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Name: People v. Ayala
Case #: A122412
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 02/11/2010

There was sufficient evidence to support appellant’s murder conviction based on the natural and probable consequences doctrine. Appellant, a Sureño gang member, drove with fellow gang members into Norteño neighborhood to assault a rival gang member. When the rival gang member was spotted, one of appellant’s passengers got out of the car and fatally shot him. Appellant admitted driving the car, and also admitted planning to beat someone up. He said he knew there was a baseball bat in the car, but denied knowing anyone had a gun. A jury convicted appellant of second degree murder based on the natural and probable consequences doctrine. On appeal, appellant challenged the sufficiency of evidence to support the conviction under this theory. He argued there was no evidence from which the jury could reasonably conclude that a fistfight, or even an assault with a bat, would result in a deadly shooting. The court rejected the argument. A number of cases have found shootings to be a foreseeable consequence of gang confrontations. (See e.g., People v. Medina (2009) 46 Cal.4th 913.) Here, appellant and five of his cohorts planned a physical attack against a rival gang member. The jurors could reasonably conclude that under the circumstances, escalation of the assault could result in a death, even if they believed appellant’s self-serving statement that he was not aware of the presence of a gun.