Monterey County Superior Court, Case No. SS161881 Hon. Andrew
G. Liu Trial Judge
Attorneys for Plaintiff/Respondent: The People XAVIER BECERRA
Attorney General of California GERALD A. ENGLER Chief
Assistant Attorney General JEFFREY M. LAURENCE Senior
Assistant Attorney General ERIC D. SHARE Supervising Deputy
Attorney General ALISHA M. CARLILE Deputy Attorney General
Attorneys for Defendant/Appellant: Ramon Hernandez Bernal,
Jr. Frank J. McCabe
convicted defendant Ramon Bernal, Jr. of 10 offenses,
including residential burglary and assault with a deadly
weapon. Because of his criminal record he was sentenced under
the three strikes law to 85 years to life in prison.
Defendant contends his constitutional rights were violated
when his attorney conceded guilt on certain charges in
closing argument. He further contends there is insufficient
evidence to support two of his convictions, and that his
trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. He also
challenges his sentence. We find no error but will remand for
resentencing so the trial court can exercise its discretion
regarding prior conviction enhancements under Penal Code
section 667, subdivision (a) (mandatory at the time of
sentencing but now discretionary).
committed home and auto burglaries in Monterey County
throughout 2016. In March of that year he broke into a house
and stole jewelry, computers, wallets, a camera and other
belongings, including children's piggy banks. Security
cameras captured him on video ransacking the home.
June, defendant broke into a car parked in a home driveway,
which a neighbor witnessed and reported to 911. When
defendant was arrested later that day, he had in his
possession the items taken from the car, as well as other
stolen property. Defendant was released on bail.
August, a local business owner reported stolen from his car
two briefcases containing computers, cash, and credit cards.
Purchases were made with the credit cards, including one of
over $500 at a nearby grocery store. Security video from the
store showed defendant making that purchase.
October, a man with his fiancée and newborn baby
returned to their car in a supermarket parking lot to find
defendant inside, rifling through the center console. The man
grabbed defendant, told him to empty his pockets, then
blocked his path when he tried to leave. Defendant took out a
folding knife, displayed it and asked, “Do you want to
do this?” Defendant then fled to his car and drove
away. He was arrested a week later and again released on
bail. Days later, a woman returned to her car after shopping
and noticed several things missing that had been inside,
including her work identification badge and a personal check.
The badge and check were found in defendant's pocket when
he was arrested later that day on a warrant from the August
incident. He was again released on bail.
December, defendant broke into two more cars: one in a
shopping center parking lot and another outside a gym. From
the car outside the gym he stole a wedding ring and other
jewelry. Three days before Christmas, police obtained a
warrant to search defendant's apartment for stolen
property. When the warrant was executed, defendant was there
with his girlfriend and two children--a six-year-old and a
one-month-old. Along with jewelry, multiple driver's
licenses, and numerous other stolen items, police found two
methamphetamine pipes; one in a bathroom drawer showed signs
of recent use.
District Attorney charged defendant with residential burglary
(Pen. Code, § 459); identity theft (Pen. Code, §
530.5, subd. (a)); assault with a deadly weapon (Pen. Code,
§ 245, subd. (a)(1)); three counts of auto burglary
(Pen. Code, § 459); tampering with a vehicle (Veh. Code,
§ 10852); two counts of receiving stolen property (Pen.
Code, § 496, subd. (a)); and child endangerment (Pen.
Code, § 273a, subd. (b)). The information also alleged
two prior serious felonies (Pen. Code, §§ 667,
subd. (a)(1), 1170.12, subd. (c)(2)), prior prison terms
(Pen. Code, § 667.5, subd. (b)), and committing new
offenses while released on bail (Pen. Code, § 12022.1,
subd. (b)). The case was tried to a jury and defendant was
convicted of all charges. In a bifurcated phase, the court
found true all special allegations.
moved at sentencing to strike the two prior strikes under
People v. Superior Court (Romero) (1996) 13 Cal.4th
497. The trial court denied the motion, finding that
“the defendant's record is simply too significant,
and the unrelenting behavior that's present in this case
is also too significant for the Court to say that this is
outside the spirit of the Three Strikes Law.” Because
of the two prior strike offenses, defendant was sentenced to
85 years to life: 35 years to life for the residential
burglary with two prior serious felony enhancements; a fully