Articles Posted in Murder

SCR 48 (Senate Concurrent Resolution 48) is a bill that is intended to reform the Felony Murder Rule in California, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and awaiting Governor Brown’s signature as it has passed in both the California State Assembly and California State Senate.

Ultimately, SCR 48 is a bill that recognizes punishment for felony murder should be proportionate to the crime committed. In California, a person can be sentenced to life in prison for a first-degree murder conviction, even though the individual did not actually murder someone. In fact, California prisons are filled with inmates facing life behind bars for murders they didn’t actually commit. Doesn’t make sense, but here is a possible scenario that could leave someone facing a life prison term for felony murder without actually having committed the crime.

The Felony Murder Rule applies when a crime that is considered “inherently dangerous” such as burglary, arson, rape, kidnapping, or robbery occurs and a person is killed – the defendant does not have to be the one who committed the act, or even have to act with reckless indifference or intent to be convicted of felony murder. Is it fair for someone who may have taken part in an “inherently dangerous” crime but who did not actually commit murder to face the exact same punishment as the person who did actually commit murder? For most, it doesn’t seem fair.

On Wednesday November 18, a 29-year-old Downey police officer was shot to death while sitting in his own car. According to news reports at Fox News, Officer Ricardo “Ricky” Galvez, a former Marine, was in plain clothes and sitting in his own vehicle when two men ran up and opened fire on Galvez.

News reports state that in all, three attackers were arrested within hours of the shooting, which authorities believe occurred as the result of a botched robbery. The three attackers were 16, 18, and 21 and were reportedly on the lookout for someone to rob when they saw the officer sitting in his car.

Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. said that Galvez had just ended his shift when the attack happened, and that he believed the attackers did not know he was a police officer when they attempted to rob him. Corina did not believe Galvez saw the young men coming toward him. The gunshots were heard by another officer who chased the suspects as they fled into Montebello. SWAT officers swept surrounding neighborhoods in their attempt to capture the three men; the getaway driver was arrested a short time later, and a gun found that was believed to be the one used in the shooting.

On Friday July 10, Long Beach Police Dept. detectives arrested a man in connection with the July 4th murder of 38-year-old Allen Estes who was found stabbed to death at Anaheim Street and Dawson Avenue. According to news sources, 24-year-old Norman Matthew Perdon, Estes’ former roommate, is accused of the killing. He is now facing murder and weapons charges.

Authorities say Perdon fatally stabbed Estes during an argument, and that a dispute had been ongoing that stemmed from the time they spent as roommates. Estes was reportedly stabbed in the early morning hours and was found by police near the intersection at approximately 5:30 a.m., where he succumbed to his injuries. News reports did not reveal details of the ongoing dispute between the two men.

At last report, Perdon was being held in the Long Beach jail on more than $1 million bail.

Mary Virginia Jones, a 74-year-old Los Angeles woman who has been incarcerated for 32 years in connection with a 1981 murder, was scheduled to be released from prison on March 25, according to a news article at CBS Los Angeles.  A judge ruled on Monday that she would be released for a murder which was committed by her abusive boyfriend, Mose Willis, who died while on death row.

Jones was convicted in 1981 on charges of kidnapping, robbery, and first-degree murder in a shooting death related to dealing drugs, according to the report.  Law students at USC’s Post-Conviction Justice Project worked to free Jones, who they say would not have been found guilty had the jury been allowed to hear testimony on the effects of battered women’s syndrome, now known as “intimate partner battery.”  The project claims that Mose Willis, Jones’ boyfriend at the time, forced her to drive to an alley after he kidnapped two drug dealers; he then shot both, and one of the men died.  Supervising defense attorney Heidi Rummel, who is co-director of the USC justice project, said that Jones ran after Willis shot at the men, expecting that Willis would shoot her and possibly kill her, too.

One week before Willis shot at the two drug dealers, he allegedly shot at Jones’  daughter and threatened that if police were contacted, he would kill them both.  Jones said before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan on Monday that she believed entering a no contest plea to voluntary manslaughter was in her best interest in regards to getting out of custody, but that she did not participate in the crime willingly.  Judge Ryan gave her credit for time served, setting aside her convictions and ordering that she be set free.

On Wednesday March 5, 29-year-old Jose Angel Perez Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the death of 20-year-old Nath Ouch, who was eight months pregnant at the time she was gunned down in southeast Fresno in February of 2006.  According to the Los Angeles Times, Ouch’s husband was so despondent over his wife’s death he took his own life a short time later.

Ouch was struck by a bullet in the early morning hours as Perez and another gang member opened fire at an apartment complex where rival gang members lived.  Perez fled to Mexico after the shooting, and was not tracked down for some five years before being located and arrested by the FBI.  Sokmorn Chea is the other gang member who was allegedly involved in the fatal shooting; he is serving life without parole following his 2007 conviction.

Prior to sentencing, Perez spoke to Ouch’s family, apologizing for his actions and saying “I’m here as a man today to accept responsibility for my actions.”

On Monday August 26, 26-year-old Enrique Ayon was convicted on charges of shooting at an occupied vehicle and premeditated attempted murder in a freeway shooting spree which left one man injured.  Ayon allegedly targeted motorists between Del Mar and National City, also striking two vehicles in addition to injuring one victim; one of the vehicles was an ambulance, according to news reports at CBS8.com.

The jury deliberated for 2 1/2 days before reaching a verdict.  Ayon was convicted of vandalism, misdemeanor hit-and-run, three counts of shooting at an occupied vehicle, and two counts of attempted murder.  A mistrial was declared by Judge Joan Weber on one count of discharging a firearm and a third attempted murder charge when jurors were deadlocked 11-1 for guilt.  On Tuesday, prosecutors were to attend a hearing to determine whether they would attempt to retry those charges.

Ayon is scheduled to be sentenced on October 25; he faces potential life in prison.

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.

On Friday, August 16 a birthday party was being held at an East Oakland home for an individual who was not named in news reports at Insidebayarea.com.  Late that evening, two people lost their lives and another was injured after shots rang out just after 11 p.m.  Police said that two men were killed, and one man wounded in the shooting.

The names of the deceased have not been released, although news reports did say that one of the men was an Oakland resident who was 38 years old.  The man who was injured was said to be in critical condition, and is 52 years old.  Another man suffering gunshot wounds showed up at an area hospital later, although authorities did not know whether he sustained the gunshot wounds at the party.  Considering two men died and one was hospitalized with injuries, the responsible party or parties may be facing multiple criminal charges when apprehended.  Firearms charges are also a possibility.

According to police, about a dozen individuals were outside the home where the party was being held when others showed up, and gunfire erupted just moments later.  The unidentified victim died at the scene; the 38-year-old male victim succumbed to his injuries at an area hospital early the next morning.