Citing changes in state law, a state appeals court panel Wednesday ordered a judge to reverse the murder conviction of one of two men for the shooting death of a Sherman Oaks resident during an attempted robbery.
The prisoner could be released soon as he may have already served enough time for convictions on other related charges.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with the defense’s contention that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge had no authority to reduce Daryl Sconier Jr.’s first-degree murder conviction to second-degree murder for the March 26, 2009, killing of Brian Caufield as a result of the change in state law.
The appellate court justices instructed the lower court to sentence him on the remaining counts of attempted first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary, while noting that he may have already served the maximum possible sentence for those crimes.
Sconiers was convicted along with co-defendant Kenyon Aikens in the killing of the 31-year-old victim, who was shot in his apartment as he was speaking on the phone to his mother.
In an eight-page ruling, the appellate court justices noted that “substantial evidence indicated that the co-defendant, not defendant, was the actual killer, as the co-defendant brought a gun and brandished it during the robbery” and that there was no evidence Sconiers had a gun.
Sconiers and Aikens were initially sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Sconiers was subsequently reduced to a potential life prison term after a state appeals court panel reversed the jury’s findings against him of special circumstances of murder during a first-degree burglary and murder during an attempted robbery, finding there was no evidence that he had any reason to believe Aikens would shoot the victim.
In its latest ruling, the appellate court agreed with the defense’s claim that Sconiers could no longer be convicted of murder under the recent changes in state law.
At the defendants’ sentencing in February 2016, the victim’s mother said she heard her son die.
“I heard the three shots that you fired that ended my son’s life and all of his dreams. Your voice and those three shots are forever burned into my memory,” Kathy Caufield said then.
Authorities believe the two men went to her son’s apartment on March 26, 2009, to rob him of marijuana and any cash that he had. At least one of the men apparently posed as a police officer, and one of the victim’s hands was handcuffed and both of his roommate’s hands were handcuffed, Deputy District Attorney Philip Marshall said after the two were convicted.
A third man was tried earlier and acquitted of charges stemming from Caufield’s killing.