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Felons charged with murder in 1980 shooting of Orange County deputy

Two men who served prison sentences for the attempted murder of an Orange County sheriff's deputy three decades ago have been charged with his murder after the paralyzed ex-cop died of his injuries, authorities said Friday.

Deputy Ira Essoe's legs were amputated as a result of the November 1980 shooting. After he died early this year, medical experts found it was due to the bullet wounds, leading Orange police and Orange County prosecutors to reopen the investigation into the shooting.

David Michael Knick, 54, of Yucca Valley and Robert Duston Strong, 55, of Riverside were arrested Thursday after prosecutors charged them with murder. They have already been convicted of the November 1980 attempted murder of Essoe, who was shot and paralyzed in a mall parking lot.

Essoe and Deputy Greg Brown were on-duty in plain clothes in an unmarked vehicle when they saw three men in the mall parking lot standing in front of the raised hood of a yellow Mustang. A few minutes later, the deputies saw them standing next a black Mustang with an open hood.

When Essoe and Brown confronted the men, Strong pointed a gun at Brown and demanded that he put his firearm on the ground, prosecutors said. As soon as Brown placed his gun on the ground, Essoe was shot twice in the back.

Brown was able to duck for cover behind a parked car as Strong and Knick stole the deputies' firearms and fled in the unmarked patrol car.

A third man, David Vogel, 63, of Riverside, fled on foot and was not charged. About an hour later, Knick and Strong led the California Highway Patrol on a high-speed chase during which they fired at officers and crashed the unmarked cruiser.

Jurors convicted Strong in 1981 of felony attempted murder, possession of a firearm by a felon and auto theft, and two felony counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and auto burglary. He was sentenced to 17 years and four months in state prison and served a decade.

The next month, Knick was convicted of attempted murder, auto theft, possession of a firearm by a felon, and two felony counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and auto burglary. He received 16 years and eight months in state prison and served about nine years.

The shooting left Essoe paralyzed and suffering for three decades because of serious medical complications that resulted in the amputation of both of his legs, according to prosecutors.

"I've been given a life sentence, and I accept that because I chose my job," Essoe told the Times in 1988. "What I can't accept is that [one of the men] does half a sentence and walks off."

The shooting ended a law enforcement career for which he had given up a lucrative job in the computer field, Essoe told The Times. It also deprived him of the experience of working alongside his two sons and his son-in-law, all of whom became Orange County sheriff's deputies, and his only daughter, who by 1998 was a deputy trainee.

A bedridden Essoe died in February of the blood disease sepsis, caused by bed sores.

If convicted, Knick and Strong each face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. They are being held in lieu of $1-million bail and were due in Santa Ana court Friday morning.


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Comments () | Archives (53)

Not Double Jeopardy, but still ridiculous. Another waste of time in our judicial system.

This is not double jeopardy people. They were charged with a separate crime the first time. It is only double jeopardy if they are charged twice for the exact same crime and no new information is submitted. Second, they are being charged with murder because the man would never have gotten the blood disease if they didn't shoot him. His death is a direct result of the wounds he received by the two men. In other words if you hit someone with a car and they become paralyzed and then die two five or even a hundred years later because of a condition that only occurs in paralyzed people, you are then the cause of their death because you hit them, they became paralyzed, then became sick and died. Direct correlation.

It is not double jeopardy as attempted murder and murder are 2 different charges.

this is not double jeapordy because they were charged with "attempted" murder the first time, now they are being charged with "MURDER" i hope they get what they deserve.law enforement officers put their life on the line everyday.

This is double jeopardy. Although this is not the same crime, it is the same act. They were tried for the act of shooting the policeman which resulted in a conviction for attempted murder. Now that the victim has died 30 years later, the DA wants to bring a different charge for the same act..
The original sentence should have been more severe, and the guilty ones should not have been released while the victim was still suffereing so much. Blame the judicial system for the relatively short sentence these criminals received in the first case. Don't bend the constitution to get even.

"It sounds like he had terrible home care and was not properly checked for bed sores. Do not get me wrong. I think the 2 scum bags should have been given life without parole but you know the system. I an not sure I am reading this correctly but did the cops give up their guns?"

Posted by: Molan Labe | November 19, 2010 at 01:25 PM

I agree. This is not a case of double jeapordy. If this Officer truly died of wounds caused thirty years before, then trying them for murder at this late date is entirely proper and legal. However, dying from bedsores thirty years later points extremely strongly to neglect of the patient. Patients don't get bedsores if they are turned over in their beds on a regular schedule.
I also agree the man who pulled the trigger should have gotten life without parole. As far as putting your weapon down goes, usually not a good idea, but every circumstance is different. If someone totally has the drop on you, most persons would maybe be inclined to lower their weapon. I think if the Officer involved knew the man behind him was going to shoot him at that point he might have made a different decision.

I thought they had to die within a year of the crime to be murder.

Don't know all the minute details, just what I read here.which still leaves some unanswered questions. Bottom line is If these 2 scumbags are responsible for this crime then lets get it over with and have the trial get the verdict and if found guilty then lets save some taxpayer money and execute then, Unless Kamala Harris has issues with that. (you voted for her not me).

