4 years after crash that killed SF teen, no trial date set for defendant

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There is an old adage that says, "Justice delayed is justice denied." The ABC7 I-Team is investigating why a criminal case against a driver accused of killing a teenager has been repeatedly delayed and has languished in the courts for several years. More than four years ago, 16-year-old Kevin San was killed in a car crash. Jennie Zhu was arrested charged with manslaughter and reckless driving for causing the accident that killed Kevin.But the case has been delayed several times and there's still no trial date set for the 58-year-old. Experts say it is unusual for a case like this involving the death of a young boy to take so long. Kevin's family told the I-Team they can't understand why it is taking so long to get justice.Friends say Kevin San was a great guy. A student at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, he was a proud member of the ROTC Drum Corps. And he was a passionate and accomplished bicyclist.A friend said, "He would always have a smile on his face. On a gloomy day, he would maybe just give a laugh."On a Friday morning, just before 7 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2013, Kevin's mother was driving him and his sister to school. Her minivan was stopped at a light at Pine and Gough streets when the vehicle was struck from behind by a silver Mercedes SUV.Witnesses described the collision as sounding like an explosion.Police say the Mercedes SUV was going more than 70 miles per hour when it hit the minivan.Kevin San was killed and his mother and sister were seriously injured. His mother was in a coma for a month and his sister had fractures and other injuries.Zhu, the driver of the SUV, was arrested and charged with three felony counts. She was charged with one count of gross vehicular manslaughter and two counts of reckless driving causing serious injuries.That was four years ago and the criminal case has languished in the courts.Just last week, Zhu was in court for a preliminary hearing; one that was delayed at least three times. Kevin's Continue Reading

‘Cannibal Cop’ alleged co-conspirator Michael Van Hise trial date set

The Cannibal Cop's partner in perversion has a Nov. 4 trial date. Michael Van Hise, 22, was ordered to stand trial on that date during a brief conference Thursday before Manhattan Federal Court Judge Paul Gardephe . Van Hise showed up in prison garb and did not speak. He is being held without bail at the federal lockup in lower Manhattan. In a Feb. 2012 chat NYPD officer Gilberto Valle agreed to kidnap a teacher for $5,000 and deliver her to Van Hise to be raped and killed. A jury found Valle guilty of a kidnapping conspiracy charge and faces sentencing in June. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Lauren Spierer trial date set for May 2015

A federal judge has set a trial date of May 4, 2015, in a lawsuit the parents of missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer filed against two men who were with her the night she disappeared.Robert and Mary Charlene Spierer filed the federal lawsuit in June against Jason Rosenbaum and Corey Rossman. It claims the two gave Lauren Spierer alcohol despite knowing she was intoxicated and owed her a "duty of care."Federal Judge Tanya Walton Pratt set the trial date last week.Lauren Spierer disappeared early June 3, 2011, after a night of partying with friends, including Rosenbaum and Rossman. Her disappearance remains under investigation.The Spierers' civil negligence suit against Rosenbaum and Rossman also initially named Michael Beth, all of whom were fellow students of the fashion merchandise major. Rosenbaum and Rossman also were charged with "negligence per se" and "dram shop," a legal term used when damages are sought for giving alcohol to someone who is already drunk.The couple's suit against Beth was dismissed in December.Attorneys for Rosenbaum and Rossman have denied the Spierers' allegations and ask that the court not award damages. They have pointed blame at Lauren Spierer and Kilroy's Sports Bar in Bloomington, where Spierer was seen drinking hours before she disappeared. Kilroy's is not a party to the Spierers' suit.Call Star reporter Tim Evans at (317) 444-6204. Follow him on Twitter: @starwatchtim. Continue Reading

