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Judge throws out murder charge in Lewis killing

Original post made on Nov 7, 2012

Gregory Elarms Sr., the man accused of gunning down East Palo Alto community activist David Lewis in a Hillsdale Shopping Center parking garage in 2010, had his murder charge thrown out by a San Mateo County Superior Court judge Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 7, 2012, 6:19 PM

Comments (8)

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Posted by Disgusted-With-The-Law
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm

There is so much wrong here it's difficult to know where to start examining this affair.

> Police said on June 9, 2010, Elarms laid in wait for Lewis
> at San Mateo General Hospital where Lewis worked and followed
> him to the shopping center where he confronted him and shot
> him once.

So .. either he did it, or he didn't .. and the police have the wrong man.

> The court granted defense attorney Jonathan McDougall's request
> to dismiss the murder charge and a charge of being a felon in
> possession of a firearm. Judge Stephen Hall threw out Elarms'
> confession on the grounds that San Mateo police violated his
> Miranda rights when they continued to interrogate him after
> he repeatedly requested an attorney.

Ok .. so he confessed, and there doesn't seem to be any claim of "torture"--so it would seem that the Elarms actually shot and killed Lewis. But now the Judge says: "I don't care. Even if it's true--it's not murder--not in my court, it isn't!"

Why? Well .. seems that the police didn't exactly follow the rules. The rules, it seem, are designed so that if Elarms has enough money he can buy the services of legal counsel who can guide him through "the process"--so that with some luck those with enough money might get off on a technicality--if for no other reason?

So--if it's not murder, what is it? We have a dead man, and someone one in jail, who has confessed to the crime, but now the confession is not valid. So--is the dead man no longer a murder victim? He certainly seems to be from everyone's perspective--but not this trial judge.

The case is presumably back in the hands of the SMC DA, but given that they have bobbled it so far, what chance is there that they will be able to get this guy back into the court room, and convicted?

Now--there is the matter of the police who denied him "his rights". Their actions have now imperiled the legitimate prosecution of Elarms, who would seem to be a murderer--except the Judge says: "No!". These police should be brought up on some sort of disciplinary charges, as well as everyone in their chain-of-command--up to the Chief of Police. They knew that that had violated "his rights", and that once the defense attorney got hold of that information--the confession would be considered "tainted fruit". And that's exactly what happened.

And the SMC DA either knew, or should have known, about the failure of the police to allow Elarms to have access to an attorney, and yet--they pushed this case to trial, and got their murder charges thrown back in their faces. The DAs should be subject to some sort of disciplinary action also.

And then there is this grand jury issue. The grand jury isn't really guilty of anything except perhaps not having the instinct to question the validity/sufficiency of the information being presented to them. Still--one has to wonder about how many grand juries are "used" inappropriately to push indictments through to trial that might not actually have sufficient proof in the investigative side of the case to support a conviction in a jury trial?

All-in-all, this is another of those cases that makes one really question if anyone in law enforcement really knows what they are doing. It would be wonderful to read that they (the police) did their jobs, followed all the rules, and were able to make their cases in court. But this case makes one wonder just how competent this police department/DA's Office really is.

If Elarms really did it, he needs to be tried, convicted and put away. Unfortunately, there is a clear possibility that this guy, who seems to be clearly a killer, might walk!

It's enough to make you disgusted with the law.

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Posted by Disgusted-With-The-Law
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:25 pm

Oh, and one last point. This case has doubtless cost the taxpayers over $200,000 so far. Given how sloppy the internal accounting of most government agencies is, it's probably likely we will never really know how much this investigation, indictment and trial(s) have, or will, cost.

The big losers here are: the family of the deceased, the taxpayers, and the police/DA have discredited themselves by not following the law, and not being honest with the Court.

Depending on the outcome, it's even possible that Elarms might end up suing various SMC government agencies and walk away with $$$ in his pocket too--making the taxpayers even bigger losers in this case.

Even if Elarms is convicted eventually, the poor taxpayers will end up spending $1M-$2M to deal with him--making them even bigger losers still.

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Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Judges like this make me sick to my stomach. This is an ADMITTED MURDERER. The details of the confession are too much to ignore.

It is a shame that the judge doesn't understand this.

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Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:53 pm

So, basically, an admiitted murderer is set free by a judge who is supposed to protect the public from such people.

The criminal gets away with it.

That should be a capital crime in itself.

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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm

The criminal justice industry in America exists solely to perpetuate and expand itself at the expense of taxpayers.

We have the highest incarceration rate and the also the highest recidivism rate of all developed countries.

Every act imaginable is now a crime, yet the streets and institutions of America are filled with real criminals who go unpunished.

While the police, politicians, lawyers and judges continue to live large on our dime.....

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 8, 2012 at 4:23 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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Posted by Miranda
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 8, 2012 at 6:57 am

The judge did exactly the right thing. Miranda exists to check abuse of government power. The fact that police didn't abide by it, despite having it drilled into them since childhood and knowing that it could cost them the case, shows how tempting that abuse is.

We don't want police extracting false confessions. Without Miranda, that's a real possibility. Nothing short of invalidating evidence will motivate police to follow this law, and apparently even knowing that evidence will be invalidated isn't enough motivation for some situations.

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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 8, 2012 at 11:16 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Colorado Taxpayers are STILL paying for a similar situation ( at this point, remember INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY )because the COP, and willing JUDGES and PROSECUTORS framed an innocent man for TEN YEARS until a REAL judge found that the conclusions, lack of evidence and no follow up evidence using PROPER modern DNA work set Mr. Masters free.
The Masters " incident " forced a $1 Million per year settlement ( 10 years in jail ) AND THE PEOPLE WHO DID THIS ARE STILL AT THEIR JOBS TODAY!!

That is why I say: " The 99% of the cops make the 1% good cops look bad. "


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