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|(May 28, 2020, 3:30 p.m.) -- A 32 year-old Long Beach resident and his dog were killed Tuesday night (May 26) at Magnolia Ave./6th St. (in LB's historic Willmore City neighborhood) when they were struck by a vehicle driven by an idnividual allegedly fleeing the scene of a suspected commercial burglary who was chased by LB police. It happened just over one year after a dog day care worker was struck and killed in her SUV by a suspect fleeing police in a stolen car.
In the coming days, LBPD will present the case to the District Attorney's office, which will decide what tyep(s) of criminal charges, if any, to pursue against the driver and six suspects arrested at the scene of an alleged commercial burglary. Prosecutors will confront a 2018 state law that limits the grounds on which defendants in CA can be convicted of murder if a death occurs while they engaged in certain felonies. In that respect, what took place in Sacramento a little less than two years ago may affect what happens next in connection with May 26 events in Long Beach.
In a release, LBPD says it arrested Jyvante West, 26, from Richmond after the 2016 Mercedes Benz GLE he was driving crashed into a fence in the area of Pine Ave./Sixth Street. He was one of seven northern California residents allegedly involved in a burglary reported at 11:10 p.m. at a marijuana-related business in the 2100 block of Gaylord Street (WLB industrial area, north of W. 15th St. west of Hayes Ave.). LBPD says in a release it received a report that suspects were inside the business cutting down marijuana plants. Officers arrived (a release says within two minutes), detained three men outside the business and saw the suspect identified as West fleeing the scene in a car. A pursuit was initiated and approved, LBPD's release said. It lasted about five minutes and covered surface streets, the Terminal Island (103) Freeway and the Long Beach (710) Freeway, police said.
During the pursuit, police say the driver of the Mercedes Benz traveled at a high speed, drove through a red light at 6th St./Magnolia Ave. and struck a pedestrian -- Jose Hernandez, 32, of Long Beach -- who was legally crossing the street while walking his dog, police said in a release. While pursuing officers chased West until he crashed, other officers tended to Mr. Hernandez until LBFD arrived and pronounced him deceased, police said.
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LBPD arrested West on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit and run resulting in death, driving under the influence of drugs causing injury, evading a police officer, commercial burglary, and conspiracy to commit a crime, and he was held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
A search of the burglary scene yielded three additional suspects and LBPD ultimately arrested six suspects at the commercial burglary location, all from northern California and ranging in ages from 23 to 38. They were booked on suspicion of burglary and held in lieu of $10,000 bail.
The death of Mr. Hernandez with his dog comes a little over a year after Jessica Bingaman, a 41 year old Long Beach dog daycare provider, was killed when a suspect allegedly fleeing LBPD in a stolen 2016 Nissan crashed into her 2013 Ford Escape at a Temple Ave/Third St. stop sign. Ms. Bingaman perished in the May 7, 2019 midday crash, along with five of six dogs she had with her in the SUV.
The next day, family, friends, neighborhood residents, assembled at Temple Ave./Third St. for an emotion packed candlelight vigil. LBPD Police Chief Robert Luna attended. So did 3rd dist. Councilwoman Suzie Price, who delivered poignant heartfelt remarks
(Additonal LBREPORT.com coverage here.)
The L.A. County District Attorney's office charged Javier Olivarez Jr., 43, of Los Angeles with nine felony counts, but not with murder. The DA-filed charges filed were one count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, fleeing a pursuing peace officer's motor vehicle causing death and driving or taking a vehicle without consent as well as six counts of cruelty to an animal. A DA office release at the time said the charges included allegations that Olivarez was convicted in 2002 of unlawfully planting or cultivating marijuana, receiving stolen property in 2004, second-degree robbery in 2007 and possession of belt buckle knife in 2017.
The release said the felonies charged carried a possible maximum sentence if convicted of 38 years in state prison.
Prosecutors then, and now, effectively confront the impacts of SB 1437, a Sacramento bill. signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown in September 2018. It took effect on Jan. 1, 2019, five months before Ms. Bingaman was killed. .
SB 1437 changed California's long-standing "felony murder" rule, which subjected defendants to a possible murder conviction if an individual is killed while a defendant participates in certain specified felonies...even if the defendant didn't intend the killing or participate directly in the action that resulted in the death. Many states have similar "felony murder" rules. SB 1437 changed CA's felony murder rule, limiting it to circumstances in which a defendant "was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with reckless indifference to human life" (the latter described Penal Code section 190.2 subdivision (d)
A state Senate legislative analysis of SB 1437 at this link summarized arguments for and against SB 1437 and listed SB 1437's supporters and opponents (below.)
On August 30, 2018, SB 1437 cleared the state Senate on a 27-18-3 vote with then-LB-area state Senator Ricardo Lara voting "yes." A day earlier the bill barely cleared the 80-member Assembly on a 42-36-2 vote, with LB-area Assemblymembers Patrick O'Donnell, Mike Gipson and (Speaker) Anthony Rendon all voting "yes." (The full vote tally can be viewed here.
For the record, SB 1437's supporters and opponents (listed in the state Senate's legislative analysis) were:
The DA hasn't yet filed criminal charges in connection with the May 26, 2020 death of Mr. Hernandez.
The case against defendant Olivarez in connection with the May 2019 death of Ms. Bingaman hasn't yet gone to trial. It's scheduled for a preliminary hearing in June.
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