R. Addison Steele II, Attorney at Law - Criminal defense attorney in Santa Barbara
Murder
 
Addison Steele has:
 
Three trials where the client was acquitted of all homicide related charges and all homicide lesser included offenses
(Robbie Catchings, Jaray Christy and 
Rudy Ramos).
 
 Six first degree murder acquittals
(Penal Code § 187(a) first degree)
(Robbie Catchings, Jaray Christy, 
Rudy Ramos, Edward Aguilar,
Jaime Acosta and Robert Martin)
 
Two first degree murder hung juries
(Penal Code § 187(a) first degree)
(Anthony Solis and Robbie Catchings).
 
Four second degree murder acquittals
(Penal Code § 187(a) second degree)
(Robbie Catchings, Jaray Christy, Rudy Ramos
and Edward Aguilar). 
 
A second degree murder hung jury
(Penal Code § 187(a) second degree)
(Robert Martin).
 
     If you're reading this because you or someone you care about has been charged with murder, you need to talk to an attorney that is experienced in defending murder cases and has had success winning murder cases.  District Attorneys charge first degree murder because they believe that they have sufficient evidence to get a first degree murder conviction from a jury, and the vast majority of the time they are successful.  A client being found not guilty of murder and all lesser offenses is extremely rare.  I only know of a handful of attorneys that have won a murder trial (not guilty of the homicide and all lesser included offenses).  I know of only three other attorneys in the state that have won two murder trials, and none of them practice on the Central Coast.  I know of no other attorney that has won three murder trials.
     A murder case has many potential outcomes.  A conviction for first degree murder results in a mandatory minimum twenty-five years to life in prison.  A conviction for second degree murder carries a fifteen years to life sentence (a person can get probation for a second degree murder conviction, but that is extremely rare).  In many cases the jury will be given the option of a lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter, the maximum sentence for a voluntary manslaughter conviction is eleven years.  A conviction for voluntary manslaughter in a murder trial is considered a very good outcome, an absolute victory.  Having an attorney with experience handling murder cases is critical because there are complex issues involved in murder cases such as pathological evidence as well as mental defenses to attack premeditation, deliberation and specific intent to kill.
 
     I have won three murder trials, and by "won" I mean my clients were acquitted of all homicide related counts.  Winning a murder trial is a career event for a defense attorney, winning three is unheard of.  I know of only three other lawyers that have won two murder trials, and none of them practice on the Central Coast.  I know of no one else that has won three murder trials.  I know of no other attorney on the Central Coast that has heard "not guilty" announced as the verdict on all homicide related counts in two different trials, much less in three different trials.  Using the conventional definition of a win in a murder trial of not being convicted of either first or second degree murder, I have won eight murder trials.  I've done twelve murder trials.  That may not sound like a lot, but there are very few attorneys that have done that many murder trials.  Not counting the capital cases, where the clients were saved from Death Row, I have only had one client convicted of first degree murder.
 
     My murder trial successes are:
 
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.
 
 
Robbie, Addison and the investigators on the case after the verdict
 
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 Addison's 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 featured in a newspaper article covering when I was named Riverside County Public Defenders Office Attorney of the Year.
 
 
     "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.
 
 
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 had won the murder trial.
 



The Los Angeles Daily Journal article covering Robbie and Addison's three strikes victory.
 
The Los Angeles Daily Journal article covering the district attorney's failed attempt to give Robbie a life in prison sentence after he and Addison won his murder trial.
 
Jaray Christy
 
  • Jaray Christy
  • Charges: Murder (Penal Code § 187(a)) with a gang allegation (Penal Code § 186.22(b)) personal use of a gun (Penal Code § 12022.53(b) and gun use in a gang crime (Penal Code § 12022.53(e)), two counts of attempted robbery (Penal Code § 664/211) with gang allegations (Penal Code § 186.22(b)), gun use in a gang crime (Penal Code § 12022.53(e) and personal use of a gun (Penal Code § 12022.53(b)), two counts of felon in possession of a firearm (Penal Code § 12021(a)(1)), five counts of robbery (Penal Code § 211) with gang allegations (Penal Code § 186.22(b) and gun allegations (Penal Code § 12022(a)(1)).
  • Exposure: Jaray was facing seventy-one years to life in prison.
  • Outcome: Jaray was only convicted of a few charges, all of which were conceded to the jury because they were on videotape.  He was acquitted of first degree murder and the lesser degree of second degree murder.  He was acquitted of all personal use of a firearm charges and was acquitted of all possession of firearms charges.  He was acquitted of all gang charges and allegations.  He was sentenced to four years, eight months in prison.  He has served that time and went home.  He is now going to school and writing screen plays.
 
 
The newspaper article covering Jaray and Addison's victory.
 
Jaray, Addison and the investigator on the case after the verdict. 
 
