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Murder Case

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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 17, 1995 | BARBARA MURPHY, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
A man charged with killing a Simi Valley man and his dog in the mountains above Ojai was described by the prosecutor Thursday as a liar and a loser who coldly shot the victim in the back and then partied with a friend in the dead man's truck. But as jurors were about to begin deliberations, the defense painted a much different picture of Timothy E.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 12, 2014 | By Frank Shyong, This post has been corrected. See note below for details
Authorities charged two men Wednesday with the 2006 murders of three people discovered shot to death in a burning house in Riverside County. A grand jury indicted Cristin Conrad Smith, 25, and Robert Lars Pape, 25, on three counts of murder each, said John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney's office. Smith and Pape were arrested Tuesday afternoon and are being held without bail at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. Prosecutors believe Smith and Pape killed Becky Friedli; her mother, Vicki; and Vicki's boyfriend, Jon Hayward, nearly eight years ago. The three victims were found shot to death in the Friedli's home in the Pinyon Pines community south of Palm Desert.
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NATIONAL
February 15, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
A jury has found Michael Dunn, the Florida man accused of shooting an unarmed teenager to death during a dispute over loud music, guilty of four charges, but the jury was unable to reach a decision on the top count, first-degree murder. Dunn, who is white, fired 10 shots into an SUV, killing Jordan Davis, 17, who was black. The shooting in a convenience store parking lot in Jacksonville erupted after Dunn asked the teenagers in the vehicle to turn down their music. Dunn was charged with first-degree murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of firing into a vehicle in the Nov. 23, 2012, shooting.
NATIONAL
February 15, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
The jury in the murder trial of Michael Dunn, accused of shooting an unarmed teenager to death during a dispute over loud music, has reached verdicts on four charges but said on Saturday it could not agree on the top count of first-degree murder. The jury, which is in the fourth day of weighing Dunn's fate, announced its status in a note to  Judge Russell L. Healey late Saturday afternoon. The judge read the jury the so-called dynamite charge, urging them to return to their deliberations and try to resolve their differences.
NATIONAL
November 21, 2013 | By Michael Muskal, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
Michael Skakel, whose conviction in the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley was vacated last month, was released from custody after a Connecticut judge granted the Kennedy relative bail at $1.2 million on Thursday. [UPDATED 11:29 a.m. PST, Nov. 21 ] Skakel, 53, is the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of slain Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Skakel has spent more than 11 years in prison as part of a sentence of 20 years to life in the murder case, set in the affluent Connecticut enclave of Greenwich.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 12, 2014 | By Frank Shyong, This post has been corrected. See note below for details
Authorities charged two men Wednesday with the 2006 murders of three people discovered shot to death in a burning house in Riverside County. A grand jury indicted Cristin Conrad Smith, 25, and Robert Lars Pape, 25, on three counts of murder each, said John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County district attorney's office. Smith and Pape were arrested Tuesday afternoon and are being held without bail at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. Prosecutors believe Smith and Pape killed Becky Friedli; her mother, Vicki; and Vicki's boyfriend, Jon Hayward, nearly eight years ago. The three victims were found shot to death in the Friedli's home in the Pinyon Pines community south of Palm Desert.
SPORTS
June 27, 2013 | By Chuck Schilken, This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was denied bail by a Fall River, Mass., judge one day after being charged with the first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd. Hernandez's lawyer said the case against his client is circumstantial, while a prosecutor called the evidence "overwhelming. " Judge Renee Dupuis agreed with both men's assessments, calling the prosecution's case "circumstantial but very, very strong. " "The facts, as I understand it, suggest that basically a coldblooded person killed another person because that person disrespected him," she said in denying the request for bail.
NATIONAL
July 11, 2013 | By Michael Muskal and Tina Susman
SANFORD, Fla. -- George Zimmerman assumed that Trayvon Martin was up to no good on a rainy night in this Florida town so the neighborhood watch volunteer decided to act, which led to a confrontation that resulted in the death of the unarmed teenager, according to the prosecution in the murder case that excited passions about race and guns across the nation. Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda on Thursday gave the closing statements to the six-woman jury that will decide the fate Zimmerman, 29. He is charged with second-degree murder but earlier Judge Debra S. Nelson ruled that the jurors will also be allowed to consider a lesser charge of manslaughter.
NATIONAL
April 14, 2009 | Howard Witt
Four months after a grand jury indicted two white men in the dragging death of a black man in this racially troubled northeast Texas town, key evidence against the pair appears to be evaporating -- and one defense attorney believes he can win an acquittal when the first case comes to trial in July. Police have alleged that Shannon Keith Finley and Charles Ryan Crostley, both 28, used Finley's pickup truck to run over and kill Brandon McClelland, 24, on a rural road in September.
SPORTS
November 20, 2013 | By Chuck Schilken
South African runner Oscar Pistorius was indicted Wednesday on two new charges that are believed to allege he fired guns in public during separate incidents that occurred before he killed his girlfriend in his apartment in February. Already indicted on a main charge of murder in the shooting death of Reeva Steenkamp as well as a charge of illegal possession of ammunition, the double-amputee hero of the 2012 London Olympics will likely have to defend himself against all four charges at his trial scheduled for March.
