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People v. Soto

Filed 4/30/18 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA THE PEOPLE, ) ) Plaintiff and Respondent, ) ) S236164 v. ) ) Ct.App. 6 H041615 JUAQUIN GARCIA SOTO, ) ) Monterey County Defendant and Appellant. ) Super. Ct. No. SSC120180A ____________________________________) A conviction of murder requires a finding of malice, which may be either express or implied. (Pen. Code, §§ 187, 188.)1 Express malice requires an intent to kill “unlawfully,” but implied malice does not. (§ 188.) By statute, evidence of voluntary intoxication is admissible on the issue of whether the defendant “harbored express malice.” (§ 29.4. subd. (b).) We have held that if a person kills in the actual but unreasonable belief that doing so is necessary, the person does not intend to kill “unlawfully,” and is guilty of voluntary manslaughter, not murder. (In re Christian S. (1994) 7 Cal.4th 768, 771 (Christian S.).) We must decide whether section 29.4 permits evidence of voluntary intoxication on the question of whether a defendant believed it necessary to act in self-defense. Reading the statutory language in context and in light of the apparent legislative intent in enacting it, we conclude such evidence is not admissible on this question. Accordingly, CALCRIM No. 625 correctly permits 1 All further statutory citations are to the Penal Code. SEE CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION the jury to consider evidence of voluntary intoxication on the question of whether defendant intended to kill but not on the question of whether he believed he needed to act in self-defense. I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY The Court of Appeal’s opinion summarized the evidence regarding the offense. On July 10, 2012, defendant, Juaquin Garcia Soto, entered an apartment building on Oak Avenue in Greenfield, California. He briefly entered and then left Bernardino Solano’s apartment. Then, “armed with a knife, [he] kicked in the front door of Israel Ramirez’s apartment. Upon entering the apartment, defendant found Ramirez and his partner, Patricia Saavedra, sitting in the living room watching television. The couple’s young son was also in the living room. Shortly thereafter, defendant and Ramirez engaged in a knife fight in which both parties stabbed each other multiple times. Defendant then fled the scene and Ramirez died from his wounds.” (People v. Soto (2016) 248 Cal.App.4th 884, 887 (Soto).) “Police found Ramirez’s body lying facedown in a pool of blood on the floor of the hallway outside the apartment.” (Id. at p. 888.) “At trial, Saavedra testified that defendant started the knife fight by stabbing Ramirez first.” (Soto, supra, 248 Cal.App.4th at p. 887.) Her testimony was supported by evidence that a drop of blood was found on the floor several inches in front of the couch on which Ramirez was sitting. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing of the blood showed it matched a sample of Ramirez’s DNA. (Id. at pp. 891, 902.) Defendant told a different version of the events. The Court of Appeal’s opinion reviewed his testimony in detail: “Defendant testified in his defense as follows. He had never seen Ramirez or Saavedra …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court