McDaniels’ First-Degree Murder Conviction Upheld by San Francisco State Appeals Court, Firearm Enhancements Sentencing Remanded to Trial Court

In 2016 Alpacino McDaniels was found guilty of the July 2013 murder of 23-year-old Teric Traylor by an Alameda County Superior Court jury. McDaniels allegedly killed Traylor during a street fight in West Oakland, although McDaniels claimed that he was not the one who shot the victim. McDaniels had prior convictions including two for possessing cocaine base for sale, one for evading police and another for selling a controlled substance.

In this case the murder of the victim occurred in an area commonly known as one where drug crimes and other violent activity took place, the block referred to as “Mead Street” in West Oakland which runs between Market Street and San Pablo Avenue. Reports claim that while drug dealers would operate at various locations on Mead, the main site where drug activity took place was at a corner liquor store. McDaniels was convicted of one count each of first-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm.

The jury in the case determined that McDaniels intentionally and personally discharged a firearm that resulted in the victim’s death, and concluded three firearm enhancements along with the murder count were true. He was sentenced to 25 years to life for the murder along with 25 years to life for the discharge of a firearm causing death to be served consecutively, a total of 50 years to life behind bars. In the two additional firearm enhancements, 20- and 10-year terms were stayed. McDaniels was 29 at the time he was charged with the murder; Charles Fuller was also charged in the crime.

In October of 2017 Senate Bill 620 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown and took effect in January of this year. This law essentially takes the power to add firearm enhancements away from prosecutors, instead leaving the decision as to whether firearm enhancements should be added to sentencing to the judge. Prior to the passing of SB 620 gun enhancement penalties often added years or even decades to the amount of prison time a convicted offender would serve.

On April 17 of this year a San Francisco appeals court upheld McDaniels’ murder conviction, however a three-judge panel ordered further consideration of his sentence. The appeals court found that in light of SB 620 which applies retroactively, the sentencing court is given the discretion to dismiss or strike firearm enhancements. The matter was remanded to the trial court for consideration of the firearm enhancements, and whether they will be dismissed.

While the murder conviction stands, McDaniels’ sentence will be further considered by the trial court. Whether the firearm enhancements will remain or be dismissed is a question we will hopefully have an answer to in the near future.