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NEWS
By Mike Reicher | May 29, 2012
Mothers who ousted a convicted child molester from their Newport Beach neighborhood in the late 1990s lauded his death Tuesday. James Lee Crummel, 68, hanged himself Sunday while on death row at San Quentin State Prison, authorities announced Tuesday. He was sentenced to death for killing 13-year-old James "Jamie" Trotter, who was on his way to school in Costa Mesa in 1979 when authorities say Crummel kidnapped, sexually abused and then murdered him. Trotter's body wasn't found until several years later, and Crummel wasn't sentenced for the crime until 2004.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | February 12, 2010
Last year, Costa Mesa-native and convicted killer Billy Joe Johnson told a jury that he wanted to be sentenced to death because he’d have more freedom on death row than with a life sentence. He said it’d be decades before he ever received a lethal injection. State Sen. Tom Harman however, has proposed a package of legislation that could change that. Through a series of bills, Harman, who is running for election as state attorney general, is looking to speed up the appeals process and change the way executions are carried out, which conceivably could lift a moratorium in effect since 2006.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | October 29, 2009
Billy Joe Johnson got what he wanted. Johnson, 46, chuckled and joked with his lawyer as the courtroom clerk Thursday morning read the jury’s recommended death sentence for the convicted killer. The recommendation all but assures that Johnson, already facing life in prison for an earlier murder, will end up on death row, which will afford him more time with other inmates out of his cell, as he wished. If he is sentenced to life without parole, Johnson would rarely leave his one-man cell.
NEWS
By Brianna Bailey | June 25, 2008
State Sen. Tom Harman’s bill to reform the appeals process in death penalty cases found no reprieve from the Assembly Public Safety Committee. The bill was executed this week by a 2-5 vote. Senate Bill 315 would have sped up the appeals process for death row inmates in California by appointing an attorney to each defendant within a year. “In its current form, California’s death penalty appeals process is more of a moratorium on execution than a system of judicial review,” Harman said.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | October 27, 2009
With Billy Joe Johnson’s 2006 trip to the witness stand where he confessed to a 2002 murder still fresh in people’s minds, he had a lot to live up to as he took the stand Wednesday. He didn’t disappoint. With a spiked mohawk and a courtroom full of prosecutors and police officers watching intently, Johnson, 46, testified matter-of-factly that authorities haven’t gotten him for all his crimes. “Like what? Murders?” Deputy Dist. Atty.
NEWS
October 15, 2004
Marisa O'Neil When retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Donald McCartin found out a federal court threw out his death-row conviction of Rodney Alcala last year, he knew he wanted to tell his side of the story. McCartin, a former Costa Mesa resident, does just that and tells about sending eight others to death row to Anaheim crime writer Don Lasseter in his book "Perfect Justice." McCartin will be signing copies of the book Saturday at Borders in his old hometown.
NEWS
By Tom Harman | April 15, 2010
Serial killer Rodney James Alcala was sentenced to death two weeks ago. This is the third time in 30 years an Orange County jury has sentenced him to die for the murder and rape of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe. He has been in prison since 1979 and, if California death row statistics hold, he’ll be waiting at least another 18 years before running through his latest set of appeals. The staggering delays in California’s capital punishment system would be comical if not so tragic.
NEWS
November 23, 2009
A judged sentenced convicted killer Billy Joe Johnson to death Monday for his role in the murder of a fellow gang member. Johnson, 46, a Costa Mesa native, stated in previous testimony that he wanted the death penalty rather than life in prison without parole because those on death row get better treatment than prisoners in the general population. Johnson lured fellow Public Enemy Number One gang member Scott Miller to his death — a shooter was waiting — in Anaheim in 2002.
NEWS
March 16, 2003
This week I got the chance to spend some time with an old friend and former Daily Pilot reporter that some of you may remember. Christopher Goffard was a reporter at the Daily Pilot from late 1996 until the spring of 1998. Today, he covers the courts in Tampa Bay for the St. Petersburg Times. He was in Orange County to visit with friends and family who still live in the area. We spent lunch talking over two plates of tasty crab, shrimp and spinach enchiladas at Taco Mesa, one of his favorite haunts while he was working for the Pilot, and caught up with each others lives.
FEATURES
September 22, 2009
Shia The animal industry is a good indicator of hard times when even kittens that look like Shia the tortoiseshell Siamese are slow to be adopted. Many animals need help. There couldn’t be a better time to give your time. We need a foster family for the cat Murphy. See photos of animals at www.animalnetwork.org . Meet cats and kittens for adoption on weekends from noon to 4 p.m. at Fashion Island sponsored by Russo’s Pet Experience or in the caregiver’s home.
