Articles Posted in Murder

Matthew Thomas Dragna was arrested this week, after police found evidence that links him to a murder that occurred last month. Authorities believe that Dragna and Damon Nicholson became friends through a website and starting a relationship. On October 23, a co-worker of Nicholson found him beaten to death on his sofa. Nicholson’s laptop, computer, clothing and cell phone had been stolen. At the crime scene, there was evidence that Dragna may have been at the crime scene and there was no showing of forced entry into the home, meaning that someone close to him may have done the crime. Search warrants were issued for both Dragna’s Lake Forest home and a Santa Ana Drug Rehab center where Dragna had been staying. Dragna was arrested when some of the stolen items were found. He faces murder and robbery charges.

A felony murder is a murder done during the commission of another felony, or in furtherance of that felony. Since police think that robbery may have been the primary motive for the murder, this would likely qualify as a felony murder situation. Felony murder charges come with a sentence of life in prison. A possible defense to the murder would be a lack of intent. Whether you live in Santa Ana, Tustin or Brea, if you are charged with murder or robbery, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.

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Fabian Cayetano Urrea has been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for the murder of a National Guardsman. Jorge Estrada had been serving time in Iraq while his wife, Diana Estrada, was having an affair with Urrea. Diana Estrada became pregnant with Urrea’s child and Jorge Estrada decided he would raise the child as his own. Three days after the child was born, Urrea went to Estrada’s apartment to see the baby. Before stepping out of his truck, Urrea loaded his 9mm gun and cocked it. When he saw Jorge Estrada, he shot him three times in the chest, killing him. Urrea was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Last week he was convicted of first degree murder and now faces 50 years in prison.

First degree murder is one of the most serious crimes you can be charged with. To prove that someone committed first degree murder, a prosecutor must prove that the murder was willful and premeditated. This means that the suspect must have had a plan and the intent to kill the person. This was proved in this case because before Urrea stepped out of his car, he loaded and cocked his gun. This shows that it was Urrea’s intent to use the gun on someone. Whether you live in Westminster, Villa Park or San Clemente, if you have been charged with murder, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.

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Riverside prosecutors claim that in 2001, Jason Hann killed his daughter, put her body in a trash bag and drove around the country with her body in an RV with the child’s mother for nine months and then left the body in a storage facility. Last week, he plead not guilty to these charges after being extradited from Kentucky, where he was serving time for doing the same thing to his son 10 years ago. The children’s mother, Krissy Lynn Werntz was also charged with these crimes and also plead not guilty. If they are convicted of these crimes, they face life life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The facts listed above are just part of the story. To read the whole story, click here. Although I have been a criminal defense attorney for years, it still shocks me how people can kill their own children. What I have found is that often times people who do these crimes have mental disorders or just snap one day and make a terrible decision. Nevertheless, all people need an attorney to ensure that they are not falsely accused, that their due process rights are protected and that they are not presumed guilty without a fair trial. Whether you live in Irvine, Laguna Beach or Villa Park, if you are charged with murder, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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On November 18, 2000, Edward Ayache and five other gang members went to a house party in Garden Grove. While there, they saw rival gang members and a physical altercation ensued. Members of Ayache’s gang shot at the other gang, killing one and injuring two or three people. The men were all charged with murder for the benefit of a criminal street gang and two attempted murders as well as many gang charges. Ayache was convicted of all counts and faces sentencing next year. It is likely that he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Any crime committed for the gang or in furtherance of the gang will receive additional charges and steeper sentences. In certain cases, a defense attorney can argue that the crime was not for the benefit of the street gang. Here, since there was a fight between two gangs, it is likely that one gang was trying to assert their dominance over a certain territory and the fight erupted to benefit the gang. An additional defense is self defense. If the other gang threatened Ayache’s gang or had weapons, Ayache and his gang may argue that they were just defending themselves. Gang charges are serious, especially when paired with murder charges.

Whether you live in Irvine, Fullerton or Santa Ana, if you are charged with gang crimes or murder, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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Hilbert Pinnel Thomas was arrested this week for the alleged murder of Matthew Scott and Elizabeth Palmer in February. Scott was the co-owner of a mobile home business and Palmer was his secretary. They were shot to death in the front office of the business on Beach Boulevard in early February. Soon after the incident, Scott’s father walked in and found the dead bodies. When investigators arrived, they noticed Palmer’s Lexus had been stolen , so police searched for the car to get clues about the murder. After finding the car, they found the driver and arrested him on suspicion of double homicide.

