Monday, July 3, 2017
Court of Appeal Upholds 2016 Conviction for Murder Committed 44 Years Earlier
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A July 13, 2016 murder conviction based on the Aug. 27, 1972 slaying of a 79-year-old woman was upheld Friday by the Court of Appeal for this district.
Div. Five, in an unpublished opinion by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin, sitting on assignment, rejected the contention by Harold Holman that he was prejudiced by the delay of nearly 43 years from the time of the crime and his being charged with it, on August 4, 2015.
The Los Angeles Police Department’s “cold case” homicide detectives in 2014 found a match between semen on the victim’s bedding and Holman’s DNA. The victim, Helen Meyler, had been sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death with a candelabra.
Holman, 70, has been in prison since 1980, serving a 45-year prison sentence for a double murder, as well as a series of high-rise residential burglaries.
On appeal of his conviction for the murder of Meyler, he complained that his DNA was entered into law enforcement’s Combined DNA Index System in 2002, yet efforts to test the DNA sample at the murder scene were not launched until 2012, with the delay potentially depriving him of alibi evidence.
He explained that at the time of the slaying, he worked for the Postal Service; that “any records indicating the exact dates and times of his employment have been destroyed or lost”; and that without these records as to his “work schedule on the date of the crime, he cannot present any alibi defense.”
Landin’s opinion, which affirms Holman’s conviction in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Laura F. Priver, said:
“Defendant did not meet his prejudice burden. There was no evidence USPS records showing ‘specific hours worked regarding precise dates and times’ ever existed. There was no evidence defense counsel ever specifically asked whether such records had ever existed. There was no evidence such records would have been available to defendant had he been earlier charged and requested them. Even if such records were available and had been produced, they would at best have been some circumstantial evidence of a possible alibi. Defendant’s prejudice showing was purely speculative….The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied his motion to dismiss.”
The case is People v. Holman, B276649.
Lynda A. Romero represented Holman, under appointment by the Court of Appeal for Defendant and Appellant. Deputy Attorneys General Joseph P. Lee and Jaime L. Fuster were attorneys for the People.
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