The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

L.A. District Attorney's Office Admits Prop. 36 Mistake Freed Northridge Killer

On December 2, Northridge was rocked by news of a quadruple homicide on the front lawn of an illegal boarding home. The reportedly execution-style murders were allegedly committed by Ka Pasasouk, 31, who was on probation at the time. Today, the Los Angeles District Attorney's office released a statement where they admitted that an administrative error allowed Pasasouk to avoid being sent back to jail in September, reports City News Service.

The administrative error involved a determination of Pasasouk's eligibility for a drug diversion program under California's Proposition 36. Pasasouk was arrested on a methamphetamine possession charge in September and because the District Attorney's office found him eligible for a drug treatment and diversion program, he was not sent to prison, despite the objections of probation officials.

California's Proposition 36 drug treatment and diversion program (not to be confused with last month's Prop. 36 Three Strikes Reform), now known as Penal Code 1210, was approved by voters in the 2000 election. It allows eligible drug possession offenders to choose treatment over incarceration.

Should the treatment be completed successfully, the offender's record is wiped clean of the drug possession charge. The program is a win-win for the state, reducing overcrowding, saving strain on the budget, and allowing those with a drug problem to avoid a felony conviction on their criminal record.

Eligibility is determined by the crime charged and by the offender's record. Those charged with more serious drug crimes, such as possession with intent to sell, would not be eligible, nor would those with a criminal record that included offenses that are violent or serious. Pasasouk reportedly had a number of violent priors.

Pasasouk and three others were arrested in Las Vegas a day after the shooting and are not fighting extradition back to California. He has been charged with murder while the others have been charged with aiding a felon. One was also charged with suspicion of robbery. Police have indicated that the murders were likely caused by a dispute over property.

Oddly enough, a warrant was in the works for Pasasouk at time of the murders. According to CNS, he missed a court hearing in mid-November and failed to show proof of enrollment in a drug treatment program, as was required by the diversion program.

The District Attorney's office, now under the leadership of recently-elected Jackie Lacey, has vowed to address the "training issue" that led to the mistake.

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