Jorge Gascon accused of tricking families who oppose death row prisoners

The daughter of a construction manager who was brutally murdered three decades ago said her family had been “betrayed” by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, which is passing the murderer’s death sentence without the possibility of parole. Insisting on changing lives – despite their opposition.

Other families said they too felt “unheard” and manipulated by embattled LA County District Attorney George Gascon, who is a staunch opponent of the death penalty.

“When you take someone’s life, it has consequences … and lasting consequences for my family,” said Heather Scott, who was only 12 years old when her father Fred was murdered. was done.

Scott, 43, said that when DA officials told him he had filed a motion to anger Scott Forrest Collins, the man who killed his father “execution-style” in 1992, but assured him and his family That “it will be the same” thing since California has a moratorium on death penalty cases.

Happy Hours: Fred Rose with his family before being murdered by Scott Forrest Collins in January 1992.
Courtesy of Heather Scott

Golden State has not been hanged since 2006, and Governor Gavin Newsom put a moratorium on executions when he took office three years ago. But prosecutors who favored keeping the death penalty said the moratorium could end if Newsom had to step down.

Earlier this year, Newsom went even further and moved to eliminate the nation’s largest death row, San Quentin State Prison, within two years and move condemned inmates to other facilities where they were held. Could be kept with other prisoners where it was deemed safe.

Meanwhile, the LA DA’s office has so far said it is reviewing just two cases where defendants are seeking appeals of the death penalty — but sources told The Post that Gascon was serving at least 65 sentences. The latter can register displeasure in death penalty cases.

Victims’ families said Gascon’s “angry crusade” only made them suffer more as the office that once supported their wishes turned their backs on them.

“I was in complete shock but then I realized we might have been lied to because it’s not true when they told us nothing would change,” Scott told The Post.

“I asked why they would do it because it seems like something (Collins) defense attorneys would do, not the DA,” she said. The response I got was, ‘It would never be executed in the first place,’ but that’s not true. They cannot guarantee that he will never come out of jail and that is our biggest fear.

Scott Forrest Collins
Scott Forrest Collins was convicted and sentenced to death in 1996 for kidnapping and robbing 42-year-old Fred Rose at gunpoint.
San Quentin State Prison

Collins, 52, was convicted and sentenced to death for kidnapping and robbing 42-year-old Fred Rose at gunpoint for $200 after leaving his job in Lancaster, Calif., in 1996.

Rose, a father of three, was found on January 23, 1992, by a runner who saw his body with gunshot wounds to his head next to railroad tracks in North Hollywood.

In a February court filing, Deputy DA Shellen Joseph wrote that Collins is a “model prisoner” who was only 21 years old at the time of the crime. He said that Collins “experienced hardship as a child”, including the death of his father, and that he had multiple learning disabilities that were “never adequately treated in school.”

Joseph wrote in the motion that Collins was taken out of the death penalty and transferred to a voluntary program at a correctional facility in Tehachapi, Calif. For prisoners showing good behavior.

Scott said his family was only informed by the DA’s office of the protest motion as a formality. However, documents signed by Joseph on February 15 – and obtained by The Post – say prosecutors wanted to proceed with Collins’ displeasure without a hearing, leaving no opportunity for Scott and his family to object personally.

That’s when Scott reached out to former deputy DA Kathy Cady, who agreed to represent the family with former LA DA Steve Cooley. Along with their lawyers, the family filed a protest against Collins without a hearing.

Former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Cathy Cady
Former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Kathy Cady is representing families who are against DA George Gascon’s outrage policies.
dordulian law group

“Frankly, it’s absolutely reprehensible,” said Cady. “(Joseph) has gone a systematic way to try to undo every death sentence based on[Gascon’s]policy. Policy doesn’t mean the law has changed when you do what you want to do.” There is no legal mechanism to do so. That’s not how the law works.”

In an order filed on March 10 asking for further briefings, LA Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan said, “While the statute allows such outrage, in the view of the court, it runs contrary to the rights that victims and their families have. Addressing the court and making a statement affecting the victim.” “

Scott, accompanied by her husband and her mother, Sharon, appeared in court on June 22 and gave her statement to the judge. Sharon Rose asked the judge to consider her wishes and to decline Gascon’s offer.

“My family will have to suffer again, in addition to rejecting the offer of displeasure,” she wrote in her statement. “In the end, a jury and a judge delivered the right verdict and chose a sentence, which is still a legal sentence in California today. The voicemail I received promised ‘nothing will change.’ What the current DA is doing changes everything. It changes our entire judicial system and our belief in today’s judgments and punishments.”

Fred Rose With His Wife Sharon And Their Children
Fred Rose’s wife, Sharon, said in a statement to the court that their family had been traumatized again.
Courtesy of Heather Scott

LA County DA officials told The Post on Friday that they continue to reach out to victims and their families.

