People
v.
M.C. (In re M.C.)

This case is not covered by Casetext's citator
COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA THIRD APPELLATE DISTRICT (Sacramento)Sep 7, 2018
C085665 (Cal. Ct. App. Sep. 7, 2018)

C085665

09-07-2018

In re M.C., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. M.C., Defendant and Appellant.


NOT TO BE PUBLISHED California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published,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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115. (Super. Ct. No. JV138452)

The juvenile court sustained a robbery petition against the minor M.C. On appeal, the minor challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting that finding. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

At the jurisdictional hearing, the victim testified to the robbery. The minor, however, maintained he was not one of the robbers and offered testimony of his aunt and his aunt's case manager in support.

The victim's testimony

The victim testified that he was in the eighth grade when he was robbed. He was walking home from school when he noticed three people following him. He recognized two of them, including the minor.

The three people came closer, and one of them yelled something like, "What's up sucka?" One of the three then told the victim to surrender his shoes, belt, and money. The victim kept walking.

Two of the robbers pushed the victim into a fence. The victim slipped and fell to the ground. The minor took the victim's shoes and one of the other robbers took the victim's belt.

The shoes were Jordan 3 Retros worth $220. The belt was a Gucci the victim had bought from a friend for $200.

The minor said, "If you snitch, we'll come back and get you." One of the robbers lifted his shirt to show he had a gun. The robbers then ran away.

As to the gun, the victim testified that he recalled telling an officer, "[s]omething about it being extended or something." The prosecutor asked if he knew what that meant, and the victim said no. Later he recalled telling the officer the gun's magazine was an inch or two larger than other handgun magazines he had seen.

About an hour after the robbery, the victim talked to a police officer (who would later testify he responded to the call around 4:33 p.m.). The victim identified the minor to the officer using a yearbook photo.

The victim knew the minor from seventh grade math class, when they had gone to the same school. The victim had first met the minor in the seventh grade and they were "somewhat" friends in that they talked. Since the robbery, the victim had seen the minor when he went on a field trip.

On cross, the victim was asked if there was any possibility he could have mistaken the minor for somebody else. The victim said, "No."

The minor's aunt's testimony

The minor's aunt testified on behalf of the minor. During the hearing, the aunt was living with the minor and his parents, but at the time of the robbery she was living in subsidized housing for low-income families. The day of the robbery, the minor was staying with her; he did not have school that day. The aunt testified the minor was with her at all times that day and never left her sight.

The day of the incident, the minor had helped her distribute food boxes to the apartment complex, and after that he went with her to pick up her children and husband. She testified the minor could not have been involved in the robbery because she picks up her husband between 4:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. from downtown, and the minor was with her.

The aunt's case manager's testimony

The aunt's case manager also testified on the minor's behalf. The case manager recalled seeing the minor the morning of the incident, while he was delivering food boxes. Later, the case manager visited the aunt in her apartment. There, she saw the minor, the aunt and her husband, as well as the aunt's children. On the afternoon of the incident, she saw all of them leaving the apartment complex in two cars.

On cross, the case manager admitted that she could not say specifically where the minor was at the time of the robbery, approximately 3:38 p.m.

The trial court found the allegations in the petition proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

DISCUSSION

On appeal, the minor contends insufficient evidence supports the robbery finding. He avers no other evidence corroborates the victim's testimony that the minor was one of the robbers. Given the strength of the testimony from the minor's two adult witnesses, he maintains the true finding was error.

"The same standard governs review of the sufficiency of evidence in adult criminal cases and juvenile cases: we review the whole record in the light most favorable to the judgment to decide whether substantial evidence supports the conviction, so that a reasonable fact finder could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." (In re Matthew A. (2008) 165 Cal.App.4th 537, 540.)

Here, substantial evidence supports the robbery finding. The victim testified that he recognized the minor as one of the robbers. That recognition was based on being in the same math class with him the year prior, being "somewhat" friends, and having talked. And immediately after the robbery, he identified the minor to an officer using a yearbook photo. That testimony sufficed for the trial court to find the minor was one of the robbers. (See Evid. Code, § 411; People v. Kirvin (2014) 231 Cal.App.4th 1507, 1514 [a single witness may establish any fact].)

Further, the victim's testimony was not inconsistent with the case manager's testimony. While the case manager saw the minor the day of the robbery, she did not know his whereabouts at the time of the robbery. And while the victim's testimony conflicted with the aunt's, the trial court was not required to find the aunt credible. The aunt made claims that strained credulity, including that the minor never left her sight. Also, her testimony conflicted with the case manager's in some respects. In short, the minor's witnesses did not render the evidence insufficient to support the robbery finding. The trial court was entitled to make credibility determinations that did not favor the minor. (See People v. Anderson (2018) 5 Cal.5th 372, 398 ["generally we resolve factual conflicts in favor of the judgment below"].)

The minor nevertheless raises a number of assertions to undermine the victim's credibility and to generally show the prosecution failed to connect the minor to the robbery. He notes the victim testified his belt cost $200, but only $30 in restitution was claimed for it. The minor testified he had told the police the gun was "extended or something" but admitted he did not know what that meant, suggesting he had reviewed the police report. The victim testified eight months after the robbery. No further testimony about the victim seeing the defendant on a field trip was presented. The prosecutor misrepresented the victim's testimony about seeing one of the other robbers on social media with his shoes. The prosecutor presented no evidence regarding when the minor was detained or arrested or if he had made any statements. No evidence connected the minor to the other robbers or the shoes and belt taken. And the minor points to his lack of criminal history and good behavior at school and at home.

On cross, the victim was asked how he identified one of the robbers (not the minor) after the robbery. He testified: "A friend of him, and he saw a picture on Instagram that had my shoes." At closing, the prosecutor argued, "[the victim] said there was an instance where he encountered the minor on a social media site, and was able to see his very shoes with someone else wearing them. So by virtue of that, there is no evidence whatsoever to show that the minor did not intend to permanently deprive the victim of his shoes and his belt." --------

None of those assertions undermine our finding of substantial evidence. Indeed, we do not resolve credibility issues or evidentiary conflicts: determining a witness's credibility and the truth of facts is the exclusive province of the trial judge or jury. (See People v. Penunuri (2018) 5 Cal.5th 126, 142.) We look only for substantial evidence, and, here, the record amply supplies it. (See ibid.)

DISPOSITION

The order is affirmed.

/s/_________


Duarte, J. We concur: /s/_________
Raye, P. J. /s/_________
Hoch, J.