Skip to content
Name: People v. Guiffreda
Case #: D079834
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 01/03/2023

Petitioner’s murder sentence must be vacated under Penal Code section 1172.6 where substantial evidence did not support a finding that she acted with reckless indifference to human life. In 2003, 19-year-old Guiffreda and codefendants Peace and Oie (Guiffreda’s husband) noted M.B. was walking around a motel with a bank envelope sticking out of his back pocket. The three planned for Guiffreda to get M.B. into a hotel room to have sex, and then Oie and Peace were going to come in, assault M.B., and take the money. After Guiffreda went with M.B. into his room, Oie and Peace stole a heavy flashlight from a truck, went into the room, and beat M.B. M.B. later died at the hospital. Guiffreda pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life. In 2019, she filed a petition for resentencing under section 1172.6. After an order to show cause and an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied the petition. Guiffreda appealed. Held: Reversed and remanded. Under the amended felony-murder rule, a defendant who was not the actual killer and did not act with the intent to kill can only be liable for murder if she was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life. Although there are some felonies as to which one could properly conclude that any major participant necessarily exhibited reckless indifference to the value of human life, such as the manufacture and planting of a live bomb, armed robbery is not among them. Analyzing five factors enumerated in People v. Clark (2016) 63 Cal.4th 522, 618–622, the court concluded that substantial evidence did not support the trial court’s finding that Guiffreda acted with reckless indifference to human life. There was no evidence that Guiffreda knew that a weapon would be used during the robbery, nor that her codefendant was likely to use lethal force.