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People v. Edwards

California Court of Appeals, Sixth District

May 16, 2017

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
CHARLES ANTHONY EDWARDS, Defendant and Appellant.

         Santa Cruz County Superior Court No. F22711, Honorable Timothy R. Volkmann Trial Judge

          Marcia Rachel Clark Under Appointment by the Sixth District Appellate Program Attorney for Defendant and Appellant.

          Kamala D. Harris Attorney General of California Gerald A. Engler Chief Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey M. Laurence Senior Assistant Attorney General Seth K. Schalit Supervising Deputy Attorney General Victoria Ratnikova Deputy Attorney General Attorneys for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          Mihara, J.

         Defendant Charles Anthony Edwards appeals from a judgment entered after a jury found him guilty of first degree murder (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a))[1] and found that he personally used a deadly weapon (§ 12022, subd. (b)(1)).[2] The jury also found that defendant was sane at the time of the murder. On appeal, defendant challenges the sanity finding. We hold that the trial court did not err when it allowed the prosecutor to impeach expert witnesses during the sanity phase with defendant's suppressed statements. The judgment is affirmed.

         I. Statement of Facts

         A. Guilt Phase[3]

         1. Prosecution's Case

         At midday on May 7, 2012, defendant attacked Shannon Collins, a woman whom he did not know, as she was walking on Broadway in Santa Cruz. He stabbed her neck and torso 12 times. While Collins bled to death, defendant dropped his jacket and his knife near her body. He nonchalantly walked away and threw his blood-stained shirt into a garbage can. Shortly thereafter, defendant was arrested a few blocks away from the crime scene. Defendant had blood spatter on his hands, head, and shoes.[4]

         Defendant was calm and cooperative during the in-field showups, which occurred about an hour after the offense. Defendant was then transported to a hospital for evidence collection procedures during which he was also cooperative. About one and a half hours later, he was transported to the police station where he coherently provided biographical data to the police officers.

         2. Defense Case

         Defendant presented evidence of his extensive history of mental illness. His symptoms included hallucinations, paranoid thoughts, extreme mood fluctuations, and chronically aggressive behavior. Defendant had been given various diagnoses, including schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, schizophrenia, a psychotic disorder not otherwise specified, antisocial personality disorder, and polysubstance abuse. Defendant had engaged in 15 or 16 incidents of violent behavior between 1991 and 2002, many of which were related to his mental illness. Defendant was involuntarily medicated eight times between 1994 and 2011. He met the criteria for the mentally disordered offender program in 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2011. Defendant had no insight into his mental illness and he frequently did not take his medications.[5]

         B. Sanity Phase

         1. Defense Case

         Dr. Jeffrey Gould, a psychiatrist, reviewed documentary evidence and met with defendant. In October 2014, defendant told Dr. Gould that he was hearing voices that told him he was a “liar, ” a “slouch, ” and a “piece of shit” on May 7, 2012. The voices began when he woke up that morning and became louder and louder during the day. According to defendant, “the voices were coming from two skeletons that were on the sides of head, ” and they told him to kill Collins as he stabbed her. Defendant told Dr. Gould that society was against him, and if he remained on the street he would be killed. Defendant believed that if he killed someone, he would be safe and would join the Illuminati cults. Defendant also claimed that the skeletons told him that if he killed someone, he would be free. Jail records, which included a daily account of defendant's behavior and mental condition after the incident, indicated to Dr. Gould that he was suffering from a psychotic disorder. Dr. Gould diagnosed defendant with schizophrenia. Dr. Gould opined that defendant's psychological disorder impaired his knowledge of the moral wrongfulness of his conduct. Defendant's delusions caused him to believe that killing Collins was morally right, and he was saving himself from death and persecution. On cross-examination, Dr. Gould acknowledged that he did not consider defendant's interview with the police on May 7, 2012, in reaching his opinion. When Dr. Gould wrote his report, he also did not have the statements that defendant made to Drs. Mark Burdick and Jonathan French, prosecution expert witnesses. Dr. Gould conceded that defendant's statements to the police, Dr. Burdick, Dr. French, and to him were inconsistent, thus raising concerns regarding which version was valid.

         Dr. Gould reviewed the video of defendant's statement to the police in which he did not mention the presence of skeletons, anyone telling him what to do, or the Illuminati. Dr. Gould believed that the statement that defendant gave to the police was likely to be the most reliable because it was made closest in time to the murder. Defendant told the police that he had planned to kill a woman because he was frustrated that women did not give him enough attention. He explained that “corrupt” men, men who weighed 300 pounds, and drug dealers received attention from women, but he did not. Defendant stated that he could not take it anymore, and he decided to kill a woman. Defendant also stated that he specifically stabbed Collins twice in the neck first. Dr. Gould conceded that defendant's statement that he would not have killed a teenager or a woman with a child was a moral decision. Defendant told the police that he knew what he did was wrong, that he was going to go to court, and that he would probably receive a life sentence. Defendant stated that he felt bad about what he had done, but he would have felt worse if Collins had had a husband or children. Defendant wrote a letter in the interview room in which he characterized what he did as an awful crime.

         Dr. Gould observed that defendant was logical, coherent, and did not mention any psychotic symptoms during the police interview. Defendant's description of events “sounds like someone who is very antisocial and not suffering from other mental illness....” Based on the police interview, Dr. Gould opined that defendant understood the nature of his act and knew legal and moral right from wrong at the time of the murder. However, Dr. Gould did not know whether defendant's statements to the police or to him were more reliable.

         Dr. John Greene, a psychiatrist, testified that he evaluated defendant twice in December 2014 and twice in January 2015. Defendant told him that he was experiencing hallucinations and delusions prior to his arrest for murder and described symptoms similar to those that he had described to Dr. Gould. He visualized skeletons on either side of him telling him to kill or he would be killed. Defendant also suffered the delusion that there was a plot against him and that he needed to retaliate. Defendant believed that his life would no longer be in danger after he stabbed Collins. Defendant told Dr. Greene that he ran out of medication after he was released from Atascadero State Hospital in 2012 and was unable to obtain more medication. Defendant had a difficult time providing a rational account of events, which Dr. Greene interpreted to mean that he was “quite psychotic” at the time of the crime.

         Dr. Greene noted that there was evidence of psychosis in defendant's interview with the police when he referred repeatedly to the plot against him. When defendant was talking about the crime, he used the words “plot” and “plotting against me” 14 times. Defendant also made three references to being part of a mission and two references regarding his belief that God was instructing him. On cross-examination, Dr. Greene conceded that defendant's statements to the police were linear when he gave his narrative about the crime. But Dr. Greene pointed out that many of defendant's medical records showed that he could be lucid and linear when he was psychotic. He noted that when defendant was left alone in the interview room, he was talking to himself for 10 minutes, which indicated that he was likely having auditory hallucinations. It appeared to Dr. Greene that defendant was suffering from delusions and hallucinations during the interview, which meant that he suffered from those delusions and hallucinations when the crime was committed. Dr. Greene also believed that defendant was trying to hide ...

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