Sexual predator Sid Landau has tried through the legal system for years to be freed from a state mental institution on grounds he had not committed a crime against children in three decades.
But Santa Ana has proven to be the 74-year-old's Waterloo, as he has been thwarted at every turn by the Orange County District Attorney's office, the state Court of Appeals and, today, a jury of his peers there.
Jurors rejected Sid Nathaniel Landau's bid for release on grounds he continues to pose a threat and should remain in state custody. Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner had argued during the trial that Landau belongs locked up in the state mental hospital in Coalinga because he was receiving regular testosterone injections and has refused any psychological counseling for pedophilia.
Besides reporting that, City News Service's Paul Anderson passes along that defense attorney Sara Ross quoted a doctor who had previously diagnosed Landau as a sexually violent predator (SVP) now saying Landau is suitable for release. His past crimes were "awful," Ross conceded, but he no longer poses a risk to the public.
The jury disagreed, finding Landau is still a SVP. The pattern of behavior that led him to Coalinga? Molesting 10 boys for two decades before being caught and spending only 15 months free over the next 25 years because of parole violations.
Shortly after Landau moved to California in 1961, he started molesting an 8-year-old boy who lived in his same Anaheim apartment complex. As Landau would do with other boys over the years, he lured this first victim with a dog and took him to Disneyland, the movies, swimming, camping, boating and other activities. The molestation finally stopped in 1963, when the boy started "hitting puberty" and was no longer attractive to Landau, according to Wagner.
Landau would molest three other boys before earning a three-year prison sentence after being convicted in 1982 for the molestation of the third victim, a 10-year-old Anaheim boy. In 1988, he pleaded guilty to molesting a 9-year-old boy and was sentenced to 17 years in the joint. He served eight years before being paroled in 1996, but he was back in and out of lockup through 1999 for parole violations. Prosecutors in 2000 got Landau declared a SVP, which sent him to Atascadero State Mental Hospital.
While Landau was out of custody, the Placentia Police Department released Landau's name and address under Megan's Law, and he was then hounded from residence to residence. He then sued in federal court, claiming Placentia cops violated his right to privacy. He lost.
At two parole violation trials, juries deadlocked in favor of his release, voting 11-1 and 8-4 respectively. That prompted a third trial in March 2008, and a year later he was committed to Coalinga for an indefinite period as a SVP.
In 2010, a state psychologist concluded Landau could be safely returned to society under supervision because of his age, so he petitioned for his release. Coalinga's director disagreed with the doctor's assessment, and a judge rejected Landau's request as frivolous.
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Landau appealed in 2011, and the state appellate court found that the judge erred and remanded the case. Last year, Orange County Superior Court Judge W. Michael Hayes ruled Landau deserved a new hearing. Landau petitioned the appeals court again because of delays in a new trial court hearing, but in a ruling dated Feb. 7, the panel of justices in part blamed his own attorneys, who'd repeatedly rescheduled proceedings.
Part of the panel's basis for finding reason for Landau's SVP status is something he sent in December 2003 to the brother and sister-in-law he wanted to live with in New York if released: a box of belongings containing pornography. Then there are the 18 boxes he mailed to a relative from 2003-2006 that included pictures of a boy on a bed in underwear and actor Russell Crowe kissing a boy on the forehead, articles about a boy who exposed himself online and children getting lost at water parks and pamphlets on daycare centers, babysitting businesses, Walt Disney World and wholesale toy stores.
The justices believed Landau mistakenly included these, wanting to keep them as currency to trade with fellow patients. They also found troubling Landau's stated desire once out of lockup to get a dog.