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Sheriff's deputy indicted
Charged with sexually- related offenses with 4
girls between 2006-22
By TERRI VERMEULEN KEITH
City News Service
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy pleaded not guilty Aug. 10 to a grand jury indictment charging him with sex-related offenses involving four girls from 2006-2022.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta ordered Sean Essex, 51, to be held without bail pending a Sept. 1 bail review hear- ing. The judge noted that Essex is facing "multiple life sentences" if convicted as charged.
The grand jury indictment, handed up Tuesday and unsealed Wed- nesday, charges Essex with 33 counts, including continuous sexual abuse, oral copulation with a child under 10, lewd act on a child and
Sean Essex. Screenshot
possession of child or youth pornography. The indictment refers to the alleged victims as "Jane Does 1,2,3,4."
Three of the alleged victims are related to a woman Essex dated about 20 years ago, Deputy District Attorney Paul Thompson told the judge in requesting that Essex be held without bail.
The indictment also includes a lewd act charge involving a girl who reported the alleged crime in 2006 in a case that the District Attorney'sOffice said was previously declined by their office. The girls were between 7
and 13 at the time of the alleged crimes, according to the District Attorney's Office.
"Sexually assaulting a child not only robs them of their innocence but leaves lasting mental trauma," District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement released shortly after the indictment was unsealed. "This is one
of the most egregious crimes my office encounters and is made worse when the crime is committed by some- one who has been entrusted to protect them and our community from harm."
Essex was initially arrested April 8 by investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Inter- nal Criminal Investigations Bureau and booked on suspicion of one count each of lewd/lascivious acts with a
child under 14 years and oral copulation with a child under the age of 14. He was released on bond that day, according to jail records.
Essex was re-arrested about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday night, jail records show. His current status with the sheriff's department was not immediately available.
"The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department expects all of its members to hold themselves to the highest ethical and professional standards at all times," the department said in a statement released in April shortly after Essex's arrest. "Department members who engage in misconduct, especially criminal misconduct that preys on a vulnerable population, will not be tolerated and will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," according to the statement.
Essex's attorney had no immediate comment on the indictment.
Sentencing delayed again for former Suge Knight attorney
LOS ANGELES (CNS)—Sentencing on conspiracy and perjury charges was delayed again May 17 for a lawyer who briefly represented former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight in what was a murder case at the time.
Sentencing was initially scheduled Tuesday for Matthew Powell Fletcher, but he showed up in court that after- noon, about four hours after a judge issued a bench warrant for his arrest that was subsequently withdrawn.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli told Fletcher then that he "seriously considered" putting him in jail until the next court date, but said he would accept the 57-year-old defendant's explanation
that he thought his sentencing was scheduled a day later.
The hearing was rescheduled for Friday, but the matter had to be delayed again, with a prosecutor noting Fletcher still had not signed the extensive paperwork finalizing his disbarment, which is a condition of the plea agreement.
Fletcher pleaded guilty Feb. 16 to one felony count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice in Knight's case and perjury under oath stemming from a State Bar disciplinary proceeding involving a separate murder case. The plea
came as a jury was already deliberating in his trial.
Under the plea agreement, Fletcher is facing five years of probation but no jail time. The deal also requires him to resign from the State Bar of California.
In court May 17, Fletcher said he had resigned from the Bar, but wanted time to review the lengthy stipulation of disbarment. With that matter still pending as of May 20, the sentencing was postponed and another hearing was set for June 1.
Fletcher, a Long Beach-based attorney, had practiced for more than 24 years.
Under the last-minute deal reached with prosecutors as jurors were deliberating in his case, Fletcher agreed not to practice law in California or apply for reinstatement with the State Bar.
"He was smart because the jurors were going to convict him of four to five counts,'' Deputy District Attorney Phil Stirling said outside court after the plea was announced.
The prosecutor noted that it was the ``wildest, most dramatic case'' he had ever tried in three decades.
Fletcher represented Knight for a short time in a case in which the former rap mogul eventually pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter for running over a man with a pickup in the parking lot of a Compton hamburger stand.
Fletcher was indicted by a Los Angeles County grand jury just over four years ago on one count each of cons- piracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to suborn perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice and accessory after the fact
involving Knight's case. He was also indicted on one count of perjury under oath involving his testimony at a State Bar hearing involving whether he had texted the brother of a defendant in another case and provided him his banking information.
