Results tagged “Victor Salas” from The Court Reporter

DA Subpoenaed Attorneys Notes Relating to Murder Case

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The lawyer who represented a defendant who testified against two murder co-defendants got a subpoena Friday from the District Attorney's Office ordering him to turn over the notes of a conversation he had with prosecutor Stacy Ratner.

Prosecutor Stacy Ratner recently told attorney Victor Salas that client Miguel Gonzalez will also face a murder charge. Ratner said Gonzalez didn't testify truthfully in September at the murder trial of Paul Carrillo Jr. and Manuel Rodriguez.

Salas, however, disputes the prosecution's allegations, saying Gonzalez gave truthful testimony. He said Ratner didn't like what his client had to say on the stand and turned around and filed murder charges against him.

Salas said that in the conversation with Ratner that she wanted him to embellish his testimony against Paul Carrillo Jr. and his cousin Manuel Rodriguez who are accused of killing Edgar Flores in 2007. Prosecutors allege that this was a gang-related, drive-by slaying.

In September, Ventura County Superior Court Judge James Cloninger declared a mistrial in the murder trial after jail phone conversations surfaced that raised questions about the credibility of Gonzalez. Gonzalez allegedly told people he had lied on the stand to get a plea bargain from the District Attorney's Office.

Gonzalez signed an agreement with the district attorney to testify truthfully against Carrillo and Rodriguez. In exchange, he would be allowed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, a lesser felony, and receive a 22-year sentence.

Defense attorneys for Carrillo and Rodriguez allege that Ratner charged Gonzalez with murder to keep him off the stand and from testifying against Ratner in a hearing to recuse the District Attorney's Office because of prosecutorial misconduct.

In an interview, Salas said he plans to invoke the attorney-client privilege when he goes to a hearing on this matter on March 12.

"They wanted to do it this way. All they had to do was ask," Salas said.

 He said he plans to turn over his one-page notes to Carrillo's and Rodriguez's lawyers.

 Ratner has declined to comment.

Peyton Found Guilty of Theft and Receiving Stolen Property

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Lee Peyton who I wrote about on this blog was found guilty of using a stolen debit card to steal $300 at an ATM in Ventura and stealing a CD case on Tuesday.

"He was surprised by how fast they came back," said Attorney Victor Salas, who served as Peyton's court-appointed co-counsel.

It took jurors less than an hour to find Peyton, 34, guilty of two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of identity theft.

Salas said Peyton has filed four legal motions immediately after the jury trial and three had been decided by Judge David Hirsch.

Salas said a total of 10 legal motions were filed by Peyton after the jury's decision.

Judge Hirsch had offered Peyton seven years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea; and the District Attorney's Office offered Peyton seven years and four months.

Salas said he was at nine years, and he has been able to whittle that down to seven years.

Peyton, who has Tourettes syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntarily movements and vocalizations called tics, said he was willing to plead guilty for a six year sentence. Peyton wanted to be given credit for time serve along with credits earned for good behavior which now total more than five years.

"This thing should have been resolved in 2009," said Salas.

Initially, the District Attorney's Office wanted to put Peyton who has two robbery convictions  behind bars for the rest of his life under the three-strikes law, said Salas.

But Proposition 36 changed the Three Strikes Law and was approved by voters in November. Only felonies that are considered serious or violent offenses can be considered a third strike. So Peyton's charges don't meet this new criteria approved by voters.

Prosecutors admitted as evidence two convictions against Peyton for possession of stolen property 1999 and 2003, including the theft of what they allege is another CD case.

Closing Arguments Set Tuesday in Lee Peyton Trial

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Closing arguments in the trial of Lee Peyton who is charged with using a stolen debit card to steal $300 at an ATM and two weeks later, stealing a CD case begin in Courtroom 48 on Tuesday morning.

Peyton, who is representing himself but is getting help from court-appointed lawyer Victor Salas, will make most or all of the closing arguments.

The trial, which has lasted two weeks, has seen 14 witnesses take the stand, including four defense witnesses and six Sheriff's deputies for the prosecution.

