In Memory of Arthur Carmona
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This page is dedicated to a young man from Santa Ana, CA who touched so many people in his short time on earth.

Chronology of Events  Arthur Carmona case

  •  1998, 1999, 2000 February 10, 1998 - A robbery occurs at a Denny's Restaurant in Costa Mesa, California.   Casey Becerra and George Algie are witnesses. 
  • February 12, 1998 - Shortly after 3:30 PM, young Hispanic man robs a Juice Club in Irvine, California.   He is 15 to 18 years old with a thin moustache and dark, very short hair. He is wearing blue jeans, a sweat jacket with a white stripe on it, and white tennis shoes with a black Lakers cap on his head and a black backpack.  The total amount stolen is $343.86 . Kenneth Cashion is pumping gas at a Texaco station across from the Juice Club when he notices a gray pickup next to the station with a man behind the wheel. When he finished at the pump, Cashion starts to drive away when he sees a young Hispanic run across the street toward the gray pickup. He is wearing a black coat with white stripes and is carrying a black bag. Cashion saw the pickup pull out, the driver leaning   toward his right as if he were talking to a passenger.  Cashion wrote down the license-plate number. The police trace the license-plate number to Shawn Kaiwi, who lived 4 miles from the Juice Club.  Just after 4 PM, police officers arrived at his residence, saw the truck and detained Kaiwi.  The police searched his apartment and found a black backpack; a 9 mm pistol reported stolen five years earlier in Meridian, Mississippi, and a Juice Club cup. In the truck, they found a Lakers cap. At about the same time, Christine Hoffman sees a young male Hispanic appear at the top of the sound wall and drop down to the slope at the back of her yard wearing a dark cap and a long-sleeved white shirt with a dark-colored T-shirt over that. He starts running south and she calls the police. Arthur Carmona left his apartment on his bike around 3:30 p.m. to go visit a friend, Roy Bueno, who lived with his family in Costa Mesa. A few blocks from Hoffman's house, Arthur saw the police, who were on patrol looking for the young Hispanic male Hoffman had seen.  Arthur did not know this, of course, but the police presence made him nervous since he had received one ticket for riding his bike without wearing a helmet. His friend Frank Roldan lived nearby so he went there and left his bike. He made a quick phone call to Paul Millan, then walked to the neighborhood where Roy Bueno lived shortly after 4 p.m. Costa Mesa police officer Dennis Sanders was one of the officers patrolling the neighborhood looking for a suspect. The police helicopter overhead directed him toward a young man walking along the sidewalk, Arthur Carmona.  Arthur was not wearing a hat or a dark jacket, and he was not carrying a backpack. He did have on a dark T-shirt. Witnesses are brought to the seen to look at Arthur.  Walid Abdel-Samad, who was behind the counter of the juice stop during the robbery, is only 80% sure that Arthur is the robber.  Hoffman, unsure if Arthur was the man she had seen, asked if he had been wearing a hat.  The police took the hat they found in Kaiwi’s apartment and placed the hat on Arthur’s head (despite the fact that the cap may have contained sweat, hair, or other DNA evidence that could reveal the identity of the person who had worn it).  Arthur’s fingerprints were not found anywhere in the Juice Club, on the pickup, onthe gun, or on any physical evidence relating to the crime. At 6:30 p.m., Ronnie Carmona, Arthur's mother is called and told that her son has been arrested for armed robbery.

Arthur Carmona about the time of his arrest

Arthur Carmona and his mother after his release from jail Pictures from The Orange County Register

