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Gang Murders

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Among the "special circumstances" that makes a premeditated murder punshable by death or life in prison in California is "the murder was carried out to further the
activities of the criminal street gang." Cal. Penal Code ยง 190.2(a)(22).

Today the Ninth Circuit denied habeas relief to LWOP-sentenced gangster Ruben Emery, who murdered Long Beach shop owner Henry Chow.  Why did he do it?  "[I]t was a fair inference from the circumstances of the shooting that Emery believed Chow needed to be 'taught' that there were severe consequences for directly disrespecting a young gang member, Alvarez's brother, and indirectly disrespecting Alvarez, Emery, and the affiliated gangs."  That is sufficient.  Under the Ninth Circuit's previous, strained interpretation, the killing would have to be for the purpose of furthering some other specific activity of the gang.  No, said the California Supreme Court, there is no such additional requirement in the language of the statute.

Emery and his fellow gangsters are the ones who need to be taught about severe consequences.

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IIRC, weren't there some pretty bad Ninth Circuit decisions on this point a few years ago?

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