The case has lingered in the courts for more than three years, and it has cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars to take this pro per case to trial.

Peyton has been assigned seven, court-appointed lawyers, including Salas, who is being paid $150 an hour. Also two defense experts have been paid more than $13,000, so far.

In addition, Peyton was awarded $7,500 to pay for a private investigator to help him in his defense, according to Salas.

There also have been four prosecutors assigned to this case including the latest prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Stuart Gardner.

Gardner said he was assigned the case two weeks before it went to trial on Feb. 5. The last prosecutor Brian Weilbacher recently went into private practice.

The Charges Against Peyton

The 34-year-old Peyton was arrested on Jan. 27, 2010 and has been in jail since that time under a $175,000 bail.

Peyton, of Ojai, allegedly got a stolen credit card after a vehicle was burglarized in the Ojai Valley and used the card an hour later at a Wells Fargo ATM  machine in Ventura to withdraw $300. Two weeks later, prosecutors said another vehicle was burglarized and a CD case was stolen.

Sheriff's deputies testified that there had been a rash of vehicle burglaries in the Ojai area.

Peyton is charged with two counts of receiving stolen property and one count of identity theft. He has never been charged with burglary in this case.

Peyton maintains that he couldn't have broken into the car in Ojai, drove to an ATM in Ventura and accessed the bank account within an hour without knowing  the PIN number.

The victim believed the PIN was inside an address book that was missing, and the number was in the W section (Wells Fargo).

There Are Three ATM Photographs of the Suspect Admitted as Evidence

Prosecutor Gardner said the hooded suspect in the grainy photograph is Peyton.

That photograph appears to look like Peyton, according to Peyton's friend of 12 years who testified as a defense witness last week.

"It appears to be him but I wasn't there when the picture was taken," said Steven Robertson.

Robertson also had his photograph taken from the same Wells Fargo ATM that allegedly captured Peyton withdrawing money. He testify that he couldn't recognize himself from the ATM photograph and  was admitted as evidence for the defense.

The photograph is just a bright light with no discernible image of a person.

For his part, Peyton maintains that the person in the photograph captured by the bank's security camera isn't him.

Peyton's court-appointed expert Ron Guzek, who got into hot water with the judge for his off-the-cuff comments to jurors, testified that he can't identity of the person on the ATM photo.

There Were Offers to Plea Guilty to the Crimes

Judge David Hirsch has offered Peyton seven years in prison in exchange for a guilty plea; and the District Attorney's Office offered Peyton seven years and four months.

Salas said the offer was up to nine years, and he has been able to whittle that down to seven years.

If convicted on all the criminal charges, Salas said the most Peyton can get is 10 years in prison and he'll end up serving about two more years behind bars.

Peyton, who has Tourettes syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntarily movements and vocalizations called tics, said he was willing to plead guilty for a six year sentence. Peyton wants to be given credit for time serve along with credits earned for good behavior which now total more than five years.

"He wants to go home. So, he'll accept going home even if he has to plea," said Salas.

Initially, the District Attorney's Office wanted to put Peyton who has two robbery convictions  behind bars for the rest of his life under the three-strikes law, said Salas.

But Proposition 36 changed the Three Strikes Law and was approved by voters in November. Only felonies that are considered serious or violent offenses can be considered a third strike. So Peyton's charges don't meet this new criteria approved by voters.

Prosecutors, for their part, admitted as evidence two convictions against Peyton for possession of stolen property 1999 and 2003, including the theft of a what they allege is another CD case.

Peyton the Jailhouse Lawyer Insults the Judge and Others

During his time behind bars, Peyton has filed 50 legal motions and has spent hundreds of hours researching the law while in jail.  Some of his legal arguments have made their way to the appeals court and the California Supreme Court.

Salas said he is impressed by his client's legal writings and knowledge of the law.

Along the way to trial, however, Peyton has insulted or belittled prosecutors and judges, including Hirsch who he accused of being a bully and unfair.

The judge who was extremely patient and calm while on the bench accused Peyton of "gamesmanship," noting that Peyton of causing deliberate disruptions and delays.

