Local cases continued as courts plan return of jury trials

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station can be reached by calling 661-260-4000.

Two local cases from the backlog of several thousand countywide awaiting trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court had hearing dates this past week, as officials look to return to a trial schedule for pending criminal cases.

L.A. County Presiding Judge Kevin Brazile issued an order Friday that “supports the court’s efforts to ramp up operations while prioritizing public health measures and social distancing protocols as the pandemic enters its seventh month,” according to a statement.

“The court will give priority to criminal trials that were previously continued under a judicial emergency order … in assigning available prospective jurors for either misdemeanor or felony jury trials,” according to a statement from Brazile. “Presently, there are approximately 7,000 criminal cases that must be tried to satisfy defendants’ statutory speedy trial rights.”

(The complete order from the court can be viewed at: bit.ly/LACountyOrder.)

Monolito Guerra

The case of the suspect accused of shooting a Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputy in the neck during an investigation into a report of a person with a gun on Bottletree Lane in Newhall is now approaching its three-year anniversary.

Guerra, who’s been cleared to stand trial after his counsel sought to question his mental competency, remains in jail in lieu of more than $5.75 million bail while he awaits his preliminary hearing. He was arrested and later charged with attempted murder after allegedlly shooting Deputy Albert White, who has since returned to active duty for the station.

White suffered a “through-and-through” wound, meaning the bullet left an entry and exit wound, and though he was initially hospitalized and listed in critical condition, he returned to work in 2018 after recovering from the injury.

Guerra is due back in court Nov. 13 for his preliminary hearing.

During a preliminary hearing, the evidence is presented to a judge who decides if there’s enough to merit a trial for the charges listed in a criminal complaint. 

Philip Scott Newlyn

Newlyn’s case has been traveling through the court system for more than four years, since the veteran was arrested on suspicion of striking a longtime Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer several times with Newlyn’s pickup truck. 

Newlyn, 30, was deemed fit to stand trial in August 2018, after the Purple Heart recipient’s mental competency was called into question due to post-traumatic stress disorder. He had been sent to the Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino for psychological assessment.

Newlyn is due back in court Nov. 5 for the hearing of “motions,” according to Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the District Attorney’s Office, providing no further detail on the nature of the motions.

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