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People v. Superior Court (Manuel Flores)

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, First Division

February 21, 2014

The PEOPLE, Petitioner,
v.
The SUPERIOR COURT of San Diego County, Respondent; Manuel Flores, Real Party in Interest.

[REVIEW GRANTED BY CAL. SUPREME COURT]

Petition for writ of mandate/prohibition from an order of the Superior Court of San Diego County. Charles G. Rogers, Judge. Petition granted. (San Diego County Super. Ct. No. CR110487)

COUNSEL

Bonnie M. Dumanis, District Attorney, Laura E. Tanney, James E. Atkins and Linh Lam, Deputy District Attorneys for Petitioner.

No appearances for Respondent.

Laura R. Sheppard for Real Party in Interest.

OPINION

McINTYRE, J.

In this case, we consider whether Penal Code section 1170, subdivision (d)(2) (section 1170(d)(2)), regarding a juvenile offender's ability to petition for recall of his or her sentence, applies to a juvenile offender serving a long-term sentence that is not technically life without parole (LWOP). We conclude that it does not. We further reject real party in interest's contention that, so interpreted, section 1170(d)(2) violates his right to equal protection. (Undesignated statutory references are to the Penal Code.)

BACKGROUND

To provide background, we summarize the facts that led to Manuel Flores's convictions from our prior opinion ( People v. Flores (Mar. 24, 1993, D014326) [nonpub. opn.] ).

In 1989, Flores and Christopher Box killed April Gilhousen, her three-year-old son, Bryan, and Kevin Chandler during a robbery. They also attempted to kill Rodney Almond who arrived at Gilhousen's home when the other crimes were taking place. Flores admitted that he cut Chandler's throat with a box cutter and stabbed Gilhousen with a knife.

Flores was approximately 17 and one-half years old when he committed the crimes. He was convicted of three counts of first degree murder, premeditated attempted murder, robbery, burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery. Flores was sentenced to three consecutive terms of 25 years to life in prison for the first degree murder convictions plus one year for a knife allegation. He was also sentenced to a term of life in prison for the attempted murder. The court stayed all other determinate term sentences pursuant to section 654. Box, an adult when the crimes were committed, was sentenced to death.

After serving approximately 22 years in prison, Flores petitioned the trial court to recall his sentence under [168 Cal.Rptr.3d 133]section 1170(d)(2). The People opposed Flores's petition, contending section 1170(d)(2) was inapplicable because he was not sentenced to LWOP. Flores argued the statute was applicable to him because his sentence of 76 years to life was the functional equivalent of LWOP.

The trial court granted Flores's petition and thereby recalled his sentence. The court also set the ...


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