A Murder in North Hollywood

State of California vs. Jose Arrevalos

By Sonia Smith
Published on LatinoLA: October 10, 2002

A Murder in North Hollywood

RE: State of California vs. Jose Arrevalos; Court case # LA041375; DA # 3742475

Raul Gonzalez and I have two children whom he loved and unwillingly left behind due to the following heinous crime.

On September 08, 2002 my beloved Raul was murdered in cold blood. It happened in No. Hollywood on his 31st birthday.

An active gang-member, Jose ?Midget? Arrevalos, shot him at close range following the use of gang epithets, and murdered him. According to the intial police report, Jose Arrevalos and two friends entered an inhabited area where Raul and a number of friends were visiting. Although Arrevalos was not invited, he and his friends managed to enter the dwelling. Raul immediately tried to escort the uninvited individuals out of the apartment. However, an altercation ensued between Arrevalos and Raul. Arrevalos pulled out his unregistered .38 caliber gun and fatally shot Raul in the chest.

The witnesses are remaining silent because they are terrified about retaliation from Arrevalos? gang, Michigan Avenue. Currently, Detectives are unable to identify the two other men with Arrevalos, causing the case to become one of ?self-defense? based on the testimony of Arrevalos and his girlfriend, whom occupied the apartment. Detectives Alegria and Sterwalt took their investigation to the DA?s Office in Van Nuys and they dismissed the murder charge, manslaughter, discharging a firearm in an inhabited area and simply filed a weapon charge. He was offered a deal of up to one-year local time for this charge. NO MURDER or MANSLAUGHTER charges are being filed, which is an absolute outrage to those that love Raul.

Therefore, I would like a formal written reassurance that the Detectives (Alegria and Sterwalt) at No. Hollywood division, are doing everything in their power to apprehend the two other gang members that were with Arrevalos on the night of the murder. Next, I would like an offer of protection to the terrified witnesses at the gathering, in order to obtain testimony.

One of these witnesses is being held due to a violation of his terms of probation. Has he been adequately questioned and offered some sort of bargain for cooperating, i.e. testimony in exchange for reduced jail time? But more importantly, I would like to know why this case?s been deemed a ?cold case?? Why has Arrevalos simply been charged with carrying a weapon and not murder? An uninvited person enter a gathering where he does not belong and he is carrying a concealed weapon. When asked to leave, he starts a dispute and ultimately kills a man (a father, a brother, a friend, and a loved one) yet, to the powers that be, it?s a case of ?self-defense? and only a weapon charge was filed. Where is the justice? More investigation work is definitely in order and demanded!

It was not until the preliminary hearing on September 20th that we, the ?victims? learned that Arrevalos was offered a deal. He was to plead no contest in exchange for a sentence of up to one-year local time. We were appalled by the lack of justice. My sister adamantly, requested to speak to the supervising DA Dan Bershin when DA Shannon Knight could no longer answer our questions. It was in this impromptu meeting with Mr. Bershin that we learned that Arrevalos could (but was not at the time) be charged with special allegations of gang enhancement (186.22 PC). My family and I fought for this additional charge to be brought forth. And to our dismay, this gang enhancement charge would not have surfaced if we did not let our voices be heard! We will no longer be silent.

We also pleaded with the DAs to allow us to speak at the time of sentencing. We were told that the Honorable Leslie A. Dunn, in Superior Court division 120, is not required to allow us to speak on behalf of Raul. Once again all this is due to the unfathomable fact that technically there are not any ?victims? since Arrevalos is only being charged with a weapon and now gang enhancement.

I want to reiterate that there are victims here. A man was murdered and all those he lovingly touched and left behind are also victims. We should be allowed to make a statement so that the strongest sentence could be given. If not as victims, then as citizens of the State of California who are trying this case against Arrevalos.

I am outraged, as an active voting citizen that our justice system is failing! I hate to imagine that my justice system is not ?blind? due to the fact that the ?victim? and the defendant are both Latinos. I pray that the sentiment of ?It?s just another Latino-on-Latino crime. Who cares, at least we got the perpetrator on some charge? does not hold true.

The fact still remains that Arrevalos murdered my children?s father, a brother, a son, and a friend ? and the only thing that he can be charged with is possession of a weapon. I do not presume to know the law but what I do know is that this sends a poor message to the public but especially to our children. Moreover, the defendant?s claim of ?self-defense? and the DA?s filing of a weapon charge, is preventing Raul?s children, his family, and myself from receiving any type of victim?s services (i.e. counseling support). We should and need to be eligible for all of this services that are available to the victims of violent crimes!

I am a critical care Registered Nurse in Los Angeles, working in the intensive care unit. I work to save lives minute-by-minute and I could not physically save Raul?s life, however much it pains me. But, I will be damned if I do not attempted to save him judicially, Therefore, until this matter is thoroughly investigated, and justice is properly served, i.e. murder charges, manslaughter, etc are brought forward, I will not rest, nor will the other hundreds of people that knew and loved him. I need to tell our children that their Daddy?s murderer did not go unpunished, that the case was not under-investigated, and that Justice will prevail. Raul?s voice was prematurely silenced that night but our voices will scream out until justice is served and this man is formally charged and convicted of murder.

Once again, this is not a victim-less crime, as the legal proceedings would have one believe. We will elevate this matter by alerting the media in order to notify the voting citizens of this injustice. Our citizens and children deserve to be safe from this vicious man; Raul?s children deserve no less in his memory.


Sonia Smith

Time is running out. The second hearing is scheduled October 15, 9am, Van Nuys Court, court house E.

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