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In re Lewis

Filed 5/24/18 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA In re ROBERT LEWIS, JR., ) ) S117235 on Habeas Corpus. ) ____________________________________) Petitioner Robert Lewis, Jr., seeks habeas corpus relief, urging that he is ineligible for execution because he is intellectually disabled1 and that his counsel failed to investigate and present mitigating evidence as to penalty. We issued an order to show cause and subsequently ordered a reference hearing in the superior court. The referee found that (1) petitioner is intellectually disabled and (2) his trial counsel did not perform deficiently at the penalty phase. The referee’s findings regarding intellectual disability are supported by substantial evidence and are adopted. Because petitioner is entitled to relief from the death judgment under Atkins v. Virginia (2002) 536 U.S. 304, 321 (Atkins) and In re Hawthorne (2005) 35 Cal.4th 40 (Hawthorne), we need not reach the penalty phase ineffective assistance of counsel claims. 1 The order to show cause used the term “mentally retarded,” as does the referee’s report in response. In accordance with current law and usage, this opinion uses the term “intellectually disabled” except when quoting or characterizing a source that uses the older term. (See, e.g., People v. Boyce (2014) 59 Cal.4th 672, 717, fn. 24; see also Stats. 2012, ch. 448 [revising various statutes to replace the term “mental retardation” with the term “intellectual disability”].) I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND This evidentiary summary is drawn from the opinion in petitioner’s first automatic appeal. (See People v. Lewis (1990) 50 Cal.3d 262, 271-274 (Lewis I).) A. Guilt Phase In October 1983, victim Milton Estell had been trying to sell his car. He displayed it in a parking lot and ran a newspaper advertisement. On October 27, neighbors saw him standing outside his home, looking at the car and speaking with petitioner. On October 28, after Estell’s ex-wife, Jacqueline, had been unable to contact him and neighbors expressed concern, an officer went to Estell’s home to check on him. He found Estell’s body in a closet, bound and gagged. Estell had been stabbed repeatedly and shot in the back. Toilet paper had been stuffed in his mouth. His wallet lay nearby, containing credit cards but no cash. The car was missing. There were no signs of forced entry. Petitioner’s fingerprints were found in three locations in the house, including the bathroom near the toilet paper dispenser. Jacqueline confirmed a number of items were missing, including a gold chain. She identified a gold chain petitioner had worn during the preliminary hearing as the missing item. On November 1, officers saw Estell’s car parked on the street. Petitioner and a woman got in the car and drove off. The officers stopped the car, impounded it, and arrested petitioner. He was carrying $400 in cash and gave officers a false name. When interviewed, petitioner initially claimed he bought the car on October 24. He paid $11,000 in cash, which he had won in Las Vegas and carried in a brown paper bag. He said that the entire …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court