PEOPLE v. ESTEBAN CISNEROS

No. E065909.

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. JORGE ALBERTO ESTEBAN CISNEROS, Defendant and Appellant.

Court of Appeals of California, Fourth District, Division Two.


Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

Patricia J. Ulibarri , under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.

No appearance for Plaintiff and Respondent.


NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN OFFICIAL REPORTS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 This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

OPINION

CODRINGTON, J.

I

INTRODUCTION

Desperate for money, defendant Jorge Alberto Esteban Cisneros and his cohort, David Mendez, entered a check-cashing business where defendant shot the clerk in the chest while Mendez seized $600 from the cash drawer as the victim lay dying. Security cameras recorded the coordinated robbery and shooting.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of first degree murder (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a))1 and second degree robbery (§ 211).2 With respect to both counts, the jury also found true that a principal was armed with a firearm within the meaning of section 12022, subdivision (a)(1), and that defendant personally used a firearm causing death within the meaning of section 12022.53, subdivision (d). With respect to count 1, the jury further found true that the murder was committed while engaged in the commission of a robbery within the meaning of section 190.2, subdivision (a)(17). The court sentenced defendant to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus a consecutive 25 years to life on count 1; count 2 and its attendant enhancement were stayed pursuant to section 654.3

Defendant appeals from the judgment. Based on our independent review of the record, we find no error and affirm the judgment.

II

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Defendant and Mendez were friends and coworkers at Clariant Corporation (Clariant) located in Chino, California. Clariant is a company that makes colored paint for plastics. Face masks and neoprene gloves are supplied for the employees to use.

Defendant was struggling financially and had asked coworkers for loans. Defendant was a customer of a check-cashing business in Chino, which is about a 10-minute drive from Clariant. Defendant had a $2,755 loan with the business and would occasionally come into the business to make payments on his loan.

A few months prior to November 2013, defendant showed a Clariant employee a picture of a black handgun that was on his cellular phone. In October 2013, defendant showed another Clariant employee a semiautomatic nine-millimeter handgun along with some ammunition clips in the parking lot of Clariant. The handgun and ammunition clips were located in the trunk of defendant's black Nissan Altima. A third Clariant employee also saw defendant with a black handgun about four times. The third employee also observed defendant shoot the handgun once inside the warehouse during work about a week prior to the incident.

On November 14, 2013, defendant came into the Chino branch of the check-cashing business at closing time and asked Vanessa M., an employee, if he could refinance his loan. Vanessa told him he did not qualify for a modified loan.

On November 15, 2013, at around 1:20 p.m., an employee of the Upland branch of the check-cashing business, Anthony L., called the Chino store to speak with the manager. The store manager was not there so Anthony spoke with Vanessa. As Anthony was speaking with Vanessa, Anthony heard Vanessa scream and then a loud thump. Anthony, a native Spanish speaker, also heard Vanessa moaning in pain and two male voices speaking in Spanish. One was saying, "Over there, underneath, below." The other voice asked, "Over there? Yes." Anthony called out for Vanessa but there was no response. He stayed on the phone line until it went dead and then called the police. He also called his supervisor, Rhonda D. Rhonda reviewed the store's security video on her laptop computer and saw Vanessa lying on the ground behind the counter.

Around 1:20 p.m., T. Williams was eating lunch in her car in the parking lot behind the Chino check-cashing building when she saw a black Nissan Altima parked nearby. Williams saw a man wearing a light blue dust mask come around the building and approach the Altima. The man was walking fast and wearing a baseball cap. After he got in the passenger side of the Altima, the vehicle sped away. Williams could not see the driver and heard no gunshots.

Meanwhile, Rhonda described the suspects in the video to police officers.4 Rhonda also obtained still photos from the store's video surveillance tape and showed them to various employees. The Chino store manager recognized defendant as a customer at the check-cashing business. Rhonda pulled up the store's video surveillance from the previous night and saw defendant conducting a transaction inside the store. Rhonda recognized defendant as the shooter in the video.

The Chino store manager, who had left Vanessa to tend to the business while he went to lunch that day, also identified defendant from the store's security videos. Rhonda gave the police defendant's address and other identifying information. Mendez took $600 from the cash drawers.

Vanessa died at the scene. Two nine-millimeter shell casings were found at the scene. One nine-millimeter bullet was found on the carpet behind the counter near Vanessa's body.

Jorge V., who worked with defendant and Mendez, recognized defendant on news reports and notified the police. Jorge also recognized Mendez's Boston Red Sox hat. Another coworker also recognized defendant from the news reports.

Clariant employee time cards showed that on November 15, 2013, defendant and Mendez left for lunch at 12:49 p.m. and returned to work at 1:43 p.m. An employee saw defendant pull into the Clariant parking lot sometime after 1:20 p.m. driving a black Nissan Altima. Defendant was wearing a hat. The employee did not see Mendez with him. Mendez drove a white pickup truck. Police determined a black Altima was registered to defendant.

Defendant was arrested at an apartment complex after midnight on November 16, 2013. Mendez was arrested in his white pickup truck. A search of Mendez's truck revealed a Boston Red Sox baseball cap and a sweatshirt with a green stain. The green stain appeared to be in the exact spot as the sweatshirt the second suspect in the photo from the robbery was wearing. Coworker Jorge V. identified the baseball cap and stained sweatshirt as belonging to Mendez.

After defendant waived his constitutional rights, Detective Acuna interviewed defendant in Spanish for approximately four hours on November 16, 2013, beginning at about 4:00 a.m. Defendant initially denied knowing anything about the check-cashing business robbery. He later admitted committing the robbery because he needed the money. He was remorseful and wrote a letter to the victim's family asking for forgiveness and stating he did it out of desperation. He claimed that he just wanted to hurt the victim and believed he had shot her in the arm. Defendant also stated that he hid the gun in a cereal box at Clariant and drew a diagram for the police where the gun could be found.

During a search of the Clariant building, officers found the handgun used in the shooting inside a cereal box. At defendant's work station, officers also found a hat like the one defendant wore in the security video. During the robbery, defendant was also wearing gloves consistent with the neoprene gloves given to Clariant employees.

III

DISCUSSION

After defendant appealed, upon his request, this court appointed counsel to represent him. Counsel has filed a brief under the authority of People v. Wende (1979) 25 Cal.3d 436 and Anders v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 738, setting forth a statement of the case, a summary of the facts and potential arguable issues, and requesting this court to conduct an independent review of the record.

We offered defendant an opportunity to file a personal supplemental brief, and he has not done so.

An appellate court conducts a review of the entire record to determine whether the record reveals any issues which, if resolved favorably to defendant, would result in reversal or modification of the judgment. (People v. Wende, supra, 25 Cal.3d at pp. 441-442; People v. Feggans (1967) 67 Cal.2d 444, 447-448; Anders v. California, supra, 386 U.S. at p. 744; see People v. Johnson (1981) 123 Cal.App.3d 106, 109-112.)

Pursuant to the mandate of People v. Kelly (2006) 40 Cal.4th 106, we have independently reviewed the entire record for potential error and find no arguable error that would result in a disposition more favorable to defendant.

IV

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed.

McKINSTER, Acting P. J. and MILLER, J., concurs.

FootNotes


1. All future statutory references are to the Penal Code unless otherwise stated.
2. In a separate trial, Mendez was also convicted of premeditated murder and second degree robbery. (See People v. Mendez (July 11, 2016, E064249) [nonpub. op.] (Mendez).)
3. Mendez was also sentenced to life without parole. (See Mendez, supra, E064249 at p. 2.)
4. The store's security tapes were played for the jury at the time of trial.

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