ARTICLES BY DATE
NEWS
February 28, 2013
Jurors recommended the death penalty Thursday for a 42-year-old man who raped and stabbed a pregnant woman to death in her Costa Mesa apartment 25 years ago, according to a court official. Jason Michael Balcom was convicted in March 2012 of raping 22-year-old Malinda Gibbons and stabbing her in the chest in 1988, but the jury at the time deadlocked 10 to 2 on whether he should face the death penalty. A new jury began its deliberation in the case late Tuesday, and came back with a verdict just before 11 a.m. Thursday, a court official said.
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NEWS
By Mike Reicher | May 29, 2012
Mothers who ousted a convicted child molester from their Newport Beach neighborhood in the late 1990s lauded his death Tuesday. James Lee Crummel, 68, hanged himself Sunday while on death row at San Quentin State Prison, authorities announced Tuesday. He was sentenced to death for killing 13-year-old James "Jamie" Trotter, who was on his way to school in Costa Mesa in 1979 when authorities say Crummel kidnapped, sexually abused and then murdered him. Trotter's body wasn't found until several years later, and Crummel wasn't sentenced for the crime until 2004.
NEWS
By James P. Gray | January 29, 2011
You have probably seen recent newspaper articles saying that the only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental — the anesthetic that begins the three-drug process used in putting condemned prisoners to death — has announced that it was immediately ceasing production of that substance. The stated reason was that the company did not want any of its products to be associated with killing people. At this point, California still has enough of the drug for about 80 executions, but after that it will be forced to look elsewhere.
NEWS
By Tom Harman | April 15, 2010
Serial killer Rodney James Alcala was sentenced to death two weeks ago. This is the third time in 30 years an Orange County jury has sentenced him to die for the murder and rape of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe. He has been in prison since 1979 and, if California death row statistics hold, he’ll be waiting at least another 18 years before running through his latest set of appeals. The staggering delays in California’s capital punishment system would be comical if not so tragic.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | February 12, 2010
Last year, Costa Mesa-native and convicted killer Billy Joe Johnson told a jury that he wanted to be sentenced to death because he’d have more freedom on death row than with a life sentence. He said it’d be decades before he ever received a lethal injection. State Sen. Tom Harman however, has proposed a package of legislation that could change that. Through a series of bills, Harman, who is running for election as state attorney general, is looking to speed up the appeals process and change the way executions are carried out, which conceivably could lift a moratorium in effect since 2006.
NEWS
November 23, 2009
A judged sentenced convicted killer Billy Joe Johnson to death Monday for his role in the murder of a fellow gang member. Johnson, 46, a Costa Mesa native, stated in previous testimony that he wanted the death penalty rather than life in prison without parole because those on death row get better treatment than prisoners in the general population. Johnson lured fellow Public Enemy Number One gang member Scott Miller to his death — a shooter was waiting — in Anaheim in 2002.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | November 23, 2009
He walked into court like it was just another day. Other than the jingling of his shackles, nothing in Costa Mesa-native and white supremacist Billy Joe Johnson’s appearance — an untucked, wrinkled dress shirt and blue pants — or demeanor — joking with his lawyer and the prosecutor — indicated that he was about to be sentenced to death. “A lot of people say it and are full of it, but Billy Joe just doesn’t care,” said his attorney, Michael Molfetta.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | October 29, 2009
Billy Joe Johnson got what he wanted. Johnson, 46, chuckled and joked with his lawyer as the courtroom clerk Thursday morning read the jury’s recommended death sentence for the convicted killer. The recommendation all but assures that Johnson, already facing life in prison for an earlier murder, will end up on death row, which will afford him more time with other inmates out of his cell, as he wished. If he is sentenced to life without parole, Johnson would rarely leave his one-man cell.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | October 27, 2009
With Billy Joe Johnson’s 2006 trip to the witness stand where he confessed to a 2002 murder still fresh in people’s minds, he had a lot to live up to as he took the stand Wednesday. He didn’t disappoint. With a spiked mohawk and a courtroom full of prosecutors and police officers watching intently, Johnson, 46, testified matter-of-factly that authorities haven’t gotten him for all his crimes. “Like what? Murders?” Deputy Dist. Atty.
FEATURES
September 22, 2009
Shia The animal industry is a good indicator of hard times when even kittens that look like Shia the tortoiseshell Siamese are slow to be adopted. Many animals need help. There couldn’t be a better time to give your time. We need a foster family for the cat Murphy. See photos of animals at www.animalnetwork.org . Meet cats and kittens for adoption on weekends from noon to 4 p.m. at Fashion Island sponsored by Russo’s Pet Experience or in the caregiver’s home.
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