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Bruce Lisker Will Not Be Retried: DA Drops Charges


In a fascinating and welcome turnaround,
the LA District Attorney’s office has dropped charges against Bruce Lisker, the man who was recently released from prison after spending 24 years in prison due to what many believe was a wrongful conviction. Lisker is 44-years old.

When he was 17, Lisker was convicted of the beating and stabbing death of his mother, Dorka Lisker, whose body was discovered in a bloody scene at the Lisker’s Sherman Oaks home. Bruce Lisker was tried and convicted as an adult, and sentenced to life in prison in 1985.

Early last month, U.S. District Judge Virginia A. Phillips overturned Lisker’s conviction stating that Lisker was convicted on “false evidence” and that his attorney (who is now a court commissioner) did not adequately represent him.

But although Lisker was released, the DA’s office strongly hinted they would go ahead with a new trial.

Initial doubts about the case had come to light when an LAPD Internal Affairs sergeant named Jim Gavin responded to an ethics complaint about the main officer on the Lisker case, Det. Andrew Monsue. The more Gavin looked into things, the more he began to believe that what he was looking at was no simple misstatement by an officer, but a rush to judgment in a murder investigation that might have the wrong person in prison.

However, his bosses at IA, then headed by Michael Berkow, thought Gavin was overstepping his bounds and told him to cease and desist.

He mostly did so—but handed over some of what he’d found to Lisker’s lawyer.

Gavin also began talking to LA Times reporters Matt Lait and Scott Glover who wrote an excellent 2005 account of the murder investigation and subsequent conviction that raised a great many troubling questions about Lisker’s guilt.

Since that time, Jim Gavin, who essentially acted as a whistleblower, calling attention to what he believed might be a grave miscarriage of justice, appears to have been marginalized by some sectors of the LAPD, a department where he still serves.

As to why the DA decided not to proceed, DA spokesperson Sandi Gibbons, stated that, while “…we remain confident in Mr. Lisker’s original conviction of the second-degree murder of his mother, Dorka…” the prosecution was unable to go to trial due to the fact that much of the original physical evidence had been “destroyed” (not comforting to know, whatever one believes about the Lisker case) and some of the witnesses had died.

“Given these factors and policy considerations, we cannot proceed to trial. ”

In other words, Gibbons said when we talked, although the prosecutors’ view of the case has not changed, the state of the available admissible evidence assuredly has.

This is obviously great news for Bruce Lisker, and in the view of many, very good news for justice in general.

After his release, amid TV cameras Bruce Lisker thanks private investigator Paul Ingles, one of those who worked on his case: the above photo and other photos from that day by Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times


  • Lifers traditionally see the Parole Board at 7 years. It would be interesting to read the minutes of Bruce Lisker’s hearings. You can bet that the fact that the convict showed no “remorse” for a crime he very well may not have committed played into the fact that despite a clean prison record he was denied, denied, denied a parole date. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • While I in part agree with the decision, I also in part wonder what a man who’s been in prison this long will do to integrate into society. Will he be better off in prison? Has the prison culture turned him into a hardened criminal, who will be a danger to society? I like all of that constitutional stuff as much as the next tree hugger, but the sky is blue in my world, and guys who’ve been to prison for a long time rarely make the transition into the civilian world. Just my .02. Peace.

  • Cop Tard. So are you saying there is no such thing as rehabilitation in prison? We should just throw away the key after a perp has ben convicted. I think that’s what has gotten us into this current over crowding situation.

  • I’m just keeping it real, anymouse. If I lived in a sheltered world like you, I too would be all idealistic and celebrating this lifelong prisoner’s release. But I know better. After the party’s over, he’s going to just be sitting there in some ratty apartment with an idol mind. And that’s when his criminal instincts learned in jail will take over, and that’s when someone will be hurt, robbed, or both. I’m just looking out for that person who might be hurt or robbed. That’s how the coptard rolls. Outty five thousand.

  • A couple of days after you posted this, on Sept. 23rd, the LA Times wrote a rather surprising (for them) Editorial harshly critical of the DA’s office’s handling of the case and how more than graceless they’ve been in dealing with Lisker. Could this have something to do with the exit of Jim Newton as Editor of Editorial, seeing as he was slavishly obsequious to Cooley and his protege Trutanich, who clearly shares his chest-thumping attitude and trying to claim “wins” over justice.

    The DA’s office is still insisting he MUST BE guilty despite a total lack of evidence. Leading the editorial to conclude: “So why bash Lister just as he’s restarting his life? Probably because, even 26 years later, it’s still a huge embarrassment to the DA’s office to have been overruled. That’s why instead of saying what they should have – that they are deeply sorry for having built a case on a sloppy and incomplete investigation and ‘false evidence’ – they kicked Lisker as he walked out the door.”

    Shades of Deborah Peagler. WHY aren’t these people prosecuted for prosecutorial misconduct? In the Peagler thread, it’s shown that Cooley and Chief Dep. Curt Livesay (who he’s now shipping to do the same duties for his protege Trutanich) were directly and knowingly involved. The judicial letter you posted was extraordinary. Same here? How many MORE? Just how scary is it, that Cooley’s office seems certain that no one at any level — state or US Attorney General — will ever do ANYTHING about their cover-ups and misdeeds.

  • Cop Tard, your comment/feeling appears dangerous to me. What a slippery slope! First of all, i am not a danger to anyone; I was, am and continue to be innocent. I am not a killer. And no amount of prison time could change that. I never committed violence in there. I defended myself once, when a guy swung on me, by grabbing and holding him till the cops got there. So, would you advocate, or vote for, a law preventing prisoners from EVER being released, based upon there simply having spent a long time “in.” Are we still in America??? Peace.

  • i watched 48hours hard evedence last nite and i am appalled at the justice system but no matter where you live there are corupt cops and da’s everywhere i hope mr. lisker you will do everything in your power to have a wonderful life after everything you have lived through god bless you

  • Dear Mr. Gavin,
    “Keepers of the law” take an oath. NO one goes against anyone behind the “thin blue line”. My father was found dead and nude on his bedroom floor. Blood was everywhere and the murder weapon was a US ARMY issue baton that I found.Do you think anyone in New York will help me, no. This was my father SGM Arthur C Pine buried in Arlington section 60 lot 275. Corrupt system, you bet.

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