On the day his trial on Feb. 5, Peyton insisted on wearing his jail garb to trial and fired his lawyer Salas, again. The judge ordered Salas to take over Peyton's defense after Peyton refused to stay in the courtroom during his trial.

He later changed his mind and through a partially opened detention cell door adjacent to the courtroom he told the judge he wanted to return to court.

Salas talked to Peyton who agreed to let Salas sit next to him during his trial, insisting that Salas sit four feet away from him. Later, Salas and Peyton were smiling and the attorney-lawyer relationship was back on track.

Prosecutors maintain that Peyton has wasted the court's time and resources, including filing frivolous legal motions. One motion asked the judge to give him money for new clothes so he could wear them for his trial.

Inconsistent Statements of One Victim and Experts Testify

Last week, the defense focused on questioning the prosecution's witnesses about the inconsistent statements of what the victim of the second burglary told police.

It also put two court-appointed experts on the stand.

Thursday, defense video and audio expert Ron Guzek, of Yorba Lina, testified that he had been paid $12,000 for 18 months work and is still owed $8,000. He said he submitted two reports.

He testified about the photographs lifted from a Wells Fargo's ATM cameras that prosecutors say grainy photograph of Peyton withdrawing $300 by using a debit card stolen from a burglarized vehicle in Ojai.

After being grilled about JPEG or the compression of digital photography, the enlargement, cropping, compression and positioning of photography among other things, Guzek  said there is no way to say the person in the ATM photo is Peyton.,

 "That's a picture of Mr. Peyton?"  Gardner asked Guzek.

"I couldn't say that," he replied.

During one point in his testimony, Judge Hirsch admonished Guzek after he commented that it would be unfair to send Peyton to jail for a photo taken by an ATM security camera that was not the right size.

The judge said this was inappropriate testimony because Guzek had inserted his personal opinion about a possible sentence against Peyton if he is convicted.

After his testimony, Guzek got the judge angry.

Guzek walked out of the courtroom during a court recess as jurors were also leaving and wished some of the jurors a "Happy Valentine's Day," which caught the ear of the judge who became furious.

"Don't say anything take a seat," the judge told Guzek, accusing him of committing a "contemptible act" by talking to jurors as they walked out.

The judge ordered Guzek, who had testified in court numerous times as an expert, to sit on the witness stand while everybody else, including the lawyers, went on a 15-minute break. The judge said he was going to leave the court and return with a decision as to whether there would be a contempt hearing against Guzek.

Guzek sat quietly on the stand during the recess, looking straight ahead.

The judge returned and told Guzek that he would not hold a contempt hearing and ordered Guzek to immediately leave the courtroom and not to smile, look at anyone or say anything  on his way out.

The defense's other expert Michael Eisen, is a professor in psychology from California State University in Los Angeles who testified about the impact of stress and trauma on memory.

Eisen said there is a myth that our memories are as powerful as cameras.

"We are not cameras. We are humans. We have limits," he said.

Eisen said the mind can be very selective about what it takes in and there can be gaps in memory that are often filled by sources. He testified that people do not pay enough attention to collect details.

"We infer information that sounds right to us," he said,

Although there were no eyewitness that saw Peyton steal the debit card or steal the red CD case,  Eisen said witness description of things at a crime scene including trucks seen leaving the area can also be skewed or embellished by victims who are sometimes stressed or want to help police find a suspect.

Police can also say things in a certain to witnesses that influence their judgment.

Salas gave a hypothetical situation to Eisen where a victim sees a truck and describes it to police and is later given one photo of Peyton's truck and asked if it was similar to the truck leaving the scene in a poorly lit area.

The victim whose CD case was stolen gave police different statement about the truck he saw leaving the area right after his car was burglarized, said Salas.

Eisen. who is the director of forensic psychology program, testified that he is paid $150 an hour and will get paid $1,500 for a day of testimony.

He said he's been testifying as an expert for more than 10 years, and the overwhelming time he has testified for the defense.

The Juror Who No Longer Wanted to be on the Jury

Wednesday, a young female juror told a bailiff that she checked at her work and was no longer going to be paid while she was on jury duty.

