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Cutting school, with dire consequences

Condolences outside Oak Knoll Market

I’m supposed to be an education reporter, not a crime reporter, but lately there hasn’t been much of a distinction.

Today I reported on a tragedy that unfolded at a market near Youth Empowerment School in the East Oakland hills — which, according to the school principal, is about to close (not merge into the Castlemont campus, as originally planned).

On Tuesday morning, a 14-year-old YES freshman cut school and, police said, got into a violent struggle with the 57-year-old owner of Oak Knoll Market over bottles of vodka he was trying to steal. When the boy fled, the owner followed in his car; he hadn’t driven a block before he fell unconscious and died, possibly of a heart attack.

The boy has been charged with murder and robbery. The charging DA explained that if someone dies during a violent crime, the offender is responsible for the death, even if it wasn’t intended, under the felony murder rule statute.

Gina Hill, the school principal, said she was heartbroken. She and some of her students left some flowers and a card near the store to express their condolences.

“I’m hoping it’s a moment that students can learn from — that there are consequences to their actions,” she said.

Security is a challenge at the 165-student school. Not only is the campus huge, but YES shares it with an independent study program in which students come and go throughout the day. Until recently, according to spokesman Troy Flint, the school’s support staff consisted of two people — the principal and a security officer. (Now there is another officer, as well.)

Hill said she spends more of her time walking around the campus, making sure kids are in class and not cutting school, than she does in the classroom. Since they can’t lock the exit doors because of the independent study program, she said, “It really is about the footwork.”

In Cha Ho, the wife of the late market owner, told another Tribune reporter that she and her husband had frequent problems with high school students. The 14-year-old boy had been banned from the store because of the trouble he had caused in the past, according to police, but he decided to come back again on Tuesday.

Hill said her student leaders went classroom to classroom with a team of counselors dispatched from the district, to share the news of Kang’s death and their classmates’ involvement. She said they seemed shocked and confused.

“I think they’re a little bit bewildered about how death was the result of this situation,” she said.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Jenna

    Where is this boy’s parents? Why haven’t they participated with the school in the boy’s education? When he is in court, it wouldn’t surprise me if many family members show up to support him – and they should – but they should have been there to make sure he was in school every day as well. They should have helped with homework or taken him to the library (while they’re still around) to have someone help with homework.

    What do parents think will happen to young black (assumption on my part) boys who do not even have a high school education and have started drinking alcohol at 14? What are those parent’s – the guiding force of this young man’s life – thinking? Or are they – - -

  • Oakland Teacher

    I can picture a young person trying to shoplift something, even liquor. I can picture a young person trying to steal something when there was no one around to witness it. What I cannot picture is a fourteen year old who is so beyond caring what an adult thinks, that they are willing to engage in a physical struggle with an adult (known to them much less). I still think of kids that age having some type of fear of adults. Obviously this fourteen year old is way past that. Katy, please keep us posted on how this plays out in the legal system.

    On another note: the independent study program (“cyberhigh”) is really being pushed at hs campuses as a way to meet graduation requirements. The whole arrangement there sounds like a set-up for disaster: students coming and going when they wish, and students who are not interacting with adults, but computers, and inadequate staffing.

  • Sue

    Counselors for the school? What about that family! This is ridiculous!

    An immigrant comes to this country, works hard, pays taxes to generally support the malfeasant, destructive forcesof a community, only to die in such a wreteched way?

    Same goes for owner of the restaurant in the Fruitvale.

    Now… the routine will start. Tha family will claim innonce, and dare I say, racism in support of their poor innocent child. Maybe even Burris will appear?

    And what are schools supposed to do with these types of students, and parents? College….heck many of these kids will not make to 20, killed by their own community members and yet still they and their families will find a way to point fingers! Welcome to Oakland!

    Im with establishing high perfroming school and screenning these types out. Why should ALL pay for SOME? This is one of OUSD’s problems. PC will only go for those in safe areas, at least this is how it should be, in this city we need to be more blunt and look at the data. How many die, who commits crimes, who gets incacerated, etc…..Data does not lie.

    My heart goes out to the family of the store owner who will now have to find a way to contiune the business,support their family, pay taxes, and support the type of people who will in turn , steal from them and be menaces to the general society….why lie?

    and then to have city and school leaders blame them for the death and demise of a community?!

  • Nextset

    Facinating:

    Most of you have probably never had to deal with a pubescent alcoholic who spends every waking hour looking for more alcohol. That’s probably because you do not have the experience with the ethnic groups where you tend to see this. Indians, for example. Some Irish. It happens and when you are in the middle of a cluster of it you kind of realize these affected people are (likely) going to die of alcoholism and related alcoholic trauma.

    I spent a day once walking through Indian Welfare Housing Projects in Vancouver BC and the related neighborhoods. There were bodies spread out on the grounds unconcious by 1pm, 13 year old prostitutes who looked much older from alcoholism hanging around, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome children on the sidewalks, busy liquor stores, you get the picture. Nobody works, everybody drinks, when the booze runs out they drink sterno or lysol or whatever. Lots of GI bleeds too.

    My point is that you can’t just sit back and say the child must stop seeking alcohol. If you are dealing with the real thing, it takes physical restraints, state hospital confinement or geographic isolation to get them to “stop seeking alcohol”. We don’t know much about the players in this case but boy do I know the syndrome. Someone that age who is stealing alcohol like this is a real alcoholic. I’ve worked with these kids. Worse thing you can give them is a break.

    And yes, the child has a murder case on his hands. Too bad, So Sad. This is one of the reasons I have always said we must teach the Penal Code and related criminal and civil law to children. The stakes are too high for them to walk around this ignorant. Murder carries a far longer sentence (manslaughter can be reduced to a misdemeanor) and state prison as opposed to county jail. Not to mention that if other children were involved, say driving the getaway car, they’ve bought into a murder case also. (cue the crying whining parents who also never brought up their kids properly or supervised them).

