A state appeals court has overturned the second-degree murder conviction of a reputed gang member who fatally shot a rival gang member in a Disneyland parking lot in 1987.
The 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana ruled that jurors who convicted Keleti Naea, 20, were not properly instructed about the lesser crime of involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecutors must give Naea a new murder trial or reduce his conviction to involuntary manslaughter, the justices said in the ruling issued this week.
Naea was sentenced to 17 years to life in state prison last year after his conviction stemming from the March 17, 1987, shooting during a midnight gang clash in the Disneyland parking lot.
Salesi Tai, 15, a reputed member of a Compton street gang, was shot four times--three in the back--and later died at a hospital.
Naea contended that he thought the gun, which belonged to the victim, was a toy when he picked it off the ground and fired at Tai.