The bailiff told the judge. The judge called the juror into the courtroom and she told him that she wanted an alternate to replace her because her job was no longer paying her while she served on the jury.

The judge said he couldn't legally release her at this point of the trial and told her she would have to continue with her jury service.

The juror walked out with a frown on her face.

There are seven women and five men on the jury, including three teachers and two engineers.

The Trial Of Lee Peyton Continues

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The trial of Lee Peyton, who is representing himself, enters its second week in a case that is costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Peyton's lawyer and court-appointed co-counsel, Victor Salas, said his client offered to plead guilty to the criminal charges and accept a six year sentence.

He has been in jail since January 2010 and has been charged with stealing a credit card and using it at an ATM to withdraw $300.

Two weeks after he stole the credit card, Peyton, 34, was charged with stealing a CD case which was found at a friend's house after a search warrant was served there.

But Judge David Hirsch said his offer is seven years behind bars; the District Attorney's Office said they will accept a guilty plea but Peyton must serve seven years and four months.

In an interview, Salas said he's tried to settle this case five times with Judge Hirsch and the offers have gone from nine years to seven years.

"He wants to go home. So, he'll accept going home even if he has to plea," said Salas.

But nobody is budging on their offers.

Ventura resident and court watcher Mickey Schlein reflects some of the frustration and concern of people who have watched this case.

"You're watching your tax dollars go up in smoke," said  Schlein. "This is so ridiculous."

When asked whether this case was a good use of court resources and time, Gardner replied in an interview: "Justice is always a good use of the court resources."

Adding, "If you want to talk about government waste, you need to talk to this guy (Peyton). Or talk to the victims that have been dragged through the mud by this guy."

The Charges Against Peyton

Peyton, of Ojai, allegedly stole a credit card after burglarizing a vehicle and used the ATM card to withdraw $300 and two weeks later, another vehicle was burglarized and a CD case was stolen.

The use of the ATM card and access to a bank account occurred about an hour after a person's car was broken into in Ojai, according to Salas.

The big question for us is that how in the heck did that happen within an hour, said Salas.



Peyton maintains that he couldn't have broken into the car in Ojai, drove to an ATM in Ventura and accessed the bank account by using  a someone's PIN number.

Peyton is charged with receiving stolen property and identity theft, according to court records.

The Body Language Inside The Jury Box

There are 12 jurors and two alternates in the jury box.

In the court, an additional two Sheriff's deputies have been assigned there - They are posted near the exit doors and there is the deputy who is the court bailiff who is behind the desk.

The jurors' faces throughout the trial have been stamped with frustration, occasionally glares are aimed at the defense and the prosecutor Stuart Gardner. 

One juror in the front row was spent a good deal of time studying the tips of her long, black hair as a witness testified.

The jury body language speaks volumes about those in the jury box: Legs are crossed and recrossed, sometimes bodies are slump in their chairs, arms cross and uncrossed and hands or fists holding up the sides of heads or chins.

Tens of Thousands of Dollars and Court-Appointed Defense Experts

The case against Peyton lingered in the courts for three years, during that time, there have been four prosecutors assigned to this case; Peyton has been represented by seven court-appointed lawyers, including the latest lawyer, Victor Salas.

Peyton has been awarded $7,500 to pay for a private investigator who testified Friday. Also money was given for two defense experts, and Salas said he is getting $150 an hour.

Salas said  the video-recording expert testifies Wednesday and the eyewitness expert takes the stand Thursday.

The trial continues in Courtroom 48.

The Prosecution Has Put Several Witnesses On The Stand

The defense has put six Sheriff's detectives along with three civilian witness including Jennifer Ressler, an investigator with Wells Fargo in Rhode Island. She was flown down to Ventura to testify. She was asked questions about the banks' ATMs, how debit cards, the bank's security system, the inner and outer working of ATMs mechanisms and much, much more.

Ressler was on the stand for several hours and even missed a flight back to Rhode Island because Peyton asked numerous questions.

