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California State law re murder – I’m puzzled

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  • Elders (Moderators)

I’m referring to California State law because it’s a murder that happened in California. I have no idea how such a case would be handled in other states or, indeed, in the UK.

I was watching an episode of the documentary series “Murder She Solved”, which is about women police detectives. In that particular case, an individual had been found guilty of violent attacks on women, including a murder and an attempted murder with a hammer. Those cases occurred in Oregon and he was sentenced there. His DNA had been entered into the national CODIS database and a match was found in the case of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl in San Leandro, California, several years earlier.

What was said in the documentary was that the man was aged 14 at the time of the San Leandro murder. The sentence he would have received if he had been apprehended while still a teen would have been detention in the California Youth Prison up until the age of 25. But as he was 29 years old when finally identified as the murderer, he couldn’t be tried for the crime – presumably because the only sentence he could have received was no longer available because he was now too old.

I find that strange. He evaded prosecution simply because too much time had passed?

I realise that an alternative view could be that as he was already serving a 30-year sentence (with the possibility of parole) in Oregon, it would be a waste of money and time to prosecute him in California. As I understand it, DNA in the US can only be taken from suspects in felony, rather than misdemeanour, cases; but a felony seems to be defined as a criminal act punishable by a prison sentence of more than a year. So, this individual could have been caught by his DNA at the age of 29 for, say, a burglary, and be out of prison after a couple of years for that offence, but not be prosecuted for a murder as a juvenile? Surely that can't be right.




In the spirit of the (No)toriety campaign, I am not naming the murderer.


RIP Evelyna LeBlanc. You were a beautiful and vibrant young woman who deserved to have had a long and happy life. Your mom had to wait nearly 13 years to learn the name of the evil who took you away from her, but she never got to see that individual facing justice in a court of law.

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Wow, what a story.

Okay, first of all, I didn't think there was a statue of limitations on murder.  Second, if he was identified, he should be tried, period paragraph, no matter where he is or how old he is.  Murder is murder.  And thank you for not mentioning the man's name by posting, "In the spirit of the (No)toriety campaign, I am not naming the murderer."

Mr. Belch, the systems of justice are the pits.  They are so corrupt, and not just in one state, but in all of them.  I wasn't born in California, but as you know I was raised there, and as bad as thing are here in Oklahoma, you couldn't pay me enough to move back to that state.

According to https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-law-basics/time-limits-for-charges-state-criminal-statutes-of-limitations.html

there is no statute of limitations in California for murder.  Naturally this is a unique case because of the fact that he is incarcerated in Oregon, but to me he should still stand trial.

Time Limits for Charges: State Criminal Statutes of Limitations


A statute of limitation is a law which forbids prosecutors from charging someone with a crime that was committed more than a specified number of years ago. The general purpose of statutes of limitation is to make sure convictions occur only upon evidence (physical or eyewitness) that has not deteriorated with time. After the period of the statute has run, the criminal is essentially free.

Statutes of limitation generally require the criminal to remain in the state, gainfully employed and visible, seeming to necessitate that the criminal remain "catchable." If the authorities fail to discover a criminal living in the open within a specified amount of time, society has determined that at that point the criminal should be able to live free from the possibility of prosecution. It appears that this notion is born out of a sense of mercy more than pragmatics: if the criminal is a fugitive, out of the state in which the crime was committed or otherwise living in hiding, this tolls, or suspends, the statute. (Once the criminal reenters the state the statute resumes running.) However, if the criminal were living an open, public, so-called "reformed" life, after a reasonable period of time he is allowed to be free from capture.

Not all crimes are governed by statutes of limitation. Murder, for example, has none. Sex offenses with minors, crimes of violence, kidnapping, arson, and forgery have no statutes of limitation in a number of states. In Arizona and California crimes involving public money or public records have no statutes of limitation. While in Colorado, treason has none.

Many states have adopted systems that classify felonies by category. Therefore, in order to effectively compare statutes of limitation provisions, it is necessary to determine which crimes in that state fit into particular classes. For example, Missouri lists murder or Class A felonies as crimes with no statutes of limitation. Each crime must then be looked up in that state's statutes to determine its classification.


Pen. §§799et seq.

Murder, other offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment, embezzlement of public funds: none; offenses punishable by 8 or more years in prison: 6 yrs.; offenses punishable by imprisonment: 3 yrs.

1 yr.; misdemeanor violation committed on a minor under 14: 3 yrs.; sexual exploitation by physician or therapist: 2 yrs.

Not in state, max. extension 3 yrs.; statutory periods do not begin until offense is or should have been discovered


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There is no statute of limitations on murder in any state that i know of.  however,  I can see how they'd neglect to prosecute a murder committed at 14 if he's over the age limit they would have kept him.  BUT.... why not  sentence him to that many years anyway?  Murder is murder.  

I don't think the law has anything to do with left or right.  It's  simply a situation they haven't allowed for because  when laws were made, there weren't that darn many 14 year olds running around murdering people.  They need to amend them.

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  • Elders (Moderators)

Thanks for all the responses. Maybe you're right, seesthru, that they don't have the legal provision to charge him because it was never envisioned there would be the need for such a law.

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The use of genetic tests in forensics goes back a century to the discovery of blood typing. But it wasn't until the development of the first DNA fingerprinting techniques by Alec Jeffreys in 1984, followed by the development of PCR based methods, that such testing began to show its full potential. As these techniques became more widespread, research in the 1990s and 2000s improved on them significantly, extending the boundaries of their application to situations unimaginable only a few decades earlier.


As you can see, the murder was committed around the time the techniques were become more widespread and improved, so there wouldn't have been a legal provision.  But as we all are saying, murder is murder, and there is no statute of limitations, so this person isn't going anywhere.  At the very least, I believe this new DNA proof of his quilt and the charges would dismiss his possibility of any parole, no matter what his age was at the time, because he's 29 now, and we now know he's guilty.

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