People v. McClure, H048280

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtBAMATTRE-MANOUKIAN, J.
Citation67 Cal.App.5th 1054,282 Cal.Rptr.3d 801
Parties The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Julie Ann MCCLURE, Defendant and Appellant.
Decision Date17 August 2021
Docket NumberH048280

67 Cal.App.5th 1054
282 Cal.Rptr.3d 801

The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Julie Ann MCCLURE, Defendant and Appellant.

H048280

Court of Appeal, Sixth District, California.

Filed August 17, 2021


Attorneys for Defendant and Appellant: Julie Ann McClure, William Robinson, Sixth District Appellate Program, 95 S. Market Street, Suite 570, San Jose, CA 95113

Attorney for Plaintiff and Respondent: The People, Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California, Lance E. Winters, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Jeffrey M. Laurence, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Donna M. Provenzano, Supervising Deputy Attorney General, Amit Arun Kurlekar, Deputy Attorney General

BAMATTRE-MANOUKIAN, J.

67 Cal.App.5th 1057

I. INTRODUCTION

In 2017, after initially having been charged with willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder ( Pen. Code, § 187, subd. (a) )1 , defendant Julie Ann McClure pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter (§ 192, subd. (a)) and 11 other crimes pursuant to a plea agreement. The superior court imposed an agreed-upon determinate sentence of 25 years.

282 Cal.Rptr.3d 806

In 2020, defendant filed a petition for resentencing pursuant to section 1170.95, which was enacted through the passage of Senate Bill No. 1437 (2017-2018 Reg. Sess.) (Senate Bill 1437). (Stats. 2018, ch. 1015, § 4.) Senate Bill 1437 "amend[ed] the felony

67 Cal.App.5th 1058

murder rule and the natural and probable consequences doctrine ... to ensure that murder liability is not imposed on a person who is not the actual killer, did not act with the intent to kill, or was not a major participant of the underlying felony who acted with reckless indifference to human life." (Stats. 2018, ch. 1015, § 1, subd. (f).) It added section 1170.95 to allow individuals "convicted of felony murder or murder under a natural and probable consequences theory" to petition the sentencing court to vacate the "murder conviction" and be resentenced on any remaining counts. (Stats. 2018, ch. 1015, § 4 ; § 1170.95, subd. (a).) After briefing and argument by the parties, the superior court denied the petition, determining that defendant had failed to state a prima facie case for relief because she was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, not murder.

Defendant contends that we must construe section 1170.95 to apply to individuals who pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in lieu of going to trial on a murder charge under a felony murder or a natural and probable consequences theory. Alternatively, defendant contends that if we determine that section 1170.95 only applies to individuals convicted of murder, it violates her federal and state constitutional rights to equal protection and substantive due process and the prohibitions against cruel and/or unusual punishment.

Several Courts of Appeal have considered whether section 1170.95 applies to individuals who were charged with murder but pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. We join those courts in concluding that section 1170.95 does not apply to individuals convicted of voluntary manslaughter. (See People v. Turner (2020) 45 Cal.App.5th 428, 433, 258 Cal.Rptr.3d 706 ( Turner ); People v. Cervantes (2020) 44 Cal.App.5th 884, 886-887, 258 Cal.Rptr.3d 176 ( Cervantes ); People v. Flores (2020) 44 Cal.App.5th 985, 993, 258 Cal.Rptr.3d 205 ( Flores ); People v. Sanchez (2020) 48 Cal.App.5th 914, 916, 262 Cal.Rptr.3d 389 ( Sanchez ); People v. Paige (2020) 51 Cal.App.5th 194, 204, 264 Cal.Rptr.3d 855 ( Paige ); People v. Harris (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 557, 563, 274 Cal.Rptr.3d 787 ( Harris ).) We also reject defendant's constitutional claims.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background2

In September 2016, Monterey County Sheriff's detectives met with defendant after she advised them that she had information on the death of Ronnie Vincent Cronn. Cronn had been missing since May 2016.

