SB 1437: An open letter to legislators

Photo by Pam Lane/

Photo by Pam Lane/

Pedro Galvez is the brother of Downey police officer Ricky Galvez, who was shot and killed in a botched robbery attempt in 2015. Pedro wrote this open letter to legislators after one of Ricky’s admitted killers was sentenced to juvenile detention, where he will serve no more than 5 years.

The letter is being published here with Pedro’s permission.

To Representatives of the State of California,

I am compelled to write this letter to make California residents aware of the dangerous repercussions associated with the recent passing of Senate Bill 1437 on Sept. 30, 2018 as approved by State Governor Edmund Brown. It is my intent, that it will bring forth a call to action to reverse the bill, public awareness, and provide insight into the negative impact that such a bill would impose upon innocent community residents and especially to victims’ families like my own.

On Nov. 18, 2015 my brother Ricardo “Ricky” Galvez was murdered in the line of duty. Ricky was a dedicated Downey Police Officer, and also a United States Marine veteran who served two separate tours of duty while serving our country. He believed in our judicial system and risked his life daily to protect the innocent and defenseless. Senate Bill 1437 now presents an opportunity for those charged with Ricky’s murder to receive no punishment for the intentional murder they were all involved in on Nov. 18.

Existing law defines first degree murder, as all murder that is committed in the perpetration of, or the attempt to perpetrate, specified felonies, which include but are not limited to, arson, rape, carjacking, robbery, burglary, mayhem, and kidnapping. The penalty for such crime of death is imprisonment in state prison for life without the possibility of parole, or imprisonment in state prison for a term of 25 years to life. Existing laws stipulates 2nd degree murder imposes the penalty of imprisonment in state prison for the terms of 15 years to life.

Senate Bill 1437 excuses murder liability for those individuals who participate in felony criminal acts whereby murder occurs, if the participants did not personally commit the murder, act with premeditated intention to aid and abet said crime, and for those who are not considered a primary or major participant in the criminal act(s).

Senate Bill 1437 changes what is currently defined as felony murder and can be retroactively applied to convictions gained through plea bargains (in lieu of trial), or jury and bench trials.

This bill offers zero liability to individuals who have served as accomplice to the crime of murder, as it allows murderers, dangerous criminals, who have already demonstrated a complete disregard for human life, to petition to have their convictions dismissed, absent of a proper court hearing in which adequate evidentiary support (full court records, exhibits) are thoroughly reviewed and considered. The lack of such critical exchange of information allows all individuals convicted of murder to apply for resentencing hearings. Thereby placing communities and their residents, at risk of serious harm and danger.

Senate Bill 1437 offers no consequences to those individuals who have mercilessly and senselessly ended an innocent life. The bill eliminates murder liability for participants in such heinous crimes and fails to distinguish between those who participate in murder crimes and those who do not.

The bill simply burdens our already impacted judicial system, and state budget, as reimbursement fees must be awarded to agencies and school districts. More importantly, Senate Bill 1437 allows for the re-victimization of those most impacted by such heinous crimes and their families.

News, OpinionPedro Galvez