A former Palos Verdes High School student who was acquitted in July of a first-degree murder charge has been arrested on suspicion of committing a carjacking when he was a juvenile, police said Wednesday.
Cameron Terrell, who is now 19 and was 18 at the time of his trial, was also acquitted of two counts of attempted murder involving two other men who were not injured in the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting that killed 21-year-old Justin Holmes. Prosecutors contended Terrell drove the getaway car in the shooting.
“While investigating the murder, evidence was discovered by investigators for additional felony crimes, and due to the dates of those incidents, they could not be charged concurrently with Mr. Terrell’s adult case, as Mr. Terrell was a juvenile at the time of those incidents,” according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement.
Terrell was arrested about 6 p.m. Tuesday and was being held without bail, according to the LAPD.
A department spokesman said no information would be released about the latest allegations against Terrell, for which the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is seeking felony counts in juvenile court, but according to the sheriff’s Inmate Information Center, he was booked on suspicion of carjacking.
After Terrell’s acquittal, his defense attorney Jovan Blacknell told reporters outside the courtroom that he and his client were “happy with the outcome” though somewhat dissatisfied with the process and “not even convinced that (Terrell) should have ever been charged with anything, certainly not murder.”
Prosecutors focused too much on extraneous issues, like Terrell’s Facebook posts and interest in rap music, that had little bearing on the alleged crime, Blacknell said.
The evidence showed that “Cameron Terrell did not possess any weapons, he did not shoot anybody, he was not part of any conspiracy, or any plan or plot. … At best the evidence suggests that Cameron was a witness,” Blacknell said, adding that his client made a good story because of his “background, his family, where he resides, his school.”
Deputy District Attorney Adan Montalban told jurors during the trial that Terrell is a gang member. He said Terrell knew there was a gang rivalry — in which a fellow gang member had been shot earlier — when he drove into rival gang territory with two juveniles who got out of the car and confronted Holmes and the other two men, who denied any gang affiliation before the shooting on 78th Street near Western Avenue in South Los Angeles.
When asked if his client was a gang member, Blacknell said Terrell should not be condemned for being open-minded enough to have a wide range of friends from different backgrounds, some of whom have friends in gangs and may “walk a different path” than his client.
At trial, Montalban disputed Terrell’s subsequent claim to police that he thought the two juveniles he was driving might yell out or engage in a fistfight, questioning why the defendant stopped his car out of sight and let two juveniles get out of the vehicle to confront three adults if he thought it was going to be a fistfight.
Blacknell told jurors his client didn’t know anyone was going to be shot on a Sunday in broad daylight.
“Cameron didn’t expect to hear gunshots. He didn’t expect any of this to happen,” Terrell’s attorney said.
“When he hears the gunshots, he’s shocked,” Terrell’s attorney said, telling jurors that the young man’s first instinct after hearing the gunshots was to “survive” and “drive a whole city block away.”
Blacknell said his client was reacting to something he didn’t expect and that he thought his two friends were in danger when he saw them running back to the vehicle, and questioned why Terrell would drive “his daddy’s car” if he knew there was going to be a shooting.