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LA County DA George Gascón criticized as convicted murderer freed from jail charged with new crimes

Gascon under fire for murder release
Gascon under fire for murder release 02:33

After a petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures in favor of recalling Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón was submitted, he is facing outrage now that a convicted murderer who was freed from jail last November after his case was sent back to juvenile court was charged Thursday with a new series of crimes. 

Andrew Cachu, charged under the name Andres Benjamin Cachu is accused of leading Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies on a pursuit. He pleaded not guilty to one felony count each of fleeing a pursuing peace officer's motor vehicle and driving against traffic, possession of a firearm by a felon, possession for sale of methamphetamine and possession for sale of cocaine, along with one misdemeanor count each of driving under the influence of a drug, possession of a controlled substance with a firearm and possession of cannabis for sale.

Sheriff's deputies reportedly saw him slumped over the steering wheel of a vehicle and knocked on his window in an effort to awaken him Tuesday, according to the statement from the District Attorney's Office.

Deputies allegedly observed a firearm in his waistband and said he appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance when he was awakened, with Cachu allegedly trying to flee from deputies until he drove into a curb and ultimately surrendered, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The criminal complaint includes allegations that Cachu was previously convicted in October 2016 of murder and robbery.

Cachu, now 25, was released from jail last Nov. 10 after a state appeals court panel ordered that case involving the March 31, 2015, shooting death of Louis Amela be sent back for a hearing to determine if his case should be handled in juvenile court or adult court as a result of a change in state law because he was 17 at the time of the crime.

Cachu -- who was prosecuted as an adult and was serving a 50-year-to- life state prison sentence for the killing before his case was sent back -- admitted the shooting while in a jail holding cell with two undercover deputies who surreptitiously recorded their 45-minute conversation, according to the appellate court panel's November 2017 ruling. 

The appellate court panel noted in a 2-1 ruling that Cachu's convictions would be deemed to be juvenile adjudications if no motion for a fitness hearing was filed by the prosecution.

Gascón gave a response Friday to the release saying: 

"We are disappointed to learn that Mr. Cachu has not availed himself of the support that he so clearly needs, grateful that no physical harm came to anyone, and are committed to holding him accountable as an adult in this case," he said. "There have been questions about a prior case involving Mr. Cachu, where he was sentenced as a juvenile. As California law requires, our office reviewed Mr. Cachu's original case, where he had been sentenced as an adult despite committing the crime as a minor." 

Gascón went on to say said of the murder case, "Based upon the facts of the case and the individual characteristics of Mr. Cachu, we determined that we would not likely prevail in a transfer hearing because we could not prove that he would not have benefited from juvenile resources at the time of the original offense -- again, as the law requires. We asked the court to remand Mr. Cachu to the Department of Juvenile Justice and that request was denied. We are frustrated to see that he is struggling, and again, will hold him accountable for the charged offenses."

Attorney Kathleen Cady, who represented Amela's family last year in an effort to keep Cachu behind bars, said Thursday that Gascón's policies and the actions of his special adviser, Alisa Blair, "are the ones who must be held accountable."

Cachu is jailed on $1.33 million bail while awaiting a hearing on August 1 to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the case against him to proceed to trial.

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