4 Convicted on 57 Counts in Crime Rampage
Four San Fernando Valley men were convicted Thursday of a total of 57 counts of rape, residential robbery, auto theft, kidnaping and false imprisonment stemming from a six-week crime rampage in the West Valley in 1984.
A Van Nuys Superior Court jury submitted the guilty verdicts after deliberating six days. The men had been charged with a total of 87 counts, but the jury was unable to reach unanimous verdicts on 26 of the allegations, deadlocking 10 to 2 in favor of conviction on most of those. Not-guilty verdicts were reached on four counts.
According to testimony from victims and an admitted accomplice, the men armed themselves with sawed-off shotguns and broke into homes in Encino, Woodland Hills and Tarzana between July 19 and Sept. 4, 1984. One 16-year-old girl testified that she was repeatedly raped by three of the men.
Some victims were kidnaped, taken to automated teller machines and forced to withdraw money, testimony revealed.
“These men are predators who inflicted a lot of terror on a lot of people,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Lea Purwin D’Agostino said after the verdict. “There are many, many lives that will never be the same again.”
The defendants were not charged with an identical number of crimes because they would pair off into different groupings for some of the attacks, D’Agostino said.
Coleman Ray Fields, 20, of Panorama City was found guilty of 30 of the 33 counts against him. He faces a possible sentence of more than 80 years, D’Agostino said.
Faces 55-Year Sentence
Tony Burnette Shaw, 21, of North Hollywood was convicted of 11 of 19 charges and faces a maximum sentence of about 55 years, she said.
Troy Allen Smith, 20, of Panorama City was convicted of all 11 counts with which he was charged and could be sentenced to more than 25 years.
Benjamin Brewster, 21, of Arleta, was found guilty of five of 24 counts against him and faces a maximum prison term of about 10 years, D’Agostino said.
Sentencing for Smith is scheduled for Nov. 27. The other three men will be sentenced Jan. 10.
The trial began July 1 in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge James A. Albracht.