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Name: People v. Loza
Case #: D057568
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 06/27/2012
Summary

An aider and abettor may be found guilty of a lesser homicide-related offense than that which the actual perpetrator committed. Appellant and her husband were convicted of first degree murder. The jury was instructed that an aider and abettor is equally guilty of the crime the perpetrator committed (CALCRIM No. 400). The jury sent the court a note during deliberations asking if the state of mind of defendant should be considered, and the court referred them to the instruction. The appellate court found error. Extending the holding of People v. McCoy (2001) 25 Cal.4th 1111, that an aider and abettor may be found guilty of greater homicide-related offenses than those the actual perpetrator committed, the court found that an aider and abettor may also be found guilty of a lesser homicide-related offense. Accordingly, defendant’s state of mind could be crucial and the instruction given can be misleading by suggesting that the aider and abettor can only be guilty of the same crime as the direct perpetrator. Counsel for appellant was ineffective for not correcting the trial court and, based on the evidence in the case, there was a reasonable probability that if correctly instructed, the jury might have reached a different verdict.