The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

August 2012 Archives

MySpace Rapist Withdrew Plea After Getting 15 Years; Now Faces 24

That's now twice that he's been found guilty of the same trio of rapes. Jason Ara Erpinar, 23, pled guilty last year to raping his ex-girlfriend and two other women that he met on MySpace. After he was sentenced to fifteen years, he reconsidered the matter and filed a motion to withdrawal his plea. The judge, for some unknown reason, granted the motion.

Yesterday, he was found gulty again - this time by a jury. According to the Los Angeles Times, Erpinar not only withdrew his plea, but also decided to represent himself. This meant all three victims would have to relive the attacks, again, in court, while being cross-examined by their attacker.

After Appeals Exhausted, Death Row Inmate Gets Habeas Relief

In 1985, Hector Ayala was convicted of murdering three people. The victims were bound, gagged, and shot to death, allegedly during the commission of a robbery of a heroin distribution ring fronting as an automotive repair shop. A fourth victim escaped and identified Ayala and his brother. He was tried and the evidence was found sufficient to sentence him to death.

Twenty-seven years later, he could be set free because of a procedural gaffe and an alleged violation of his constitutional rights during jury selection.

Detective Plus Affair with Defendant's Fiancee Equals Plea Deal

Perhaps Michael Granados, 25, is suffering from a broken heart. Perhaps the betrayal of his fiancée hurts worse than a lengthy prison sentence. Perhaps, his fiancé did him a favor.

In a classic “how could he be that stupid” moment, Detective Michael Graves, a veteran cop from Santa Ana, was accused of sleeping with the fiancé of the murder suspect that he was investigating, reports the Los Angeles Times. Prosecutors have now been forced to cut a deal with the murderer due to the year-long tryst. Instead of facing a life sentence, Granados will only face a nineteen year sentence.

That should give him time to get over the whole affair ‘thing.’

Craigslist Not the Happiest Place for Disney Ticket Buyers

And this is why it’s a bad idea to buy tickets from scalpers.

Most of us have done it at one time or another. Whether it was from a scalper in the stadium parking lot, or that person on craigslist with “a few extra tickets,” reselling and scalping of tickets is a very common occurrence.

Unfortunately, sometimes criminals prey on those in need of a bargain or a last minute ticket to that sold-out Bieber concert.

State Senate Approves Mercy Bill for Juveniles Sentenced to Life

A bill that could reduce sentences for juveniles convicted of murder brought out the usual responses from California politicians:

"This is absolutely outrageous that we are going to release these little psychopaths back onto the street to murder again. We're talking about serious crimes where we have young people who are flat-out evil."

We'll give you three guesses as to what political party the speaker of that statement belonged to. Yep. You got it. Sen. Joel Anderson, a San Diego Republican lambasted the new bill that will allow those who were sentenced to life without parole as juveniles to petition for parole after they've served 15 years of their sentence. The actual parole would come after 25 years, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Legal Lessons from Viral Videos: Sexy Sax Man and Trespassing

Viral videos hold a special place in our hearts. Whether the video is the worst song ever made, a forgotten gem, or simply hilarious acts, we no longer need Bob Saget to tell us what America's Funniest Home Videos are. We have the Internet.

In addition to distracting us from the banality of everyday life, these videos also serve a practical purpose: they can be educational tools.

Viral videos can show how the long arm of the law impacts everything from intellectual property disputes to saxophonists playing "Careful Whisper" in Azusa, California.

Grumpy Old Men: 83-year-old Pleads Guilty to Nursing Home Murder

An unusual murder case came to an even more unusual conclusion today in Orange County. William Leo McDougall, 83, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder but due to the extenuating circumstances surrounding the case, he will receive lifetime probation, reports the Orange County Register.

In October 2010, McDougall beat his 94-year-old roommate to death with a wooden rod from the closet after he mistakenly thought Manh Van Nguyen was singing in Vietnamese. According to the Register, Nguyen was actually sleeping. The cause of McDougall's delusions is unknown. Both he and Nguyen were recovering from hip surgery at the time and were roommates at the nursing home.

Will Juror Misconduct Give 'Zoloft Rapist' New Trial?

Who are these people that lie (or omit pertinent information) in order to get on a jury? Seriously. Who wants to spend weeks on a jury hearing horrible acts by the lowest forms of humanity, all the while possibly sequestered from society?