The police just should of shot and killed these low-lifes as soon as they crashed the unmarked cruiser?...i'm serious! literally should of just run up on them and just emtied there weapons on them end of story and wasting tax payers money to house these idiots!!!

These remarks are ludicrous. A sheriff is now dead DUE to the actions of these men. Had they NOT shot him he would NOT have been ill and then subsequently died from that. My sympathies to the family and my disdain toward the men who did this. What if he was YOUR relative ?

My codolences and prayers to the family of this brave Orange County deputy.

I am baffeled, I am sorry for the loss of the Deputy, but I was under the belief that statutorily, the victim ( any victim)had to die with in "One Year, and One Day" of the incident, in order to charge the offender with murder. i am also baffeled as to how the 'Double Jepordy' clause factor's into a case where the accused have already been convicted; served the court imposed sentenced, and now have been re-arrested for the same crime.

It is amazing to me that you can be a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, commit attempted murder, flee, and then only serve 9-10 years total. These type of people are of no use to society, will never reform, and should have been put to hard labor for the rest of their lives. If they refuse to work, execute them immediately.

I hope all of you who think prosecuting these worthless pieces of dog waste for murder isn't right have a family member or themselves get victimized by these types of scumbags. By the way, you ignorant criminal-coddling miscreants- murder and attempted murder are two very different charges and in no way constitute double-jeopardy.

I am positive he had the best medical care the county of orange could provide. Don't be ignorant, when your paralyzed for 30, yes THIRTY years you will have complications. ESSOE did 30 years paralyzed and died of his injuries, Knicks and Strong did ten years in jail.

let me ask you, whats worse? being in prison, or being in a prison thats your own body. dont pretend like you know what it feels like until you cant move from the chest down

Sheila MacPhearson the law applies to us all, dont put your silly twist on it

This really resonates with me: Officer Essoe gives up a lucrative career in the computer field because he want to be a cop. Then he gets shot on the job as an undercover cop and the shooters do minimal prison time. Now Essoe is dead and the shooters are back in jail for murder now, but they are still alive. What really got me is that Essoe lost his dream of serving along side his sons and being of service.

I am so burned out on helping the less fortunate . . . I feel like just packing it all up and retiring to Thailand.

The crime committed against the police officer was considered attempted murder. By the newspaper account the criminals had no qualms in shooting a policeman and then leading others on a chase and shooting at them. The victim's life was changed forever. He might as well have died. In essence, you can shoot a gun at an officer, maim him, and get a light sentence. You get out of prison and get to live a fairly normal life. That is not justice. Whether the state has a case remains to be seen. But I hope they do. Perhaps this would be a bigger deterrent to this kind of crime since no one seems to face the death penalty here anymore. Bedsores=poor care? Perhaps. The question to me is, how did he get to that point? The article, per usual for the Times, does not say what else this man suffered from over the years. There must be more to this story.

you cant try them twice for the same crime..so if i was shot 30 yrs ago and died you would retry them also or was it because he was an officer

Little does anyone know, David is my uncle, when you say that he does not know what it feels like to be paralized...well after he served his 10 years, he got out only to care for his wife who was a QUADRAPLEGIC. She could not move from the neck down. He didnt have to take care of her but he gave up his life for another 17 years after his incarceration to care for her. God gave my uncle his punishment as well. His wife died at 44 years old. He then went and cared for his aunt who is 90 with alzheimers until his arrest the other day. He was a young kid when this happened, he is not the same person now. He wrote that officer a letter apologizing and asking him for forgiveness. He had to live with what he did EVERY day of his life, everytime he looked at his wife.


it could only be double jeapordy if they were already charged and convicted for murder....if the DA tries to tack on attempt murder charges also then that would not fly, that would be double jeapordy, that's not the case here

There has been a petiton started for those who dont agree with what they are trying to do to these men. It is UNJUST!! Please sign the petition! here is the link .. please go sign a petition that has been started. This is not going to be over until justice is served. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thepetitionsite.com%2F3%2Fbring-justice-for-david%2F&h=22f48nk Thank You!


He is a great man, and is being unfairly charged for a crime that he already served his time for after 30 years! Thank you so much everyone for your support!


I don't understand how it would be possible to retry someone already convicted, sentenced and time served for a crime? Don't get me wrong. I am not anti-cop or particularly liberal in my beliefs. I just believe this makes a mockery of the judicial system. I hold up a liquor store with a gun, shoot and injure the clerk behind the counter. I do my time, am paroled and get in no further trouble with the law.

Thirty years later, that clerk dies as a direct result of the bullet I lodged in his neck 30 years ago and now I'm on trial again, this time for murder? This isn't right.

You guys are talking about my grandfather. he recieved the best care he could possibly have. most of his relatives all live past the age of 90, his life was cut short as result of these people.

the shooters only served less than ten years in prison while my grandfather sevred a life sentence of being imprisoned in his own body because they bullet caused him to be paralyzed from the chest down. on top of that he was forced to lose both of his legs.

Gpa Ira only wanted to see justice served to those men who shot him. unfortunately, he died but at least we can give gma ramona (his wife) the peace of mind that once she see's her husband again in the afterlife, she can tell him justice was finally served.

Rest in Peace we are doing everything we can to get you the justice you deserve. i love you!

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