People v. BanksAnnotate this Case
At issue in this case was under what circumstances an accomplice who lacks the intent to kill may qualify as a “major participant” in a felony murder so as to be statutorily eligible for the death penalty. Defendant Lovie Troy Matthews acted as the getaway driver for an armed robby in which Leon Banks and others participated. While escaping, Banks shot one of the robbery victims. After a jury trial, Matthews was found guilty of first degree murder under a felony-murder theory. The jury found true a felony-murder special circumstance. Matthews was sentenced to the mandatory lesser sentence for special circumstance murder, life imprisonment without parole. The Court of Appeal affirmed, concluding that the evidence was sufficient to support the special-circumstance true finding. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to support the special circumstance, and therefore, Matthews was statutorily ineligible for life imprisonment without parole.