Jury Clears Young On Attempted Murder & Firearm Assault Charges

Ari Young, the schizophrenic man who severely beat a sheriff’s deputy and narrowly missed shooting her after he took her gun away from her, was acquitted late last month of attempted murder and assault with a firearm.
The same jury deadlocked on battery on a peace officer, removing an officer’s firearm and resisting arrest counts. The panel did find Young guilty of negligent discharge of a firearm.
On September 4, 2019, Ari Aki Young’s mother made a 911 call from her home on Cabazon Court in Victorville requesting assistance in getting her son to leave her house. When the dispatch call went out, Deputy Meagan McCarthy was the closest officer to the home. The dispatcher relayed to McCarthy that the mother had said, “Oh my god! Oh my god! Get my son out of here.”
Arriving at the Cabazon Court location before any other deputies, McCarthy was emerging from her car when a visibly angry Ari Young emerged from the home. His mother, wielding a knife with one hand and on the phone with the other, herself came out onto the house’s stoop.
Deputy McCarthy, assuming the mother was still in contract with the sheriff’s department dispatch desk by phone, approached Ari Young, and near the home’s driveway came face-to-face with him. McCarthy, asking Young what was going on, then maneuvered behind him, trying to pin his hands to the small of his back just above his waist in what she said was a prelude to an effort to “pat him down for weapons.”
Somewhat predictably, this did not work and instead rotated around to face McCarthy and then began to physically assault her, landing blow after blow to her head.The struggle between McCarthy and Young was captured on a video shot by a neighbor from the vantage of a second-floor window. Young appeared to be getting the better part of the exchange with Young, who was nearly though not fully rendered unconscious from the head punches, she later stated. The video shows McCarthy falling to the ground, at which point Young can be seen endeavoring to seize McCarthy’s firearm, ultimately succeeding. Seemingly enlivened by the danger she is in at that point, McCarthy gets to her feet and runs off, out of the visual field of the video. On the video, it appears that Young fired the gun in the direction in which McCarthy was last seen heading.
Within moments, other deputies in vehicles are seen coming into the video’s visual field. Upon those deputies encountering the armed Young, they shot him several times. Available video taken several minutes later showed responding paramedics loading him into an ambulance for transport to a trauma center.
Young survived his shooting and on September 6 was charged by the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office with PC664-PC187(A)-F, attempted murder; two counts of PC12022.53(B)-E, using a firearm in the commission of a felony; two counts of PC12022.53(C)-E, discharging a firearm in the commission of a felony; PC245(D)(1)-F, assault on a peace officer with a deadly weapon; PC69-F, felony resisting an executive officer; PC148(C)-F, felony resisting arrest; PC246.3(A)-F, negligent discharge of a firearm and PC243(C)(2)-F, felony battery on a police officer.
Both prosecuting and defending Young was problematic from the outset. By December, a psychologist, Susan Velasquez, was being consulted with regarding Young. Young, who remained in the custody of the sheriff’s department, was the subject of a stipulation and order on July 14, 2020 that he be involuntarily administered psychiatric medication on a non-emergency basis in facilitating his continued incarceration. As a consequence of his mental incompetency, Young’s case languished throughout 2020, 2021, and 2022, though in 2022, Dr. Mendel Feldsher M.D., Dr. L. Mattos PhD., Dr. Marjorie Graham-Howard Ph.D. and Dr. Angelika Marsic Ph.D. examined him or were consulted in regard to his mental condition. In early 2023, Dr. Ijeoma Ijeaku was brought in to carry out an evaluation of Young, as well. Despite a priority being put on having psychiatric and psychological professionals making a finding that Young was fit to stand trial based upon his actions having endangered a peace officer, more than three years elapsed before such a pronouncement was made.
In addition, working with Young as a client presented difficulty for the San Bernardino County Public Defender’s Office, which made a successful motion based upon Penal Code § 987.2 to be relieved as Young’s legal representative. The court agreed to having Raj Maline serve as Young’s defense counsel.
