A man convicted of murder as a teenager. then released from prison last year because prosecutors under Los Angeles County Dist. atty George Gascón had no objection to his release and was arrested on gun and drug possession charges after leading police on a chase earlier this week.
Andres Cachu, 24, was charged Thursday with evading police, being a criminal in possession of a gun and in possession of cocaine and methamphetamine with intent to distribute them after leading sheriff’s deputies on a brief chase had, according to the prosecutor.
Deputies found Cachu asleep and slumped over the wheel of a car on Tuesday afternoon, according to a statement released by Gascón’s office and prison records. When they woke him, MPs noticed he was carrying a firearm in his waistband and appeared to be drunk, the statement said.
Cachu tried to flee but fell a short time later and surrendered, according to prosecutors. During the brief pursuit, according to the criminal complaint, he drove in the wrong direction on a freeway. The sheriff’s department did not respond to calls or emails asking for comment about the incident.
In 2016, Cachu was tried as an adult and convicted of fatally shooting a man in Palmdale the year before. He was seventeen at the time of the murder and was serving a life sentence of 50 years.
That same year, California voters approved Proposition 57, a sweeping criminal justice reform that banned prosecutors from trying juveniles as adults without a judge’s consent, and allowed criminals like Cachu to seek new, lighter juvenile sentences.
When Cachu sought a new sentence last year, prosecutors could have requested a trial and let a judge decide whether Cachu should remain in state prison.
But Gascón had been elected as a progressive reformer, and as part of his plan to overhaul the prosecutor’s office, he opposed trying juveniles as adults. Alisa Blair, a former public defender Gascón hired to draft his juvenile court policy, was in charge of Cachu’s case and declined to request a trial.
As a result, the case was referred to a juvenile court, where sentences do not normally detain a person beyond the age of 25. Because of his age, Cachu was released.
Blair asked a judge to send Cachu to the state Juvenile Courts Department, which often takes in teenagers convicted of murder, attempted murder and other serious crimes, but the request was denied, according to prosecutors. It was unclear how much longer Cachu could have been held.
While Gascón said he would not try juveniles as adults when he was elected, his stance on cases returning to his jurisdiction under Proposition 57 was less absolute. As of last September, Gascón’s office had reviewed 17 cases, including that of Cachu, in which juveniles tried as adults sought to be retried by the electoral initiative. In 12 of these cases, prosecutors refused a court hearing and the case was referred back to the juvenile court. In some of these cases the accused were released.
In a statement, Gascón said he was “disappointed” in Cachu but defended his office’s handling of the earlier murder case.
“Based on the facts of the case and Mr. Cachu’s individual characteristics, we determined that we would likely not prevail in a rendition hearing as we could not prove that he would not have benefited from juvenile resources at the time of the original offense – again, as required by law,” he said.
Earlier this year, Victor Bibiano – a 30-year-old man who was also released after his juvenile murder conviction was overturned by Proposition 57 – was arrested in connection with the April shooting of a homeless man in Pacoima. Although prosecutors said Bibiano did not pull the trigger, he too was released after prosecutors refused to request a court hearing and an attempt to bring him to the Juvenile Justice Division failed.
Blair declined to comment on Cachu’s arrest.
Prosecutors confirmed on Thursday that Blair would step down from her position at the end of the month.
“I am incredibly grateful for Alisa’s partnership and ministry over the past few years and will continue to count on her partnership in our communities as she undertakes new endeavors,” Gascón said in a statement. “Alisa will always be an ally in the criminal justice reform movement.”
Blair is the second close Gascon ally to leave the office in recent times. Special Counsel Alex Bastian, who worked for Gascón in San Francisco and mostly ran his communications team in LA, resigned last month to become president of the Hotel Council of San Francisco.
The departures come as Gascón waits to find out if he will face a new election later this year.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-21/convicted-killer-led-sheriffs-deputies-on-pursuit-after-being-released-due-to-l-a-d-a-s-office-decision Convicted killer set free under Prop 57 arrested on gun, drug charges