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Gang Murder Special Circumstance Reversed

People v. Campbell Docket: A162472 (First Appellate District), Opinion Date: June 30, 2023. Anthony drove the car in which four defendants fled after they shot and killed the brother of a rival gang member. Two bystanders were hit and killed during the ensuing vehicle chase, resulting in two second-degree murder convictions for each defendant. The trial court granted three defendants (not Anthony) relief from the second-degree murder convictions under Penal Code section 1172.6, which provides persons convicted of murder before the 2019 amendments to the murder statutes to seek relief from such convictions if they could not be convicted of murder under the current murder statutes. The defendants argued the court should also have granted them relief from their Vehicle Code section 2800.3 conviction arising out of the bystander killings and erred by failing to explicitly strike the multiple-murder special circumstance found true by the jury as to each of them. They also sought resentencing on the Vehicle Code convictions based on recent legislation constraining sentencing decisions about whether and when to impose upper, middle, and lower terms of imprisonment. The court of appeal remanded for the trial court to strike the multiple murder special circumstance as to the three defendants; affirmed the denial of relief for the Vehicle Code convictions; remanded for resentencing based on an amendment to section 1170(b); reversed the gang-murder special circumstance and the 25-years-to-life sentences resulting from the gang enhancement and the life without parole sentences resulting from the gang-murder special circumstance.

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