People v. Clark

Supreme Court of California

June 27, 2016, Filed



 [***426]  [**828]  CUÉLLAR, J.—An Orange County jury found defendant William Clinton Clark guilty of the first degree murders of Kathy Lee (count 1)  [***427]  and Ardell Williams (count 7). (Pen. Code, §§ 187, 189.) 1 The jury found true the five special circumstance allegations charged, as follows: that defendant committed the murder of Lee while engaged in the commission of a burglary (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(G)) and while in the attempted commission of a robbery (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)(A)); 2 that the murder of Williams was the murder of a witness for the purpose of preventing her from testifying in a criminal proceeding (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(10)) and a murder while lying in wait (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(15)); and a multiple-murder special-circumstance allegation (§ 190.2, [*535]  subd. (a)(3)). 3 The jury hung on a [****2]  penalty verdict, but a new jury returned a verdict of death at the penalty phase retrial. The trial court denied defendant's motions for a new trial (§ 1181) and modification of the penalty (§ 190.4, subd. (e)), and it sentenced him to death. This appeal is automatic. (Cal. Const., art. VI, § 11; Pen. Code, § 1239, subd. (b).)

We vacate the burglary-murder and robbery-murder special-circumstance findings, but otherwise affirm the judgment.


The jury convicted defendant and sentenced him to death for two murders. He was the shooter in neither of them. The first murder was that of Kathy Lee, who was shot by Nokkuwa Ervin on the evening of October 18, 1991, during an attempted robbery of a CompUSA [****3]  store in a Fountain Valley shopping center. 4 The second murder was that of defendant's former associate Ardell Williams, who was shot in Gardena during the early morning of March 13, 1994, by either Antoinette Yancey, who was defendant's girlfriend at the time, or by someone acting at Yancey's direction. 5 The prosecution's theory of defendant's accomplice liability for Lee's murder was that defendant organized, and was present at, the CompUSA murder. The prosecution's theory of defendant's accomplice liability for Williams's murder was that defendant conspired with Yancey to have Williams killed because Williams had testified to a grand jury about defendant's involvement in the CompUSA murder, and she was going to testify against defendant at his trial.

Defendant denied involvement in either murder. As to the first murder, the defense sought to challenge the credibility of the prosecution witnesses, including Williams. Defendant also presented as an alibi evidence that he was present at a recording studio in Glendale during the time of the CompUSA murder. As to the second murder, the defense acknowledged defendant's close personal relationship with Yancey, but it contended there was no  [***428]  evidence he conspired with Yancey to have Williams murdered.

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

63 Cal. 4th 522 *; 372 P.3d 811 **; 203 Cal. Rptr. 3d 407 ***; 2016 Cal. LEXIS 4576 ****

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. WILLIAM CLINTON CLARK, Defendant and Appellant.

Subsequent History: Reported at People v. Clark, 2016 Cal. LEXIS 6176 (Cal., June 27, 2016)

Time for Granting or Denying Rehearing Extended People v. Clark, 2016 Cal. LEXIS 7322 (Cal., July 12, 2016)

Rehearing denied by People v. Clark, 2016 Cal. LEXIS 6531 (Cal., Aug. 10, 2016)

US Supreme Court certiorari denied by Clark v. California, 137 S.Ct. 1227, 197 L.Ed.2d 467, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 1580 (U.S., Mar. 6, 2017)

Prior History:  [****1] Superior Court of Orange County, No. 94CF0821, John J. Ryan, Judge.

People v. Clark, 2016 Cal. LEXIS 4062 (Cal., Mar. 22, 2016)

murder, trial court, contends, defense counsel, killing, human life, conversation, hearsay, juror, reckless indifference, letters, preliminary hearing, photographic, subdivision, robbery, forfeited, circumstances, theft, special circumstance, admitting, fails, violence, felony, motive, Warehouse, recording, circumstantial evidence, special-circumstance, phone call, cross-examination

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Criminal Process, Assistance of Counsel, Criminal Law & Procedure, Preliminary Proceedings, Pretrial Motions & Procedures, Continuances, Preliminary Hearings, Time Limitations, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Juries & Jurors, Assembling the Jury Pool, Jurisdiction & Venue, Venue, Criminal Offenses, Homicide, Manslaughter & Murder, Murder, Trials, Burdens of Proof, Prosecution, Right to Jury Trial, Appeals, De Novo Review, Eyewitness Identification, Due Process Protections, Fair Identification Requirement, Independent Reliability, Deferential Review, Defendant's Rights, Right to Fair Trial, Evidence, Statements as Evidence, Hearsay, Rule Components, Exemptions, Statements by Coconspirators, Right to Confrontation, Challenges for Cause, Bias & Impartiality, Capital Cases, Appellate Review, Standards of Review, Preservation for Review, Peremptory Challenges, Proving Discriminatory Use, Appellate Review, Right to Presence at Trial, Procedural Matters, Records on Appeal, Evidence, Admissibility, Conduct Evidence, Prior Acts, Crimes & Wrongs, Reviewability, Preservation for Review, Prosecutorial Misconduct, Reversible Error, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Self-Incrimination Privilege, Relevance, Relevant Evidence, Rulings on Evidence, Exclusion of Relevant Evidence, Confusion, Prejudice & Waste of Time, Jury Deliberations, Ability to Follow Instructions, Exceptions, State of Mind, Illegally Obtained Evidence, Eavesdropping, Interception & Wiretapping, Exceptions, Scope, Curative Admissibility, Jury Instructions, Jury Instructions, Particular Instructions, Reasonable Doubt, Use of Particular Evidence, Obstruction of Administration of Justice, Evidence Tampering, Elements, Types of Evidence, Circumstantial Evidence, Accessories, Aiding & Abetting, Deadlocked Juries, Jury Deliberations, Lesser Included Offenses, Murder, Capital Murder, Substantial Evidence, Sufficiency of Evidence, Acts & Mental States, Mens Rea, Recklessness, Sentencing, Capital Punishment, First-Degree Murder, Penalties, Abuse of Discretion, Capital Murder, Counsel, Costs & Attorney Fees