Carjacking & Auto Theft
“The cop left the door open and the engine running!”
On December 23, 2015 at approximately 6:15 a.m. a Milpitas police officer observed a 2004 ford van with 2 California license plates on the back. One license plate belonged to a car reported stolen out of Oakland, CA. My client exited the van holding an Arizona ice tea. While the officer was at the back of the van relaying the plate information to the dispatcher, the defendant drove off at a high rate of speed in the police patrol vehicle. “The cop left the door open and the engine running!” The defendant could hear the police radio tracking the patrol vehicle as he drove it away.
Police followed the tracking signal from the stolen police vehicle, to Old Oakland Road in San Jose. The officer’s shotgun and all other equipment were recovered. My client stopped on Old Oakland road. A lady driving a Toyota Rav 4 stopped behind the police vehicle. My client exited the patrol vehicle and approached the unsuspecting woman. He was saying, “Please, please, please! I need your vehicle.” She thought he was saying, “police, police, police, I need your vehicle!” She got out of her vehicle and the defendant entered her Rav 4. Then she realized that he was not dressed in a police uniform. My client handed the lady her purse (or dropped it out the window) and drove off.
He might have gotten away with the double auto theft and carjacking had he not left the Arizona Ice Tea in the patrol vehicle. Police ran fingerprints and DNA, tracked him down to his residence and arrested him.
My client’s mother originally hired private counsel from southern California and paid a lot of money. According to my client, he was initially offered 9-years State Prison for an early plea to his case, based upon the car-jacking incident not to mention the stolen patrol vehicle and the van. They found me on AVVO.
When I met my client he weighed close to 300 lbs. He had suffered a mangled leg from a hit and run incident. He was hit by a vehicle in a crosswalk. Emergency medical service saved his leg. But, his leg was crushed in the accident. He underwent nine surgeries in fourteen months and was bedridden so long he had to learn how to walk again. He became dependent upon prescription drugs to relieve the pain and could not afford the prescription drugs when released from the hospital. He spiraled into drug addiction.
My client was willing to enter residential treatment and hire private individual counseling with Mr. Ken Deaver. He struggled with the structure and limitations of communal living in a residential drug program. Sometimes, I find that those who struggle with the program get the most from the experience in the long run. He got a sponsor and took very seriously the 12-step work of Narcotics Anonymous. He chanced to meet a comedian who volunteered at Amicus House, whose name is, Mark Lundholm. Mr. Lundholm is a well-known and celebrated comedian in the Narcotics Anonymous world and on Comedy Central. I remember how excited he was when he met Mark, who gave him his phone number. He learned that although his life had serious consequences, he could handle anything life threw at him with a sense of humor. It was like a light bulb turned on in his head. He became grateful for his life and for the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.
He worked hard on his underlying core issues with Ken Deaver. He grew up not knowing his father and was told that he was dead. But, at age 17, his father contacted the family. He was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease and died a few years later. He dealt with the trauma and post-traumatic stress of his debilitating accident. And his world became much brighter. He took the issues that he worked with Ken Deaver back to his home group meetings and learned that he was not the only person who had suffered the same experiences. Others were grateful that he brought these issues up on the group meeting level and they thanked him. That encouraged him to dig deeper. Ken submitted a wonderful report to the judge and to probation.
My client pled no contest to carjacking and two counts of grand theft auto with a 3-year top. (No more than 3-years state prison). My client wrote an incredible letter to the judge. The adult probation report was very supportive of my client despite the seriousness of the case, stating that the client expressed sincere remorse and had embraced his recovery. He received probation and a 9-month county jail sentence with 33-days credit for the time he served before being released to Amicus House. So, he served 3 additional months of county jail. (Rather than the 9-year indicated sentence before he did the work of recovery).
My client continues in recovery. He worked out regularly and lost over 100 lbs. and is in “tip-top” shape. He always has a smile on his face. He met a beautiful young lady whom I have yet to meet. She has a daughter. My client talks about how wonderful it is to have a family. He stays in contact with me and is hoping to file for a record clearance and a certificate of rehabilitation when he completes probation.
My client was working out at a gym very soon after he was released from custody. He called me to tell me a funny story. He had just finished bench pressing some serious weight. He was wearing a tank top and covered in sweat. His face was all red and he was all pumped up when the district attorney who handled his case walked into the gym, took one look at him and turned around and walked straight back out the door! Months later he calls me again. This time he was at Kennedy Airport and dressed for business, when he realized that the same DA was boarding the plane back to San Jose. My client did not know if the DA recognized him the second time when boarding a flight home. “All I’ve ever wanted to do was thank him for giving me a chance and tell him that I’m doing alright!”