Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It was all for nothing.

I have to admit, I'm not sure how I feel about this press release right now. I really expected them to only be sentenced right about now. I think I feel incredulous, and in a little shock.

Mostly I think it is really f-ed up that two men are going away for life for such a stupid f-ed up reason. From the day the allegations were read I was sure this would end just this way, but by a jury trial. I can't help but think about the huge amount of taxpayer dollars the city expended for these three men when they could have pled out three years ago. A huge jury pool was pulled upon. By my estimate around 800 people.

I am also a little perplexed the reason they pled was "to save the uncertainty of a trial." I am trying to understand how that played out, since I tapped out 2 days before they pled. I don't understand how the circumstances changed. I could almost bet they all ratted each other out, and there are video tapes of them giving each other up. So I just don't get it.

And lastly, as unfortunate as it sounds, I am 100% confident Defendant #3 will be back in the system. He was the youngest. You could tell he felt confident he would get a light sentence. While the other two men never turned around, Defendant #3 could often be seen smiling as he looked around the jury audience. Many times he would be trying to catch the eye of a few people - one who I would later come to understand was his baby momma. One of the last days of my service Defendant #3's lawyer walked right up to her and gave her a note. I was sitting a couple of rows behind her and to the left. From her response it clearly seemed like a love note. She seemed euphoric, and when he would catch her eye they would both smile at each other. How sweet.

Meanwhile the death-count marches on in Murder Mecca. 138 for the year.

11/15/06 7:20 PST

In an unusual legal move, an (city deleted) man has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other charges and accepted a state prison term of 35 years to life for killing a 19-year-old man three years ago.

Defendant 1, 37, pleaded guilty in the courtroom of (county deleted) Superior Court (Judge Deleted) Tuesday on the eve of a trial that he and two other men faced for the shooting death of Victim 1 in the 300 block of (Street and City Deleted) about 11 p.m. on March 25, 2003.

Three other people have also died in the aftermath of that bloody night.

Co-defendants (Defendant 2), 31, and (Defendant 3), 23, who is Defendant 1's stepson, also pleaded guilty to various charges after nearly two weeks of jury selection in the case.

"It's not every day that you find a defendant willing to plead to first-degree murder and accept a term of 35 years to life," said Deputy District Attorney (name deleted).

He said, "It took us all a little bit by surprise."

Deputy District Attorney said Victim 1 and his best friend, Victim 2, who was 17 at the time, were leaning against a car outside Victim 2' girlfriend's house when a blue van pulled up.

He said Defendant 2 and Defendant 1 got out of the van and accused Victim 1 and Victim 2 of taking a gun from them, but Victim 1 and Victum 2 said they hadn't done so.

The (Prosecutor) said Defendant 1 then opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol, striking Victim 2 and Victim 1.

Witnesses to the shooting turned and ran, so the van pursued them and Defenant 2 fired at them with an assault rifle but didn't strike anyone, (Deputy District Attorney) said.

Defendant 1 was arrested immediately after the shooting and Defendant 2 was found several hours later hiding in a nearby house. Defendant 3 was arrested in January of 2004.

Victim 1 suffered a massive head wound and never regained consciousness. He died 11 days after the shooting.

Victim 2 was paralyzed from the neck down, required a ventilator to breathe and was on life support. He died in August.

(Deputy District Attorney) said 38-year-old Victim 3 had been in the van with Defendant 1 and Defendant 2 and told (city Deleted) police the day after the shooting that the two men were responsible.

A week later, she was murdered in the (Street Deleted), in the same area as the original incident, he said.

Another witness, 22-year-old (Name Deleted), was murdered in broad daylight on June 14, 2003, in the parking lot of a KFC restaurant on (Street and City Deleted), according to Deputy District Attorney.

The murders of Victim 3 and Victim 4 remain unsolved, he said.

Defendant 1 pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder and to using a weapon. Two attempted murder charges against him were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

Defendant 2 pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder, using a weapon, being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm and possession of drugs and a gun. One count each of murder and attempted murder were dismissed. He accepted a 35-year state prison term.

Defendant 3 was also charged with one count of murder and three counts of attempted murder but was allowed to plead guilty to being an accessory after the fact.

He accepted a sentence of four years and eight months, but was given credit for the time he already has spent in jail and was released from custody Tuesday night.

All three men are scheduled to be formally sentenced by (Judge Deleted) on Feb. 28.

Deputy District Attorney said he accepted the guilty pleas and dropped or reduced some charges "to save the uncertainty of a trial."

He said the families of Victim 1 and Victim 2 "are very happy to put the court part of this behind them."

Defendant 3 attorney, (Attorney name deleted), said he didn't fire any shots and his only role in the crime was to drive Defendant 1 and Defendant 2 away from the scene.

Attorney 3 said Defendant 3 actually was a friend of Victim 1 and Victim 2 but fell under the influence of Defendant 1 and Defendant 2, who are much older.

Defendant 1 was dating Defenant 3's mother at the time of the shooting and later married her, Attorney 3 said.

Defendant 1's attorney, Attorney 1, couldn't be reached for comment today.

Attorney 3 said Defendant 1 agreed to plead guilty because he had faced up to four life terms plus 75 years in state prison if he'd been convicted of all the charges against him.

Defendant 2's attorney, Attorney 2, also couldn't be reached for comment.

Beginning of story.

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