California v. GentileAnnotate this Case
A jury convicted Joseph Gentile of first degree murder in connection with the 2014 beating death of Guillermo Saavedra by means of using a golf club, wooden chair, and a beer bottle. The prosecution’s main witness testified upon grant of use immunity, but, depending on which statements the jury believed, she may have actively participated in the beating. The jury found untrue an allegation that defendant used a deadly or dangerous weapon, and he was sentenced to 25 years to life. The Court of Appeal reversed for instructional error pursuant to the California Supreme Court decision in California v. Chiu, 59 Cal.4th 155 (2014), because the jury was instructed it could convict defendant under a natural probable consequences theory, one of two theories supported by the evidence, and remanded the matter for the State to decide whether to accept a reduction to second degree murder, or to retry defendant for first degree murder under theories other than natural and probable consequences. On remand, the State accepted the reduction to second degree murder and defendant was resentenced to an indeterminate term of 15 years to life. Defendant appealed again, raising the issues left undecided in the first appeal. In addition, defendant argued he was entitled to a reversal of his murder conviction pursuant to Senate Bill No. 1437. The Supreme Court granted review and transferred the case back to the Court of Appeal with directions to vacate its decision on defendant’s second appeal, and reconsider in light of the Senate Bill. After such reconsideration, the Court of Appeal again affirmed conviction and sentence.