ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Major news out of Alameda County Superior Court. District Attorney Pamela Price has dropped two of the three murder charges against Delonzo Logwood, in a case that she inherited from the last administration. This case continues to be a controversy, one of the first Price faced after taking office in January. Price tried to have the judge on this case removed after he rejected a plea deal that would have reduced the prison sentence for Delonzo Logwood from 75 years in prison to just 15. But we learned on Wednesday, the judge is staying on the case.
Delonzo Logwood was charged with three murders and many enhancements when he was 18 years old; he later graduated from high school while in jail. In March, after Judge Mark McCannon rejected a plea deal that would have gotten Logwood out of prison after serving 15 years instead of 75, District Attorney Pamela Price tried to have the judge removed from the case. Wednesday, a judge from San Luis Obispo County ruled that McCannon will remain, writing, "The presumption of judicial honesty and integrity has not been fully rebutted."
Then, a surprise. Price's prosecution team made a motion to drop two of Logwood's three murder charges.
David Briggs is Logwood's defense attorney.
David Briggs: "Two of them got dismissed. We're looking forward to proving his innocence on the third one. But today, it was a great victory. The prosecution acknowledge the problems with the case that I've been talking about for years."
Logwood will not face charges in the death of Richard Carter during an alleged carjacking/robbery in 2008, or in the death of Zaire Washington that same year; he was set to testify against Logwood's half-brother.
The prosecution now says a key witness -- identified only as DL -- is unreliable. The first prosecutor on the case under former District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, Stacie Pettigrew, reduced DL's 31-year sentence for attempted murder and manslaughter associated with Logwood's case to just 19 years, four months.
Dan Noyes reports from Alameda County Superior Court, "And here's that first prosecutor's mistake. She gave the witness a reduced sentence to testify in Logwood's preliminary hearing, but the witness got out of jail in February and won't return to testify during the trial."
"According to his attorney, he was willing to be put in jail for contempt of court, rather than testify," said attorney David Briggs.
But the prosecutor wrote in Wednesday's motion, "Because of the structure of this cooperation agreement, there is no mechanism by which the people can penalize DL for violating his promise at this stage of the proceedings."
Former San Francisco and federal prosecutor Tony Brass tells us, "You make sure that they give you the testimony that you need before you let them out," and that the prosecution could have used DL's testimony from the preliminary hearing. "I don't know who evaluated that transcript and decided, well, this doesn't carry the day. That's something that is really unusual, too. Prosecutors use preliminary hearing transcripts all the time at trial."
But on Wednesday, the prosecutor said DL's testimony does not correspond with the evidence in key areas. As for the last charge Logwood faces? His attorney says he has a witness who confirms the murder-for-hire story is not true.
Briggs: "There's no way this was a murder for hire, whoever did it. But Delonzo Logwood didn't do it."
Noyes: "You're saying this case could actually go away soon?"
Briggs: "Ask me tomorrow, Dan. (laughs)."
Dan Noyes has spoken to Delonzo Logwood's mother in past court appearances, and Wednesday, she finally smiled when asked if she saw this as good news.
District Attorney Pamela Price released the following statement:
"We learned back in January that this witness was not guaranteed to testify," said Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price. "Additionally, his testimony was very problematic in terms of contradicting objective facts and our ability to secure a conviction in any of the cases was extremely tenuous. We concluded that the previous administration had overcharged and mismanaged the case, and that's why we worked so hard in January and February to arrive at a negotiated settlement. The Court's rejection of that proposed plea agreement in March created an unexpected barrier to our efforts to resolve the case. Today, the judge has accepted our evaluation of the evidence in the case and dismissed the two murder charges to match the evidence in the case."
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