    I can also comment about certain people who seem to like selling liquor in minority neighborhoods, etc, etc and go back to that risk management lecture I sometimes give. I won’t other than to mention that good families never allow their children to work as clerks in stop n robs or liquor stores, those are jobs you just don’t do for reasons of class and good judgment. Now I’ve offended both sides I suppose. On one hand people do need to make a living. On another hand we really do know that 15 year old males do not have well formed brains and will do things they would not do when they’re older and thier brains have finished growing. That’s why we have juvenile court in the first place. But now we have direct filing of murder and violent crime in adult court (about 20% of juvenile crimes in one county I know are direct adult court filings).

    This is why we need to teach law in the schools, not because it will make all the kiddies law abiding, but because it will mitigate some of the wild behavior by some of the kiddies (like volunteering to drive the getaway car, clean up the crime scenes, lend the weapons, etc).

    I am very curious as to the ethnicity of the killer here. I don’t believe for a second people are created equal and neither does the medical establishment. And by the way, I have native Indian/black hybrid relatives. Striking people. Lot of fun. Great Jewelery. But there just that one little problem they tend to have the rest of the family tree doesn’t.

    What’s the school supposed to do about all this? I can’t say. It’s asking a lot for the schools to even (care enought to) flag the students with positive TB skin tests. There are many illnesses and disorders that can create havok that run in families and ethnic lines. Do we argue the schools should be cataloging these problems and trying to save everybody?

    As far as this case goes, the defense will want a shoplift only and might jump on a misdemeanor manslaughter. Who knows what an Oakland jury will find the facts are – causation and all that. Yes it can be murder – if the jury agrees in this particular case all the causal links are clear. We need to remind the kiddies that they “take their victims as they find them”.

  • deniseeholly

    This was terribly sad. It was poor planning to put Independent Study and the YES Academy on the same site. Sounds like there was no way to have a closed campus. Is YES being closed or moved. My sympathies to the family of the Oak Knoll Market owner.

  • Oakland USD teacher

    Nextset, you are a sad person with way, way too much time on your hands. You need to hold (and endlessly recite) racist views to make yourself feel superior. I pity you.

  • Nextset

    Oakland OUSD Teacher: I pity your students, I think.

    It is a weak mind who cries racism in a public forum because they can’t handle public discourse. And even more, I don’t think you know what real racism is or have ever had to deal with it. Which is the real reason you are working where you are. Your students are the one who are poorer because of this. Exactly what “racism” is it you have ever overcome? Have you ever in your life tried work in a competitive field – with competitive whites, jews, asians, protestants, republicians, etc… Or have you always worked for OUSD? (as opposed to maybe Redding Unified? Or Burbank??)

    I’d be more worried about you harsh words of personal condemnation if I thought they came from someone who has been around the block enough to be taken seriously.

    It’s not racism to point out racial differences, it’s racism to pretend they don’t exist and set people up for failure or mistreatment because their strenghts and weaknesses are not properly used and handled.

    Or do you pretend that alcoholism in the United States doesn’t have an Indian and Irish flavor to it? you might want to look at the stats for AA membership…

    Do you pretend that a 15 year old boy should be tried or convicted of murder because of a story like this – assumning we even have most of the truth here – Regardless of the fact that it CAN be murder by the book… Does race play a factor in your judgment in this? Or are you on a horse because of the perceived race of the poor victim…

    We have already seen cases of black children shot by Asian Shopkeepers during fights over shoplifting incidents:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latasha_Harlins

    So we do see these types of crimes – minority youth in minority run convenience stores stealing and acting out with resulting death of either side.

    Racism isn’t the problem here at all as much as people playing against house odds long enough to get hurt.

    Back to the thread. Cutting school is trouble even when the kiddles do so to go do a street demonstration. Kiddies – 15 year olds – need direct adult supervision during the day when their poor parents are at work and trust the schools to keep the kiddies safe. Online, Text messaging and phone systems to notify parents when the kids are late to class or miss classes are probably essential now in proletariat schooling.

    This is the kind of thing that can happen and worse when kids have such a casual relationship with their schooling they blow off class to go on shoplifting sprees. I could argue that once again, the child (who I know nothing about) was likely an at-risk kid who was not in a higher-control program better suited to his needs – which may have included alcoholism management. Do we fund OUSD to provide strong programs for at risk and prole kids? I’m not sure and maybe doubt it. Do I believe we should? Yes. And if that means getting rid of all the college prep nonsense for those kids who don’t want it and can’t use it, maybe we should, in order to better care for the majority of students. And that might mean getting rid our your teaching position – or maybe not, depending on your seniority and flexibility.

    If the School classes were as meaningful as mine were, and if the school was as forceful as mine was in keeping me and all my little friends and family in our seats, maybe this kid would have been in class instead of out getting in trouble. Good schools keep bad kids from getting in trouble during school hours.

    But you have to have a program that keep the attention. For some that’s calculus and for some that is not college prep. The kids should have the ability to be tracked into the programs that serve them. And the teachers and staff should be able to manage the kids without liberals whining “racism” whenever they don’t get their way imposed on the kid and his family.

  • Nextset

    Looking at Katy’s story about the history between the child and the shopkeeper and the apparent violent struggle over the Gray Goose Vodka prior to the merchant pursuing the fleeing robber (when you fight your way out of the store with the loot you have turned a shoplift into a robbery) it would appear that this death is the kind of malicious killing we know (have always known) as a murder. If the facts are as they seem to be.

    I have a rhetorical issue with young adolescents facing adult penalties for things that while are forseeable to us are just not so clear to their stupid undeveloped minds. But that’s just me. The law is unfortunately the law. Even I have to follow it.

