MARTINEZ -- A 25-year-old man convicted of the murder of a Pittsburg police officer has been remanded to Contra Costa County for resentencing for the second time.
The state First District Court of Appeal on Friday ordered that Andrew Moffett be resentenced, again, in light of a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that made mandatory sentences of life without the possibility of parole unconstitutional for juvenile offenders.
The Supreme Court's position doesn't forbid life terms, but it does require sentencing judges to consider the young offender's background and other extenuating circumstances -- something Contra Costa County Judge Laurel Brady did in the Moffett case, according to Moffett's prosecutor, chief assistant district attorney Harold Jewett. The state Attorney General's Office has not announced whether it will appeal Friday's opinion.
"We've been through this before and if we have to go through it again, we're prepared to do so," Jewett said. "Our position is life without the possibility of parole is the appropriate sentence in this case."
Moffett was weeks shy of his 18th birthday when on April 23, 2005, he and Alexander Hamilton robbed a cashier and bank tellers inside a crowded Raley's supermarket.
Police were chasing the robbers when Hamilton, hiding in the tall grass of the De Anza Trail, fatally shot Larry Lasater with a gun he obtained from Moffett. Hamilton, 25, is on San Quentin State Prison's death row.
Moffett had already jumped a fence when Hamilton killed Lasater. He was convicted of Lasater's murder under the felony murder rule, which holds partners in crimes such as robbery equally responsible when a death occurs, and sentenced in 2008 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Two years later, the First District Court of Appeal struck down one the special circumstances attached to Moffett's first-degree murder conviction and remanded him for sentencing. Judge Brady had the option to give him 25 years to life but reinstated the original sentence because Moffett has a violent history and was "very actively involved in the series of events" that led to Lasater's death.
Moffett, serving his time at Salinas Valley State Prison, in August filed a pending multimillion-dollar federal lawsuit alleging that he was beaten by Contra Costa County sheriff's deputies while in County Jail in Martinez.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.