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Pedro ARIAS

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 23, 1987
Date of arrest: June 5, 1987
Date of birth: 1963
Victim profile: Herbert John Waltrip Jr., 22 (gas station clerk)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Sacramento County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on February 22, 1990
 
 
 
 
 
 

Convicted of the stabbing death of Herbert J. John Waltrip Jr., 22, during a minimart robbery, and the kidnapping, sexual assault and robbery two weeks later of a woman motorist he forced off the road. There were three witnesses in the store and it was caught on camera.

Prior to the murder, Arias had a long criminal history. Arias disrupted his trial by tearing off his shirt and pants in front of the jury.

 
 

Pedro Arias, 48

Sacramento County
Date of offense: May 23, 1987
Date of death sentence: Feb. 22, 1990

Arias and a friend were drinking beer and tequila at a house in Lemon Hill when the two went for a drive to the Beacon gas station at 44th Street and Fruitridge Road, where three employees were on duty.

Ariasí friend grabbed a 12-pack of beer and ran out, while Arias demanded that the clerks open their cash registers. As Herbert John Waltrip Jr., 22, stepped in front of the register to open it, the floor creaked and Arias stabbed him in his mid-section, plunging the knife 9 to 10 inches into his body.

Arias, who at trial ripped off his shirt and pants in front of the jury, was also convicted in a spree that included kidnapping, three robberies and seven sex crimes.

Sacbee.com

 
 

People v. Arias (1996)

13 Cal. 4th 92 [51 Cal. Rptr. 2d 770, 913 P.2d 980]

I. Facts

A. Guilt Trial.

1. Beacon Gas Station Incident-May 23, 1987.

In late May 1987, defendant, 24 years old, was living with a group in a house on Lemon Hill Avenue in Sacramento. For transportation, he was using his mother's 1968 red-primered Plymouth. The driver's door of the Plymouth was jammed, and because the passenger door would not latch, it had to be tied shut with a rope.

James (Jimmy) Valdez, a friend of defendant, had recently come to stay at the Lemon Hill house. He was contributing to the household by "boosting" (i.e., stealing) food. On May 23, 1987, defendant and Valdez spent the day drinking beer and tequila at the house. Sometime early in the evening, defendant's girlfriend, Yolanda Gomez, remarked that "[s]ince Jimmy's here, we got everything." Defendant responded by saying to Valdez, "Let's take a ride." Both men were intoxicated at this point, but defendant was able to speak, walk, and drive normally. [13 Cal. 4th 114]

With defendant driving the Plymouth, the two men arrived at the Beacon gasoline station at 44th Street and Fruitridge Road. The station includes a small convenience store. Two clerks, Tina Cheatam and John Waltrip, were on duty inside the store. Each clerk was responsible for a particular cash register and had the only key for that register. Also in the store was Lawrence Galvin, a district manager for the Beacon chain.

Around 8 p.m., Waltrip and Galvin were in the rear of the store, restocking the display of cold beverages. Waltrip, who was out of sight in the storage cooler, was passing merchandise through to Galvin, who was standing in front of the beverage cases. Defendant and Valdez entered the store and walked toward the beverage cases. Valdez grabbed a 12-pack of beer and ran out.

As Cheatam yelled for Valdez to stop, defendant grabbed her from behind and held a knife to her hip. Galvin began to move forward, and defendant told him to "freeze." Defendant then ordered Cheatam to open her register. Cheatam was standing in front of Waltrip's register and tried to tell defendant she did not have the key to open it. Defendant grew angrier, shouted obscenities, and continued to demand money.

Cheatam became hysterical, pounded hopelessly on Waltrip's register, and indicated to defendant that the "other clerk" would have to open it. Defendant told her, "Well, get the guy out here." Cheatam then screamed "several times" for Waltrip. Waltrip finally emerged from the back room and said, "Here I am." Approaching from behind defendant, Waltrip stepped up onto the slightly elevated register area, causing the floor to creak. At this moment, according to Galvin, defendant turned, placed his left hand on Waltrip's right shoulder, pulled Waltrip toward him, drew back his right elbow to a 90-degree angle, and "very, very violently" thrust the knife into Waltrip's midsection. The blow made a "thunk" sound, like a fist hitting a punching bag. Waltrip doubled over and stumbled into the store's back office.