NATIONAL
February 15, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
A jury has found Michael Dunn, the Florida man accused of shooting an unarmed teenager to death during a dispute over loud music, guilty of four charges, but the jury was unable to reach a decision on the top count, first-degree murder. Dunn, who is white, fired 10 shots into an SUV, killing Jordan Davis, 17, who was black. The shooting in a convenience store parking lot in Jacksonville erupted after Dunn asked the teenagers in the vehicle to turn down their music. Dunn was charged with first-degree murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder and one count of firing into a vehicle in the Nov. 23, 2012, shooting.
NATIONAL
February 12, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
Jurors on Wednesday received the murder case of Michael Dunn, the Florida man accused of shooting an unarmed black teenager during a dispute over loudly played music. The sequestered jury began its work by choosing a foreperson before beginning to consider the case. In the prosecution's closing argument Wednesday, Assistant State Atty. Erin Wolfson told jurors that Jordan Davis, 17, was unarmed when Dunn, 47, fired 10 shots at an SUV in which Davis was sitting. Wolfson said no witnesses saw any of the four teenagers in the vehicle with a weapon and that police searches turned up none.
NATIONAL
February 7, 2014 | By Michael Muskal
Tevin Thompson told a rapt audience in a Jacksonville, Fla., courtroom about the fateful night over Thanksgiving break in 2012 when he and three friends were out on the town. They were in a Dodge Durango and had stopped for gum and cigarettes at a convenience store. A Volkswagen carrying Michael Dunn and his girlfriend pulled up close alongside the parked SUV. Dunn, 47 and white, asked the black teenagers in the SUV to turn down the loud music, Thompson, 19, testified Friday. Thompson said he turned down the volume but that fellow passenger Jordan Davis, 17, cursed and asked him to turn the music back up. "It was pretty loud," Thompson said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 29, 2014 | By Richard Winton and Joseph Serna, This post had been corrected. See note below for details
An L.A. police detective was hit in the head and upper body Wednesday when a defendant in a murder case threw a chair in court, also clipping a prosecutor. The female detective was struck during a 10:30 a.m. hearing when the defendant, identified as Jesus Mendez, grabbed a chair and tossed it about 15 feet, authorities said. The chair struck the detective and grazed a deputy district attorney prosecuting the case, police said. The judge, the prosecutor, the defense attorney and the investigating officer were present at the time.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 29, 2014 | By Jack Leonard and Richard Winton
A defense lawyer described how his client threw a chair at a prosecutor and LAPD detective in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday, leaving the officer dazed and injured. Bob Horner said he was looking away when his client, who is on trial for murder, grabbed a heavy metal chair and flung it across the courtroom. He said the crash of the chair's landing was so loud that he initially thought someone in the audience might have shot at his client. "I heard this enormous bang," said Horner, who is a partner in a Beverly Hills-based law firm.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 26, 2014 | By David Colker
In 1989, attorney Ray Clark got a telephone call that would make him, for a while, one of the most famous lawyers in Los Angeles. The call to his small firm was from the presiding judge in the trial of Richard Ramirez, accused of being the brutal serial killer known as the Night Stalker. The defense team that Ramirez's family had hired was falling apart, and the judge wanted Clark to take over as lead defense counsel. Clark agreed, and soon became a fixture in printed and broadcast news accounts, protesting his client's innocence.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 1, 2012 | By Andrew Blankstein, Jack Leonard and Andrew Khouri, Los Angeles Times
From the beginning, the death of professional tennis umpire Lois Goodman's husband was beset by contradictions. When Alan Goodman, 80, was found dead in April at the couple's Woodland Hills condominium, paramedics noticed a suspicious cut to the side of his head. But Los Angeles police initially agreed with Lois Goodman's account that her ailing husband had fallen down a flight of stairs. Days later, a coroner's investigator found that the injuries were consistent with being struck by a sharp object.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 8, 2009 | Joel Rubin and Andrew Blankstein
Stephanie Lazarus, the Los Angeles Police Department detective accused of murdering the wife of a love interest, pined for the man and grew deeply upset when he did not return her affection, according to court testimony Tuesday. Prosecutors allege that Lazarus, a 25-year LAPD veteran, beat and shot Sherri Rae Rasmussen to death in February 1986, three months after the woman married John Ruetten, whom Lazarus had dated shortly before. Lazarus was arrested in June, 23 years after the killing, when cold-case detectives reopened the dormant investigation and linked her to the crime through DNA tests on saliva taken from a bite mark on the victim.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 24, 2014 | By Ari Bloomekatz
In July 1980, authorities found 15-year-old Stacy Knappenberger beaten, stabbed to death and sexually assaulted in her Oxnard home.  On Thursday, more than three decades later, a Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled there was enough evidence to charge an Alabama man -- 66-year-old Thomas Coalt Young -- with the crime, according to the Ventura County Star. Knappenberger's case went cold until a task force was able to use DNA evidence to connect Young with the crime. Young will be arraigned in February.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 10, 2014 | By Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times
At the heart of the Kelly Thomas murder case is a grainy black-and-white video that covers, almost in its entirety, the struggle between the homeless man and police officers at a bustling Fullerton bus depot on a summer night in 2011. As jurors in Orange County now deliberate the fate of the officers, they must determine what that video actually shows. Prosecutors say the tape clearly presents a confused and vulnerable Thomas who died because one bully cop picked a fight and another lost control and slammed Thomas in the face repeatedly with his stun gun. In the defense's telling, the video captures a violent and errant street person who gave police the fight of their lives.
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