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Court of Appeal, Second District, California.

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. SHAURON SYKES, Defendant and Appellant.


Decided: March 29, 2011


Shauron Sykes (appellant) appeals from the judgment entered following a jury trial that resulted in his conviction of first degree residential burglary in violation of Penal Code section 459.1  The jury found that a person was present during the commission of the burglary.   The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining four counts.   In a bifurcated proceeding, the trial court found that appellant had suffered a prior conviction for a serious felony within the meaning of section 667, subdivision (a)(1) and sections 1170.12, subdivisions (a) through (d) and 667, subdivisions (b) through (i) (the “Three Strikes” Law).   The trial court sentenced appellant to a total prison term of 17 years, comprised of the upper term of 6 years, doubled to 12 years under the Three Strikes Law, and an additional 5 years pursuant to section 667, subdivision (a)(1).

We appointed counsel to represent appellant on this appeal.   After examination of the record, counsel filed an “Opening Brief” in which no issues were raised.   On December 27, 2010, we advised appellant that he had 30 days within which to submit personally any contentions or issues that he wished us to consider.   On January 28, 2011, we received a handwritten response from appellant.   On February 8, 2011, and February 24, 2011, we received two additional handwritten responses.

Appellant's conviction was based upon the following facts:  On June 14, 2005, at approximately 10:00 a.m., appellant and a companion knocked and entered the house of Ricardo Prado, Candelario Moldonado, and Cynthia Hernandez at gunpoint.2  Prado was placed face down with a jacket over his head in the entry of the house.   Appellant and his companion entered the bedroom of Moldonado and Hernandez, woke them up, and demanded money.   Appellant and his companion pulled Moldonado out of bed and placed him face down next to Prado.   Appellant and his companion took money, a watch, a bracelet, and some marijuana and left the house.

A month after the crime, appellant was arrested.   After being advised of his Miranda 3 rights, appellant admitted that he had been at the house and specifically in Moldonado's bedroom.   Appellant's fingerprints were found on a blue metal box that had contained money in Moldonado's bedroom.   Prado, Hernandez and Moldonado each selected the same person from a six-pack of photographs and identified him as one of the assailants or similar to one of the assailants.   The individual pictured in the photograph was not appellant.

On several occasions prior to trial, appellant was sent for evaluation of his mental condition.   On November 15, 2005, the court found appellant incompetent to stand trial within the meaning of section 1368 and ordered him placed at Patton State Hospital.   On May 2, 2006, the court found him competent and reinstated the criminal proceedings.   Again, on June 13, 2008, the court found appellant incompetent to stand trial within the meaning of section 1368 and recommended that he be placed at Patton State Hospital.   On December 19, 2008, the court received a letter from Patton State Hospital indicating that appellant was competent to stand trial.   The court again reinstated the criminal proceedings at that time.

Appellant's responses consist of three handwritten letters and numerous miscellaneous attachments.   Though difficult to understand, the responses contain a number of allegations.   To the extent we can decipher the responses, it appears that appellant contends that (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction;  (2) his constitutional rights were violated because he had to wear waist and leg shackles during trial;  (3) the trial court made evidentiary errors when it admitted appellant's interview and excluded evidence of third party culpability;  (4) appellant was improperly removed at the time of sentencing;  (5) the court improperly enhanced his sentence with the prior conviction;  (6) appellant is mentally unable to be responsible for a crime of such nature;  (7) prosecutorial misconduct;  and (8) ineffective assistance of counsel.

We have reviewed the entire record to determine whether there was substantial evidence to support the judgment.  (Jackson v. Virginia (1979) 443 U.S. 307 [standard of review for sufficiency of evidence claims];  see also People v. Ceja (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1134, 1138 [same].)   There was ample solid and credible evidence, direct and circumstantial, to support the jury's verdict.  (See People v. Holt (1997) 15 Cal.4th 619, 667.)   Appellant's assertions concerning facts that were not presented to the jury are not part of the appellate record and hence cannot be reviewed on the record before us.

There is no indication in the record that appellant wore waist and leg shackles during the trial.   He did wear a stealth belt which was attached to an accompanying chair.   The belt could not be seen by the jury, particularly because appellant wore a jacket.   As an initial matter, it is well settled “that the use of physical restraints in the trial court cannot be challenged for the first time on appeal.”  (People v. Tuilaepa (1992) 4 Cal.4th 569, 583;  see also People v. McDaniel (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 736, 743.)   Because appellant did not make an objection in the trial court, his claim is forfeited.   In any event, based on appellant's previous disruptive and violent episodes before the court, we find there was manifest need to impose such a restraint.  (People v. Mar (2002) 28 Cal.4th 1201, 1218–1220.)

We find no merit in appellant's contention regarding evidentiary errors.   The trial court did not admit the tape recording or the transcript of appellant's interview with the police officer.   The police officer testified on the stand using the transcript to refresh her recollection.   That is clearly admissible under Evidence Code section 771.   Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in excluding evidence related to a third party culpability defense.  (People v. Hall (1986) 41 Cal.3d 826, 833;  see also People v. Hamilton (2009) 45 Cal.4th 863, 913–914.)

On the day of sentencing, appellant spoke directly to the court, talking over his counsel, and would not stop, despite repeated admonitions by the court.   The trial court warned appellant that it was going to remove him from the proceedings if he continued to talk.   Appellant continued to disrupt the proceedings, and the trial court had him removed.   We conclude that the trial court did not err by having appellant removed from the courtroom because he was being disruptive.  (See People v. Welch (1999) 20 Cal.4th 701, 773[“[A] defendant may waive his right to be present at his trial by being disruptive at the trial, and appellate courts must give considerable deference to the trial court's judgment as to when disruption has occurred or may reasonably be anticipated”].)

Appellant's sentence on his conviction was doubled and an additional five years were added because of his prior conviction.   Appellant waived a jury trial, and the court concluded, based on fingerprint evidence and the abstract of judgment, that appellant had been previously convicted of first degree burglary on February 11, 1998.   We find no error in the trial court's calculation of appellant's sentence.

Appellant contends that he is “mentally psychologically not able to be responsible for a crime of such nature.”   At various points during this case, appellant's mental status was placed into doubt.   He was examined by many doctors and by the time of trial, he was found competent.   To the extent appellant is arguing that he was legally insane at the time of the crime, there is no indication in the record that appellant ever pursued such a defense.

Appellant makes a general assertion that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct by using coercion and perjury.   This claim is not supported by the record.   To the extent appellant's contentions allege ineffective assistance of counsel, appellant has not shown that his trial counsel failed to act in a manner expected of a reasonably competent attorney or that he suffered prejudice as a result of his counsel's incompetency.  (People v. Wash (1993) 6 Cal.4th 215, 269;  Strickland v. Washington (1984) 466 U.S. 668, 688.)

We have examined the entire record and considered appellant's written contentions and are satisfied that appellant's attorney has fully complied with her responsibilities and that no arguable issues exist.  (People v. Wende (1979) 25 Cal.3d 436, 441.)



FN1. All further references to statutes are to the Penal Code, unless stated otherwise..  FN1. All further references to statutes are to the Penal Code, unless stated otherwise.

FN2. The jury found the allegation that appellant personally used a firearm during the commission of the offense to be not true..  FN2. The jury found the allegation that appellant personally used a firearm during the commission of the offense to be not true.

FN3. Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436..  FN3. Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436.