Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón is facing renewed criticism after his office refused to imprison a man accused of attempted murder and he went on to allegedly murder his neighbor later.
31-year-old Stefen Sutherland allegedly slashed a construction worker’s neck in November 2020 after a noise complaint and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, according to law enforcement sources.
Gascón’s office opted for a mental health diversion for Sutherland rather than the prison time recommended by a probation official who wanted to avoid the possibility of further violence.
Sutherland is accused of shooting Jennifer Gomez to death on May 23 over a noise complaint, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. She was shot 19 times in her home.
Gascón’s office released a statement about the case.
“The defendant in this case met the specific eligibility criteria for mental health diversion. A court-appointed psychologist deemed him suitable for the treatment program, and our deputy district attorney agreed to the defense request for mental health diversion,” read a statement from a Gascón spokesperson.
“The court approved the treatment plan and deemed the defendant safe for community treatment. The defendant participated for nearly two years in [the] treatment program without issue,” the statement continued. “We are saddened by the most recent allegations, and our hearts go out to the victim and those who loved them.”
Gascón has been heavily criticized for being soft on crime in order ostensibly to avoid high rates of imprisonment. He has defeated two recall attempts.
Sutherland is being held on a $2 million bail and is due back in court on June 12.
The family of Jennifer Gomez has a GoFundMe account to help pay for her funeral costs.
Here’s more about the case:
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