Webb trial roadblock

SAN BERNARDINO - Opening statements have been delayed a week in the trial of Ivory J. Webb Jr., the former San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy who shot an unarmed man at the end of a high-speed car chase in Chino.

Webb's trial was supposed to start Monday morning in a downtown San Bernardino courtroom, but the judge postponed it after one of Webb's two lawyers, Michael Schwartz, called to say his wife was in the hospital giving birth.

"I apologize for the delay," Judge Michael A. Smith told jurors. "Obviously this isn't something that we planned."

Opening statements are now scheduled for May 29.

Webb, 46, is charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm in connection with the videotaped shooting of Elio Carrion on Jan. 29, 2006.

The shooting followed a pursuit in which Carrion, an Air Force senior airman who had just returned from Iraq, was the passenger in a Corvette that led deputies on a high-speed chase.

The chase ended when the driver lost control and crashed into a wall on Francis Street in Chino.

Afterward, Webb held Carrion at gunpoint while waiting for backup. A man recorded the encounter from his front porch.

The tape shows Webb shoot Carrion three times as Carrion seems to comply with the deputy's orders to get off the ground.

Webb has pleaded not guilty to the charges, setting up a highly anticipated trial in which jurors will be forced to decide whether the shooting was a criminal act or the reasonable action of a lawman in a high-stress situation.

Attorneys were scheduled to begin laying out their cases for the jury during opening statements Monday morning. Witnesses could have taken the stand by the afternoon.

Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope said Schwartz told the judge and other attorneys at earlier hearings that his wife's due date was approaching, but they didn't expect she would go into labor so soon.

Cope said the delay would force him to scramble to reschedule witnesses, but he didn't expect it to cause any major problems.

Carrion required months to recover from his injuries, but he has since returned to light duty at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.

He is in California on a 20-day military leave in order to testify at the trial. He has already used the first five days, so he has only about two weeks remaining, his attorney, Luis Carrillo, said Monday.

Any additional court delays could be problematic for him, Carrillo said.

"If the trial keeps getting delayed or postponed, he will have to request additional time from the Air Force," Carrillo said.

The shooting became national news after the dark, grainy videotape was widely broadcast on television and the Internet.

Webb came to court Monday morning surrounded by relatives and supporters.

Nearly a dozen television and still-camera photographers recorded his every move in the courtroom during the brief time he was there.

Afterward, the photographers followed him into an elevator, and then down a series of hallways, cameras whirring and lenses snapping, as the former deputy left the courthouse.

His trial is expected to last through the end of June.

Staff writer Rod Leveque can be reached by e-mail at r_leveque@dailybulletin.com, or by phone at (909) 483-9325.

Following the Webb case

Jan. 29, 2006: Air Force Senior Airman Elio Carrion is shot three times by a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy after a high-speed chase that ended on Francis Street in Chino. The incident is captured on videotape by a nearby resident. The driver, Luis Fernando Escobedo, is arrested and booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of felony evading. Carrion is hospitalized at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. The deputy, Ivory J. Webb Jr., is placed on paid administrative leave.

Jan. 31: Escobedo is released without being charged. The FBI launches an investigation into possible civil-rights violations of Carrion at the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office. The Sheriff's Department also requests the FBI's assistance to produce an enhanced copy of the videotape.

Feb. 3: Carrion's family demands the arrest of Webb in front of sheriff's headquarters in San Bernardino. Jose Luis Valdes, who videotaped the shooting, is arrested by Pomona police on a Miami warrant for a 1997 aggravated assault. Police say they had no knowledge of Valdes' role in the Chino incident until after they arrested him. Carrion is released from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.

Feb. 10: The Sheriff's Department concludes its investigation into the officer-involved shooting and turns its reports over to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office.

March 5: The District Attorney's Office, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department interview Carrion.

March 7: District Attorney Mike Ramos charges Webb with attempted voluntary manslaughter and Escobedo with felony evading and driving while under the influence. Carrion returns home to his family, but continues outpatient physical therapy.

March 8: Webb and Escobedo are arraigned. Both plead not guilty.

July 12: Carrion's attorney files a claim against San Bernardino County asking for unspecified damages for violating his civil rights.

July 19: At Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, Carrion receives the commendation medal for his service in Iraq.

Aug. 10: A felony charge is dropped in Miami against Valdes. Florida prosecutors drop the nearly decade-old aggravated assault case against Valdes, 38, who had been scheduled to go to trial, in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser misdemeanor disorderly-conduct charge.

Aug. 28: A judge orders Webb to stand trial for attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm.

Sept. 11: At his arraignment, prosecutors add a second charge against Webb - claiming the former sheriff's deputy committed assault with a firearm.

Sept. 23: Escobedo is arrested by Montclair police on suspicion of carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a loaded firearm.

Sept. 28: Prosecutors file two misdemeanor-weapons charges against Escobedo. The charges stem from an incident in which police say they caught him carrying a loaded revolver in his pocket in Montclair.

Nov. 1: Escobedo pleads not guilty to weapons charges from an unrelated September incident.

Dec. 14: Escobedo pleads guilty to a misdemeanor-weapons charge. He will spend three years on probation and 60 days in jail after admitting to a single count of carrying a loaded gun. He must surrender to begin serving his jail time no later than Jan. 8.

Dec. 27: Carrion files a lawsuit against the Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Gary Penrod and Webb.

Jan. 12: Escobedo is sentenced to six months in jail and three years of probation for drunken driving and evading police.

April 30: Jury selection begins for Webb's trial in which 400 potential jurors were summoned.

Last week: Jury selected.

Monday: Trial postponed.

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