Monday, August 24, 2015

People v. Seumanu (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Aug. 24, 2015)

"Nolan Pamintuan was engaged to marry Rowena Panelo on May 18, 1996. He spent the evening before, May 17, with friends and family at the rehearsal dinner at a restaurant in Daly City. Panelo gave him a wedding present that night: a black Movado watch engraved with their intended wedding date. After dinner, Pamintuan drove Panelo to her apartment and continued on to Hayward, where he intended to spend the night at his father‘s apartment. Pamintuan was wearing a brown Gucci watch, a gold engagement ring, a black leather sport coat, an Old Navy-brand pea coat, and boots. . . .

That night defendant declared his intention to steal a car in order to commit some robberies, so defendant, Iuli, Palega, and Tautai Seumanu set off to look for a suitable vehicle to steal. They eventually located a van to their liking and Tautai and defendant used a screwdriver to steal it. Back at their family compound in Hayward with the stolen van, the group changed out of their Samoan clothes and donned dark clothes; defendant brought out firearms from the outbuilding. Iuli knew ―something big‖ was going to happen when he saw the guns. Defendant spoke of committing robberies and everyone was ―in on the deal.‖ The foursome left the house in the stolen van and began looking for a robbery victim. . . . After considering and rejecting a few possibilities, the group spotted a potential victim and attempted an armed robbery but the intended victim escaped. When the group reentered the stolen van and drove off, defendant chastised Tautai for the botched robbery. They then observed Nolan Pamintuan parking his car and defendant said: "Let‘s go back and get that guy who just got out of the car." Palega turned the van around.

Defendant, holding a sawed-off shotgun, jumped out of the van with Iuli and confronted the victim. Pamintuan looked shocked and scared and offered defendant the inscribed black Movado watch his fiancĂ©e had just given him hours earlier, saying: ―Just take this, that is all I have.‖ Defendant took it and then forced the victim into the van. As they drove off, defendant and Tautai stripped the victim of everything he had, including his boots, sport coat, pea coat, ring, wallet, and watch. Defendant became angry when he discovered Pamintuan was carrying only $3 in cash. The victim offered to withdraw money from the bank and was by this time begging for his life.

They drove to a bank with an automated teller machine and defendant warned Pamintuan that if he tried to escape, defendant would kill him. Tautai and Iuli accompanied Pamintuan to the ATM, where he withdrew $300 and gave it to defendant upon returning to the van. Iuli was worried that the ATM camera had photographed him, Tautai, and the van. The foursome wanted the victim to withdraw more money, and when Pamintuan told them of the daily $300 limit they became angry. Defendant ordered Palega to drive away from the bank and find a dark spot. Defendant and Tautai argued over who would kill the victim, while Palega advised against killing him. Iuli exited the van in an attempt to stop the shooting, seeing no point, as Pamintuan had already given them all of his money. Pamintuan continued to beg for his life. Defendant then shot him in the chest with a single shot from the shotgun. The four then abandoned the stolen van in the neighborhood and went home."

Oh.  One more thing.  "At 12:15 p.m., police showed photographs to Pamintuan‘s brother, Paul, who identified the shotgun victim as his brother, Nolan. Panelo, the victim‘s intended bride, was told of his murder around 1:30 p.m.; they had planned to marry at 2:00 p.m. that day."

Yeah, you're going to be sentenced to death for that.  And the California Supreme Court will unanimously affirm.