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People v. Thomas

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Second Division

September 12, 2019

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
RAYNOULD THOMAS, Defendant and Appellant.

          APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. No. BA215317 William C. Ryan, Judge.

          Three Strikes Project, Stanford Law School, Michael S. Romano and Susan L. Champion for Defendant and Appellant.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Steven D. Matthews, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Noah P. Hill, Roberta L. Davis and Charles S. Lee, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          LUI, P. J.

         A jury found appellant Raynould Thomas guilty of battery with serious bodily injury (Pen. Code, [1] § 243, subd. (d)), but found not true an allegation under section 12022.7, subdivision (a) that in the commission of the offense, appellant personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victim. After finding true four prior strike conviction allegations, the trial court sentenced appellant to an indeterminate term of 25 years to life under the Three Strikes law. (§§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12, subds. (a)-(e).) This court affirmed appellant's conviction and sentence in a nonpublished opinion filed May 22, 2002. (People v. Thomas, B151924.)

         Thomas appeals an order of the superior court denying his petition for recall of his sentence pursuant to section 1170.126. Following an eligibility hearing, the trial court found beyond a reasonable doubt that during the commission of the offense, appellant “ ‘intended to cause great bodily injury to another person,' ” and was therefore ineligible for resentencing pursuant to section 1170.12, subdivision (c)(2)(C)(iii). Appellant contends the trial court erred in denying the petition for resentencing on the basis of an inference, which he asserts was unsupported by the evidence, that appellant intended to cause great bodily injury in the commission of his offense. We disagree and affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         On March 16, 2001, appellant and a woman spent the night in the apartment of appellant's friend, Alton Chillious. Appellant and the woman left together early the next morning but returned a few hours later asking to use the apartment again for the day. Chillious objected and told appellant he did not want them using his apartment that day. Appellant and Chillious argued, and appellant began raising his voice and pacing the floor.

         As Chillious was removing his jacket from a closet, appellant suddenly punched him hard on the left side of his jaw, knocking him into the closet door. While Chillious was still down, appellant punched him again, this time on the right side of his jaw. Chillious fell backward, slid down the wall, and “saw stars.” When Chillious touched his jaw, he felt his tooth had moved and he found a big gash in his jaw. After punching Chillious, appellant stood over him for a few minutes, pacing and angry. Before appellant punched him, Chillious had not challenged appellant to fight, nor did he strike, punch, kick, push, or otherwise threaten appellant. After the attack appellant and the woman left Chillious's apartment.

         Chillious's jaw was broken in two places. He underwent surgery during which screws and plates were inserted into the jawbone to stabilize the jaw. His jaw was wired shut after the surgery and he received stitches for the gash. Over the next three and a half weeks Chillious lost 20 pounds, and the attack left him with permanent nerve damage.

         After Chillious was released from the hospital, appellant went to Chillious's apartment and apologized. Chillious was reluctant to testify in the case because he felt sympathy for appellant and his daughter. Before trial, Chillious wrote appellant a letter in which he said, “ ‘I don't want you to be sent away. But Ray, you can't be sucker punching people because things aren't going your way.' ” He also told appellant he planned to lie at the next court hearing by testifying that appellant punched him in self-defense after Chillious pushed appellant. Chillious wrote that he knew appellant did not mean to break his jaw, and he did not “ ‘want to see [appellant] in the system for something [he] didn't mean to do.' ” Finally, Chillious said that he considered appellant to be a friend, and he hoped appellant would be out of custody within a couple of months.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Proposition 36

         Passed by the electorate on November 6, 2012, the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012 (Proposition 36 or the Act) “reduced the punishment to be imposed with respect to some third strike offenses that are neither serious nor violent, and provided for discretionary resentencing in some cases in which third strike sentences were imposed with respect to felonies that are neither serious nor violent.” (People v. Johnson (2015) 61 Cal.4th 674, 679 (Johnson).) In addition to the prospective reduction of sentences for qualifying third strike convictions, “the Act provides a procedure by which some prisoners already serving third strike sentences may seek resentencing in accordance with the new sentencing rules.” (Id. at p. 682.) The procedure allows an inmate currently serving a third strike sentence for a nonserious, nonviolent ...


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