If you didn’t intentionally kill another person, but the government is determined to put you in prison for the rest of your life as a murderer, you’re going to need someone as skillful and dogged as deputy public defender Sara W. Ross to represent you. That line isn’t hype. Earlier this year, Ross won a long-shot, three-year battle to overturn Cole Wilkins’ 2008 first-degree murder verdict. He had accidentally killed an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer when a stolen stove fell off the bed of his truck and into oncoming traffic. Battling against elite prosecutors who treated her with contempt, Ross convinced a judge that egregious government misconduct in the case warranted punishment. When the DA retried Wilkins, he wasn’t allowed to use the “felony murder rule” that holds a criminal liable for any death occurring during the commission of a major crime, even if unintended.
14 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, (714) 834-2144; www.pubdef.ocgov.com.
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