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Name: People v. Argeta
Case #: B229135
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 11/13/2012

Minimum sentence of 100 years was cruel and unusual punishment where defendant was a 15-year-old minor who aided and abetted a murder. Appellants Hernandez and Argeta appealed from a jury verdict convicting them of murder and attempted murder. The appellate court vacated submission and received further briefing in light of the California Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Caballero (2012) 55 Cal.4th 262 and the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Miller v. Alabama (2012) __ U.S. __. In their supplemental briefing, appellants argued that their sentences constituted cruel and/or unusual punishment under the state and federal constitutions. The appellate court agreed as to Hernandez and reversed for resentencing. The trial court imposed a minimum aggregate sentence of 100 years on Hernandez, who was 15 years old at the time of the offense and was convicted of aiding and abetting Argeta. Respondent conceded that the sentence was the functional equivalent of a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Based on these circumstances, resentencing was required in a manner consistent with the decisions in Miller and Caballero. The court rejected Argeta’s challenge because he was over 18 at the time of the crime. Society has drawn a line and making an exception for a defendant who committed a crime just 5 months after his 18th birthday would open the door to arguments by other slightly older defendants that would have no logical end.