The lawyer for the Venice hotel owner accused of ordering the fatal shooting of a boardwalk musician last year may seek separate trials for his client and an alleged Venice 13 gang member accused of pulling the trigger.
During a Jan. 15 hearing at the Airport Courthouse in Westchester, defense attorney Alan Jackson filed a request with L.A. Superior Court Judge Lauren Weis-Birnstein for Cadillac Hotel owner Sris Sinnathamby to get his own trial separate from codefendant Francisco Guzmán.
Jackson later withdrew the motion after Weis-Birnstein granted Guzmán’s lawyer a continuance of the case to March 4.
The judge also set a tentative trial date of March 28.
Jackson, a former county prosecutor, declined to say for certain whether he’d refile the motion.
“I’ll know more by [March 4] if I’m going to refile the motion. It’s been taken off calendar for now,” Jackson told The Argonaut after the hearing.
L.A. County prosecutor John McKinney did not respond to Jackson’s appeal for separate trials, but he’s previously stated objection to severing the two defendants, calling it “an undue burden on the court, the prosecution, and all of the witnesses who would have to then do two rather than one hearing.”
Prosecutors say Sinnathamby ordered Guzmán to fire the fatal shot at 26-year-old Jascent Jamal “Shakespeare” Warren during an argument with a group of homeless men on Aug. 30 outside the Cadillac Hotel.
Sinnathamby is free on $1 million bond, but Guzmán remains in custody in lieu of $3 million.
Garret Zelan, the defense attorney for Guzmán, has filed numerous court motions seeking detailed information about witnesses and
law enforcement involved in the case, with Jackson steering clear of most of them.
Jackson has previously said he believes security camera footage of the shooting will exonerate Sinnathamby.
— Gary Walker