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Name: People v. Samaniego, et al.
Case #: B205512
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 04/06/2009
Summary

CALCRIM 400 (aider and abettor liability) which directs that a person is equally guilty of the crime committed by the perpetrator may require modification in the situation where the evidence shows that the aider and abettor has a different mens rea than the perpetrator, such that he is guilty of a lesser or greater crime.
CALCRIM 1403, allowing the jury to consider gang membership for motive and witness credibility, is proper.
Admission of third party culpability evidence is dependent on whether there is direct or circumstantial evidence linking the third person to the actual perpetrator of the crime and the criteria of Evidence Code section 352.
Accomplice testimony must be corroborated to sustain a conviction; gang membership may have a significant factor in corroborating an accomplice’s testimony. Appellants were convicted of two murders in which the prosecution relied heavily on gang culture and membership to establish guilt. Analyzing various jury instructions and evidence admissibility as they related to evidence dealing with the gang subculture, the court affirmed the convictions of guilt, although it did order minor corrections in the abstract and struck the suspended parole fines in view of the life without parole sentences.