    Maybe I will try one more time to do legal guest speaking in class. It’s always seems rather pointless before – the clowns really don’t want to hear warnings and rules, they only want to act out. And the serious students don’t need the same lecture – with them we talk about credit card and checking account law and car buying. And with those really clever students they are there to ask you how to make something happen for them that’s not supposed to be possible. So I tell them how to get around all the things they’ve been told stand in the way of them doing what they want. If you time it just so, with the right incentives and co-operations. They may become hedge funders, or put out ISOs. It’s probably best we have separate campuses for the different tracks, A track goes to college, B track goes to work and the C track goes to jail.

    Oakland OUSD Teacher – I must say, you are doing a job I would not do – I was a sub once, remember, during Bar Exam study. I have LA Unified teacher cousins, my parents were teachers in the 40′s (black schools)relatives were OUSD and Richmond USD teachers, Grandparents and Great grandparents tought in all black schools “back east”. Other family ran black public secondary schools they merged with white schools after Brown vs Board of Education. Some were among the first black OUSD teachers. I didn’t hear any of them yelling “racism” they way you do.

    So I don’t agree with you on policy – that we know. I wouldn’t do your job even to “do it right”. I don’t have the patience or the political correctness to operate in the present “educational” environment.

    I see you staying in a failing system yelling “racism” all the way to the bottom of the bay. I don’t think you really know what the word means. The Charters will take everything you have, your students and your plant and equipment.

  • Wonderin’

    Re: the Independent Study Program: it is NOT Cyber High; although Cyber High is an option there, as it is at many high schools throughout the district. Students do NOT just come and go as they please, they have scheduled appointments with their teachers, as well as a math class, and other obligations. Students and their parents (or guardians) sign a contract detailing the terms of the “privilege” of enrolling in Independent Study. While the terms of the contract are not always enforced as strictly as they should/ could be, it is neither just a free pass to graduate. I.S. students must still pass the CAHSEE, take all 230 credits of required courses, and maintain a 2.0 or better average. Cyber High is intended (although often misused) as a so-called (and possibly misnamed-) intervention/ credit recovery program. Cyber High is NOT the whole program, nor even a significant part of it.

  • Yastrzemski

    “While the terms of the contract are not always enforced as strictly as they should/could be”…that is the understatement of the year. The only positive about this piece is that the school is being closed.

    @ Wonderin’, thanks for making the distinction about Cyber High. I know many schools (public and charter) that do use it correctly for credit recovery and it should be noted that it is not the same as ISP.

    I’m going to show this to 9th graders this week and take some time to explain the “felony murder rule”.

    @ Nextset, I agree that we should be talking to kids about the consequences of their actions, it is so sad that Mr. Kang and his family are the victims here.

  • Jenna

    To the Oakland Unified Teacher: I think for too long in Oakland schools we have often felt sorry for the situation of African American and Hispanic students and did not make them toe the line. I see it beginning in classrooms as early as first grade where I volunteer to read with students – I read with students of many, many ethnicities and religions.

    Almost without exception, African American students have the most difficult time staying on task (I ask for 15 minute blocks) and who have the most difficult time with reading and carrying on a conversation about the content of what I have read to the student or the student has attempted to read to me.

    By third grade only 1 in 10 of the African American students I spend volunteer time with read at grade level. None, not one African American child in four different elementary schools has a library card of his or her own and none of their parents (grandparents, aunties, uncles or older siblings who are guardians) have library cards. Is this racist to state what are the facts of my volunteer time?

    If we do not begin to have meaningful discussions around race, acceptable societal behavior, reasonable ages of parents (I have never met an excellent or even good 13, 14, 15, 16 or even 17 year old mother or father) and the basic differences in the way some cultures parent vs the way other cultures parent that enhances or detracts from learning, then we are a sad society indeed.

    We need to have these discussions before hundreds and hundreds of children are cut from the government food, housing, medical care, after school and special tutoring programs. Because as our society becomes more and more careful with fewer dollars to spend it will be the black and brown children whose parents did not plan their conception, nor plan their care that will be more hurt than they already are under the current system. You may say that we treat black children poorly and sometimes I agree with you, but we spend more than twice as much money in Oakland to educate black and brown children than we do white children because the white children in the district more often than not come from two parent intact families, have smaller families and have more family income. We try to make up for that by spending double (11,000 per Title 1 student vs. $5,500 for non-Title 1 student on average). However, even 10 times the money cannot make up for no father, no one who will talk to children and answer all of their questions, take them to the library (that were designed to be on the bus lines), who will help them with homework or take them to a volunteer program to help with homework, parents who will stay together and support all of their children financially, emotionally, spiritually, morally, and educationally and who will not engage in sexual activity before they are prepared to become a self-sustaining parent.

    My definition of a racist is the person who engages in the support of procreation of children by adolescents when the children are not planned, wanted, cared for, supported, loved, educated and who are cast aside to relatives and society – without the racist being willing to meaningfully engage in public discourse to end the practice unplanned children being born and growing up to go to prison or die before age 20 because they have no parental role models to build a life that contributes to society.

  • Katy Murphy

    Youth Empowerment School and the Sojourner Truth Independent Study program share a campus on Fontaine Street, but they are separate entities. YES has standard school hours, while students on independent study have appointments with their teachers and thus come and go throughout the day. The 14-year-old boy was a freshman at YES; he was not on independent study.

  • Gabby

    It takes a partnership between the student, teacher, and parents/caregivers if an “at-risk” student stands a chance of making it. All players have to get involved, work hard, and stay involved to work as a team to keep the child on track and focused. Home training is critical, because, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. If the parent is out to lunch, more than likely the child has been raised in a severely unhealthy and/or chaotic environment. Teens having kids is another huge problem because those teen parents lack the maturity level and skills to properly raise a child. Parents not knowing how to read, because they dropped out of school, is another huge factor. Unfair distribution of newer teachers in flatland schools is another negative factor.

