DOWNEY - A Los Angeles Superior Court judge closed the book on the fate of one of the Ricky Galvez murder defendants on Friday, electing to have him held in juvenile detention.
Defendant Abel Diaz entered a plea deal with prosecutors in December of last year, admitting to his role in a botched robbery attempt that resulted in the fatal shooting of Downey Police Officer Ricardo “Ricky” Galvez on Nov. 18, 2015. In exchange for his confession, prosecutors agreed to not pursue the matter in criminal court, instead resolving it in the juvenile justice system.
The Los Angeles County Probation Department appealed to the court, asking LA Superior Court Judge Fumiko Hachiya Wasserman to allow Diaz to be transferred to County Jail. Wasserman denied this appeal however, opting to let Diaz be held in juvenile hall and ultimately transferred to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Due to laws which prohibit an individual to be kept within the juvenile justice system past the age of 25, Diaz, 20, will see no more than five years for his crimes.
This comes as a blow – albeit an anticipated one – to the Galvez family and the Downey Police Department.
According to Chief of Police Dean Milligan, who was present at the time of the ruling, he was “not surprised” and felt that Wasserman had “had her mind made up already as to what she was going to do.”
“As the attorney said in court - and more-so afterwards – we all had the opinion that this had been decided before we actually got in there. We don’t think that we were given a fair chance,” said Milligan. “It’s just sad; it’s very sad that it’s come down to this.”
On top of Wasserman’s decision, Milligan also has reason to believe that a prior decision had been discussed higher up the probation ladder as well.
“In the courtroom, I overheard one of the defense attorneys comment that they had already been in contact with higher ups within the probation department, and that this had already been decided that he wouldn’t be transferred,” said Milligan. “There’s obviously some contacts going up and above the officer who was in there requesting the transfer to take place.”
Visibly frustrated inside the court room and as he left, Milligan said that he and the officers of DPD believe Diaz to be “complicit in Ricky’s murder.”
“We feel that he should – in being found guilty of that, in admitting to his role in it – that he should have the same period of incarceration than anyone else who would be tried for murder because of the circumstances,” said Milligan. “Unfortunately, the juvenile court system did not think that was going to be the case.”
“We don’t feel that justice was done to the fullest extent in this case, but at this point there’s nothing we can do with regards to this case.”
With Diaz’s case now concluded, the two remaining individuals associated with the murder, reputed gang members Steven Knott and his half-brother Jeremy Anthony Alvarez, will have their turn to stand trial.
Despite his disappointment in Friday’s outcome, Milligan remains hopeful to see a quick and decisive trial in the case of Knott and Alvarez.
“We’re hopeful that in the next case, the circumstances will be brought forth in court, the evidence will be presented and that they’ll all be found guilty of their roles in Ricky’s murder, and held accountable accordingly.”
“I feel as the District Attorney’s Office does; we feel that we have a strong case with the information that we have, but it’s up to the courts, it’s up to the jury,” said Milligan.
Milligan says that the two remaining defendants have been scheduled a court date for early March.