SANTA ANA — A state appellate court ruled that a 34-year-old woman serving life in prison after being convicted of attempted murder in the shooting of her estranged husband should have her sentence reduced or have a new trial because she was mentally incapable of a premeditated crime.
In 1991, Sandra May Galvan shot Steven Galvan twice in the upper torso while he was doing chores at a house in Orange that he owned and where she was staying.
Despite Sandra Galvan's testimony that she had mistaken her husband for a burglar, she was found guilty and later denied a new retrial. On June 11, 1993, she was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
In a decision released Thursday, the 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana chided the public defender who represented Galvan at her trial for failing to obtain medical records that would have provided a psychological defense. The records said Galvan suffered "a borderline personality disorder" that could make her behave impulsively and impair her ability to weigh the consequences of her actions.
The public defender's failure to obtain Galvan's medical records, the appellate court said, "fell below the accepted standard of reasonable attorney competence."
Her lawyer in the appeal, Conrad Petermann, and Deputy Atty. Gen. Keith I. Motley both said they are not satisfied with the ruling and will appeal it to the California Supreme Court on different grounds.
Petermann said he wants the conviction dismissed outright and Motley said he wants the sentence reinstated.