Monday Morning Memo for June 19, 2017

Conviction & Sentencing
‘Monster’ rapist-kidnapper of teen girls in Lancaster never getting out: 100-year conviction upheld by high court
A “monster” convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting two 15-year-old girls about three weeks apart in Lancaster in 2015 lost his bid Wednesday to have the California Supreme Court review the case. Joseph Kenneth Cornett was sentenced in May 2016 to 100 years to life in state prison, with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall saying that a “monster” had been stopped and he wanted the two teens to know that “none of this is their fault.”
Videos show rescue of rape victim, serial killer confessions
After hearing a woman’s screams inside a large metal container, investigators sawed and pried open the bin, rescuing the woman who had been chained inside for about two months by a serial killer, according to new videos released by prosecutors. The videos also show Todd Kohlhepp, in cold and emotionless detail, confessing to killing seven people in South Carolina. He pleaded guilty two weeks ago to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison.
Death row convict back in court after former city attorney’s alleged flub
Barry Williams spent 30 years on California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison for killing a rival gang member in 1982. But now the South L.A. gang member is in Los Angeles County Jail, awaiting a July court date. Terry Thornton, a press deputy for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, says Williams is in the midst of a retrial.
Roman Polanski’s victim pleads to end case: ‘He owes me nothing’
Roman Polanski’s sexual assault victim made an impassioned plea Friday to end the fugitive director’s four-decade legal saga, saying she felt more abused by the legal justice system than by the man who she said drugged, raped and sodomized her when she was 13. “The trauma of the ordeal that followed was so great that, you know, the brief encounter with him that evening that was unpleasant just faded and paled,” Samantha Geimer said outside a courtroom in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Historic sentencing for gang member who killed transgender woman
A federal prosecution under a 2009 hate crime law resulted in a lengthy prison sentence last month for a Mississippi gang member who killed a 17-year-old transgender woman-and set an important precedent that could benefit other transgender victims. A judge sentenced Joshua Vallum to 49 years in federal prison under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
Rental scam ‘mastermind’ pleads guilty to defrauding customers
The man who state authorities called the “mastermind” of rental scams pleaded guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of defrauding Southern California customers who were looking for affordable rental homes and apartments. As part of a plea agreement, Richard Rodriguez of Alhambra received a three-year suspended jail sentence and five years supervised probation in exchange for pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud customers of his rental listing business, Superior Consulting in Rowland Heights.
Legislation
Legislature needs to fix list of ‘violent’ crimes
Words matter, we often hear in these days of a president notorious for loose verbiage. They also matter in the California Penal Code, where the label “violent” is not applied to many crimes most people with common sense would unquestionably define as violent. Some examples: assault with a deadly weapon, soliciting murder, elder and child abuse, arson, human trafficking, plus some forms of rape and forced sodomy.
CA Senate Committee: Ms McGill’s false testimony should not go unpunished
The false testimony given by Kim McGill of the Youth Justice Coalition during recent testimony before the Senate Public Safety Committee is greatly disturbing. As detailed in a blog by Michele Hanisee and Eric Siddall, Ms. McGill gave her testimony before the Senate Public Safety Committee to attempt to “humanize” overturning California law adding mandatory prison time for using a gun in a crime.
Evidence lacking to estimate local government savings from California crime reform measure
While a California ballot initiative reducing penalties for some criminal offenses promised to save local governments money, quantifying such savings will require significant changes in the way local agencies track workloads, according to a new RAND Corporation report. Establishing better performance metrics to follow both the workload created by new policies and the consequences of such changes would allow policymakers to examine whether reforms such as those imposed by Proposition 47 are saving money, according to the report.
Legislature needs to fix list of ‘violent’ crimes: Thomas Elias
Words matter, we often hear in these days of a president notorious for loose verbiage. They also matter in the California Penal Code, where the label “violent” is not applied to many crimes most people with common sense would unquestionably define as violent. Some examples: assault with a deadly weapon, soliciting murder, elder and child abuse, arson, human trafficking, plus some forms of rape and forced sodomy.
How this new California law could help immigrants clear previous crimes, and avoid deportation
A new California law allows people who are no longer in jail to challenge old convictions, a move that could offer deportation relief to immigrants as President Donald Trump’s administration targets those with prior crimes. The law – known as “Criminal procedure: postconviction relief” – allows people who have claims of innocence, or people whose attorneys failed to warn them about the immigration consequences of a plea deal, a way of challenging those convictions.