    Ultra liberal teachers contribute to this problem too. Coddling kids who display outrageously disrespectful behavior, playing gangsta rap in class (complete with the “N” word, calling women “B’s” and glorifying pimps) to try to ‘relate’ to them is also obscenely harmful to troubled inner city kids. This contributes to a “dumbing down” factor that ends up keeping the kids in their place, unemployable and completely lacking the social skills to make it in the world. To make matters worse, the staff who coddle kids have the effect (unintended or not) of turning the kids against those who want to impose appropriate discipline. So the kids learn to like those who are easy on them. These troubled kids need appropriate discipline, and immediate consequences for their poor behavior, since they are most likely not receiving any discipline in the home.

    Unfortunately, Jenna is right. The Black students do tend to act out more often, to lose focus, and to push the behavioral limits moreso than the others. It is disturbing. I agree that we need to have real and honest conversations about race, including the subtle racism that still plagues this nation, and how kids of color can learn to navigate around it and work hard to be successful.

  • Matt C

    Just want to wish peace to the family of the shop owner. That as a citizen of the same city I feel for you. The boy, he needs to learn the gravity of what he has done. I’m not sure the penal system will do that. His parents owe a debt to society as well. A 14 year-old is only so responsible for who they have become.

    Our community needs to support our youth. We need to support Oakland teachers as best we can. How are we going to do that?

  • Yastrzemski

    So maybe it is NOT a good idea to place an Independent Study Program where there is no obvious distinction between the kids that are on IS and those who are just cutting classes…another argument for uniforms!

  • Max Allstadt

    Katy,

    Thanks for getting into this in more detail. The way the story had been printed in other outlets, the whole of the situation was less clear.

    Using the felony murder rule in this situation is just flat out stupid. A 14 year-old steals booze and wrestles a little with a shop owner, who then dies of cardiac arrest, partially due to stress, partially due to bad luck. Not that this kid should have done what he did, but this isn’t murder. It just isn’t.

    If not for the hand of fate, this would have been relatively low-grade bad teenage behavior. But fate is what it is. This is the kind of thing they write blues songs about.

  • Jenna

    Max Allstadt: I do not know the extend of the boy’s current criminal record, but let’s assume for just one minute that he has a similar record as one of the brothers of a student I work with in reading. I say this because he is also 14 and in a similar “alternative school.”

    The 14 year old is drunk or high nearly every day before noon. Child protective services have been called multiple times for the child I work with because of what his brother has done to him: multiple bruises, scratches and tripped him multiple times resulting in a broken arm. The same young man has stolen multiple vehicles and has been in and out of the hospital after accidents joy riding. He has stolen from nearly every relative including the stealing the Friday ice cream money from the student I work with. The 14 year old has not attended even 50% of his school days dating back to 5th grade.

    What should we do, wait until he kills someone with a stolen car? Would that be murder? What if he used a gun to rob the market and the owner had a heart attack would that be considered murder for the 14 year old? Where and when does it stop?

    So, at what point for a 14 year old is enough, enough?

    Also, Max, the students at the school could not correlate the behavior with the thief with any culpability toward the dead man. Do you think the 14 year old should have to have any consequences? If so, how can he help repay the widow for not having a husband and a helpmate in the store which provides their source of income?

  • Jenna

    One other question Max – should the parents be held accountable for the behavior of their own son if he does have a history of criminal behavior? How should the parents help compensate the store owners, if at all, in your opinion?

  • Nextset

    Jenna and Max – a lot of these questions are already answered in CA law. So while we can beat our breasts about what we want the law to be and what is should be the law IS what it IS and you’re going to find the law is often REALLY old.

    I have seen older shopkeepers life savings wiped out because they failed and neglected to detect forged checks on their bank accounts (or unauthorized electronic debits) – for 5 or 10 years of not personally inspecting their bank statements. The rule that protects banks from the slightest responsibility for these loses goes back to old England before the founding of the USA. Are we supposed to feel sorry for the poor shopkeepers who fail and neglect to do their personal duty in managing their own affairs?

    Lots of people do feel sorry for them and it changes nothing but my blood pressure. You should see the “go to hell” letters the banks send out in these cases to the customers wanting the banks to reverse years of forgeries.

    Back to the thread. There are set rules about how much Mommie and Daddie might have to pay if little precious goes out and murders somebody. Maybe $10k. That’s usually covered by the parent’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance unless they’re dumb or poor enough not to have a policy. I have one friend who’s homeowner’s policy paid $10k when her 15 year old knocked the front teeth out of a school classmate with a flying kick over something we’ve all forgotten about. Any further costs they don’t get paid – hope they had their own policy and we don’t care, we don’t have to. They might have sued the 15 year old for the rest but might have had the 10K held up if they didn’t waive the excess.

    There are ways to get around the 10k limit, if it is in fact still 10k. Not easy ways. Maybe if Mommie was actually on the scene of the tort/crime and didn’t try to control her little precious. Good luck with that. Maybe Mommie’s car or weapons were used. Good luck with that too.

    My best advice is get your own insurance and make it a decent policy. Especially if you go to a bad school or live in a bad neighborhood.

    As far as you thinking the “Felony Murder Rule” is “flat out stupid”, Max, you are in no position to have an opinion about the law. You are a child (am I right?). This is history (The “Law” is largely a history degree). You cannot go around expressing this is stupid and that is stupid without sounding like a little kid who has no idea what he’s talking about. It’s no way to have anybody take you seriously. American Law goes back a real long time. It’s how people make deals, plans and can live knowing what the rules are. It’s how we don’t have people getting murdered all around us with the players just yelling “sorry” and going about their merry way to do it over and over again. Besides the judges are notorious for softening the blow by sentencing when they think the law has gone too far. Remember the Latasa Harlins Case? That defendant was given probation with little jail I think. Korean Shopkeepers rejoiced and kept their shops open in the LA Ghettos.

