Clara County Super. Ct. No. C1882419 Trial Judge: Honorable
Matthew S. Harris
Counsel for Plaintiff and Respondent: THE PEOPLE Xavier
Becerra Attorney General Jeffrey M. Laurence Senior Assistant
Attorney General René A. Chacón Supervising
Deputy Attorney General Bruce L. Ortega Deputy Attorney
Counsel for Defendant and Appellant: TYRON JACOB TROUT-LACY
Jennifer Bruno Sixth District Appellate Program People v.
ACTING P. J.
Tyron Jacob Trout-Lacy and the victim, who was high on
methamphetamine and had heart disease, fought. Defendant
punched the victim in the face multiple times and slammed his
head against the ground. A witness called 911 to attend to
the victim's injuries. First responders restrained the
uncooperative victim in an effort to render medical aid.
Shortly thereafter, the victim became unresponsive and died.
At issue on appeal is whether the trial court abused its
discretion in concluding, in the context of a victim
restitution order, that defendant's conduct caused the
victim's death. We find no error and affirm.
the night of January 27, 2018, the victim and defendant got
into a physical fight outside the San Jose home of a mutual
friend. The victim reportedly had been using methamphetamine
and had not slept in days. Defendant punched the victim in
the face five times and slammed his head against the ground
before leaving the scene. Emergency personnel arrived in
response to a 911 call for medical assistance. They
handcuffed the victim because he was uncooperative. Shortly
after being restrained, the victim became unresponsive. He
was pronounced dead at the hospital.
autopsy was conducted on the victim. According to the
coroner's report, the autopsy revealed that the victim
had “hypertensive (high blood pressure) changes of the
heart, kidneys and brain[;] hypoxic-ischemic neuronal change
in the hippocampus[;] fluid in the lungs[;] hepatitis[;] and
hepatic fibrosis. Although abrasions and contusions were
noted, there were no lethal traumatic injuries. The
toxicology testing of postmortem blood revealed the presence
of methamphetamine and its metabolite amphetamine.” The
coroner identified the cause of death as
“[m]ethamphetamine toxicity complicating hypertensive
cardiovascular disease following and during physical
encounters.” The report classified the manner of death
as “undetermined” because the coroner was unable
to determine “[t]he relative individual contributions
of... the reported physical altercation [with defendant],
physical restraint [by emergency personnel], presence of
methamphetamine... in blood with underlying heart disease and
evidence of recent... lack of oxygen....” to the
felony complaint filed on January 31, 2018 charged defendant
with murder (Pen. Code, § 187) and alleged that he had a
prior strike conviction (§§ 667, subd. (b) (i);
1170.12). On July 11, 2018, the complaint was amended on the
People's motion to add a second count, assault by force
likely to produce great bodily injury (§ 245, subd.
(a)(4)), and an associated allegation that defendant
personally inflicted great bodily injury on the victim
(§ 12022.7, subd. (a)). That same day, defendant pleaded
no contest to the newly added count 2 and admitted the great
bodily injury and strike prior allegations in exchange for
the dismissal of count 1 and a four-year prison term.
trial court sentenced defendant to the agreed-upon four-year
term on September 7, 2018. The court imposed a term of four
years on count 2-the low term of two years, doubled by the
strike. The court struck the additional punishment associated
with the great bodily injury enhancement pursuant to section
1385, subdivision (b)(1).
court held a restitution hearing on November 16, 2018, after
which it ordered defendant to pay $4, 169.11-the amount of
the victim's funeral expenses-in victim restitution.
Defendant timely appealed from that order.
A. Legal Principles and Standard of Review
in circumstances not relevant here, “in every case in
which a victim has suffered economic loss as a result of the
defendant's conduct, the court shall require that the
defendant make restitution to the victim or victims in an
amount established by court order, based on the amount of
loss claimed by the victim or victims or any other showing to
the court....” (§ 1202.4, subd. (f).) We apply
tort principles of causation to determine whether a loss was
a result of the defendant's conduct. (People v.
Holmberg (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 1310, 1321
(Holmberg).) “Legal causation in tort law has
traditionally required two elements....” (South
Coast Framing, Inc. v.
Workers' Comp. Appeals Bd.
(2015) 61 Cal.4th 291, 298 (South Coast Framing).)
The first is cause in fact. (Ibid.) “ ‘
“An act is a cause in fact if it is a necessary
antecedent of an event.”' [Citation.]”
(State Dept. of State Hospitals v.
Superior Court (2015) 61 Cal.4th 339, 352 (State
Hospitals).) “[T]he ‘but for' test
governs questions of factual causation” except in cases
involving concurrent independent causes, in which case the
“substantial factor” test applies. (Id.
at p. 352, fn. 12.) “[C]oncurrent independent causes...
are multiple forces operating at the same time and