A story for every victim

Accused home invasion robber allegedly killed four

Photo: John Wesley Ewell, Source: Los Angeles County Sheriff's DepartmentJohn Wesley Ewell claimed to be a victim of an overly harsh criminal justice system, telling journalists over the last decade that with two strikes on his record he lived in fear that even a small offense would land him back in prison for life.

Ewell is now charged with killing four people in a series of home invasion robberies that terrorized the South Bay this fall. On Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance at the Airport Courthouse.

Far from embodying the severity of the justice system, Ewell benefited from its lenience over the last 16 years, according to a Times review of court records and interviews.

Ewell has a lengthy criminal history that includes two robbery convictions from the 1980s. Nevertheless, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office decided on four occasions against seeking to use the full weight of the three strikes law when he was charged with new crimes.

And this year, after Ewell was arrested three times for allegedly stealing from Home Depot stores, a judge agreed to delay sending Ewell to prison so he could take care of some medical problems.

It was during that delay that authorities say Ewell robbed three homes, killing four people.

Read the complete story: Multiple murder suspect had benefited from three-strikes leniency

-- Jack Leonard and Richard Winton, Dec. 1, 2010

Pictured from left to right: Hanna Morcos, Robyn Turnage, Leamon Turnage. No photo of Denice Roberts is available.

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