    There are a lot of other rules you must live with (misdemeanor manslaughter rule?) and that includes rules that other are not required to lift a hand to save your life absent law compelling them do to so. In most places, a stranger can watch someone drown and not touch the life preservers or call for help. And the list goes on. But then a teacher just might call CPS if she sees someone a 25 year old picking up a child at school and kissing her on the lips. Mandated reporter.

    I have seen a man with no criminal history sentenced to state prison for kissing a 13 year old child on the lips in a public place with stranger witnesses. The child was his girlfriend’s niece, the witnesses didn’t like it at all. He had a jury trial. §288 conviction, lewd act with a child under 14. Now he’s a registered sex offender for life and an ex con from prison. Sucker…(of course he turned down a plea bargain)

    So the law is a big deal, it’s all around you. You can get it used on you at 14, you can use it as a weapon also. Your school won’t teach it. So you have to learn the hard way. By pain. Unless you have a family or a good internet connection and a reading list that covers the sharpest edges likely to cut you.

    Should the child have a history of bad behavior change the $10k limit for parental liability – or whatever the limit is now? Not if the parent has done all that can be done reasonably to manage the child and it’s danger. You want a trial over that – remember, the loser may have to pay the winner’s costs…

    Brave New World.

    It’s usually best to manage your affairs to stay out of the courts completely and to insure against predictable risk.

  • Nextset

    And Max, Do you know what the change in life expectency and quality of life is when a 85 year old woman falls to the ground and breaks a hip when her purse is snatched?

    I’ve seen that happen.

    I have a close friend who happens to be black – does it matter? – who was rendered a cripple when a fleeing felon rear ended her car in a police chase. Years later she can’t work, she’s dependent on drugs to function at all. She wasn’t expected to live, and doesn’t have much to live for. Before the crash she had a nice life. Now she’s a welfare case. She’s exhausted all her coverages.

    Yes the criminal was a black thug (“frequent flyer”)in a stolen car. He’s probably out now back to business as usual. If she had actually died it would have been murder and he would have received a “to life” sentence. So who’s the lucky one here?

    People are left in wreckage all the time because our society no longer intimidates or terrorizes criminals. And it’s getting worse. Not so in Singapore and Malaysia. Ethnically diverse places, too.

    All I say to people is max out your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, buy the very most you can (it’s cheap). That’s where your recovery comes from in these awful car crashes.

    Our law is interesting and historical, but it doesn’t always pay your bills. And in this state we have an unusual specific population driving with no license and no insurance.

  • http://google babyj

    thats shady how he got a heart attack and dat dnt make since cuz he didnt make him hav a heart attack

  • Nextset

    There are other common felony murder cases such as when stupid #1 shoots up #2 with heroin and #2 overdoses and dies. Murder. That used to be a case not so unusual – maybe 30 years ago. I don’t think I’ve seen that charged in recent memory. It could be because society doesn’t really care about #2 anymore so when they get dead it’s no longer a big deal. In 1968 people cared more about poor #2. So they filed the more serious charge against the man with the needle and the smack (#2 was often the girlfriend with po’ed parents).

    Dare I say it – sometimes it seems the race of the dead and the perp just might have something to do with the severity of the charges. When’s the last time you ever saw a stat rape charged with a black victim and a black boy/man? We all know stat rape is still on the books – but when it’s actually filed, sometimes it seems Barbie’s in the mix. The status of the victim is always relevant, even more so as California collapses and all law enforcement budgets are cut. Or maybe it’s a matter of who even wants to be a victim in the courts anymore and who isn’t even calling 911 in the first place. Or it’s the squeaky wheel (parents) getting the grease.

    In this case everybody cares about a poor shopkeeper and his bereaved family. And the felony murder rule is well over 100 years old. If the (presumed innocent) robber wants to party, well now he gets a jury trial that’s possibly worth the trial – a life term (or whatever murder 2 gets this week).

    Babyj: You need to go to school and learn how to speak and write English. And you need to learn more so you don’t wind up in the same boat as whoever this fool is involved in the Grey Goose episode. Life hurts a lot more when you’re dumb and uneducated. Get education – things start to make sense as you get further along in school.

    Anyway, if you think this is bad, get into “accomplice liability”. That’s where you get prison for standing next to somebody doing wrong (cheering them on), then they plea-bargain for probation. And you refuse to deal and whine all the way through trial and sentencing and onto San Quentin about how unfair it all is. You school won’t bother to teach you that one either. Might upset you. I don’t think your school ever wants to upset you.

    If you do a robbery and during your robbery somebody (including somebody you never see) gets killed – because of your robbery – You are a murderer. Deal with it. It can be as simple as a bystander shooting at you to stop the robbery (the law allows it!), misses you, and hits and kills someone else you didn’t even notice. That’s your murder. Felony Murder Rule. Death caused in the commission of a violent felony. See, it’s easy. Most of the law is, if people just read it and debate it enough. If all else fails, jury instructions are online and they’re written at 8th grade level by a nice Oakland Judge who volunteered for the committee to re-write them.

    I’d strongly suggest handing out jury instructions in class for local notorious cases – they really are a reduction of the law to 8th grade terms. Brutally simple.

    And the law is fair and so old it’s not really a surprise – except for the dumb and uneducated. It’s up to the jury to decide what actually happened.

    We need OUSD, LAUSD and the ghetto schools in general to make sure their “products” graduating or not, have a clue of what law they live under. No different than knowing a red traffic light means stop. No we can’t expect the parents to teach it. This is more important that socialism, sex ed, LGBT politics and all the other add-ons we’re doing lately.

  • Jenna

    BabyJ: Why it is not the thief’s fault? The man who had a heart attack was not playing checkers when he had the heart attack he was chasing someone who was stealing from him, stealing tax dollars that support your school and moving a store that provides basic necessities out of a neighborhood that needs milk, bread, etc.

