Surveillance video and witness credibility issues did not support claims that Sris Sinnathamby ordered Venice boardwalk killing

By Gary Walker

A judge has dismissed the murder charges against Cadillac Hotel owner Sris Sinnathamby, who had been accused of ordering the Aug. 30 shooting death of a Venice Boardwalk musician during a confrontation with a group of homeless men outside his hotel.

On June 8, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elden Fox granted a defense motion that argued there wasn’t enough evidence against Sinnathamby to take him to trial on charges of murder and attempted murder.

Sinnathamby is “absolutely ecstatic,” said Alan Jackson, his attorney.

“We knew from the very beginning that these charges were patently false. We just needed our day in court, and we knew that when the facts came out the court would see that as well,” Jackson said.

County prosecutors had accused Sinnathamby, 55, of ordering alleged Venice 13 gang member Francisco Guzmán to open fire at victim Jascent Jamal Warren, who went by the nickname “Shakespeare.”

Guzmán, who is represented by a different attorney, remains in custody in lieu of $3 million bail on charges of murder, attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Surveillance video that undermined the credibility of prosecution witnesses was instrumental to the judge’s decision, according to Jackson. Many of those accusing Sinnathamby of ordering Guzmán to shoot Warren were among the group of men who had physically attacked Sinnathamby after the shooting and were also suing him, he said.

“To use the judge’s words, in order to hold Mr. Sinnathamby to answer, he would have to believe the prosecution’s witnesses that claimed to hear the statement ‘Shoot that n*****.’  The court stated, ‘I simply don’t believe them,’” Jackson wrote in an email statement to The Argonaut.

Prosecutors are unlikely to file new charges against Sinnathamby.

“The charges against Mr. Sinnathamby were dismissed by the court for insufficiency of the evidence. Unless additional evidence comes to light, it is unlikely that we will refile the charges against him,” L.A. County Deputy District Attorney John Mckinney said.

LAPD officers arrested Sinnathamby just hours after Warren’s death. It took an additional six weeks for the LAPD-FBI Joint Fugitive Task Force to hunt down Guzmán, who was arrested Oct. 5.

On the same day that Fox tossed the charges against Sinnathamby, he denied a separate motion to dismiss the case against Guzmán.

Guzmán’s next appearance at the Airport Courthouse in Westchester is set for June 22.

Sinnathamby, meanwhile, “is looking forward to putting his life back together,” Jackson said.

But restoring Sinnathamby’s reputation might take some time, he said, given the high-profile nature of the case and the popularity of Warren, whose friends and family held a memorial in his honor on the boardwalk in September.

“There’s going to be some work required to get his good name back, but he’s looking forward to being an integral part of the Venice community again,” Jackson said.