Murder, torture, kidnapping – minors charged as adults might be tried as juveniles
Twin teenage girls a few months shy of their 18th birthdays, who authorities say kidnapped and tortured two men, originally were charged as adults. But a new law has sent their case to juvenile court, at least for now. Proposition 57, a ballot measure approved by California voters in November, increased parole and good behavior opportunities for nonviolent adult offenders, but it also shifted the authority to try a juvenile as an adult from the prosecutor to the judge.
Battle over changing California’s bail system wages on despite legislative setback
On those occasions when a judge in felony arraignment court sets a defendant’s bail at an especially high amount, at least a few gasps usually emanate from the spectator area.
It really is a stunning concept: that someone would be required to pay millions to get out of jail while his or her criminal case is pending, and that there are people who can and do pay those amounts (and I’m not just talking about high-profile entertainers and sports figures).
Questions answered on sanctuary state bill
The author of SB54 and a leading opponent of the measure appeared in a round-table discussion on Eyewitness Newsmakers. California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon describes the bill he authored “The California Values Act,” and says to describe it as a sanctuary state measure is a misnomer. He says the measure will prevent federal agents from rounding up undocumented prisoners in jails and deporting them, where they can return and commit more crime.
District Attorney
Contra Costa County district attorney resigns, pleads no contest to felony perjury
The district attorney of Contra Costa County pleaded no contest to a felony perjury charge then promptly resigned Wednesday, hours after being charged with using more than $66,000 in campaign funds to pay personal bills and to buy jewelry and other items. Mark Peterson entered his plea to a single count of perjury. A judge promptly sentenced him to three years’ informal probation and ordered him to serve 250 hours of community service.
Northern California prosecutor detained in corruption probe
State officials detained Contra Costa County’s district attorney and seized his phone and other items as part of a corruption investigation, court documents show. California Attorney General agents detained Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson on Thursday and seized his seized his iPhone, iPad and appointment calendar, the East Bay Times reported Friday. The state attorney general in February opened a criminal investigation into Peterson’s illegal spending of campaign funds.
Investigating OC law enforcement: Orange County’s DA and sheriff are under rare scrutiny
Orange County’s top two law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department, are under extremely unusual scrutiny from state and federal authorities over the use of jailhouse informants. The question now is, what, if anything, will result from the investigations. “Looking into a prosecutor’s office is very rare,” said Peter Joy, a legal ethics expert and law professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo.
Bank of America settles $1.9 million consumer protection lawsuit with Los Angeles County District Attorney
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today that Bank of America, N.A., will pay nearly $2 million to settle a civil lawsuit alleging the company took too long to inform customers that their phone calls were being recorded. The Charlotte-based bank reached a settlement with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, as well as the Alameda, Riverside, San Diego and Ventura county district attorney’s offices.
Prison & Parole
Death row convict back in court after former city attorney’s alleged flub
Barry Williams spent 30 years on California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison for killing a rival gang member in 1982. But now the South L.A. gang member is in Los Angeles County Jail, awaiting a July court date. Terry Thornton, a press deputy for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, says Williams is in the midst of a retrial. Barry Williams spent 30 years on California’s death row at San Quentin State Prison for killing a rival gang member in 1982.
Social justice crusader Susan Burton talks about re-entry solutions for formerly incarceration women in America
In California, there are three state prisons housing women – Folsom Women’s Facility under the administration of Folsom State Prison; California Institution for Women in Corona; and Central California Women’s Facility, the largest female institution in the state, located in Chowchilla. According to the State of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s weekly population report as of midnight June 7, 2017, the three prisons, with a combined female population of 5,264, are over capacity by 138.3%.
Death Penalty
California should not speed up death penalty
Arkansas recently became an international spectacle by executing four men in eight days, having planned to kill twice as many in a rush to lethally inject prisoners with an expiring supply of an increasingly scarce drug. Now it’s California’s turn to consider a wrongheaded scheme to speed up the death penalty. Voters last fall narrowly approved Proposition 66, which sets a deadline for court review of capital-punishment appeals and takes other steps to restart a capital punishment machine that ground to a halt a decade ago.
Law Enforcement
New TV ads slamming sanctuary cities evoke California deaths blamed on immigrants in U.S. illegally
An television advertising campaign denouncing California’s so-called sanctuary cities launched this week in the San Diego area. The campaign, created by the group Californians for Population Stabilization, or CAPS, opposes local and state government policies that preclude full cooperation by law enforcement officers with federal immigration authorities.
