Friday, July 25, 2014
S.C. Upholds Death Sentence in Killing of Sheriff’s Deputy
Evidence Showed That Gang Member Murdered Victim as Act of Retaliation—Justices
By ANN ANOOSHIAN, Staff Writer
The state Supreme Court yesterday affirmed the death sentence imposed for the murder of a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff, rejecting the defendant’s claim that the special circumstance of killing a peace officer in retaliation for the performance of official duties requires proof of specific acts against the defendant which caused him to form the intent to kill the officer.
The justices unanimously affirmed Kevin Dewayne Boyce’s conviction and sentence on charges of first degree murder, with special circumstances of killing a peace officer in retaliation for the performance of his duties and of murder during the commission of a felony robbery and burglary. Orange Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel imposed the death sentence for the murder of Deputy Sheriff Shayne York.
York was killed at an Orange County salon where he and his fiancée, fellow deputy Jennifer Parish, were going to have their hair styled by Parish’s sister.
According to trial testimony, Boyce and Andre Willis came into the Buena Park salon on Aug. 14, 1997, carrying guns. The men demanded money from the cash register which contained $11.
The victims handed more money to the men, along with Jennifer’s watch and engagement ring.
While searching York, the defendant found his wallet and his sheriff’s badge.
He allegedly said:
“Well, well, well. Look what we have here, a mother f--- pig.”
He demanded to know where York worked. York replied, “Wayside” and “East Facility.”
The defendant, who previously had been incarcerated there, asked York if he “liked to treat n---r Crips like s---t in jail?” York responded, “No, sir.”
The defendant retorted, “No, I know you like to treat us n---r Crips like s---t in jail.” York again responded, “No, sir,” the witnesses testified, before Boyce defendant demanded and received the PIN for York’s ATM card.
One of the men said, “F--- the whitey,” and a shot was fired. York collapsed, bleeding profusely.
Someone then declared that he had always wanted to kill a cop and that he hoped this one died.
As York lay dying, Willis rummaged through Jennifer Parish’s purse looking for her ATM card. Discovering her badge, he announced, “We’ve got another mother f--- pig in here.”
He asked which of the two women was the “other f--- white pig,” and Jennifer Parrish raised her hand. Willis said, “Don’t worry, b---. We’re not going to shoot you. You’re a f--- woman.”
The men left after obtaining Jennifer Parish’s ATM card and PIN.
York had been shot in the head, and ultimately died from a single gunshot that penetrated his brain. The position of the wound was consistent with the shooter standing over York and firing as he lay facedown.
Willis was tried separately, convicted of murder and multiple counts of robbery and burglary, and received a three-strikes sentence of 75 years to life for murder and multiple consecutive sentences of 25 years to life for the other crimes.
In writing for the high court, Justice Carol Corrigan said there was substantial evidence of a logical or temporal relationship between the officer’s performance of his duties and defendant’s motive to kill him. Corrigan rejected the premise that this case was a “status” killing of a peace officer and therefore did not satisfy the statutory elements under Penal Code §190.2(a)(7).
“There was additional evidence that defendant was a Crips gang member, incarcerated in 1994 at the facility where York worked. This independent evidence is consistent with defendant’s remarks to York, and reflects his motive for the murder.
This evidence supported a conclusion that defendant resented peace officers’ treatment of himself and fellow gang members, and that he intentionally killed York in retaliation for his employment as an officer. It is immaterial that York may not have actually mistreated defendant and his fellow gang members.”
The statute “is clear and unambiguous,” Corrigan wrote. “It subjects an individual to a sentence of death or life imprisonment without parole for intentionally killing a peace officer ‘in retaliation for the performance of his or her official duties.’ Nothing in the plain language of the statute supports defendant’s view that the retaliation must be in response to an officer’s specific acts, which are known by and specifically linked to the defendant.
The justice continued:
“Indeed, imposing such a requirement would be contrary to the electorate’s intent in enacting section 190.2, subdivision (a)(7). The language at issue was part of the Briggs Initiative [Proposition 7]....The [ballot] argument in favor of the initiative likewise affirms that the death penalty would apply to killing of certain categories of victims, including judges, prosecutors, firefighters, and the President of the United States.”
Corrigan also rejected the defense argument that the language of the special circumstance was unconstitutionally vague as applied, and failed to provide adequate notice because it was unclear whether York’s performance of official duties had to relate specifically to the defendant.
The justice said:
”It is not difficult to understand the concept of retaliation against a peace officer for doing his duty. The word ‘retaliate’ is commonly understood and adequately communicates the extent of the proscribed conduct.”
Fasel, the justice said, correctly answered in the negative when jurors asked whether the peace officer “ha[s] to perform a duty at the time of the crime” in order for the special circumstance to apply.
“The special circumstance applies to the intentional killing of an officer performing his duties or in retaliation for the performance of those duties. The facts here implicate only the second variation. The [trial] court correctly explained that an ‘engaged in’ killing requires that the officer be actively performing his duties, while a ‘retaliation’ killing does not.”
The case is People v. Boyce, 14 S.O.S. 3834.
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