The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

October 2011 Archives

Halloween Safety Tips for L.A. Parents: Beware Tricks in Treats

Scary shouldn't mean unsafe for your little trick-or-treaters this Halloween, and a little caution ahead of time can save them from dangers worse than a stomach-ache after consuming too much candy.

This year, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department are warning L.A. parents to be on the lookout for potentially dangerous treats, reports CBS Los Angeles. Sheriff's deputies particularly caution against "edibles" - or marijuana-laced treats such as brownies, muffins and cookies.

Conrad Murray Trial: Why Expert Witness Testimony is Crucial

As the criminal defense attorneys wrap up their case in the Conrad Murray trial, reportedly the last and most important piece of their defense will be the expert witness testimony of an unassuming anesthesiologist, according to the Los Angeles Times. In a manslaughter trial full of colorful and emotional figures, how does one expert witness become the key to a criminal defense?

Expert witness testimony usually deals with scientific, technical or professional issues given by a person qualified to testify because of his or her familiarity with the subject or special training in the field.

'No Candy' Laws: Halloween Sex Offender Bans Spread

There are worse dangers out there than those that go bump in the night, and several counties are beginning to include registered sex offenders in that category.

Riverside County supervisors passed a Halloween sex offender ban on Tuesday prohibiting them from engaging in festivities because of the possibility of contact with children, reports the Los Angeles Times. However, critics contend that the bans, also known as "No Candy" laws, violate their Constitutional rights.

The Halloween sex offender bans typically restrict the activities of sex offenders on Halloween and range from preventing them from passing out candy to driving after dark. Riverside's specific ordinance prohibits sex offenders from answering the door to trick-or-treaters, putting up Halloween decorations at any time on October 31, and leaving their homes between 5 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Halloween night.

Real World's David 'Puck' Rainey Sentenced for Domestic Battery

The original reality TV show bad boy, David Edward "Puck" Rainey, was sentenced on Wednesday after pleading no contest to domestic battery and contributing to delinquency of a minor, reports TMZ.com

The most memorable (and obnoxious) cast member of the third season of MTV's The Real World was arrested on June 19 for domestic violence. Rainey was originally also charged with child endangerment and corporal injury on a spouse, but these were dismissed in a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Bling Ring Leader Rachel Lee Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison

Will orange be the new black for the celebrity-obsessed alleged members of the so-called "Bling Ring"? Rachel Lee, one of its reported ring leaders, is heading to prison for four years after pleading no contest to residential burglary, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, and her minions may be shortly following suit.

Lee and her Bling Ring posse are accused of targeting celebrity homes and robbing them of more than $3 million in jewelry, designer clothes and accessories. Their A-list victims included Orlando Bloom, Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan. They are also the subject of a Lifetime movie aptly titled "The Bling Ring."

O.C. Man Arrested for Soliciting a Minor, Mother in Sex Sting

A 21-year-old Orange County man apparently did not realize that posting public Craigslist ads looking for sex with a mother and her underage daughter wouldn’t draw the attention of authorities. Instead, Shaw Bruce Warrington allegedly posted 25 ads on Craigslist, 10 of which included soliciting a minor, and was arrested in a sex sting on Thursday, reports The Orange County Register.

With ads containing such reported requirements as “young or under age is cool like high school and below,” Warrington thought he had caught the attention of a 13-year-old girl and her mother. Instead, he was actually agreeing to meet up with authorities who had set up a sex sting and had been posing as the teen since August. Officials were made aware of Warrington’s ads by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which first noticed them.

Conrad Murray Trial: Testifying and the Fifth Amendment

Defense attorneys in the Conrad Murray trial are expected to begin their case on Friday, but one star witness may not be on the list of people they plan to question: Dr. Conrad Murray, himself. While news sources have speculated and opined whether he will and should testify, it’s Murray’s constitutionally-protected decision to not do so.

Under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, individuals are given the right to refuse to answer any questions or make any statements that may incriminate themselves. The phrase I “plead the Fifth” is used to invoke the privilege against self-incrimination and is often used in the popular media.

Pimp Gets 27 Years for Kidnapping in Teenage Prostitution Case

Accused pimp Leory Bragg was sentenced to 27 years in prison on kidnapping charges related to a teenage prostitution case involving a 15-year-old Upland girl, reports the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

The 35-year-old Hawthorne man was arrested last year on accusations of forcing two runaway girls to work as prostitutes in Southern Los Angeles. The two young girls were only 13 and 14 years of age at the time.

The Upland girl’s father claimed Bragg abducted his daughter, provided her with drugs, beat her and forced her to earn up to $600 a night as a prostitute. She was reportedly held captive for three days before authorities found her in Los Angeles.

Lenny Dykstra Pleads No Contest to Auto Theft Charges

Baseball great Lenny Dykstra is slowly trying to put his multiple legal troubles behind him. The former Major League Baseball All-Star agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors, changing his not guilty plea to pleading no contest to auto theft charges and filing a false statement, reports CNN. Twenty-one other charges were dismissed against him in the deal.

The former “Wild Boy” of baseball who led the New York Mets to a World Series championship has been leading the field in criminal charges for an ex-baseball player. He originally pleaded not guilty in January to charges that included attempted grand theft auto, identity theft, and possession of a controlled substance in connection with a scheme to defraud two car dealerships.

With this plea deal, Dykstra avoids the possibility of an additional eight years in prison.

Lindsay Lohan's Probation Revoked; Posts $100,000 Bail

It’s been too long since Lindsay Lohan has made a court appearance and apparently, too long since she has attempted to fulfill her probation requirements. Lindsay Lohan may have thought she had a year to complete them, but a Los Angeles County judge proved otherwise after she revoked her probation on Wednesday for failing to make an effort with her community service requirement, reports CNN.