Meanwhile, Cheatam had managed to open her own register. Defendant reached in and swept the cash out of the till with a deft scooping motion. In doing so, he triggered a hidden camera, which sequentially photographed ensuing stages of the holdup. While the robbery was in progress, Edgar Calderon entered to pay for some gas, but Calderon withdrew when defendant told him to "get the hell out." [13 Cal. 4th 115]

After cleaning out Cheatam's register, defendant brandished the knife at Galvin and forced him to lie down on the floor. Defendant then left.

Outside, Valdez was waiting in the passenger seat of the Plymouth, puzzled by the delay and anxious to depart with the stolen beer. When defendant approached the car at a run, Valdez slid behind the wheel and defendant got in the passenger side. They sped away northbound on 44th Street. At the first intersection, Valdez started to turn right, but defendant told him it was a dead end, and Valdez swerved back onto 44th Street. As he did so, Calderon, who was keeping the vehicle in sight, saw the passenger door fly open.

After defendant had departed from the store, Galvin locked the front door and entered the back office. There Waltrip was lying unconscious with the telephone in his hand. Galvin took the telephone and called the police.

Waltrip died of his wound during emergency surgery. The cause of death was loss of blood. The knife had penetrated to a depth of nine or ten inches, passing completely through Waltrip's abdominal wall and liver and piercing the front wall of the aorta.

Defendant and Valdez returned to the Lemon Hill house and divided the money from the robbery, either $45 or $90. Valdez heard defendant tell Gomez he had robbed the Beacon store. Gomez's friend Sonya White also overheard this comment and defendant implied that White should forget what she had heard.

Later the same evening, defendant and Victor Trejo went on a quest to obtain drugs. They were driving a van owned by Trejo's father. Defendant had avoided using the Plymouth because it was "a little warm." At one point, Trejo wanted to return the van to his father, but defendant pulled a knife and held it to Trejo's neck. Defendant told Trejo he did not want to have to make a "movita," or move, on Trejo, "like he already did to someone else." Trejo complied with defendant's demand to continue on in the van.

Trejo eventually dropped defendant off at the Lemon Hill house. At defendant's request, Valdez then went with defendant in the Plymouth to obtain still more drugs. Late that night, defendant discussed the Beacon robbery and told Valdez, "I think I killed somebody." [13 Cal. 4th 116]

The next day, defendant and Valdez walked to a nearby store and bought a newspaper. The paper contained an account of the Beacon robbery, including a description of the red Plymouth. Defendant read the story and told Valdez "[t]hat the guy died at the gas station."

When defendant and Valdez returned from the store, defendant moved the Plymouth into the backyard of the Lemon Hill house, where the police later found it. Valdez asked defendant what he had done with the knife used to kill Waltrip. Defendant went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife, which Valdez described as about 12 inches long. Valdez took the knife and broke it up with his hands. Valdez then made plans to "split" the Lemon Hill house immediately.

Sometime after the Beacon incident, defendant met his mother, Adeline Rodriguez, in a park. Crying, defendant told her he had robbed the Beacon station and killed a man there, though he "didn't mean to do that." According to defendant, somebody had grabbed his shoulder from behind, and he turned. Defendant said he did not want to go to prison and needed time to get away and think. A couple of days later, defendant called Rodriguez and asked for money.

About two weeks after the Beacon incident, Valdez saw defendant at McClatchy High School. Defendant told Valdez, "Don't worry about nothing, home boy, I ride my own beef." Defendant acted paranoid, said homicide detectives were at his house, and indicated he wanted to go to Mexico.

Defendant presented a single witness, Dr. Gwen Hall, a forensic pathologist. Based on the autopsy report, she disputed the depth of Waltrip's wound and opined that the autopsy findings were not consistent with a violent, audible knife blow such as Galvin had described. Asked to estimate the blood-alcohol level at 8 p.m. of a 170-pound man who had drunk 12 twelve-ounce beers and 6 glasses of tequila between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., Dr. Hall opined that it would be between .17 and .27 percent. At that level, she suggested, such a person might appear normal, especially if he was a chronic drinker, but his judgment might still be grossly distorted by alcohol intoxication.