An 8-year-old was taken off life support, his organs donated. Now, police are investigating
By the time Cole Hartman arrived at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, he was in grave condition. The 8-year-old had gone into cardiac arrest after nearly drowning in a washing machine at his Castaic home. Paramedics had gotten his heart beating again, but he remained in a coma and on a ventilator.
Counterfeit prescription drugs allegedly sold at Pacoima candy store
The owners of a Pacoima candy store faced a lawsuit on charges of selling counterfeit or mislabeled pharmaceuticals. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer along with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Monday announced a lawsuit filed against Narcisco Gamez and his daughter, Johana –  the owners of Dulceria El Venado on Glenoaks Boulevard.
LAPD detective’s messy extramarital affair: Falsely imprisoned her lover?
A Los Angeles Police Department detective who was accused of threatening an ex-boyfriend and filing a false police report claiming he’d sexually assaulted her was acquitted Monday of a charge of intimidating a witness, but jurors deadlocked on a false imprisonment count stemming from his arrest. Prosecutors said Christine Wycoff, 46, met the man through a Craiglist online personal ad in June 2014 and the pair had a sexual relationship that lasted several months.
More officers taking own lives
If you’re having thoughts about hurting yourself, it’s important to know, first and foremost, that you’re not alone. Many have traveled down the same path you’re on and have come out the other side healthy and happy. No matter how bad things seem, suicide is never the answer. Here are some facts, resources, and ways to help yourself through a difficult time.
Horror of 4-year-old boy shot in head by gang bullet: Heroism of life-saving deputies
Members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors are honoring three sheriff’s deputies who saved a 4-year-old boy who was shot in the head by a stray bullet fired during a nearby gang argument in Compton. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas commended the deputies’ heroism, saying they epitomized “the best in law enforcement.”
Oakland recruiting ex-cons to oversee cops
Former cops need not apply, but former inmates are being encouraged by the city of Oakland to apply for slots on the city’s new police commission. A notice recently posted on the city’s website for would-be commissioners says, “Must be an Oakland resident. Must be at least 18 years old. Formerly incarcerated individuals encouraged to apply.” Barry Donelan, head of the Oakland Police Officers Association, said recruiting ex-cons to help select the chief and discipline officers for misconduct was “extremely distasteful.”

San Francisco Chronicle

As opioid abuse grips nation, LA County sheriff deploys Narcan to reverse overdoses
Hoping to stem a national wave of opioid- and heroin-related deaths, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department announced Thursday that deputies from across the region will be equipped with a potentially life-saving nasal spray. Deputies from the Santa Clarita, La Crescenta and East Los Angeles sheriffs stations along with the parks and community college bureaus will be equipped with 1,200 doses of a nasal spray known on the market as Narcan.
2018 Election
Gas tax poll sends a tremor through the political landscape
A tremor ran through the 2018 California elections with the release of the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll that shows widespread disdain for the recently passed gas tax and vehicle fees-even before collection of the tax begins in November. The gas tax issue could sway California elections from the governor’s race on down, especially if an initiative effort to repeal the measure makes the ballot.
Stacking the deck on elections
A  budget bill has been introduced that would lengthen the time to qualify recall elections. One might say this bill came out of the blue-blue California, that is. Changing election rules to benefit their positions is becoming a habit with Democrats in the legislature. The presumed object of the bill, SB 96, is to forestall the recall election of Sen. Josh Newman, hoping to combine the election with the regularly scheduled June 2018 primary when a larger turnout of Democratic voters is expected.
Homelessness
How the Golden Motel could portend trouble for homeless strategy
It’s nearing 11a.m. at the Golden Motel – check-out time – and half a dozen doors are open to the courtyard. Men, women, and children scurry through the short walkway to the parking lot carrying stuffed animals, pillows, and trash bags full of clothes. “You have to move every twenty-eight days,” explained Lyrissa Balam, who’s holed up with two toddlers in a first floor room, the air conditioner blasting against the unseasonably hot morning.
Immigration
Fleeing gangs, Central American children face deportation as LA area-legal aid remains scarce
Wide-eyed but stoic, Cesar recounted making his treacherous journey to the U.S. last fall to escape gang violence in his native El Salvador. The then-17-year-old fled, he said, after two Salvadoran thugs beat him near school, leaving him bloodied and bruised, to coerce him to join one of the country’s “most dangerous and sadistic gangs.” After Cesar still refused to join, he said, they threatened to kill him and even come for him at his home.
