A state appeals court panel ordered a new sentencing hearing Tuesday for a man convicted of opening fire during a traffic stop and wounding a Santa Monica police officer more than a decade ago.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal agreed with the defense’s contention that Dante Glenn Leverette is eligible for a third sentencing hearing as a result of new state legislation that became effective about a month after he was re-sentenced to 111 years to life in state prison in November 2021.
Leverette, now 44, was initially sentenced to 125 years to life in state prison, but a new sentencing was ordered after the same appellate court panel reversed his conviction on two of the three attempted murder charges on which jurors found him guilty in May 2018.
In their ruling in 2021, the appellate court justices ruled 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 panel found in its January 2021 opinion.
“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.”
The appellate court panel had upheld Leverette’s conviction on the remaining attempted murder charge involving the officer who was wounded, 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 opened fire in the 1900 block of Lincoln Boulevard after police stopped a vehicle in which he was a passenger, Deputy District Attorney Geoff Lewin said earlier.
Three officers at the scene, including the one who was struck in the groin area, returned fire and Leverette fled the scene, the prosecutor said.
Leverette 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.
At the defendant’s re-sentencing in 2021, Superior Court Judge Eleanor Hunter cited Leverette’s lengthy criminal history dating back to his teens in rejecting defense attorney Vincent James Oliver’s request to strike gun enhancements that added 75 years to life to his new sentence. The judge said she found that dismissal of the gun allegations would endanger public safety.
Leverette’s lawyer told the judge that his client “really has never gotten a break in his life” and would still have a “very lengthy sentence” if the gun enhancements were stricken.