San Diego DA reclaims cases involving Utah man accused of fatally shooting 2 in latest fight over George Gascón policies

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Rhett Mckenzie Nelson makes his first court appearance on June 13, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)

Rhett Mckenzie Nelson makes his first court appearance on June 13, 2019. (Credit: KTLA)

In an unprecedented move, a judge allowed the San Diego County district attorney’s office to reclaim jurisdiction Monday over several charges filed in Los Angeles connected to a violent crime spree that left two people dead, marking one of the strongest rebukes yet of newly elected L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s policies.

In a motion filed last week, San Diego County Dist. Atty. Summer Stephan asked a judge to give her office control over five robbery counts filed against Rhett Nelson, part of a broader slate of charges he faces for his alleged role in a days-long crime spree that spanned across Southern California and left two people dead in 2019, including Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Solano.

Nelson was charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and seven robberies committed in or near San Diego, Long Beach and Los Angeles. Under previous Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey, a slew of sentencing enhancements were also filed against Nelson because he allegedly used a gun in each crime and is charged with multiple murders. If convicted under those terms, he would have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Stephan had agreed to consolidate all charges in Los Angeles, but changed her mind in response to Gascón’s directive barring prosecutors from using enhancements. According to her filing, Stephan feared Nelson could become eligible for parole after spending 20 years in prison if convicted without enhancements.

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