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Name: People v. Sanchez
Case #: S088025
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/27/2001
Subsequent History: None

Defendant Sanchez and his codefendant, Gonzalez, were charged with first degree murder in connection with a shooting death. Defendant, a gang member, was a passenger in a car which engaged in a gun battle with a rival gang. In the exchange of bullets, an innocent bystander was killed. The evidence at trial did not establish whether appellant or Gonzalez fired the shot which killed the victim. The jury convicted of first degree murder. The Court of Appeal reversed, holding that there were no theories under which the jury could have found both appellant and Gonzalez guilty of first degree murder, since only one bullet hit and killed the victim. The Supreme Court granted the prosecution’s petition for review and reversed. The Court of Appeal erred when it concluded that concurrent causation cannot be established in a single-fatal-bullet case. The fact that it could not be determined who fired the bullet did not undermine appellant’s conviction under either of the two first degree murder theories advanced against him: premeditation, and murder by means of discharging a firearm with the specific intent to kill. Appellant’s act of engaging in a gun battle and attempting to kill Gonzalez was a concurrent, and therefore proximate, cause of the victim’s death through operation of the of the doctrine of transferred intent. Sufficient evidence supported the verdict under either theory, and the record does not suggest that the jury relied on any improper theory in order to convict.