Anaheim man convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Hollywood melee

LOS ANGELES — An Anaheim man was convicted Tuesday of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal beating of a man outside a Hollywood nightclub after a birthday celebration.

Dietrich Canterberry, 36, was acquitted of a second-degree murder charge stemming from Devion Jelkes’ October 2016 death, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Canterberry is facing up to four years in state prison, with sentencing set for Sept. 5 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Co-defendant Cordell Shields, 37, is still awaiting trial in connection with the 28-year-old man’s death, along with two counts of assault causing great bodily injury.

Shields was initially being tried with Canterberry, but Superior Court Judge William Sterling declared a mistrial in his portion of the case earlier this month.

Deputy District Attorney Seth Carmack told jurors that Canterberry and Shields were among a group of people celebrating the 30th birthday of the victim’s brother, Brandon Jelkes, and that Jelke’s sister, Laporscha Marks, got into a shouting match with Shields.

Shields punched the woman in the face and “knocks her unconscious,” the prosecutor said, showing jurors video of the scene from security cameras at the club.

Two other men then rushed at Shields, who allegedly punched one of them, knocking him to the ground.

Devion Jelkes then went running over, prompting several other people to go after Jelkes while “Devion Jelkes is running away,” according to the prosecutor. While Jelkes was on the ground, “you can see Shields run up and stomp him in the head,” the prosecutor told jurors.

Canterberry’s attorney, Rick Richmond, countered that Canterberry was “not guilty of any crime at all.”

The fight happened in a “handful of seconds” and Canterberry was quietly waiting and smoking a cigar next to the party bus and “did not move … until after Laporscha Marks was knocked out … until after at least three men were attacking Cordell Shields,” Richmond said. “What the video footage will show you (is that) Dietrich came to the aid of someone who was already under attack.”

Canterberry’s lawyer told jurors that “Shields fought back when he was attacked” but also said that Shields punched Jelkes in the face three times, threw him down on the street, kicked him twice and stomped on his head.

Jelkes then got up and ran off toward Canterberry and “collided” with him, according to Richmond.

Before the mistrial was declared in his client’s portion of the case, Shields’ attorney, Killain Jones, characterized the fight as “one giant piece of chaos” with “multiple people coming at Mr. Shields” and said Jelkes crashed into Canterberry and then struck his head.

Jones called the prosecution’s case “lacking.”

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Former Chicago-area police officer gets jail time for Huntington Beach attack

SANTA ANA — A former suburban Chicago cop was sentenced Monday to a year in jail and his brother’s wife to three months of home confinement for their involvement in an attack on two victims in Huntington Beach two years ago.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard King also ordered Arthur Edward Roman, 30, of Tinley Park, and Jessica Monique Roman, 30, of Lake Forest, to undergo an alcohol treatment program and remain sober for at least a year, and placed both defendants on three years of formal probation, which will allow Arthur Roman to avoid having to fly back and forth between his home in suburban Chicago and California to meet with a probation officer.

King said Jessica Roman’s 90 days of custody should involve electronic home confinement, but it will be up to Probation Department officials to determine whether she does time at home or in jail. She was acquitted last month of felony assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, but was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery and had faced up to a year in jail.

Her brother-in-law, who had been a police officer in Oak Forest, Ill., was convicted of felony assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and misdemeanor battery and had faced a maximum of 4 1/2 years in custody for the Feb. 28, 2016, brawl.

Addressing the court, he said he wanted “to apologize to all who were involved. I am truly sorry.”

“I apologize to not only you, but your families,” he told the victims. “I deeply regret my behavior… I hope you can find it in your heart to see I’m truly contrite.”

He also apologized to his family and friends, some of whom flew to Orange County for the hearing.

“I’m sorry I let you down,” he said.

He also tearfully apologized to his 11-year-old son.

“I’m sorry that I let you down and affected you in so many ways,” he said.

His son’s mother appealed to King for mercy, detailing how involved the ex-cop is in his son’s life. She said her son and his father are “best friends.”

Multiple family members and friends also sang the praises of Jessica Roman.

King said the defendants’ behavior on the day of the attack appeared to be “out of character,” but said there had to be “consequences” for the bad behavior.

Arthur Roman’s younger brother pleaded guilty last Aug. 25 to felony assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon, and misdemeanor battery. Martin Mario Roman, 28, of Lake Forest, was immediately placed on three years of formal probation and ordered to participate in a program overseen by a special court for veterans. His plea deal came over the objections of prosecutors, according to court records.

The attack happened as Karam Aljarrah and Aseem Dghem were walking down Third Street in Huntington Beach about 4:15 in the afternoon. At a preliminary hearing for the three defendants, Huntington Beach police Officer Eric Esparza testified that Arthur Roman started the conflict when he insulted a “straw hat” that one of the victims was wearing as “stupid.”

But in a lawsuit filed against the Romans in February, the victims claim the fight was racially motivated. They were speaking in Arabic and they believe the defendants overheard them, according to their complaint, which alleges that one of the defendants yelled “What’s up Obama-bam?” before they attacked.

The Romans were in a red Volkswagen Jetta parked near a 24-Hour Fitness gym at the time. Deputy District Attorney Angela Hong told jurors that the victims were not immediately aware they were the target of the jeers, but “the shouting continued” and one of them replied, “Excuse me, are you talking to us?”

That apparently “aggravated” the elder Roman, who got out of the car to confront the two men, Hong said, and then “his brother Martin had to get out (of the car), and then Martin’s wife, Jessica, had to get out.”

Arthur Roman pushed one of the men, the prosecutor said.

Dghem pushed back, escalating the fight, with Jessica Roman pushing Dghem down, Hong said.

“Arthur then turned his attention to Karam, who is in a fetal position, trying to protect himself,” she said, telling jurors that a witness riding by on a bicycle heard the shouting and then saw the “Romans get out of the car, and it was on.”

Jessica Roman kicked Aljarrah twice in the head, and her husband whipped out a switchblade and stabbed Aljarrah in the buttocks twice, Hong said.

A witness took a photo of the Jetta’s license plate, allowing police to quickly catch up with the brothers about a half-mile away, Hong said. Jessica Roman got out of the car at some point after they drove off and was arrested on foot nearby.

Jessica Roman’s attorney, Stephen Miller, told jurors it was not a “whodunit” case, but claimed there were “conflicting accounts” of what happened. He said his client tried to stop the conflict, telling her husband and his brother “don’t fight” as they got out of the car.

After the three left the scene of the conflict, Jessica Roman got out of the car to call the friends they had planned to meet that day and was returning to tend to her husband, who was injured in the melee, when she was arrested, Miller said.

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