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The California Supreme Court Affirmed a Death Sentence for the 1995 Murder of a Deputy Sheriff in Lassen County: Criminal Defense Issues Discussed on Appeal, Part II

As discussed yesterday, the California Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the verdict of death after the jury in the Sacramento County convicted the defendant of the first degree murder of a deputy sheriff and of the attempted wilful, deliberate, and premeditated murder of three other peace officers stemmed from an incident of domestic violence on March 2, 1995, in Ravendale. (People v. Ervine (2009) 47 Cal.4th 745.)

Another issue addressed by the court, in addition to the right to counsel issue discussed yesterday, was evidentiary in nature. With regard to the evidentiary issues, the Court has ruled that the trial court did not err in allowing out-of-court statement by the defendant’s wife regarding defendant’s felony assault against her. At trial, as proof that the officers were engaged in the lawful performance of their duties within the meaning of the special circumstance allegation, and that the officers had probable cause to believe that defendant had committed a felony assault against his wife, the prosecution put on stand two officers who testified as to what they had been told by the dispatcher and by defendant’s wife during her 911 call.

The Court has upheld the trial court’s finding that statements police officer relied upon to determine existence of probable cause to arrest an individual were admissible against hearsay objection because they were not offered for its truth but to show either officer’s state of mind or existence of special circumstances. Among other evidentiary issues, the Court has determined that the exclusion of defendant’s handwritten statements made after he shot the officers was not erroneous because there was ample evidence to doubt his motives and sincerity to qualify it as a spontaneous statement exception to the hearsay rule or a statement of declarant’s then existing mental or physical state.

With regard to penalty phase issues, the court, among other things, has held that the victim impact testimony was not unduly prejudicial, there was no error in the exclusion of expert testimony concerning the conditions of confinement in prison, there was no merit to defendant’s claim that the trial court’s instruction precluded the jury from comparing the seriousness of his crime to others of the same general character, and there was no reasonable likelihood the jury was misled as to its ability to grant the defendant mercy without being specifically instructed to do by the trial court.

The attorneys at Wallin & Klarich over 30 years experience fighting serious felony charges and fighting for your constitutional rights. When choosing a San Diego criminal defense law firm, it is essential that you choose a law firm like Wallin and Klarich that has a team of highly skilled attorneys who can help you or your loved one. Call Wallin & Klarich today at 1-888-280-6839 for a case evaluation or visit www.wklaw.com for more important information.

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.