Defendant told detectives that on May 23, 2016, she lured Cronn to the residence she shared with her boyfriend, Jeffrey Madruga, because she suspected Cronn had "pointed their residence out to prospective burglars who ... subsequently burglarized their residence twice." Defendant stated that she zip-tied Cronn's hands and feet and then struck him in the face and

67 Cal.App.5th 1059

upper body while Madruga and "Paulo," later identified as Paulo Yngoc Barcenas, also struck him. Defendant told detectives that Cronn eventually admitted that he had pointed out the residence to burglars. Defendant, Madruga, and Barcenas placed Cronn in Barcenas's vehicle and drove him to another location.

Madruga corroborated defendant's statement. In addition, Madruga told detectives that while Cronn was zip-tied, Barcenas repeatedly used a stun gun on

282 Cal.Rptr.3d 807

him and that he and Barcenas struck Cronn several times in the head with closed fists, knocking him to the floor at least twice. Cronn also fell on the stairs while being punched.

According to Madruga, the group decided to take Cronn to " ‘JD['s]’ " residence. Once they arrived, they dragged Cronn out of the car and Barcenas and JD repeatedly struck and kicked him. They put Cronn in the rear seat of Barcenas's vehicle and went inside, monitoring Cronn by video surveillance.

Madruga stated that over the next several hours, Barcenas periodically went to the vehicle and beat Cronn. At some point, Barcenas leaned on Cronn's chest until he died. Madruga said that they took Cronn's body to a storage locker. The next day, defendant, Madruga, and Barcenas moved Cronn to a remote location where they burned Cronn's body and dumped it down an embankment. They returned to the location the following day and pushed it farther down the embankment to prevent its discovery.

Defendant and Madruga took detectives to the area where they disposed of Cronn's body. Detectives later discovered that Madruga was manufacturing methamphetamine at his residence.

B. Procedural History

In October 2016, the district attorney charged defendant by complaint with deliberate and premeditated murder ( § 187, subd. (a) ).

On October 24, 2017, the district attorney filed an amended complaint charging defendant with deliberate and premeditated murder ( § 187, subd. (a) ; count 1); voluntary manslaughter ( § 192, subd. (a) ; count 2); kidnapping ( § 207, subd. (a) ; count 3); assault by means likely to cause great bodily injury ( § 245, subd. (a)(4) ; count 4); false imprisonment by violence ( § 236 ; count 5); mayhem ( § 203 ; count 6); assault with a stun gun or taser ( § 244.5, subd. (b) ; count 7); possession of a firearm by a felon ( § 29800, subd. (a)(1) ; count 8); possession of ammunition ( § 30305, subd. (a)(1) ; count 9); possession of a controlled substance for sale ( Health & Saf. Code, § 11378 ; count

67 Cal.App.5th 1060

10); manufacturing phencyclidine (id. , § 11397.6, subd. (a); count 11); possession with intent to manufacture methamphetamine (id. , § 11383.5, subd. (a); count 12); and mutilation or disinterment of human remains (id. , § 7052, subd. (a); count 13). The district attorney also alleged that defendant personally inflicted great bodily injury ( § 12022.7, subd. (a) ) during the commission of count 3.

That same date, defendant pleaded no contest to all of the charges except murder and admitted the great bodily injury allegation in exchange for a stipulated 25-year sentence.

In January 2018, the superior court sentenced defendant to an aggregate term of 25 years, which included the upper term of 11 years for voluntary manslaughter. ( § 193, subd. (a).)

