Tuesday, December 17, 2013
C.A. Upholds New Law on Young Offender Parole Hearing
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A new state law providing that young offenders convicted of murder and other extremely serious crimes be given parole hearings within 15 to 25 years satisfies constitutional standards, the Court of Appeal for this district ruled yesterday.
Div. Six affirmed the conviction and sentence of Marlin V. Martin on charges of attempted murder—of which there were two counts—first degree residential robbery, escape, and first degree burglary, with findings of personal firearm use causing great bodily injury. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Hayden Zacky sentenced him to two consecutive life terms, plus 45 years to life.
Martin was convicted following a jury trial, at which evidence showed that he entered a Lancaster residence at gunpoint, demanded money from the residents, and then wandered around the premises taking various items, including two cell phones and an iPod. Before leaving, according to the testimony, he fired at two of the residents, striking one in the arm.
On appeal, Martin, who was 17 at the time of the crimes, argued that the sentence was the functional equivalent of life without parole, and thus violated Graham v. Florida (2010) 560 U.S. 48 and People v. Caballero (2012) 55 Cal.4th 262. His court-appointed appellate counsel, Meredith J. Watts, noted that he would be 76 years old before being eligible for parole, and that he had a life expectancy of less than 65 years.
In Cabellero—another case in which Zacky was the sentencing judge—the court cited Graham in throwing out a 110-year-to-life sentence imposed on a minor. Rodrigo Caballero, 16 at the time of the crime, was convicted of three counts of attempted murder in connection with a 2007 incident in which he fired at three teenagers who belonged to a rival gang.
Graham struck down, on Eighth Amendment grounds, a life sentence without possibility for a parole for a juvenile convicted of burglary and attempted armed robbery. The justices ruled that while such a sentence would pass constitutional muster in a homicide case, there was no legitimate basis for it when the crime did not involve loss of life.
The Caballero court rejected prosecution arguments that Graham should not be applied to a crime involving intent to kill, and that the court should look at the individual sentences, each of which carried the possibility of parole, rather than the aggregate.
Subsequent to Caballero, however, the Legislature enacted Penal Code § 3051, which requires a “youth offender parole hearing” in any case in which the offender was less than 18 when a crime not resulting in a life-without-parole sentence was committed.
The hearing is to take place in the 15th year of incarceration for a prisoner serving a determinate sentence, during the 20th year of incarceration for a prisoner serving a life term less than 25 years to life, and during the 25th year of incarceration for a prisoner serving a life term of 25 years to life.
The law enacting the section was signed by the governor in September and given immediate effect.
Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert, writing for the Court of Appeal, said the defendant will be eligible for a parole hearing at age 44 as a result of the new law. This gives him “some meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation,” as required by Graham, the jurist said.
Deputies Attorney General Esther Kim and David Glassman argued the case for the prosecution.
The case is People v. Martin, 13 S.O.S. 6342.
Copyright 2013, Metropolitan News Company