Ex-gang member's written exploits come back to haunt him in heist trial
A former Crips gang member who detailed his criminal exploits in a 2005 book was hammered with his own words Tuesday as prosecutors argued that he helped carry out a botched jewelry store robbery in Temecula before faking a carjacking to cover his tracks.
Colton Simpson, author of "Inside the Crips: Life Inside L.A.'s Most Notorious Gang," rarely looked up during closing arguments in a case that could be his third strike and send him to prison for life.
Instead, he scribbled notes while Riverside County prosecutor Charles Lockwood cited portions of the book as evidence that Simpson not only specialized in jewelry heists, but reveled in them.
One especially damning section read: "I love doing jewelry licks. . . . It gets so I go in alone, ask to see a Rolex, grab two, dash out the store, turn them around, and have eight thousand dollars stuffed in my pocket."
While denying defense arguments that there would be no case without the book, Lockwood said the words provided evidence of Simpson's character and a predilection for robbery.
"The defendant really did write a book about robbing jewelry stores. The defendant really did slap his face on the cover and say 'This is what I'm proud of,' " Lockwood said. "But even at his best he wasn't that good. He still got busted."
The prosecutor said that, at the time of his arrest, Simpson, 41, was using seven different names, three Social Security numbers and three birth dates. And, he said, Simpson cased the store before the robbery, setting up lookouts and a getaway car.
"He says, 'I like doing these robberies because I know it's a quick easy way to make a lot of money fast,' " Lockwood said, paraphrasing Simpson's book.
Yet, compared to his claims of cleaning out a jewelry store at age 14 and making off with $179,000, the Temecula job seemed amateurish.
Police say two men walked into a Robinsons-May on March 17, 2003. Witnesses testified that one of them leaped over the counter and grabbed a diamond earring worth about $700 before a clerk slammed the case shut and locked it. The men fled in a silver Ford Taurus allegedly driven by Simpson. A friend of the suspect had listed him as the driver when she rented it.
Simpson said he was carjacked by his estranged half brother the day of the robbery, yet prosecutors said he was on a cellphone repeatedly during the alleged carjacking yet never called 911.
"You can't be calling all over the place on your cellphone if you've been carjacked. You call 911," Lockwood said.
But Richard Briones-Colman, Simpson's attorney, accused Lockwood and police of distorting the truth and lying in order to obtain a conviction. He said one investigator threatened to deport a witness unless she cooperated in the case against Simpson. The police officer denied making the threat.
"You have to ask yourself was that officer lying to my face?" Briones-Colman said. "And the answer is, yes he did."
He argued that Simpson can't be tried for crimes he wrote about that were committed 20 years ago. In fact, he said, the Temecula robbery was so badly botched that it defied logic for someone of Simpson's criminal expertise to be behind it.
"The person described here at 14 was indisputably more sophisticated and had better planning than they did," he said.
According to his book, Simpson joined the Rollin' Thirties Harlem Crips at age 10. The day he was initiated into the gang he shot two rival Bloods with a .38-caliber revolver, he wrote. Over the years he stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and shot and paralyzed a man who tried to tackle him during a heist.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge F. Paul Dickerson III has allowed portions of the book to be used as evidence but disallowed parts dealing with gang shootings and violent robberies.
Briones-Colman said Simpson had too much going for him now to waste it all on a small-time robbery. He's working for the rapper Ice-T, had just written a book with coauthor Ann Pearlman, and his father, Dick Simpson, was a well-known outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels in the early '60s.
BS Ranch Perspective:
It just goes to show you that your history means something, and the same is true in our day to day lives, so just as this Gang member (Whether we address him as Ex-Gang Member or not) still means that his documenting the stuff he did he was proud of and he wanted to keep some kind of record of it to remember it aways, Why it was written was to either to find Forgiveness, or not, if it was forgiveness he was seeking he should have burned the report. The people in my old career when it was suddenly ended by a car that turned left in front of me and I was left with the question what was I going to do, Because I cannot hold a job in my present state, under the constant pain that I am in. My old friends that I worked with said to write a book, and well that would be fine if I could remember what I did most of the time , There are pieces of my memory that I cannot recall simply because of my accident. Now did this guy have this kind of an accident? I wonder, or was he saving it to make a movie later in life?? The clue is not going to be answered unless he talks, but this is for sure he documented his crimes so well!!
Besides the history that he wrote if it is true, should be held to what he has done and what his history was and should be when he is released from prison on Parole, therefore the parole grant should be denied!! The Parole board did there job this time!! Makes you wonder who was on the board the last few times when other gang members were released to, Say Rialto some 65 Miles from there "Turf" Well, all that gang member did was took the kids of that neighborhood and made them into hoodlums and members of the Crips/Bloods, soon Rialto was the Gang land of the Inland Empire. The Offices that held the Parole Officer's Offices are now closed and occupied by Kaiser Permenente, they realized at a very late time that the program that they started was not working.
If you take the Gang Member out of their environment they will start their own gang and with the help of their gang in Central Los Angeles they had a supplier, there was houses being purchased in Rialto by 13 year old, with the permission of their Grand parents since there parents were no longer in the family, they were incarcerated in the county Jail or Prison for drugs, due to their son that purchased the home. It was a great time for the gangs in the late 80's early 90's in Rialto. Soon that was all taken away when the Rialto Police Department Got up to size to deal with the problems and, We chased them out of the city and most of them were pushed into San Bernardino, where that Girl was killed, and Operation Phoenix was started. Just another bit of history that was not worth anything.
It was only a small part of the gangs that was pushed to San Bernardino, there was another bunch that was pushed to Fontana, and a bunch that was pushed to the High Desert!! It was a Cancer, that Rialto had to get a hold of. for the most part with this last bit of construction that they are doing on the Winchester Apartments Just North of Baseline Ave, and Eisenhower, between Willow and Larch Avenue's
Take care and remember to drive careful out there