People v. Gutierrez, Nos. S206365

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (California)
Writing for the CourtLIU, J.
Citation324 P.3d 245,58 Cal.4th 1354,171 Cal.Rptr.3d 421
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Luis Angel GUTIERREZ, Defendant and Appellant. The People, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Andrew Lawrence Moffett, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberS206771.,Nos. S206365
Decision Date05 May 2014

58 Cal.4th 1354
324 P.3d 245
171 Cal.Rptr.3d 421

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Luis Angel GUTIERREZ, Defendant and Appellant.


The People, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Andrew Lawrence Moffett, Defendant and Appellant.

Nos. S206365
S206771.

Supreme Court of California

May 5, 2014.


171 Cal.Rptr.3d 424

Jean Matulis, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant Luis Angel Gutierrez.

Joseph Shipp, under appointment by the Supreme Court, for Defendant and Appellant Andrew Lawrence Moffett.

L. Richard Braucher, Richmond; and Susan L. Burrell for Pacific Juvenile Defender Center and Youth Law Center as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant Luis Angel Gutierrez.

Latham & Watkins, Los Angeles, Aaron Murphy and Anthony J. Bruno for United Mexican States as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant Luis Angel Gutierrez.

Elizabeth M. Calvin ; DLA Piper and Steven S. Kimball, Sacramento, for Human Rights Watch as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant Luis Angel Gutierrez.

International Human Rights Clinic, Elizabeth A. Henneke ; Frank C. Newman International Human Rights Law Clinic, Constance de la Vega and Lani Virostko for Amnesty International, Disability Rights Legal Center, Human Rights Advocates, Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy and University of San Francisco Center for Law and Global Justice as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.

Jessica R. Feierman and Marsha L. Levick for Juvenile Law Center as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, Lawrence M. Daniels, Steven D. Matthews and David F. Glassman, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent in S206365.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., and Kamala D. Harris, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Assistant Attorney General, Lawrence M. Daniels,

171 Cal.Rptr.3d 425

René A. Chacón and David M. Baskind, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent in S206771.

Criminal Justice Legal Foundation and Kent S. Scheidegger for Jo Ann Lasater, Phyllis Loya and James Lasater as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiff and Respondent.

LIU, J.

58 Cal.4th 1360
324 P.3d 249

The two 17–year–old offenders in these cases were convicted of special circumstance murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole under Penal Code section 190.5, subdivision (b) (hereafter section 190.5(b) ). Section 190.5(b) provides that the penalty for 16– or 17–year–old juveniles who commit special circumstance murder "shall be confinement in the state prison for life without the possibility of parole or, at the discretion of the court, 25 years to life." For two decades, since People v. Guinn (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 1130, 33 Cal.Rptr.2d 791 (Guinn ), section 190.5(b) has been construed by our Courts of Appeal and trial courts as creating a presumption in favor of life without parole as the appropriate penalty for juveniles convicted of special circumstance murder.

After defendants were sentenced, the United States Supreme Court ruled that "mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on ‘cruel and unusual punishments,’ " relying extensively on differences between juveniles and adults with regard to their culpability and capacity for change. ( Miller v. Alabama (2012) 567 U.S. ––––, ––––, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 2460, 183 L.Ed.2d 407 (Miller ).) We granted review to determine whether a presumption in favor of a sentence of life without parole under section 190.5(b) violates the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution under the principles announced in Miller.

As explained below, we hold that section 190.5(b), properly construed, confers discretion on a trial court to sentence a 16– or 17–year–old juvenile convicted of special circumstance murder to life without parole or to 25 years to life, with no presumption in favor of life without parole. We

58 Cal.4th 1361

further hold that Miller requires a trial court, in exercising its sentencing discretion, to consider the "distinctive attributes of youth" and how those attributes "diminish the penological justifications for imposing the harshest sentences on juvenile offenders" before imposing life without parole on a juvenile offender. ( Miller, supra, 567 U.S. at p. ––––, 132 S.Ct. at p. 2465.) Because the sentencing regime created by section 190.5(b) authorizes and indeed requires consideration of the distinctive attributes of youth highlighted in Miller, we find no constitutional infirmity with section 190.5(b) once it is understood not to impose a presumption in favor of life without parole.

