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Name: People v. Reyes
Case #: B186285
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 07/28/2008
Summary

A co-defendant’s plea agreement requiring him to testify fully and truthfully at appellant’s proceedings, in exchange for the promised benefit, does not deny appellant a fair trial. At the beginning of the third murder trial involving appellant and the co-defendant, following two previous trials where the jury could not reach a verdict, appellant’s co-defendant entered into an agreement with the prosecution whereby he pled guilty to second degree murder and agreed to testify truthfully about the victim’s death. The co-defendant had been interviewed three times by detectives prior to this trial and although he had identified appellant as the responsible for the murder in the second and third interview, the two interviews contained either misstatements or understatements of the facts. His plea bargain provided that if he testified truthfully, he would be allowed to withdraw his plea and enter a plea to manslaughter for which he would receive a six-year sentence. If it was determined that he had been untruthful in his most recent interview with the police, however, he would not be allowed to withdraw his plea and would be sentenced on the second degree murder plea. The appellate court rejected appellant’s claim that because the co-defendant’s bargain required him to testify in a particular fashion, the testimony was tainted and its admission denied appellant a fair trial. As viewed by the appellate court, the interview provision in the plea bargain was a separate condition of the bargain that he had answered truthfully in the final interview, and a requirement that he testify in accord with the final interview did not qualify or restrict his agreement to testify truthfully. (People v. Garrison (1989) 47 Cal.3d 746, 771.)
Restriction of pretrial conduct credits, pursuant to Penal Code section 2933.2, does not apply to an offense that occurred prior to the effective date of the statute. The murder in the instant case occurred on October 5, 1996. Penal Code section 2933.2, which deprives murder defendants of presentence conduct credits, was not effective until June 3, 1998. Therefore, the trial court improperly denied appellant conduct credits in the amount of 15% of his presentence custody time.