Trial date set in automobile homicide case

ST. GEORGE – A new trial date has been scheduled for a distracted driving case that gained statewide attention after a witness said the suspect appeared to be checking her cell phone seconds before being involved in a collision that caused the death of a jogger.On Wednesday, 5th District Judge G. Michael Westfall set aside five days for a trial beginning July 13 on an automobile homicide charge filed against St. George resident Carla Lynn Brennan, 52.Brennan is accused of causing the death of David Henson and the serious injury of his wife Leslee, who were on the sidewalk near Dixie Drive’s bridge over the Santa Clara River when Brennan allegedly rear-ended another car at a high rate of speed and propelled the forward vehicle into the Hensons.Another driver told police Brennan had passed him just before the collision and that he had seen her looking down at what he suspected was a cell phone.Leslee Henson became an advocate for preventing distracted driving, and a billboard featuring a photo of her husband is still located along Interstate 15 in Cedar City as part of a statewide campaign that arose from the incident.A trial had previously been scheduled for October but was postponed so a forensic cell phone analyst hired by the defense last spring could investigate Brennan’s alleged phone connection through a cell tower in relation to the incident.Westfall had previously denied a request to postpone the trial, but eventually allowed the delay after former prosecutor Brian Filter said he would agree to it. The cell expert said it would take until January to complete the investigation, and Deputy County Attorney Zachary Weiland, who inherited the case from Filter, noted Wednesday that the self-declared deadline has passed.Defense attorney Aric Cramer said the reports related to the cell tower investigation have not yet been submitted, but that his team will be ready for trial as soon as they come in.He said he expects the evidence to show Brennan Continue Reading

Trial date set in Smith murder case

ST. GEORGE – A trial date has been scheduled for Bloomington Hills murder suspect Brandon Perry Smith, 33, indicating a possible resolution in the 4 ½-year-old potential death penalty case may finally be near.Defense attorney Gary Pendleton asked the court last week to plan for two weeks of testimony and evidence related to the slaying of 20-year-old Jerrica Christensen shortly before Christmas in 2010.Judge G. Michael Westfall has scheduled a trial that will begin Sept. 28 and continue until Oct. 9, Westfall’s case manager said Tuesday.The jury will not be sequestered during the trial and is expected to spend nights and the intervening weekend at home.Two trial-planning events are scheduled on Sept. 2 and Sept. 16 to ensure no last-minute difficulties hinder the trial from taking place.Smith is accused of beating and choking Christensen in a failed attempt to knock her out before ultimately cutting her throat with a pocket knife.Smith allegedly left her to bleed to death in what prosecutors have characterized as an attempt to prevent her from testifying about the shootings of two other people in the downtown St. George home where her body was found.Smith’s friend, Paul Clifford Ashton, pleaded guilty in 2013 to shooting 27-year-old Brandie Sue Dawn Jerden and her acquaintance, James Fiske, during a dispute at Ashton’s home that preceded Christensen’s murder.He was convicted on state and federal murder charges related to Jerden and another victim, and is now serving life-without-parole.Fiske survived the shootings and testified against Smith during a pretrial hearing, although his statements at times conflicted with what the prosecution says really happened.Former Deputy County Attorney Brian Filter won a court ruling shortly after the hearing in October 2013 allowing the death penalty as a possible sentence if Smith is convicted by a jury at trial, despite Pendleton’s efforts in opposition.Christensen’s mother, Continue Reading

Trial dates set for couple charged with murder in abuse case

New trial dates have been set for an Arizona couple charged with murder in the 2011 death of a 10-year-old who was padlocked in a plastic trunk for hours.Sammantha Allen is scheduled for a May 8 trial, while her husband, John Allen, is set to be tried on Aug. 7.They pleaded not guilty to charges in the death of Sammantha Allen’s cousin, Ame Deal.Authorities say Deal died after John Allen padlocked her in the footlocker as discipline for having stolen Popsicles.She was left in the plastic box all night and was found dead the next morning.Sammantha Allen is accused of coaching another child to say that Deal was playing hide and seek the night before and that she wasn’t found before everyone went to bed. Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Continue Reading

Trial date set for 2 charged in fatal Howard High assault

A June trial date has been scheduled for two of the three 16-year-old girls charged in the fatal assault of a Howard High School of Technology student last month in Wilmington.Both Zion Snow and Chakeira Wright were set to have a hearing Thursday morning. But after their attorneys waived the arraignment hearings, a trial date was scheduled in Family Court for June 15. The two girls are charged with third-degree criminal conspiracy, which is punishable by up to one year in prison.Snow, Wright and Trinity Carr were charged last week for their involvement in the April 21 assault of 16-year-old Amy Inita Joyner-Francis, who died after she was beaten in the high school's bathroom. State prosecutors have said Joyner-Francis did not die of injuries sustained in the beating, but from a pre-existing heart condition exacerbated by the attack.Carr, who is seen in a video punching Joyner-Francis in the head and chest, is the only one charged with a felony – criminally negligent homicide.Carr has a Family Court case review hearing on May 31. Prosecutors are expected to ask a judge to declare Carr non-amenable to Family Court proceedings so she can be tried as an adult in the Superior Court. If convicted of she faces up to eight years in prison. TIMELINE: Major events in the case STORY: 3 teens charged in death of Howard High School student STORY: Howard student's family questions autopsyInvestigators determined the fight was a planned confrontation in the girls bathroom, but only Carr hit Joyner-Francis, according to a statement by the state Attorney General's Office. The fight was filmed, according to court documents, and shows Carr hitting Joyner-Francis repeatedly in the head and torso area with "what appears to be a closed fist."After Carr leaves, the video shows Joyner-Francis try to stand up, then Joyner-Francis Continue Reading