2. Judy N. Incident-June 5, 1987.

On June 5, 1987, 13 days after the Beacon incident, defendant borrowed a brown 1970's Plymouth owned by Nelda Smith. About 3 p.m. that day, Judy N. was driving eastbound in her 1986 Honda on highway 50, a freeway in [13 Cal. 4th 117] Sacramento. Defendant, driving the brown Plymouth, came into her lane from the right and bumped the right front fender of her car. She signalled defendant to pull over, and they both parked on the shoulder just west of the 51st Street overpass.

After they inspected the minor damage, defendant advised that he had no insurance. Ms. N. suggested they exchange names and telephone numbers. She reentered her car to obtain writing paper and a pen. She offered him the pen, which he refused. She then used the pen to write her own name and telephone number, as well as the license number of defendant's car. She tore off the license number and began to hand defendant the remainder of the paper. As she did so, he reached in the driver's window and wadded up the paper. Startled, she looked up to see him pointing a revolver at her.

Defendant demanded Ms. N.'s purse and wallet. She said she had only 23 cents with her and opened her wallet to show that it contained no cash. Defendant asked if she had automatic teller machine (ATM) cards, and she acknowledged that she did. She then complied with defendant's instructions to bring her purse and wallet, follow him, and get into the passenger seat of the brown Plymouth. Defendant entered the driver's side and placed the gun in his lap, pointed at her. He asked the location of the nearest machine that would accept her ATM card. She mentioned the "college campus" nearby and said she would try to direct him from the next freeway exit, at 59th Street.

Defendant began to drive, meantime instructing Ms. N. to remove all her clothing below her waist. He said this was to keep her from trying to get away. She took off her shoes, jeans, pantyhose, and underpants.

Defendant left highway 50 at the 59th Street exit, but then doubled back westbound on S Street, which runs parallel to the south side of the freeway. Near the intersection with 55th Street, defendant parked and told Ms. N. they were going to return to her car. At his direction, she put her jeans and shoes back on, and defendant put her underpants in his pocket. The two then climbed over a chain link fence and clambered down a steep embankment to the freeway. Eventually they arrived on foot at her vehicle.

Defendant directed Ms. N. to get behind the wheel, again remove her jeans and shoes, and begin driving. She did so. He asked about her husband and children, the family's financial status, and their credit and ATM cards. Because she feared for their safety, she told defendant falsely that she had no children. She also advised, among other things, that she and her husband had ATM cards for Golden One Credit Union and Sacramento Savings. Defendant said, "We'll go to the Golden One. I know where there's a Golden One." [13 Cal. 4th 118] He began to direct her, by freeway and surface road, in a southwesterly direction through Sacramento.

As they drove, defendant demanded Ms. N.'s watch and wedding ring. She handed them over. Defendant pulled out her underpants, began to fondle them, and asked questions about her sex life. At length, he held the gun on her and said "I want you to play with yourself like you've never done before." At his direction, she inserted her finger in her vagina. Defendant then reached over and inserted his own finger in her vaginal opening.

While they were en route, they passed a number of police cars, and this caused defendant to become more and more agitated. On several occasions, he advised Ms. N. to drive carefully and avoid attracting attention. Each time, he warned that he had killed before, and it would not bother him to kill again. He indicated that the killing had occurred about two weeks before, and he asked if she had read about it in the newspaper.

At length, they were travelling westbound on Florin Road, and they seemed to be headed toward the Golden One branch at Florin Road and interstate 5. Before they reached that location, however, defendant instructed Ms. N. to turn left. When she said, "I thought we were going to the credit union," he replied with a smirk, "We'll get there."

