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People v. Penunuri

Filed 5/31/18 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA THE PEOPLE, ) ) Plaintiff and Respondent, ) ) S095076 v. ) ) RICHARD PENUNURI, ) ) Los Angeles County Defendant and Appellant. ) Super. Ct. No. BA189633 ____________________________________) A jury convicted defendant Richard Penunuri of the first degree murder of Brian Molina, Michael Murillo, and Jaime Castillo (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a); all statutory references are to this code unless otherwise specified) and conspiracy to commit the murder of Castillo (§ 182). He was also found guilty of the second degree robbery of Shawn Kreisher and Randy Cordero (§ 211) and assault with a firearm on Carlos Arias (§ 245). The jury found true the special circumstances of multiple murder (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)) and witness murder (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(10)). The jury also found true the enhancement that Penunuri personally used a firearm with respect to the robbery of Cordero, the assault with a firearm on Arias, and the murders of Molina and Murillo. (Former § 12022.5, subd. (a)(1).) At the penalty phase, the jury returned a verdict of death. The trial court denied the automatic motion to modify the verdict (§ 190.4, subd. (e)) and sentenced Penunuri to death for the three murders. SEE CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).) We affirm the judgment in its entirety. I. FACTS A. Guilt Phase Penunuri was tried jointly with codefendants Joseph Castro, Jr., Arthur Bermudez, and Alfredo Tapia. Before the guilt phase began, Penunuri pleaded not guilty to all charges. 1. Prosecution Evidence a. Ralphs Parking Lot Incident Randy Cordero was driving Shawn Kreisher and David Bellman to the Ralphs market in Whittier on the night of October 23, 1997. The three men parked in the Ralphs parking lot, exited the vehicle, and began to walk toward the store. Several men exited a white Cadillac that was later found to be registered to Alejandro Delaloza. They approached Cordero, Kreisher, and Bellman. A fight ensued, during which a man, wearing black gloves and holding a knife, punched Bellman. Another man, who was the largest member of the group and was wearing a large dark jacket, demanded money from Kreisher and Cordero. Kreisher gave the man $40 because he thought the man had a gun. Cordero refused, saying he had no money with him. Someone from the Cadillac group yelled, “Get his keys.” Cordero returned to his car and pulled a baseball bat out of his trunk. A man then yelled, “Blast ’em” or “Blast his ass,” and a man walked toward Cordero, Kreisher, and Bellman, pulled out a gun, and cocked the trigger. Cordero identified the gun as a nine-millimeter handgun. Cordero, Kreisher, and Bellman ran to a nearby intersection where several police officers were gathered and explained what had happened. When Cordero returned to his vehicle, his duffle bag was missing. 2 Kreisher identified Penunuri from a photographic display as the man who took his money and testified that the man who took his …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court