California v. GonzalezAnnotate this Case
Eloy Gonzalez appealed a trial court’s postjudgment order denying his petition for resentencing pursuant to Penal Code section 1170.95. Gonzalez claimed the court improperly determined he was ineligible for resentencing as a matter of law. “Southside” gang members Gonzalez, Matthew Robert Miller, and Eduardo Vargas engaged in a series of armed robberies, one of which ended with Vargas shooting a robbery victim, Jesse Muro. Vargas was tried separately, convicted of first-degree murder, and sentenced to death. The Attorney General (AG) conceded section 1170.95 was constitutional but contended the court’s denial was nevertheless proper. The AG argued a person convicted of murder with a robbery-murder special circumstance before the Supreme Court’s decisions in California v. Banks, 61 Cal.4th 788 (2015), and California v. Clark, 63 Cal.4th 522 (2016), was barred from pursuing resentencing under section 1170.95 without first having obtained a writ of habeas corpus to set aside the special circumstance for insufficient evidence. To this, the Court of Appeal disagreed: because the record of conviction did not establish Gonzalez’s ineligibility for resentencing as a matter of law, the postjudgment order denying the petition for resentencing was reversed and the matter remanded with directions to issue an order to show cause (OSC) and to proceed in accordance with section 1170.95 (d).