The bottom line, Ressler, who at the end of her testimony was rotating  what appeared to be a stiff neck, summed it up best about what her involvement in the case.

"The only knowledge I have are three (ATM) photos I pulled," Ressler testified.

During a recess in the trial, Judge Hirsch told Peyton that he's allowed him "wide latitude" in the questioning of Ressler but cautioned Peyton about repeating the same questions.

 "We've gone over this ground multiple times," said the judge who has been extremely patient with Peyton.

Peyton then asked the judge for an asthma inhaler that he claims the Sheriff's deputies aren't giving him after his prescription ran out. He said he rarely uses the inhaler but the fumes in the courtroom were bothering him.

The judge ordered that the jail get an inhaler for Peyton.

In an interview, Schlein said: "I feel so sorry for Judge Hirsch."

Overwhelming Evidence Against Peyton

Prosecutor Gardner told jurors during opening statements in the trial that there will be overwhelming evidence that Peyton committed both crimes.

The three photos lifted from the ATM's security camera show it was Peyton who used the stolen ATM.

The victim of the stolen card said the suspect could have read her ATM's PIN because she wrote it in her address book in the W section (Wells Fargo). She said her address book was missing along with her purse.

Gardner told jurors that the owner of the second vehicle couldn't  identify the man who quickly took off after he broke into his car. But the victim gave a description of Peyton's  "very distinguishable truck," Gardner said.

Also there are text messages from Peyton to an "associate" that discuss robberies, said Gardner.

Defense Criticizes the DA's Case and Sheriff's Deputies' Investigation

Salas said there is no DNA or fingerprint evidence against Peyton. There was a rash of car burglaries during this time in Ojai and pressure to solve who was involved; Peyton has never charged with burglary.

"Witnesses said different things at different times," Salas told jurors.

The video expert will dispute the accuracy of the three photos, which are grainy and show a hooded suspect, said Salas, adding that this is the only evidence the prosecution has against Peyton.

In addition, there were three other banks before Wells Fargo, which are Chase, Pacific Oaks and CitiBank, where the suspect tried to access the ATMs after the burglary, Salas said.

There were no photos or security camera videos obtained from these other banks, according to Salas.

He said there were five search warrants served in five different places including  the residence of Ben Kennedy. Kennedy had stolen items including purses in his house.

The text message are worthless because deputies allege that Peyton used Kennedy's phone to send them, according to Salas.

Kennedy was also arrested and told deputies that the CD case in his home belonged to Peyton, said Salas.

The deputy in charge of the investigation never went back to the place where car burglary took place, and was shown one photo of one truck to the victim of the second car burglary at the remote Hot Springs in the Ojai Valley. He said the place was dark at the time that burglary were committed.

Prosecutors Wanted To Send Peyton To Prison For Life

Initially, the District Attorney's Office wanted to put Peyton who has two robbery convictions  behind bars for the rest of his life under the three-strikes law, said Salas.

During opening statements, Gardner told jurors that Peyton has been convicted in 1999 of illegally possessing someone's credit card.  Also in 2003, Peyton broke into and stole a CD case from a vehicle.

But Proposition 36 changed the Three Strikes Law and was approved by voters in November. It revises the three strikes to impose a life sentence only when the new felony conviction is serious or violent.

Prosecutors have argued in court that Peyton is filing frivolous legal pleadings, including one request that he be given taxpayer money to pay for a suit to wear in court during his trial, a request that was denied.

Peyton Fights Back With Legal Motions  

Peyton has fought back in court, writing and filing about 50 legal motions, and some of the legal papers have made their way to the state appeals court and the California Supreme Court.

Salas said he is very impressed by Peyton's legal writing skills and grasp of the law. Salas said Peyton did a lot of his legal homework in jail and his citing of caseload to beef up his arguments is worth noting by experienced lawyers.

 Peyton, who has Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntarily movements and vocalizations called tics, hasn't helped his legal cause by launching personal attacks against judges and prosecutors.

During the trial, his courtroom behavior is sometimes  disruptive and childish. He refused to participate in his trial when it started and then, changing his mind.

