December 6, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

On November 30, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal overturned the murder convictions of the accused “Skid Row Stabber” because the key prosecution witness, a jailhouse informant, had perjured himself in multiple other criminal proceedings.

In the late 70s, Bobby Joe Maxwell was convicted of two murders believed to have been committed by the Skid Row Stabber, a person who killed as many as 10 homeless victims in the Los Angeles area.

Because police had no physical evidence tying Maxwell to the crime, Maxwell was largely convicted based on the testimony of Sidney Storch, an infamous jailhouse informant convicted of several crimes related to dishonesty and misrepresentation. Maxwell also testified in other criminal proceedings in exchange for sentencing leniency and other considerations. Subsequent evidence indicated that Maxwell had testified falsely in these proceedings, and he was awaiting trial for perjury when he died.

Maxwell was said to familiarize himself with the facts of an accused person’s case by reading numerous news articles. He would then go to police claiming that the accused admitted to the crime, and would furnish police with details gleaned by news articles.

The federal appellate court held that, considering Storch’s long and repeated history of lying, it would be unreasonable to believe that he had been telling the truth in Maxwell’s case, especially since there was no physical evidence and Maxwell always maintained that Storch lied under oath.

The Ninth Circuit ordered a new trial for Maxwell. It is highly unlikely that prosecutors will pursue a new trial because of the lack of physical evidence and the subsequent discrediting and death of their main witness.

If you are accused of a crime, do not speak to anyone about the details of the alleged crime except your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Police officers are the most likely people who will use your words against you, but this applies to all people: anything you say to your family members, your friends, the press, or your fellow inmates (if you are incarcerated) may be used against you. The only person who you should speak to regarding the details of ANY alleged crime you have committed is your attorney: do not spontaneously offer this information and do not respond to any questions about this information.

If you have been accused of murder, you will need an aggressive Southern California criminal defense attorney to defend you, and the sooner you retain an attorney the better for your defense. For over 30 years, the attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have helped people accused of a variety of crimes, including murder. Call us today at (888) 280-6839 or visit us at our website at We will be there when you call.

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