Aggravating Circumstances: Report of Rumors Is Not Evidence of “Solid Value”
September 26th, 2022

In People v. Penunuri (2018) 5 Cal.5th 126, 168-169 the judge erred in allowing evidence of other violent criminal activity under Penal Code section 190.3, factor (b), concerning a nonfatal shooting that was committed two months before the capital murders because there was insufficient evidence that defendant “committed that assault” and “[t]here was no direct evidence linking him to the crime.”  The only evidence suggesting that defendant was involved was that the car involved “was registered to someone at an address shared with a gang confederate and codefendant” and that the word “‘on the street’” was that defendant was the shooter.  Although there was some dispute whether a witness had heard one of the victims identify defendant as the shooter, the witness denied that his “identification was based on his personal knowledge.”  A “report of rumors…is not evidence ‘that is reasonable, credible, and of solid value’ sufficient to support a jury finding beyond a reasonable doubt that [defendant] committed the assault.”  Thus, the trial court should not have allowed the jury to consider the shooting.

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