Murder Suspect Faces Three Strikes Penalty
Murder Suspect Faces Three Strikes Penalty
A 21-year-old man arrested for a fatal stabbing last August in Camarillo faces lifetime incarceration under California’s three strikes law. Tyler Ostertag, 21, of Camarillo, has already accumulated two felony convictions. He was indicted by a Ventura County grand jury for murder and the special circumstance of using a knife to kill, as well as attempting to dissuade a witness from reporting a crime. He was arraigned on the charges last week, and was expected to plead not guilty.

Three Strikes convictions can lead to life sentence

According to police, Ostertag was involved in a conflict with a group of teens outside of a local fast food restaurant last August and stabbed 16-year-old Daniel Morales in the chest. Morales later died at a local hospital. Ostertag originally fled the scene, but was arrested later that day at a motel in Riverside.

Mandatory sentences – like the ones imposed by California’s Three Strike Law – destroy families and take people who could be productive out of society for excessively long periods of time. As a criminal defense attorney, Mr. Helfend works with people who are facing tough mandatory sentencing for crimes that don’t (and should) require lengthy incarcerations.

He is a dedicated, skillfull and aggressive criminal defense attorney who takes cases in Ventura County and throughout Southern California. For more than 30 years, Mr. Helfend has defended people who are wrongly accused, or who have simply made mistakes.

In the past 30 years, Mr. Helfend has developed the professional resources a good criminal defense attorney needs in court. Each case is different and each defendant is different, so each defense strategy is unique. Whether you’re facing the possibility of your first felony conviction or your third, Mr. Helfend will work tirelessly to help you avoid convictions that will change your life forever.

No defense attorney can guarantee that he or she can get the charges against you dropped, or that he can make sure you’re acquitted in court. But as an experienced criminal defense attorney, Mr. Helfend can promise you that he will work toward the best possible outcome for your case, and work to help you avoid collecting a “strike” in California. The Three Strikes law doesn’t work as it was intended, and it has created serious problems for California families, Californians who are incarcerated and even for the State of California itself.

Don’t take chances on an inexperienced criminal defense attorney, or a “factory” practice that will assign your case to an available attorney. Work directly with the attorney who will handle your case. Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County Three Strikes case.

Photo Credit: Dave Gostisha, via

Murder Conviction in Laut Case
Murder Conviction in Laut Case
Prosecutors in Ventura County won a first-degree murder conviction against Jane Laut, wife of former Olympic track and field standout Dave Laut. After four days of deliberation, the jury found Laut guilty of the murder charge and the special enhancement of personally and intentionally discharging a weapon. Laut was accused of shooting her husband in August 2009.

Domestic violence defense used in murder trial

Dave Laut, who was the athletic director at Hueneme High School at the time of his death, won a bronze medal in the 1984 Summer Olympic games, held in Los Angeles. Jane Laut claimed that she was the victim of domestic violence throughout the couple’s 29-year marriage. She testified that she had been beaten, raped and abused habitually, and that he had brandished a gun and threatened to shoot her, the couple’s 10-year-old son, and the couple’s two dogs on the night he died.

Jane Laut testified that she and her husband fought over control of the weapon, and that she could not remember exactly what happened during the physical altercation. Prosecutors argued that the evidence did not support Jane Laut’s version of the events of that night, pointing out that Dave Laut had been shot six times at point-blank range in the back of the head.

If you’ve been charged with murder, you need the assistance of an experienced Ventura criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense in Southern California for more than 30 years, and handles tough felony cases like murder.

Mr. Helfend will fight aggressively for your rights and freedoms, and will work to get the charges against you reduced or dropped. Prosecutors will work hard to make you believe that the evidence against you is solid. Often, their cases have significant holes, which they hope that you, your attorney or the jury won’t notice. Mr. Helfend exposes the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case against you. He helps the judge and jury develop reasonable doubt that the police and prosecutors have charged the right person, or that the evidence actually supports the charges against you.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County murder case.