    Please explain.

    Also, I want to hear your opinions, but I need you to be more mainstream in your expressions. Please tell me what you mean by thats shady and dat dnt. I think by thats shady you mean its wrong or maybe that it is too strong a punishment.

  • Nextset

    BabyJ: Jenna is being nice about it. I think being “nice” to children old enough to know better is babying them and does no good.

    So how old are you? 12? or 17? If there some reason why you can’t write in Standard English when you post online in public discourse? Is your school failing to teach you Standard English – if so, I wonder why. What future exactly does you school envision for you?

  • J.R.

    Jenna,
    I would hazard a guess that babyJ means suspicious when the word shady is used. Here we have right before us an example of the mindset that develops with the ultra dogma of (the plight of the misunderstood), and resultant,coddling and tacit approval(so called low grade bad teenage behavior) of anti-social behavior. It all starts out small and petty, but you can bet that hostility and violence will follow. If the people that pay the taxes don’t change their mindset and actively oppose this kind of stupidity then Oakland will never change. The violence will spread and it will affect everyone at some point.

  • Alice Spearman

    Folks,
    Babyj spoke to you in his language, which he uses all day everyday. Now if he was taught how to speak and write english they way we utilize it, he might be able to explane his train of thought. We as educators do not take the time to set standards in our classrooms. When I went to school, we were trained how to communicate outside our “peer groups”, some call it Code Switching, Nextset knows all to well about this.
    We must have standards and expectations for our youth, here is your example. There are many more Babyj’s, all will not go to prison, we have work to do people.
    Now to Babyj,
    Stealing is a crime. If someone dies during or shortly after the commitment of a crime, then you are charged not only with the crime but with murder. That young man was wrong, now he is charged with murder not just stealing. These are the consequences to committing a crime.

  • Ms. J.

    Alice,
    I don’t know whom you are including in “we as educators” but I refuse to be part of that statement. I take the time and make the effort daily to have high standards in my classroom. I discuss code switching. I communicate with kids that there are different languages in different situations. My classroom is both rigorous and welcoming.

    As a board member, I would hope you would be careful not to insult the educators who are actually in the classroom. We don’t know what Babyj’s teachers have taught him/her and what he/she has chosen to reject or accept.

  • Catherine

    Alice: I also correct spoken and written English and discuss code switching in my classroom.

    Just out of curiosity Alice – What does “Messin Wit” mean? Because when I taught primary grades it meant one thing and in intermediate grades it means another. But in either definition it allows the person who was “messed with” to hit, kick, bite, scratch or pinch another. And it allows their parents to get in on the abuse as well.

    For readers, in the primary grades k-3 messing with means someone looked at you, pushed you, or touched you in a way that was not a hug. In the intermediate grades (4-6) it may mean the bumped you in line in the cafeteria, caught a basketball that went out of bounds and began shooting baskets or said something derogatory about your parents.

    This happens on the playground multiple times in 15 minutes. It is why many schools have resorted to only having one or two grades of students on the playground at one time.

  • castlemontteacher

    Alice: I also correct spoken and written English and make it clear that students must code switch inside the academic classroom. Please be careful with your words when you say “we as educators do not take the time to set standards in our classrooms”

  • Nextset

    I don’t think Code Switching is the issue. BabyJ needs to be taught that his/her so called language is unacceptable in civilized society period. To me, Code Switching is more of an English/French/Spanish thing. That’s great.

    Ghettobabble is just that. It is people who half learned or didn’t learn English at all, speaking like babies because no one cares enough about them to make them grow up. They are proof positive about their schools writing them off – because they are black.

    And the segregated black schools of the 1950s didn’t put up with it (they were run by higher class blacks), it took a white lady to do this.

    Brave New World – you’re born into your caste and kept there by language first…

  • Nextset

    Alice: it’s not just that someone dies during the commision of the crime. Felony Murder requires more than that. The crime must be a (classed as) violent felony not just any crime. If you freak a shopkeeper out by writing a million dollar no-good check and they keel over, it doesn’t count because the forgery is not a violent crime.

    Here the stupid criminal turned a shoplift which is a nonviolent misdemeanor into a robbery by fighting with the shopkeep or clerk over getting away with the Grey Goose. Contemporary young Blacks tend to do this more than whites, not knowing or caring about the distinction. They’ve upgraded a nonviolent misdemeanor to a violent felony (robbery) which is a “Strike” for good measure which is a real problem they will pay dearly for later. This is why the Grey Goose incident is now in the ballpark for Felony Murder. The last issue is will the jury be satisfied (and every single juror) that there is proximate cause between the robbery and the death. That may even be affected by whether the jurors want to give a break to robbers. In some cities they certainly do not. In some cities it’s open season on shopkeeps because jurors really don’t care as much (Stores refuse to operate in these cities). It’s a gamble, like a lot of criminal trials. But – if they find that that the heart attack would not have happened but for the struggle and chase…

    None of us know the medical history of the decedent. Would it be possible that he was having heart failure for days and his condition was already occurring regardless of the incident? I doubt it, but don’t think the defense attorney won’t want to have their cardiologist at least look. I assume the robber is guilty as hell – so what, the real game may be in negotiated resolution and that’s where you need the absolute co-operation of the defendant with their attorney. Blacks don’t co-operate with public defenders as a rule. They don’t trust them and they don’t believe them. They don’t respect them. They’d rather take legal advice from their 50 other lawyers back at the jail. So they go to trial when white defendants don’t. And the results -statistically – speak for themselves.

    Back to the thread. I believe part of the reason the black boys marching in the prison-industrial complex are so distintive vs the poor whites is that the inferior black schools run by white libs keeps these kids dumber then they were in the 1950s before Brown vs Board of Education when black public schooling was in the hands of the Black Middle Class (largely former military and black college educated) who knew how to raise little negroes. All the libs want to do is kill ‘em with kindness, keep them happy and avoid anybody complaining, crying and feeling disrepected – which was normal operating procedure prior to whites getting involved.

