Thursday, November 12, 2015

People v. Villasenor (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 12, 2015)

Today's opinion demonstrates the perils of wearing a red belt.  At least in Sacramento:

"Armando Lopez was a member of the Norteño criminal street gang and routinely wore red to signify his membership in the gang. During the early morning hours of January 24, 2010, he and three of his roommates left a party and returned to their house on Kesner Avenue in North Sacramento, near Del Paso Heights. One of the roommates drove another roommate’s car to and from the party. On the way home, they stopped to pick up some fast food. Each of the roommates had been drinking. Lopez appeared to be the most intoxicated. When the other roommates got out of the car to bring the food into the house, he stayed in the back seat 'mumbling.' His roommates decided to leave him there while they went inside to eat. A short time later, Lopez managed to get out of the car. But instead of coming inside the house, he walked over to his car, which was also parked on the street in front of the house, and got into the driver’s seat.

As Lopez was changing cars, a group of Sureños was driving through the neighborhood. Raquel Benavidez, seated in the back seat behind the driver, testified . . . [that] when they passed a Mexican man sitting in a car on the side of the street, either defendant or his brother told Clancy to stop the car, which she did. Defendant and his brother got out of the car and walked over to the man. Defendant asked: “Do you bang? Where are you from?” Benavidez understood these questions to be a gang-related challenge. Defendant then reached into the car and lifted up the man’s shirt. Seeing a red belt, defendant said, 'he’s a Norteño,' pulled out a handgun, and shot him twice. Defendant and his brother then got back in Clancy’s car and the group drove away as defendant said: 'I hope he dies.'"

The lesson, apparently, being not to Drink and Wear A Red Belt.  Or, maybe, not to belong to a violent gang.

Something like that.