Tuesday, November 19, 2013

People v. Johnson (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 19, 2013)

Ryan Johnson was a big deal.  He decided to put together a robbery of a guy who grew (and perhaps sold) weed from his house.  His crew consisted of his buddies Kelsey Alvarez and Jesse Baker-Riley.  Ryan was the "shot-caller".

Pursuant to Johnson's plan, Alvarez and Baker-Riley show up at the home of Peter Davis, who had a fair amount of marijuana at the place.  They knock on the door, and when Davis answers, Baker-Riley pulls out a large handgun and shoves it in Davis' face.  Stand and deliver.

Baker-Riley sees a pile of pot on the table, and tells Davis to wrap it in a paper towel and give it to him.  Davis -- not surprisingly -- does so.  Baker-Riley is clicking the safety of his gun on and off.  He's taunting Davis, telling him he's "quick on the trigger, homie."  Baker-Riley makes references to "Pulp Fiction".  This is fun.

Baker-Riley then sees a fortune cookie on the table.  Points his gun at Davis and tells him to open it.  Fortunately, the fortune is not "You're going to be shot and killed today."  Because God knows what Baker-Riley would have done at that point.  It's instead the typical vaguely positive thing you usually get in the middle of these stale treats.  It says "There will be many upcoming opportunities.  Take advantage of them."  Which Baker-Riley understandably finds funny.  Because he's indeed taking advantage of the opportunity to rob Davis.  And Baker-Riley says so.

Baker-Riley eats some food that's on Davis' table -- more Pulp Fiction -- and demands that Davis tell him the location of the rest of the weed.  Davis says he doesn't have anything.  Baker-Riley sees some marijuana drying in a back bedroom.  Orders Davis to go back there and sit on the bed.  Davis does so.  Telling Baker-Riley:  "Don't kill me.  I'm not going to do anything.  Take what you want.  Just don't kill me."

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking that, just like in Pulp Fiction, Baker-Riley's going to spew out some fancy line from the Bible and then blow Davis away.  Complete the cycle.

Perhaps.  But you forgot about the fortune cookie.

It told Davis that there will be many upcoming opportunities, and to take advantage of them.  It was right.  Baker-Riley had told Davis to sit on the bed.  Guess what's on the nightstand?  That's right.  A gun.  Never one to go against a confection, Davis whips it out, and repeatedly fires.  Killing Alvarez with a shot to the chest.

So Alvarez dies.  Baker-Riley gets convicted of first-degree murder.  Despite not firing a shot, he's guilty under the provocative murder doctrine, because someone else got shot.  And Johnson -- the shot-caller, who wasn't even present at the raid -- gets convicted of first-degree murder as well, and sentenced to 26 years to life.

The Court of Appeal affirms.

Tough luck for both Johnson and Baker-Riley.  But at least they're better off than Alvarez.

Life imitates art.  But sometimes comes out a different way.