The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

June 2010 Archives

Nick Adenhart's Death: Defense Attorneys Want Trial Out of OC

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Will the murder trial of Andrew Gallo move out of Orange County? This is the question that many Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys  have on their minds. The man, who has been accused of killing  Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, might be hated by some in the OC community, but does that mean it's impossible to find an impartial jury?

The Orange County Register reports that prosecutors have argued in a court brief that it would be possible to find impartial local jurors in Orange County and that a change of venue in this case does not meet the legal requirement of establishing that local jurors cannot be impartial. Defense attorneys disagree and have filed a motion to move Andrew Gallo's trial outside the OC.

David Riggs Convicted of Recklessly Operating Aircraft

A movie producer, who was convicted of recklessly operating an aircraft in a manner that endangered life and property, was sentenced last week to 60 days in jail and fined $900 for the misdemeanor crime. The Los Angeles Times also reports that Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Harold Cherness placed the defendant, David Riggs, on three years' probation and ordered the man to clean city beaches for 60 days.

Some Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys may argue that this is a stiff sentence for a misdemeanor crime. David Riggs faced a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1000 fine, but the violation comes from a rarely used section of the state public utilities code.

Jury Finds Angel Sosa Not Guilty of Murder

Angel Sosa should seriously thank his Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, as the 17-year-old boy was aquitted earlier this month of fatally shooting a man and his 12-year-old son at a high school graduation party. Associated Press reports that the defendant, who was just 15 years of age at the time of the shooting, was being tried as an adult for two murder charges.

Prosecutors said that witnesses identified Angel Sosa as the gunman who fired into a crowd of party guests during a dispute in Montebello. However, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Jeri Polen argued that there was reasonable doubt that the defendant was not the shooter. The lawyer told the jury that more than a dozen witnesses could not identify Angel Sosa as the gunman or picked somebody else other than Angel Sosa when they were shown a photo lineup by Montebello detectives.

Luis Mijangos Charged in Disturbing "Sextortion" Case

Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys and Orange County attorneys are probably wondering what will happen in the case against 31-year-old Luis Mijangos, who has been accused of victimizing at least 44 minors and 186 women in what the Los Angeles Times calls "sextortion." The Orange County man has now been charged with extortion by federal authorities for allegedly blackmailing women and children into sending sexually explicit videos to him.

At Least 10 People Facing Charges From L.A Laker Victory Riots

Chants of celebration echoed throughout the Los Angeles area last week after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. However, those chants quickly turned into riots, leading to at least 42 arrests in the area last Thursday on suspicion of crimes that included arson, assault on a peace officer, battery, public drunkenness, resisting arrest, vandalism, and disturbing the peace.

The Los Angeles Times reported that as of Monday, 10 people were being charged with crimes by the City Attorney's Office. Prosecutors say that they're taking a very strong stand against the suspects and plan to impose the maximum sentence for the misdemeanor crimes, which is six months to one year in the county jail.

Conrad Murray's Preliminary Hearing Set For August 23

The doctor who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson has an assigned court date for August 23, although Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys, prosecutors, and Judge Michael Pastor have all agreed that the August date might be delayed as the case progresses.

Reuters reports that the defendant Conrad Murray and his lawyers appeared in court on Monday, where Judge Michael Pastor ruled that the doctor could keep his California medical license. The judge said that he did not have the authority to suspend Conrad Murray's license because a previous judge had already issued a ruling saying that he could practice medicine as long as he did not issue sedatives. The Los Angeles Superior Court Judge said that if California officials wanted to pursue the matter further, they could appeal his ruling.

Los Angeles Criminal Attorney Arrested For Narcotics Possession

Drug crimes occur frequently in Los Angeles, but most people would not expect law enforcers to find black tar heroin or methamphetamine inside a courthouse, especially not in the hands of a criminal defense lawyer.

Yet the downtown Los Angeles courthouse seems to be just full of surprises and unexpected arrests. The Los Angeles Times reports that a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from Beverly Hills was found in possession of about 19 grams of heroin and about 2 grams of methamphetamine inside a secure area of the courthouse once a sheriff's department dog suspected that the lawyer was in possession of drugs.

