Crime - Sacto 911

Court rejects second appeal of Sacramento gang member’s murder conviction

An appellate court on Monday rejected the second appeal of a Sacramento gang member convicted of murder.

A three-justice panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal last year set aside Jaime Enrique Torres’ first-degree murder conviction based on a trial judge’s erroneous instructions to the jury on the law.

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office elected not to retry Torres, and his conviction was reduced to second-degree murder. He was resentenced to 40 years to life in prison. His sentence on the first-degree conviction had been 50 years to life.

Torres, now 29, again appealed, this time challenging the trial court’s resentencing and claiming he should have been retried to avoid a violation of his Sixth Amendment and 14th Amendment rights to a jury trial and due process, respectively.

But the appellate court did not agree. Citing a 2014 California Supreme Court decision, the justices ruled that the appropriate remedy upon setting aside a first-degree murder conviction is to give prosecutors the option to retry the defendant, but a retrial cannot be mandated.

The short, unpublished appellate opinion was written by Associate Justice Ronald B. Robie, with the concurrences of Acting Presiding Justice George Nicholson and Associate Justice Elena J. Duarte.

Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189