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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. 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: 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. Underwood (2024) 99 Cal.App.5th 303
Case #: A162356
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 01/30/2024

Substantial evidence did not support trial court’s finding that petitioner acted with intent to kill or reckless indifference to human life where petitioner was present at the scene of a mugging but there was no evidence he knew his co-participant was armed or would use deadly force. Underwood was convicted of felony murder based on his participation in a robbery. He later sought resentencing under Penal Code section 1172.6. The trial court denied the petition after a (d)(3) hearing, finding that Underwood both directly aided and abetted the murder and that he was a major participant in the robbery who…

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Name: People v. Garcia (2023) 93 Cal.App.5th 416
Case #: B317896
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 07/11/2023

Although petitioner’s jury rejected a robbery-murder special circumstance, he was not entitled to the streamlined process of resentencing provided in Penal Code section 1172.6(d)(2) because he could be convicted under another valid theory of murder liability. In 1995, Garcia accompanied gang members to a store and a victim was shot and killed. During the confrontation, Garcia disconnected the telephone and said “kill him, kill him.” Garcia was convicted of second degree murder. The jury rejected a special circumstance allegation that the murder occurred during the course of a robbery. In 2019, Garcia filed a petition for resentencing under section 1170.95…

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Name: People v. Madrigal (2023) 93 Cal.App.5th 219
Case #: H046577
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 07/06/2023

Retroactive application of Senate Bill No. 1437 entitled defendant to reversal of first degree murder conviction, where the jury was not instructed on the new elements of felony-murder. Madrigal was among a group of four or five men who got out of a van and attacked and robbed a man on a sidewalk. One of the attackers stabbed the victim, who died soon after. The court instructed the jury on three theories of first degree murder, including felony murder in the commission of a robbery. The prosecutor conceded in closing there was no reliable evidence of who stabbed the victim.…

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Name: People v. Cody (2023) 92 Cal.App.5th 87
Case #: G060218
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 05/11/2023
Subsequent History: Ordered published 5/31/2023

ordered published 5/31/2023

The trial court properly relied on trial transcripts at the Penal Code section 1172.6 evidentiary hearing. In 2012, a jury found Cody and a codefendant guilty of murder during a home invasion burglary/robbery and found true a felony-murder special-circumstance allegation. In 2016, a federal court found the trial court erred by failing to give the accomplice felony-murder special-circumstance jury instruction and that the error was prejudicial. The prosecutor elected not to retry the felony-murder special-circumstance allegation, and appellant was resentenced from LWOP to 25 years to life. Cody filed a section 1172.6 petition. After a (d)(3) hearing where…

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Name: People v. Montanez (2023) 91 Cal.App.5th 245
Case #: D079296
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/08/2023

Trial court did not err in denying Penal Code section 1170.95 (now 1172.6) petition where there was substantial evidence petitioner was a major participant in the underlying felonies who acted with reckless indifference to human life. In 2018, Montanez petitioned to vacate his felony murder conviction pursuant to section 1172.6. The trial court denied the petition after a (d)(3) hearing, finding that Montanez was a major participant in the underlying robbery and sex crimes who acted with reckless indifference to human life. He appealed. Held: Affirmed. After analyzing relevant case law, the Court of Appeal applied the Banks/Clark factors and…

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Name: People v. Arreguin (2023) 89 Cal.App.5th 58
Case #: B304838
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 03/09/2023

People v. Strong (2022) 13 Cal.5th 698, does not permit a harmless error analysis when the trial court relied upon the felony-murder special circumstance to deny a Penal Code section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage. In 1993, appellant was convicted of murder with a felony-murder special circumstance. In 2019, the trial court denied appellant’s section 1172.6 petition at the prima facie stage, finding he was a major participant who acted with reckless indifference. Held: Reversed. Strong concluded that a felony-murder special circumstance finding by a jury before Banks and Clark does not preclude a defendant from making a…

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Name: People v. Lopez (2023) 88 Cal.App.5th 566
Case #: E078211
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 02/23/2023

Under the felony-murder law as amended by SB 1437, if a person acts with the intent to kill, the person need only aid and abet the qualifying felony, not the act causing murder, in order to be guilty of first degree murder. In 1992, Lopez participated in a robbery in a McDonald’s drive-through in which the victim was shot and killed. The jury convicted Lopez of the robbery and murder, and found true a prior-murder special circumstance under Penal Code section 190.2(a)(2). In 2019, Lopez filed a section 1172.6 petition seeking resentencing. The trial court summarily denied the petition, concluding…

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