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SB 1437 Relief Available Despite No FM/NPC

People v. Maldonado Docket: A161817 (First Appellate District), Opinion Date: December 8, 2022. The victim’s body was found in a storage locker with multiple stab wounds. Maldonado reported witnessing the killing. Police were later unable to locate Maldonado. Maldonado subsequently told people that he was involved in the killing and that he and his friend buried their clothes and the knife. Police found a sweatshirt, knife, and cell phone buried at Maldonado’s former residence, and found a photograph of Morales with the victim’s body in Maldonado’s residence. Maldonado testified that he did not kill the victim or help Morales kill the victim, but that Morales brought him to the body for help in burying the evidence. Maldonado's jury was instructed on two theories: the murder was willful, deliberate, and premeditated; and the murder was committed by lying in wait. The jury was also instructed on direct aiding and abetting but was not instructed on felony murder or the natural and probable consequences doctrine. The jury convicted Maldonado of first-degree murder but found the lying-in-wait special circumstance not true. In 2020, Maldonado sought resentencing (Penal Code 1172.6) based on legislative changes relating to murder convictions under the natural and probable consequences doctrine or other theory under which malice is imputed to a person based solely on that person’s participation.’ The court of appeal reversed the denial of his petition. The record does not conclusively establish Maldonado is ineligible for relief. The jury instructions permitted conviction based on an impermissible theory of imputed malice.


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