Tuesday, June 16, 2015

People v. Hill (Cal. Ct. App. - May 13, 2015)

I hate to be cruel.  And fear that I am.  But I nonetheless hope that Rosa Hill and her mother, Mei Li, never get out of prison.  Ever.

I'll not attempt to summarize the underlying facts of this 56-page opinion.  Suffice it to say that Ms. Hill and Ms. Li were convicted of the first-degree, premeditated murder of a 91-year old woman and the attempted murder of her grandson (the former spouse of Ms. Hill).  In circumstances that are the archetype of actual premeditation, as opposed to the weak form of premeditation that you often see in contemporary appellate cases.

Read the first dozen or so pages of the opinion.  I rarely read more chilling stuff.  And I've read a lot.

The Court of Appeal ultimately reverses the first-degree murder conviction of Mei Li on the basis of instructional error.  Which made me sad -- even though I'm sure the Court of Appeal's disposition is the correct one -- because I fear that the D.A. might well elect not to try Ms. Li again, despite the fact that I'm quite confident that she'd again be convicted of this offense.

I'd wager that the theory in the D.A.'s office will be that it's not worth it to spend money on a retrial, even though the Court of Appeal reversed the first-degree murder conviction that resulte in a 25-to-life sentence for Ms. Li, since it simultaneously affirmed her attempted murder conviction that results in a sentence of life.  Why bother going for the additional 25 years when you've already got life?

(Though, of course, we know full well that life doesn't necessarily actually mean life.)

Which distressed me a tiny bit since, again, I didn't (and don't) want Ms. Li to ever get out of prison.

But then I read elsewhere that Ms. Li is 58 years old.

Fair enough.  A "life" sentence should do the trick.

P.S. - Ms. Lei's husband might also be happy I wasn't the trial judge in his case.  He was apparently an accessory, pled guilty, and was sentenced to four years in prison.  Maybe that's okay.  But if I did something different, I can assure you his sentence would be longer, not shorter.