Eventually they crossed the Sacramento River into Yolo County. In a rural area, they left the paved highway and travelled on a dirt road. Finally they arrived at an isolated clearing. At defendant's direction, Ms. N. got out, went to the back of the car, placed her hands on the bumper, and leaned over. Defendant pulled down his pants and pressed his penis against her anus. He then told her to take off the rest of her clothes. She did so, dislodging an earring in the process.

When Ms. N. was naked, defendant said, "Have you ever sucked [expletive]? Well, you're going to, now. Come here." He pushed her head down, causing his penis to penetrate her mouth. He continued to push on her head, saying, "Move. Move harder."

Defendant next directed Ms. N. back into some trees where there was another clearing. He said, "Now, we're going to do it doggy style." At his direction, she got down on her hands and knees on his T-shirt. Defendant knelt behind her and remarked, "Nice white ass." Again he pressed his penis against her anus. Then he penetrated her vagina with his penis. [13 Cal. 4th 119]

Defendant eventually withdrew and said he wanted a blanket. Ms. N. told him there was one in the back of her car. He returned with the blanket and spread it on the ground. At his direction, she lay down on the blanket, whereupon he entered her vagina with his penis a second time. During this rape, defendant thrust hard and bit her breast.

Defendant and Ms. N. then returned to her car. Defendant opened the trunk, got out her purse, and removed ATM cards for two different Golden One accounts. At his direction, she told him the personal identification numbers for these cards, and he wrote the numbers down. He then tied her hands with his belt and put a gag in her mouth. Displaying the gun, he ordered her into the trunk.

From inside the trunk, Ms. N. felt the car return to the paved road, recross the bridge into Sacramento County, and continue. After awhile, the car stopped for several minutes, than began moving again. When it stopped a second time, defendant got out and opened the trunk. They were back in Yolo County, at the isolated clearing where the assaults had occurred.

Defendant ordered Ms. N. out of the trunk and untied her hands. At his direction, she put her T-shirt back on and got behind the wheel. He told her to remove the gag. In doing so, she dislodged her other earring.

Ms. N. then began driving back toward Sacramento, as defendant instructed. Before they reached the bridge, he ordered her to stop on the shoulder. He said he had already gotten money from one of her ATM cards, and he showed her the receipt, but he seemed frustrated at some aspect of the transaction. He asked where her Sacramento Savings card was. She said it had been on the passenger seat when their collision occurred and must have fallen on the floor of the car. At his direction, she put her jeans back on, searched for the card, and found it. He asked how much money he could get with this card, and she said $900.

Defendant began looking through Ms. N.'s purse, then noticed she was wearing a gold necklace with a Disneyland pendant. He told her to take off the necklace and put it around his neck. Her hands trembled, however, and she could not work the clasp. Defendant unfastened the necklace himself.

Defendant ordered Ms. N. to remove her jeans again and resume driving. As they proceeded, he turned his attention once more to her purse and wallet. Finding photographs of her children, he angrily reminded her that she had claimed to be childless. She told him the pictures were of her nieces and nephews. Defendant responded, "If you're lying to me, I'll blow you away, [13 Cal. 4th 120] right now. Don't lie to me. If I find somewhere on these pictures that says 'Mom' anywhere, you're dead." Defendant also became angry when he found a $20 bill tucked in a side pocket of her wallet. She told him truthfully that she had forgotten about the bill. Defendant took it.

Defendant directed Ms. N. to the Golden One branch located in a shopping center at Mack Road and Franklin Boulevard in Sacramento. He ordered her to park and wait. He cradled the revolver in his left arm and draped his T-shirt over it. He then emerged from the car and got into the ATM line. Ms. N. noticed a security guard and sensed a chance to escape. Still naked from the waist down, she snatched her jeans, got out of the car, pointed to defendant, and shouted that he had a gun. She then ran into a nearby hardware store.

Around 6 p.m. on June 5, 1987, Linda McCord had parked her yellow 1974 Ford pickup next to the Golden One ATM at Mack Road and Franklin Boulevard. She did some grocery shopping, returned to the truck with her purchases, placed them in the truck bed, and entered her vehicle. As she attempted to start her engine, she heard a loud thump and felt the truck move. She looked around and saw a man with a gun in the bed of the truck. At the same time, she heard voices saying, "He has a gun," and saw people ducking behind cars. The man told her to get out of her truck. He then came around to the driver's window, still brandishing the gun. He opened the door and slid into the driver's seat. As he did so, McCord escaped out the passenger door, leaving her keys in the ignition.

