Gang member Marlon Rivera, who was involved in the attack that led to the death of then 14-year-old Ivan Miranda, has been released from his imprisonment by a San Francisco judge on New Year’s Eve.
Rivera was one of two assailants that chased down Miranda, taking his iPod and nearly taking his head off near his home in Excelsior District of San Francisco. The incident occurred on July 31, 2008. Prosecutors argued that the two suspects were part of a gang and were on a “hunting” mission targeting rival members.
However, the two individuals attacked Miranda after they ran into him, despite the victim not being a gang member. The young boy was on his way to a friend’s house to return the iPod that he borrowed.
“We thought we had found justice,” Ivan’s older sister, Ibette Miranda, said. She attended the two defendants’ trials, where they were both sentenced to life in prison.
Under California’s 2019 revised felony murder rule, Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn accepted Rivera’s petition to be freed. The law provided convicted individuals to prove that they did not conduct major acts in underlying crimes they were charged with.
Before authorities revised the law, it allowed a suspect of a violent crime that led to a death to be charged with first-degree murder. That was the case even if they did not participate in a major way or commit any violent acts.
During Ivan’s death, Rivera was only 16 years old when he was a member of a gang and did not have a criminal record, Judge Kahn argued. He also noted that the suspect was not a major participant, referring to the jury’s findings that he did not go after the victim and was not the one who used a Samurai sword to stab him to death.
The jury said that they found a 17-year-old responsible for Ivan’s murder and that he was given 40 years in jail. However, the judge’s ruling left the victim’s family devastated. “My family hurts; they’re in pain. I have to see my mom cry all over and all over again. That hurts me so much,” Ibette said.
The victim’s sister noted that in recordings of conversations within the gang, Rivera boasted about how funny Ivan fell down after he was stabbed. He also confessed to his gang friends that he took part in killing the victim, NBC Bay Area reported.
However, Judge Kahn said that Rivera could have just been trying to win his colleagues’ approval and did not actually partake in the murder. Authorities could release the suspect as early as January 20.
“He’s receiving a second chance, which we can’t. Ivan is not here anymore. We’re not going to have him back. I just want justice,” Ibette said while holding back her tears.