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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Homeless Crime Victims

     During the early morning hours of July 3, 17, and 19, 2012, someone in downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Hollywood, stabbed two homeless men and a women while they slept outdoors. The attacker fled the scenes leaving the wounded victims, all in their 50s, with large hunting knives stuck in their backs. None of the street people were robbed, and they all survived their wounds. Beyond the similar MOs, the assaults were linked by so-called "death warrant" notices left at each stabbing site. The typewritten documents were signed by a person using the name David Ben Keyes.

     Los Angeles detectives found a Facebook entry under the above name which included a photograph of a black man in his mid-30s. Police officers distributed copies of this photograph around skid row neighborhoods where the homeless lived. Street people were advised to spend their nights in shelters until the stabber himself was identified and taken off the street.

     At 8:40 in the evening of Friday, July 20, 2012, a man who identified himself as Courtney Anthony Robinson, called 911 and claimed responsibility for the three stabbings. The 37-year-old said he would surrender to the police at a Hong Kong Express Eatery located in downtown Hollywood. When officers took Robinson into custody, they noticed that he matched the Facebook photograph of David Ben Keyes. When asked why he had stabbed the sleeping street people, the arrestee assured his captors that this information would "come out in the court proceedings." There was no indication that Robinson knew his victims.

     According to data presented on David Ben Keyes' Facebook page, he was a musician and writer from Santa Barbara, California. In his Facebook profile, laden with schizophrenic sounding nonsense about his intent to restructure the "Holy Roman Catholic Church and Empire," Keyes-Robinson claimed to be the CEO of a $250 billion Beverly Hills entertainment corporation. In reality, Robinson was homeless like the people he had stabbed.

     On the day of his Hollywood arrest, Robinson was charged with three counts of attempted murder. He was held under $500,000 bond at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.

     In February 2015, a jury found Robinson guilty as charged. In the second phase of the trial to determine if the stabber had been sane at the time of the attacks, the same jury found the defendant legally insane and therefore not criminally culpable for the crimes. The judge ordered that he be sent to the Patton State Hospital where he would stay until the psychiatrists deemed him sane enough to be released back to the streets.

     Most crimes against the homeless are committed by mentally ill street people off their anti-psychotic medication. Long ago, people like this were cared for in institutions. Thanks to do-gooders who fought to set them free, they now live on the streets. Some spend their nights in shelters, but many prefer to remain outdoors around the clock. These are the people most vulnerable to assault and murder committed by offenders like Robinson.   

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