Maline moved to aggressively defend Young, obtaining as much relevant information as possible about his mental state, behavior and observations of such when he was in the previous custody of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Rather than pursuing a defense by reason of insanity, Maline explored going the hard route, defying the odds in a county where the prosecutors line up automatically in favor of law enforcement officers in any form of dispute with citizens and where the jury pools are stacked with potential jurors inclined to engage in unquestioning acceptance of the testimony of sworn law enforcement officers who disregard testimony of witnesses or experts who might contradict those officers.
After the case was originally on track to be heard by Judge Shannon Faherty, who heard and ruled upon most of the pretrial motions, and then was transferred to Judge Miriam Morton, Maline seriously focused on finding jurors who would not automatically find against his client based simply on the assumption that his action threatened a police officer.
Over four days – from April 24 through April 27 – Maline and Deputy District Attorney Kathleen Fultz went toe-to-toe over arriving at a jury panel to try the case, going through three jury panels. On April 24, Maline and Fultz concurred on excusing to prospective jurors, then a third, and then four more for cause. After Fultz dismissed two prospective jurors by peremptory challenge, Maline exercised two peremptory challenges of his own.
On April 25, a supplemental jury panel was brought in, at which point one prospective juror was excused for cause and then Fultz excused a juror through a peremptory challenge and then another. Maline answered with a peremptory challenge. Fultz excuse another juror with a peremptory challenge. Maline then matched that with a defense peremptory challenge.
On April 26, Fultz exercise three peremptory challenges, at which point Maline excused four prospective jurors with peremptory challenges. Another juror was excused by mutual prosecution and defense agreement and then another by mutual consent. Fultz then jettisoned three prospective jurours by peremptory challenge. Maline responded with two further peremptory challenges.
On April 27, a juror was deferred upon not being present when the proceedings for that day began.
Another supplemental jury pane was called in. Three prospective jurors were excused for cause. Another juror was excused by Fultz’s peremptory challenge. Three more jurors were excused by mutual agreement between Fultz and Maline. At that point, the jury and its alternates were set.
Over the more than three-and-a-half years that elapsed since Young’s shooting and arrest, much had occurred. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, the neighbor’s video of McCarthy’s beating by Young went viral. The accompanying narrative was that McCarthy had sought to detain Young by pulling his hands behind his back in an effort to handcuff him, a ploy which failed abjectly, resulting in her beating, having her weapon taken away from her and then narrowly avoiding death when Young opened fire on her. This fueled the further circulation of long-existing contentions that women are unsuited for the role of law enforcement officer and that particularly when unaccompanied while functioning in their professional capacity they represent a danger to themselves and the public at large. Such contentions were themselves immediately suspect to contravention and being labeled as politically incorrect. Nevertheless, suggestions that McCarthy’s experience served as an illustration of women officers’ general inability to mete out at will overwhelming physical force on subjects encountered in the field persisted. In her encounter with Young, McCarthy had sustained a concussion, a dislocated eye socket, black eyes, multiple contusions and a broken thumb. After several months’ recovery, she returned to work but in 2022 medically retired.
At trial, testimony for the prosecution’s case kicked off on May 8, with Esteban Eduardo Alvarez and Meagan McCarthy taking the witness stand.
McCarthy’s testimony had not been completed when on May 9, Judge Morton allowed Dr. Peter John White, a defense witness whose testimony had been scheduled previously before the three-day delay in choosing a jury, to testify out of turn before leaving the area. Thereafter McCarthy resumed her testimony.
McCarthy’s testimony ended on May 10. Deputy Nicolas Collas followed her to the stand before proceedings concluded that day.
Proceedings resumed five days later on May 16, with Collas returning to the stand. He was followed by Sergeant Nicolas Craig, who returned on May 17 to testify. Deputy Starsun Fincel, the last prosecution witness, testified.
Late that afternoon, after 4 p.m. the defense opened its defense with the testimony of Christi Bonar, a criminalist for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
Bonar’s testimony continue on May 18. She was followed to the stand by her sheriff’s department colleague, Kirk Garrison, a criminalist. Thereafter, Michael Martinez testified.
With the resumption of proceedings on May 22, one of the jurors was excused by stipulation of both Fultz and Maline and replaced by an alternate.