Photo Credit: Cathy Kaplan, via

Three Strikes Effort Needs 500K Signatures
Three Strikes Effort Needs 500K Signatures
A grass-roots effort to repeal California’s Three Strikes law needs 500,000 signatures on a petition by June 17 to be placed on the November ballot. CHOOSE1 needs total of 366,000 signatures of registered voters, but the group would like to collect more to make sure that it presents enough valid signatures to examiners.

Initiative could change Three Strikes definition

Under the proposed initiative, “strikes” accumulated before the law took effect in 1994 would no longer count toward supporting a “habitual offender” designation. The measure would also remove “criminal threats” as a conviction that will trigger a strike.

California’s Three Strikes Law is deceptively simple. Felony convictions count as “strikes.” When you accumulate three strikes, you’re out. Literally. A third felony conviction can result in a 25 years-to-life sentence, usually with no chance for parole. Your chances of spending the rest of your life in prison rise substantially with each “strike” you accumulate. And prosecutors are all too eager to brand you with the “habitual offender” tag and get you off the streets permanently. The law has led to ridiculous lifetime sentences for people convicted of non-violent offenses like shoplifting and drug possession.

Some changes to the Three Strikes Law have blunted its impact somewhat, but you may have accumulated non-violent risk lifetime incarceration for non-violent felonies when you accumulate a “strike.” Currently, the Governor of California would like to modify or eliminate the “Three Strikes” law because lifetime incarceration for essentially non-dangerous criminals is expensive. Until this law is off the books, you are at risk!

Lifetime incarceration for non-violent felonies is a high price to pay. It can destroy your life and your family’s emotional and economic security. As an experienced criminal defense attorney, Robert Helfend takes a balanced look at your criminal history and can help you defend against convictions that bring you closer to the ultimate penalty under California’s Three Strikes law.

Working to get charges against you reduced or dropped altogether is critical when facing a felony conviction that will put a “strike” on your record. Whether this is your first felony charge or your third, avoiding felony convictions is key to helping you protect your freedom. That’s why you need a criminal defense attorney who will stand by you, and bring all of his experience and resources together to help defend against felony convictions.

Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County three strikes case.
Photo Credit: Lucasz Tyrala, via

Ventura Vehicle Theft Leads To Woman's Arrest
Ventura Vehicle Theft Leads To Woman’s Arrest
A 45-year old Ventura woman was arrested for vehicle theft earlier this month. Ventura police were called to the scene of a domestic disturbance. As police arrived, they saw Oak View resident Lacy Green leaving the area in a Honda minivan.

Vehicle theft arrest leads to drug possession charges

When police contacted Green later, they discovered that the minivan had recently been the subject of a vehicle theft report from Oak View. The police arrested Green and determined that she was also in possession of a controlled substance at the time of her arrest. She was booked into the Ventura County Jail on vehicle theft and drug possession charges.

If you’ve been arrested in Ventura County for a serious felony like vehicle theft, or are facing additional charges for drug possession, you need the assistance of an experienced Ventura criminal defense attorney. Robert Helfend has established an excellent reputation as a criminal defense attorney in Ventura County. He is diligent and aggressive in the defense of his clients’ rights.

When you hire Robert Helfend to defend you, you get more than just the name on the door. Unlike some other criminal defense attorneys, Robert Helfend handles each client case personally, so you can always be certain that you are receiving the full benefit of his extensive criminal defense experience. Your case will never be referred to a junior attorney or an associate.

Felony convictions have serious consequences in California. Repeat convictions can put your long-term freedom at risk through California’s Three Strikes Law. That’s why you need a criminal defense attorney who will work aggressively to get serious felony charges like vehicle theft reduced or dropped altogether.

