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Name: People v. Smith
Case #: D060317
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/15/2013
Subsequent History: Review granted 7/17/13: S210898

Aider and abettor liability under the natural and probable consequences doctrine is not limited to confederates. The defendant, a member of the GPC gang, took his little brother to get “jumped out” of YAH, a gang associated with GPC’s rival, PBB. The defendant also brought a fellow gang member, Vincent, and an associate of GPC, Demetrius, to the jump out. During the event, a fight broke out and Vincent and Demetrius were shot and killed. On appeal, the defendant argued that his two second degree murder convictions had to be reversed because as a matter of law a defendant can only be liable for aiding and abetting a confederate, in contrast to a co-participant or co-principal. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument. Cases have used the word person, perpetrator, and co-participant to describe aider and abetter liability under the natural and probable consequences doctrine. As a result, liability under the doctrine is not limited to crimes committed by a confederate. Here, there was overwhelming evidence supporting the jury’s finding that a reasonable person in defendant’s position would have known that the murders of Vincent and Demetrius, allegedly by rival gang members, was a natural and probable consequence of the commission of the crimes of disturbing the peace or assault or battery. Rival gang members were both at the jump out; the defendant brought the victims to the jump out as backup in case things got out of hand; there had already been altercations between the defendant and members of YAH/PBB regarding his little brother; and PBB was known to carry guns and use them against rival gangs, including GPC. The court declined to conclude that the defendant could not be liable as an aider and abetter merely because the victims had accompanied defendant to the jump out or because the murderer was from a rival gang.