A state appeals court panel has rejected the latest appeal filed on behalf of a gang member who was convicted along with three others in the shooting death of a security guard during a botched robbery at a medical marijuana clinic in Los Angeles.
In a ruling Thursday, the three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal affirmed a Superior Court judge’s decision denying Brandon Daniels’ petition for re-sentencing under a new state law that affects defendants in some murder cases.
Daniels — a “Los Angeles Top 10 Most Wanted” fugitive when he was arrested in March 2010 — was convicted in the Oct. 1, 2008, killing of Noe Campos Gonzales at the La Brea Collective at 812 S. La Brea Ave.
In their 18-page ruling, the appellate court panel noted that Daniels had a “major role in planning the crime” and “entered the dispensary, went to the loft, pointed a gun at an employee and demanded the marijuana.”
“… He was armed and knew that his accomplices were armed, as (co-defendant Leon) Banks and either (co-defendant David) Gardiner entered with guns drawn,” the justices found. “After hearing the gunshot from downstairs, defendant assisted his accomplices in pushing their way out of the dispensary and was next to Banks while the security guard was pushing back at the door. Defendant was therefore present and in a position to prevent the murder but did not. After Banks fired the first shot at the guard, defendant ran out and away without any regard for the victim.”
Daniels and Banks are each serving terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Gardiner pleaded no contest to first-degree murder and was sentenced to 45 years to life in state prison.
A fourth man, Lovie Troy Matthews, whom authorities said acted as the getaway driver, was also found guilty. But a state appeals court panel ordered Matthews’ first-degree murder conviction to be vacated last year after finding that he “did not have the intent to kill, and he was not a major participant in the attempted robbery who acted with reckless indifference to human life.”
Matthews is no longer in custody, according to records from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.