Thursday, February 26, 2015

People v. Johnson (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Feb. 26, 2015)

Can you guess what this appeal is about?  Can you guess the result?  Here are the first three sentences of the opinion:

"A jury convicted defendant Jerrold Elwin Johnson of the first degree murder of Ellen Salling with the special circumstances of robbery murder, burglary murder, and carjacking murder, as well as first degree burglary, first degree robbery, and carjacking. [Cites] The jury also found that defendant personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon, and the victim was 65 years old or older. [Cites] Defendant admitted that he had suffered one prior serious or violent felony conviction and had served one prior prison term."

There is one part of the opinion that merits at least brief mention.  The majority holds that when you enter a home, find a 76-year old woman baking cookies, and beat her to death with a tree limb, that counts as a "carjacking" as long as -- once she's dead -- you walk out of the kitchen, across a breezeway, enter a garage, and take the dead woman's car.

Justices Werdegar and Liu don't agree.  But they're outvoted.