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Name: In re Sakarias
Case #: S102401
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 03/03/2005
Summary

Sakarias and Waidla were each convicted of first degree murder with special circumstances and sentenced to death for the same murder. The Supreme Court issued orders to show cause in response to their petitions for writs of habeas corpus, on claims that the prosecutor, in each trial had presented factual theories inconsistent with those presented in the codefendant’s trial. Both petitioners participated in the attack on the victim, but the prosecutor inconsistently portrayed their respective roles in the attack, attributing to each the same three blows to the victim’s head. Petitioners claim the inconsistency deprived them of due process. The Supreme Court here agreed with Sakarias that the prosecutor violated his due process rights by arguing inconsistent and irreconcilable factual theories in the two trials, attributing to each petitioner acts which could have been committed only by one person. The violation prejudiced Sakarias, but was harmless as to Waidla. Further, the Court held that Miranda claims are cognizable on habeas corpus, but that such a claim is subject to denial on procedural grounds where it it rests on facts in the appellate record, was already raised and rejected, or could have been raised on direct appeal, but was not.