knife in silhouette
Example of a knife, not the one in story. Photo via Pixabay

A state appeals court panel Thursday upheld a man’s conviction for fatally stabbing his live-in girlfriend’s 11-year-old son in front of the boy’s younger brother in Los Angeles more than four years ago.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that Rineson Curtis Adams’ conviction for the May 27, 2013, stabbing of the boy — identified only as “Jai L.” — should be reduced from first-degree murder to second-degree murder.

In a 15-page ruling, the appellate court justices noted that “the evidence regarding appellant’s actions before the murder leaves little doubt that appellant engaged in preparation and planning before he killed Jai.”

“Such planning was most evident in the fact that appellant spent enough time thinking about what he was going to do to come up with a macabre `knock- knock’ joke about killing Jai. Already armed with the murder weapon, he shared the joke with the boys (Jai and his brother) immediately before commencing his attack,” the panel found.

In the month preceding the killing, Adams had complained about the boy and chafed at his girlfriend’s refusal to allow him to discipline her son, the justices noted.

The boy’s mother awoke to hear one of the children screaming and reached her older son in time to witness Adams stab him two times in the chest and back, and the boy died in his mother’s arms, according to the ruling. The boy suffered a total of four knife wounds.

The appellate court panel also rejected the defense’s claim that Adams’ confinement to a wheelchair during his trial constituted prejudicial constitutional error.

The justices noted that Adams had forfeited the claim because he failed to object at the time of his trial, and that there was “no indication that handcuffs, straps, or any other visible restraints were employed at any time during trial.”

Regardless, such restraint was “justified,” the appellate court panel found, noting that “appellant attacked sheriff’s personnel, routinely spat at deputies, disrupted proceedings with vocal outbursts and talking over witnesses, and urinated on himself in court.”

He was convicted in January 2016 of the boy’s killing, along with a child abuse charge involving the victim’s 5-year-old brother. Jurors found six days later that he was sane at the time of the crime.

Adams — who had a prior strike from 2006 for residential burglary — was sentenced in February 2016 to 56 years to life in state prison.

–City News Service

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