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  • Death penalty: Riverside death sentence affirmed in People v. Thomas (RIF086792/S161781)
    • The Supreme Court affirmed the death sentence for Justin Thomas, who was convicted of shooting and killing Rafael Noriega in Moreno Valley in 1992. Thomas sold crystal methamphetamine, and was supplied by Noriega. On Sept. 15, 1992, Thomas fatally shot Noriega in the foothills of Moreno Valley, while Noriega was handing off a bag. Thomas then fled town, and was convicted for murdering his girlfriend in Texas four years later. Thomas was charged for the Noriega murder in 2001. The Supreme Court automatically reviews every death penalty sentence.
  • Family: Riverside Superior Judge Cheryl Murphy’s denial reversed and remanded with directions in In re L.O. (RIJ2000607/E079511)
    • Orange County Social Services Agency moved to remove a child from their month’s care because of the parents’ substance abuse problems and criminal histories. The case was moved to Riverside County, where the court ordered the removal. The father appealed, arguing that Orange and Riverside counties did not investigate his child’s Native American heritage as required by federal law. Both departments admitted they did meet the requirements. Orange County only asked the parents if they had any Native American heritage, not the grandparents, as required. The Court of Appeal ordered the parental rights be restored until investigation is completed.
  • Juvenile: San Bernardino Superior Judge Charles Umeda’s transfer to criminal court reversed and remanded with directions in In re K.J. (J285625/E079207)
    • A minor accused of murder, attempted murder, robbery and possession of a firearm appeals the order which transferred his case from juvenile to criminal court. He argued that the court should again determine whether he should be transferred, due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s September, 2022, signing of Assembly Bill 2361. The bill increases the prosecution’s burden to justify a transfer to criminal court. The Court of Appeal agreed, and directed the court to hold a new hearing to the transfer.
  • Criminal: San Bernardino Superior Judge Christopher Pallone’s denial of petition to be resentenced affirmed in P. v. Clark (FBA03887/E077822)
    • Robert Clark was convicted in 1998 of second degree murder and fatal assault on a child under years old. He petitioned to be resentenced under the recent reform to California law, Penal Code Section 1172.6. The court denied his petition, and Clark appealed. The Court of Appeal also found that he was not entitled to relief because he was the direct murderer.
  • Criminal: Riverside Superior Judge Matthew Perantoni’s denial of petition to vacate conviction dismissed in P. v. Gonzalez (RIF130512/E079541)
    • Jose Gonzalez was found guilty of premeditated attempted murder in 2007. Gonzalez had told a man to leave a woman alone, then shot him in the leg, said he was going to kill him and then shot him in the neck. He was sentenced to 32 years to life. He petitioned to vacate his conviction in July 2022, under Penal Code Section 1172.6. The trial court denied his petition, and Gonzalez appealed. The Court of Appeal found that he abandoned the appeal by not filing a requested brief.

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