Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Venegas

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division

January 7, 2020

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
DAVID VENEGAS et al., Defendants and Appellants.

          APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County No. BA462582, Ronald Coen, Judge. Affirmed.

          Stephen M. Hinkle, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant David Venegas.

          Brad Kaiserman, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant Sebastian Santana.

          Xavier Becerra, Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Steven D. Matthews, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Roberta L. Davis, Deputy Attorney General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

          WILEY, J.

         Sebastian Santana and David Venegas were trying to shoot Juan Vargas but murdered Fabian Acevedo instead. The appellate issues include two evidence problems, several sentencing questions, challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and to a jury instruction, and requests for hearings under People v. Dueñas (2019) 30 Cal.App.5th 1157. We affirm. Unspecified citations are to the Penal Code.

         I

         Venegas and Santana were in the Winter Gardens gang, which was locked in a border war with the Fraser Maravilla gang. Vargas was in Fraser Maravilla. Venegas and Santana sought to kill him but instead shot Acevedo, who belonged to no gang and was just passing through.

         Santana had a bad history with Vargas. Vargas had wounded Santana's brother, and Santana had vowed to shoot Vargas on sight if he got the chance.

         On the deadly day, Santana and Venegas were out prowling for rivals to shoot. They were not looking for anyone in particular. Any enemy would do. Santana drove a car and Venegas was on a motorcycle along the contested frontier. Santana spied Vargas on foot as he drove by. They made eye contact, prompting Vargas to flee towards a nearby casino. Santana directed Venegas to go shoot Vargas. Venegas rode to the casino's entrance and gunned down a man he thought was Vargas but who actually was Acevedo. Venegas and Santana fled. Vargas escaped. Acevedo died.

         Separate juries convicted Venegas and Santana on all counts. One jury found Venegas guilty of first degree murder, while the second jury convicted Santana of aiding and abetting murder in the second degree.

         In addition to a murder sentence, the trial court imposed on Santana a sentence enhancement of 25 years to life for discharging a firearm that caused death. (§ 12022.53, subd. (d).) The court imposed and stayed sentences for lesser gun enhancements. The court followed the same sentencing pattern for Venegas.

         II

         On appeal, Venegas and Santana have filed separate briefs. Venegas makes two arguments for himself alone, while Santana makes four arguments applying only to his case. Then they make two shared arguments. We proceed in that order.

         A

         We begin with Venegas's arguments.

         1

         Venegas's first argument concerns evidence. This evidence was a series of text messages from Santana to his brother, who was not a defendant and who did not testify. These texts were admissible.

         The prosecution obtained the texts from Santana's brother's phone. An officer read them to Venegas's jury. Venegas does not challenge this process. Rather Venegas claims the texts were inadmissible hearsay and violated the Confrontation Clause.

         Venegas trains his attack on five texts Santana sent to his brother. All five involved Venegas, whom Santana called “Sponge.” These messages relate to an unchallenged earlier text, which was a photo of a.45 caliber pistol. Other evidence suggested Venegas used this gun to kill Acevedo.

         Evidence analysts must pay close attention to the precise words or things at issue. So we quote the five challenged messages, adding bracketed context for clarity:

         “[S]ee if sponge wants to sell that for five [hundred dollars]. I just want [to] get rid of [the gun].”

         “[S]ponge just texted me.... [$520 is a] done deal.”

         “I'll have Sponge meet you somewhere and give it to you. And ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.