Friday, April 30, 2010
S.C. Upholds Death Sentence for One-Time L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court yesterday unanimously upheld the death sentence for Stephen M. Redd, a onetime deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County convicted of killing a supermarket manager during a 1994 robbery in Yorba Linda.
“[T]here was overwhelming and seemingly irrefutable evidence that defendant committed the crimes charged,” including two counts of robbery, two counts of burglary, and two counts of attempted murder in connection with another robbery attempt, Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote for the high court.
Redd was sentenced in 1997 by Orange Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseno after jurors found him guilty of the murder of Timothy McVeigh, 34, at the Alpha Beta market. Brenda Rambo, who was working the cash register at the time of the robbery, testified that McVeigh was shot when he came to her aid.
Redd, who had been paroled from prison a year before the fatal shooting, after serving 10 years of an 18-year sentence for robbery, did not admit killing McVeigh but acknowledged at sentencing that he had “turned to a life of crime” after jobs became scarce.
The prosecution presented evidence that Redd, in addition to committing the crimes with which he was charged, committed five robberies of banks and stores in 1982. In addition, a California Highway Patrol officer testified that months after he ticketed Redd for speeding, the defendant sent him a letter from prison, informing him that Redd had automatic weapons underneath the seat at the time of the stop but did not use them because the officer was a “pleasant sort of guy.”
The defense presented mitigating evidence that Redd had suffered a great deal of stress while policing the Firestone area of unincorporated Los Angeles County years earlier, in part resulting from an incident in which he witnessed a person burn to death in a car fire.
The prosecutor ridiculed the defense, saying it was “preposterous” to argue that while many officers patrol dangerous areas, Redd’s having done so “in some shape or form made him start to go out and shoot people and commit robberies.”
The defense contended on appeal that that remark, and others, had disparaged defense counsel and violated Redd’s right to a fair trial. But George said it was the defense argument, not counsel personally, that was being disparaged.
George also rejected the argument that evidence obtained as a result of Redd’s arrest, by a U.S. Park Police officer in a San Francisco parking lot in 1995, should have been suppressed.
The defense argued that the officer, who said his suspicions were aroused because the registration tag on the license plate of Redd’s car was not lying flat—suggesting the tag did belong to that plate—had no authority to detain or arrest Redd because the parking lot was not on federal property. The officer explained that he had been assigned to patrol the northern end of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and that the parking lot, on San Francisco Recreation and Park District property, was “mainly...for the yacht harbor,” which was “right next to” the national recreation area.
The trial judge and the Supreme Court agreed that the officer, who arrested Redd for driving without a license, driving with an expired registration, and giving him a false name, was acting as a California peace officer under Penal Code Sec. 830.8(b). The statute gives federal law enforcement officers the status of peace officers, subject to local authorities’ approval, on premises “adjacent” to federal property.
The officer, George noted, produced a letter, signed by the then-police chief of San Francisco, authorizing all officers of the Park Police to act as peace officers within San Francisco.
The chief justice also rejected the defense contention that the trial judge should have instructed the jury on second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter as lesser included offenses.
While the prosecution requested those instructions, expressing fear a conviction might be overturned if he didn’t, it is the evidence, not the prosecutor’s opinion, that determines whether instructions on lesser offenses must be given, George explained.
That evidence, the chief justice declared, would not “support a conclusion that the individual who entered the store wearing a wig, and who quickly proceeded to a cash register and pointed a gun at the clerk, did not enter the store with a felonious intent, or a conclusion that the individual did not rob Rambo, or a conclusion that the killing of McVeigh did not occur in the course of these felonies.”
“The only issue was whether defendant was the individual who killed McVeigh in the course of these felonies, because whoever was the perpetrator was guilty of felony murder.”
The case is People v. Redd, 10 S.O.S. 2157.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company