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In re Martinez

Filed 12/4/17 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA In re HECTOR MARTINEZ ) S226596 ) on Habeas Corpus. ) Ct.App. 4/1 D066705 ) ) San Diego County ) Super.Ct. No. SCD224457 ____________________________________) Petitioner Hector Martinez was convicted of first degree murder after the jury was instructed on both a direct aiding and abetting theory and a natural and probable consequences theory. After his conviction, we held in People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155 (Chiu) that a natural and probable consequences theory of liability cannot serve as a basis for a first degree murder conviction. It is undisputed that the trial court in this case committed Chiu error. The sole question is whether the error was prejudicial. We hold that on a petition for writ of habeas corpus, as on direct appeal, Chiu error requires reversal unless the reviewing court concludes beyond a reasonable doubt that the jury actually relied on a legally valid theory in convicting the defendant of first degree murder. Because we are unable to reach such a conclusion based on the record here, we vacate Martinez’s first degree murder conviction. I. Martinez was convicted of the first degree murder of Guillermo Esparza (Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a) (all undesignated statutory citations are to this code)), assault of Esparza with a semiautomatic firearm (§ 245, subd. (b)(1)), and assault of Jimmy Parker with force likely to cause great bodily injury (§ 245, SEE CONCURRING OPINION subd. (a)(1)). In a general verdict, the jury found true allegations that each crime was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in association with a criminal street gang (§ 186.22, subd. (b)(1)); that Martinez was vicariously armed with a firearm in the commission of the murder (§ 12022, subd. (a)(1)); that the codefendants were principals in the commission of the murder; and that a principal used a firearm and proximately caused great bodily injury and death (§ 12022.53, subds. (d), (e)(1)). The trial court sentenced Martinez to a determinate term of six years plus an indeterminate term of 50 years to life. The facts of the crime committed by Martinez and his codefendant Darren Martinez (no relation to petitioner) are summarized by the Court of Appeal as follows: Late in the evening on August 20, 2009, Darren’s girlfriend was with Darren and Martinez when she saw Darren with a gun. She objected to his having a gun at her house and asked him to take the gun away. Darren, accompanied by Martinez, left the house but did not dispose of the gun. A few hours later, Martinez, Darren, and Darren’s girlfriend were in her car at a drive-thru restaurant. She noticed a gun in Darren’s lap. When she was driving home, Darren suddenly told her to stop the car. Martinez and Darren got out of the car and ran up to Jimmy Parker and Guillermo Esparza, who were walking down the street. Martinez asked Parker, “Where are you from?” Parker mentioned the name of a group that …
Original document
Source: California Supreme Court