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O.C. prosecutor to again pursue death penalty for white supremacist

August 22, 2007|Christine Hanley | Times Staff Writer

An Orange County prosecutor said Tuesday he would again seek the death penalty for a white supremacist gang member convicted of killing a founder of the organization.

This month, a jury deadlocked on whether Michael Lamb should die for killing Scott Miller in 2002 in retaliation for giving away some of Public Enemy Number One's secrets on a local television news program. The Southern California gang openly promotes white power.

Lamb, 33, and codefendant Jacob Rump, 31, both of Huntington Beach, were also convicted of trying to kill an undercover police officer who was on their trail three days after Miller was found dead in an Anaheim alley with a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

The prosecution and the defense agreed Feb. 4, 2008, would be the start date for the new penalty phase.

Lamb's attorney, Marlin Stapleton, said he was disappointed by the prosecutor's decision, maintaining that he believed it was wrong to seek the death penalty in this case mainly because the victim was not only a fellow gang member, but also a founder.

"This was a guy who set the rules, at least originally," Stapleton said.

The defense attorney said he believed the prosecution would have a distinct advantage in the new execution hearing. With a new jury hearing the case, the defense must try to re-create doubt about whether Lamb or someone else was the triggerman in Miller's death. During the original trial, jurors cited lingering doubt as a main reason for their deadlock, he said.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Ebrahim Baytieh said he was retrying the penalty phase because "it's the right thing to do." He rejected the notion that Miller's life was less valuable because of his criminal past, and said Lamb deserved the death penalty for any one of the serious crimes for which he was convicted.

"I disagree that we're going to say Mr. Lamb should get a break because a man [he killed] wasn't the nicest person who ever lived," Baytieh said. "To me, the mere fact of him trying to kill a police officer [is enough]."

Rump faces life in prison without parole at his Aug. 31 sentencing.

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christine.hanley@latimes.com

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