The Internet has been blowing up with photos of LiLo dressed in angelic white with a pair of shiny handcuff accessories. Lohan was removed from court and later freed two hours after her arrest since she posted $100,000 bail. The money may be a drop in the bucket for the pint-sized movie star, but Lohan could face jail time for her lack of dedication to the community.

Selena Gomez Stalker Under Temporary Restraining Order

Selena Gomez, the precocious Disney teen queen, is dealing with a very un-Disney-like problem in the form of a 46-year-old alleged stalker. Luckily, a court granted a temporary restraining order against the Selena Gomez stalker last Thursday, requiring the deranged fan to stay away from the young pop star, reports CBS Los Angeles.

Thomas Brodnicki is now ordered to stay 100 yards away from the 19-year-old and her workplace. The decision to file a temporary restraining order against Brodnicki is reportedly the result of his confessions to a psychiatrist that he went to Los Angeles to visit her and has had conversations with God about killing Gomez, according to CBS. Her alleged stalker also reportedly has a history of mental illness.

Seal Beach Shooting Trial: Death Penalty Versus the Insanity Defense

Three days after the worst mass killing in Orange County history, accused killer Scott Dekraai made his first appearance in court on Friday. Prosecutors in the Seal Beach shooting trial stated they would seek the death penalty against Dekraai and expect to face an insanity plea from the suspect, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Dekraai is currently charged with eight felony counts of special circumstance first-degree murder and one felony count of attempted murder in connection with the shooting deaths of nine people, including his ex-wife, at a Seal Beach salon last Wednesday.

'Operation Hackerazzi': Man Accused of Celebrity Hacking Arrested

Celebrities, your computers and phones may be safe for taking illicit photos and sending scandalous secrets again. Federal officials involved with “Operation Hackerazzi” have arrested Florida resident Christopher Chaney on suspicion of celebrity hacking Hollywood starlets, reports Los Angeles Times.

Although Chaney has targeted celebrities for a while, his phone hacking ways hit the national media when naked photos of Scarlett Johannson were leaked. The accounts of other big-name stars, such as Mila Kunis and Christina Aguilera, have also been Haney’s targets.

'Austin Powers' Actor Suspected of Murdering Sex Offender Cellmate

It seems “Random Task,” the bit character of “Austin Powers” fame, may be capable of random acts of brutal violence off the set. The man who portrays him, Joseph Hyungmin Son, is suspected of killing his sex offender cellmate in a Central Valley prison after he was placed there for torturing a woman in Orange County, reports the Los Angeles Times.

His 50-year-old cellmate was reportedly a sex offender who was sentenced to two years in prison for violating his parole by failing to register with the state sex offender database. His dead body was discovered Monday afternoon at Wasco State Prison Reception Center.

Seal Beach Shooting at Salon, Custody Dispute Suspected Motive

In what has been called the worst mass killing in Orange County history, a gunman opened fire in a salon, murdering eight people on Wednesday afternoon, reports The Orange County Register. The possible motive for the Seal Beach shooting? The suspect may have been in a bitter custody dispute with one of the stylists, potentially throwing the spotlight on the deadliness of domestic violence during what has been proclaimed to be Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Six people reportedly died immediately, while two others died of critical injuries at Long Beach Memorial Hospital. One woman still remains in critical condition.

Palmdale Psychic Scared Girl into Jewelry Theft with 'Curse'?

Taking a page from the infamous “Miss Cleo,” another “psychic” has been accused of stealing money from a client. This time, a Palmdale psychic has been arrested for scaring a 12-year-old girl into committing jewelry theft by threatening her with a curse, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Jackeline Lopez, a supposed fortune teller who conducted readings in her garage, allegedly told the girl that a curse had been placed on her and could be removed for a price. The girl reportedly stole over $10,000 worth of jewelry from her parents’ home over the course of a month under Lopez’s encouragement, according to the Los Angeles County sheriff’s office.

Cindi Santana's Death Brings Awareness to Teenage Dating Violence

As the students of South East High School cope with the loss of 17-year-old Cindi Santana allegedly at the hands of her ex-boyfriend, the community has begun to brainstorm ways of preventing further tragic instances of teenage dating violence.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is considering expanding programs to stop teen dating violence, reports the Los Angeles Daily News. One program includes designating a prevention coordinator at each high school campus who would help students and faculty recognize the signs of teenage dating violence.

Parole Denied for Former Model who Killed, Ate Husband

The former model who killed and ate her husband won’t be tasting freedom any time soon. A parole board denied parole for Omaima Nelson on Wednesday, reports The Orange County Register.

This is Nelson’s second application for parole. A two-person panel of the state’s Board of Parole Hearings stated that she has never shown remorse or tried to work towards rehabilitation. She is also still seen as a danger to others, and will not be able to reapply for another fifteen years.

Brandon McInerney Will Be Retried for Death of Lawrence King

Brandon McInerney's freedom will once again be placed in the hands of a jury after Ventura County prosecutors announced that they will retry the 17-year-old as an adult for the death of gay classmate Lawrence King, reports the Los Angeles Times.

He faces life imprisonment if convicted of the charges.

Prosecutors are determined to prove that McInerney's shooting of the 15-year-old King was a premeditated murder despite the original trial against McInerney ending in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial. This time, however, prosecutors plan to drop the hate crime charges against the teen.

South East High School Stabbing: Girlfriend, 17, Fatally Injured

South East High School students are in shock after the violent stabbing of a 17-year-old student by her estranged boyfriend in the cafeteria on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Abraham Lopez, also a student at South East, has been booked on suspicion of murder after he fatally injured his girlfriend with stab wounds to her side and back. He also injured a school dean and another student who tried to intervene. Both sustained non life-threatening-wounds, according to district officials.