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Name: People v. Reyes (2023) 14 Cal.5th 981
Case #: S270723
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 06/29/2023

Opinion by: Justice Liu (unanimous decision)

Trial court’s conclusion that Penal Code section 1170.95 (now 1172.6) petitioner’s second degree murder conviction was sustainable on a direct perpetrator theory was not supported by substantial evidence. After traveling with fellow gang members on bikes to rival gang territory, Reyes was present when Lopez shot and killed a person. Reyes was convicted of second degree murder with gang and firearm enhancements. He later filed a petition for resentencing under section 1172.6, arguing that he was convicted of murder under the now-invalid natural and probable consequences theory. After a (d)(3) hearing, the trial court denied…

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Name: In re Ramirez
Case #: F075897
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/20/2019

Felony murder special circumstance finding vacated where evidence failed to show defendant was a major participant in the murder committed while he was an accomplice to an attempted commission of robbery. In February 1997, Ramirez was convicted of murder committed while he was an accomplice in an attempted robbery. A robbery-murder special circumstance was found true, and he was sentenced LWOP. His conviction was affirmed on direct appeal. After the California Supreme Court decided People v. Banks (2015) 61 Cal.4th 788, Ramirez filed a writ petition challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the special circumstance finding. Held: Petition…

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Name: In re Loza
Case #: G054978
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 09/28/2018

Premeditated murder conviction reversed where record did not reflect whether the verdict was based on a theory of direct aiding and abetting or a natural and probable consequences theory, which was invalidated in People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155. In 2004, Cesar Loza handed a gun to a fellow gang member, who shot and killed a rival gang member. Loza was convicted of first degree premeditated murder. On appeal, he argued the instructions allowed the jury to convict him on an invalid theory of natural and probable consequences rather than a direct aider and abettor theory. Held: Reversed. An…

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Name: People v. Fleming
Case #: B281816
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/27/2018

Murder conviction reversed where trial court's erroneous response to a jury question allowed the jury to convict defendant of murder for conduct that constituted no more than accessory after the fact. Defendant was convicted of second degree murder. On appeal he argued the trial court's erroneous response to a jury question about the duration of the "commission of the offense" misdirected the jury on the law, allowing it to convict on an invalid theory. Held: Reversed. If a defendant's liability for an offense is predicated upon the theory that he aided and abetted the perpetrator, the defendant's intent to encourage…

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Name: In re Brigham
Case #: A144572
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/14/2016

Defendant's premeditated murder conviction reversed where it cannot be determined from the trial court record whether the jury relied on a legally authorized ground rather than the improper theory of natural and probable consequences. Defendant and a confederate, Bluitt, sought out "Chuckie" to kill him, but ended up killing another person, a 14-year-old boy. Defendant claimed he warned his accomplice prior to the crime that the person killed was not Chuckie. In 1987 defendant was convicted of first degree murder for the killing. The jury found personal use of a gun and personal infliction of great bodily injury enhancements not…

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Name: People v. Brown
Case #: G049867
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/04/2016

Reversal was required for error under People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155 because Court of Appeal could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that jury rejected natural and probable consequences doctrine as basis for first degree murder conviction. Brown was charged with first degree murder in connection with a gang fight that turned into a fatal shooting. The jury was instructed on three first degree murder theories: (1) Brown was the actual killer, (2) he aided and abetted the actual killer with the intent to kill, and (3) he aided and abetted fighting and a first degree murder was…

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Name: People v. Vasquez
Case #: C078671
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/11/2016

People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155 is not applicable where first degree premeditated murder conviction under an aider and abettor theory may have been based on the transferred intent doctrine, but not on the natural and probable consequences doctrine. Bryant and Vasquez were tried together in front of separate juries for the first degree murder of Horton and the attempted murder of Duncan. Vasquez, who was the shooter, was found guilty of second degree murder and attempted voluntary manslaughter; gang enhancements were found not true. Bryant, who was the getaway driver, was found guilty as an aider and abettor…

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Name: In re Johnson
Case #: A145625
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 04/19/2016

Habeas relief warranted because People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155, error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt under the Chapman test for prejudice. Johnson and other gang members beat a rival to death. Johnson was charged with first degree murder. The prosecutor asserted numerous theories in support of that charge, including direct perpetrator liability and aiding and abetting an assault where the natural and probable consequence of the assault was murder. The jury convicted Johnson of first degree murder. After the California Supreme Court decided People v. Chiu, Johnson filed a habeas petition arguing that it required reversal…

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Name: In re Lopez
Case #: G051238
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/06/2016

Defendant's first degree murder conviction based on the natural and probable consequences doctrine must be vacated in light of People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155. In 2008, Lopez was convicted of first degree murder based on his involvement in a gang-related shooting. He was not the shooter. At trial, the prosecution presented three different theories of liability for first degree murder: (1) Lopez directly aided and abetted the murder, (2) Lopez aided and abetted the target crime of disturbing the peace and the subsequent murder was a natural and probable consequence of disturbing the peace, and (3) Lopez conspired…

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Name: People v. Medina
Case #: C069965
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/17/2016

Robbery aider and abettors, who did not intend for the robbery victim to be killed, were properly convicted of special circumstance murder. Morton, Medina, and Whitehead attempted to rob a drug dealer. During the attempted robbery, Morton shot and killed the drug dealer. Among other offenses, the three were convicted of special circumstance murder with attempted robbery as the special circumstance and sentenced to LWOP. Medina and Whitehead appealed, arguing there was insufficient evidence to prove the special circumstance. The California Supreme Court granted review and remanded for reconsideration in light of People v. Banks (2015) 61 Cal.4th 788. Held:…

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