Toby Stangel, a 30-year-old man who suffered mental issues for most of his adult life according to his defense attorney, John Schum, was sentenced on Wednesday August 14 to three consecutive life terms in prison in connection with the murder of one motorist and attempted murder of two others. According to the Huffington Post, Stangel had turned Honolulu highways into “killing zones.”
In May, Stangel was found guilty of second-degree murder along with other charges which were not revealed. However, he was charged with one count of first-degree attempted murder, but jurors found him not guilty on the charge. Stangel was found guilty of the murder of Tammy Nguyen, who he allegedly shot at an intersection in Honolulu in June of 2011. Nguyen was driving a minivan as her 16-year-old daughter, one of ten children, witnessed the murder.
After shooting Nguyen, Stangel was driving along the H-1 Freeway when he shot at two other motorists who were injured. He continued to drive on and came upon two police officers who were giving tickets to motorists who had been racing, and fired at the officers. The news article does not reveal the extent of the injuries suffered by the two motorists.
Stangel’s attorney claims his client used drugs frequently to quiet the voices he would hear in his head; these voices allegedly told Stangel it was either kill or be killed. He went on to say that the night of the shootings, his mind was telling him his life was in jeopardy. Stangel told the court that he was “trying his best,” and trying to be a good role model. Stangel said that he is living for Jesus Christ, and is a changed man. His father is a pastor.
Murder and attempted murder in California are extremely serious charges. As experienced Los Angeles murder defense lawyers, we have to wonder if Stangel had any prior criminal convictions, or what caused him to “snap” in this particular instance. Had he had treatment for his mental issues in the past, and what medications was he taking to “quiet” the voices in his head? There are many factors that must be considered when representing a client accused of murder, attempted murder, homicide, or any violent/serious crime.
As is demonstrated in this case by Stangel being given a sentence of three consecutive life terms, the consequences of a crime of this nature are life-changing. If you are under suspicion or have been arrested for a violent crime, consult with a seasoned Los Angeles criminal defense attorney immediately.