A spokesman for the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office said Monday that no charges are being brought against five men arrested in connection with the lethal shooting at an Orinda home Halloween night.
“Today the District Attorney’s Office met with members of the Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff to review the Orinda Halloween shooting incident,” spokesman Scott Alonso wrote in a prepared release. “No criminal charges are being filed at this time against any individual. The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information about the case should call the Sheriff’s Homicide Unit at 925-313-2600.”
Ten people were shot the night of the party and five killed – two of whom were suspected gang members who had brought their own guns to the party.
Contra Costa Sheriff David Livingston said the two associated gang members – Ramon Hill Jr. and Javin County – were armed when they were cut down by a flurry of gunfire erupting in the kitchen of the Lucille Way home reportedly after a perceived theft of an unknown item. Hill was associated with San Francisco’s Paige Street Gang while County was associated with the Marin City Jungle Gang.
Sheriff’s spokesman Jimmy Lee issued the following Monday night:
“We stand by our investigation and the arrests were made pursuant to a judge’s order. Although the District Attorney may want more investigation done, the persons arrested and responsible for these crimes will ultimately be held to account. The entire investigation is ongoing as is common in these types of complex cases.”
Four of the men taken into custody last week have already been released, Lee said, while one remains in jail.
The men were arrested in connection with the shooting on Thursday. Four were taken into custody on suspicion of murder and conspiracy, including 28-year-old Lebraun Wallace from San Mateo, 20-year-old Jaquez Sweeney and 20-year-old Jason Iles from Marin City, as well as 30-year-old Shamron Mitchell from Antioch. All four men were being held without bail.
The fifth suspect arrested was Vallejo resident Devin Williamson, 21, who was initially charged as an accessory to the crime. He was being held on $500,000 bail.
This article doesn’t make sense. At the beginning it states that no charges will be filed against the five and then at the end it says all five are being held on charges.
Did you forget to delete the bottom half or what?
Let’s read between the lines. We can assume that the authorities are highly confident that one or more of these Eagle Scouts is a perp but are have struggled to obtain admissible evidence.
If prosecutors file charges now but then can’t compile sufficient evidence to proceed with a speedy trial, prejudice attaches and double jeopardy bars any prosecution. My hunch is the constabulary felt they had enough to get at least of these little songbirds to sing, but they all lawyered up without giving an inch.
There is however a silver lining / consultation prize with this approach:
Now the perps are on notice that every moment of freedom is borrowed time, they are far more likely to slip up. (How many times have you forgotten to signal or swerved out of the lane because you were watching Barney Fife was ride your bumper in the rear view!)
Further, anyone who helps these hoods flee, hide, or obstruct the investigation is on the hook for a felony. Now that the perps’ mugshots have been flashed all over the evening news in connection with a 187, nobody sane will do any clandestine business with them. They will be severed from the underworld network of favors and reciprocity in which they relay to conduct their usual affairs.
The walls are closing in…
Wow. You really did read between the lines.
“The custody status of the five could not be immediately determined Monday.” reads the last sentence of the article at the moment.
While not helpful, it does answer your custody question.
I’m wondering what “associated” with such and such a gang means. I’m not doubting it, just wondering what the basis is for that assertion, and what the sourcing is.
Working on determining custody status. Getting differing accounts.
According to Scott Alonso (spokesman for the DA’s office) the district attorney’s office would “need more information” in order to file charges. I hope they gather the information they need and proceed with murder charges.
If there is indeed prima facia evidence of guilt, beyond mere purported gang affiliation, then I too hope that the DA lawfully obtains such evidence. Presumably law enforcement and the judge(s) who granted the warrants believe that such evidence can be obtained in due course.
Since law enforcement obviously failed to present colorable evidence thus far, however, we should applaud the DA’s office for their due restraint. Not only did they dismiss considerable political pressure to bring cases, they promptly prevented jeopardy from attaching.
Well, I hope that at least they took their guns away!
No witnesses willing to testify, nobody snitches, nobody gets convicted of murder. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys are happy to do a couple of years on firearm charges rather than flip. If DA goes for it on circumstantial evidence, there will be reasonable doubt as to whether these guys fired in self defense against the guys that died on scene.
Criminal procedure has never been my specialty, though I took several classes with keen interest before settling into a more staid specialty.
Self defense would absolutely be a plausible legal theory based on some press reports that certain decedents were strapped, rumors that two groups were exchanging fire, and some of the decedents’ purported prior bad acts.
I doubt it would be successful though.
Of course, we’re wading deep into the realm of semi-informed speculation given the scant, contradictory information released thus far.
Nonetheless, based on the limited facts available, meeting the burden for self defense would be rather difficult here. Indeed, shooting into a crowed party in a confined space is nearly impossible to justify under any circumstances. My admittedly speculative hunch is that at best a self defense theory could downgrade an intentional homicide allegation (“Murder One,” in this case with special circumstances (i.e., the “chair”) to second degree murder (“Murder Two,” i.e., engaging in conduct reasonably likely to cause death with conscious disregard if any uninvolved bystanders perished) or possibly manslaughter if the perps engaged the decedents in a gunfight and only killed other combatants.
Also, whatever happened to the woman who booked the house by lying that her relatives from Sonoma would be coming over due to the fire? Haven’t heard anything about her.
I am also interested in how this was booked and how the “check in” went…The person who booked this is involved how? It seems to me s/he acquired some responsibility at the moment s/he completed the rental transaction on false pretenses.
She will without question be a named defendant in the inevitable cascade of civil tort claims. In all likelihood, she is “judgement proof” and therefore not worth suing.
Prosecutors will likely face a challenging slog if they attempt to assign criminal culpability for her tangential role in the horrific carnage.The authorities would need to establish that she (1) knew the shooters would attend and were likely to attack the victims, AND (2) intentionally induced the victims to attend as well.
There is conceivably a basis for criminal fraud charges against her for misleading AirBNB, the that is so attenuated from the core crime here that it would almost offend the interest of justice to expend the public resources to pursue.
So if four of the five men were released, the other one had a warrant. The DA’s far left leanings when it comes to crime is scary. Perceived theft or pre-meditated murder (retaliation) between rival gangs? A lot of these party goers were armed. I can’t help but wonder if some of them knew this was going down?
Invoking political parlance to characterize the DA’s decision woefully misses the mark. The DA’s office’s public statements and official actions provide no basis whatsoever for such a conclusion.
As discussed elsewhere in this thread, filing criminal charges with insufficient evidence invites defendants to seek judicial dismissal WITH PREJUDICE if the prosecution cannot promptly plead a prima fascia case.
That means double jeopardy attaches, in which case the defendants could NEVER be tried even if subsequently obtained evidence proves guilt. Had the DA’s office bent to public clamor for premature prosecution, there would be a serious risk that these suspects would never face justice.
This is not “far left”, “far right”, or any other distance or direction. This is technical, thoughtful professional discretion at its finest.
The DA’s amiable restraint under the misguided and inexplicably widespread public perception equating arrest with guilt transcends partisan labels.
The question here is why the arrests were made before the D.A. felt it had sufficient evidence to file charges. That usually would not be the preferred course. In some news reports, the point was made that the D.A.’s office did not participate in the Sheriff’s investigation. Perhaps that is a reference to a lack of co-operation, or something else that was brought to bear on the decision not to file charges at this time. As mentioned, failing to file charges now doesn’t preclude filing them later, but filing them prematurely is risky for the reasons given.
So back on the streets again. Something tells me the streets will take care of this whole thing before the courts get around to it.
It could easily happen. They were safer in jail.