News


David Lewis accused killer pleads 'not guilty'

Gregory Elarms to face trial after court ruled he is now competent

The man accused of murdering East Palo Alto community activist David Lewis in 2010 pleaded not guilty to murder on Friday morning, Sept. 7 and refused to waive his right to a speedy trial, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office said.

Gregory Elarms, 60, is charged with murdering Lewis after lying in wait and fatally shooting him once in the stomach in the parking lot at Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo June 9, 2010.

Lewis was a well-known social activist who turned his life around and helped found the Free At Last drug-rehabilitation program in East Palo Alto. He helped create a groundbreaking parolee reentry program in the city that has surpassed San Mateo County's program in keeping former prisoners from returning to crime.

Elarms, a childhood friend of Lewis, contacted San Mateo investigators claiming to have a tip about the unsolved case about six months after the crime. He allegedly confessed to killing Lewis during questioning, even describing the shocked look on Lewis' face after he shot him, San Mateo police Det. Rick Decker testified at Elarms' preliminary hearing.

Elarms pleaded not guilty in January 2011, but San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum ruled that he was not competent to stand trial. Forcum ordered Elarms hospitalized on July 7, 2011, until he was restored to competence. The court later authorized the hospital to involuntarily medicate Elarms for his psychiatric condition if needed.

Atascadero State Hospital doctors in May found Elarms is now competent to stand trial. Judge Lisa Novak ruled on Aug. 22 that he is now competent with the aid of psychotropic medications.

Elarms told the court he wanted to fire his attorney, Jonathan McDougall, who had argued in August that Elarms was still not mentally competent. The court will hold a hearing on Sept. 14 regarding his request. His refusal to waive his right to a speedy trial means that prosecutors and his defense attorney will have to prepare for trial by Oct. 29, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Local picks on 2015 Michelin Bib Gourmand list
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 3,219 views

Ode to Brussels Sprout
By Laura Stec | 20 comments | 2,487 views

Go Giants! Next Stop: World Series!
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,873 views

A Surprise!
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 1,197 views

Politics: Empty appeals to "innovation"
By Douglas Moran | 6 comments | 1,014 views