A courtroom is no place to take a chance on inexperience. Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County vehicle theft case.
PhC Lukáš Patkaň, via

Ventura Attempted Murder Charge
Ventura Attempted Murder Charge
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Lompoc man in connection with an attempted murder in Camarillo last week. Deputies were called to a location in Camarillo to investigate a stabbing. When they arrived, they discovered a male victim with numerous stab wounds to his head and neck. The victim, who suffered serious injuries, was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Attempted murder suspect has no ties to Ventura County

Deputies discovered evidence at the crime scene that allowed them to identify 32 year-old Bobby Arellano, of Lompoc, as a suspect in the attempted murder. Deputies later located Arellano at an address in Lompoc and arrested him on suspicion of attempted murder. The crime occurred in Arellano’s vehicle while the pair was traveling on Highway 101. Following the investigation, deputies determined that neither the victim nor the suspect has ties to Camarillo or Ventura County. Arellano was arraigned on attempted murder charges and is being held in lieu of a $550,000 bond.
If you’ve been arrested on attempted murder charges in Ventura County, you need the assistance of an experienced and resourceful criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend. Mr. Helfend has practiced criminal defense exclusively for more than 30 years, and takes the toughest attempted murder cases in Ventura County. Attempted murder convictions can lead to significant prison sentences, and also jeopardize your freedom under California’s Three Strikes Law.
Judges and prosecutors in Ventura County know Mr. Helfend as an enthusiastic and spirited criminal defense attorney, who fights tirelessly for his clients’ rights. Experience is essential in an attempted murder defense, and you risk everything by working with an inexperienced criminal defense attorney. If you’re facing an attempted murder charge in Los Angeles, don’t wait! Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free at (800) 834-6434, (310) 456-3317, (818) 591-2809 or (805) 273-5611 for an immediate consultation on your Los Angeles County attempted murder case.

Photo Credit: Bjarne Henning Kvaale, via

Earlier this year, a 67 year-old Fairfield, Alabama man was sentenced to life in prison without parole, after having been convicted of murder during the commission of a rape in relation to the death of 15 year-old Stacey Knappenberger in her Oxnard home in 1980. He is also accused of sexual assault.

Knappenberger was found beaten and stabbed to death on July 30, 1980 in her home. She suffered 50 to 60 wounds from a glass ashtray found at the scene, and at least two-dozen additional injuries from other objects. Her official cause of death was loss of blood and brain swelling. At the time, the police were unable to identify any potential suspects, and the murder investigation went cold.

Ventura Cold Case Task Force detectives submitted DNA from the Oxnard murder to a national DNA database in 2000. Subsequently, Thomas Coalt Young’s DNA profile was entered into the same national DNA database for an unrelated sexual assault crime in Illinois. Young had spent time in California in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but returned to his home state of Alabama in the early 1980’s. He moved to Illinois in 2008, but again returned to Alabama.

Young’s DNA profile was matched to the Oxnard murder in 2010. Detectives from the Ventura Cold Case Task Force investigated Young’s whereabouts and discovered that he was in California at the time of the Knappenberger murder. Young was arrested in September 2012 at his home in Fairfield, AL on the Ventura murder charge. He was finally extradited to California and arraigned on murder and sexual assault charges in 2014. He was convicted, and was sentenced to life without parole in March 2015.

If you’ve been arrested for murder, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney like Robert Helfend to defend your rights in court. In very old murder and sexual assault cases, witness testimony can be unreliable. A witness may move away or die, or their testimony may differ significantly from statements they made at the time the crime was committed. Additionally, investigators and witnesses may make assumptions or assertions that later can be proven false.

The way physical evidence is stored and preserved in murder and sexual assault cases is also significant. Physical evidence related to a murder or sexual assault case may have been lost, destroyed, mishandled or contaminated, leading to inconclusive or incorrect scientific analysis. An experienced criminal defense attorney can bring together the resources you need to defend yourself in court.

Murder in California can result in the death penalty or in life in prison, with or without parole. It is also a Three Strikes Law offense, which can effectively turn a conviction into a life sentence.

Robert Helfend has more than 30 years of experience in murder defense and takes cases in Ventura County. When your freedom is on the line, your best defense is an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Robert Helfend or call toll-free to (800) 834-6434, (805) 273-5611, (310) 456-3317 or (818) 591-2809 for an immediate consultation on your Ventura County murder case.