The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

February 2010 Archives

Johannes Mehserle's Trial Comes to Los Angeles

The ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle, who shot Oscar Grant on January 1, 2009, is being tried in Los Angeles. This is instead of Alameda County in the Bay Area; where the infamous shooting occurred.

KCRA reports that the high profile case will be moving to Los Angeles County's downtown courtroom because Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson concluded that Mehserle would not receive a fair jury trial in Alameda County. Now Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are analyzing how the change in venue will affect the trial's outcome.

Mehserle fired a pistol at Grant early New Years Day after he allegedly resisted several BART police officers at the Fruitvale station in Oakland. Mehserle's criminal defense attorney states that the officer intended to use a taser on Grant, and that the fatal shooting was accidental. Mehserle is now being charged with murder, but he is pleading not guilty.

Parents Sentenced To Prison After Child Starves to Death

Isabel Garcia, the daughter of Lupe Lopez and Gabriel Garcia, died on May 19, 2008 from malnutrition. She was just two years old.

Now the parents, who reside in Pomona, will be paying the consequences as they were both sentenced to prison last Thursday. They pleaded no contest to child abuse. The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports that the child had bruises and cuts on her body; as well as injuries to the toes at the time of her death.

Sean Penn Facing Criminal Charges

Two-time Oscar winning actor Sean Penn might be considered a talented, dramatic actor on film sets, but some Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys would argue that the man should control his temper off camera if he wants to avoid trouble with the law.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the 49-year-old actor was charged Friday with battery and vandalism for allegedly attacking a photographer. Mr. Penn is scheduled to be arraigned on March 22 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The misdemeanor charges stem from an incident last October in which Mr. Penn allegedly kicked a photographer and broke the photographer's camera outside a Brentwood Country Mart. Part of the incident was captured on film by TMZ; as shown above.

Chris Brown Back in Court

The R&B singer Chris Brown was in Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday for a progress hearing on his probation, according to Los Angeles Daily News.

The 20-year-old pop star was sentenced to five years probation and to complete a year long domestic violence program after he pleaded guilty last June to assaulting his former girlfriend the pop singer Rihanna. Chris Brown was also ordered to complete 180 days of community service.

Jane Laut Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charges of Olympian

The murder trial of Olympic shot put medalist David Laut continued this week, where the suspect Jane Laut pleaded not guilty to first degree murder charges, according to KTLA News.

Ms. Jane Laut, 52,  is the former wife of the victim. Her late husband was shot multiple times in the head on the night of August 28 in the backyard of their home. He was famous for winning a gold medal at the 1979 Pan American Games and a bronze medal in the 1984 Olympic Games. David Laut was raised in the Southern California area where he won two NCAA titles at UCLA, before his Olympic days.

Alleged Vandalist Put Behind Bars

A 22-year-old was booked on suspicion of felony vandalism last week after the man allegedly scratched graffiti onto an aquatic center door in Commerce, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The suspect, Joshua Vasquez of East Los Angeles, probably was unaware that there were actually 100 law enforcement officers inside the glass building that he was allegedly vandalizing.

"Looking at the door later on, it turns out we could see him, but he couldn't see us," Capt. Mike Parker told ABC News. "It would appear he picked the wrong room to vandalize."

Michael Jackson's Doctor Appears in Court

Michael Jackson's person physician, Conrad Murray, pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter last Monday at his arraignment. The criminal case comes after a seven-month long investigation; which started after the infamous death of the pop star.

The complaint filed by the county district attorney's office, according to The Los Angeles Times, alleges that Dr. Murray "did unlawfully and without malice kill Michael Joseph Jackson, a human being, in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony; and in the commission of a lawful act which might have produced death, in an unlawful manner, and without due caution and circumspection."

Los Angeles Sees Decrease in Homicides

Good news for Los Angeles County has hit the L.A newspapers, where several sources report a decline in homicides this year. The Los Angeles Times reports that across the county there were 51 killings in the first month of 2010, compared to 78 homicides in January 2009. There were 79 reported homicides in January 2008 and 81 homicides in January 2007.

The city of Los Angeles in particular saw a significant drop in January homicides with a 40 percent decline from that of last year. LAPD says that gang homicides are down by more than half this year.

Molestation Case Raises Concerns Over Social Networking

A recent case in Los Angeles County sheds light on the safety concerns of social networking, giving parents and teenagers a new reason to be concerned.

A man who pleaded no contest to four counts of child molestation in Pomona Superior Court was sentenced to five years in prison last week, according to San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Leif Garrett Arrested For Allegedly Possessing Heroin

Mr. Leif Garrett, a former teen idol known for his acting and singing in the 1970s, Mr. Leif Garrett is now facing some trouble for his alleged drug possession. However, this is not the pop star's first time being charged.

Los Angeles police arrested Garrett on Monday at a subway platform, after they searched the man for drugs. ABC News reports that the police found heroin on Mr. Leif Garrett and that the pop star was exhibiting pronounced symptoms of drug dependency, such as shaking and sweating. He's now facing charges for possession of a controlled substance. Garrett and his Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer will next appear in court on February 24.

Swedish Rapper Found Guilty of Second-Degree Murder

KTLA reports that Swedish rapper David Jassy may face 15 years to life in prison when he returns to court for his sentencing on March 4. The rapper was convicted of second-degree murder after he was accused of running over jazz musician John Osnes during a 2008 argument in Hollywood.

According to the Los Angeles Times blog, Mr. Jassy's criminal attorney in Los Angeles, Mr. Alec Rose, said that his client Mr. Jassy was "an innocent man" and that Mr. Jassy's actions were a form of self defense.

Lobster Poaching Case in Orange County

William Robb, an Orange County sheriff's deputy, was placed on one year of informal probation last week, after he pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count each of possessing an excessive number of spiny lobsters and possessing undersized spiny lobsters.

The case stems from an incident that occurred last November, in which Robb was cited at Dana Point for catching too many lobsters that were below the legal size to catch (see earlier blog post "Possible Misdemeanors Over Spiny Lobsters"). Robb's friend, former Deputy Phillip Glenn Romero, also pleaded guilty last December to a misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer. Romero tried to cover for Robb, saying that Robb was a confidential informant for the county. But a fish and game warden found that his was a lie. Romero was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, 18 months of probation, and ordered fines of $1,700.