THE PEOPLE v. TRASHON GAUFF

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Court of Appeal, Second District, California.

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. TRASHON GAUFF, Defendant and Appellant.

B221045

Decided: January 24, 2011

Carey D. Gorden, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Pamela C. Hamanaka, Assistant Attorney General, Susan Sullivan Pithey and John Yang, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED IN THE OFFICIAL REPORTS

INTRODUCTION

Trashon Gauff appeals from the judgment entered after a jury convicted her of second degree robbery and hit and run driving.   We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 18, 2009, defendant Trashon Gauff and three friends were in a vehicle driving near King Drew High School and looking for a cell phone to steal.   At approximately 3:15 p.m., two of the young women got out of the car and stole a phone from Kayla O. who was walking to meet her uncle.   The victim and her uncle gave chase as the car sped away with defendant behind the wheel.   Defendant drove in reverse at speeds approaching 45 to 50 miles per hour.   At some point defendant lost control of the vehicle and struck a white truck parked on the street.   The force of the collision caused the truck to move forward - various estimates were from five to twenty feet - and “totaled” the car defendant was driving.   The owner of the truck said that after hearing a “loud bam,” he came outside to find his truck 20 feet from where he had originally parked it.   Another witness testified that the entire back end of the car defendant was driving was pushed in “like a sandwich” and the rear windshield was shattered.   After she had recovered from the impact, defendant quickly drove away.

Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of second degree robbery (Pen.Code, § 211) and hit and run driving (Veh.Code, § 20002, subd. (a)).  On count one she was sentenced to 365 days in county jail and three years' probation.   She received a six-month concurrent sentence on count two.

DISCUSSION

Defendant raises a single contention:  there was insufficient evidence to sustain her conviction of hit and run driving under Vehicle Code section 20002, subdivision (a) because there is no evidence the truck she hit was damaged.   We disagree.

To prove its case of hit and run driving, the prosecution had to show defendant “(1) knew he or she was involved in an accident;  (2) knew damage resulted from the accident;  and (3) knowingly and willfully left the scene of the accident (4) without giving the required information to the other driver(s).”  (People v. Carbajal (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1114, 1123, fn. 10.)   The People concede the damage must be to a vehicle other than the one the defendant was driving.

On appeal, the standard of review is well settled:  In determining whether sufficient evidence to support a conviction exists, “we review the whole record in the light most favorable to the judgment below to determine whether it discloses substantial evidence-that is, evidence that is reasonable, credible and of solid value-from which a reasonable trier of fact could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt․  The standard of review is the same in cases in which the People rely mainly on circumstantial evidence.   Although it is the duty of the jury to acquit a defendant if it finds that circumstantial evidence is susceptible of two interpretations, one of which suggests guilt and the other innocence, it is the jury, not the appellate court which must be convinced of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”   (People v. Snow (2003) 30 Cal.4th 43, 66, citations omitted.)

Here, the evidence indicates defendant was traveling at a high speed when the collision occurred.   Although there was no direct testimony describing the exact damage to the truck, two witnesses testified that the impact was so severe that it caused the truck to move forward a distance of between five and twenty feet.   Further, it is undisputed that the car defendant was driving sustained considerable damage.   The vehicle's owner, who was one of the occupants of the car, testified that her car was “totaled,” the whole back end and mirrors were “pushed in like a sandwich” and the rear window was shattered.   One witness described the white truck as “wrecked.” 1  Based on these facts, a reasonable jury could infer that the truck sustained some form of damage.

DISPOSITION

For the reasons set forth above, the judgment is affirmed.

WE CONCUR:

FOOTNOTES

FN1. Defendant points out that the uncle's testimony was somewhat vague because he stated that he stayed at the scene long “enough to get the owners of the car to come out of their house to see their car wrecked.”   (Italics added.)   The other vehicle was in fact a truck.   A jury reasonable could infer from this testimony that “car” was used colloquially as a substitute for vehicle and that it was the truck that was wrecked.   This testimony thus also supports the People's claim that the other vehicle had been damaged..  FN1. Defendant points out that the uncle's testimony was somewhat vague because he stated that he stayed at the scene long “enough to get the owners of the car to come out of their house to see their car wrecked.”   (Italics added.)   The other vehicle was in fact a truck.   A jury reasonable could infer from this testimony that “car” was used colloquially as a substitute for vehicle and that it was the truck that was wrecked.   This testimony thus also supports the People's claim that the other vehicle had been damaged.

FLIER, J. GRIMES, J.