Educators Accused of Stealing Over $200K From Ivy Academia

The leaders of a San Fernando Valley charter school now face 38 felony and misdemeanor counts of criminal charges, including fraud charges of embezzlement, money laundering and filing false tax returns. The Los Angeles Times reports that the defendants Eugene Selivanov and Tatyana Berkovich have denied any wrongdoing and they have a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney that plans to defend them of the various charges.

The defendants are two married Russian immigrants who have been accused of misusing public funds at Ivy Academia. The criminal charges grew out of a 2007 audit of Ivy Academia that showed transferred funds from the charter school that were not recorded into the school's books. Specific details of the criminal case have not been made public by the district attorney's Public Integrity Division.

Details Emerging in Juan Carlos Cruz's Criminal Case

Former Food Network Chef Juan Carlos Cruz pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and solicitation of murder during his arraignment in Los Angeles Superior Court last month. Let's just hope that his Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, can come up with a good defense strategy. The celebrity chef is due back in court on June 23 for the preliminary hearing.

According to ABC News, Juan Carlos Cruz allegedly gave some homeless men ten $100 bills and cut each bill in half. He allegedly said that they could have the full bills if they killed his wife, Jennifer Campbell. The homeless men then reported the incident to authorities. Some sources believe that the chef was just trying to put his wife out her misery, since she has been long-time suicidal. However, Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys in the area say that this wouldn't be a good defense to the charges.

Lawyer of Teen Murder Suspect Angel Sosa Looks to Reasonable Doubt

A 17-year-old boy faces life in prison for allegedly shooting a father and his 12-year-old son in June 2008, but Whittier Daily News reports that the teenager hopes to avoid a murder charge based on "reasonable doubt."

A downtown Los Angeles jury began deliberating the murder charges on Monday. Angel Sosa, who was accused of the murdering the two people at a Montebello high school graduation party, was just 15 years old at the time of the shooting. Because of his age, he is not eligible for the death penalty.

Shawn Johnson's Alleged Stalker Uses Insanity Defense

The man who tried to jump over a fence at CBS Studios last year to meet Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson pleaded not guilty on Monday to one felony count each of stalking and commercial burglary, along with two misdemeanor counts of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle in a city.

According to the Beverly Hills Courier, suspect Robert Michael O'Ryan drove from Florida to Los Angeles while Shawn Johnson was on Dancing With the Stars in hopes of being able to meet and marry the Olympic gold medal winner. Court documents stated that authorities found a loaded shotgun, knife, and sharpening stone in the suspect's vehicle, along with a wooden club, duct tape, 22 zip ties, a bulletproof vest and love letters to Shawn Johnson.

Two More Men Plead No Contest in 2007 Malibu Fire Case

Long-time residents of Los Angeles County may never be able to forget the 2007 Malibu Corral Canyon fire that burned 4,900 acres and destroyed 53 homes. However, authorities have so far been able to link five men to the starting of the illegal fire.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the five men have been accused of illegally starting a campfire in a Malibu hills cave. The campfire soon turned into large flames due to the strong Santa Ana winds, which led the fire to spread out of control. An investigation showed that when the fire blew out of control, the men did not report the incident.

Attorneys Start Jury Selection in Johannes Mehserle Trial

Two hundred Los Angeles residents were called to court yesterday for the first day of jury selection in the trial of Officer Johannes Mehserle. The former BART police officer has been charged with second degree murder for allegedly shooting an African American man on January 1, 2009 at the Fruitvale BART station.

The shooting has been marked as a high profile case and has turned into a very heated issue all over California. Criminal defense attorneys for Johannes Mehserle had the trial moved from Alameda County because they said the defendant would not receive a fair trial in the Bay Area.

Charlie Samuel Avoids the Death Penalty

Charlie Samuel, a transient with a long criminal history, was sentenced to life in prison last week without the possibility of parole last week for the kidnapping and killing of Lily Burk. The Los Angeles Times reports that the man killed the young woman when she couldn't withdraw cash from an ATM machine with her credit card. Her body was found inside of her car last year in a downtown Los Angeles parking lot with her neck slashed and her head beaten.

As it turns out, Charlie Samuel was actually on parole at the time of the incident. Before the murder of Lily Burk, the man had a criminal record that mostly involved minor theft and drug crimes. However, he was involved in one violent robbery in 1986, where he struck an elderly man who did not have any money to give up during the robbery.