    When my aged relatives and their buddies ran black schools (in the 1950s) and raised 15 year olds the students understood the felony murder rule pretty well. Do a felony and you get murdered by the school staff.

  • Gordon Danning

    Re: felony murder:

    “Virtually every jurisdiction that has considered the issue has held that a homicide conviction can be predicated upon death by heart attack caused by stress resulting from actions of the defendant provided the prosecution proves both cause and effect. E.g., People v. Stamp, 2 Cal.App.3d 203, 82 Cal.Rptr. 598, 602-03 (1969) (conviction of felony murder affirmed where pathologist testified that severe stress experienced during robbery by defendant caused victim’s fatal heart attack); State v. Spates, 176 Conn. 227, 405 A.2d 656, 658-60 (1978) (conviction of manslaughter affirmed where medical testimony established that cause of death was heart attack brought on by emotional stress occurring during robbery); Maynard v. State, 660 So.2d 293, 317*317 296 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1995) (conviction of manslaughter upheld where defendant’s physical assault of victim produced no discernible physical injuries but victim died of heart attack, and medical examiner testified that the altercation caused the fatal heart attack); Cromartie v. State, 275 Ga. App. 209, 620 S.E.2d 413, 416 (2005) (conviction of vehicular homicide affirmed where intoxicated driver struck pedestrian who died of heart attack, and medical examiner testified that collision “directly and materially contributed” to pedestrian’s death); Thomas v. State, 436 N.E.2d 1109, 1112 (Ind.1982) (conviction of murder affirmed where pathologist testified hypothetically that stress resulting from being robbed by the defendant would have been the primary cause of death); State v. Vaughn, 707 S.W.2d 422, 426 (Mo.Ct.App. 1986) (conviction of second-degree murder upheld where medical examiner testified that victim’s cardiac arrest resulted from stress induced by defendant’s assault); State v. Dixon, 222 Neb. 787, 387 N.W.2d 682, 689 (1986) (conviction of felony murder upheld where pathologist testified that cause of cardiac arrhythmia was shock experienced during burglary of victim’s home by defendant); In re Anthony M., 63 N.Y.2d 270, 481 N.Y.S.2d 675, 471 N.E.2d 447, 450, 452 (1984) (two cases) (juvenile adjudication of manslaughter in the second degree upheld where defendant snatched purse of elderly woman who fell and broke her hip and subsequently died of heart attack, where doctor testified that “the stress precipitated the myocardial infarction with subsequent cardiac arrest and ultimate death”); id. at 451-52 (felony murder conviction upheld where victim of burglary and robbery died next day of myocardial infarction and forensic pathologist testified it was reasonably certain “that the emotional and physical trauma of the burglary caused [the victim's] heart attack”); State v. Atkinson, 298 N.C. 673, 259 S.E.2d 858, 864 (1979) (conviction of felony murder upheld where medical examiner testified that victim died of heart attack and that injuries and stress caused by defendant’s assault of victim contributed to and accelerated victim’s death), overruled on other grounds by State v. Jackson, 302 N.C. 101, 273 S.E.2d 666 (1981); cf. Commonwealth v. Evans, 343 Pa.Super. 118, 494 A.2d 383, 389-90 (1985) (counsel was not ineffective in failing to assert insufficiency of evidence to sustain conviction of felony murder where forensic pathologist had testified that stress caused by defendant’s robbery and kidnapping of victim aggravated victim’s arteriosclerotic heart disease, resulting in his death).” Baraka v. Kentucky (Ky. Sup. Ct. 2006) 194 S.W.3d 313 (2006) The case can be read here: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8507897748080461132&hl=en&as_sdt=4,5&kqfp=7619099820066646430&kql=137&kqpfp=6472789646920301930#kq

    Another California case is People v. Hernandez (1985) 169 Cal.App.3d 282 (heart attack during robbery), available here: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=3517480582866478079&q=felony+murder+%22heart+attack%22&hl=en&as_sdt=4,5&surl=1&safe=active

  • Nextset

    Gordon’s citations are good ones, it’s best to cite the more recent – as he’s done. I’ll bet you can find cites going far far back on this point – heart attacks during robberies. My point again to those who beat their breasts and complain that the poor criminal is being done in by some new law or legislation – this wrinkle in felony murder is really old (100 years plus?). If you are going to be a robber you need education so you aren’t so surprised when you get a murder rap despite “not meaning anything”.

    And we need to start teaching prole youth these concepts with puberty – they’re more important to them than algebra is – not that you can’t try to teach both.

    Still, the real issues here are in the deal making. Is there room to compromise on manslaughter? Would the defendant ever agree to anything anyway? Do we have to treat a 15 year old as harshly as a 30 year old robber who really does know better than to get into a struggle with an elderly shopkeeper? That’s all rhetorical not for an educational policy blog. Just threw it in because I like to keep people alert to the difference between children and their undeveloped brains and the 30 year old thugs who should get no mercy whatsoever. In our society we try to understand that an adolescent is crazy for awhile and grows out of it. We do give young first time adolescent screw-ups a break. And we do it for reasons rooted in child development. I still remember dumb things I did at 15, don’t know what I was thinking of except I wasn’t thinking. I hadn’t been trained completely yet – hadn’t grown up. Remember the story of Thomas Edison (as an early teen) giving a friend a solution to drink to make him lighter or fly or something? Could have killed the other kid. Edison got whipped over it. The other child survived the poisonous drink. 14-15 year olds can do incredibly dangerous and stupid things and still go on to greatness. Which is why we have juvenile court in the first place. Until direct filing of violent crime came along. Good luck to all in recovering from this tragedy – and I hardly ever use that word.

