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1170.95 Petition Still Alive: "Actual Killer" = "Personally Killed"

California v. Lopez Docket: G060261 (Fourth Appellate District), Opinion Date: April 28, 2022. Defendant-appellant Jaime Lopez was convicted by jury of the first degree murder of Reginold Harry. The jury found true a special circumstance allegation that the murder occurred during the commission of a robbery. The trial court sentenced defendant to a term of life without the possibility of parole. Defendant appealed a trial court order denying his petition for resentencing under Penal Code section 1170.95, contending he made a prima facie case for relief by showing it was possible the jury had convicted him of felony murder and found the robbery-murder special-circumstance allegation to be true without finding he was the victim’s actual killer. The Court of Appeal found the term “actual killer” as used in the revised felony-murder rule of Penal Code section 189 (e)(1) referred to someone who personally killed the victim and was not necessarily the same as a person who “caused” the victim’s death.

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