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Articles Tagged with murder

Two juveniles have been arrested for participation in the death of a 16-year-old boy who was found beaten and lying on a San Diego Street on Wednesday, April 15. San Diego Police Lt. Matt Dobbs said that the homicide was reported at 10:30 a.m. in the 3000 block of C Street in the Golden Hill area. When officers arrived at the scene they found the boy, identified as Lawrence Furchell, laying in the street with head trauma. The officials provided aid to the boy until an ambulance came to transport Furchell to the local hospital for treatment. Furchell died in the hospital.

 

Homicide investigators were evaluating the scene to determine how the incident took place. They indicated that Furchell was riding in a large black SUV and he suffered blunt force trauma to the head. The two boys who were arrested in connection with the crime were aged 17 and 16. They were booked into juvenile hall on suspicion of murder. 

 

Investigators are still assessing the incident and piecing together the crime scene to determine how the murder happened and why. They are asking the public to contact the homicide unit with any information related to the murder.

 

How Are Juvenile Crimes Handled in California?

 

Criminal defendants under the age of 18 can be sent to either juvenile court or tried in adult court, depending on the crime. If sent to juvenile court, there is no jury. A judge will review their case and determine whether or not the juvenile is guilty of a crime. Punishments for young offenders can range from moderate to severe, depending on the crime and the defendant’s criminal history.

 

Juvenile court may sentence the child to incarceration or non-incarceration punishments. Incarceration options could include:

 

  • House arrest
  • Removal from home shared with parents or guardian to a foster home or group home
  • Juvenile hall
  • Probation
  • Secured juvenile facility
  • Adult jail
  • Combination of juvenile facility until the age of 18 then to an adult jail

 

If a juvenile is at least 14 years of age, the crimes that could put him or her in front of an adult court include:

 

  • First degree murder
  • Rape
  • Forcible sex offenses with the help of other people
  • Forcible lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age
  • Forcible penetration by a foreign object
  • Sodomy by force or violence

 

Get the Help You Need From a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

 

The outcome of your child’s case will stick with him or her for life. If your child is being tried in adult court for murder, he or she could be looking at 25 years to life in prison. It is imperative that if you or a loved one is charged with a San Diego County murder that you immediately seek the counsel of an experienced San Diego murder and homicide defense attorney.

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According to San Diego Police, a suspect who killed a man in Lincoln Park is on the lam. The suspect was identified as Michael Anderson, 35-years-of-age, who allegedly murdered 21-year-old Timothy Stewart on March 16. Initially, rescue teams transported Stewart to the Paradise Valley Hospital to obtain aid for injuries to his upper body. At the hospital, Steward succumbed to his injuries.

The incident took place on the 5000 block of Logan Avenue, authorities from the SDPD said. The SDPD has a description of Anderson as a 6-feet tall  male who weighs approximately 190 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. The SDPD is asking the public to help if they have any information on where Anderson may be hiding out but warn that he is believed to be armed and dangerous.

San Diego Crime Statistics From January 2019 to August 2019 

According to the City of San Diego’s Police Department crime statistic map, during the eight-month period between January 2019 through August 2019, the following took place:

  • 31 murders
  • 364 rapes
  • 385 armed robberies
  • 2,198 assaults

The East Village neighborhood had the highest number of murders during this timeframe. There are 3,086 individuals in the state of California who will lose their lives to guns every year. The state comes in at 44 for the most gun deaths when compared to the rest of the country. According to statistics, the state has 51% of their reported gun deaths from suicide, while 44% of gun deaths are from homicides. Across the nation, 61% of Americans kill themselves with guns, and the gun-related homicide rate is 35%.

There are 58 counties in the state of California. Of all the counties that call California home, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Clara counties have the highest gun violence and death rates. There are close to 1,500 deaths by gun homicide each year in the state, making California the 28th-highest for gun-related murders in the country. Black people are affected by gun violence the most. Black people have a 10 times higher rate of death by guns than white people.

