With no objections from prosecutors, a judge has dismissed the first "three strikes" case filed in the San Fernando Valley.
The judge agreed with attorneys that the evidence was too weak to warrant a trial, authorities said Monday.
Scott McKissick, a 33-year-old Chatsworth man who would have received a life sentence if convicted for a third time, now faces a maximum of only one year in prison.
McKissick was arrested for being under the influence of drugs after police stopped the car in which he was a passenger because he was not wearing a seat belt. After taking McKissick into custody, police found a vial containing a small amount of methamphetamine--0.08 grams--in the patrol car.
Appearing in court last week, defense attorneys asked Van Nuys Municipal Judge Leslie A. Dunn to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor because of the quantity of drugs involved and because the contraband may have belonged to a woman who was also in the police car but was not arrested.
Prosecutors did not object, and Dunn granted the motion. "It was a perfectly good decision," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Herbert R. Lapin.
"Justice was done," said Deputy Public Defender Tamar Rachel Toister.
The case is now being prosecuted for misdemeanor possession of drugs by the city attorney's office. McKissick is scheduled to appear in court March 28. Because McKissick was on parole when he was arrested two weeks ago, he faces up to a year in jail if convicted.
Dunn's decision stalled prosecution of the first case to be filed in the Valley under the state's new anti-crime bill. If the case had been prosecuted as a felony and if McKissick was convicted, he would have automatically been sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison because he has previously been convicted of armed robbery and armed residential burglary.
While prosecutors said McKissick's latest case is not the type of violent crime that authors of the law had in mind, it is the policy of the district attorney's office to file all possible "three strikes" cases.