People v. GonzalesAnnotate this Case
Defendant was convicted of murdering her 4-year-old niece where the jury found as special circumstances that the murder was intentional and involved the infliction of torture and occurred while defendant was engaged in the commission and attempted commission of mayhem. Defendant was sentenced to death and alleged numerous errors on appeal. The court discussed and reviewed the cumulative impact of the guilt phase errors and held that there was no reasonable doubt that they had any significant impact on defendant's conviction and there was no reasonable possibility that they affected the penalty determination. The court also held that the court's error in failing to curtail unduly inflammatory passages in the prosecutor's closing argument was harmless "under the most exacting standard of review." The court further held when the circumstances were balanced against the evidence in mitigation, it could not say that it was an especially close case at the penalty phase. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and jury's verdict.