Palos Verdes Estates man denies juvenile charges of armed carjacking and robbery
A college student from Palos Verdes Estates who was acquitted last year in a South Los Angeles killing has been charged with armed carjacking and robbery in juvenile court, authorities said.
Cameron Terrell, 19, appeared in court Friday and denied the charges, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said. The spokesman did not provide additional information about the charges.
Terrell, who was arrested Tuesday night, was ordered detained by a judge and is due back in court Wednesday.
While Los Angeles Police Department detectives were investigating the Oct. 1, 2017, killing of 21-year-old Justin Holmes, they came across evidence linking Terrell to possible additional crimes, police said in a statement this week. Police said the suspected crimes could not be charged concurrently with the murder case.
Police declined to release details about the suspected crimes, which they said occurred when Terrell was a juvenile.
Earlier this week when Terrell was arrested, his attorney, Jovan Blacknell, said the charges stem from before the 2017 killing.
“When the homicide did not stick, they tried to find something else,” Blacknell said. He said the arrest was timed to disrupt Terrell’s schooling.
In July, a jury found Terrell not guilty of murder in the killing of Holmes, prompting questions about how race and privilege may have influenced jurors’ perception of Terrell, who is white. When Terrell was first arrested, he and his family were able to post the $5-million bond, which required $500,000. While the case was pending, he was able to finish high school.
On the day of the killing, Holmes was walking with two friends near South Western Avenue and West 78th Street when two teenagers got out of Terrell’s black Mercedes-Benz and asked about their gang affiliation.
The two people with Holmes ran. Holmes, who worked for U-Haul, told the teens he wasn’t in a gang. One of the teenagers shot Holmes, then ran to the car, registered to Terrell’s father, authorities said.
Much of the trial testimony focused on Terrell’s gang affiliation and his actions after the killing, which included appearing in a cellphone video flashing gang signs and another video he made later of people at the crime scene kicking over candles placed there in memory of Holmes.
His defense attorney framed the case as a situation in which Terrell began associating with gang members and became fascinated with gang life. Terrell didn’t know the intent of his teenage friends that day, Blacknell said.
Prosecutors said Terrell was devoted to the gang and got a tattoo to prove his allegiance. In court, prosecutors displayed videos and photographs of Terrell at gang parties, flashing gang signs and weapons.
The murder case against the two other teens is pending.
After Terrell’s acquittal, his attorney said his client was going to attend the University of Houston.
On Friday, Blacknell said the issue of how Terrell will be detained has not been settled. He said the court has a variety of options including electronic monitoring and home probation.
“A priority should be to not derail his education and get him back in school and away from negative influences,” he said.
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