Trial date set for Phoenix woman in girl’s 2011 footlocker death

A trial is scheduled to start May 9 for a woman accused of murder in the death of a 10-year-old who was locked in a small trunk overnight in 2011.Sammantha Allen and her husband, John Allen, pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the case of the death of Sammantha's cousin Ame Deal.Superior Court Judge Teresa Sanders took over Sammantha's case after another judge earlier this month denied Allen's request to postpone the trial.John Allen's trial is scheduled to begin June 27. A pretrial conference also is scheduled Friday in his case.Authorities say Ame died after John Allen padlocked her in the footlocker as discipline for having stolen a Popsicle from a refrigerator in their residence near Broadway Road and 35th Avenue. Her body was found there July 12, 2011.Several motions still remain to be considered in the case, Sanders said in court Monday morning.One motion includes suppressing future conversation between Allen and her husband, John, who also pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.Sanders said she expected to rule on the motions as attorneys finalize the jury questionnaire for the May 9 trial date.Sammantha Allen is charged with four counts of child abuse and one count of conspiracy to commit child abuse, in addition to the first-degree murder charge.Cynthia Stoltzmann, Ame's aunt, pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse and one count of attempted abuse in the case and was sentenced to 24 years in prison in 2013.Judith Deal, Ame's grandmother, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2013 after she pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted child abuse.Deal's father, David Deal, was sentenced to 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted child abuse. Continue Reading

Lil Wayne’s trial date set with Ariz. court for cocaine, Ecstasy and handgun found on his tour bus

Rapper Lil Wayne will go on trial next March on felony drug possession and weapons charges he faces in Yuma County, Arizona.The trial date was set during a court hearing in Yuma on Thursday.The case against Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Carter, stems from his arrest at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 8 east of Yuma in January 2008. Authorities said they found cocaine, Ecstasy and a handgun on his tour bus.Lil Wayne has pleaded not guilty. His attorney didn't immediately return a call on Thursday.Chief criminal Yuma County Attorney Roger Nelson says his office doesn't offer misdemeanor plea deals on such cases and that's probably one of the reasons why the case hasn't been resolved. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Barry Bonds pleads not guilty to latest BALCO charges; trial date set for March

Home run king Barry Bonds fought his way through a throng of television cameras Friday as he entered the Phillip Burton federal courthouse in San Francisco and entered a not guilty plea to a revised indictment, the latest chapter in the government’s perjury case against the 43-year-old unemployed slugger. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston - the judge who has presided over all of the BALCO trials, including the government’s recent successful prosecutions of cyclist Tammy Thomas and track coach Trevor Graham - set a trial date of March 2, 2009. Bonds, the most prominent of the BALCO defendants, is accused of lying under oath during his 2003 BALCO grand jury testimony, when he claimed he unknowingly took steroids. Bonds appeared briefly before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Zimmerman Friday to enter the plea. Bonds faces another battle, too: The 43-year-old slugger has not been able to catch on with another team after the San Francisco Giants decided not to bring him back after last season. Bonds spent the past 15 seasons of his 22-year big league career with the Giants, breaking Hank Aaron’s home-run record with his 756th home run on Aug. 7 of last season. He has said he wants to play again, but one baseball executive told the Daily News Friday that he doubts any team would want to take on Bonds’ baggage. “I haven’t heard any clubs talking about him. And you’ve got all the surrounding issues with him,” the executive said. “I don’t know if a club would want to deal with everything that’s around him.” Bonds faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the 14 counts of making a false statement. He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and an additional $250,000 fine for the one count of obstruction of justice. In March, Illston agreed with Bonds’ lawyers and dismissed the original five-count indictment the government had handed down last November, Continue Reading