Chili-finger term could be cut

SAN JOSE -- A woman convicted of planting a dismembered finger in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant could have her prison sentence reduced by two years after a state court of appeal ruled in her favor Friday.

Anna Ayala, 41, claimed in March 2005 that she had bitten into a human finger while eating chili. A judge sentenced her and her husband, Jaime Placencia, to nine-year prison terms.

In an appeal, Ayala's lawyers argued that Judge Edward Da- vila should not have imposed the harshest possible sentence, five years, on one felony count of presenting a false insurance claim.

Ayala's argument stemmed from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that found California's sentencing law violates a defendant's right to a jury trial because it gives judges leverage to impose long sentences based on evidence never pre- sented to the jury.

Friday, the Sixth District Court of Appeal agreed with Ayala, and ordered Davila to resentence her on that single felony count.

Under state law, it is likely the sentence will be reduced to three years.