David Michael Knick and Robert Duston Strong have been charged with a murder that took place 30 years ago. Sort of. The victim did not die until 2010. So if the victim died 30 years after Knick and Strong’s involvement how could they be charged with murder? It all comes down to the coroner’s determination that the death was a direct result of an act by these gentlemen.
In November, 1980, Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies Ira Essoe and Greg Brown observed three men tampering with a series of cars in a parking lot in Orange, CA. When they approached the men a gun appeared and Deputy Essoe was shot. His injuries resulted in paralysis. The gunmen stole the officers patrol unit and a high-speed chase followed. These are big in Southern California. Seems like one happens every week. This one lasted about an hour and the two men were arrested. That was then.
Deputy Essoe remained paralyzed and suffered many complications from his condition. He also developed diabetes and heart disease and apparently had to have both legs amputated along the way. Last year he develop bed sores, a very common problem in paralyzed individuals, and from these developed an infection that spread to his bloodstream, a condition we call sepsis. He died from this.
Dr. Anthony Juguilon, chief forensic pathologist for the Orange County Coroner, determined that Essoe’s death was a delayed complication of the gunshot that left him paralyzed. This determination is critical. This makes the manner of death homicide and not natural, which would have been the case had Deputy Essoe been injured in a blameless accident, for example. But the fact that he was paralyzed by a gunshot wound that occurred during a criminal act and that his death was directly related to that incident led to the determination that the manner of death was homicide.
Both men will soon be going to trial. The defense will likely argue that the death was natural and was a complication of his other disease processes while the prosecution will of course agree with the coroner’s determination. We’ll see how this one plays out.