In June 2020, defendant filed a petition for resentencing pursuant to section 1170.95. The petition consisted of a three-page preprinted form, two pages of which were a declaration defendant signed under penalty of perjury. Among other boxes, defendant checked boxes on the form declaring that "[a] complaint, information, or indictment was filed against [her] that allowed the prosecution to proceed under a theory of felony murder or murder under the natural and probable consequences doctrine"; "[she] pled ... no contest to voluntary manslaughter[3 ] in lieu of going

282 Cal.Rptr.3d 808

to trial because [she] believed [she] could have been convicted of 1st or 2nd degree murder at trial pursuant to the felony murder rule or the natural and probable consequences doctrine"; and she "could not now be convicted of 1st or 2nd degree murder because of changes made to ... §§ 188 and 189, effective January 1, 2019."

The district attorney opposed the petition, asserting that defendant was ineligible for relief because she was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, not murder. The superior court appointed counsel to represent defendant, and defendant replied to the district attorney's opposition. Defendant contended that section 1170.95 and its legislative materials "ma[de] it clear that a person who accepted an offer of manslaughter is eligible for...

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8 practice notes
  • People v. Perez, F080837
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 17, 2021
    ...234 Cal.Rptr.3d 856, 420 P.3d 767 [plain meaning of statute control and resort to extrinsic sources is unnecessary]; see generally, 282 Cal.Rptr.3d 801 Coburn v. Sievert (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 1483, 1495, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 596 [use of extrinsic materials to identify latent ambiguity].) We conc......
  • People v. Wright, B311217
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 18, 2021
    ...People v. Alaybue (2020) 51 Cal.App.5th 207, 222 ["Senate Bill 1437 does not apply to attempted murder"]; cf. People v. McClure (2021) 67 Cal.App.5th 1054, 1069 [section 1170.95 inapplicable to voluntary manslaughter; statute "limits its resentencing relief to individuals convicted of murde......
  • People v. Rodriguez, F079641
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 5, 2022
    ...reconsideration filed with the trial court. (See, e.g., People v. Paige (2020) 51 Cal.App.5th 194; see also People v. McClure (2021) 67 Cal.App.5th 1054, ordered depublished Nov. 10, 2021, S271070 [498 P.3d 89; 2021 Cal. LEXIS 7764]; People v. Harris (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 557, ordered depub......
  • People v. Enriquez, E075144
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 2021
    ...The bill amended sections 188 and 189, which pertain to the definition of malice and the degrees of murder." (People v. McClure (2021) 67 Cal.App.5th 1054, 1061.) "The Legislature amended section 188 by adding subdivision (a)(3), which provides: 'Except as stated in subdivision (e) of Secti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • People v. Perez, F080837
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • August 17, 2021
    ...234 Cal.Rptr.3d 856, 420 P.3d 767 [plain meaning of statute control and resort to extrinsic sources is unnecessary]; see generally, 282 Cal.Rptr.3d 801 Coburn v. Sievert (2005) 133 Cal.App.4th 1483, 1495, 35 Cal.Rptr.3d 596 [use of extrinsic materials to identify latent ambiguity].) We conc......
  • People v. Wright, B311217
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • October 18, 2021
    ...People v. Alaybue (2020) 51 Cal.App.5th 207, 222 ["Senate Bill 1437 does not apply to attempted murder"]; cf. People v. McClure (2021) 67 Cal.App.5th 1054, 1069 [section 1170.95 inapplicable to voluntary manslaughter; statute "limits its resentencing relief to individuals convicted of murde......
  • People v. Rodriguez, F079641
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • April 5, 2022
    ...reconsideration filed with the trial court. (See, e.g., People v. Paige (2020) 51 Cal.App.5th 194; see also People v. McClure (2021) 67 Cal.App.5th 1054, ordered depublished Nov. 10, 2021, S271070 [498 P.3d 89; 2021 Cal. LEXIS 7764]; People v. Harris (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 557, ordered depub......
  • People v. Enriquez, E075144
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • November 30, 2021
    ...The bill amended sections 188 and 189, which pertain to the definition of malice and the degrees of murder." (People v. McClure (2021) 67 Cal.App.5th 1054, 1061.) "The Legislature amended section 188 by adding subdivision (a)(3), which provides: 'Except as stated in subdivision (e) of Secti......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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