Voluntary Manslaughter

First District Court of Appeals in Oakland Overturns Murder Conviction

The First District Court of Appeal in Oakland has unanimously determined to reverse the decision of two lower courts to effectively overturn a murder charge against Jamie Thomas in the death of Samuel Navarro.  This higher appeals court decision was made on the basis that jurors in the original trial were not given the option to consider that Thomas had acted in a fit of passion.  Thus, the second-degree-murder charge against him (for which he has already been sentenced 40 years to life) has been overturned. The original incident happened in 2007 in Oakland, on Pearl Street – a traditionally peaceful...

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Reexamination of Evidence Leads to Prison Release of Modesto Man Convicted of Arson (CA Penal Code §451 )

72-year-old George Souliotes was convicted of arson (CA Penal Code §451 – malicious arson) and murder (under the “felony murder rule”) over 16 years ago.  Though he maintained his innocence in the incident – the deaths of three of his tenants in an apartment building he owned (6-year-old Daniel Jones, 3-year old Amanda Jones, and their mother Michelle, 31).  Witnesses in the original case testified that Souliotes harbored animosity toward the family, who he was trying to evict.  Evidence at that time included the presence of a particular chemical on his shoes and at the scene and undependable eyewitness testimony...

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Oregon University Graduate Murdered in Emeryville (CA Penal Code §187)

In mid-June, Sacred Heart Prep School and University of Oregon sociology graduate 22-year-old Aya Nakano was on his way home from a friendly game of pick-up basketball when he was involved in a fender bender on Market Street near the corner of Stanford Avenue.  His silver Jeep Cherokee was rear-ended by another silver car, a four-door sedan. The drivers of both vehicles did exactly as they should have, as all good citizens do – they exited their vehicles to speak to one another, ostensibly to exchange insurance information and to discuss the minor accident.  However, an argument of some kind...

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Paramedics Contaminated Crime Scene in Monte Sereno Millionaire Slaying

Until recently, there was really only one suspect in the November murder of Ravi Kumra, former owner in a Saratoga vineyard and entrepreneur – Lukis Anderson (26) of San Jose, whose DNA was found in the slain millionaire’s home. For months, local law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and defense attorneys alike have tried to figure out how Anderson could have been in two places at once – both black out drunk in a hospital and in the midst of murdering Kumra, whose home was far away.  New evidence suggests, however, that there is no mystery at all.  In point of fact,...

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Dying Declaration Exception Used in Suisun City Stabbing Case (CA Evidence Code §1240 – §1242)

The victim in a stabbing on Worley Road in Suisun City managed to give local law enforcement officials the name of her attacker before expiring.  After an argument on the 1300 block of Worley Road, the unnamed target was stabbed repeatedly.  Police have yet to release the name of the suspect, but are on his or her trail.This brings up an interesting legal question, namely whether or not utterances that would normally be considered inadmissible in court because they are considered hearsay could be admitted because they are “dying declarations.”According to California Evidence Code, hearsay (statements uttered by persons who...

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VIOLATIONS OF CALIFORNIA LAW PREVENTS NEW EXECUTION RULES

Officials in the California system who have authored a bid for new rules on execution, including using a different method than most states in the U.S., have evidently not bothered to “do their homework” when it comes to state laws on the subject.  The need for a change in the system and methods of execution is simply unnecessary and, for many citizens, unreasonable.  There is, to be sure, a long and hotly debated history of capital punishment in the state of California. Before the 1972 case, People v. Anderson, there were 709 executions carried out in California, beginning in 1778 when...

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24-YEAR OLD MADERA COUNTY MURDER CASE REMAINS UNRESOLVED (CA Penal Code §187)

In 1989, then 20-year-old Michael Pizarro became famous – for all the wrong reasons.  He was accused, and then convicted, of sexually assaulting and then murdering (CA Penal Code §187) his 13-year-old half-sister, Amber Barfield.  24 years later, no one can be sure whether or not Pizarro did it. On the one hand, there is a good bit of circumstantial evidence to link him to the crime and, on the other hand, there’s no real proof to be spoken of in the case.  The latest issue, in Pizarro’s third trial on the matter, is the fact that a juror used...

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Valley Springs: 12-year-old Arrest in Leila Fowler Murder (CA Penal Code §187(a))

When Leila Fowler (8) was found stabbed to death in the kitchen of her family’s ranch style home, it was her brother (12) who seemed most upset.  Now, the young boy has been arrested in connection with the case pursuant to CA Penal Code §187(a), even though there seems to be little evidence to support this.  By all accounts, including the testimony of the children’s mother, the Calaveras County Sherriff’s Department is grasping at straws.  The boy’s original testimony was that a strange man with silver hair had broken into the home, killed Fowler, and run – that his sister...

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Defense Attorneys Now Better Positioned to Assist Clients

The state of California has learned a bit of a lesson from history.  Recently, a Second District Court of Appeals decision has strengthened the defense attorney-client relationship by making it almost as airtight as a therapist’s relationship with their patient.  It could be argued that this debate has been ongoing – at least since the 1974 and 1976 Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California I & II.  In what came to be known as the “Tarasoff Case,” a fellow student from India – Prosenjit Poddar, murdered a young woman by the name of Tatiana Tarasoff.  Although Tarasoff had...

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