Robbed of your meth, who ya gonna call?
Roy Anthony Miller rented a room at the Pepper Tree Motel in Ontario, Calif. He was using methamphetamine and was waiting for his friend Jeanette Howard, with whom he hoped to have sex.
Miller’s friend Bernadette Maria Osika called and asked if she could come “smoke a bowl” with him. Sure, why not? The more the merrier.
Osika arrived and brought her boyfriend Brandon Villalobos, who promptly told Miller they were going to rob him. In fact, Villalobos and Osika took Miller’s money, cell phone and methamphetamine, and then drove away in his car.
Miller, of course, was reluctant to call the police to report the crime, but he finally did. The next morning, the highway patrol found Miller’s car parked in front of Villalobos’s home in Fontana. Smart. Villalobos was an admitted member of Ontario Varrio Sur, a criminal street gang.
Burglary is the breaking and entering of a dwelling house. First-degree burglary is burglary of an inhabited dwelling house. That’s what distinguishes burglary from robbery, which is a crime against a person.
Villalobos and Osika were charged with first degree burglary, false imprisonment, robbery and unlawfully taking a vehicle. Villalobos and Osika were also charged with criminal street gang enhancements.
Motel A House?
Villalobos and Osika hired smart lawyers. Or, at least lawyers. The lawyers argued the obvious ” a motel room rented for the night is not an inhabited dwelling house. An inhabited dwelling is a place used by the victim as his actual place of abode, to
where he intends to return ” i.e., this is not a first-degree burglary.
The Court of Appeal looked at and disregarded the practical difference between a motel room and a dwelling house, finding burglary “a crime against habitation.” Like a home or hospital room, a motel room provides an expectation of freedom from unwarranted intrusions ” a safe place similar to a home.
Villalobos and Osika were found guilty of all charges, including first degree burglary.
The Court of Appeal had no problem adding the gang enhancement sentencing to Villalobos. Proving he was a member of the Ontario Varrio Sur street gang was not a problem because he had “OVS” tattooed in very large letters on the back of his head. He also had “SS Ontario” tattooed on the back of his neck. Osika and Villalobos were engaged ” all together enough to imply Osika knew Villalobos was an OVS gang member.
Gang enhancement sentencing was upheld for both defendants at 15 years to life.
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Kelley R. Carroll, a certified specialist, handles estate planning and will contests in our office with the help of our firm’s litigation department. I do not handle any, be forewarned.