R. Addison Steele II, Attorney at Law - Criminal defense attorney in Santa Barbara
Attempted Murder
Addison Steele has:
 Two attempted murder trials where the client was acquitted of all charges
(Robbie Catchings and Albert Cobb).
Six attempted murder acquittals
(Penal Code § 664/187(a))
(Robbie Catchings, Albert Cobb, Tomas Zavala--three acquittals--and Enrique Angulo).
Two attempted murder of cops counts
with a hung jury
(Penal Code § 664/187(a))
(Timothy Salazar).
Six attempted voluntary manslaughter acquittals
(Penal Code § 664/192(a))
(Robbie Catchings, Albert Cobb, Tomas Zavala--three acquittals--and Enrique Angulo).
     If you're charged with attempted murder, you're facing fifteen years to life in prison and that's without any additional charges or allegations in addition to the standard allegation of premeditation and deliberation.  The good news, if good news can be found in this situation, is that the district attorney will have to prove specific intent to kill.  Oddly, that's not the case with a murder charge where there are ways to be convicted of murder without intending to kill the decedent such as felony murder and provocative act homicide.
     The potential more favorable outcomes of an attempted murder trial are a conviction for attempted murder but without a true finding for the standard premeditation and deliberation allegation.  That outcome, without any additional charges or allegation carries a nine year maximum sentence.  An even more favorable outcome is a conviction for attempted voluntary manslaughter which carries a maximum five years, six months in prison if there are not additional charges or allegations.  Assault is not a lesser included offense of attempted murder, so in order to have that more favorable outcome the district attorney has to charge it.  The best outcome is a not guilty verdict on all charges and all lesser included offenses.
     I have done eleven trials that included attempted murder charges.  Only three of those clients were convicted of attempted murder with the allegation of premeditation and deliberation found true, and all three of those were cases where a person was shot, one case was a drive by shooting where a child was hit with a bullet, another was a drive by shooting where a teenager was shot with a shotgun and the other was a gang shooting where two people were shot.
     My attempted murder trial successes include:
Robbie Catchings
  • Robbie Catchings
  • Charges:  Murder (Penal Code § 187(a)), attempted murder (Penal Code § 664/187(a), felon in possession of a firearm (Penal Code § 12021(a)(1), special allegations of personal use of a firearm (Penal Code § 12022.53(d), a prison term prior (Penal Code § 667.5(b), serious crime prior (Penal Code § 667(a) and three prior strikes (Penal Code § 667(c)&(e)(2)/1170.12(c)(2)).
  • Exposure:  Robbie was facing 171 years to life in prison.
  • Outcome:  There were two trials, the first trial ended in a hung jury with the jury deadlocked at ten to two for acquittal.  At the second trial, Robbie was found not guilty of all charges and went home.
Robbie, Addison and the investigators on the case after the verdicts.
Robbie was featured in an article in the Los Angeles Daily Journal that was done about my winning so many trials. I've been told, but have not been able to confirm, that the Los Angeles Daily Journal has never done an article like this about any other criminal defense attorney.
     In another of Steele's high-profile wins, the defender secured a murder acquittal in October for Robbie Catchings, a Moreno Valley resident prosecutors said shot and killed a man at a Perris apartment complex in 2002.  Steele also persuaded a judge to reduce to a misdemeanor a felony assault charge against Catchings in a separate case that could have exposed the defendant to a life sentence under the three-strikes law.
     Catchings walked free as a result.
. . .
     Jenny Reis, a Corona woman who served on the jury that acquitted Catchings, said Steele's 'down-to-earth' evidence presentation helped his credibility with the jury.
. . .
     She also said she could tell Steele 'thoroughly believed' in his client's innocence.
     'He was so passionate,' Reis said. 'He reminded me of a parent defending [his or her] child.'
The headline. The story about my success defending clients was featured right below the masthead on the front page.
The first half of the article.
The second half of the article.
Robbie was also feature in a newspaper article covering when I was named Riverside County Public Defenders Office Attorney of the Year.
