personal use of a deadly weapon (§ 12022, subd. (b)(1); count 1); and assault with personal use of a deadly weapon (§ 245, subd. (a)(1)), with the special allegation of personal infliction of great bodily injury (§ 12022.7, subd. (a); count 2). The charges resulted from events occurring on May 16, 2013.

         Both counts alleged that the offenses were second strikes (§§ 667, subds. (d)(2) & (e)(1), 1192.7, subd. (c)(8)), that appellant had suffered a prior conviction of a serious felony (§ 667, subd. (a)(1)), and that he had served a prior prison term (§ 667.5, subd. (b)). It also was alleged that appellant was ineligible to serve a state prison sentence in county jail because the alleged offenses were serious or violent felonies (§§ 1192.7, subd. (c), 667.5).

         Appellant represented himself at trial, assisted by advisory counsel. He elected to bifurcate trial on the current alleged offenses from the trial on an alleged prior strike conviction and to waive jury trial on the alleged prior conviction.

         The jury deadlocked on count 1 and the trial court declared a mistrial on that count. The jury found appellant guilty of count 2 and found true the special allegation. The prosecution dismissed count 1.

         The trial court found the prior conviction true as alleged. It sentenced appellant to the upper term of four years in state prison on count 2, doubled to eight years as a second strike under section 667, subdivision (e)(1). The court sentenced appellant to a consecutive three-year term for the enhancement under section 12022.7, subdivision (a), and a five-year consecutive term pursuant to section 667, subdivision (a)(1), for a total term of 16 years. Appellant was awarded 531 days of presentence custody credit.

         Appellant contends the trial court erred by requiring him to wear restraints during trial and by admitting evidence of his prior assault conviction. We affirm.

         FACTS

         Appellant and the victim, William Littrice, had known each other for years. They met while working for Second Chance, an organization that takes employees by van to different cities to sell candy door-to-door. A crew of 10 to 14 people, working on commission, go out for approximately two weeks at a time. Appellant and Littrice ...


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