The California Supreme Court Wednesday denied a defense bid to review the case against an ex-con convicted of a shooting that wounded a Santa Monica police officer during a traffic stop more than a decade ago.
However, in January, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal ordered a new sentencing hearing for Dante Leverette, who was initially sentenced to 125 years to life and is awaiting re-sentencing.
The lower appellate court panel, prior to the new Supreme Court denial, reversed Leverette’s conviction on two of the three attempted murder charges of which jurors found him guilty, ruling that there was “no evidence Leverette intended to kill anyone” other than the officer who was injured May 18, 2010.
“Under the facts of this case, firing two shots at one officer among three on the scene did not support more than one conviction for attempted murder,” the justices found in their 27-page opinion.
The appellate court panel upheld Leverette’s conviction on the remaining attempted murder charge, along with three counts of assault with a firearm on a police officer and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.
“Leverette had the means and present ability to violently injure all three officers. He had his semiautomatic firearm out and was shooting in the general direction of the officers, and specifically shot at one of them,” the justices wrote. “Although there was no substantial evidence he shot at more than one officer, he certainly had the present ability to do so.”
Leverette opened fire in the 1900 block of Lincoln Boulevard after police stopped a vehicle in which he was a passenger, according to Deputy District Attorney Geoff Lewin.
Three officers at the scene, including the one who was struck in the groin area, returned fire and Leverette fled from the scene, the prosecutor said.
The Los Angeles man was nabbed about 3 1/2 hours later after trying to flee from a Gardena police dog — one of nine police K9s that were called in to help with the search — and being fired upon again by police, Lewin said.
Leverette had previously been convicted of obstructing or resisting an officer and a drug offense.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: