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Name: People v. Schaefer
Case #: B166733
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 05/17/2004
Subsequent History: Rev. den. 9/15/04

The trial court did not err in refusing to submit to the jury the question of whether operating a drug lab was an inherently dangerous felony. In appealing his conviction for second degree murder after his accomplice died from burns following the explosion of a methamphetamine lab, defendant urged the court to reconsider the holding of People v. James (1998) 62 Cal.App.4th 244, which held that manufacturing methamphetamine was an inherently dangerous felony as a matter of law, in light of Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) 530 U.S. 466, which required that certain sentencing issues be submitted to the jury. The appellate court declined to reconsider James, finding nothing in Apprendi to require reconsideration of the long-standing rule that the issue of whether a crime is an inherently dangerous felony for purposes of second-degree felony murder is a question of law. Next, the Court of Appeal held that the holding in People v. Billa (2003) 31 Cal.4th 1064, decided during the pendency of this appeal, applied to manufacturing methamphetamine as well as to arson. In Billa, the California Supreme Court held that an arsonist was properly convicted of murder where an accomplice died accidentally during the commission of the offense.