These are some of the verdict forms where Jaray was found NOT GUILTY.  He was acquitted of all the charges that were not conceded.
 
Rudy Ramos
 
  • Rudy Ramos
  • Charges: Murder (Penal Code § 187(a)), with an allegation that the murder was committed at the direction of, for the benefit of, or in association with a criminal street gang (Penal Code § 186.22(b)(1), with three prior terms in prison alleged (Penal Code § 667.5(b)).
  • Exposure: Rudy was facing twenty-eight years to life in prison.
  • Outcome: Rudy was acquitted of first degree murder, acquitted of the lesser degree of second degree murder and acquitted of the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter.

Below is the newspaper article on Rudy's acquittal.

Rudy, Addison and the investigator on the case, Steve Salazar, after the verdicts.

Anthony Solis
 
  • Anthony Solis
  • Charges: Murder (Penal Code § 187(a)), with an allegation that the murder was committed at the direction of, for the benefit of, or in association with a criminal street gang (Penal Code § 186.22(b)(1)), with four special circumstances alleged, killing while lying in wait (Penal Code § 190.2(a)(15)), murder during a kidnapping (Penal Code § 190.2(a)(17)), murder with torture (Penal Code § 190.2(a)(18)) and killing while an active participant in a street gang to further the activities of the gang (Penal Code § 190.2(a)(22), if A.J. was convicted of first degree murder and any one of an alleged special circumstances was found true, the judge would have to sentence him to live life in prison without the possibility of parole. 
  • Exposure: A.J. was facing life in prison without the possibility of parole.
  • Outcome: There was a hung jury, the case was then settled for dismissal of the first degree murder charge in exchange for a no contest plea to kidnapping with a gang allegation with nine years prison. 

Below is the newspaper article on A.J.'s outcome.

Here it is zoomed in so it can be read

This is the rest of the article





Edward Aguilar
 
  • Edward Aguilar
  • Charges: Murder (Penal Code § 187(a)), with personal use of a weapon (a knife) (Penal Code § 12022(b)(1)), with two prior terms in prison alleged (Penal Code § 667.5(b)).
  • Exposure: Eddie was facing twenty-eight years to life in prison.
  • Outcome: Eddie was acquitted of first degree murder and acquitted of the lesser degree of second degree murder.  He was only convicted of the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter.  He was sentenced to fourteen years in prison.
 
 



And these are the verdict forms.
 
 
 
 
Robert Martin
 
  • Robert Martin
  • Charges:  Murder (Penal Code § 187(a)) with a special circumstance of gang murder (Penal Code § 190.2(a)(22)) with personal use of a weapon (a knife) (Penal Code § 12022(b)(1)), assault with a knife (Penal Code § 245(a)(1)) and gang crime (Penal Code § 186.22(a)).
  • Exposure:  Robert was facing life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOPP).
  • Outcome:  Robert was acquitted of first degree murder, that meant that he could not be subjected to the special circumstance and could not get LWOPP.  The jury hung on second degree murder and hung on the gang crime allegation ten to two in favor of acquittal.  A different attorney did his second trial and he was convicted of second degree murder and gang crime.
 
Jaime Acosta
 
  • Jaime Acosta
  • Charges:  Murder (Penal Code § 187(a)), auto theft (Vehicle Code § 10851(a)) and possession of a stolen car (Penal Code § 496d(a)).
  • Exposure:  Jaime was facing twenty-eight years to life in prison.
  • Outcome:  Jaime was acquitted of first degree murder, he was convicted of second degree murder and the auto theft charges.  He was sentenced to seventeen years to life in prison.  People sentenced to life here in California have very little chance of being granted parole, however those convicted of second degree murder have twice as good a chance of being paroled as those convicted of first degree murder.
 
     Questions you should ask an attorney that you are considering hiring for a murder case:
 
  • Have you done a murder trial before?
  • This question is important because a murder trial is a highly emotional unique type of trial.  It requires specialized knowledge and experience.
  • I have done twelve murder trials.

  • What were the results of your murder trials?
  • This question is important because in a murder trial there is a huge difference between showing up and allowing the expected outcome of a first degree murder conviction and fighting as hard as possible to save the client from a life sentence and maybe even go home.  Murder trials are difficult to win, if an attorney is winning murder trials, the attorney has the experience and skills to handle the level of complexity involved in a murder trial.
  • I have had three complete complete acquittals on all homicide related charges.  I have only had one non-capital client convicted of first degree murder.  If you find another attorney that has done the number of 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 a 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 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 Santa Barbara County Public Defenders Office, 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 murder trials you've done and how many days of defense did you present?
  • These question 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.  A 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 437 court days in murder trials.  I have a success rate in murder trials that is really unparalleled.
  •  
         If you need to talk to me about a murder case, you can send me an e-mail at rasteele@steeledefender.com or call at (805) 770-1188.
     
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