Wednesday, November 05, 2014

People v. Palafox (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 3, 2014)

Guess how this one turns out:

"Defendant [Luis Palafox's] maternal grandfather died in prison after being convicted of molesting a 12-year-old relative. Two of defendant’s uncles (one of whom was Hoffman) were serving life sentences for murder. Defendant’s maternal grandmother beat his mother, who, along with one of her sisters and a brother, got involved in gangs. Defendant’s father was also a gang member. Defendant’s maternal grandmother used cocaine and “speed,” and his paternal grandfather was an alcoholic.

Defendant’s mother became pregnant with him at age 15. Defendant’s father described it as an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy. Although defendant’s mother denied using drugs during her pregnancy, she smoked marijuana daily and drank — sometimes heavily — on weekends after defendant was born. Gunfire and gang activity were frequent in the neighborhood in which defendant lived.

Defendant’s parents separated in 1993. Prior to their separation, defendant was
frequently exposed to incidents of domestic violence. After the separation, defendant’s father rarely chose to see him. Defendant’s mother moved a lot and continued to drink and smoke marijuana.

Defendant’s mother became involved with another gang member, Israel Rios, and together they had four children. Rios and defendant’s mother used drugs, smoked marijuana with the children in the house, and Rios drank heavily. Rios was aggressive with the children, and whipped defendant with his hand or a belt until defendant turned 12 years old and was 'too big to beat.' Because the family moved around a lot, defendant never joined a gang. . . .

Mason’s report detailed the large number of different schools defendant attended throughout his life. In high school, he tested below basic in English and algebra, and far below basic in world history, life science, and biology. According to an aunt, he had speech problems and a lisp. Another aunt described him, as an adolescent, as 'quiet, withdrawn, and young-minded.' During his school years, he was suspended multiple times for marijuana, possession of a knife, tagging, and other behavior problems. . . .

Defendant had “self-injurious behavior,” including biting and burning. On one occasion, he set the bathroom on fire. He used drugs and drank, drinking heavily at least three times a year. He started using marijuana at age 13, and smoked it daily until his arrest in this case. He experimented with cocaine and ecstasy. Three months before his arrest, his mother caught him inhaling Freon.

Despite everything, defendant was kind and helpful to his family. He babysat and cared for his younger siblings, and got them ready for school while his mother slept. After Rios hurt his back in an accident, defendant took care of the house and yard. He also helped people in need, such as by loading grocery bags into cars for people at the store and helping his blind grandfather do laundry. His aunt tried to get defendant to live with her, as she wanted to be a positive influence in his life, but he felt he had to stay with his mother, because she needed him to care for his younger siblings."

That's basically the story of his life until the age of 16.  Which is when he and another 16-year old broke into the home of an elderly couple in Bakersfield looking for drugs and beat them to death with a baseball bat as they lay in their bed.

He's sentenced to two counts of life without the possibility of parole.  The Court of Appeal affirms.

End of story.