Orange County Superior Court Judge Gary S. Paer read an outdated jury instruction at the conclusion of Anthony Michael Vega's trial for a 2008 kidnapping and home invasion robbery in La Habra and the Commerce man got sent away to prison.
Vega appealed the 2011 convictions and this week learned that justices at a California Court of Appeal agreed Paer had erred.
But in a 12-page ruling written by Justice Eileen C. Moore for justices William Bedsworth and Richard Aronson, the panel declared the mistake wouldn't cause them to overturn the case.
Paer had read an outdated version of a
kidnapping statute, a version that actually was “to the advantage of the
defendant” by requiring the Orange County District Attorney's office “to meet a higher burden of proof than that currently required under law.”
to Vega, he should have just been charged with robbery and not robbery
and kidnapping after taking a female homeowner by force from her yard to
inside her house.
Because Vega and his cohorts took the woman more than 60 feet from her garden, the justices weren't sympathetic to the argument.
Upshot: The 35-year-old will continue to serve his life plus 13-year sentence at California State Prison at Solano
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.