A man who had been serving a potential life prison term for the shooting death of a Sherman Oaks resident during an attempted robbery nearly 12 years ago was re-sentenced Friday to time he has already served behind bars.
Daryl Sconiers Jr., 37, was ordered to be released from custody about a month after a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered his second-degree murder conviction to be vacated for the shooting death of 31-year-old Brian Caufield.
“It’s something I can’t wrap my head around … I just feel like it’s a total injustice,” the victim’s mother, Kathy, told City News Service after the hearing. “To me, it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Sconiers was convicted along with co-defendant Kenyon Aikens in the March 26, 2009, shooting death of Caufield, who was killed as he was on the phone with his mother.
Sconiers and Aikens were initially sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Sconiers’ sentence was subsequently reduced to a potential life prison term after a state appeals court panel reversed the jury’s special circumstances findings of murder during a first-degree burglary and murder during an attempted robbery, ruling that there was no evidence that he had any reason to believe Aikens would shoot the victim.
A judge then reduced Sconiers’ conviction to second-degree murder as a result of a change in state law, with the appellate court panel agreeing last month with the defense’s contention that the murder conviction should have been vacated.
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 then that he may have already served the maximum possible sentence for those crimes.
In a statement read in court, the victim’s sister, Ashley Collins, directly addressed the defendant, saying that “the appellate court is wrong and you manipulated the system.”
“We need protection from you, and the justice system has failed us. They failed my brother,” she said.
When Sconiers and Aikens were first sentenced in February 2016, the victim’s mother described hearing 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,” she said.
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.