Suspect in Teen Shooting Outside Riverside Church Represents Himself in Court, Quizzing Multiple Law Enforcement Witnesses

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By Darling Gonzalez, Ava Schwartzapfel, Sam Alcaraz

RIVERSIDE, CA – Thomas Scott, charged with the murder of 18-year-old Luis Quintanar who was shot in the chest at close range outside of a church in Riverside in 2016, represented himself in his Riverside County Superior Court trial Thursday.

The trial is still ongoing, and Thursday a video of an interview Sept. 15, 2016, with Detective Mike O’Boyle, Detective Dave Smith and Scott was shown in court.

After the video, Detective O’Boyle was then questioned by Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham about the content of the interview, with Beecham asking O’Boyle what the purpose was for asking Scott about whether the shooting was in self-defense during the interview.

Detective O’Boyle responded, “We threw that out there to Thomas because really all we had was two anonymous tips, and it was more like a carrot–a carrot and a stick scenario. We just offered that to him to see if that might convince him to talk to us because he was denying initially.”

To further clarify, DDA Beecham asked the detective if the topic of self-defense was something that he and the other detective, Smith, believed was the reason for Scott shooting Quintanar.

Detective O’Boyle stated that both he and Detective Smith had no opinion on the reasoning for the shooting, and that they had just used that statement to see what Scott would reveal about the shooting.

During the cross-examination, Scott, in pro per, began by asking Detective O’Boyle, “After watching the footage, do you see any red flags?”

Judge Matthew Perantoni then asked Scott to provide clarification as the question was too vague for O’Boyle to understand what he meant.

Scott continued by asking O’Boyle to confirm that during the interview he had asked Scott what weapon was used and Scott had replied that there were two possible calibers that included a .38 and .380.

Detective O’Boyle stated that was correct, to which Scott then asked, “Did that raise any flags?”

“It doesn’t raise any flags, it’s just not specific. You gave two different calibers, it wasn’t one caliber [you stated], you threw out a couple,” Detective O’Boyle stated.

When Scott asked about what projectile was removed from Quintanar’s body, Detective O’Boyle stated that it was a nominal 32 caliber bullet.

Scott then reaffirmed that neither bullet he had mentioned in the interview was the bullet that was in the victim’s body, to which O’Boyle agreed.

Scott later asked O’Boyle his opinion as a detective on the inconsistencies in the interview.

Detective O’Boyle replied, “My opinion on your confession was that it was heartfelt and believable and then when we started to ask corroborating details, if you’re asking my opinion, I think you might have started to think about what you had just told us and maybe you didn’t want to exactly give up the truth on where the gun was, the burning of the clothes…”

Later, Scott asked O’Boyle if he thought that he (Scott) was under the influence during the interview, to which O’Boyle said he had not seen any signs of intoxication.

Toward the end of the cross-examination, Scott asked Detective O’Boyle, “How do you know someone’s being honest as opposed to lying?”

This question was objected to by DDA Beecham for being vague and Judge Perantoni sustained.

The trial reconvened later that afternoon, and Scott asked the witness about the functionality of the exterior cameras of the specific Taco Bell location where this incident occurred.

O’Boyle explained that they were “snowed out” and displayed a message similar to “loss of signal,” but that he did not inquire further about why this was the case.

Scott then asked O’Boyle if he had ever corroborated his story of what happened the night of the incident with the people that Scott had claimed were involved.

O’Boyle explained that he had pursued conversation with these witnesses, but never ended up actually talking to them.

Scott asked the Detective if corroborating a suspect’s story is typically something they strive to do, to which O’Boyle responded “you do want to corroborate as much as possible…that’s why Detective Smith was asking those questions after you had confessed that you had shot this kid.”

Scott then asked the detective if they have located the weapon that was used to murder the victim, to which O’Boyle said no.

The next witness called to the stand by the People was Detective Daniel Olsen, who works in the computer forensics unit, who explained his task in this case was to extract the data from the suspect’s phone.

DDA Beecham then drew his attention to a copy of the report that was revealed from the phone, and asked about a specific application that was downloaded to the suspect’s phone around 3 a.m. on the morning of the incident. This application was found to be some sort of police scanner app.

Olsen then explained how they are able to interpret the data from the phone to place the suspect at numerous locations throughout the day and night. This is done by retrieving the cell tower information.

Scott confirmed police scanner-type apps are not illegal.

Mark Fajardo, forensic pathologist for Riverside County was up next—he performed the autopsy on the victim Quintanar.

He explained that the victim’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest and pointed out the bullet in the victim’s body, captured through an X-ray of the victim.

Lastly, Fajardo explained that blood tests confirmed the victim had a blood alcohol content of 1.8 percent at the time of his death. The legal standard of intoxication in California is 0.8 percent.

Next, Carol Lane, crime analyst for the Riverside Police Department, explained a crime analyst work includes mapping crime patterns throughout the city, synthesizing statistics, and cell phone mapping.

Lane explained that Detective O’Boyle had asked her to map certain calls from Scott’s cell phone “to show that the cell phone pinged between San Bernardino and Riverside the 27th of August between 9:55 and 11:48 at night.”

There was one phone call right before the incident and one just after, Lane explains. The one prior took place at 12:14 a.m. on the 28th and the “subsequent call, with none other in between, was at 2:10 a.m. at the location of the incident.”

Scott then asked the expert if their software is 100 percent accurate, to which Lane was only able to assign about 96 percent accuracy.

Finally, Detective O’Boyle took the stand once again and confirmed that the cell phone records obtained and given to Carol Lane did in fact belong to the accused, Scott.

Scott confirmed with O’Boyle that the obtained records can determine Scott’s movement the night leading up to the shooting, and then asked whether the records indicate if he was outside Riverside County during the day, to which O’Boyle responded, “At one point you were in San Bernardino County.”

Scott then concluded his cross-examination by asking whether this was brought up in the interview, to which Boyle stated that it was not.

Judge Perantoni announced the trial will resume next Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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About The Author

Darling is an incoming junior at UCLA, majoring in English and Political Science with an interest in law. She is originally from Bell Gardens, California.

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