PC 1172.6 Provides Felony-Murder Relief
California v. Saibu Docket: D078391 (Fourth Appellate District), Opinion Date: July 26, 2022. In 2008, a jury convicted Sadiq Saibu and Antonio Valentino for their roles in committing a robbery of a video store, two attempted robberies of a liquor store, and a murder and attempted murder in the same liquor store during one of the attempted robberies. In 2019, Saibu filed a petition for resentencing under Penal Code section 1172.6 as to his murder conviction, contending he was not a major participant in the underlying felony murder and did not act in reckless indifference to human life. The superior court granted the requested relief. Further, he argued the trial court prejudicially erred in failing to instruct the jury with CALCRIM No. 703 with respect to the felony murder special circumstances allegation. While this case was pending, the California Legislature enacted and the Governor signed into law Senate Bill No. 775 (Senate Bill 775) (Stats. 2021, ch. 551). Senate Bill 775 amended section 1170.95 to expand eligibility for resentencing to persons convicted of attempted murder. The State conceded that Saibu’s conviction for attempted murder was eligible for resentencing under Senate Bill 775. However, it pointed out the parties did not address that issue, and argued it should be given the opportunity to present additional evidence. Saibu argued that the Court of Appeal should find he was entitled to relief based on the superior’s court’s finding that he did not act with reckless indifference to human life. In the published portion of its opinion, the Court of Appeal agreed with Saibu on the jury instruction contention and reversed the jury’s true finding on the robbery-murder special circumstance. Regarding the superior court’s determination that Saibu was entitled to relief under section 1172.6 as to his murder conviction, the appellate court determined the State could not show that the court committed reversible legal error. As such, the order was affirmed. The Court remanded this case for the superior court to issue a show cause order and to hold a hearing as to whether Saibu was entitled to relief under section 1172.6 as to his attempted murder conviction.
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