A state appellate court Tuesday upheld a Ventura County judge's sentence of two concurrent terms of life in prison without parole for a defendant who was 17 when he killed two Saticoy men in a 1991 drive-by shooting.
The 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura also ruled that a surreptitious audio taping of a jail conversation between Edward (Tony) Throop and his mother did not violate Throop's constitutional rights.
The appellate court did reverse a lower court ruling that Throop serve an 11-year prison term for using a firearm after he serves the concurrent terms of life in prison without parole. The 11-year term should be served first, the court said.
Throop, who was the triggerman, and three other teen-agers were convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Prosecutors said the victims were shot as they stood outside a baptism party in Cabrillo Village.
Throop's case marked the first time a California judge used a 1990 ballot initiative, which made juveniles 16 and older subject to a no-parole life sentence.
Among other things, Throop's attorney argued that the sentences of life without the possibility of parole constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
But the appeals court wrote: "The imposition of the actual life sentences does not shock the conscience here. Although still 17 years old at the time of the murders, (Throop) was not without prior violent criminal adjudications."