Well, apparently there were two of these people in the 'Zoloft Rapist' case that we've been keeping an eye on, reports the Los Angeles Times. For those unfamiliar with the back story, Det. Anthony Orban was recently convicted of raping a woman after a day-long bender. He pled insanity due to a blackout caused by his sudden resumption of high dosage Zoloft. The jury didn't buy it.

Fowler Fulfills Tri-Named Destiny, Convicted of Arson, Murders

We probably should've seen the guilty verdict coming. After all, Rickie Lee Fowler has three names. How is that relevant? Well, a disproportionately high number of mass murderers and assassins are known by their full three names. John Wayne Gacy. Lee Harvey Oswald. Mark David Chapman. Jared Lee Loughner. John Wilkes Booth. John Hinkley Junior. (Yeah, that's cheating.)

Rickie Lee Fowler. It's a science!

The tri-named arsonist was convicted today in San Bernardino for starting the 2003 Old Fire that burned for 9 days and destroyed 1,000 buildings, reports the Press-Enterprise. He was also convicted of five first-degree murders for the five men who died of heart attacks in the aftermath of the fires.

Woman Fends Off Knife-Wielding iPod Thief, Keeps the Flow

Jadakiss once stated, in a 50 Cent tune, "if it wasn't for the flow, I'd probably have to double back, bubble crack."

Fiddy himself once warned that "confusion occurs coming up in the cold world."

Perhaps mindful of these life lessons and warnings, and fearful of a loss of "flow," a 27-year-old woman defended her iPod from a knife wielding thief, reports the Los Angeles Times. After all, what is a young woman on the rise supposed to do without the wisdom passed on from our elders?

Massage Parlor Poses as Med Supply Company

Dexter Company was licensed as a medical supply company. However, after receiving a tip about heavy foot traffic in and out of the business, Irvine police began a six month investigation that revealed that Dexter, Co. was actually operating as a massage parlor and prostitution front. According to an Irvine press release, on Wednesday, Dexter, Co, two other businesses in Irvine, and a Los Angeles home were raided and six people were arrested.

The main perveyor was allegedly 60-year-old Soon Keun Kim. She was arrested on suspicion of pimping and pandering. Chong Suk Yi, 61, was arrested on suspicion of supervising a house of ill repute. Mee Hwa Shin, 52, was arrested for alleged prostitution. In Sook Kim, 48, caught a case for identity theft. Eun Young Park, 40, got tagged for providing false identification to a police officer.

What is SB 249? The Bullet Button Ban Broken Down

SB 249 is a recently "revised" proposal in the State Assembly that will ban a device known as the "bullet button." Oddly enough, SB 249 was originally an agricultural bill. The entire text of the bill was deleted and replaced with the current gun-control proposal.

Why not just submit a new bill? Who knows? It is, however, currently one of the hot topics in Sacramento.

Before discussing the to-be-banned bullet button, it's probably better to start with the current state law. As written, the law prohibits owning assault-weapons. What's an assault-weapon? By statute, it's defined as a semi-automatic gun that has a few nifty features, such as a detachable magazine, pistol grip, and telescoping stock. In short, the law targeted the AR-15.

Ignorance Is An Excuse for Former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley

"Your Honor, I'd like to plead stupidity."

You really could summarize the newest legal defense for corrupt politicians in those seven words. Thanks to a California Supreme Court decision from last year, and Omar Bradley's now-clean record, expect to see ignorance pleaded in future political corruption cases.

Eight years ago, Compton Mayor Omar Bradley was found guilty of corruption charges after the self-anointed "Gangster Mayor" accidentally used county funds and credit cards to cover personal expenses, reports the Los Angeles Times. Amongst the $7,500 in allegedly misappropriated funds were charges for golf balls and shoes, cigars, a penthouse hotel room, and of course, pay per view movies in the hotel room.

The Constitutionality of the Funeral Protests Law

This is America. If there's one thing we can be certain of, it's whackjob protestors. We can protest anything, from people eating tasty animals to the seemingly unrelated topics of tolerance of homosexuality and heroes who died in service of our country. After all, this ain't Communist Russia. We wouldn't toss Pussy Riot (a punk rock band) in prison for protesting against Vladimir Putin.

Or would we? The Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 has cleared both houses of Congress and is expected to be approved by President Obama. The act will ban protests within a 300-500 foot radius of military funerals and make suing the protestors for the trauma they inflict an incredibly easy task.