Public defender's office honors staff, Sonja Bjelland, The Press-Enterprise, Local B7, December 9, 2007.
     "The Riverside County public defender's office presented awards Friday night to a staff committed to providing opportunity and hope.
     Deputy Public Defender Addison Steele won the top award for his embodiment of what it means to fill that role, said Robert Willey, assistant public defender, Steele spent 115 days in trial in 2007 and thanked the entire office for helping him win the case of Robbie Catchings, who was charged with murder and acquitted by jury.
     'As you can see I didn't win a murder trial, we won a murder trial,' Steele wrote in an e-mail to staff, Willey said."
  • After we won the murder trial, the district attorney tried to give Robbie a life in prison sentence because he was a third striker and had gotten in a jail fight while he was waiting for his trial, the trial that he was acquitted of all charges. I filed a series of motions, including a bail motion when the tried to have Robbie sent back to jail, a motion to dismiss the jail fight case, a motion to strike the strike priors and a motion to reduce the jail fight charge to a misdemeanor. The judge reduced the case to misdemeanor, Robbie pled guilty to the misdemeanor for credit for time already served and it was finally all over. Robbie was able to go home and take care of his ailing mother.
  • Below is the press coverage of the district attorney's failed attempt to give Robbie a life sentence after they lost the murder against Robbie and me.
This is the first press article covering the district attorney's unsuccessful attempt to give Robbie a life sentence after they lost the murder trial against Robbie and me.
An interesting side note about this article is that Jorge Estrada, whoever he is, had absolutely nothing to do with the case, his picture in the article is a copy editor's mistake.
This is the newspaper article that covered when Robbie and I beat the district attorney's attempt to give Robbie a life sentence after we beat the murder and attempted murder charge.
Albert Cobb
  • Albert Cobb
  • Charges:  Attempted murder (Penal Code § 187(a)), elder abuse (Penal Code § 368(b)(1)) and terrorist threats (Penal Code § 422).
  • Exposure:  Al was facing eighteen years to life in prison.
  • Outcome:  Found not guilty of all charges.
  • Al was featured in a large exposé article on how many trials the district attorney was losing.
Trials become an attractive option, Richard K. De Atley, The Press-Enterprise, front page A1, October 13, 2007.
     "Albert L. Cobb, 66, of Riverside, was acquitted in March on all counts, including attempted murder. Prosecutors said he tried to suffocate his mother, who was in her 80s.
. . .
     The incident stemmed from a confrontation in an assisted living home, said Steele, who represented Cobb. Jurors heard medical testimony that the mother's bruises were age-related, that she had cognitive impairment, and that she could be combative with her own son.
. . .
     Cobb was one of five of Steele's clients who have been acquitted on all charges in Riverside County since 2003."
This is the exposé article in which Al's case was featured.
This is the Verdict Form where Al was found NOT GUILTY of the attempted murder of his elderly mother.
Tomas Zavala
  • Tomas Zavala
  • Charges:  Triple attempted murder (Penal Code § 664/187(a)) with three allegations of personal use of a gun (Penal Code § 12022.53(c)), triple assault (Penal Code § 245(a)(2) with personal use of a gun (Penal Code § 12022.5(a)), firing a gun at an occupied vehicle (Penal Code § 246) with a personal use of a gun allegation (Penal Code § 12022.5(a)), possession of a sawed off shotgun (Penal Code § 12020(a)(1)) and possession of methamphetamine while armed (Health and Safety Code § 11370.1).
  • Exposure:  Tomas was facing eighty years to life in prison.
  • Outcome:  Tomas was acquitted of all the attempted murder counts and off firing at an occupied vehicle.  The not guilty verdicts for the triple attempted murders saved Tomas from a life sentence.  He was convicted of triple assault with a gun and conceded charges of illegally discharging a firearm with personal use of the gun (the lesser included offense of firing at an occupied vehicle), possession of the sawed off shotgun and methamphetamine.  He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

The verdict forms and Minute Orders where Tomas was saved from an eighty years to life prison sentence and was only convicted of less serious charges and sentenced to eight years.  The jury found him NOT GUILTY of three counts of attempted murder.
