COURT WATCH: Judge Resentences and Releases Accused after 30 Years in Prison

By Vivian Nguyen

ALAMEDA, CA — After serving 30 years in prison, a man convicted of aiding and abetting murder was resentenced here this week and now is on track for release.

During resentencing in Alameda County Superior Court, Judge Thomas Stevens provided additional comments recognizing the value of legislative changes to California resentencing processes in the past several years.

As part of a victim representative testimony, the victim’s mother-in-law described the profound impact losing her daughter-in-law has had on her family.

Yet, she also recognized “(the accused’s) family had to have hurt for losing him for all these years.”

She added, she “comes from a line of work that believes in second chances,” working with previously incarcerated individuals to obtain jobs in construction. Likewise, she hopes for the accused’s successful re-entry “so that [her daughter-in-law’s] death wasn’t in vain.” Ultimately, she concludes, “I want him to understand that I forgive him.”

Concurring with the petition for resentencing, Deputy District Attorney Dana Drusinsky added the accused’s codefendant, who was “more culpable” but also not the killer, had already been resentenced and released.

DDA Drusinsky added that “the killer was never prosecuted, sadly.”

Judge Stevens stated the “most compelling” justification for resentencing was that in the 30 years the accused had served, he had no rule violations, indicating that he would be unlikely to violate laws post re-entry.

Judge Stevens emphasized that “it is called the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” and in cases where individuals clearly no longer pose a threat to society, “we’re not accomplishing anything by warehousing people forever.”

He sees recent changes in California legislation on resentencing as valuable for providing recourse for rehabilitated individuals.

A statement from the Office of the State Public Defender explains these changes: “Under the old law, a person could be convicted of attempted murder even though he did not intend to kill but only intended to help the attempted murderer commit another crime.”

This is because of “the natural and probable consequences doctrine,” by which aiders and abettors could be “convicted of the attempted murder because the other crime he intended to aid and abet could lead to the attempted murder.”

The same statement elaborates that following the passage of Senate Bill 775 in 2018, “aiders and abettors who never had intent to kill but were convicted of attempted murder because of the natural and probable consequences doctrine” eligible for resentencing under PC section 1172.6.

Ultimately, pursuant to Penal Code § 1172.6, Judge Stevens resentenced the accused to eight years for PC § 207(a) (kidnapping) and vacated the remaining counts, resulting, effectively, in the accused’s release with standard conditions of parole.

About The Author

Vivian is a first year at UC Berkeley exploring the fields of Political Science and Philosophy. She is deeply interested in criminal justice, court proceedings, and public trust in legal systems. Working alongside the Vanguard, she hopes to advance transparency in local court systems and promote criminal justice. In her free time, Vivian loves to read, hangout with her dog, roadtrip, and pick up miscellaneous hobbies.

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