Jane Laut attorneys argue trial was unfair

Dave and Jane Laut.

Jane Laut, convicted of murdering her husband of 29 years, Dave, a former Olympian and Port Hueneme high school coach, has said through her attorneys that, had expert testimony on the effects of battered-woman syndrome been allowed during the murder trial, she may not have been found guilty.

This claim was submitted in a 116-page brief filed in the California 2nd District Court of Appeal by attorneys Mark Alan Hart and Diane Berley. Laut, 60, was sentenced to 50 years to life for the murder of her husband, but her appellate attorneys claim that she was denied a constitutional right to “present a defense” when the Ventura County Superior Court judge denied her request to present testimony on her mental state at the time of the shooting.

The attorneys also allege that prosecutorial misconduct and omission of certain jury instructions led to the “unfair verdict.”

The shooting took place on the evening of Aug. 27, 2009. Jane called 911 and claimed that prowlers were in her backyard and that she had heard gunshots. Later, she admitted to shooting her husband in self-defense after he threatened to kill her and their dogs. The defense would claim that Jane was abused by her husband for 29 years.

During cross-examination, Senior Deputy District Attorney Rameen Minoui insinuated that defense attorney Ron Bamieh coached Jane’s testimony about her abusive relationship and that the defense attorney’s role is “to lie.” For this, Minoui was fined $500 and the jury was asked to disregard his statements. The incident is cited in the appellate brief as being an example of prosecutorial misconduct, one of three such occurrences.

The State Attorney General must now file a response to Laut’s brief.

T.O. mall shooting suspect shouldn’t have had weapon

The gun used to shoot and kill one woman and then used in an attempted suicide by the alleged shooter had been wrongfully returned to the suspect after deputies had seized it earlier in the year.

On Saturday, March 17, authorities say, Kevin Crane, 33, shot and killed his ex-wife, Parisa Siddiqi, 29, at the Papersource store within the Thousand Oaks Mall before turning the gun on himself. Crane was in critical condition following the incident.

The Glock .40-caliber handgun had been seized in September 2014 after Crane was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery of Siddiqi during a dispute, resulting in minor injuries, according to Ventura County Sheriff’s Office.

Prosecutors charged Crane with misdemeanor battery and a judge ordered that his handgun be confiscated. The order wasn’t received by the Sheriff’s Office, however, for over a year, during which time Crane’s application for the return of his weapon was approved.

Suspected human trafficking suspect arrested in Camarillo

James Powell

A Sacramento man was arrested in late March and charged with human trafficking in Ventura County after investigators say he forced multiple suspects, including minors, to engage in prostitution.

James Powell, 31, was arrested after an investigation into a missing Sacramento-area 14-year-old girl led to the discovery of the girl’s picture being used online to promote prostitute services in Camarillo. Authorities from the Sacramento suburb of Citrus Heights notified the Ventura County Sherriff’s Office, which then located the missing 14-year-old girl along with two other victims, aged 17 and 22 respectively, in a Camarillo hotel room.

Two other victims were found during the hunt for Powell, one found with him as he attempted to check into a hotel room in Manhattan Beach.

Powell is expected to appear in court on April 14, charged with two counts of causing, inducing and persuading a minor to engage in a commercial sex act and two counts of human trafficking, with bail set at $150,000.