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Name: People v. Bodely (2023) 95 Cal.App.5th 1193
Case #: H050142
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/11/2023
Subsequent History: Ordered published 9/26/2023

Denial of Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage was proper where petitioner was convicted under the felony murder rule and the record conclusively established that he was the actual killer. In 1993, Bodely grabbed $75 out of a supermarket cash register and fled in his vehicle. The victim tried to stop him by putting his arm in the vehicle window, but Bodely turned the vehicle sharply, hitting the victim and causing the victim to fall and hit his head, resulting in the victim’s death. Bodely was convicted of murder under the felony murder theory and the jury found true an allegation that he personally used a deadly and dangerous weapon (an automobile) in the commission of the murder. In 2022, he filed a petition under former section 1170.95 (now 1172.6). The trial court denied the petition at the prima facie stage, finding that Bodely was the actual killer. He appealed. Held: Affirmed. The record of conviction conclusively established that Bodely was the actual killer, and not entitled to relief. The record contained no indication that any other people were responsible for the victim’s death or that any other intervening causes contributed to the victim’s death. The jury instructions, evidence at trial, and arguments at trial contained no reference to an accomplice. Assuming that the “actual killer” is the person who “personally” killed the victim, as opposed to someone who merely commits an act that is a proximate cause of the victim’s death (People v. Vang (2022) 82 Cal.App.5th 64), the record showed defendant personally killed the victim. The record contains no indication that the victim played any role in contributing to his own demise. Finally, even if the jury instruction on causation in this case presented a view of causation inconsistent with current murder law, the record conclusively establishes that defendant did more than merely set in motion events that produced the victim’s death.