Have You Been Charged With Murder and Need a San Diego Defense Attorney?

A felony is the most serious charge you can face, with first-degree felonies receiving the absolute highest punishment for crimes. Any individual who engages in terrorism, treason, murder, rape, arson, robbery, burglary, or kidnapping can be charged with a felony. When you are arrested for felony murder in California, you are looking at many years behind bars, with the potential of never being free. You may even face death. Continue reading

A decades-old murder mystery in San Diego’s Middletown neighborhood may have finally been solved. A man was arrested in New York on Wednesday, January 29 in connection with the murder. Alvaro Espeleta, 28, was found brutally murdered on December 31, 1975. He was found in his home, located on Reynard Way, badly beaten and strangled.

Espeleta was a dental technician with the U.S. Navy and he was working at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. When Espeleta was a no-show at work, two co-workers went to his residence to check on him, and they found his dead body. Investigators scrutinized all leads and never had any luck. The case grew old, but investigators kept it active. After 44 years, modern forensic science and technology along with multiple agencies working together found a suspect and put him in custody.

When Espeleta died, he had a palm print on his body, but it was highly difficult for authorities to determine to whom it belonged. 

Dennis Lepage, 62, was placed under arrest in New York when he had his fingerprints taken for a minor charge. His fingerprints were put through a law enforcement database. A match was found between the palm print on Espeleta’s body and the print from Lepage. The match was made, and Lepage was arrested in Troy, New York in connection with the murder of Alvaro Espeleta. Dennis Lepage would have been only 18 years old when he murdered Espeleta. 

According to NCIS, Lepage was also an active duty Navy Sailor who was living in San Diego. A fellow tenant who lived in the apartment building where the murder of Espeleta occurred said that there were red flags when thinking back to Lepage’s apartment. Lepage’s apartment had carpeting when all other tenants had hardwood flooring. The appearance looked as if there was something that the man was trying to cover up.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office did not provide comment. The San Diego Police Department gave many thanks to the agencies that helped in the case including NCIS, FBI, DA’s Office, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police, and Albany County Sheriff’s Department to name a few.

Where to Find a Murder and Homicide Attorney in San Diego

Technology is becoming more and more effective. Crimes that occurred many years ago which went cold are now having new evidence introduced causing present-day arrests. If you are facing a murder or homicide charge, from years ago or presently, you need the assistance of an experienced San Diego murder and homicide defense lawyer.   Continue reading

Police have begun a homicide investigation after the body of a deceased male was found in a downtown San Diego high-rise apartment on Monday, January 20. According to the San Diego Police, officers were called out to the scene at Vantage Pointe apartments in the 1200 block of Ninth Avenue by a security guard who worked at the apartment building along with another individual who found the deceased man’s body in one of the apartment units.

The deceased man was identified by the police as a white man in his late 40s. The man had visible trauma to his body. Police believe that the incident appeared suspicious and then determined that it was in fact a homicide. The authorities are looking for information from the public and are urging anyone who has any details to call Crimestoppers.

Homicide Data in San Diego

According to UCR Crimes by GeoArea, from January to August of 2019 there were 31 murders in San Diego. In 1950, there were 10 recorded murders. By 2018, there were 35 murders. That is a steep jump, but the murders recorded in 2018 were not nearly as high as they were in 1991. In 1991 there were 167 murders.

Between January and June of 2019, there were 5,545 violent crimes in San Diego County. This comes out to approximately 31 violent crimes committed each day during that six-month span. Violent crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. In the first half of 2018, there were 604 homicides in the city. The good news is that compared with the data from 2009, 2019 had a 19% lower violent crime rate.

