COMMENTARY BY SAMUEL SPITAL, CRIMINAL HOMICIDE AND DEFENSE LAWYER
“On February 4, 2013, the Orange County Registrar published a digital article in which a husband was arrested in connection with a cold case investigation for the death of his wife about nine years ago. According to the story, this was a brutal murder in which the wife had her throat slashed and her head was nearly decapitated. All of this happened in the early morning hours when the 17 year old son was tied up and placed in a his bedroom closet by another suspect. It was further revealed that the husband had previously pled guilty to spousal battery and attempting to dissuade a witness (the victim in the current criminal case), then being sentenced to one year in County Jail and formal probation for five years.
Either the author did not interview the investigating officers more thoroughly or the Police and District Attorney declined to provide any further details as to the underlying evidence that led them to arrest the defendant for the vicious killing after so many years had intervened. Defense counsel will undoubtedly perform a painstaking investigation given the substantial intervening period of time from the incident and the current filing of the criminal charges, as well as raise various pre-trial motions and to establish the defense strategy.
It is interesting to note the husband was not arrested after so many years even though the the spouse is generally considered the first and often the primary person of interest in a murder; when this nexus is coupled with the previous conviction for domestic violence along with the type of and manner of killing, there would seem to have been other circumstantial evidence as well to link the husband to the crime even if no eye witness, including but not limited to DNA. However, the spouse may have had an alibi, he may not have used the knife in question and/or his participation in the crime as a co-conspirator could not have previously been established beyond any reasonable doubt. If the defendant does not have the means to retain private counsel, a Deputy Public Defender will be appointed.”
For the most part, many of us have not read or heard about ACE’s, the acronym for adverse childhood experiences. Whereas highly negative experiences as a child often create indelible marks in his/her brain impacting child development, they do not have to be irreversible. For more information of significant interest, see the following: http://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/
Negative childhood experiences inevitably can cause anxiety, toxic stress, fear, shame, disappointment, anger, hopelessness, helplessness, despair and depression. They can arise from one or more specific incidents of neglect; physical, sexual, verbal and/or emotional abuse; and family dysfunction in general. When the feelings that arise from such experiences become intolerable, they can move from being an acute and temporary problem to a chronic and continuing episode. For far too many, they not only impact a child’s development but frame their adult life. They are often linked to and the causal factor behind substance abuse; mental illness; criminal behavior; separation and divorce; neuro-psychiatric and neuro-psychological problems, major medical health conditions as well as auto-immune diseases; work absences and employment problems. However, learning more about this scourge and most importantly obtaining appropriate and if necessary ongoing care and treatment can alter the fabric of life.
Far too many examples are evident in the news every day, yet there are clues that either were ignored &/or rationalized by parents, siblings, relatives, peers, friends and associates. Become more aware of those you love and with whom you associate so that their personal feelings are addressed, if only to be the one who listens and hears the challenges and struggles they may experience. Hopefully, encouragement will suffice; however, recommending one obtain counseling and professional guidance may ultimately be the best remedy and tool for accommodating negative feelings and ultimately reduce the ACE score. Also, see http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/2014/08/07/q-pediatrician-screens-parents-kids-trauma-ace-score-9/
On December 2, 2013, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of CHELSEY HAYES V. COUNTY OF SAN DIEGO, Case #09-55644 , heard this civil rights Complaint brought under the Federal statute 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and California law wherein a minor daughter alleged violations of her 14th and 4th Amendment rights and her deceased father’s 4th Amendment rights when San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies acted negligently in shooting and killing her father who allegedly was suicidal and wielding a knife during a response to a domestic violence call.
In the underlying case, the Court said there was no evidence the sheriff’s fired their guns for any other purpose than self-defense and, therefore affirmed the District Court’s Decision by declaring there was no violation of plaintiff’s rights under the 14th Amendment. On the other hand, the Court reversed the lower Court after it determined a jury could conclude the use of deadly force by the sheriffs was not objectively reasonable and that under California law supported a basis for a wrongful death claim.