Because the two defendants here were sentenced before Miller in accordance with the interpretation of section 190.5(b) prevailing at the time (see Guinn, supra, 28 Cal.App.4th at p. 1142, 33 Cal.Rptr.2d 791 ), we

324 P.3d 250

remand for resentencing in light of the principles set forth in Miller and this opinion.

I.

We consolidated the two cases under review on our own motion. We begin with the background of each case.

A.

On April 23, 2005, defendant Andrew Lawrence Moffett and codefendant Alexander Hamilton robbed a Raley's supermarket

171 Cal.Rptr.3d 426

in Pittsburg and a Wells Fargo bank located inside the store. At the time, Moffett was 17 years old, and Hamilton was 18 years old.

Moffett enlisted a friend, Elijah Moore, to steal a getaway car in exchange for some marijuana. After driving the car to the Raley's parking lot, Moffett and Hamilton entered the store shortly before 5:47 p.m. wearing facial coverings and carrying semiautomatic handguns. Moffett approached a checkout stand manned by Rima Bosso, pointed his gun at her head, and demanded that she give him the money. Flustered, Bosso could not get the register drawer to open. Moffett put his gun against her left ear and said, "Come on, bitch. Come on, bitch. You're taking too fucking long." The drawer eventually opened, and Bosso put about $800 in a bag. While Moffett was robbing Bosso, Hamilton approached the counter of the Wells Fargo bank, pointed a gun in the direction of the two tellers, and demanded money. The tellers put $3,000 in a bag Hamilton was carrying.

Moffett and Hamilton ran out of the store and attempted to flee in the stolen car, but Hamilton soon crashed the vehicle into the back of a pickup truck parked on the street. Moffett and Hamilton then got out of the car and started running. Moffett told a neighbor who was chasing them, "Stop or I'll

58 Cal.4th 1362

cap you, motherfucker." Moffett and Hamilton continued running through the yards of several homes near the Delta de Anza Regional Trail, scaling fences as they went.

Pittsburg Police Officers John Florance and Larry Lasater arrived at the Delta de Anza Regional Trail at 5:58 p.m. Officer Lasater saw a dark figure standing by a tree and called out, "Is that someone down there?" The figure disappeared into the greenery, and Officer Lasater gave chase. After running for some distance, Officer Lasater stopped, drew his weapon, and started walking toward where the figure had disappeared. Around this time, Officer Florance heard the sound of someone jumping over a fence. He then saw Officer Lasater point his gun downward and shout, "Show me your hands."

Hamilton, who was lying down in the bushes, fired several shots at Officer Lasater. One of the bullets shattered a vertebra in Officer Lasater's neck, and another went through his calf. When additional officers responded to the scene to assist Officer Lasater, Hamilton fired shots at them until he ran out of ammunition and was taken into custody. The wound to Officer Lasater's neck proved fatal.

Meanwhile, Moffett had jumped the fence adjacent to the site of the shooting and continued running through the neighborhood. At one point, a woman saw him about to enter her garage. She yelled, "no," and Moffett ran across the street. At around 6:35 p.m., officers discovered Moffett lying shirtless in a fetal position under a tree where he surrendered, saying, "don't kill me."

Following a joint trial with Hamilton, Moffett was convicted of one count of first degree murder, three counts of second degree robbery, and one count of driving a stolen vehicle. ( Pen.Code, §§ 187, 211 ; Veh.Code, § 10851.) The jury also found true three felony-murder special-circumstance allegations, one killing of a peace officer special-circumstance allegation, and firearm use allegations as to the murder and robbery counts. ( Pen.Code, §§ 190.2, subd. (a)(7) & (17), 12022.53, subd. (b).) On July 24, 2008, the trial court...

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1 practice notes
  • People v. Dickinson, H041091
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 25, 2016
    ...the criminal falls outside the spirit of the three strikes scheme must be even more extraordinary." (Ibid.; People v. Gutierrez (2014) 58 Cal.4th 1354, 1382 ["trial courts' decisions to strike a prior conviction should be ' "extraordinary" ' "].) Where, as here, a defendant possesses a long......
1 cases
  • People v. Dickinson, H041091
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • May 25, 2016
    ...the criminal falls outside the spirit of the three strikes scheme must be even more extraordinary." (Ibid.; People v. Gutierrez (2014) 58 Cal.4th 1354, 1382 ["trial courts' decisions to strike a prior conviction should be ' "extraordinary" ' "].) Where, as here, a defendant possesses a long......

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