Victim Stories: John Ruh - Gascon Must Go
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Victim Stories: John Ruh

On February 19, 2018, 61-year-old former Marine John Ruh was shot three times during an attempted robbery as he finished his shift at VP Fuels and Drive-thru Dairy in the Antelope Valley. Gang members Denmonne Lee, who was 16 at the time, distracted Mr. Ruh, and Deonata Johnson shot him. Video footage caught Denmonne Lee smiling as walked out the door. After the murder, Lee sent a threatening video to a witness, promising to shoot her in her eye. Gascon would not allow Lee to be prosecuted in criminal court. His case stayed in juvenile court and he was released after a few years. Less than a year after his release, Lee is now charged with murdering Eric Ruffin. Had Lee been prosecuted in criminal court, he would still be in custody and Mr. Ruffin would be alive. Gascon’s policies are directly responsible for Ruffin’s murder.

See also: L.A. Times: Gang Member Who Gascon Refused to Prosecute Now Accused of New Murders

Most crimes committed by juvenile offenders are correctly prosecuted in juvenile court so they can receive rehabilitation, which is expected to cure their criminal behavior. The law, however, recognizes 30 violent crimes for which 16- and 17-year-olds can be prosecuted in criminal court. These crimes include murder, home invasion robbery, carjacking and aggravated sexual crimes. The legal mechanism to move a case from juvenile court to criminal court is for the District Attorney to conduct a transfer motion. Gascón states we should “treat kids like kids” and never prosecute them in criminal court. Juvenile jurisdiction ends when a person turns 25, so if they are not transferred to criminal court, they are released after serving only a few years in custody for violent crimes.