The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

May 2012 Archives

Charles Manson Tapes: What About Attorney-Client Privilege?

One of the most notorious serial killers in history may be facing trial ... again. Charles Manson was long ago convicted of murdering actress Sharon Tate, as well as others. Manson and his band of Helter Skelter followers believed a race war was at hand, and thought the murders would act as a catalyst to bring it forth sooner.

Though originally sentence to death, Manson's sentence was commuted in the 1970s to a life sentence due to the unconstitutionality of previous death penalty procedures.

Brian Banks Exonerated ... What Does it Mean?

It's the dirty little secret of the justice system. Despite the safeguards of the adversary system, sometimes innocent people are convicted. Most of time, they serve their sentence and the label of "convict" is never shaken. The exceptions, the ones who can prove their innocence, those are the relatively lucky ones.

Brandon Banks had a bright future in 2002. He was a high school football star, destined to continue the USC Trojans' legacy of excellence on the field. He had already received a scholarship offer to play Middle Linebacker after graduation, reports ABC News.

Death Penalty Sought for O.C. Serial Killer Ocampo

Itzcoatl Ocampo will be on trial for his life soon, reports the Los Angeles Times. Ocampo is the former Marine accused of killing multiple homeless men in Orange County, beginning in December of last year, and of killing a former high school classmate’s brother and mother.

Ocampo is said to have targeted the homeless people because they were available and vulnerable. He also said that he targeted them because they were a “blight” on the community.

Man Arrested for Super Soaker Shotgun in Fresno

Some would say that his ingenuity knows no bounds. Officers would say that he was an idiot who committed a crime that was dangerous to himself and others.

The New York Daily News reports that 54-year-old Randy Smith was arrested after he was caught walking through the streets with a homemade shotgun. The most amazing part is that he built the gun out of a Super Soaker water gun.

The first question that probably popped into your mind is, how do I get one? Well, that's what Google is for. Next question.

Busfield's Sexual Battery Incident: When is Consent Consent?

To many, he is Danny Concannon from The West Wing. To Entourage fans, he was Johnny Drama's director in the faux-show Five Towns. To this blog writer, he'll always be the evil ex-secret service agent that took on Sinbad in the epic action-comedy film First Kid.

Unfortunately, to a recent date, he's simply a creepy groper. According to TMZ, Timothy Busfield was on a date at the ArcLight Cinema in Sherman Oaks with the unnamed woman. They began to make out during the movies when his hands apparently went a little too far. His date abruptly left and reported the incident to the police, accusing him of groping her breasts and genitals.

Probation, 140 Years of Restitution for Phonehenge West Architect?

Some have called it modern folk art. Some have called it "green" housing. Others just said, "Whoa."

Kim Fahey, the eccentric and bearded retired phone company technician built something more than a structure: it was art.

Los Angeles County, meanwhile, bemoaned its alleged structural instability and code violations. In David versus Goliath of bureaucracy, bureaucracy won, reports the Huffington Post.

The Legal Status of Assisted Suicide in California

An article by the Los Angeles Times is bringing assisted suicide back into public debate. The heart-wrenching story profiles Alan Purdy, who married his wife Margaret in 1997. He was a widower; his wife had died of breast cancer. Margaret was made a widow by her husband's heart attack. They lived in their dream home, designed by him.

Margaret suffered from Sjoren's syndrome, which is an autoimmune disease. Recently, pancreatitis and three fractured vertebrae made her health situation even more precarious. The pain was becoming unbearable.

Pedro Espinoza Guilty of Murdering Jamiel Shaw; Death Sentence?

Court is back in session. It only took jurors less than half a day of deliberation to find Pedro Espinoza guilty of the murder of Los Angeles High School football star Jamiel Shaw II. Now, the jurors will have to decide whether Espinoza deserves the death penalty for his actions, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Shaw was killed in an odd case of mistaken identity. Espinoza, eager to earn his stripes, gunned down Shaw because he was wearing a red Spiderman backpack and Espinoza assumed he was a member of the Bloods.

California Courts' Budget: Apocalypse Soon?

Though the economy is supposedly recovering, the California budget crisis just seems to be getting worse. Much like a depressed Emo kid listening to My Chemical Romance, the cuts just keep on coming for the California Budget.

The latest cuts, released today by Jerry Brown, include another $544 million in cuts to the court system, reports the Los Angeles Times. Over the last three years, the system has already endured $650 million in cuts.

Long Beach Cop Arrested for Child Porn Caught in Another Case

Long Beach Officer Noe Yanez, arrested last month on suspicion of possessing child pornography, has been arrested again, reports the Orange County Register. This time, it's because, amongst other things, he allegedly arranged to meet a minor for "lewd purposes."

According to the Los Angeles Times, Officer Yanez's original case came after he allegedly hit on a teenager while on patrol. Yanez then solicited explicit photographs of the victim via electronic messages. The victim eventually reported the incident to a School Resource officer, which started the investigation.

Closing Arguments, Deliberation in Jamiel Shaw Murder Trial

Racial stereotyping and a red Spiderman backpack led to a teenage football star's murder, reports the Los Angeles Times. Jamiel Shaw was headed back from Chipotle, talking on his phone to his girlfriend, Chrystale. He was steps from home.

Twenty-three-year-old Pedro Espinoza, a member of the notorious 18th Street gang, was trying to make a name for himself. He had "BK" tattooed on the side of his neck. B.K. supposedly stands for "Blood Killer."

'Bait Car' Reality TV Show Catches Cop's Miranda Mistake

Whoops. That didn't work as planned. The point of the bait car was to catch a car thief in the act. The reality TV show was supposed to catch it all and put it on the air. Instead, it caught an officer failing to read a suspect his Miranda rights. Now, the car thief has walked free and the officer might be facing perjury charges, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The sting operation is simple. A red Cadillac Escallade is left running, keys in the ignition. Deputies wait to ambush whichever unsuspecting car thief attempts to steal the vehicle. And 28-year-old Keenan Alex, on probation for another offense, fell for it.

Survivor of Murder Suicide Charged with Capital Murder, Molestation

Jacinto Zuniga Trujillo is in custody and has been charged with a captial murder offense for killing a witness to a crime, along with five counts of sexual abuse, reports CBS LA. Trujillo was found by a passerby face down in a pool of blood, next to his 10-year-old stepdaughter, Xioamara Jonsales Fernandez.

Police say that Trujillo stabbed the girl multiple times and then turned the knife on himself. The grisly murder scene was made worse with words written in blood on a shipping container next to the bodies, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Bomb Threat At Loma Linda ER; Suspect Faces Jail If Sane

A Hispanic man in his late 50s is in custody and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, after causing a two-hour bomb scare at the Loma Linda University Medical Center, reports The Press-Enterprise.

Around 9 a.m., the unidentified man walked into the Emergency Room and stated that he needed help and had a bomb. The E.R. staff, noticing wires coming from the device, scanned it with a portable x-ray machine and determined that it was a credible threat.