Friday, April 17, 2015
C.A. Orders New Sentencing Hearing for Man Who Killed at 17
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
A man sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for murdering two women when he was 17 years old is entitled to a new sentencing hearing under a U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits judicial authority to impose such sentences on minors, the Sixth District Court of Appeal ruled yesterday.
The justices held that Miller v. Alabama  132 S.Ct. 2455 is retroactive. That ruling struck down a statute mandating a life sentence without possibility of parole for juveniles convicted of the highest degree of murder.
Courts must instead consider a variety of factors before determining whether an LWOP sentence is appropriate, including the specific role that the defendant played in the crime and the defendant’s prospects for rehabilitation, the high court said.
Norman Willover was sentenced to two life sentences without possibility of parole for the 1998 killings. His co-defendant, Joseph Manibusan, was sentenced to death, a sentence that was upheld two years ago by the state Supreme Court.
Priya Matthews, who was killed, and Jennifer Aninger, who survived despite being shot twice at close range, were killed in January 1998. They were students at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and were shot late night at a municipal wharf.
According to testimony, primarily from friends of the defendants, Manibusan and Willover were driving around specifically looking for victims to rob. Manibusan was driving, and Willover shot the two women after they did not respond to his demand for money.
Francis Olivo, a mother of six, was gunned down hours later on a Seaside street corner.
Prosecutors said her murder was a thrill killing, and that Manibusan did not speak to her as he motioned her toward his car and shot her three times.
Justice Ming Chin, in his opinion in the Manibusan appeal, wrote:
“Willover shot Aninger from very close range — only five to 10 feet — hitting her once in the face — her forehead — and once in the upper arm, near her face. This evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, reasonably supports the inference that Willover did not, as defendant asserts, fire indiscriminately, but focused his attack on Aninger’s head….”
Justice Bamattre-Manoukian, writing for the court yesterday, said the trial court must resentence Willover using the factors set forth in Miller. In addition to holding that the ruling is retroactive, the justices said that a new state law, permitting defendants sentenced to LWOP for crimes committed as minors, to seek release on parole after 15 years, is not a substitute for the type of sentencing required by Miller.
The case is In re Willover, H040757.
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