charges had been severed. (People v. Pinholster, supra, at pp. 931 932.)
Applying the same standard here, we conclude the denial of the request for bifurcation was harmless. Contrary to Fuentes’s assertion, evidence of guilt on the charge of robbery was strong. Rodriguez consistently identified Hernandez and Fuentes as her assailants, and each was apprehended under circumstances suggesting consciousness of guilt. In their opening statements, defense counsel conceded the jury likely would conclude some offense had been committed with respect to the taking of the necklace. Counsel for Hernandez argued the offense was merely theft and counsel for Fuentes sought to limit liability for the offense to Hernandez.
However, these arguments were untenable in light of Rodriguez’s trial testimony that Fuentes and Hernandez robbed her at knifepoint. Although Stepanyan’s testimony differed somewhat from Rodriguez’s, Rodriguez, the victim of the robbery, was in the best position to relate the details of the incident, and Stepanyan corroborated the vast majority of her testimony. Thus, the evidence strongly supported the conclusion the offense committed by Hernandez and Fuentes was robbery.
The possibility the gang enhancement evidence would prejudicially “spill-over” and affect the jury’s consideration of the attempted carjacking count was eliminated when the trial court dismissed that count in the interests of justice.
Further, all of the predicate offenses introduced to show that appellants’ gang met the statutory definition of a criminal street gang involved driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent, an offense which is considerably less inflammatory than the charged offense of robbery or the dismissed offense of attempted carjacking. Moreover, individuals other than Hernandez or Fuentes committed each of the predicate offenses. Thus, there was little risk of undue prejudice to Hernandez or Fuentes from proof of these predicate offenses. Additionally, there was nothing particularly inflammatory about the appellants’ gang monikers, Smiley and Looney.
This leaves the question of the prejudice that flowed from Detective Goetz’s expert gang testimony that Hernandez and Fuentes were gang members and, as such,