A compelling argument was made on behalf of Hayes that the sheriffs could have avoided the incident by obtaining more information about the suspect or requesting a psychiatric emergency response team (“PERT”) when the first deputy responded to a domestic violence call at a neighbor’s house and learned there had been no physical altercation, and before the second deputy arrived and they both entered the home. At that point it became a matter of whether the officers used excessive force.
The above reported Decision can be found at the following link: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2013/12/02/09-55644.pdf
COMMENTARY BY SAN DIEGO PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY SAM SPITAL:
“On December 16, 2012, the UT San Diego online edition printed an article regarding a 53 year old woman who died as a result of her crash into the flatbed of a semi-truck as she changed lanes on Highway 8, and then ran off the road and crashed into a tree.
The family and/or one of the heirs may seek advice from a personal injury lawyer to evaluate whether to bring a wrongful death case. Even though one is primarily responsible for operating his/her vehicle in the proper way to avoid accidents, the potential defendants and theories of liability in such a lawsuit would be for any dangerous condition as a result of the design and maintenance of roads and highways by the city, county and state government respectively. In addition, the overall safety, as well as design and manufacturing defects of the vehicle the woman was driving can be the principal or actual cause or a contributing cause of her death. As reported by the Centers of Disease Control and Preventing, accidents sadly remain the fifth leading cause of deaths in the United States, coming after heart disease (#1), cancer (#2), chronic lower respiratory diseases (#3) and strokes (#4). See http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm and the CDC website in general for a wealth of information related to public health issues and problems.”
Commentary by Sam Spital, San Diego Criminal Attorney:
“The Los Angeles Times reported on October 15, 2012 the Orange County District Attorney planned later on the same day to file charges against a Newport Beach man for killing his wife in a dispute over finances and a possible divorce. The newsperson noted the family resided in a $2.5 million home and the husband was arrested for felony murder near the San Diego-Mexican Border by officers a few days earlier. According to a different person, the 48 year old man claimed another individual killed his wife and forced him to place her body on a truck and then drive his own vehicle toward the Mexican border. The article does not contain any other references so it is impossible to know the facts and provide an opinion regarding the allegations and potential defenses to the charges. Suffice to say, criminal defense counsel has a variety of strategies to employ in representing a client.”
Sam Spital, Criminal Lawyer
“The KFMB-TV and CBS.com news posted on October 14, 2012 that a 23 year old man was fatally injured when he was run over by his girlfriend’s vehicle after he smashed the car’s windshield and banged on her car at which point she sought to extricate herself from the dangerous situation and backed the vehicle away. This followed an alleged altercation between the two individuals in a parking lot in Chula Vista, a neighboring city in the south bay region of San Diego County, where the woman had previously gathered with friends. Is this another senseless tragedy that might have been avoided? Unfortunately, very little was reported and there is an investigation pending.”
Sam Spital, San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
Homicide detectives were called to an area of Kearny Mesa south of State Route 52 for the report of a suspicious death on Thursday.
San Diego police officers were in the 7700-block of Convoy Court on official business when they discovered a person dead inside a vehicle.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the car found at the scene is registered to Grace Ann Hall, 23. Police have not yet confirmed if the body found inside the vehicle was the person who the car is registered to.
A bulletin recently issued by the San Diego Police Department identifies Hall as a missing person. It describes her as a white female, 5-foot-7, 150 pounds with blond hair and hazel eyes.
According to the SDPD bulletin, Hall was last seen around 8 p.m. on Mar. 20 driving a grey Toyota Camry in the 9100 block of Rebecca Avenue in Serra Mesa.
The police bulletin says Hall was supposed to travel to Sherman Oaks in Los Angeles for a job interview at an unknown home. At the time the bulletin was issued, investigators did not know if Hall had ever arrived in the Sherman Oaks area.
Police say Hall’s credit card had been used in Mira Mesa since her disappearance, but hadn’t been used since Mar. 27.
As for the body discovered by police on Thursday, investigators do not yet know if the person died from natural causes or if a crime has been committed.
The deceased person has not been yet been identified.
Officers have cordoned off a section of the street and are awaiting the arrival of the personnel from the county medical examiner’s office.