He has fired Salas and rehired him, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by Schlein.

"He fired Salas three times," said Schlein in an interview. "The next time you look and they are sitting close to one another again."

"All of this is just a show," said Schlein.

 

The People vs. Lee Peyton

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On the second day of jury selection on Tuesday,  Lee Peyton who was representing himself at his trial fired his court-appointed,  co-counsel ,  Attorney  Victor Salas.

Salas was Peyton's Seventh Court-Appointed lawyer.

The firing took place right after Peyton launched scathing criticism against the judge who is presiding over his trial at Ventura County Superior Court for identity theft and receiving stolen property.

Peyton demanded that the judge appoint a new lawyer to represent him;  Judge David Hirsch refused. He accused Peyton of "gamesmanship" and admonishing him for his disruptions and delays in the court proceedings.

The Case Has Costs Thousands of Dollars and Has Been a Revolving Door of Lawyers

The case against Peyton lingered in the courts for three years.  During that time, there have been four prosecutors assigned to this case; Peyton has been represented by seven, court-appointed criminal lawyers, including Salas, and his legal defense has cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Peyton was awarded $7,500 to pay for a private investigator  to investigate his case and thousands more to hire an expert on bank security cameras to testify, according to Salas.

The 34-year-old Peyton  Was Arrested on Jan. 27, 2010.

Peyton, of Ojai, allegedly stole a credit card after burglarizing a vehicle and used the ATM card to withdraw $300 and two weeks later, another vehicle was burglarized and a CD case was stolen.

The use of the ATM card occurred about 25 minutes after a person's car was broken into in Ojai, according to Salas.

"The big question for us is that how in the heck did that happen within 25 minutes," said Salas.

Peyton maintains that he couldn't have broken into the car in Ojai, drove to an ATM in Ventura and accessed the bank account without knowing  the PIN number.

Prosecutors Say The Case Against Peyton Is Overwhelming

Prosecutor Stuart Gardner told jurors during opening statements in the trial that there will be overwhelming evidence that Peyton committed both crimes. He said Peyton took an hour or two to get to the ATM in Ventura and use the stolen card.

For his part, Peyton has pleaded not guilty, saying that the person in the photograph captured by a bank security camera - which is being enlarged and admitted as evidence - isn't him.

In the burglary of the second vehicle, Salas said in an interview that the house of an acquaintance of Peyton was searched and stolen items were found there. The acquaintance told police that a CD case belonged to Peyton, according to Salas.

The acquaintance implicated Peyton while in police custody, said Salas.

"Your guess is as good as mine whether this guy has any credibility at all," he said.

Gardner said the owner of the second vehicle  couldn't  identify the man who quickly took off after he broke into his car. But he gave a description of Peyton's  "very distinguishable truck," Gardner said.

Peyton Refused to Wear Street Clothes During His Trial

Before the trial began and outside the presence of jurors, Peyton refused to wear street clothes.

The wearing of street clothes or suits by defendants in custody is done so prospective jurors won't be prejudiced when they see the defendant in blue and orange jail garb.

While in the courtroom wearing the jail clothes and outside the presence of the jury, Peyton wasted no time in telling Judge Hirsch what he thought about how he fashioned his decisions and rulings.  He didn't mince words.

Saying that Judge Hirsch had "castrated" his constitutional rights via intimidation and using bullying tactics and unfair rulings against him.  Peyton said the trial was a waste of time and taxpayers' money.

"I am tired of dealing with you," Peyton told the judge.

The Judge Alleges That Peyton Is Engaging in "Gamesmanship."

The judge who was extremely patient accused Peyton of "gamesmanship," accusing Peyton of causing deliberate disruptions and delays.

After denying the appointment of a new lawyer, the judge said Peyton has had several court-appointed lawyers and another new attorney would take an additional six months to prepare for trial. The judge said Peyton had the legal skills to represent himself, noting  that these skills were the best the judge had ever seen in a pro per case.

Peyton told the judge that he didn't want to represent himself. He said his constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer.

