The accused murderer of East Palo Alto community activist David Lewis who had his murder case dismissed due to police Miranda-rights violations pleaded "no contest" to three felony weapons charges on Thursday, Jan. 3, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
Gregory Leon Elarms Sr. of Pittsburg, Calif., could face a maximum of four years in state prison for possessing weapons in jail. The weapons were a sharpened toothbrush, a sharpened spork, and two sharpened pencils that were tied together, prosecutors said.
Elarms, 60, gained notoriety after he was arrested and charged with fatally shooting Lewis in the parking structure at Hillsdale shopping center in San Mateo in 2010. Lewis was a well-known community leader who helped found the Free At Last drug-rehabilitation program in East Palo Alto and was instrumental in starting the successful parolee re-entry program. The two knew each other as youths in East Palo Alto.
A Superior Court judge threw out the murder and related weapons charges on Nov. 6, after finding that police had violated Elarms' Miranda rights by questioning him repeatedly after he had demanded to see an attorney.
Wagstaffe's office sought to keep Elarms, whom they believe to be dangerous, off the streets while the California Attorney General takes the murder-case dismissal on appeal, which could take 12 to 18 months, he said.
Prosecutors successfully got Elarms' bail raised from $150,000 to $500,000 on Nov. 19 for the county-jail weapons charges, but his attorney sought to have the amount reduced. The court rejected that appeal, and Elarms then entered his no-contest plea. He will appear in court on Jan. 30 for sentencing.