BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — In 2009, alleged gang member Lawrence Dean Jr. was convicted of murder in the shooting death of a rival gang member. He was sentenced to 40 years to life.

Earlier this month, however, the 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno ordered Dean returned to Kern County for possible resentencing due to changes to the state’s felony murder rule. Under the appellate court ruling, Dean, 31, will have a hearing in Bakersfield to make an argument as to why the court should vacate his conviction.

Changes to the felony murder rule that took effect in 2019 require a person to 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. Previously, defendants could be found guilty of murder and sentenced to life terms in prison in cases where they weren’t the actual killer but committed a dangerous felony, such as robbery or burglary, that resulted in death.

The law is retroactive, so thousands of cases where people were convicted of murder have been sent back statewide for hearings to determine if the conviction should be tossed and the defendant resentenced on remaining charges — or released.

In Dean’s case, he and two co-defendants were convicted of second-degree murder in the Nov. 22, 2008, death of David Camberosa. The jury also found gang and gun enhancements to be true, adding years to the prison terms.

An officer testified at trial Dean admitted being present at the shooting and firing a gun in the air inside the apartment complex where the killing occurred, according to appellate court documents.

When the law changed, Dean filed a petition for resentencing. Prosecutors opposed it.

“They asserted defendant was an aider and abettor to murder who acted with the intent to kill and he was a major participant in the murder who acted with reckless indifference to human life,” the documents say.

Prosecutors argued Dean and two other gang members, armed with handguns, were determined to shoot the first rival gang member they came across, according to the documents. They noted Dean’s admission to firing into an apartment.

A Kern judge denied Dean’s petition, but a three-judge appellate panel, in a ruling filed Jan. 11, found Dean’s case met requirements to be sent back for a hearing to determine whether resentencing is appropriate. A date for Dean’s return to Bakersfield had not been scheduled.

Co-defendants Aleric McDonald, 28, and Marcus Johnson, 30, continue to serve their sentences, according to inmate records. A third co-defendant, Justin McCowan, pleaded no contest to assault with a firearm on a person and received a three-year term.

Charges were dismissed against two other men.