California Supreme Court Reverses Murder Conviction, Calls for New Sentencing Under Amended State Rules

Via Collections – GetArchive
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By Ximena Cesa

LOS ANGELES, CA – Andres Quinonez Reyes was originally convicted in trial of second degree murder following a homicide committed by a fellow member of his respective gang, but the California Supreme Court has reversed the trial court conviction.

According to the opinion of the court, written by Liu J,  the original conviction was made under the natural and probable consequences theory in place at the time that an accused could be found guilty if the jury decided that they intended to aid and abet the perpetrator.

Taking into account the accused’s age, role in both the murder and assault, along with the newly installed Senate Bill, the Supreme Court of California decided to reverse and remand the case.

The Supreme Court held the trial court “erred in sustaining the defendant’s second-degree murder conviction, and to the extent the petition was rejected under a direct aiding and abetting theory.”

This decision comes from the revelation that the trial court misunderstood the legal requirements when determining the “direct aiding and abetting [implied in] a malice murder.”

Court records state Reyes, who was 15 when the crime was committed, was a member of a gang in Southern California, when one of the older members decided to shoot a driver in the back of the head as he tried to escape the attempted assault in their car.

Within 40 minutes of this interaction, Reyes was handed the gun and encountered an individual walking on the streets. The group eventually assaulted this victim but did not kill him.

After Reyes was arrested for these incidents he stated, according to court records, that “I didn’t shoot, but because I was there with my homies, I’m going to get charged with murder, too.”  Reyes was then charged with second degree murder under the pretense that he was at the crime scene and may have intended to aid the person who physically carried out the crime.

Reyes was found to be present at the scene but evidence showed that he was not the shooter.

Despite this revelation, under the natural and probable clause, the consequences of the defendant could still be a second degree murder charge.

One of the main pieces of evidence provided that allegedly proved that Reyes was allegedly going to help the shooter was testimony provided by David Rondou, a Santa Ana police officer. Rondou testified that “[gang members are] there for backup.”

According to the Supreme Court of California document, there was no evidence that Reyes had expressly agreed to serve as backup while Lopez committed the murder. The prosecutor, however, argued the jury could “infer from the surrounding facts” that Reyes was acting as backup.

As the original trial concluded, Reyes was convicted of second-degree murder and street terrorism with enhancements, leading to a 40-year prison sentence.

Posse Solutions, a parole board preparation organization, stated two years after the accused was sentenced, the legislature enacted Senate Bill No. 1437, which amends section 188 stating that, except in cases of felony murder, “in order to be convicted of murder, a principal in a crime shall act with malice aforethought.”

After this change, Reyes petitioned the trial court for resentencing, arguing he was convicted of murder under the now-invalid natural and probable consequences theory. The court denied the petition for resentencing, upholding Reyes’ sentence, until the State Supreme court stepped in.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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