Gun Control
California needs federal help to restrict use of guns, advocate says
California’s firearms laws, already among the nation’s toughest, have been further stiffened by legislators and voters in the past year with bans on high-capacity gun magazines and the sales of guns with so-called bullet buttons that enable speedy reloading, and a requirement, to take effect in 2019, of background checks for buyers of ammunition.
City, County & State Government
Recreational marijuana sales in California will total $5 billion, study predicts
California is on the verge of creating a legal market for marijuana worth more than $5 billion that will help make the state a destination for pot-loving tourists, according to a new state-sponsored economic study. But about 29 percent of all cannabis consumers may stay in the illegal market at first to avoid the cost of new regulations requiring marijuana to be tested, tracked and taxed at 15 percent of its retail value, according to the study by the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.
Americans’ attitudes about the news media deeply divided along partisan lines
Democrats and Republicans, who already tend to place their trust in different news sources and rely on different outlets for political news, now disagree more than ever on a fundamental issue of the news media’s role in society: whether news organizations’ criticism of political leaders primarily keeps them from doing things they shouldn’t – or keeps them from doing their job.
Kamala Harris puts her prosecutor’s skills to work in DC
Sen. Kamala Harris has no regrets about her very public dustup with senior Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee over her questioning of Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, saying there are times when “truth has to rise over decorum.” It was a tense moment for the rookie senator last week, with the whole nation watching as she asked Rosenstein if he would put in writing that special counsel Robert Mueller would have complete independence and authority in his probe into possible ties between President Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russia.
More supervisors? No, L.A. County government needs more scrutiny: Guest commentary
A group of California state senators have proposed a constitutional amendment that would increase the number of Los Angeles County supervisors and create an elected executive officer. The intent: making the board more responsive to constituents. Los Angeles County has more than 10 million residents, an annual budget of $32 billion and a workforce of over 100,000.
LA County may use public health money to hire gang intervention workers
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider shifting $190,000 from the public health department to parks and rec to hire eight gang intervention workers in South L.A. for the summertime Parks After Dark program. The intervention workers would initially staff Jesse Owens Community Regional Park and Ted Watkins Memorial Park. They would mediate conflicts, quash rumors and mentor at-risk youth.
Supervisors oppose bill to eliminate three of its members from Metro Board of Directors
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voiced its opposition Tuesday to a bill that would eliminate three of its members from the Metro Board of Directors, despite promises from the bill’s author to instead beef up the overall number of seats on the transportation board.
The bill, SB 268, was authored by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, and is awaiting a vote by the state Assembly after being passed by the Senate.
Who’s funding the anti-Trump movement? We don’t know
The Indivisible Guide has become a 26-page must-read for people looking to oppose President Trump’s agenda. The guide – which has been viewed or downloaded more than 2 million times, according to the organization – also offers a supplemental section on how to demand copies of Trump’s tax returns.
Courts
Proposition 57 is not retroactive-Court
Proposition 57-enacted by voters last November to preclude the filing of criminal charges against minors directly in adult court-is not retroactive, the Court of Appeal held yesterday. This means that Jeremy Walker, who was 17 when he was charged in 2015 in adult court with two counts of attempted premeditated murder and was convicted, will be retried in adult court following a reversal of the convictions.
Judge Aviva K. Bobb had no need to make disclosure
The Court of Appeal for this district on Friday rejected the contention that a judgment confirming an arbitration award must be scrapped because the arbitrator-former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Aviva K. Bobb-and opposing counsel, Marc L. Sallus, both play instruments in the Los Angeles Lawyers Philharmonic and this relationship wasn’t disclosed. Metropolitan News-Enterprise
Judge to block LACBA election if a plaintiff is challenged
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge yesterday conditionally granted a preliminary injunction, effective Friday, barring the Los Angeles County Bar Association from continuing to conduct an election this month for officers and trustees-but only if someone files a nominating petition by tomorrow’s deadline challenging one of the three plaintiffs who is a candidate.
Church sued for gang activity at property owned by house of worship in Los Angeles
The City Attorney’s Office sued a South Los Angeles church Monday in an effort to halt alleged drug, gang and firearm activity at a home owned by the house of worship. The property in the 4800 block of Avalon Boulevard is across the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church, the defendant in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that alleges violations of the Health and Safety and the Business and Professions codes.