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Law Office of Ronald G. Brower Blog

 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Anaheim Man Pleads Guilty to Bank Robberies

(Photo Credit: Patch)

A man nicknamed the “Quad Bandit” was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison yesterday for bank robberies committed in Orange and Los Angeles counties between March and August 2014. 

According to the U.S. District Attorney’s office, Jonathan Wade Oechsle robbed or attempted to rob more than 10 banks in less than 6 months time in 2014. As part of an agreement, Oechsle pleaded guilty to six robberies in exchange for the prosecution’s dropping the remaining charges.

Prosecutors requested Judge James Selna sentence Oechsle to 151 months imprisonment. In recognition of Oechsle’s rehabilitative efforts in prison, Judge Selna sentenced Oechsle to 10 years in federal prison. Judge Selna agreed to allow Oechsle to serve time in a federal prison on the East Coast, closer to his family.

Oechsle’s defense attorney argued to the court that Oechsle had struggled with substance abuse for many years, had been neglected as a child, and suffered from psychological problems. However, his attorney asserted to Judge Selna that Oechsle had used his time in prison awaiting trial to his benefit, actively seeking and receiving substance abuse treatment and psychological counseling.

Oechsle acknowledged responsibility for the crimes and stated he hoped to continue to improve himself with the assistance of the prison’s resources.

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Orange County, California. With over three decades of experience, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with a range of crimes, including federal crimes.

If you or someone you know is being investigated or has been charged with a crime, contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower today.
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Saturday, February 20, 2016

2014 Murder and DUI Convictions Overturned

(Photo Credit: AP)
A California appeals court overturned a murder and DUI conviction from 2014 yesterday, citing a prejudicial error in the trial proceedings to justify the reversal.

Sherri Lynn Wilkins was convicted in February 2014 of murder and driving under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to serve 55 years to life imprisonment.

Wilkins was charged with and convicted of killing Phillip Moreno with her car in November 2012. Wilkins allegedly drove more than two miles with Moreno injured and on her vehicle’s windshield. Moreno later died at a hospital.

During Wilkins’ trial, the prosecution entered into evidence—and thus for the jury’s consideration—Wilkins’ criminal “rap sheet,” containing her entire criminal history. Allowing the prosecutors to present this evidence to the jury, the court of appeals ruled, was too prejudicial and violated Wilkins’ rights.

As a result, the California appeals court found this error too great to ignore, warranting reversal of Wilkins’ convictions. The prosecution may proceed with another trial against Wilkins on the murder and DUI charges.

It is a fundamental principle of our criminal justice system that trials against individuals accused of crimes should be based only on the facts and the law, not the defendant’s character. Introducing into evidence Ms. Wilkins’ entire criminal history for the jury to consider violated this axiom, and the state appellate court recognized the error as too damaging to let the conviction stand.

Ronald G. Brower is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Orange County, California. With over three decades of experience, Attorney Brower has represented individuals charged with a range of crimes, including murder.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower today at 714-997-4400 or online.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Merritt May Again Change Legal Representation

Charles “Chase” Merritt, 58, the defendant in a high-profile murder case in Southern California, continues to vacillate between defending himself and hiring an attorney.

Merritt stands accused of killing a San Diego County family in 2010 and then burying their bodies in the Mojave Desert. The bodies were found in November 2013 and Merritt was not arrested until late 2014.

Since then, Merritt has had five different attorneys and twice claimed to represent himself.

On Thursday, Merritt told a judge that he had changed his mind again—he no longer wished to represent himself and he planned to hire a defense team. The judge continued the matter until February 25, at which time Merritt will have to report to the court his plans for legal representation.

Merritt is suspected of killing a family of four from Fallbrook, including their two young children. It is reported that one of the victims, Joseph McStay, and Merritt were business associates and that Merritt impermissibly used McStay’s business account to write himself checks.

A preliminary hearing to determine probable cause has already been held in this matter. Once the issue of Merritt’s legal representation has been resolved, the case will proceed in the San Bernardino Superior Court. 

Criminal charges are very serious matters that carry profound punishments and produce far-reaching collateral consequences. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is critical to retain proper legal representation to protect your rights and liberty.

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Southern California with over three decades of experience. Attorney Brower has successfully represented people accused of all types of crimes, including murder.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower at 714-997-4400 or online.

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

SoCalGas Faces Criminal Charges

(Photo Credit: Santa Clarita Gazette)

As part of the state’s efforts to facilitate the cleanup process and ensure enforcement of California environmental regulations, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against SoCalGas in relation to the natural gas leak near Porter Ranch.

SoCalGas is already being sued by private parties and the California Attorney General’s Office for civil liability. However, the Los Angeles County DA’s charges are criminal and will go through the criminal procedure process.

It is unusual for the District Attorney to bring charges against a corporation specifically or to prosecute environmental matters generally. Typically, the District Attorney’s office prosecutes ordinary street crimes.

According to reports, the District Attorney filed four charges against SoCalGas: 3 charges concerning the corporation’s failure to immediately report the gas leak and 1 charge for the continued gas leak. 

Much like the government often does with individuals accused of crimes, the District Attorney reportedly seeks to place SoCalGas on probation and coerce compliance with environmental regulations and orders.

It is alleged that natural gas has been spilling into the air since October 2015, which is believed to have caused environmental and personal health concerns for other nearby communities. While regulators, engineers and specialists from various fields seek to curb the environmental damage, it remains to be seen how the criminal prosecution of the large gas corporation will develop.

Ronald G. Brower is a criminal defense attorney in Orange County, California. Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower today.

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