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Name: People v. Cunningham (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 678
Case #: B323640
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 04/23/2024

Provocative act murder remains a viable theory of culpability under Penal Code section 188, subdivision (a)(3). Cunningham, who was convicted of provocative act murder, unsuccessfully sought resentencing under section 1172.6. He argued that provocative murder is based upon the imputation of malice and is no longer a valid theory of murder liability. Held: Affirmed. The Legislature’s failure to mention “provocative murder” when revising section 188 reflects that it did not intend to invalidate this theory. Notwithstanding the prosecutor’s argument that Cunningham “started the ball rolling,” the jury was only instructed on the elements of “provocative murder.” This remains a valid…

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Name: People v. Lezama (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 583
Case #: G062075
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/22/2024

Individuals who pled guilty to manslaughter after statutory amendments that eliminated imputed malice theories of murder liability are not eligible for resentencing under Penal Code section 1172.6. Defendant was originally charged with murder in 2017 and entered a plea to voluntary manslaughter in mid-2019. His section 1172.6 petition for resentencing was denied at the prima facie stage because the court found defendant had pled guilty to manslaughter after theories of imputed malice were eliminated by SB 1437. He appealed. Held: Affirmed. Under section 1172.6, as amended by SB 775, a person convicted of manslaughter is eligible for resentencing if, among other criteria,…

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Name: People v. Estrada (2024) 101 Cal.App.5th 328
Case #: B324576
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 04/09/2024

Trial court erred in denying Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage where relying on the preliminary hearing transcripts to deny relief required the court to engage in impermissible factfinding. At a preliminary hearing in 2017, a detective testified that Estrada admitted he stabbed victim 1 “two or three times” and that he kicked victim 2 in the face and stomped on his head. Beyond Estrada, there was also evidence of two people with blood on their clothes, one of whom carried a box cutter.  Estrada pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and attempted murder, and admitted…

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Name: People v. Beaudreaux (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 1227
Case #: A166001
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 03/28/2024

Trial court erred when it denied second Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage without appointing counsel, but the error was harmless because the record established petitioner was the actual killer. After the California Supreme Court’s decision in People v. Lewis (2021) 11 Cal.5th 952 and the enactment of Senate Bill No. 775, Beaudreaux filed a second section 1172.6 petition for resentencing for his first degree murder conviction that was based on a felony murder theory. The trial court denied the petition at the prima facie stage without appointing counsel and Beaudreaux appealed. Held: Affirmed. The Court…

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Name: People v. McClelland (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 1109
Case #: D081369
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/27/2024

Defendant’s due process rights were not violated where he was present at a “status hearing” that functioned as an evidentiary hearing under Penal Code section 1172.6(d)(3). Defendant pled guilty to second degree murder in 1994. In 2019, he filed a (now former) section 1170.95 petition and the trial court issued an order to show cause and scheduled an evidentiary hearing. After the submission of briefing, the parties appeared at a “status hearing” in September at which defendant was present. The prosecution submitted exhibits without objection from defendant or his counsel. Defendant’s counsel then consented to the court issuing a written order…

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Name: People v. Hill (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 1055
Case #: B322561
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/25/2024

The application of a kidnapping-felony-murder theory to defendants’ Penal Code section 1172.6 petitions did not violate ex post facto principles. In 1990, defendants Hill and Jenkins were involved in a kidnapping and robbery, in which Hill shot at one victim and another victim was killed. Hill and Jenkins were each convicted of first degree murder and attempted premediated murder. In 2019, defendants each filed a petition for resentencing pursuant to section 1172.6. After evidentiary hearings, the superior courts found each guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the convictions, and denied relief. Defendants appealed. Held: Affirmed. At the time of the kidnappings…

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Name: People v. Morris (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 1016
Case #: G061916
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/22/2024

A person who, with an intent to kill, directly commits or aids and abets an enumerated felony in which a death occurs commits the actus reus necessary for felony murder under the amended felony-murder statute (Pen. Code, § 189(e)).  In 1987, during a robbery committed by two men, one victim was killed and another victim was raped. At defendant’s 2013 trial, the jury was instructed on premeditated and deliberate murder, the former felony-murder rule, and aiding and abetting a felony murder. Defendant was convicted of first degree murder, with three special circumstances findings, each of which required an intent to…

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Name: Gomez v. Superior Court (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 778
Case #: G062526
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/15/2024

Petitioner’s Penal Code section 1172.6 proceeding was a continuation of his plea hearing and thus his peremptory challenge of the prior judge was untimely. Gomez pled to one count of attempted murder and two enhancements and was sentenced to 11 years. He later filed a section 1172.6 petition and sought to disqualify the judge (the same judge who originally sentenced him) by way of a Code of Civil Procedure section 170.6 motion, which was denied. Gomez filed a petition for writ of mandate. Held: Petition denied. Whether a petitioner may file a section 170.6 peremptory challenge turns on whether the…

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Name: People v. Hollywood (2024) 100 Cal.App.5th 66 — Depublished
Case #: B323018
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 02/28/2024
Subsequent History: Review denied and depublished 5/15/2024 (S284451)

Trial court properly denied Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage because the record showed petitioner aided and abetted a kidnapping with intent to kill. Hollywood was convicted of first degree murder and kidnapping, and the jury found true a special circumstance allegation that the murder occurred during the commission of a kidnapping and with intent to kill. He later filed a section 1172.6 petition for resentencing, which was denied at the prima facie stage. On appeal, Hollywood argued that the record of conviction did not establish the actus reus requirement in section 189(e)(2)—that he aided and…

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Name: People v. Lopez (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 1242
Case #: F086179
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/27/2024

Senate Bill No. 1437 did not abrogate the doctrine of transferred intent and it may still be used to establish an accomplice’s liability for murder. In 1995, Lopez assisted his codefendant in ambushing and shooting at a rival who was in a van, and an unintended victim was killed. Lopez was convicted of first degree murder for the death of the unintended victim. In 2021, Lopez filed a petition for resentencing pursuant to Penal Code section 1172.6. After a (d)(3) hearing, the trial court denied the petition, finding Lopez aided and abetted the shooting and impliedly finding an intent to…

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