When the police arrived, they directed McCord to go into the hardware store. There she was told to stand next to Ms. N. During the time they were together, Ms. N. was visibly upset. Ms. N. said two things over and over to McCord. One was a warning that "[w]hatever you do, never get in a car." The other was a declaration that her abductor had stated to her, "Haven't you been reading about me in the papers? I'm the man who killed the man in the Beacon Gas Station."

Shortly after 6 p.m. on June 5, 1987, Sacramento police officers Steven Spillmer and Henry Luckie, in separate cars, were parked in the Mack Road shopping center discussing police business. A man approached and told the officers about a naked woman and someone with a gun near the Golden One ATM. Spillmer responded. When he reached the ATM, witnesses told him that the gunman had fled northward on Franklin Boulevard. Spillmer pursued and soon spotted a yellow pickup travelling erratically at high speed. Spillmer followed, keeping the pickup in sight through several turns until the truck hit a curb in a residential neighborhood and rolled over. [13 Cal. 4th 121]

Defendant was arrested in the truck, which belonged to McCord. Various items of Ms. N.'s property, including the ATM cards, were found on his person at the scene. A loaded handgun was also recovered from the truck.

Defendant was transported to a hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the rollover. Ms. N. was taken to the same hospital for a medical examination. While there, she spontaneously observed defendant and identified him as her assailant. She identified him again at trial.

Police recovered $423 in cash (21 $20 bills and 3 $1 bills) from under the mattress of defendant's hospital gurney. Also retrieved from defendant's person or clothing at the hospital were Ms. N.'s necklace, watch, and wedding ring, an ATM receipt on Ms. N.'s Golden One account, and a live .22-caliber bullet.

An employee of Golden One confirmed that between 5:21 p.m. and 5:24 p.m. on June 5, 1987, ATM withdrawals of $200 each, the maximum daily allowance, were made from two separate accounts belonging to Ms. N. and her husband. The cash was supplied in $20 bills. The withdrawals were made from the Florin Road branch, and the person who made them was videotaped. Six unsuccessful attempts to withdraw money from the same accounts were made at the Mack Road ATM between 6:18 p.m. and 6:21 p.m. the same day. These transactions were also videotaped. Neither Ms. N. nor her husband used their Golden One ATM cards on June 5, 1987.

Defendant's fingerprints were found on the brown Plymouth. They were also found at several locations on Ms. N.'s Honda. Her earring was located at the remote Yolo County location she described as the site of the sexual assaults.

B. Penalty Trial.

1. Prosecution Case-in-chief.

a. Rypich Robbery-June 6, 1979.

On June 6, 1979, Daniel Rypich, then 64 years old, and his wife Lucy were returning to their car after purchasing groceries at the Farmers Mart in Sacramento. Defendant, then 16 years old, grabbed Daniel around the neck from behind and held a knife in his back. Defendant told Daniel to hand over all his cash or he would be killed. Daniel gave defendant $223. As defendant fled from the scene, a rust-colored Chevrolet, license No. CEA 026, picked him up and sped away. A witness provided the police with the license [13 Cal. 4th 122] number. Defendant was arrested driving the car the next day. Daniel never saw defendant's face, but two days after the robbery, Lucy positively identified him from a photo lineup. She also emphatically identified him at the juvenile proceeding arising from the incident. Beatrice Arriaga, defendant's girlfriend in 1979, testified he told her "he got 200 [dollars] from the old man" at the Farmers Mart.

b. Priscilla Lane Shooting Incident-August 14, 1981.

Around 11 p.m. on August 14, 1981, James Barger was in the driveway of his house on Priscilla Lane. He heard a shot. Moments later, a car turned onto Priscilla Lane from Fruitridge Road. Defendant, wearing a long coat, emerged from the back of the car. A female voice shouted, "There he is," whereupon defendant pulled a rifle from the car and fired into the yard of the corner house, 5571 Priscilla Lane. Defendant then ran in the direction of his shots and disappeared from Barger's view. Barger heard the sound of gunfire five more times.

