The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

March 2011 Archives

Victorville Kid Could Face Assault Charges After Stabbing

An argument between two Victorville tween boys on March 29 escalated into a violent stabbing where paramedics had to be called to the scene. According to KTLA, one of the boys was arrested after the fight and he could even be facing criminal charges after stabbing the other person.

The names of the boys were not released by KTLA because of their young age, but the fight reportedly ended up with authorities booking the 12-year-old boy into Apple Valley Juvenile Hall on suspicion of assault with a weapon, terrorist threats, and possession of a deadly weapon. San Bernardino County Sheriff's also found a throwing star in the suspect's possession.

Jonathan Najera, 20, Dies in Los Angeles Men's Central Jail

A 20-year-old inmate of the Men's Central Jail was killed while he was in custody, raising questions about inmate security in Los Angeles jails. The Los Angeles Times reported that the inmate Jonathan Najera was in jail for attempted murder and that that authorities believe that he was killed overnight by one of his cellmates.

Homicide detectives have not yet released the name of the suspect accused of killing Najera, but the cellmate has already allegedly confessed to the killing. Just weeks before Najera was strangled to death, the young man expressed concerns about his safety to a judge.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz offered actress Lindsay Lohan a plea deal earlier this month, where the movie star could have pleaded guilty or no contest to grand theft and she would have only be required to spend a few months in jail. However, ABC News reports that Lohan officially rejected the judge's offer this week and that she continues to insist that she is innocent.

The actress will now have to have her grand theft case go to trial and she must prepare to spend up to three years in prison if a jury does not side with her. A preliminary hearing has been set for April 22, where a judge will determine whether there is enough evidence for her to stand trial.

YouTube Video Shows Ceres Mom Cheering on Son's Fight

Police say that a mother not only encouraged her son to engage in violent behavior, but also cheered on her son in a fight that was captured on video and later posted on YouTube. KTLA News reports that 33-year-old Jennifer Zuniga of Ceres, CA can be heard yelling in the video “Beat him down. Body slam him,” as two boys throw punches at one another.

Nobody was injured in the brawl, but fighting is no laughing matter as California authorities would certainly agree. As stated through Associated Press, the mother was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of child endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Michael Lohan Arrested for Domestic Violence in West Hollywood

Actress Lindsay Lohan apparently isn't the only one in her family who is currently facing legal trouble. The New York Daily News reports that the pop star's father, Michael Lohan, was arrested on Monday in West Hollywood after getting into an altercation with a female victim.

Sheriff's deputies found that the victim in this case had minor injuries, which led to Lohan being booked on three felony criminal charges, including inflicting corporal injury on a cohabitant, false imprisonment and preventing the report of victimization. His bail was reportedly set to $200,000.

McDonald's Shooting: Retired Burbank Cop Kills Robber

A retired Burbank police officer killed a man on Friday, who was trying to rob a McDonald’s restaurant in Sunland. According to KTLA News, police reports say that the suspect was armed and that he tried to hold the fast food restaurant clerks at gunpoint. But does this mean that the retired officer was right to fatally shoot the man?

The shooting took place on Foothill Boulevard and Woodward Avenue just before 11:00 a.m., but investigators are still trying to determine the circumstances around the shooting. There were no reports of any other injuries at the McDonald’s shooting.

Craigslist Scam: Woman Convicted of Grand Theft for Bogus Tickets

Beware of what you buy from others off of The Los Angeles Times reports that 27-year-old Debra Louise Brass of Hermosa Beach was convicted of grand theft for selling dozens of fake tickets over the Internet to a Lady Gaga concert over the summer.

Police learned of the phony tickets being sold through Craigslist when a woman tried to go to the August concert at the Staples Center, but was not able to get in with the tickets that she bought through the website.

Cellphone Video Leads to Investigation in Cleveland, TX Gang Rape

We’ve come a long way with home video footage being used as evidence in criminal cases. Last week, the Los Angeles community remembered the brutal beating of Rodney King, 20 years after the home video of the beating was released to the KTLA television station. The nine minutes of video footage was broadcast in black and white with a grainy display.

