People v. Ghobrial

Filed 6/21/18 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA THE PEOPLE, ) ) Plaintiff and Respondent, ) ) S105908 v. ) ) JOHN SAMUEL GHOBRIAL, ) ) Orange County Defendant and Appellant. ) Super. Ct. No. 98NF0906 ____________________________________) A jury found defendant John Samuel Ghobrial guilty of the first degree murder of Juan Delgado, a 12-year-old boy, and found true the special circumstance that the murder was committed while defendant was engaged in the commission of a lewd and lascivious act on the child. (Pen. Code, §§ 187, subd. (a), 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(E), 288.) Following the penalty phase, the jury returned a death verdict and the trial court entered a judgment of death. This appeal is automatic. (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 11, subd. (a); Pen. Code, § 1239, subd. (b).) We affirm the judgment. I. FACTS A. Guilt Phase On March 21, 1998, the partial remains of Juan Delgado were discovered near the address where defendant was then living. Defendant admitted that he killed Delgado, but denied that the murder was premeditated or deliberate. He 1 also denied that the murder was committed in the course of a lewd and lascivious act on the child. 1. Prosecution case In March 1998, Delgado was a sixth grader at Washington Middle School in the City of La Habra. Defendant, who lived in a rented shed in La Habra, frequently was found panhandling in a commercial area of the city. Delgado and defendant were acquainted. A classmate, Armando Luna, recalled that he and Delgado saw defendant begging for food sometime in December 1997, and that Delgado had purchased a Snickers bar for defendant. On another occasion, in late February or early March 1998, Alfonso Solano saw Delgado and defendant “horsing around” outside a market and liquor store. Solano recognized defendant from defendant’s earlier panhandling in the neighborhood; defendant is particularly distinctive because one of his arms had been amputated following an accident that had occurred many years before the murder. Solano did not know Delgado, but Delgado approached him as he exited the liquor store and whispered to him in Spanish, “ ‘Señor, sir,’ . . . ‘he is going to kill me.’ ” Solano then heard defendant tell Delgado in English, “ ‘I am going to kill you. I will kill you and eat your pee-pee.’ ” Delgado was last seen on March 18, 1998. Another classmate, Josefina Gomez, saw Delgado walking with defendant behind her family’s restaurant that afternoon. Defendant was holding Delgado by the hand. Gomez knew Delgado from school, and he greeted her as he walked towards an alleyway with defendant. Early in the morning on Thursday, March 19, at about 12:30 a.m., defendant visited a Super Kmart in La Habra. He purchased a stockpot, cutting boards, knives, and pans. According to the cashier, Yvette Trejo, the entire transaction took about 15 minutes because defendant paid in small bills and 2 change, left the checkout line several times to seek out additional items, and asked her to ring up ...

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