‘Massacre-threat’ trial reaches conclusion; former student sentenced to five years’ formal probation

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The former student accused of threatening to create a massacre on campus in 2014, pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to five years of formal probation in court today, according to the district attorney’s press release.

James Lemus, 36, threatened to kill Francisco Arce, former Vice president of Academic Affairs, and other college administrators on Sept. 30, 2014, according to The Union’s story from October 2014.

Lemus is a Hawthorne resident who attended El Camino leading up to his October 2014 arrest.

Torrance Deputy District Attorney Patrick O’Crowley linked to the press release in an email with The Union for details of today’s trial.

According to the press release, Lemus must also receive mental health treatment and stay at least 1,000 feet away from the El Camino campus and “current or former college personnel.”

During his time in custody, he had three different public defenders represent him; Jonathan Cruz (original defense attorney), Vanessa Johnson (second defense attorney) and Kathy Mendez (final defense attorney).

There were multiple pre-trial hearings where both sides filed to get a psychiatric evaluation, which prolonged the trial even further.

When the evaluation was finally finished, at the Oct. 5, 2015 hearing, he was labeled incompetent at the time of the original trial and the entire case needed to be restarted.

There were two psychiatrists represented each side and both came to the conclusion that Lemus was “schizophrenic” and “mentally ill.”

Lemus waived his credit for time served and any violation of his probation can result in three years of state prison, according to the press release.

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