Now that police have caught the alleged suspect, they will question him regarding motive and how he did the crime. Even though he stole the car, police do not believe that robbery was the primary motive. Investigation could take years, but if Thomas is convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Whether you live in Aliso Viejo, Orange or Irvine, if you are charged with murder, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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This week, Santa Ana resident Inocente Secundino Jr. was convicted of special circumstances gang murder of Steven Christopher Arreguin, that may result in a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Secundino and Arreguin were rival Santa Ana gang members and their gangs had gotten into a fight on that day in July of 2006. As Arreguin was turning to run away, Secundino shot him in the back of the head, killing him. Secundino then left the state and was placed on the Santa Ana’s most wanted list. In 2008, officers found Secundino living in Oregon with family members, using a new identity. He was arrested on suspicion of murder, charged and convicted. His sentencing hearing will likely take place next month.

Since Secundino killed a rival gang member, he received a special circumstance enhancement which could qualify him for life in prison without the possibility of parole. Any crime done in furtherance of a gang automatically adds time to your sentence. Whether you live in Garden Grove, Westminster or Fullerton, if you are charged with murder or gang crimes, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Possible defenses to a gang crime include not being a member of a gang or not doing the crime for the benefit of the gang. A possible defense to murder includes the lack of intent to kill or self defense. In this case, since Secundino shot Arreguin in the back of the head, the defense attorney cannot use the defense of self defense.

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Carlos Rosario Gonzales was convicted this week of murdering a bouncer at a topless nightclub in Santa Ana in 2006. Gonzales, a construction worker at the time of the incident, got off of work and went to the nightclub with some of his co-workers. While there, he allegedly touched an employee inappropriately and was then escorted out by bouncer Michael Blackenhorn. A fight erupted and Gonzales got a gun from his toolbox and shot Blackenhorn, who died two days later in the hospital. Since he was convicted of first-degree murder with enhancements for using a gun, Gonzales faces from 50 years to life in prison.

Gonzales clearly had anger issues that erupted on the night of the incident. If you know you have anger problems, it is best not to own a gun. It is unlikely that Gonzales would have been able to murder Blackenhorn if it were not for the gun he had. If you are charged with murder, you will immediately be arrested and subject to questioning. Do not speak with officers until an attorney is present. If you can afford an attorney, hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in investigating the charges and preparing a defense.

Whether you live in Orange, Brea or La Palma, if you are charged with murder, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.

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Miguel Angel Magallon was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for the 2004 murder of a Los Angeles Police officer. On August 10, 2004, Magallon and an accomplice were driving when they saw Officer Sparks on a bike ride. They got out of the car and tried to rob him. Magallon then shot Sparkes before driving off. The officer quickly called 911 and said “Officer Down.” Before help could arrive, Magallon drove back around to Sparkes and shot him again. Magallon drove off and officers arrived and took Sparkes to the hospital, where he died.

Eventually, Magallon was found and was charged with first degree murder and second degree robbery. The jury convicted Magallon of these charges as well as the sentencing enhancements of committing a crime for the benefit of a street gang and possession of a firearm.

A prosecutor will always try to claim that any gang member who commits a crime, commits it for the benefit of a gang. A good defense attorney will argue that that is not always the case. With gang enhancements dropped, a defendant will get a lower sentence. If you are charged with gang charges, robbery or murder, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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Paul Gentile Smith was indicted by a grand jury last week on suspicion of nearly decapitating his best friend and then setting his body on fire. Smith and Robert Haugen were best friends, but in October of 1988, Smith stabbed Haugen 18 times, killing him and nearly decapitating him. He then tried to get rid of the body by setting it, and other evidence, on fire. He was not caught after the murder.

In 2007, Smith was arrested for domestic violence and his DNA was linked to some evidence at the murder crime scene 20 years earlier. He was charged with murder, but this week he was charged with the enhancement of torturing the victim. This enhancement could increase the punishment to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Whether you live in Santa Ana, Tustin or Laguna Niguel, if you are charged with murder, call an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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Last week, Marlene Ramirez and Frank Garcia were driving home from a baptism with family members. They stopped to drop off a friend before heading home. While dropping off their friend, two men came up to the family and asked where they were from. One family member (who was a gang member) told them they were from “Barrio Van Nuys” and the men shot at them. They struck Ramirez’s mother, brother and son. Her son, Andrew, was just four months old and was shot in the head so he was immediately air-lifted to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Although Van Nuys is a rather dangerous area, violent crimes had been decreasing over the last two years. Since this is such a tragic crime, police are offering $50,000 for information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of these two gang members who committed this crime. Once found, these suspects will be charged with murder with gang enhancements. Additionally, since a baby was shot and killed, this may qualify for a special circumstances case which could lead to capital punishment. These men will need an experienced defense attorney right away in preparing a defense. Whether you live in Westminster, Brea or San Clemente, if you are charged with murder, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you.

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