Man Fighting to See Murder Conviction Vacated Delayed Again in Decade-Spanning Case

By Alexander Ramirez 

WOODLAND, CA – Kyle Marques Johnson was back in Yolo County Superior Court, Dept. 8 late last week to revisit his decade-spanning court case, and it looks like the case will go on for quite some time—until near end of the calendar year, at least.

Johnson’s case began back in December 1992 and it has only recently gone through multiple petitions for resentencing starting in June of this year, 

Last week’s court found Johnson’s matters scheduled for review and for an update on the status of the petition for resentencing under PC section 1170.95, which allows some people convicted of felony murder to be resentenced after their murder conviction is vacated.

When SB 1437 was approved in the CA legislature, it remade the old “felony murder” rule so someone involved in a lesser crime than murder, who was not part of the planning or actual murder, could not be convicted of murder. 

Thousands of people incarcerated for murder, like Johnson, potentially can file to have their convictions vacated under SB 1437, which took effect in January of 2019 but can be retroactively applied.

In fact, Johnson was in the same court just six weeks ago also regarding the petition of resentencing, but the matter was extended to beyond the 60 days that cases are required to be handled as under California Law.

Even Judge Peter M. Williams wasn’t sure if the matters were just an update for obtaining records and transcripts or to set a briefing schedule, to which Deputy Public Defender Ronald Paul Johnson joked, “A little of both.”

After Deputy District Attorney Melinda Diane Aiello confirmed receiving a file from CA Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation, she affirmed she was ready to respond to Johnson’s petition. 

“This is a situation wherein the court should find no prima facie because there is nothing…because there is nothing to support that there was an NPC instruction or felony murder instruction given.”

The main issue for Aiello is getting her brief on file regarding the validity of the petition. She will receive more time from the court to do so.

However, when questioned as to where this case is in relation to the 60 days, Aiello explained that they have been waiting for a Supreme Court decision for guidance as to how much influence the trial court should have regarding the decision of the petition.

PD Johnson also found no problem with taking more time on this case.

Because both sides agreed, Judge Williams agreed to come back on Oct. 13 for Aiello’s brief and, if PD Johnson were to respond to Aiello’s brief, it would have to be by Oct. 25. 

A hearing for Johnson was scheduled for Nov. 9 at 9 a.m.

About The Author

Koda is an incoming senior at UC Berkeley, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Rhetoric. He is from Ventura, CA.

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