Friday, February 8, 2013
State Supreme Court Upholds Death Sentence in Robbery-Murder
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The California Supreme Court yesterday unanimously affirmed the death sentence imposed on one of three men convicted in connection with the robbery-murder of a Concord restaurateur and her disabled daughter.
The justices, in an opinion by Justice Carol Corrigan, rejected the contention that a Contra Costa Superior Court judge violated Corey Leigh Williams’ constitutional rights by admitting an incriminating statement that the defendant gave to correctional officers.
Williams was convicted of the first degree murders of Maria Elena Corrieo and Maria Eugenia (Gina) Roberts, largely on the testimony of an accomplice. David Ross said he, Williams, and their friend Dalton Lolohea trailed the victims from the restaurant that Correio owned and robbed and shot the women after they arrived home.
Ross testified without immunity before the grand jury in exchange for a promise that he would not receive the death penalty, and later pled guilty to a reduced charge and received a 20-year sentence. He said the men had learned from a cook at the restaurant that Correio distrusted banks and kept large sums of cash in her car.
Ross said he had left the house and was in the getaway car when he heard several shots. When he asked Williams why he had shot the women, Williams said it was because they had heard Ross call him “C-Dog,” the nickname tattooed on Williams’ hands.
Lehonta was tried separately, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
The murders occurred in 1995. By the time he was charged in 1996, Williams was at San Quentin State Prison on another case, and he was subsequently transferred to Folsom.
When he got to Folsom, he was spotted by Sergio Correio, the son and brother of the victims, and a convicted felony drunk driver. When Correio, who was on a work detail, saw him, he told his supervisor that Williams “was a suspect in my family’s murder and that I didn’t want to do anything stupid.”
Correio was placed by himself in a nearby room, where he learned from a coworker that Williams was in an adjoining cell. He called to Williams and told him he was “a dead man,” causing Williams to ask for protective custody.
When asked by correctional officers why he needed protection, he said it was “because I killed two Hispanics.”
At trial, the defense objected to the introduction of that statement, saying it violated the defendant’s Miranda rights, as well as the right to counsel, based on Massiah v. United States (1964) 377 U.S. 201, which prohibits officers from seeking incriminating statements from defendant’s they know to be represented by counsel.
There was no violation, Corrigan explained, because the officers weren’t seeking a confession and had no reason to expect one.
The case is People v. Williams, 13 S.O.S. 709.
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