    In dealing with this criminal to me the question of how to treat him involves his level of malice, his history of malice, and the degree of public protection required from him. And I wouldn’t want him reproducing anytime soon either. I trust the elected DA and Judges to know what they are doing. If the defendant has any smarts at all he will work with his attorney – the real one not the jail lawyers.

    Some kiddies belong in high control public schools that are run like jails. We’d do well to identify them and get them transferred out of normal schools with good kids into the place they belong – even by 4th grade. In high control schools they can grow up without killing someone or themselves and go on to a good life.

  • Nextset

    I had to mention this wrinkle. Suppose your darling 16 year old was outside the store behind the wheel of the getaway car (and drove off with the Grey Goose with the shopkeeper in pursuit). And your kid would up as a co-defendant in the robbery murder. If the facts were clear (yes, it’s all true as charged) – would you tell your kid to take a plea or go to trial??

    Remember accomplice liability can combine with felony murder. I’ve seen it. Girlfriend in the getaway car charged with murder when victim drug dealer shoots residential (home invasion) robber. Dead robber corpse had one of her stockings over his head, she’s behind the wheel of decedent’s car with the motor running and his wallet on the dash wearing one stocking, the other one in the pair to the one on the corpse’s head. She was 18 I think. Still waiting for him with the motor running when the cops arrive from the 911 call. Hilarious. She gave a full statement admitting the robbery was planned and she provided the stocking and the driving service because she loved the sob. This was a couple of decades ago. Victim was given his gun back, (older) decedent had a long rap sheet. Girl copped a plea I think. Dealt out of the murder because it seemed the thing to do I suppose. But if she hadn’t pled it would have been a murder trial.

    Teens do not get trained on how trouble gets sentenced. Prole teens need this education.

    With direct filing, juvenile court is no longer available to save their dumb asses. In violent crime cases they are now in adult court with adult penalties.

    Brave New World.

  • Nextset

    I see the Oakland Trib now has run an editorial condemning the filing of murder charges in this case.

    It’s their paper to opine what they will. I do have a problem when people rush to make changes in the (ancient) law in order to accommodate cocoa colored criminals. You see, that’s a big time invitation to just hang ‘em high in the streets and just dispense with due process and courthouses. And we are moving in this direction – first by business and commerce avoiding any contact with blacks (and they are…). Then by the re-arming of the homeowning taxpaying population (in some states they weren’t disarmed – here in CA I see smart money buying weapons in droves).

    After being in the law business for over 30 years I have an experienced feeling that we can trust the DAs, The Judges, the Juries and the Defense Attorneys to keep things within bounds. And I would have likely acquitted the Bart Cop. That doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for the verdict. That jury actually heard the trial and I didn’t. I would have convicted OJ. But I wasn’t in the courtroom – I understand that as much as it’s clear the evidence is good and sufficient he butchered those people – the jury does get to nullify all crimes, just like Arnold taking care of Nunez’ kid. We have reasons for these safety valves and those reasons are ancient also.

    In this case I believe it would have been sufficient for the Trib to opine that the DA and the Courts should use their discretion to resolve such a factual issue towards manslaughter as a concession to the age of the defendant and the related brain development issues – or even to use discretion to keep the case in juvenile court rather than adult court (which is the real issue and the real problem. First time dumb kid activities belong in juvenile court for a reason.

    But there is great danger in saying we just won’t even have a murder charge at all and the (murder) victim’s families never get a day in court. Removing a possibility of a murder charge from robbers when their robberies get people killed is dangerous. It is one more step towards death squads forming. We’ve seen death squads in major cities even in my lifetime – from Rio De Janerio’s Chamber of Commerce putting contracts out on the street children – contracts picked up by police officers I believe –

    http://articles.cnn.com/1996-12-09/world/9612_09_brazil.street.kids_1_police-officers-homeless-children-rio-police?_s=PM:WORLD

    We also see the daily revenge killings of the California Street Gangs who have no illusions of the failure of the courts to obtain justice in a swift and sure manner. Attack one of their women and see what happens.

    My point. It may feel good to propose change in ancient criminal or commercial law so that you can protect your favored minorities & teenagers – which is what this is really about. The unintended consequences can be devastating. Incremental changes are safer. It would be better to allow juvenile court to retain more of the serious cases, at least when it’s a first serious offense.

    But in the meantime, you have to trust the elected people who run the criminal justice system and go ahead and lobby them on individual cases as needed.

    And does anybody here take a position that the family of the decedent just might want and deserve a murder trial? A jury can hang on the causation and refuse to all agree on the murder – if they see fit to do so after learning all about what happened and the defendant’s possible rotten soul.

    Stop trying to make sweeping changes in the law – old old law – just because you want to protect a single individual. You won’t like the unintended consequences you inflict on society.

    Like Johnson’s “great society” legislation in the mid ’60s.

    Don’t play Sorcerer’s Apprentice with the law.

    The filing of the murder charge does not mean that there is not room for a different resolution. To condemn the very filing of the charges is a different matter. The law defines the murder. It appears that the charge is well placed. Many cases do not resolve at the level they are charged. There are hearings where the evidence is brought out. Victims and witnesses are consulted. Everybody has some input. Then we get “some” justice which is often real justice. If you don’t even file the charge the victims are cheated and the defendants are emboldened to demand more unwarranted concessions and not change their ways in the future because they weren’t even threatened with the penalty for what they do. And the death squads will form, that’s the lesson of history.

    Our system should be allowed to work with some sunlight as a disinfectant when needed. Protecting people from charges, like Kamala Harris’ protecting special circumstances murderers (contract killers, witness killers, cop killers, mass killers, etc) from the death penalty when she was DA in San Francisco – historically always leads to street justice.

  • Katy Murphy

    Here’s the Tribune editorial Nextset was referring to:
    http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_18249440

  • J.R.

    I think tax paying citizens have had enough of enabling young criminals the ability to repeatedly offend. Let the jury decide.