In re Martinez

On a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, as on direct appeal, error under People v. Chiu, 325 P.3D 972 (Cal. 2014), requires reversal unless the reviewing court concludes beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury actually relied on a legally valid theory in convicting the defendant of first degree murder. Petitioner was convicted of first degree murder. The jury was instructed on both a direct aiding and abetting theory and a natural and probable consequences theory. After Petitioner was convicted, the Supreme Court held in Chiu that a natural and probable consequences theory of liability cannot serve as a basis for a first degree murder conviction. Petitioner filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus arguing that he was entitled to have his conviction reduced to second degree murder under Chiu. The court of appeal acknowledged that the jury instruction on natural and probable consequences was error under Chiu but affirmed the first degree murder conviction on the ground that it was supported by sufficient evidence. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded with directions to grant Petitioner habeas corpus relief, holding that the Chiu error in this case was prejudicial. View "In re Martinez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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