Courts’ interpretation of felony murder rule change leaves out people who pleaded to manslaughter

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In 2016, 42-year-old Vuong Dihn Phan had the odd misfortune of not being convicted of murder. If he had been, there’s a good chance he’d be out of prison right now. Instead, Phan — accused of participating in an Oakland brothel robbery in which a cohort, Curtis Yee, ran upstairs by himself and fatally shot 31-year-old Jian Jin of San Jose — did what authorities wanted him to do: he accepted a plea deal, testified at Yee’s trial, and received a lighter sentence than the life term he was facing. But because of that decision, appeals courts ruled that Phan was ineligible for …

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