In California, capital murder is the most serious charge a person can face. Punishment can include:

  • The death penalty by way of the gas chamber or lethal injection 
  • Life in prison without the possibility of parole

First-degree murder in the state falls under California Penal Code 187, and someone charged could be facing the following:

  • 25 years to life in state prison 
  • Hate crime first-degree murder comes with life in state prison without the possibility of parole 

Capital murder and first-degree murder are charges not to be taken lightly. If you are arrested for either, you are looking at many years in prison, if not the death penalty. There is no room for error when you are facing murder charges in California. The qualified and experienced legal representation from David M. Boertje, a San Diego criminal defense lawyer, will ensure that you have the best defense team on your side protecting your legal rights. Continue reading

On December 28 Ernie Buchanan, a 44-year-old father of six, lost his life after he was shot near the Alpha Project homeless shelter located on 17th Street and Imperial Avenue in San Diego. Homicide detectives found and arrested Floyd Garrett, 47, and Johnny Lee Hill, 40, for the murder of the security guard. Garrett was found and arrested in Phoenix while Hill was arrested in San Diego, according to San Diego police’s acting homicide Captain Martha Sainz.

Sainz reported that Buchanan was employed as a security guard at the Alpha Project, but it is not believed that his murder was connected with his job at the nonprofit located in the downtown’s East Village neighborhood. The president and CEO of the Alpha Project Bob McElroy explained that Buchanan was on break prior to the attack. Friends of Buchannan describe him as friendly and a mentor for children. McElroy indicated that Buchanan was a good person and employee.

Both Hill and Garrett were identified using footage from smart street lights that are positioned around the city and record both video and other data. With the help of the Phoenix Police Department, Garrett was found and taken into custody. In San Diego the police credit the street light technology as critical in assisting them with solving crimes. However, privacy advocates have voiced their concerns over the technology and the police department’s use of it.

The streetlights cost the city $30 million and were praised for their ability to reduce energy expenditures. The sensors on these lights collect data on a variety of activities in the city such as parking, vehicle count, pedestrian count, temperature, humidity, and air pressure. One year after they were implemented the police added them to their arsenal of tools to help fight crime. According to authorities, these lights helped with over 160 investigations from August 2018 through September 2019. The police use of the light’s technology was not a topic discussed during the planning stages and public meetings and the city did not approve the police’s use of the technology.

Have You Been Charged With Murder in San Diego and Need Legal Representation?

You will need the assistance of a San Diego murder and homicide defense lawyer when you are facing serious murder and homicide charges. David M. Boertje is an effective and aggressive California criminal defense attorney who will examine your case and provide you options for a compelling defense that will protect your best interests. Depending on the details of your case, it could be possible to negotiate a favorable plea bargain on your behalf. Continue reading

Last year, San Diego had the lowest violent crime rates in four decades. According to a study conducted by the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), however, homicides were up. This violent crime remained steady from 2017 to 2018 and is on-trend with the rest of the country.

In San Diego County alone, there were 87 homicides in 2018, seven more than in 2017. With the rate of homicide remaining steady in San Diego, there are many reasons or motives as to why homicides are happening. Today, we will explore those reasons, but first we need to see what California law says about homicide.

Homicide Defined in California

The California Penal Code Chapter 1 discusses homicide. CA Penal Code 187 defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. A homicide includes murder – the most aggravated type of homicide. Malice aforethought means the act of killing was intentional.

Motive Matters in Homicide Cases

While the act of killing must be intentional for homicide, motive typically explains why homicide was committed. Motive is not the same as intent but it matters in homicide cases such as in the example below:

An article in the Morning Call reports that a hearing in San Diego cop-killing death penalty case is set to start on Monday, June 24, 2019. The case involves a man being charged with murder with a special-circumstance allegation of killing a peace officer, attempted murder, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The prosecutor will begin presenting evidence that the man performed the act of shooting. The defense is expected to argue that the evidence falls short of proving the man pulled the trigger that night. The man could face the death penalty if he is convicted of murdering a police officer.

Sometimes it can be difficult to prove motive and intent. This is why in violent crime cases, the parties’ arguments include reasons why the crime was committed (motive) and also seek to prove whether the crime was meant to be committed (intent). 

