While having dinner and drinks at Tortilla Flats in Mission Viejo with his girlfriend and another couple late on April 5, 2005, the unimaginable happened that shocked and angered Jon David Tafoya's sense of decency.
The other woman playfully licked between his girlfriend's breasts, sending 28-year-old Tafoya into a rage that he claims made it impossible for him to think straight.
Tafoya stormed out of the restaurant, drove his Chevy pickup erratically, got stopped by an Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy, disobeyed orders to turn the engine off, instead sped away at 90 mph driving on the wrong side of the road and ultimately killed two innocent folks in another car after a head-on crash.
Tafoya claimed in the aftermath that it wasn't the booze and drugs that fueled his anger but rather he temporarily lost his mind after witnessing an act of lesbianism that offended his moral standards.
The Downey man's moral outrage is puzzling because his criminal record includes convictions for a prior DUI, cocaine possession and, yes, masturbating in front of a 14-year-old girl.
At trial, veteran Orange County District Attorney's office prosecutor Howard Gundy noted the defendant had booze (beer and tequila), cocaine and marijuana in his blood on the night of the crash, according to court records.
Gundy convinced a jury to approve two counts of second degree murder and in March 2008 a superior court judge sentenced the defendant to prison.
Tafoya appealed the case to a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana and lost.
Most recently, he requested that a federal judge overturn the convictions for a new trial on claims that include: jurors should have convicted him of a lesser crime, involuntary manslaughter; and Gary Pohlson, his retained lawyer, provided inadequate legal representation by failing to inform him of right to testify on his own behalf.
This month, U.S. District Court Judge Christina A. Snyder considered a magistrate judge's report and negative recommendation on the claims and agreed to reject all the contentions as legally worthless.
Upshot: Tafoya, now 33, will continue to serve his 15 years to life punishment inside the California Institution For Men at Chino. His name is now a number: 12832. But at least he is safe from lesbian acts.
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. Corporate crooks won’t take his calls. Murderous gangsters mad-dogged him in court. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Pusillanimous cops have left hostile messages using fake names. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. And a frantic state legislator literally caught sleeping with lobbyists sprinted down state capital hallways to evade his questions in Sacramento.