Evidence Barred in Montrose Racial Terrorism Case
A Glendale deputy district attorney said Wednesday he will appeal a judge’s ruling barring the principal evidence against an 18-year-old Glendale man charged with racial terrorism.
Glendale Municipal Judge Charles Horan ruled Monday that fingerprints linking John Anthony Giambrone Jr. to neo-Nazi stickers posted on utility poles and storefronts in Montrose last spring were inadmissible as evidence because Giambrone’s prints were taken after an illegal arrest.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Philip Heeger said Giambrone was charged under a 1982 misdemeanor statute sometimes referred to as the Synagogue Desecration Statute. It prohibits demonstrations or the posting of literature meant to frighten or terrorize people. Conviction carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Heeger said Glendale police arrested Giambrone and five juveniles as they drove through Montrose on June 2, the day after the stickers appeared. Police stopped the car for a traffic infraction and, after observing open beer cans, arrested the occupants on suspicion of carrying open alcohol containers in a car, Heeger said.
In searching the trunk of the car later, police found stickers and posters similar to those posted in Montrose. Giambrone’s fingerprints, taken during booking, matched a print found on one of the posted stickers, Heeger said.
In granting the motion to suppress the fingerprints, Horan said that because Giambrone was a passenger in the back seat of the car and the two beer containers were in the front seat, he should not have been arrested.
Under court interpretations of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, evidence stemming from an illegal search or seizure is not admissible in court. Horan ruled that police would not have been able to link Giambrone to the stickers without the fingerprints taken after his arrest.
Heeger said he will appeal Horan’s ruling to Los Angeles County Superior Court within the next 30 days. If the ruling is upheld, Heeger said, he could still prosecute Giambrone on the theory that the police would have eventually tied Giambrone to the stickers without the evidence resulting from the June traffic stop.