In 1997 defendant Kenji Howard was convicted of murder of Arkett Mejia, attempted murder of Travon Johnson and two others, and shooting at an occupied vehicle. Recently, the conviction was overturned because of “new” evidence, essentially a statement by his co-defendant who has nothing to lose. On December 2, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office announced that they would not retry the defendant because of policy considerations and resource constraints.
Wait. What? Murder is the most serious violent crime and the DA’s office won’t retry this case using policy and resources as an excuse? Arkett and Travon aren’t worth it? The result of the District Attorney’s action is that the defendant is no longer “convicted.” He can now legally purchase firearms and ammunition. The defendant has been given a hero’s welcome by his gang. When he applies for a job, there will be no criminal history flag giving employers a warning about what he did.
For Kenji Howard, a lot has changed because of District Attorney George Gascon’s reprehensible action. What hasn’t changed is that Arkett Mejia and Travon Johnson are still dead and their families still miss them every day, especially on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
On March 17, 1995, 16-year-old Kenji Howard and co-defendant Edward Powell were both members of the “Blood” Limehood Piru Street Gang. At Dockweiler Beach, they followed friends Landon Martinez, Gail Lewis, Travon Johnson and Arkett Mejia, none of whom were gang members, as they drove home from the beach.
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