The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Murder and Manslaughter in Los Angeles

The topic of murder and manslaughter can be considered a broad area of criminal law since there are many different degrees of both murder and manslaughter charges. For example, a person can either be charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter refers to an unintentional killing that results from recklessness or criminal negligence, whereas voluntary manslaughter is defined as an intentional killing. Murder is seen as a much more severe charge but also carries different charges, such as first-degree and second-degree murder. Consequently, a person charged with a murder or manslaughter crime would be well-advised to seek out legal counsel.

If you need legal advice on any criminal law issue in Los Angeles, including murder or manslaughter charges, you should speak with a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can assess your legal issue and help develop a good defense strategy. You can find a local attorney by viewing FindLaw's directory of Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys.

Recently in Murder / Manslaughter Category

5 New California Criminal Laws for 2014

California rang in the new year with more than 800 new laws. As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the new laws of 2014 span a wide variety of legal issues. In the context of criminal law alone, the issues range from age requirements on texting while driving to an entirely new parole hearing process for juveniles.

Here are five standouts of the new criminal laws:

What's the Felony Murder Rule All About?

The law punishes almost every incident in which one person kills another, whether it's intentional, reckless, or even unintended. Legally speaking, that means murder, manslaughter, and felony murder.

The first two get a lot of press but the last one doesn't, in part because many jurisdictions have gotten rid of felony murder. But not California.

Felony murder was originally a common law idea, but it's since been signed into official law. In the Golden State, it's a form of first-degree murder. But that doesn't explain what felony murder actually is.

First Degree Murder and Second Degree, What's the Difference?

In California, like in most states, there is first degree murder and second degree murder. While they both involve an intentional killing, one is more serious than the other, especially when it comes to sentencing.

To put it in context, California groups all crimes that involve taking a human life under the title of homicide.

Within that category is both manslaughter and murder, which can both be subdivided into several categories. Focusing on murder, the difference between first and second degree rests primarily on one thing: intent.

Mom Who Tossed Baby Off Parking Garage Pleads Postpartum Insanity

A mother accused of doing the unthinkable is now pleading the predictable. Sonia Hermosillo, 32, of La Habra, is accused of tossing her 7-month-old son off of a parking garage in August 2011. Her attorney argues that the entire incident was caused by postpartum psychosis, and as a result, her client is not guilty by reason of insanity, reports the Orange County Register.

Before you completely dismiss the argument, note that it took three psychologists’ evaluations to determine that she was competent to stand trial - a much lower bar than sanity. The first two evaluators disagreed with each other, necessitating a tiebreaker. Competency is described as having the ability to understand the proceedings and assist with one’s defense. Her attorney previously described her condition as “marginally coherent.”

Rachel Buffett Pleads Not Guilty to Covering Up Fiancé's Alleged Killings

Though Meatloaf would do anything for love, one has to wonder if he would do that.

Rachel Buffett, 25, pleaded not guilty to charges of protecting her beloved future husband, legally referred to as being an accessory after the fact. Police say that she provided them with a fabricated story after her fiancé murdered two people, reports the Los Angeles Times. She claims that she is only guilty of being a poor judge of character and of trusting the wrong man.

Pomona Man Makes Newtown Copycat Threats on Facebook

After nearly every tragedy, there is some idiot, seeking notoriety, that makes copycat threats. After James Holmes' act of mass murder in Aurora, Colorado, a twerp on Twitter made threats against a New York theatre where Mike Tyson was set to perform. Now, after 20-year-old Adam Lanza committed his disgusting spree killings in Newtown, Connecticut, an idiot in the Los Angeles area allegedly made threats on Facebook about shooting up local schools, reports The Associated Press.

The alleged Facebooking fool is Kyle Bangayan, 24, of Pomona, who was arrested on Sunday for making criminal threats. He is being held on $500,000 bail. Nine firearms were seized from the site of his arrest, his father's east Hollywood residence. His father gave police and FBI agents permission to search the home. There is no indication yet whether the firearms were owned legally and to whom they were registered. We don't even know if Bangayan had access to the guns.

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.

Murder Conviction Upheld Despite New DNA, Witness Recantation

Ten years after his testimony helped to convict William Richards of the murder of his wife, Pamela Richards, Dr. Norman D. Sperber regrets his testimony that Richard's distinctive dental deformity only exists in one or two percent of the population. Without a scientific study, he told the court that he shouldn't have used percentages. Perhaps he is correct. However, he did say at trial that his statements were not based on studies. The harm, if any, was probably minimal.

However, Dr. Sperber now says that with his additional experience, he isn't even sure that the marks were from a human bite injury.

Calif. Supreme Court: DNA, Evidence Cast Doubt on Murder Conviction; Is it Enough?

Pamela Richards was murdered on August 10, 1993. When the police arrived, approximately 32 minutes after the victim’s husband called 911, the property was pitch black. Despite the darkness, William Richards was able to give the deputy a tour of the entire crime scene, including the separate locations of the victim’s pants and underwear, and pointing out that a bloodstained paving stone was thrown down the rough, downward sloping terrain of the side of the property. During the tour, Mr. Richards would fall to his knees and start crying, then resume the tour.

To the sheriff’s deputy, it all felt a little too rehearsed.

According to the court, further investigation would reveal that both spouses were having extramarital relations and that Pamela may have been planning on leaving her husband for another man.

Father Who Burned Children to Death in Failed Murder Suicide Takes Plea

The life of the coward who murdered his two children in a failed murder-suicide revenge plot had his life spared again, reports the Los Angeles Times. In exchange for a guilty plea and two life sentences, he will not face the death penalty.

In 2006, Dae Kwon Yun, 61, picked his two children up for a shopping and movie trip. The trip ended when Yun parked in an industrial area, doused the interior of the car with gasoline, and lit the car ablaze with him and the children inside. His daughter tried to walk away before the fire, but a witness said that Yun forced her back into the car, reports the Times.