Gregory Elarms, a 60-year-old San Mateo man who was previously accused of shooting an East Palo Alto acquaintance in 2010 outside Hillsdale Shopping Center, has recently been sentenced by County Judge Craig Parsons to four years in jail on weapons charges stemming from a February 2011 incident. Elarms allegedly concealed weapons while in custody on suspicion of the fatal shooting.
On February 26 of this year, Elarms was ordered back in custody after having been released just three weeks earlier on his own recognizance. The judge stated in news reports that had he been given correct information in regards to the time served on weapons charges by the defense, he would not have released the defendant at a February 5 hearing. Elarms had pleaded no contest to the weapons charges, but said in court on Tuesday morning that he did not know the pleas could be used against him. Elarms desired to have the no contest pleas withdrawn, however the judge denied the motion and proceeded handing down the sentence to the defendant.
Before the judge denied Elarms’ request to withdraw the pleas, the defendant had consistently insisted that Jonathan McDougall, his defense attorney, had not done an adequate job of representing him; he used this reasoning as well in his attempt to have the no contest pleas withdrawn. Elarms stayed at Atascadero State Hospital for several months and deemed incompetent to stand trial for the 2010 murder.
The weapons Elarms was charged with concealing included two pencils tied together, a sharpened toothbrush, and a sharpened “spork.” Ivan Nightengale, Deputy District Attorney in the case, also alleged that when Elarm was found in possession of the weapons, the defendant had used lotion and egg to grease the floor of his jail cell in order to gain an edge over jail deputies should a confrontation occur.
The murder charge against Elarms was dismissed in January of this year after it was discovered that San Mateo detectives obtained a confession prior to the defendant’s arrest, which violated his Miranda rights. The district attorney’s office has appealed that decision. While it may be a year or more before it is determined if dismissal of the murder charge can be appealed, Elarms was sentenced to four years in jail on the concealed weapons charge. He is expected to serve at least five more months.
San Mateo murder defense attorneys have no doubt that had Elarms stood trial on the fatal shooting of his acquaintance and been found guilty, he would be serving many years in prison, perhaps even life. Any criminal offense related to the taking of another person’s life is extremely serious, and requires the expert skill and dedication of a talented lawyer.
If you have been accused of murder, have been charged or are under investigation, consult with a qualified San Mateo criminal defense lawyer immediately.