The man accused of killing East Palo Alto community leader David Lewis has died at Stanford Hospital, the Santa Clara County Coroner's office has confirmed.
Gregory Elarms Sr., 61, died on Friday, April 11, after falling ill from natural causes, the coroner's office said.
Elarms allegedly gunned down Lewis in a parking garage at the Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo on June 9, 2010. Elarms, who knew Lewis since childhood in East Palo Alto, followed Lewis from his job at the San Mateo County Medical Center and confronted him in the shopping mall parking garage.
Lewis, 54, was an internationally known, leading figure in drug rehabilitation and the re-integration of parolees into society. His death shocked the East Palo Alto community, where he was an influential leader. Lewis reportedly uttered the name "Greg" prior to losing consciousness, but police could not find his killer for six months.
The case broke after Elarms called police to say he had information about the killing. During questioning, Elarms made statements that implicated himself as the killer, according to police. But Judge Stephen Hall threw out Elarms' confession in November 2012 on the grounds that San Mateo police violated his Miranda rights when they continued to interrogate him after he repeatedly requested an attorney.
The judge also found the remaining evidence presented to the grand jury was insufficient, requiring dismissal. The court let stand a third count of felony possession of a weapon in jail.
Judge Mark Forcum found Elarms was mentally incompetent to stand trial in July 2011. He was ordered to be hospitalized and treated against his will if necessary. Atascadero State Hospital doctors found Elarms competent in May 2012.
The district attorney's office appealed Judge Hall's decision. The state Court of Appeals was expected to rule on the case sometime this spring, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
"There are dual feelings. We're glad the case comes to a close, but there is a certain level of disappointment. The Lewis family never got to see justice carried out. It was a pretty significant legal issue. It would've been great to have a clarification from the court of appeals because this is a recurring issue," he said.
Lewis' mother, Cora Lewis, said since her son was killed, some days are good, and some remain bad.
"Half my heart went with him. They grew up on the same street as kids, and then they went this way and that way," she said of Elarms. "My son got him out of prison. I don't know why he killed David."
She had heard that Elarms had died, but she didn't know any details, she added.
"It became a shock to me when he died. It was hard on me. When he died, it kind of brought everything back," she said.
Jonathan McDougall, Elarms' attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Three years after Lewis' killing the San Mateo County Health Department sought and obtained a restraining order against Elarms. A Superior Court judge signed an injunction against Elarms for workplace violence/harassment on Aug. 28, 2013.
The injunction protected an employee and staff at the Edison Clinic in San Mateo. It prohibited Elarms from contacting those persons or coming near the clinic, according to court papers. Edison Clinic offers outpatient medical care for people with HIV/AIDS in San Mateo County, according to its website.
Deputy County Counsel Rebecca Archer said she could not comment on specific allegations that led to the restraining order. The order was to last through Aug. 28,2016, according to court documents.
Elarm's death occurred one day after his 27-year-old daughter, Gina Denise Elarms, was shot and killed in Sacramento. She was the victim of a double homicide while sitting in a vehicle with her friend, Deshawne Cannon, 23, outside an apartment complex on April 10, according to the Sacramento Bee. Ezekiel Isiah Delgado, 16, will be tried as an adult for the crimes. He is accused of shooting both victims with a 9-mm handgun.