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Name: People v. Plengsangtip
Case #: E039985
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/19/2007

Where physical evidence and testimony supported the conclusion that appellant’s friend had murdered the victim, appellant’s statements denying the friend’s involvement supported a finding that he was an accessory after the fact. Appellant was held to answer on a charge of being an accessory after the fact to a murder committed by Kim Mektrakarn, but the superior court granted his 995 motion. The prosecutor appealed, contending that the court misapplied the law concerning accessories and failed to defer to the magistrate’s factual findings at the preliminary hearing. The evidence showed that appellant arrived before the murder and left his car in the parking lot. He then went with Kim in a minivan which Kim had rented that was later found smelling of bleach in a Las Vegas parking lot. Appellant told police he was with Kim at the place where the murder occurred around the time of the murder, but never saw the victim and noticed nothing unusual. The appellate court reversed the order granting the dismissal of the charges. The testimony and physical evidence supported the finding that appellant was with the murderer and the victim when the murder took place, and it was inconceivable that appellant was unaware of the assault on the victim. This undermined his assertion that he saw nothing unusual, and appellant made the false statements knowing that Kim had murdered the victim. The magistrate could reasonably conclude that he made affirmative false statements in order to shield his friend from prosecution. This was sufficient to support the accessory charge, because appellant presented “affirmative falsehoods” to authorities in order to aid the principal he knew to be responsible. The trial court interpreted the scope of an “affirmatively false statement” too narrowly.