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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
April 22, 2014 | By Paloma Esquivel
Orange County prosecutors have ended their quest to use recorded conversations between the alleged Seal Beach mass killer and a jailhouse informant, which they had hoped could put the man on death row. Senior Deputy Dist. Atty. Howard Gundy told the court Tuesday he would concede a defense motion which argued that tapes of alleged gunman Scott Dekraai and informant Fernando Perez were obtained in violation of Dekraai's 6th amendment rights. The recordings spurred a wide-ranging defense investigation into the use of jailhouse informants in Orange County.
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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.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 9, 2014 | By Marisa Gerber and Diana Marcum
The mother of Jose Manuel Martinez, the man officials say confessed to killing more than 30 people across the country, described herself Wednesday as completely overwhelmed and wary about the truth of his statements. In an interview at her Richgrove, Calif., home Wednesday afternoon - the day after officials announced Martinez was being charged with nine counts of murder committed in the Central Valley and Santa Barbara County and spanning 30 years - Loreta Fernandez said she was still processing the news.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 8, 2014 | By Lee Romney, This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
SAN FRANCISCO -- State Sen. Leland Yee on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to all charges stemming from a political-corruption and organized-crime probe, according to multiple local news outlets. Yee, 65, who has been suspended with pay, was arrested last month with two dozen others in connection with a broad sweep targeting alleged organized crime and political corruption in San Francisco. A grand jury released indictments against the men last week. Yee faces a gun-trafficking charge and multiple counts of depriving the public of honest services.
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.
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
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
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 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.
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