LA police arrest man suspected of murders in 1980s (Sam Spital)

Commentary by San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer Sam Spital, a Former Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice:
“On January 7, 2013, the UT San Diego News printed an online article of a 72 year old transient who had been described as a ‘career criminal’ because he had wandered from one place to another, having a record of arrests by police in 24 states, and now was caught and arrested for the brutal sexual molestation and strangulation killings in the late 1980’s of three woman, ages 35 to 46.  He was linked to these savage crimes by DNA evidence and charged with 3 counts of murder with special circumstances.
The article revealed a criminal history of two separate convictions for false imprisonment and assault of two women in San Diego for which he was sentenced to State Prison and later paroled. The suspect was also charged in Florida and Mississippi with two counts each of attempted murder and murder, but not convicted of those offenses. Most of the other arrests that were publicized were for drunk driving and burglary, although investigators believe the suspect also committed violent crimes against others with ‘high lifestyles,’ such as prostitutes and drug addicts. It is believed the defendant will be assigned the Public Defender, but that is still undetermined. With the charges now being filed over two decades later, the attorneys will have a greater challenge trying to put together dates, times and events to build their respective cases. Private investigators may be hired by the defense and the defendant will be called upon to assist in establishing his account of the horrific murders.”–Sam Spital

Mom pleads guilty to drowning autistic son (Sam Spital)

Commentary by San Diego criminal lawyer Sam Spital:

“In the December 28, 2012 edition of the UT San Diego news, a 37 year old mother pled guilty to second degree murder for drowning her 4 year old autistic son. This is the case in which the mother drove to the police station with her lifeless infant in her car and confessed to the horrific crime shortly after the incident. The unforgivable motive for the killing seems apparent because the mother stated she had no life since she had to take care of her son. The article also revealed the mother unsuccessfully tried to drown herself.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 28th at which point the mother faces 15 years to life in state prison for drowning her son. Little is known about the mother, including her mental state, past family, employment and social history, nor who is the father of the infant child. Some of these factors may be disclosed at the time of the next hearing. These will never excuse the actions of the defendant, but often assist the court in determining the nature and extent of a sentence in a criminal case.”




Commentary by San Diego Homicide and Criminal Defense Lawyer Sam Spital:

“UT San Diego News reported on December 19, 2012 a 28 year old suspect and acquaintance was arrested in the murder of a 41 year old woman in her Vista apartment, a community in the north part of San Diego County. Also, her 8 year old child who was in the apartment at the same time was seriously wounded, taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The article did not establish any basis or motive for the attack, information regarding the perpetrator such as criminal history, nature and extent of his relationship with the victims, explanation, possible mitigation and/or remorse. These are not only elements that assist one in reading a balanced account, but without such details it is more challenging to comprehend the underlying cause(s) that led to the crime. A criminal defense attorney would likely employ an experienced private investigator to obtain this extremely important information and perhaps retain a forensic expert to assist in the strategy and analysis of legal counsel.”

– Sam Spital

Michelle Le’s Killer Sentenced – The judge said he never saw any signs of remorse (Sam Spital)

“NBC Channel 7 News reported on December 10, 2012 in its online news edition the imposition of 25 years to life in the sentencing hearing of a nursing student after a jury found her guilty of first degree murder in the killing of a former fellow high school student who prosecutors opined occurred as a result of jealousy because she was having sex with her previous boyfriend.

The defense attorney argued the crime was not premeditated, occurred in the ‘heat of passion’ and, therefore, should not have been deemed first degree murder. The Superior Court Judge disagreed and in reading the verdict stated the crime was ‘cold blooded’ and the defendant showed no remorse.

There are whole panoply of elements that are critical to the defense that can and should be presented in court if not previously in a written format for the Judge to consider in sentencing, such as the absence of a criminal history and mitigating evidence. However, none of these factors were reported in the article for a balanced account to better evaluate the case.”

Judge Won’t Lower Bail for Arizona Woman Accused in Death of Stranger at Sorrento Valley Hotel (Sam Spital)


“A story was published online by San Diego 6 local news on November 28, 2012 in which a defendant is charged with second-degree murder in which the Judge declined to reduce the $1 million bail. It is interesting that the defense attorney referenced the killing to be in self-defense while the prosecutor argued the defendant came to the victim’s hotel room after they had been in an altercation and in order to get her to open the door under the pretense it was a hotel worker, she announced: ‘housekeeping.’  The Deputy District Attorney proceeded to describe what then took place by the defendant who stated: ‘This is what you deserve, bitch’ as she grabbed the victim by her hair and slammed her against the mirror on the wall.

Ordinarily, bail hearings focus on a reduction of the bail previously set or a release on your own recognizance (O.R), in which the payment is waived on condition the defendant promises to appear in court. Some of the key factors a criminal defense attorney should reference in their Motion for a Reduction in Bail are: 1. The absence of a past criminal record or minimal record; 2. That any previous criminal incidents were minor and/or occurred many years earlier; 3. The defendant has resided in the community for many years; 4. The defendant is employed and has a regular job; 5. He has a spouse, children &/or parents living in the community; and 6. He has always appeared in court as required for any previous crimes, in short, there have been no prior arrest warrants or ‘failures to appear’ in any past cases. Bail may be paid in cash, with a credit card, cashier’s check, or the cash equivalent in property. It is refunded when the defendant appears in court as required, except in the case of a bail bondsman with whom the details of such an agreement should be discussed.”