“We have made every effort to reach out to the victim’s family in these cases,” said Greg Riesling, a spokesman for the DA’s office. “We focus on the needs of the victim and have a licensed social worker available to support them if they wish to consult with her. While we understand that some victims may not wish to offend the defendant, we Each case should be assessed individually and on the merits of the legal issues presented.

However, Gascon faced more criticism when he announced nearly two weeks ago that he was dismantling the vital “lifer unit” and rehiring prosecutors who had alerted the victims of his attackers’ parole hearings. .

Jane Bofford, whose elderly father and mother—Elmer and Gladys Benson—were killed in 1996 at their home in South Gate, Calif., said she and many other families feel the DA’s office leadership has turned their backs on her. .

Bouffard also receives a call from the DA’s office to inform that Gascon has filed a motion to enrage his parents’ murderer, Samuel Zamudio.

Her father, Elmer Benson, 79, was found lying on the living room floor next to his wheelchair on February 11, 1996, and was stabbed multiple times. Police said mom Gladys, 74, had also received multiple stab wounds on the kitchen floor.

During the trial, prosecutors said that Zmudio was a neighbor of the couple and had borrowed money from Benson.

In its motion, the DA’s office stated that proceeding with Zmudio’s death sentence would be unconstitutional because of his intellectual disability. The judge, however, did not accept the DA’s disability claim and scheduled an explicit hearing in the matter for August.

During that hearing, the judge will hear the testimony of a court-appointed expert who has been hired to oversee Zmudio. Meanwhile, Bouffard said prosecutors have repeatedly blocked her attempts to obtain relevant records regarding Zmudio.

“As far as I know, this opinion was never mentioned in the trial, but now they are also saying that we cannot read any of their records,” Bofford told The Post.

“What really bothers me is that in these proceedings, no attention was paid to my parents…who were they and what they did in their lives,” she said. “He is never mentioned. It is all about getting him (Zmudio) off the death penalty and bringing him back to the general population.”

Last week, Gascon also filed a motion to overturn the 1996 sentence of Raymond Oscar Butler, who was sentenced to death at San Quentin State Prison for murdering two Marymount College students, Takuma Ito and Go Matsuura. was found guilty of.

Raymond Oscar Butler, Accompanied By His Attorney, James Hallett, Left In The Long Beach Courtroom, Where He Was Sentenced To Death For Execution-Style Murder In 1994 During A Car Jacking Of Two Marymount College Students.
Raymond Oscar Butler, accompanied by his attorney, James Hallett, left in the Long Beach courtroom, where he was sentenced to death for execution-style murder in 1994 during a car jacking of two Marymount College students.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Ito and Matsuura, both aspiring filmmakers from Japan, decided to stop at Ralph’s supermarket on March 25, 1995, when Butler approached their vehicle and shot him.

Butler took off in the car and was arrested a few days later. The brutal shooting was the subject of a documentary called “life interrupted,

In a 264-page objectionable recommendation filed on July 11, Joseph argued that Butler was only 18 when he committed the murders and had suffered brain damage as a child. He said Butler, now 47, had “significant” cognitive impairment at the time of committing the crime and had an “incredibly chaotic” life filled with family dysfunction.

The DA’s office would not say whether prosecutors have contacted the families of Ito and Matsuura, but told daily wind that they are not “seeking Butler’s release from prison.”

Ito And Matsuura, Both Aspiring Filmmakers From Japan
Ito and Matsuura, both aspiring filmmakers from Japan, were in a supermarket when Raymond Oscar Butler fatally shot and car-jacked the students in March 1994.
Bruce Schwartz

“District Attorney Gascon is committed to abolishing the death penalty in Los Angeles because it is racist in its application, morally unstable, irreversible, costly and has never been shown to prevent the crime,” Riesling said. Told.

Cooley, who was L.A. County DA from 2000 to 2012, said Gascon, who defeated incumbent DA Jackie Lacey in November 2019, is using his policies to “manipulate” families who continue to suffer.

“They are lying to the families of the victims and they are making an honest attempt to deceive the courts,” Cooley said. “Joseph, who worked for the Office of the Public Defender before working for Gascon, is 100 percent committed to undoing the death penalty ruling received over the years by several predecessors of the DA’s office. This is a plan and It’s a scam.”

Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley
Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley criticized George Gascon’s policies of outrage.
AFP via Getty Images

Scott said that Gascon’s policies provide no comfort that his father’s killer will remain in prison.

“Not only did my dad lose his life, but we grew up without him. And even to hear things like, ‘Oh,[Collins]had ADHD or grew up without a father,’ she told The Post. “Okay, I’ve been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being violently killed. I also grew up without a father.

“I don’t think that’s an excuse to reduce the sentence when you kill someone else.”

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