Barger entered his own house, told his wife to call the police, and returned outside with a .45 automatic. Someone in the car shouted, "Get out of here," and the vehicle sped away. As it did so, defendant, who was still carrying the rifle, ran past Barger. Barger leveled his pistol at defendant's back and ordered him to freeze. Defendant dropped the rifle and approached Barger, who instructed him to lie down in the street. A crowd of Black and Hispanic youths assembled. In their protective company, defendant got up and walked around the corner onto Fruitridge Road. Barger followed, keeping defendant in sight.

When the police arrived, Barger pointed out defendant in the crowd. Defendant was arrested, handcuffed, and placed in a police car with another suspect in the incident. In their conversation, which was tape-recorded, defendant threatened to return and kill Barger.

When police entered the back-yard of 5571 Priscilla Lane, they found Andrew Benanato cowering under a bush. Spent shell casings and bullet strafe marks were discovered nearby.

c. High-speed Chase Incident-July 22, 1985.

In the early afternoon of July 22, 1985, Ernest Daniels, a plainclothes narcotics officer, was parked in an unmarked vehicle on 38th Street at 22nd [13 Cal. 4th 123] Avenue, near a house where drug activity was suspected. Defendant's car stopped in front of the house. Suspicious, Daniels emerged from his own car, displayed his badge, announced his identity, and approached defendant's car. Defendant sped away on 38th Street, a narrow residential road. Daniels gave chase, activating his siren and red light. Another police car tried to cut defendant off at 20th Avenue but was forced to swerve aside to avoid a collision. Defendant ran a stop sign at 21st Avenue and violated a yield sign at 19th Avenue. Children playing in the street had to scramble to safety. The pursuit ended at 16th Avenue, where defendant was arrested for resisting an officer. Two locking-blade knives were found on his person.

d. Chief's Auto Parts Store Robbery-February 16, 1987.

Late on the evening of February 16, 1987, Richard Lam was working as assistant manager of the Chief's Auto Parts Store on Broadway in Sacramento. John Geddes was the other employee in the store. Defendant and another man entered, inquired about a part, and left. An hour later, they returned, pressed knives into the backs of Lam and Geddes, and ordered them to lie down. Defendant attempted to open the register, and when unable to do so, ordered Lam to open it. Defendant took the bills from the register and left. Meanwhile, defendant's accomplice tore loose a television set that was bolted to a shelf. Carrying the television, the accomplice followed defendant out of the store.

e. Assault and Robbery of "Joe"-May 23, 1987.

On the evening of the Beacon robbery and murder, defendant and James Valdez later went to a house on 20th Avenue to negotiate a $20 purchase of heroin. Among the persons present, according to Valdez, were "this lady" and "this guy named Joe." Valdez indicated he had only $15 and asked for partial credit. The lady refused. Instead, she handed Valdez a bag containing $10 worth of heroin. Valdez immediately injected this entire amount, telling defendant, "Well, I tried to help you, home boy, but I can't. All I got is a dime [i.e., $10]."

Defendant became angry and ran toward the lady, brandishing a knife. Joe got up to meet him. The two men fell to the floor, and a struggle ensued. Joe was cut on the hand while defending himself from defendant's knife. When the lady screamed for Valdez to "do something," Valdez replied, "See, I told you [you] should have gave us the dope." The lady handed Valdez another bag of narcotics. Valdez then approached defendant, who was still struggling with Joe, and said, "Hey, Pete, Pete, I got the dope." Defendant stopped fighting, jumped up, snatched "all the dope and money," and ran out to the car. [13 Cal. 4th 124]

f. Assault on Miguel Pina-May 26, 1987.