Enrique Angulo
  • Enrique Angulo
  • Charges:  Attempted murder (Penal Code § 664/187(a)) with personal use of a firearm (Penal Code § 12022.53(c)), assault with a firearm (Penal Code § 245(a)(2)) and terrorist threats (Penal Code § 422)).
  • Exposure:  Enrique was facing thirty-eight years to life in prison.
  • Outcome:  Enrique was acquitted of attempted murder and terrorist threats.  He was convicted of assault with personal use of a firearm.  The acquittal on the attempted murder charge saved Enrique from a life sentence.  He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
The verdict forms where the jury found Enrique NOT GUILTY of attempted murder and NOT GUILTY of terrorist threats.
Timothy Salazar
  • Timothy Salazar
  • Charges:  Double attempted murder of police officers (Penal Code § 664(e)/187(a)) with bombs, double assault on a police office (Penal Code § 245(c)) double exploding bombs with the intent to kill (Penal Code § 12308), six counts of possession of bombs (Penal Code § 12303.2) and six counts of threatening with bombs (Penal Code § 12303.3).
  • Exposure:  Tim was facing fifty-eight years, eight months to life in prison.
  • Outcome:  The double attempted murder of police officers was hung eleven to one in favor of acquittal, exploding bombs with the intent to kill hung eleven to one in favor of acquittal, threatening with bombs hung seven to five in favor of acquittal, he was convicted of double assault of police officers and the conceded possession of bombs charges.  The judge granted my motion to dismiss the all the charges that had hung eleven to one in favor of acquittal, the ruling on that motion saved Tim from life in prison.  He latter pleaded guilty to the charges that hung seven to five in favor of acquittal in exchange for an agreement that he would only be sentenced to concurrent time with whatever sentence he got for the convicted charges.  He was sentenced to twelve years, eight months in prison.

     Questions you should ask an attorney that you are considering hiring for a murder case:
  • Have you done an attempted murder trial before?
  • This question is important because an attempted murder trial involves complex legal concepts and is considered by many to be more difficult than a murder trial.  Like a murder trial, it requires specialized knowledge and experience.
  • I have done eleven attempted murder trials.
  • What were the results of your attempted murder trials?
  • This question is important because in an attempted murder trial there are so many ways to fight hard and save the client from a life sentence and do as I've done and win so the client can go home.  If an attorney is winning attempted murder trials, the attorney has the experience and skills to handle the level of complexity involved in an attempted murder trial.
  • I have had two complete acquittals in attempted murder cases. I have only had three of the nine client that I have taken to trial on attempted murder charges convicted of attempted murder. If you find another attorney that has done the number of attempted murder trials that I have done and has had more successful outcomes than I have and that has had more clients go home free after an attempted murder trial than I have, hire that person. If you want the best possible chance of not going to prison for life and potentially going home, you should contact me.
  • Do you train others lawyers in your techniques for winning attempted murder trials?
  • This question is important because typically only the leading lawyers in a field are invited to conduct trainings of other lawyers.
  • I was a speaker at the California Public Defenders Association (CPDA) homicide defense training in 2011 to train on my winning trials by humanizing the client method. I have also given that same training at the Riverside County Public Defenders Office, the Riverside County Barristers, the Santa Clara County Public Defenders Office and the San Francisco County Public Defenders Office. I was a speaker at the CPDA homicide defense training in 2012 to train on utilizing a neuropsychologist in a homicide case.
  • How long were the attempted murder trials you've done and how many days of defense did you present?
  • These questions are important because although some cases just call for a short trial, a short trial can also mean that the prosecution was not sufficiently challenged or that no defense was presented. An attempted murder trial that lasts five or ten court days is reason for concern because it's an indicator that the prosecution is not being thoroughly challenged and a complete defense is not being presented.
  • I have spent 175 court days in attempted murder trials. I have success rate in attempted murder trials that is really unparalleled.
     If you need to talk to me about an attempted murder case, you can send me an e-mail at rasteele@steeledefender.com or call me at (805) 770-1188.
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