19-year sentence for fatal rock beating (Sam Spital)


“On November 15, 2012, the UT San Diego news reported the defendant with a long history of drug related offenses in a revenge and repeated beating with a rock to the head of a 31 year old homeless man was sentenced to 19 Years to Life in State Prison for Second Degree Murder, and Threatening a Witness and Assault with a Deadly Weapon on another person. The defendant was represented by a Deputy Public Defender who alleged: ‘his life appears to have been eroded by drug use.’ When asked by the Judge what facts were in dispute, the article noted the defendant’s appointed counsel did not provide any specifics. This is a tragic example of the scourge of addiction and how even during and after incarceration, adequate treatment is misdirected or absent”


Palm Springs police say Pendleton Marine assaulted cop before killing (Sam Spital)


Palm Spring police were reported to have shot and killed a Marine from Camp Pendleton, age 22, who accelerated his car at a police officer in a parking garage, refusing to turn the vehicle off as another officer attempted to climb inside the passenger window, according to the CBS Channel 8 online news of November 13, 2012. Even though one of the officers ‘repeatedly ordered the suspect to stop the vehicle,’ at the same time a fellow Marine in the passenger seat did nothing to stop the inevitable tragedy in which the driver drove toward one of the officers, who feared for his life. The car crashed and the officer that was struck was injured and treated at a local hospital in Palm Springs.

The incident occurred about 2:00am and one of the Marines was ‘visibly drunk.’ Clearly, our soldiers sustain serious challenges in serving our country, and the stress they feel on a daily basis can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol is used to cover up the damaging memories that are carved into their brain from daily (negative) military experiences. While the excruciating pain seems more tolerable when drinking, the unintended consequences and behavior that stems from the consumption could be prevented &/or controlled. Clearly, we need more and better preventive care and treatment. Of course, public intoxication and driving under the influence are far too frequently the source of criminality. Since the officers are on administrative leave, no further information was supplied in the article in order to evaluate the facts and circumstances any further.


Dad uses bus bench ads to find son’s killer (Sam Spital)


“On November 12, 2012, the UT San Diego described a father who moved his family to a different county in an effort to help his teenage son who had drifted into gang associations. It meant the father’s daily commute to work as a security officer would be as much as two hours each way for his son to have a chance outside of the gang he was a member. Just when it looked like the young boy had turned the corner, however, he was stabbed to death in a gang fight between two rival gangs only a day after he gave an anti-gang presentation at a local college. This is a tragic loss for a family that tried to use every measure available to protect their son. And, the police have not been able to solve the homicide since they have received no cooperation from potential witnesses. Hopefully, the father’s efforts to use advertisements on bus benches will eventually assist in identifying the offender(s) and help the family obtain closure.”



Man accused of trying to sacrifice child at cemetery found mentally competent to stand trial


“KFMB Channel 8, CBS News on November 7, 2012 reported the father of three children, ages 18 months, 3 and 8 years old, has been determined mentally competent and, therefore criminal court proceedings were reinstated after he was arrested e

arlier in the year for attempted murder and felony child abuse and was accused of trying to sacrifice them at a grave site of another family member, after having everyone drink sangria and eat energy bars, and being heard saying ‘The Last Supper, they’re my kids. They’re going to Jesus.’Certainly this is a bizarre incident and one that lacks understanding or explanation. The Deputy Public Defense allegedly had no comments or they simply were not included in the article by the reporter. It is conceivable she will claim insanity as a defense, which is not inconsistent with the court’s determination the defendant is competent to stand trial, meaning he can understand the charges and assist his attorney in the defense, but he either did not know what he was doing was wrong or was unable to understand the nature and quality of his act when he committed the offense. If there is an acquittal by reason of insanity, the defendant is not released from custody but he is committed to one of the California Mental Institutions, which can even be for a longer period of time than he would have received had he been found guilty of the crime charged.”SAM SPITAL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

EXCLUSIVE: Crime Spree Suspect’s Family Speaks -Former firefighter Philip Hernandez, 40, went on a violent, three-day rampage across San Diego and was ultimately killed in a police shootout (Sam Spital)


“NBC 7 News reported in its November 5, 2012 online edition a former Riverside, California Fire Department officer of ten years who was age 40, went on a violent crime spree over a period of three days in San Diego with his newly married 18 year old wife in which there was an ‘execution style’ murder of an off-duty SDPD officer shot in the head at an ATM machine in Escondido. The police officer previously arrested Hernandez for having sex with a minor. In addition, there was another shooting, carjacking, robberies, and arson of several vehicles.

The former Chula Vista High School graduate had served in the US Army in Iraq was killed during a police shootout. The teenage accomplice said she and the former firefighter were married this summer when she was only 17 even though she alleged he raped her when she was 16. Other firefighters and family members were all in shock at what they claimed was totally uncharacteristic of him. The family believes Hernandez could not handle the sexual abuse charges and reacted with this aberrant behavior. The family and friends of the various victims, as well as that of the police officer who was killed, and the former firefighter and his teenage wife will be scarred forever as a result of such a horrific series of crimes. The teen suspect faces various charges including robbery, carjacking and making criminal threats, which carry up to 19 years in State Prison.”CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY SAM SPITAL

Ratings and Reviews

10.0Samuel Eugene Spital Samuel Eugene SpitalClients’ ChoiceAward 2020 Clients Choice Winner, 2007 to 2019 in Administrative Law Clients Choice Winner, 2007 to 2019 in Litigation avvo rated 10/10 in Federal Crime Law avvo rated 10/10 in Administrative Law avvo rated 10/10 in Criminal Defense avvo rated 10/10 in Juvenile Law avvo rated 10/10 in Licensing avvo rated 10/10 in Personal Injury Top ContributorAward 2012Samuel Eugene Spital Samuel Eugene SpitalReviewsout of 207 reviews