Disturbing the Peace Sentence of 25-Years-to-Life? Really?
The confrontation continued into the grocery store parking lot. One of the Norteño gang members then pushed a shopping cart into Liesa. Then one of the Norteños showed a “Norte” tattoo and a bystander, referring to Liesa, yelled “he has a gun!” There was about eight witnesses to the yell and the escalating confrontation.Brief of Article: A principal in disturbing the peace may be sentenced to 25-years-to-life for an attempted murder that follows when such an attempted murder is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of two rival gangs disturbing the peace. When this happened, while the two gangs confronted each other, a weapons discharge took place (the attempted murder).
One of the witnesses was Christopher Smith. When the issue of Liesa having a gun was shouted, one of the Norteños ran to his car and got his gun. Three rapid gunshots rang out.
About a month before the shooting, police officers found two bullet casings in Liesa’s pickup truck. Such casings were from a .32 caliber and a 9 mm gun. The bullet removed from Smith’s head was from a .32 caliber gun, as was a mushroomed bullet found near a wall in the parking lot. Liesa was then identified as the likely shooter of Smith.
At trial, Liesa was convicted of attempted murder, assault with a firearm and criminal street gang participation as an aider and abettor. Liesa was sentenced to state prison for 32-years-to-life. The sentenced included a 25- year-to- life gang firearm enhancement.
Liesa appealed his conviction, contending that the above jury instruction was an incorrect statement of the law because the jury could have interpreted “co-participant” to include the rival gang members who may have shot Smith. Liesa argued that “confederate,” rather than “co-participant” should have been used because Liesa certainly was not an aider and abettor to a rival gang, if one of the rival gang members shot Smith.
In support of his appeal, Liesa pointed out that the evidence at trial was that a rival gang member was the shooter, making his “co-participant” argument even stronger, or so he thought.
The Third Appellate District, in People v. Eduardo Liesa (2013 DJDAR 1394), rejected Liesa’s argument that he cannot be considered a principal (even to a rival gang) and thus, the 25-years-to-life enhancement does not apply. The court explained that aiding and abetting in disturbing the peace made Liesa a principal in disturbing the peace.
Moreover, a reasonably foreseeable consequence of two rival gangs disturbing the peace, in confronting each other is a weapons discharge, as did occur. Consequently, as a principal in disturbing the peace, the attempted murder conviction was proper. Therefore, the 25-years-to-life sentence was proper.
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