Common Homicide Motives Revealed

SANDAG reports that in 2018, motive could be determined for 64 of 87 of the homicides by the time of publishing their May 2019 report. Below are common motives for homicide, according to SANDAG’s report:

  • Argument (45%)
  • Domestic Violence (16%)
  • Gang-Related (13%)
  • Robbery (6%)
  • Drugs (6%)

The other 14% included one each related to child abuse, financial gain, alcohol, and four that were not specified. 

Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If you or someone you know in the San Diego or Southern California area is facing homicide and murder charges, contact David Boertje, a San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer. Mr. Boertje is an experienced murder and criminal defense attorney and has been practicing criminal defense in San Diego County since 2003. He has successfully handled hundreds of criminal cases. Continue reading

The California legislature has been working furiously to pass many laws that affect all aspects of California life. Many changes were implemented that affect the criminal law and criminal justice system. One key change that has occurred affects accomplice liability or California’s aider and abettor laws with respect to felony murder. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that limits who can be prosecuted for felony murder to those who commit or intend to commit a killing.

For a brief overview of California’s accomplice liability laws, click here.

California’s Felony Murder Rule

Previously, California’s felony murder rule allowed accomplices to be convicted of first-degree murder if a victim died during the commission of a felony even if the accomplice did not intend to kill, or did not know a homicide took place.

The underlying felonies are arson, rape and other sexual crimes, carjacking, robbery, burglary, mayhem, kidnapping, train wrecking, and homicide committed by intentionally firing a gun from a motor vehicle at a person outside of the motor vehicle with the intention to cause death.

Returning to our prior example, if Mateo had shot and killed a clerk in the jewelry store while robbing it, Logan and Nathan would also have been charged with felony murder under the old felony murder rule.

What is SB-1437?

SB-1437 prohibits a participant in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of one of the specified first degree murder felonies in which a death occurs from being liable for murder, unless the person was the actual killer or the person was not the actual killer but, with the intent to kill, aided, abetted, counseled, commanded, induced, solicited, requested, or assisted the actual killer, or the person was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life, unless the victim was a peace officer who was killed in the course of performing his or her duties, and the defendant knew or should reasonably have known the victim was a peace officer engaged in the performance of his or her duties.

How Does SB-1437 Affect My Case?

Anyone charged with felony murder after September 30, 2018 who was also an accomplice that did not actually kill the victim or intended to kill the victim could potentially mean less time in prison if convicted after a jury trial or plea.

If the jewelry heist occurred after September 30, 2018, Logan and Nathan would not be convicted of felony murder because they did not kill the victim nor knew that Mateo was going to kill the victim. Logan and Nathan are still guilty of robbery because they were active participants in the heist.

Check back next week to find out how SB-147 affects individuals already convicted and serving time for felony murder as an accomplice.

Charged Under California’s Felony Murder Statute?

Under California law, if you aid and abet a person who actually committed a crime, you could face the same exact penalties, meaning prison sentence. Aiding and abetting is not a crime in itself, instead it imposes criminal liability on the action of helpers. If you help someone commit a crime you will be charged with the same crime as the person who actually committed the crime. Contact the San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss your defense and mitigating circumstances. Continue reading

It is reported that California is easing back into executions for convicted criminals on death row, after not having executed anyone in over a decade. California has a sordid history with the death penalty. The process is extremely delayed, with inmates waiting on death row for decades before dying of natural causes instead of being executed. The state has held no executions since 2006, and only 13 since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978. However, the list of death row inmates is twice as many as any other states, up to 749.

California voters voted for Proposition 66 last November, which would keep the death penalty intact and also reform the state’s capital punishment system by speeding up executions. In 2012, voters also rejected Proposition 34 and Proposition 62 in 2016, which would have permanently repealed the state’s death penalty. Voters in a few Southern California counties are also electing district attorneys who put more people on death row. The people of California have definitely spoken: They want to speed up death row, not eliminate it, despite the data that shows it is racially discriminatory. However, it would take an execution a day, every day, for the next two years in order to empty the state’s death row backlog.

