A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered the release of a convicted murderer after serving just six years of a 50-year prison sentence when a prosecutor refused to call witnesses during ‘a decision hearing, thus keeping the case before the juvenile justice system. by order of Attorney General George Gascón.
Andrew Cachu was first tried in adult court even though he was two months away from his 18th birthday when he shot dead Louis Amela, 41, outside a Palmdale restaurant in March 2015. However, under lawsuits changes in state law since then, he was entitled to a retroactive transfer hearing to determine whether his conviction should go to juvenile or adult court.
Because a minor cannot be detained after the age of 25 in California, the two-day hearing at the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley courthouse was necessary to determine whether Cachu could continue to be incarcerated for the full duration. of his sentence.
Judge Brian C. Yep said Assistant District Attorney Alisa Blair’s decision not to present any evidence was intentionally aimed at securing Cachu’s release, said Kathy Cady, a lawyer for the victim’s family.
“The victim’s family is devastated and feels abandoned by the justice system,” she said in an email to the Southern California News Group. “They think what happened is not fair.”
The judge had no choice
Yes, did not have the option of keeping Cachu in custody as Blair did not present evidence showing what services were available to him through the state’s Juvenile Justice Division, whose mission is to rehabilitate rather than punishing young offenders, Cady said.
“Being released without any service doesn’t help Cachu or the community,” she said.
The prosecution decided to keep Cachu under juvenile jurisdiction on the basis of an “assessment of the law relating to the facts of the case and the characteristics of the former minor,” said Alex Bastian, a special assistant to Gascón , in an email.
“Ms. Blair and the (Los Angeles County) Probation Department recommended that the court refer Mr. Cachu to the Juvenile Justice Division,” he said. “However, no witness could testify that DJJ has specific programming that would currently benefit Mr. Cachu. Naturally, the probation report also lacked its ability to articulate specific programming as required by state law. The judge had no other legal option but to end juvenile jurisdiction. “
Blair could not be reached for comment.
On Friday, Cachu was staying at the Twin Towers Correctional Center in Los Angeles. Cady expects him to be released in the next few days.
Cachu was tried in adult court because of the gravity of his crimes. In 2017, he was convicted of murder and robbery, and also received sentence enhancements for gang and gun allegations.
Under Proposition 57, which was approved by voters in 2016 to improve public safety and deter recidivism with a focus on rehabilitation, Cachu’s case was referred by the California Court of Appeals. in juvenile court to determine whether he should have been tried as an adult.
Gascón, who took office in December 2020, released nine guidelines comprising 61 pages that his critics say are favorable to criminal defendants, such as eliminating cash bail and improving sentences. Only one – dealing with California’s “three-stroke” sentencing law – was ruled illegal by a judge.
Among the district attorney’s new policies is the end of the practice of prosecuting minors in the adult justice system, regardless of the seriousness of the crime.
“All pending motions to transfer youth to adult court jurisdiction will be withdrawn on the earliest available court date,” the policy says. “Cases will be judged or settled within the existing limits of juvenile jurisdiction. “
Mainly responsible for this policy is Blair, an outspoken former Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender who is responsible for transfer hearings involving minors originally indicted in adult court. She drew criticism from some prosecutors for her anti-police posts on social media.
Last year, as protesters set Los Angeles ablaze in response to the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd, Blair tweeted “#GeorgeFloydProtest Burn that Sh– down”.
Warm relationship with the killer’s mother?
Cady, a former Los Angeles County prosecutor, has vehemently objected to what she perceives to be Blair’s intimate relationship with Cachu and his mother.
In June, Cady took the unusual step of filing a motion demanding that Yep disqualify Blair from the Cachu case for repeatedly demonstrating that his allegiance rests firmly on the accused, not the victims of crime and their families. In July, Yep rejected Blair’s request for disqualification.
“Gascon’s general policies are unfair and have once again resulted in re-traumatizing the family of a murder victim and endangering the public,” Cady said. “The first duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice within the limits of the law. A prosecutor must avoid even the appearance of impropriety in anything he does.
“Gascon’s hand-picked representative, Alisa Blair, should never have dealt with this case. She is clearly in a conflict of interest. Blair’s conduct in this case, including helping the defendant speak to the defendant’s mother, ignoring the victim and the victim’s family, and not presenting any available evidence / sentencing has shown that his commitment was to the defendant. She has abandoned her responsibility to seek justice, protect the people of Los Angeles County, and protect the rights of victims. “
Blair’s bias was evident, she said, during a 20-minute phone call Cachu made to his mother, Bertha Cachu, following a May 10 hearing at the courthouse in ‘Antelope Valley.
Bertha Cachu, who had attended the hearing, happily told her son that Blair had agreed to intervene on his behalf.
“He’s Gascón’s special advisor,” she told Andrew Cachu in a recording of the call obtained by the Southern California News Group. “Oh my God! She’s going to come over for you. Did you hear that, man? She’s good. She’s the one I emailed to.
Later in the conversation, Bertha Cachu said that during the hearing, Blair seemed to indicate that she would help Cachu. “She studied your case, man,” she told her son. “Oh my God.”
During the taped phone conversation, Bertha Cachu read her son a long and detailed email from Blair describing the legal process Gascón planned to use to keep his case in juvenile court.
“I’m sure this is all frustrating and confusing, but the bottom line is that the prosecutor wants to keep Andrew in juvenile court and we are working towards that,” Bertha Cachu said, quoting Blair’s email.
She also spoke in amazement about how lucky her son was to have Gascón in his corner. “We never (thought) that the district attorney (would) be on our side,” she said. “It’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s amazing, man.