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People v. Kumar

California Court of Appeals, First District, Third Division

August 30, 2019

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
ANSHEEL ANOSH KUMAR, Defendant and Appellant.

          Superior Court of Solano County No. FCR306272 Wendy G. Getty, J. Trial Judge.

          Law Office of Victor Blumenkrantz and Victor Blumenkrantz for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey M. Laurence, Assistant Attorney General, René A. Chacón and Bruce Ortega, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          Wick, J.[*]

         Ansheel Anosh Kumar (defendant) appeals from a judgment entered after a jury found him guilty of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence (Pen. Code, § 192, subd. (c)(1))[1] and the trial court sentenced him to two years in prison. He contends the court prejudicially erred by giving “confusing and conflicting instructions” on the mental state required for the charged offense and lesser included offense and by failing to define “criminal negligence, ” a term the court used in those instructions. We reject his contentions and affirm the judgment.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On December 1, 2014, an information was filed charging defendant and codefendant Lawan Lee Harper with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence (§ 192, subd. (c)(1)).

         At about 7:00 p.m. on February 25, 2014, witness Thong V. was at a red light waiting to merge onto Air Base Parkway in Fairfield, California, when he saw a Nissan and a Mitsubishi[2] stopped at the same light with their engines “revving.” When the light turned green, the Nissan's tires began spinning and the cars “took off, ” “speeding really fast”; it was “basically a race.”

         After Thong V. drove around a bend, he saw the headlights of a Cadillac that was stopped at a left-turn lane from which cars can make a left turn into a business known as Pick-n-Pull. As the Cadillac, with its left-turn signal on, began to turn left at a “regular” turning speed of about 5 to 10 miles per hour, the brake lights lit up on the Nissan and Mitsubishi and there were braking sounds coming from those cars. From about 20 feet away, Thong V. saw the Mitsubishi avoid hitting the Cadillac and the Nissan “T-bone[]” the Cadillac, sending the Cadillac 20 to 30 yards down the road. The Nissan fell into a ditch. Thong V. and others helped pull the driver of the Nissan-defendant-out of his car. The Mitsubishi's driver, codefendant Harper, stopped and checked on the Nissan, stayed for a minute or two, then “took off.”

         Enrique V. also witnessed the Nissan and Mitsubishi racing when he was driving with his 19-year-old son Lucas V. as his passenger. He saw the Nissan cut in front of the Mitsubishi and the cars “jockeying into position”; he said to his son, “ ‘They are going to race.' ” The cars were “ ‘aggressive and maneuvering around traffic' ” and their engines were revving as they came to a stop at a red light.

         As soon as the light turned green, the cars “haul[ed] butt” and drove off. Enrique V. lost sight of the cars but heard an impact. As he continued to drive, “all you saw was smoke” and “debris up ahead.” He saw the Nissan “off the road, ” and he and his son went to aid the driver of the Cadillac.

         Lucas V. also heard “revving” from the Nissan and Mitsubishi and saw the cars drive off, rapidly accelerate, and “get[] further away from us” at about 80 to 85 miles per hour. When Lucas V. and his father reached the next intersection, the two cars were stopped at another red light and there was “[m]ore revving coming from both cars.” The Nissan began “jerking forward a little bit, almost like they do in... drag-racing style.” When the light turned green, the two cars accelerated away at an estimated 90 to 95 miles per hour.

         Lucas V. lost sight of the Mitsubishi and Nissan when the cars went around a curve. When his father also drove around that curve, Lucas V. saw glass and other debris in the road, the Nissan in a ditch, and a Cadillac stopped on the shoulder of the road. The “whole right side of the [Cadillac was] destroyed” to the point where “[t]he full right side of the car was in the center of the car basically.” Lucas V. and his father assisted the driver of the Cadillac, Quincy Jones, who was bleeding and was “completely unconscious.” Lucas V. squeezed Jones's hand and let him know that people were there to help, but there was no response. The parties stipulated that the driver of the Cadillac, “Quincy Jones[, ] was killed [as a] result of blunt-force-chest injury due to the motor vehicle collision....”

         Witness Kenneth A., a long-time auto mechanic who used to work at a race track, was working on a truck by the Pick-n-Pull when he heard two cars accelerating. He looked up and saw the cars' headlights coming around the end of a curve of Air Base Parkway about 1, 000 yards from where he stood. Based on what he saw, he assumed the cars were racing.

         About 100 yards away, Kenneth A. saw the headlights of a Cadillac stopped in the left-turn lane, waiting to make a left turn. As he looked down for “a split second, ” Kenneth A. “heard a big, loud bang” and saw “the two cars sliding. And lights and glass and coolant going everywhere.” He estimated the speeding cars were traveling “close to 130, 150” miles per hour, “right in that area. Way up there.” He opined the cars were going at least 100 miles per hour based on his training and experience working with cars, the “full throttle” or “open throttle” noises he heard, the fact that the cars were “accelerating and moving at a much faster pace than regular, freeway traffic, ” and the fact that he heard the explosion in “a blink of the eye” as he looked away for “a split second....”

         Witness Kaiwanna A. was driving on Air Base Parkway at 45 to 50 miles per hour when the Nissan and Mitsubishi flew by him at a high rate of speed. He also testified that the cars were revving their engines and described how the cars drove off quickly and erratically as if “they were drag racing.” He said he saw ...


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