The Case of Arthur Carmona

Chronology of Events  Arthur Carmona case continued

  •  April 1998 - Arthur's preliminary hearing. October 13 -21, 1998 - Arthur's trial before Superior Court Judge Everett Dickey.   Arthur is tried as an adult and charged with the Juice Club robbery and the Denny's robbery.  Kenneth Reed is his court-appointed attorney. He does not call to the stand any of the people who would have testified to seeing or speaking with Arthur on the afternoon of the Juice Club robbery, or call any character witnesses such as Arthur's pastor or his teachers. Reed visited Arthur only once in jail prior to the trialto get his story, and then did not even put his him on the stand.  The only defense witnesses called are Ronnie Carmona and Arthur’s sister, Veronica. 
  • October 21, 1998 - The jury convicts Arthur. 
  • February 10, 1999 - Casey Becerra, the Denny's waitress who testified as an eyewitness against Arthur, comes forward that she is now unsure about her identification of Arthur. 
  • May 7 - June 11, 1999- Dana Parsons, a columnist for the LA Times, writes 10 articles about Arthur's case.  Convinced of the unfairness of Arthur's trial, he interviews witnesses and jurors who express doubts about the case.  Christina Hoffman believed Arthur was wearing the baseball cap when he was arrested.  Casey Becerra says she was told by the police and prosecutors that "...they found his gun.    Not a gun somewhere.  They found his gun.  His hat. His backpack. He was seen in the truck that everyone else identified (Parsons, Dana. LA Times.  May 26, 1999)." 
  • May 14, 1999 - The hearing for a new trial takes place. 
  • June 4, 1999 - Arthur is denied a new trial and sentenced to 12 years.  He will serve in a youth facility until he turns 18, when he will be transferred to an adult facility. 
  • June 18, 1999 - At a press conference, it is announced that the law firm Sidley and Austin will represent Carmona pro bono. 
  • November 9, 1999 - Arthur is transferred to the Preston Youth Correctional Facility in Northern California. 
  • December 15, 1999 - The Arthur Carmona Legal Defense Fund hold a fundraiser for Arthur at the Elks Lodge in Santa Ana. 
  • January, 2000 - An appeal is filed for Arthur's case.  The appeal criticizes Carmona's court-appointed lawyer in his first trial for failing to interview a number of witnesses who could have supported Arthur's alibi that he was nowhere near the juice bar when it was robbed.  The appeal also faults Carmona's original lawyer for failing to suppress questionable evidence, including police officers placing a hat on Arthur's head believed to have been worn by the robber while witnesses identified him. 
  • February 2000 - Esai Morales,a lead actor in the film "Mi Familia," "La Bamba," "Bad Boys," "Garcia Lorca" and many others, visits Arthur.  The night before Arthur was transferred; Esai and Nadia Davis caught the last plane to Sacramento, rented a car, and drove frantically for an hour in an attempt to get to the Preston facility on time to visit with Arthur.  Here is Nadia's description of that evening. "We were extremely late, however, the director of the facility and the guards were accommodating and allowed us to visit with him.  Arthur lit up like the young kid he is when he realized who the manwas that walked in and sat down in the chair next to me.  He had no idea Esai would be coming.  Esai expressed to him why Arthur's case captured him and gave him some powerful words of advice, encouragement, hope, and strength.  I truly believe that Art needed a man to talk to him about the realities of what he is going through.  Art's eyes got a little watery numerous times.  When we left, Arthur watched us walk away around the corner.   At the same time, the night guards were arriving. One of them pointed at Esai and asked 'Morales?'  Esai said 'yeah.'  The guard said 'no, way, what are you doing here?  I am a big fan of yours.'  Esai said, 'Well I'm a big fan of Mr. Carmona.'  The guard asked 'Carmona?' and the other guards clued him in as to who Arthur is.  Arthur saw all of this. I wish he could have heard it too.   Anyways, Esai calls periodically to ask how Arthur is doing and he plans to go with me to visit him again soon in Chino. "In addition, I brought just a few of the many letters I have received expressing words of encouragement in the fight for his justice and words of hope to him directly.   Every visual that we can provide to him demonstrating the massive amount of people out here supporting him is so important.  He still has no idea and sometimes explaining it just isn't enough." 
  • February 2000 - Following Arthur's 18th birthday on February 5, 2000, Arthur is transferred to the Institute for Men in Chino. 
  • March 2000 - The 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana issues an order that requires the Orange County Superior Court to consider new evidence in Arthur's case. The appeals court rules that prosecutors be ordered to show why a defense attorney's writ of habeas corpus seeking Arthur's release should not be issued.  A hearing date has been set for June 8th, 2000.   In addition, the appeals court denied the attorney general's request that the overall appeal be consolidated with the writ seeking Arthur's release. 
  • April 28, 2000 - Arthur is transferred to Ironwood State Prison in California.  

Video of Arthur Carmona

To learn more about Arthur Carmona:



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Death Penalty Focus  Woking Alternatives to the Death Penalty 


     When we started with working with Arthur Carmona, when his mother, Ronnie, and aunt, Mona Ruiz, went to our Los Amigos of Orange County meeting that Wednesday morning at Mimi's Restaurant in Anaheim, CA after Arthur was convicted of armed robbery, very few were happy to volunteer. Nadia Davis, a new attorney and I, a law school graduate were two of the few who first volunteered. Later on Nuestro Pueblo and Los Amigos would both take on the case.

    When Arthur was sentenced to 12 years, very few would still help. One prominent Santa Ana Latino told me, "Frank how do you know he (Arthur) is innocent."  I said, "I didn't know because I wasn't there at the scene of the crime and there is no video. But then how can anyone 'know' when you are in the jury about anyone's guilt or innocence. But I know a lot of young Latinos are innocent and they are still in jail.  And if I can't believe the word of a Latina Santa Ana police officer, then who can I believe?"

    By the time case ended with his release from prison 2 years later, there was a Los Angeles Times columnist writing about him, a prominant Latino actor, Esai Morales, several jurors were not sure if he was guilty, most Latinos activists including the Santa Ana mayor, we had most of the newsmedia at his release and press conference at the Los Amigos of Orange County meeting at La Isla Restaurant in Anaheim, CA.  Arthur Carmona became a household name.