Peyton, who has Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntarily movements and vocalizations called tics, said his disability was getting worse because of the stress of dealing with the judge and the court proceedings.

Salas Appointed by the Court to Represent Peyton.

Salas said he is getting paid $150 an hour to help Peyton and didn't know how much he is owed for hundreds of hours of legal work.

 "I have been his advisory  counsel.  I sit at the table and help him," said Salas outside the courtroom. "I have also been standby counsel who sits in the back (of the courtroom) and doesn't do anything until called upon."

Peyton Has Been In Jail Since 2010 and Has Rejected Plea-Bargain Offers

Since his arrest in January 2010, Peyton has racked up more than five and a half years of actual and good-time jail credits at the county jail, according to Salas. He said Peyton has been offered seven years in jail if he pleads guilty, and has rejected the district attorney's offer.

"It's principle. He says he is not guilty," said Salas.

Peyton, who a remarkable grasp and knowledge of the law, is a prolific  writer, pumping one legal motion after another. Salas said Peyton's writing skills are pretty good.

"Better than most of the attorneys that I've practiced with," said Salas.

Adding, "he's filed about 50 motions that I can think of, and they're all pretty solid.  In fact, I made sure to keep copies of those because the law in them is top rate.  His research skills, nobody does a better job than he does of finding what is the current law,  even the unpublished cases."

Salas said Peyton's legal papers have made it to the state appeals court and the California Supreme Court.

Prosecutors have argued in court that Peyton is filing frivolous legal pleadings, including one request that he be given taxpayer money to pay for a suit to wear in court during his trial, a request that was denied.

Prosecutors Won't Talk About Plea-Bargain Offers Made to Peyton

Gardner declined to discuss the district attorney's plea bargain offer to Peyton.

In an interview, Salas said he's tried to settle this case five times with Judge Hirsch.

He said the offers have gone from  nine years to more than seven years in prison,  and now, it's at seven years. Salas said Peyton will plead guilty to the criminal charges for jail time already served.

"He wants to go home. So, he'll accept going home even if he has to plea," said Salas.

When asked whether this case was a good use of court resources and time, Gardner replied: "Justice is always a good use of the court resources."

Adding,  "If you want to talk about government waste, you need to talk to this guy (Peyton)," Gardner said in an interview.  "Or talk to the victims that have been dragged through the mud by this guy."

Initially, the District Attorney's Office wanted to put Peyton who has two robbery convictions  behind bars for the rest of his life under the three-strikes law, said Salas.

But Proposition 36 changed the Three Strikes Law and was approved by voters in November. It revises the three strikes to impose a life sentence only when the new felony conviction is serious or violent.

During opening statements, Gardner told jurors that Peyton has been convicted in 1999 of illegally possessing someone's credit card.  Also in 2003, Peyton broke into and stole a CD case from a vehicle.

Peyton Told Jurors That He Didn't Want To Represent Himself

Peyton told jurors who were being instructed by the judge at the start of the trial that the judge had lied by telling them that he wanted to represent himself.

A short recess was called and Peyton told the judge that he didn't want to be in the courtroom.

"I don't want to be in this courtroom during the entire trial," he told the judge outside the presence of the jury.

The judge called Salas who had been sitting in the back of the courtroom, reinstated him and ordered Salas to take over Peyton's defense. 

The judge denied allowing Peyton to go back to jail, saying he would be kept at the detention holding cell adjacent to the courtroom where a microphone was connected and he could hearing the proceedings. The judge said he would also allow the door to the holding cell to be cracked open to Peyton could hear the evidence and testimony.

Peyton requested to return to the courtroom but wanted Salas to sit away from him at the defense table.

After a brief discussion, Salas and Peyton  were  sitting at the same table, talking and smiling again. 

Peyton had agreed to dress in street clothes, a dark blue shirt and black pants.

The trial continues  in Courtroom 48.

The Court Reporter
Raul Hernandez has spent years writing stories about the drama that unfolds in the courtroom. Here he answers common questions, share some insights on the judicial system and passes along some of the little things that make the Ventura County courts an interesting place to be. You can contact him at rhernandez@vcstar.com.