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Name: People v. Rusconi
Case #: D065478
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/28/2015

Defendant’s commission of a single act which led to two convictions of vehicular manslaughter (former Pen. Code, § 192, subd. (c)(3)) results in two strike priors because there were two victims. In 1986, Rusconi pled guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter. The convictions grew out of a single drunk driving offense in which Rusconi hit and killed two bicyclists with her car. A subsequent conviction for driving while intoxicated resulted in Rusconi receiving a 25-years-to-life Three Strikes sentence. After she was found ineligible for Proposition 36 resentencing, she appealed, claiming her single act which resulted in two vehicular manslaughter convictions could not be counted as two strikes. Held: Affirmed. In People v. Vargas (2014) 59 Cal.4th 635, the Supreme Court held that where a defendant’s single act committed against a single victim results in multiple serious felony convictions, only one of those convictions may be used as a strike in a later prosecution. Vargas does not assist Rusconi, however, because her single criminal act resulted not only in multiple offenses, but also involved violent injury to multiple victims, circumstances to which the holding in Vargas does not extend. An offender who injures more than one victim is more culpable than an offender who injures only one victim. [Editor’s Note: The court suggested that, in qualified cases, Vargas may have the retroactive effect of rendering certain Three Strike sentences illegal and subject to correction, but it did not decide the issue.]