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REVERSED: Murder Conviction Lacks Finding of Personal Use of Knife

People v. Arnold Docket: B321031 (Second Appellate District), Opinion Date: July 11, 2023. Defendant was convicted of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a man during a street brawl. The jury in Defendant’s case also found a sentencing enhancement alleging that he personally used a knife to be not true. Defendant appealed for a third time, arguing, among other things, that substantial evidence did not support the trial court’s ruling he could still be convicted of murder as the actual killer. The Second Appellate District reversed the trial court’s summary denial of that petition and remanded the matter for an evidentiary hearing per section 1172.6. The court agreed that the court erred in finding that Defendant stabbed the victim to death after the jury found not true an allegation that Defendant personally used a knife. The court explained that it is appropriate to remand the matter for a new hearing to determine whether the prosecution proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Defendant is guilty under a permissible theory of murder. The court directed that in doing so, the court shall not make any finding or rely on any evidence which contradicts the jury’s finding that the personal use of a knife sentencing enhancement was not true.

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