By Julian Verdon
SACRAMENTO – Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette initially refused to dismiss a case against a defendant for lack of evidence, citing California’s Supreme Court Justice Ronald George’s decision in a famous serial killer case.
However, he may have mixed up the serial killer case Chief Justice George presided over.
Assistant Public Defender Damien Jovel appeared on behalf of his client Daniel Freeman, and Deputy District Attorney Ryan Roebuck for the DA.
It was almost over before it started. The preliminary hearing started quickly, with the prosecution wanting to dismiss the case.
“Your Honor, at this time, the People want to make a motion to dismiss for a lack of sufficient evidence,” said Roebuck.
“The court will take that under consideration for 30 days,” said Judge Marlette before being cut off by Jovel.
“Oh, come on,” replied Jovel a little jokingly. “Judge, please. Hey, no objection!”
Judge Marlette explained that his refusal stems from the Night Stalker case that California Chief Justice George presided over. However, Judge Marlette cited the incorrect serial killer in the case.
“That is how Chief Justice George got famous. The LA DA wanted to dismiss the Night Stalker, and he said no, you guys are going to trial. That is how he got famous,” said Judge Marlette.
However, it was not the Night Stalker that soon-to-be Chief Justice George dismissed, but one of the Hillside Stranglers, Angelo Buono. In the case, the Los Angeles DA wanted to dismiss the case for all 10 counts of murder for lack of evidence against Buono.
Chief Justice George was a Superior Court judge at the time and made the unusual decision to dismiss the case and gave it to California’s Attorney General’s Office. Trial judges rarely second the prosecution when it comes to dismissing cases.
The Attorney General’s Office was able to secure a conviction, and Chief Justice George became famous as the judge who did not let one of the Hillside Stranglers get away.
Jovel found Judge Marlettes’ story interesting but stressed that his client, Freeman, had no record and served his country in Afghanistan after 9/11. Jovel said that his client’s service played a role in Roebuck’s decision to drop the case, and Roebuck agreed that it did.
DDA Roebuck is a former veteran himself, so Jovel wished him a happy Veteran’s Day.
“I knew Chief Justice George,” said Judge Marlette. “And I am no Chief Justice George. So, I will grant the motion to dismiss [Freeman’s case] for…insufficient evidence.”
“I will let [Freeman] know. He will be very, very happy,” said Jovel.
Jovel then thanked everyone involved and wished Roebuck another happy Veteran’s Day.
Julian Verdon is a senior at UCLA majoring in English. He is from Los Angeles California.
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