6-years, 9-months, 17-days into Samantha’s abduction

child abduction, left behind parent, parental abduction, parental alienation, parental child abduction playbook, parental kidnapping, State of California

Thursday, August 27, 2015: Today would have been Littleman’s 19th birthday. I miss the big guy. It seems like yesterday when I walked him down to the pet spa for the last time. As we were walking home he was getting a little irritated so I draped him on my shoulders. You remember how big he was. People stopped us to compliment my on how “…awesome my dog was. Oh shit, he’s not a dog…one of the bigger cats I have ever seen!” was the responses he got that day. Happy Birthday Littleman!

So, today was the day the judge handed the case to us jurors to deliberate a man’s guilt or innocence. He was facing some serious allegations, of which would have land him in prison for the next 20+ years. Nobody was taking this lightly. To compound matters his attorney did not do him any favors. The attorney could not have been any more disorganized. In a way, we were left to put the pieces together and figure out what happened. The beauty of having 12 people on a jury is to have every perspective possible. In this case it was exactly what was needed. It was great to see the collaboration going on in that room.

This was a classic case of being able to cope with stressful situations when someone screws you over. The defendant unfortunately, made some bad choices. But, we’re they has bad as the prosecutor wanted us to believe? In this case the defendant bought a car from a sketchy used car dealer. The car dealer never reported the sale to the State of California as required by law. A year later, the defendant was still making payments every month on a car he thought he owned, when in fact the car dealer still owned the car.

One day the defendant gets pulled over by the police for speeding on the freeway. No big deal. The police check his license and find out it’s suspended and they have to impound the car. The defendant brought a relative to the impound to get the car back. It was there that they were told they could not give the defendant the car because he is not the registered owner, the used car dealer was. Naturally the defendant is upset and confused because surely a year later the State of California should have been able to recognize him as the registered owner of the car. Eventually the car dealer finds out the car has been impounded and rather than get the car out and give it back to the defendant, they resold the car to someone else. Yes, the car dealer scammed the defendant out of a car he bought and was making payments on.

Long story short, the defendant went back to the car dealer one morning to get his car back only to find out they resold it so someone else. The defendant demanded the dealer give him another car. That he was not leaving until he got another car. The issue was that he was trying to steal a car to replace the one the car dealer had stolen from him. He did damage to the front door of the dealership with a tire iron, however did not damage anything else or hurt anyone. He walked away pacing back-and-forth in the parking lot for an hour. The car dealer did call police, not to report the break-in, but to report a suspicious person in their parking lot. Not a high priority for police in the neighborhood they were in.

Eventually the one police officer did arrive. As he called for back-up, which is regular protocol, he encountered the defendant. Rather than just tell the police officer what happened with his car, he decided to pick a fight with the police officer and then tried to flee the scene. The defendant did not get very far and was arrested a few blocks away.

It was fascinating to learn of the specific criteria that makes up each charge against the defendant. There is no gray area as to what the law says. If one of the criteria of the law is not proven, the defendant is not guilty of that charge. The good news for the defendant was that there was not enough evidence to support the “assault with a deadly weapon“, “attempted carjacking” or “attempted robbery“. Each of those three charges were the most serious and would have landed the defendant in prison for at least 20-years. With those 3 charges, an element of fear towards the victim(s) has to be proven. In this case, the car salesman who walked in on the defendant trying to break into the building said he did not fear for his safety when he recognized the defendant. He knew the defendant from the previous sale of the car a year prior. In fact, the defendant walked away from the sales person and opened the office to conduct business for the day. That is not something one does if they feel their life is in danger.

The bad news for the defendant, he did attempt to take another vehicle without paying for it. While he was unsuccessful in that attempt, we had to find him guilty of “attempted car taking” which is the lesser charge to the “attempted carjacking” and “attempted robbery” because there was no element of fear towards the victim(s). He was also found guilty of vandalism, resisting arrest and giving the police false information. Had the defendant not picked a fight with the police, the chances are he would have walked out of the courtroom with us because he already was in jail for 7-months. The court would have more than likely considered that ‘time served‘ for the “attempted car taking” charge. So, he has to deal with how he responded to the police officer. His sentencing for that is in October, which means he will be in jail for a little while longer. Albeit no more than 2-years as opposed to 20+ years if he was found guilty of the other charges.

What a fascinating process. 12 people who the defendant has never met before and will never see again basically had to decide what happened. I feel good that we got it right. Hopefully he learns from this and realizes that there are better options available to him in any sort of dispute. The silver lining for the defendant is that the prosecutor is looking into the car dealer for their liability in all this. I would expect the defendant will file a civil case against the car dealer as well. In the end, he may get that new car after all.