There's little doubt that Cal State Fullerton campus policeman John Brockie twice botched evidence from a photographic lineup in a case that convicted John Earl Guidry, a student, of stealing two textbooks from a school bookstore.
Brockie asked a witness to identify the thief who'd worn a red shirt during the heist. But instead of using Guidry's booking photo in which he wore a black shirt, the cop used the student's DMV picture, one in which he wore a red shirt.
When that witness still didn't pick Guidry, Brockie seemingly compounded his error by either failing to record or destroying the exculpatory information.
Guidry's defense to the charges?
The cops planted the evidence in his backpack.
Yet, by the end of the trial, a jury found Guidry guilty of second degree commercial burglary in the 2009 petty thefts of chemistry and biochemistry textbooks and then Judge Carla Singer made sure this student had plenty of time to consider his crimes: a whopping eight years and four months in a California prison.
(Apparently, Judge Singer didn't think the college bookstore was committing a crime by charging an insane $461 for the two books.)
Though the bookstore had video evidence of a man wearing an Angel's baseball cap put the books in his backpack and later return to sell the books back, Guidry--who represented himself at trial--appealed his conviction. He complained about the shoddy police work. He also argued that the 100-month prison sentence in this matter is "cruel and unusual punishment."
This week a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered Guidry's complaints and essentially ruled "so what" to the shoddy police work, noting that the trial judge deemed it accidental.
The three-justice appellate panel mocked Guidry's cops-did-defense and also determined that Judge Singer's punishment was appropriate given that Guidry has twice before serve prison sentences for vehicle theft and burglary.
"Guidry's recidivism demonstrates a persistent inability to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law," observed Justice Richard M. Aronson. Therefore, he determined, a stiff punishment based "on his extensive criminal record" is not "extreme."
R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly