NEWPORT BEACH (CNS) – Just before sentencing a double murderer to two life terms without parole, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled on Friday that District Attorney Todd Spitzer violated the law on recently enacted racial justice in the case making racial accusations comments while discussing the accusation.
Judge Gregg Prickett agreed with defense attorneys for Jamon Rayon Buggs, 47, that Spitzer violated the Racial Justice Act during discussions with prosecutors about whether to seek the death penalty in the case , in which Buggs was found guilty of murdering two people in Newport Beach in 2019.
But Prickett said Spitzer arrived at the appropriate “cure” for the violation by not seeking the death penalty and opting to pursue the minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prickett found Spitzer’s statements suggesting black men date white women to raise their status in society to be a violation of the newly enacted law.
Defense attorney Denise Gragg argued for a new trial for Buggs, but Prickett denied the request. Gragg called “crazy” Spitzer’s argument that his comments were about interracial identification issues in the case. George Turner of the district attorney’s office, however, noted that the issue of mistaken identity due to racial bias ended up being part of the defense case at trial.
In a statement, Spitzer said: “The judge ruled that the defendant was treated fairly at every stage of the proceedings, from indictment to sentencing to life in prison without the possibility of parole for having executed two innocent people in cold blood.”
Buggs was convicted on May 3 of two counts of murder, with a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, and only one felony count each for attempted burglary and possession of a firearm by a felon. Jurors also found real sentencing improvements for discharging a firearm causing death.
Buggs was convicted of the murders of Wendi Sue Miller, 48, of Costa Mesa, and Darren Donald Partch, 38, of Newport Beach in 2019. Both were found dead at Partch’s residence in Villa Siena, 2101 E.15th St.
Meanwhile, Buggs himself asked Prickett on Friday to delay his sentencing so he could fire his lawyers and defend himself. Buggs, as he has done in the past, espoused the debunked “sovereign citizen” conspiracy theory arguments that he was not subject to court jurisdiction.
Buggs said he wanted to reset the clock legally so he could get back to the impeachment stage of the case, then refuse to plead guilty so he wouldn’t “make a deal” with the state. , acknowledging its jurisdiction in the criminal case.
Prickett, however, had none of that.
“You have this somehow mistaken belief that we need your permission to be involved in these proceedings,” Prickett told Buggs. “We have jurisdiction over you. The offenses were committed in this county. … This is not a civil situation. This is a criminal situation.”
Buggs replied, “Then I’m a slave. I have no choice. That’s what you tell me. I’m a criminal before I’m a citizen.”
Prickett sentenced Buggs to two life terms without parole, along with another 54 years of life.
During the sentencing hearing, Buggs said he was sorry for what he had done.
“I mean it was all my fault,” Buggs said.
He said he was “emotional” at the time as he went through an on-again-off-again relationship with his ex-girlfriend.
“I offer my condolences,” he said of the victims. “I’m sorry this happened. I apologize. I’m responsible for what I did. … I beg your pardon. … I opened my heart to my ex-girlfriend and this ended on bad terms.”
He said he was trying to “get away from her” at the time and said the victims were “in the wrong place at the wrong time. … I’m human and like everyone else, I make mistakes. We all make mistakes. And that mistake cost me my life.”
Prickett did not believe Buggs’ suggestion that he killed Miller by mistake, mistaking her for his ex-girlfriend.
“In all likelihood she was screaming and the defendant was close enough to hear and see her and know it was not his ex-girlfriend,” Prickett said. “They were killed for no apparent reason.”
Miller’s daughter, Cambria Carpenter, told the judge that 1,000 people attended her mother’s funeral. She said her mother was “driven” and “sweet” and “really brings out the best in everyone”.
“Because of (Buggs), my mother couldn’t see me graduating from high school,” she said, calling the defendant a monster.
In his opening statement at trial, Senior Assistant District Attorney Dave Porter said Buggs went to Partch’s residence with a .38 caliber revolver and overheard him “with someone he thought was his ex-girlfriend. He couldn’t have been more wrong.”
Buggs entered the residence and surprised the couple, who were naked in bed. Porter said Partch jumped out of bed and Miller rolled over to the other side.
The prosecutor said Buggs shot Partch first. Miller “had nowhere to run, no place to hide, no way to defend himself” as Buggs “put the gun to the right side of his head and pulled the trigger,” he said.
The naked victims “died in a pool of blood”, he said.
Buggs sought out Partch because he mistakenly thought he was dating the defendant’s ex-girlfriend, Samantha Brewers, Porter said. However, Partch only met Brewers once at a 24-hour gym in Costa Mesa and the two exchanged messages on Instagram.
Brewers had moved to California from Minnesota and was living in Murrieta when she met Buggs at a fitness center, hired him as a trainer, and the relationship blossomed into a romance, Porter said. And when Buggs got a better job in Huntington Beach, the two moved there.
But when he quit his job later, it “strained the relationship” and Brewers moved on, but the two stayed in touch, he said. At Thanksgiving 2018, Brewers told her the relationship was over, but he wouldn’t accept it, the prosecutor said.
When Buggs saw Brewers and Partch hooking up on Instagram, “He wanted to know who Darren Partch was,” Porter said. Buggs used premium web services to track down Partch’s addresses and phone numbers, called him and “threatened” him.
Partch was “totally shocked,” Porter said. “But he said, ‘No problem, I’ll stay away from her.’
Partch called Brewers and told him he didn’t want to be part of the “drama”.
“And that was it,” Porter said. “But in the defendant’s mind, they were still a couple.”
Brewers was dating a chiropractor, Jared Young, so Buggs confronted him as well, Porter said. She also called the police one night in the weeks leading up to the murder when she saw Buggs following her home from a gym.
Investigators uncovered extensive online searches Buggs had done for Brewers, Young and Partch, he said.
Partch first met Miller at the Sandpiper Bar in Laguna Beach on April 19, 2019, and left the club around 1 a.m. on April 20 to return to Partch’s home, Porter said. A friend of hers told her to text her when she arrived at Partch’s residence, which she did. It was the last message she sent to anyone.
Later on April 20, after the couple died, an Irvine resident reported an attempted burglary at a two-story townhouse at 818 Silk Tree in Irvine around 4:30 p.m. Buggs climbed onto the balcony of the second floor. upstairs looking for Jared Young, but unbeknownst to him. to him, it was on the property of someone else with the same name, Porter said.
The resident made eye contact with the accused after investigating the source of a loud noise on the balcony, Porter said. She rushed to the screen door, locked it and screamed.
Buggs rushed in as she called police and fired her gun, Porter said. Buggs later told police it was an accidental gunshot.
Police set up a neighborhood watch and later spotted him, but when an officer attempted a traffic stop, Buggs took off and led police on a high-speed chase that ended in a cul-de-sac, where he bailed out and was eventually found hiding behind a tree, Porter said.
Police found her bag full of a gun and a notebook with Partch’s phone numbers and address, Porter said. The gun matched ballistic tests for the double murder weapon.
Sarah Hefling of the Associate Defender’s Office asked jurors to focus on Buggs’ “mental state” on the night of the murders.
“It’s more than first degree murder,” she said.
Defense attorneys argued for intentional homicide and agreed that second degree murder would also be more appropriate than first degree murder. They also argued it was a case of mistaken identity, as Miller was said to look like Brewers.
“The mental state is an issue in this case,” she said. “Jamon Buggs did not act premeditated and deliberate.”
Buggs met Brewers in March 2017 and the two quickly fell in love, with Brewers becoming close to Buggs’ family, Hefling said.
“It wasn’t a casual romance,” she said. “They saw each other as a power couple.”
The two moved to Huntington Beach because Buggs got a much more prestigious fitness job, but “within months, (the relationship) started to fall apart,” the defense attorney said.
The two had a recurring dynamic in their relationship, she said. When Buggs wanted to move on, Brewers would “woo him back,” she said.
The Brewers would send Buggs sexually charged messages over the phone and the two would continue their romantic relationship after they were supposedly broken up, Hefling said.
“It’s just a continuous roller coaster,” Hefling said of the relationship. Buggs sought to clarify where they stood when seeking information on Partch.
“The torture of not knowing…pushes him to a place…to find the closure he thinks he needs,” she said.