Santa Ana's Joseph Felix Diaz hoped that California's version of a “Stand Your Ground” law would save him from a hefty prison trip.
In Oct. 2010, three men–including driver Faustino Armenta–threw a beer bottle from their van at Diaz, who was riding a bicycle. Armenta got out holding a bottle and chased Diaz, who was by then also on foot, down streets when a face-off occurred.
But it wasn't a fair fight.
Armenta threw his bottle at Diaz, who fired several gunshots in return.
Diaz testified that he fired because he feared Armenta was armed with a gun too.
But Armenta ran in the opposite direction and Diaz gave chase. When Armenta tripped and fell, Diaz fired three blasts, two of them causing fatal wounds.
On appeal of his murder conviction, Diaz claimed Orange County Superior Court Judge Daniel Barrett McNerney should have corrected the trial prosecutor's “incorrect” closing statement that, “The law says he [Diaz] is not required to retreat. He doesn't have to run away. If he's facing deadly force, he doesn't have to run away. But . . . you don't get to pursue. You don't get to pursue when you're not looking at any sort of deadly force.”
On July 31, a three-judge panel at the California Court of Appeal in Santa Ana ruled that McNerney had no obligation to correct the closing argument because the prosecutor “did not make an incorrect statement of law.”
Upshot: Diaz, 30, will continue to serve his 50 years to life punishment inside Corcoran State Prison.