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D.W. v. Superior Court (The People)

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Eighth Division

December 9, 2019

D.W., Petitioner,
v.
THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Respondent THE PEOPLE, Real Party in Interest.

          ORIGINAL PROCEEDINGS in mandate. Los Angeles County Super. Ct. Nos. NJ29107 & NA105083 John C. Lawson II, Judge. Petition granted and remanded.

          Independent Juvenile Defender Program, Cyn Yamashiro and Marketa Sims for Petitioner.

          No appearance for Respondent.

          Jackie Lacey, District Attorney, Phyllis C. Asayama, June Chung and Matthew Brown, Deputy District Attorneys, for Real Party in Interest.

          STRATTON, J.

         INTRODUCTION

         Petitioner D.W. was found unfit for juvenile treatment based on the allegation that, at age 17, he committed second degree murder in violation of Penal Code section 187, subdivision (a), under the natural and probable consequences theory of liability. After the Respondent juvenile court transferred D.W.'s case to adult court, our Legislature eliminated liability for murder under the theory of natural and probable consequences.

         D.W. alleges he is entitled to a new transfer hearing because the People (Real Party in Interest) have not established a prima facie case that he committed an offense that would now make him eligible for transfer to adult court. The People contend (1) they are no longer required to make a prima facie case in light of the statutory changes enacted by Proposition 57; (2) the facts presented to the juvenile court establish probable cause for the unalleged offense of assault with a deadly weapon under a natural and probable consequences theory; and (3) the nature of the specific offense alleged in the petition is irrelevant to the court's analysis of D.W.'s fitness for juvenile treatment.

         We agree with D.W. that he is entitled to a new transfer hearing and remand the case to the juvenile court to vacate its order transferring his case to adult court.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On January 24, 2017, the People filed a petition in the Juvenile Court alleging D.W., at age 17, committed the offense of murder on October 3, 2016, in violation of Penal Code section 187, subdivision (a). The People also filed a motion to transfer the matter to adult criminal court under Welfare and Institutions Code[1] section 707, subdivision (a).

         At the hearing on the transfer petition, the People presented evidence that D.W. was in a car with three adults at a gas station in Long Beach when an altercation began. The victim approached the car, after which D.W. and the adult men got out of the car, confronted the victim, and ultimately chased and beat him with hands and feet. One of the adults stabbed the victim, causing his death. When interviewed by police, D.W. admitted punching the victim multiple times, but denied knowledge of the stabbing. D.W. also stated the victim attacked him, and D.W.'s father had taught D.W. to defend himself.

         The People introduced no evidence that D.W. had the intent to kill the victim, or that he knew the victim would be stabbed. Instead, the People repeatedly invoked the natural and probable consequences doctrine of criminal liability for homicide. (Under that doctrine, D.W.'s intent to commit murder was irrelevant. If murder was the natural and probable consequence of his participation in the assault of the victim, he could be found liable for murder, regardless of his intent or culpability. (People v. Chiu (2014) 59 Cal.4th 155, 164.)) The People did not allege D.W. committed any crime other than murder, and did not allege any alternative theories for criminal liability other than the natural and probable consequences doctrine.

         The juvenile court made three findings: the victim died of stab wounds inflicted by one of the adults; D.W. was one of the people who accosted the victim; and D.W. was over 16 years old at the time of the offense. Based on these facts, the court found probable cause that D.W. committed an offense within the meaning of section 707, subdivision (b). The court then evaluated the five criteria enumerated in section ...


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