LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A state appeals court panel Tuesday ordered a judge to vacate the murder conviction of one of two men for the killing of a Torrance resident during a robbery at his home more than a decade ago.
The three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with the defense's contention that the trial court was obligated to grant Morgan Tyler Delange's petition for re-sentencing because jurors rejected the special circumstance allegations against Delange of murder during a burglary or murder during a robbery.
Delange's petition for re-sentencing had been denied by the trial court judge, who concluded that Delange was an "equal participant" in the March 2012 strangulation of Norman Mangus, according to the ruling.
But the appellate court panel noted that the California Attorney General's Office conceded the trial court erred by not granting the petition based on a change in state law and recent judicial decisions.
Delange -- who was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, first- degree burglary, second-degree robbery and vehicle theft -- was sentenced in August 2014 to 33 years to life. A judge said then that he wished he could sentence Delange to a longer term.
Co-defendant Joshua David Alfano, now 31, is serving a life prison term without the possibility of parole. Alfano was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, vehicle theft and three counts of burglary, with jurors finding true the special circumstance allegations of murder during a burglary and murder during a robbery against him.
Mangus, whose body was found March 23, 2012, at his home in the 20400 block of Roslin Avenue, had rented a room to Alfano, who subsequently moved into a separate residence with Delange in February 2012.
The appellate court justices noted that Delange and Alfonso blamed each other for the killing, and that testing linked DNA from Alfano and Delange to a glove found near the victim's body and the beanie cap used to muffle the victim.
The convictions of both men were initially upheld in a September 2016 appellate court ruling, with the California Supreme Court subsequently refusing to review the case against them.