George Kennedy, District Attorney   CONTACT PERSON:
David Tomkins, Assistant District Attorney
(408) 792-2792   For release on November 15, 2006     THREE STRIKES REDUCTION   On November 14, 2006, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office caused a criminal complaint to be filed charging Charles Ernst, age 60, with the murder of Addison Carlson. The victim was an associate pastor of a local church and was also a counselor for the Salvation Army. At the time of his death, the victim was attempting to get Ernst into a drug-treatment program, and had allowed Ernst to stay at his residence. On November 8, 2006, San Jose Police officers responded to the victim’s residence to conduct a welfare check and discovered the victim dead from stab wounds. The officers noticed that the victim’s two vehicles were missing along with other items of his personal property. Ernst was located the following day and admitted to killing the victim and taking his property.   At the time of the murder, Ernst was on parole and had recently been released from prison after serving a 10- year sentence for forgery. The forgery case had been filed in 1996 by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office under the three strikes law making Ernst eligible for a life sentence. However, after Ernst pleaded guilty to the forgery counts and admitted the strike allegations, the sentencing judge dismissed two of the strikes and, pursuant to the Romero decision allowing such exercise of discretion, imposed a reduced sentence of 10 years despite the fact that Ernst had an extensive criminal history that included 22 felony convictions with 7 prison commitments, including attempted robbery with the use of a knife and a felony assault conviction where he pulled a handgun on a San Francisco police officer.   The current complaint alleges 4 strike allegations that make Ernst eligible for enhanced penalties in addition to the penalties for murder.   Additional examples of three-strikes background in Santa Clara County can be found at my opinion piece; and our three-strikes policy.   ###

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