Parents Admit Helping Son Hide After Slaying : Plea bargains: The couple aided Joey Paul Bellinger, who was charged with murder in the shooting of two deaf brothers. He was arrested after fleeing to Upstate New York.
The parents of Joey Paul Bellinger admitted Tuesday that they helped their 16-year-old son flee to Upstate New York to avoid prosecution on murder charges for the shooting of two deaf Palmdale brothers in Granada Hills.
Joseph Paul Bellinger Sr., 40, and Phyllis Mary Goodman, 37, of Long Beach, in a deal with prosecutors, entered pleas in Long Beach Municipal Court to charges of aiding and abetting a suspected felon--their son, who was charged with murdering Cesar Vieira, 30, and wounding Vieira’s brother, Edward, 25.
Prosecutors said the couple advised their son not to turn himself in to authorities after the shootings in January, then arranged for him to stay with a longtime friend in the tiny community of Cassville, N.Y., where he was arrested by FBI agents a month later.
Bellinger’s father pleaded no contest to the charge as a felony, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison. Goodman pleaded guilty to the same offense as a misdemeanor, which has a maximum penalty of a year in County Jail.
But under terms of a plea agreement reached with defense attorneys, Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan C. Fork said he will ask the judge to sentence Bellinger to 30 days in County Jail and three years probation, and to grant Goodman probation with no jail time.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Denis K. Petty said the relatively lenient plea agreement was reached because the couple’s actions “sprung from the normal human emotions of parenthood.”
Bellinger’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Le Beau, said the couple never intended to shield their son from prosecution indefinitely.
The couple, whose daughter, Michelle, was raped and murdered in 1987 at age 16, wanted guarantees that their only surviving child would be tried as a juvenile rather than as an adult, the attorney said.
Bellinger’s father briefly tried to negotiate a surrender for his son with police, but authorities refused to promise a juvenile court trial. A Sylmar Juvenile Court judge has ordered a July 9 hearing on prosecution arguments that the teen-ager should stand trial as an adult.
“This is their last child and I think that they felt they were in a very, very difficult position,” Le Beau said. “They were under a lot of stress and whatever they did, they did out of love for their son.”
Ironically, Le Beau said, the 15-year-old who was convicted of murdering Michelle Bellinger was tried as a juvenile and will be freed from custody at age 25. If Bellinger, now in custody at Aylmar Juvenile Hall, is convicted of murder as an adult, he could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Witnesses to the Jan. 28 shooting said Bellinger fired five shots from a handgun at the two deaf brothers, who were on a motorcycle, after a confrontation at a traffic light.
The incident began when Bellinger “threw up a gang sign--a K for Kaos,” which stands for Kids Against Our Society, and the brothers responded with insulting gestures and by spitting on their car, said other occupants of the car carrying Bellinger. Both vehicles pulled into a parking lot so the boys could fight, and suddenly Bellinger started firing, the witnesses said.
As the car sped away, Bellinger screamed “I smoked him, I smoked him,” witnesses said.
Within days, Bellinger fled to New York, where he stayed with Goodman’s high school friend, Susan Alguire, who said Goodman asked her to provide temporary shelter for her son without telling her that he was wanted by police.
Phone records obtained by police indicate that both parents maintained contact with their son while he was in hiding.