Another of Knight's former attorneys, Thaddeus Culpepper, 48, was also indicted.
In his closing argument during Fletcher's trial, Deputy District Attorney Stefan Mrakich said Fletcher and others were involved in a conspiracy to either get the case against Knight dismissed or for Knight to be acquitted
through false testimony when they knew he was guilty.
Fletcher—acting as his own attorney—said he had proven that the entire working theory of the case was "wrong" and accused prosecutors of making personal attacks "when they know what they're saying is baloney."
"There is no evidence that I gave anyone anything, none," he said, telling the panel that he had challenged prosecutors to call in a witness to say that he had offered to pay anyone even a penny.
"They have no evidence that I ... entered into a conspiracy with anybody," Fletcher said.
Stirling told the jury in his rebuttal argument that Fletcher is "wildly dishonest at the highest level," arguing that Fletcher "has lied to you repeatedly."
"You can't have a justice system that allows attorneys to lie and manipulate ... We need this system to be pure, as pure as possible,'' the prosecutor said Monday a few hours before jurors were handed the case. "This case is
entirely about dishonesty."
In one jailhouse recording, Fletcher told Knight in March 2015 that $20,000 to $25,000 would be a fair investment to secure his freedom.
Fletcher also told an informant for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in May 2016 that witnesses in Knight's case needed to be paid for their testimony, and subsequently told Knight that Cle "Bone" Sloan, who
survived being struck by the truck, needed to be paid money for his testimony, according to the grand jury indictment that was handed up in January 2018.
Knight initially was charged with murder for Terry Carter's Jan. 29, 2015, death. He pleaded no contest in October 2018 to voluntary manslaughter and admitted that he used a deadly weapon—a truck—during the commission
of the crime in the parking lot of Tam's Burgers in the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue.
Knight is serving a 28-year state prison term.
Mark Blankenship, a one-time business partner of Knight, pleaded no contest in June 2019 to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from the sale of video footage of the crime and was sentenced to five years probation.
Knight's fiancée, Toi-Lin Kelly, pleaded no contest in 2017 for conspiracy to violate a court order involving video evidence that was under seal, and she was subsequently sentenced to three yeas in jail for violating her proba-
tion by having indirect communication with Knight, helping him violate restrictions for use of jailhouse phones.
Suge Knight will appear virtually during trial of slain man's civil suit
Marion "Suge" Knight. LASD Photo
COMPTON (CNS)—Imprisoned Marion "Suge" Knight will appear in court
virtually rather than in person during trial of a lawsuit brought by relatives
of a man the former rap mogul ran over and killed with a pickup truck in
Compton in 2015, a judge has ruled.
Compton Superior Court Judge Thomas D. Long issued the order May 9 to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ahead of the May 15 scheduled start of the trial of the case brought by family members of the late Terry Carter. The directive allows Knight, who is housed at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, to make a virtual appearance from jury selection to the verdict in the case.
Knight, now 57, pleaded no contest in September 2018 to voluntary man-
slaughter for killing the 55-year-old Carter after an argument near a promo-
tional shoot for the movie "Straight Outta Compton" on Jan. 29, 2015.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen sentenced him to 28 years in prison a month after his plea.
Knight also admitted an allegation that he used a deadly weapon—a truck— during the commission of the crime in the parking lot of Tam's Burgers in the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue. A replica of the diner was featured
during the Super Bowl half-time show on Feb. 6 at SoFi Stadium.
The plaintiffs in the civil suit, filed in June 2015, are Carter's widow, Lillian; and daughters Crystal and Nekaya. Tentatively scheduled to testify during trial along with Knight and the plaintiffs are hip hop producer Jimmy
"Jim-Bob" Chris and rapper D-Dog.
Knight also struck and seriously injured Cle "Bone" Sloan during the confrontation, which was captured on surveillance video. Knight had claimed he was trying to flee the scene in his truck and contended that Sloan, who was working security for the film set, had a gun.
Knight, a Compton-born former football player, co-founded Death Row Records, which in its heyday in the early 1990s was generating revenues of about $100 million per year. He helped launch some of rap's biggest acts,
including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. He was with Shakur the night he was gunned down in 1996.
Knight served five years in prison for assault and federal weapons violations and, after his release in 2001, spent another 10 months behind bars for violating parole by striking a Hollywood nightclub valet. In August 2014, he was shot a half-dozen times at a Los Angeles-area nightclub.