The amateur video footage ended up being significant evidence in the case against the Los Angeles police officers. CNN reports that since then, the use of home videos and cell phone videos has taken off, meaning that amateur video footage in criminal cases has become more and more common. Only now, we are seeing the evidence in color and even in HD with some cases.

Mel Gibson Will Plead No Contest to Domestic Violence Charge

Americans might never be able to forget the infamous audio recordings of Mel Gibson's alleged threats to his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. The actor was accused of threatening Grigorieva with violence through graphic and profane language, but the girlfriend in this case was smart enough to record the fights and arguments that she was having with the Lethal Weapon star.

Gibson, who is facing only a misdemeanor charge for the alleged threats, is expected to plead no contest to the domestic violence charge in a Los Angeles courtroom on March 11. The Los Angeles Times reports that the actor agreed to a plea bargain with prosecutors in which he would avoid jail time in exchange for a guilty plea. A no contest plea has the same effect in criminal court as a guilty plea.

Teacher at Bernstein High School Accused of Assault on Student

A 33-year-old high school coach and teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District is now under investigation after allegedly punching, slamming and kicking a student. Yet the teacher, Jorge Chavez, claims that he only restrained the student when the teen tried to force his way into the boys' locker room.

KTLA News reported that the alleged beating took place on March 1 at Bernstein High School in Hollywood, where Chavez was employed. Before working at Bernstein High, the teacher reportedly worked at Nimitz Middle School for four years and held a temporary teaching position at another school.

Police Arrest 25 People in Hawthorne Prostitution Sting

People may have once believed that law enforcers turned a blind eye to the prostitution and solicitation activity on Imperial Highway between Inglewood Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard in Hawthorne. However, it looks like police officers are starting to crack down on prostitution crimes, as 25 people were arrested over the past three weeks in an undercover operation.

The Los Angeles Times reports that 13 alleged "johns" were arrested when female police officers posed as prostitutes in the area. The people who propositioned the undercover officers may have been surprised when a police team stationed nearby made the arrests. Eleven suspected prostitutes and one suspected pimp were also arrested in the recent crackdown. Judges are currently in the process of handing down "stay away" orders to the alleged prostitutes and pimp, which will prohibit them from returning to the area.

Tip Leads To Big Santa Ana Marijuana Growth Operation Bust

Narcotics investigators are calling the recent Santa Ana marijuana growth operation one of the biggest drug busts that they've ever conducted, according to KTLA News. Officers with the Santa Ana Police Department can easily say that the warehouse had a high-tech operation of marijuana cultivation with an estimated $130,000 worth of marijuana being moved from the facility each month.

Officers investigated the marijuana growth operation after receiving an anonymous tip that a business in southeast Santa Ana was illegally growing marijuana. It does look like the "business" is not considered legitimate, since police say that the people operating the warehouse hadn't had a business license since 2009. On Thursday, the city's narcotics detectives were able to raid the warehouse in Santa Ana's industrial area after obtaining a search warrant.

Judge Postpones Conrad Murray's Trial

After invoking his right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Dr. Conrad Murray was supposed to have his trial begin on March 28 in the case involving Michael Jackson's death. But after complaints from prosecutors, it looks like Murray's case will have to be postponed.

Michael Jackson fans will now be sitting on the edge of their seats for just a little bit longer. KTLA News reported that a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge granted a one month postponement of the manslaughter trial after Deputy District Attorney Deborah Brazil claimed that the defense had failed to share information about its intended case.

Food Used as Evidence in Domino's Pizza Burglary Case

A 19-year-old man who allegedly burglarized a Domino's Pizza facility in Ojai may have left a comical trail of evidence in the break-in, which could be used against him in court.

As reported by KTLA News, a security video at the Domino's Pizza showed the suspect, Taylor Christopher Jackson, failing to open the cash register at the eatery before proceeding to eat a bag of chips from a display and going into the kitchen. Deputies were then able to find a trail of potato chips and other food items leading from Domino's Pizza to the suspect's home several blocks away. Jackson was booked into the Ventura County Jail after his arrest.