Prosecution proved the requisite connection between gang subsets under Prunty with evidence that every Hispanic gang member incarcerated South of Delano belongs to the Southside gang. Miranda, Vega, and Rangel, were inmates at a Los Angeles County jail (NCCF) and each were purported members of the Southside gang. They beat and sliced another inmate with razor blades because he refused to assault another inmate at their behest. The jury convicted them of assault, in addition to other charges, and found true gang and other enhancements. On appeal, they challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the gang enhancements on numerous grounds, including that under People v. Prunty (2015) 62 Cal.4th 59, 82, the prosecution failed to prove the requisite connection between the gang subsets they belonged to and the gang subsets that committed the requisite predicate acts. Held: Affirmed. In Prunty, the California Supreme Court held that “it is axiomatic that those who commit the predicate acts must belong to the same gang that the defendant acts to benefit” and where “the prosecution’s case positing the existence of a single criminal street gang for purposes of section 186.22(f) turns on the existence and conduct of one or more gang subsets, then the prosecution must show some associational or organizational connection uniting those subsets.” Here, the prosecution admitted evidence that the defendants belonged to different subsets outside jail, but that they were all members of the Southside gang once they entered jail. The prosecution admitted expert testimony that every Hispanic gang member South of Delano is a member of the Southside gang when incarcerated, all answer to the same Mexican Mafia shot-caller, and that other Southside members (who belonged to different subsets on the outside) had been convicted of assault and murder. “The evidence here shows that this is one of ‘[t]he most straightforward cases’ of an associational or organizational connection. [Citation.] The Southern California Hispanic gang subsets at NCCF were ‘controlled by the same locus or hub.'” (Quoting People v. Prunty, supra, 62 Cal.4th 59, 77.) The Court of Appeal rejected the defendants’ other challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the gang enhancement.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B257245.PDF