Crimes Eligible for Capital Punishment in California

There are several statutes that touch on capital punishment in the California Penal Code. CA Penal Code § 187 addresses “special circumstances murder” which includes:

  • More than one murder conviction;
  • Murder by bomb or poison;
  • Murder of a cop;
  • Murder involving torture;
  • Murder involving gang activity; and
  • Murder involving another serious felony (ie. rape).

California law also provides for the death penalty if you are convicted of:

  • Treason against the state;
  • Perjury causing the execution of another innocent person;
  • Intentionally interfering with preparations of war.

Lastly, CA Penal Code § 190.3 sets out a list of aggravating factors that allow a jury to determine whether a defendant should get the death penalty. For example, juries may consider the circumstances of a crime, such as if the acts were particularly egregious. They can also consider other past violent criminal activity that is not connected with the crime at hand (ie. domestic violence).     Continue reading

Early this New year, Governor Jerry Brown has once again denied parole to a former gang member who was convicted of fatally shooting a San Diego police officer in 1978. Jesus Salvador Cecena, 54, was only 17 when he was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting Officer Archie Buggs four times at a traffic stop, in the Skyline neighborhood. This marks the second year in a row the governor reversed the Board’s decision to recommend Cecena for parole. A two-member panel had announced its decision during an August 2015 hearing, citing that he had met the standards under a new law meant to assist prisoners serving long sentences for crimes committed as juveniles. The local police department there obviously launched a campaign against this decision to allow Cecena for parole.

While Brown acknowledged Cecena’s young age at the time, the Governor said in his statement he still believes Cecena would be a threat to society if he were to be released from prison. He claims that Cecena still has not given a credible explanation for his actions. At the sentencing  in the late 1970’s a judge noted the evidence indicated the shooting was calculated and deliberate.  Cecena was sentenced to life in prison and has been locked up since 1979.

The new law referred to be the parole board says the parole board must give “great weight to the diminished culpability of juveniles” and also consider the prisoner’s “maturity and rehabilitation in prison.” Cecena’s prison record indicates he has disavowed association with prison gangs and helps mentor younger prisoners.

Last week, four students were arrested after police discovered a “detailed” plan to “shoot and kill as many people as possible” at Summerville High School in Tuolumne, California. Other students at the school heard the suspects discussing the shooting last week, so they told school staff, who then contacted the sheriff’s office. According to the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s office, the plan was so detailed that it included the names of the would-be victims. The four suspects were in the process of securing weapons. The suspects have not been identified since they are minors. Those four students had a court hearing Oct. 13th to determine whether they will be released from custody. They will be getting mental health evaluations.

Criminal Conspiracy (CA Penal Code 182)

Criminal conspiracy exists when two or more people agree to commit almost any unlawful act and then take some action toward its completion. The action taken does not need to be a crime in itself, but must indicate that those involved in the conspiracy knew of the plan and intended to break the law.

CA Penal Code 182 defines criminal conspiracy as taking place when:  

  • You agree with one or more other people to commit a crime at some time in the future, and
  • One of them commits an overt act in furtherance of that agreement.  

In this instance, prosecutors would have a good case for conspiracy because the four students allegedly plotted to plan a school shooting and had already commenced the ‘overt act’ of securing guns.

Conspiracy to Commit Murder (CA Penal Code 189)

The type of conspiracy you are convicted of will determine your punishment. Some conspiracies are wobblers – they can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. A conspiracy to commit murder has all the same elements as conspiracy, expect one possesses the specific intent to kill another person unlawfully and commits an act in furtherance of that act. If convicted, you will face punishment that is equivalent to first-degree murder. It is punishable by death or 25 years to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Withdrawal from the Conspiracy

One may withdraw from his or her role in a conspiracy before someone in the group takes an overt act to further the crime in order to be absolved of criminal liability. If you wait until after someone commits an overt act to affirm your withdrawal, you will still be charged with the conspiracy but will not be held liable for any crimes that are committed after you communicated your withdrawal. Continue reading

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