BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Angelique Nash, convicted of murder when she participated in a burglary as a teen that led to the death of an 81-year-old Bakersfield woman, has been granted a motion to be released from custody.
The 27-year-old has been behind bars since her 2010 arrest in the death of Dorothy Session. She will remain at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla until officials there receive a verified court order regarding her release, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The motion was heard Monday in a Bakersfield courtroom, prosecutors said.
Nash, 17 at the time, acted as a lookout while her 15-year-old sister, Katila Nash, and a third person, David Deshawn Moses, entered Session’s home. Moses, then 17, hit Session during the burglary, knocking her down. She died from the assault.
All three defendants were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life terms in prison. The Nash sisters were convicted under the felony murder rule, which stated a defendant could be found guilty of murder even if they weren’t the actual killer but committed a dangerous act such as robbery or burglary that resulted in an accidental or unintentional death.
But a new law took effect last year that substantially changed the felony murder rule. It now says a person must actually commit or aid in a killing, or have the intent to kill, during the commission of a crime in order to be charged with murder. Those who previously could have been charged with murder can now only be charged with the underlying crime, whether it’s robbery, burglary, carjacking or another serious crime.
The law is retroactive, and hundreds of defendants convicted under the felony murder rule have filed petitions to have their murder convictions dismissed.
Last year, the trial court rejected rejected Angelique Nash’s petition to throw out her murder conviction. The court found the new law, SB 1437, unconstitutional because it effectively changed Proposition 7, which was adopted by voters during a statewide general election in 1978. The judge said the legislature must take the law to the voters and let them decide.
An appellate court disagreed, finding the new law constitutional and noting there has been a “sea change” in state law when it comes to juvenile offenders. The court has sent the petition back to Kern for a ruling. A hearing had not been scheduled as of Tuesday, according to court records.
Katila Nash was released from custody last year after another law, SB 1391, stipulated anyone 15 or younger cannot be transferred to adult court for any crime — including murder. An appellate court ruled the law retroactively applied to Nash.
Moses has future hearings scheduled in which the defense plans to introduce mitigating factors regarding Moses’ youth and mental capacity at the time of his arrest. Those factors can then be heard at a future parole hearing.