Nicholas Seymour, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant. No appearance for Plaintiff and Respondent.
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL REPORTS
California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115. Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. SA099020 APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Upinder S. Kalra, Judge. Affirmed. Nicholas Seymour, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant. No appearance for Plaintiff and Respondent.
On July 22, 2018, Santa Monica Police Department Officer Susan Beckling was working traffic enforcement at Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica. Beckling had a direct view of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) platform on Colorado. She saw a man—later identified as David Houston—sitting on the stairs, "killing time," "relaxing."
At some point after Houston had been sitting there "for a long duration of time," Beckling heard yelling. Turning to look toward the stairs, Beckling saw "two people standing face to face." The second man—later identified as defendant and appellant Charron Wesley Hargrett—"had a black baton-like piece of wood or a pipe, and he had it in his hands and he was making gestures toward" Houston. Hargrett was holding the baton-like object at head level. Houston "retreat[ed] backwards" and went down the stairs. Hargrett still had the baton-like object in his hand and he "was still verbalizing a little on the loud side" as Houston retreated.
As Houston "started to come toward the street," Beckling saw "[h]e was holding his head with his hand," his "[p]alm against his temple." "There was a small amount of blood." Beckling called the police, who arrived within 30 seconds. Beckling pointed Hargrett out to the officers.
Santa Monica Police Department Officer Steve Romero was one of the responding officers. Romero "made contact" with Houston, "who had a visible injury to his head." "[H]e was bleeding from the left side of his face." Romero "saw blood on [Houston's] left temple area . . . and he was holding his area of injury." Houston "had a laceration to the left temple are[a]"; Romero saw "swelling and redness." Houston said "he was in pain"; "[h]e was moaning."
Video of the incident recorded by an MTA surveillance camera was shown to the jury at trial.
The People charged Hargrett with assault with a deadly weapon (count 1) and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury (count 2). The case proceeded to trial in February 2019. The jury acquitted Hargrett of assault with a deadly weapon and convicted him of assault by means of force. The trial court granted Hargrett's Romero motion to strike his prior conviction for criminal threats. The court also struck Hargrett's prison priors under Penal Code section 667.5, subdivision (b). The court sentenced Hargrett to the midterm of three years in the state prison.
Hargrett appealed and we appointed counsel to represent him. After examining the record, counsel filed an opening brief raising no issues and asking this court independently to review the record under People v. Wende (1979) 25 Cal.3d 436. Counsel notified Hargrett that he could file a supplemental brief within 30 days.
Hargrett submitted a letter dated November 12, 2019. He raises a number of contentions. None has merit.
First, Hargrett refers to a conviction in another case, apparently for a misdemeanor he committed on November 19, 2018, in which he was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Hargrett says the prosecution didn't file this felony case until December 22, 2018, and he "was held in L.A. County Jail illigally [sic] while or until 'Santa Monica' could file a this [sic] case on me." Hargrett cites no legal authority for his argument. Moreover, the record belies his claim: his preliminary hearing in this case took place on December 10, 2018, so plainly the felony complaint was filed before that date.
Second, Hargrett notes that the docket of a pretrial hearing on February 15, 2019, states, "People will dismiss on [the] next court date if the witness is not located." Hargrett argues that—as Houston did not testify at trial—he was "[n]ever able to face my accuser in court, nor allowed to 'cross examine' my accuser!"
The record on appeal does not include a transcript of the February 15 pretrial hearing. In any event, Hargrett seems not to understand that the prosecution can prove its case with percipient witnesses even if the victim does not testify. (For example, in a murder case the victim never testifies.) Here, both the traffic officer who saw much of the incident, and the officer who responded, saw, and talked with Houston, testified and were cross-examined. In addition, jurors saw an MTA surveillance video that was properly authenticated by MTA employee Raul Rodarte.
Third, Hargrett asserts, "A deal that my lawyer and I wanted to take was all of a sudden never was expossed [sic] nor brought before me." Precisely what Hargrett means is unclear. Before jury selection began, the court addressed Hargrett: "I do understand that the People made an offer to [the] new charge [of assault by means of force], two years in state prison." (That offer presumably involved striking or dismissing Hargrett's strike and prison priors; in addition, a plea to count 2 would not be another strike.) Hargrett responded, "No, I would not like to take that deal. . . . 'Cause I'm innocent."
Later that day, the court again raised the issue of settlement. The court advised Hargrett that his maximum possible sentence if convicted was 15 years, which he would serve at 85 percent. Reiterating the prosecution's two year offer, the court observed, "[T]hat is a pretty generous, extremely lenient offer." The court told Hargrett it was not pressuring him in any way, but added "it would be hard-pressed for me to get there if you were found guilty." The court suggested Hargrett think about it over the weekend, adding, "If you want to have a further discussion about this with your attorney or the court Monday morning, let us know. We'll do it before the jury gets here." There is no indication in the record that Hargrett ever told the court he wanted to accept the two years.
At sentencing, defense counsel referred to a discussion "before we started this trial that if Mr. Hargrett would plead no contest to the . . . 245(a)(4), that the court had suggested that he be violated on the misdemeanor [apparently referring to a probation violation]." The court interrupted: "Let me stop you right there. Settlement discussions—the People made an offer. He rejected it. The court at [the] bench made a suggestion to try to satisfy both needs." Defense counsel stated Hargrett "was a hundred percent that he was gonna take that" but the prosecution "wouldn't offer that, unfortunately." Defense counsel said Hargrett had rejected the prosecutor's two-year offer "because he was adamant that he didn't want to go to state prison on this case." The court noted that it had "made a suggestion, and the People said no."
In short, Hargrett rejected the only offer the prosecution ever made: two years in the state prison. The prosecutor had no obligation to make yet another lower offer, even if the court proposed it as a possible disposition.
Finally, Hargrett contends he "should have been allowed or granted the right to pleed [sic] my case as 'self-defence [sic].' " Defense counsel asked the court to instruct the jury on self-defense. The prosecutor argued Beckling saw only Hargrett with a weapon and that Houston "retreat[ed]." She added, "And the video shows it is the defendant that approaches the victim. The victim actually tries to get away. . . . Then the defendant goes, gets some kind of stick-like object in the video . . . and then the defendant hits the victim."
The court stated, "There needs to be substantial evidence, not substantial speculation. There is not substantial evidence. I have a video that is from a distance. It is unclear. . . . [Y]ou're speculating that there was an argument." The court noted that the video showed Houston did not have "any object," and Beckling testified the only person she heard speak was Hargrett. The trial court did not err in declining to instruct on self-defense.
We have examined the entire record, and we are satisfied that Hargrett's counsel has fully complied with his responsibilities and that no arguable issues exist. (People v. Kelly (2006) 40 Cal.4th 106, 109-110; People v. Wende (1979) 25 Cal.3d 436, 441.)
We affirm Charron Wesley Hargrett's conviction.
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL REPORTS
EGERTON, J. We concur:
EDMON, P. J.
People v. Superior Court (Romero) (1996) 13 Cal.4th 497.