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Accused murderer of activist David Lewis set free

Original post made on Feb 6, 2013

The man who confessed to gunning down well-known East Palo Alto community leader David Lewis was set free by the San Mateo County court Tuesday, Feb. 5. Gregory Leon Elarms Sr., 60, was released from jail three months after a San Mateo County Superior Court judge threw out first-degree murder charges against him after finding that San Mateo police violated his Miranda rights.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 9:17 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by Ann, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 6, 2013 at 10:30 am

This is unbelievable - we now have a person who confessed to a stalking and ambush murder, who then armed himself repeatedly while in
custody, back on the streets. Where is the safety of the public here?


Posted by And-They-Call-This-Justice, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2013 at 10:48 am

Yesterday's Daily Post printed the salaries for Redwood City Police Officers--some of which are making almost $300,000 per year (with a 90% pension in the wings). This is what paying these outrageous salaries is buying the residents of Redwood City.

When this man kills again--and it is difficult to believe he won't--everyone associated with this case will have blood on their hands!

What a travesty! No wonder no one trusts government any more!!


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

Re comment above - what does Redwood City have to do w/this case? San Mateo PD screwed up, not Redwood.

This is an utter travesty that was avoidable. So did the stupid cops get into trouble for their screw up?


Posted by Ricardo, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2013 at 10:56 am

thank you, Hmmm.

I also wonder what RWC has to do with this.


Posted by KimDoTCom, a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:05 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Bamboula, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:15 am

He was released because the judge followed the constitution.

The constitution does not care who kills who or what. You mess up (in this case the police), you pay the price for your mistake.


Posted by Raymond, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

Miranda Rights are there for a reason. What a complete diservice to the public that the arresting officers neglected to advise him. Making 'good arrests' is what the public expects from them.


Posted by And-They-Call-This-Justice, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:30 am

> I also wonder what RWC has to do with this

My mistake.


Posted by thoughtful, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 6, 2013 at 11:38 am

Like it or not, criminals are our first line of defense against governmental overreaching. It is tragic that the police violated this person's right not to be a witness against himself. The right itself arose in reaction to the Star Chamber made famous by the Tudors and Stuarts for nearly 200 years and a right guaranteed to us since the English Revolution of 1641. This same right that was asserted by those accused in Senator McCarthy's hearings in the early 1950s. It's the same right that our honored soldiers have fought and died for for centuries. Criminals also protect our right of privacy, our right not to have our cars and homes searched by governmental authority on any whim.

While it is reprehensible that this crime occurred, and it's possible that a guilty person may go free, it has always been one of the hallmarks of our freedom that we, as a society, would prefer to allow a guilty person to go free rather than wrongly convict an innocent person. Don't blame the judge who, I am quite certain, only with great reluctance threw out an illegal confession. Blame the police who, despite excellent training, violated their own, and our, procedures to ensure that a confession is legally obtained.


Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Lovely. Another killer walks amongst us.


Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Thoughtful, thanks so much for commenting upon the fact that, if a criminal's constitutional rights are not upheld, then none of us are secure.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm

This is shocking. I am all for prisoner's rights, but what about the public's rights?

The question I would like to know is how often does this happen? How often do criminals get let off because of mistakes made by the arresting police?


Posted by Ricardo, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2013 at 12:36 pm

@resident: try a search, perhaps arrest + miranda + free, or freed, or released, for answers to your questions. The google machine is quite fun. You should try it when you have a moment. In the meantime, you may want to search on 'Constitution' or 'civil liberties'.

Then we can REALLY have fun, with the whiners who want a less talented police force on the cheap, versus those who want our civil right protections and a high quality, fairly compensated public servant.

Elam got off because his civil rights were violated, as the LAW prescribes. An awful situation, but the correct one. If Mr Elam's sanity is still intact (see recent history, also available under the google machine) Mr Elam will move far away. My prediction is that he won't.


Posted by Concerned Retiree, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2013 at 12:38 pm

And some wonder why homeowners feel safer with a Glock in their house ...


Posted by Ricardo, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm

"And some wonder why homeowners feel safer with a Glock in their house ..."

I wonder as well, with all evidence pointing that the gun is far more likely to be used on someone in the home than outside the home.

That said, Mr Elam allegedly (and admitted to) murdered someone he knew for a very long time. He did not invade a home.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Dear And-They - easy mistake to make. After all, it's hard to remember what screw up belongs to which police dept. It was the former Redwood chief who get caught w/the Sheriff at the hooker house in Vegas.


Posted by Dan, a resident of Southgate
on Feb 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

"...if he fails to appear ... or commits a new offense, the maximum four-year state prison sentence limit he could receive on the weapons charges would be removed."

I assume the author meant to say that the sentence you be reinstated.


Posted by Howard, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 6, 2013 at 2:27 pm

To equate the failure to say the "magic words" of the Miranda warning (that no one pays any attention to), with the Star Chamber or other forms of torture, is ridiculous. The Supreme Court's Miranda decision was wrong, and was not and is not necessary to protect the Constitutional Rights of innocent people falsely accused of a crime. Those who treat Miranda with some sort of patriotic reverence are misguided and only serve the interests of hardened criminals.


Posted by Gethin, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm

This is an extraordinary example of our system both failing [due to a processing error by the police] but working extremely well [where someone who's rights were not correctly upheld gets to go home].
Naturally it appears to be a travesty for a common sense view of justice and I can only hope that a case can be remade and successfully prosecuted to get this dangerous person off our streets.


Posted by Ricardo, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm

"The Supreme Court's Miranda decision was wrong"

Don't think we'll agree on much of what you say after such a patently ridiculous statement. Haven't heard of many, if any, attempts to overturn so "wrong" (in your opinion.)


Posted by some guy, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2013 at 9:58 am

Is it any wonder why so many choose a life of crime? the justice system has become a joke. He may very well also be killed himself in retaliation for his crime. What a mess.


Posted by Human Rights Fan, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2013 at 10:36 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Jogil, a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2013 at 10:47 am

Don't blame the Miranda Decision for the cops' goof. An I suspect Elarms will be back in the CJ (Mental Health) system, sooner than later. Hopefully, no one harmed in the process.


Posted by some guy, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2013 at 10:51 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Outraged, a resident of Ventura
on Feb 7, 2013 at 11:20 am

Was the confession the only evidence against Mr Elarms? Was there no witness, no weapon found? I am outraged that a confessed assassin was set free. David Lewis was a humanitarian that did much for the community. I am deeply saddened by his murder and now the injustice of allowing his murderer to go free. And I can't help thinking that if he were of a different ethnicity, a different community or in a different social status things would have turned out differently for Mr Elarms as they did for Hinkley, Booth, Oswald, James Earl Ray and other assassins.


Posted by Etoile, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm

This is too nauseating for words. The victim can never rest in peace until justice is done. May Elarms be haunted all his remaining days!


Posted by maybeDOdance, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Folks that hurt people NEED TO KEEP THEM IN PRISON, and they can sit around, but NO exercise machines etc., just use their body. Not machines building massive muscle (since they will hurt others).
Pitiful truly...
Have them make cards, and use paints, and no one will be hurt from that.
Maybe dance.


Posted by Just Wait, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 30, 2013 at 2:59 am

The Appeals Court WILL reinstate the confession. Write down the date. You heard it hear first. Don't assume you know all the facts because you read them on a website. I love how some of you call Elarms the "alleged" killer, but automatically assume the police are in the wrong....In a matter of months, you will all look ignorant and uninformed.


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