On May 26, 1987, three days after the Beacon incident, defendant's girlfriend, Yolanda Gomez, telephoned Miguel Pina, a high school acquaintance, and asked him to meet her at a store near Pina's residence. When Pina arrived, Gomez told him she was in some trouble. They began to walk and talk. Suddenly, defendant appeared and hit Pina on the head with a pistol. As Pina reeled backward, defendant screamed, "Who the fuck are you? What the fuck are you doing here?" Defendant held the gun to Pina's head and asked several times, "Do you want to know how it fucking feels to die?"

Defendant asked Gomez who Pina was. She said he was a stranger from whom she had asked directions. Pina agreed, and told defendant he was just going to the store. Defendant forced Pina against a wall and ripped off Pina's necklace, scratching Pina's neck. Defendant threw the necklace down when he realized it was fake gold. Finally, defendant told Pina to "[g]o into the store if that's where you're going to," and released him. Pina went into a nearby store, where a woman gave him napkins for his bleeding head. Pina's pistol-whipping wound required five stitches at a hospital.

2. Defense Evidence.

Defendant presented witnesses to show that he had suffered a neglected and chaotic childhood, that some people still cared for him, that he had expressed remorse for Waltrip's murder, and that he could adjust to life imprisonment.

Delores Garcia, a friend since childhood, testified that she intended to marry defendant despite his situation. Garcia said defendant sent her daughter drawings and a tender letter from jail. Marie Alvarado, Garcia's mother, testified that defendant had always been respectful to her, always called her "mom," and expressed remorse about the Beacon incident. He wrote to her from jail when she was in the hospital with pneumonia.

Several witnesses described defendant's chaotic childhood. Relatives said that defendant's mother, Adeline Rodriguez, was a sloppy housekeeper who drank heavily and neglected her children. Two witnesses described a time when the children were left in the care of a disturbed young man who tried to cut his veins in the children's presence. Leonard Sanchez, who lived with Rodriguez when defendant was age eight, said the family had no standards, and that drug use was rampant "from the youngest to the oldest." According to Sanchez, defendant's older brother introduced defendant to drugs, stealing, and burglary. Sanchez himself sold defendant alcohol. [13 Cal. 4th 125]

Rodney Hall supervised a foster home where defendant was temporarily placed at age 11. Hall said defendant was stubborn and angry at first, but his attitude improved over time. Hall developed a rapport with defendant through their mutual interest in auto mechanics. On one occasion, defendant intervened to help Hall's wife when another resident threatened her with a knife. Hall was concerned for defendant when the home was forced to close two years later, and defendant was returned to his family.

Several jail guards and a jail psychiatric nurse indicated that defendant is hot-tempered and retaliates when provoked, but he respects authority and his disciplinary record while in jail awaiting trial was at least average. These witnesses suggested that defendant might well adjust to long-term prison life without presenting unusual problems. Testifying as an expert on the state penal system, Jerry Enomoto, former Director of the Department of Corrections, voiced similar opinions after reviewing defendant's prison file.

Finally, defendant presented the expert testimony of Dr. Albert Globus, a psychiatrist and neurologist. After interviewing defendant, running a number of neurological tests, and reviewing defendant's personal and medical histories, Dr. Globus opined that defendant shows signs of organic brain damage which would diminish his judgment, his impulse control, and his capacity to intend Waltrip's murder. In Dr. Globus's view, causes of this condition might include Rodriguez's drinking while she was pregnant with defendant, defendant's own lifelong drug and alcohol abuse, and an untreated illness during defendant's infancy which may have included a brain infection.

Dr. Globus conceded that defendant also exhibits a form of antisocial personality independent of brain damage. Moreover, Dr. Globus acknowledged that defendant's intent to rob the Beacon store was not affected by any organic condition.

3. Prosecution Rebuttal.

In rebuttal, the prosecution presented the testimony of Dr. Michael Adelberg, a neurologist. Having reviewed Dr. Globus's report, Dr. Adelberg disputed all bases for Dr. Globus's opinion that defendant suffers from organic brain damage. Dr. Adelberg concluded that the results of tests administered by Dr. Globus showed no brain damage but were consistent with a diagnosis of antisocial personality. [13 Cal. 4th 126]

 
 


Pedro Arias

 

 

 
 
 
 
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