On May 23, based on testimony provided by Bonar & Garrison and a motion by Maline, both of the PC12022.53(C), discharging a firearm in the commission of a felony charges, based on an insufficient showing of proof by the prosecution. Martinez, who was at that point being referred to as a prosecution witness, thereafter resumed his testimony as a rebuttal witness and was excused. People’s witness Anthony Young then testified as a rebuttal witness.
On May 24, further testimony was taken from Anthony Young. Randolph Beasley, a retired sheriff’s department scientific division forensic examiner who now works as a forensic consultant and crime scene re-constructionist, testified on behalf of the defense. He was followed to the stand by Dr. Rahul Nayyar, a defense witness. Thereafter, the defense rested. On May 25, closing arguments were made by both sides. The jury was given instruction and then met behind closed doors long enough to choose a foreperson.
On May 26, the jury deliberated for more than three hours. The jury reconvened on May 30, deliberating for five hours, during which the jury posed four questions to the judge, all of which Morton answered.
The jury deliberated for just under three hours in the morning, during which a reading of testimony from the trial was requested. At 1:45p.m., having considered the requested passages of testimony, the jury recommenced deliberation, during which the jury asked a sixth question, asked for further readings of testimony, which were provided, followed by a seventh and eighth question answered by the judge.
At 3:54 p.m., the jury announced it had reached a verdict on some counts and Young was brought into the courtroom.
The verdicts as read by the judicial assistant showed that the jury found Young not guilty as to Count 1, PC664-PC187(A)-F: attempted murder; not guilty as to Count 2, PC245(d)(1)-F: assault with a firearm on a peace officer; guilty as to Count 5, PC246.3(A)-F: discharging a firearm with gross negligence;
As to Count 1 and Count 2 involving PC12022.53(B)-E: use of a firearm, those counts were dismissed.
The jury failed to reach verdicts on the PC243(C)(2)-F, felony battery on a police officer; PC69-F, felony resisting arrest by removing an officer’s firearm; and PC148(C)-F, resisting arrest charges. Maline, having ensured the impaneling of a jury that would not side with law enforcement by default, presented evidence and testimony and secured jury instructions that dwelt upon the consideration that 1) McCarthy had been summoned to the Cabazon Court over a domestic disturbance rather than a report of criminal activity, 2) there was no indication or probable cause that Young was involved in any articulable criminal activity, 3) Young had made no hostile or threatening gestures or movement toward McCarthy and 4) McCarthy forcefully sought to restrict Young’s movement. Maline was able to convince at least some members of the jury that Young had not engaged in battery on a police officer, felony resisting arrest by removing an officer’s firearm; and resisting arrest because in order for his action to have crossed the line on those sections of the penal code the peace officer in question, in this case McCarthy, had to be acting lawfully and dutifully. Since McCarthy did not have reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed, Maline successfully argued to the satisfaction of at least some of the jurors, that Deputy McCarthy’s detention and attempted pat down of Young were not legal.
Maline convinced the jury to entirely dispose of the attempted murder and assault on a peace officer with a firearm by using testimony from the department’s deputies as well as the department’s own criminalists, Bonar and Garrison, together with former sheriff’s department scientific division technician Beasley to show that the evidence recovered from the shooting scene on Cabazon Court – consisting of a bullet hole made in a nearby garage – demonstrated Young fired McCarthy’s gun northeasterly as he walked away from the spot where he had repeatedly punched McCarthy and knocked her to the ground and then took her gun, rather than at a bush that was directly south of where he stood when he had the gun. McCarthy testified that she had run toward that bush after Young liberated the gun from her.
If Young had not shot at McCarthy, Maline reasoned, he had not attempted to kill her, nor had he assaulted her with the firearm. The jury concurred.
There was no dispute, however, that Young had fired the gun, and he was thus convicted of discharging a firearm with gross negligence. Insofar as Young had been incarcerated since the September 4, 2019 – 1,365 days or 3 years, 8 months and 27 days – a duration longer than the normal sentence for discharging a firearm with gross negligence, he was set free.

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