An Orange County Superior Court judge on Friday vacated the murder conviction of a Seal Beach jewelry store robber, potentially freeing the 71-year-old defendant after 42 years behind bars.

Eddie Tyler Burnett, who has been in custody since March 7, 1978, had been denied parole in October 2017 and was not due for another parole hearing until 2024.

Chris McGibbons of the Orange County Public Defender’s Office convinced Judge Michael Cassidy on Friday that his client’s murder conviction should be vacated due to a change in state law that increases the legal standard to hold an accomplice as legally culpable in a murder as the actual killer.    Cassidy then sentenced Burnett to 10 years and four months in prison.

On Jan. 30, 1978, Burnett and the gunman, Bobby Crane, once the reputed head of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, robbed Wayne and Barbara Golin’s Leisure World Jewelers in Seal Beach.

Wayne Golin attempted to duck when Crane pulled a gun on him, but was shot in the shoulder. He managed to shoot back with his own gun, wounding Crane in the arm, and Crane then shot him in the head.

Burnett entered the store as Crane pulled his gun and made a dash for the safe. As Barbara Golin attempted to crawl to the front door, setting off its “ding dong” notification, Crane threatened to kill her before leaving, trailed by Burnett who also threatened her.

Police rounded up the duo on Feb. 1, 1978.

Crane was convicted in 1979 and was sentenced to life in prison, but then in 1982 pleaded guilty to avoid the death penalty for killing another man, Kenneth Cochrane, in December 1977 at Huntington Beach State Park.

Deputy District Attorney Seton Hunt argued that Burnett “was present and armed with a firearm when Mr. Golin was shot in front of his wife … by his cohort,” according to a motion he filed in January opposing the vacating of the murder conviction.

After Wayne Golin was shot, Burnett “went directly to the Golins’ safe and proceeded to steal items from their store; (and) knowing Mr. Golin had just been shot, (Burnett) threatened to kill Ms. Golin if she moved,” according to Hunt.

Isabel Apkarian of the Public Defender’s Office argued in a Nov. 9 motion to resentence Burnett that the trial records are “silent as to who was the mastermind behind the jewelry store robbery that led to the death of Wayne Golin.”

Apkarian argued that only after Crane and Golin shot each other did Burnett enter the shop, and she maintained that Burnett was never in a position to stop the shooting.

“Mr. Burnett ran into the store and stood abruptly, presumably surprised,” Apkarian wrote. “There is no evidence that (Burnett) orchestrated any plan to use weapons, or to use lethal force to accomplish the robbery if the victim resisted. On the contrary, the evidence merely shows that (Burnett) played a supporting role as the lookout outside of the jewelry store.”