Lily Burk Murder Suspect: Classic Case of a “Non-Violent Offender” Being Freed from Prison

Charlie Samuel is the poster child for the kind of thugs classified as “non-violent offenders” despite a history of violent behavior — the kind of hopeless criminal who would be included in the governor’s planned release of 27,000 convicts to reduce prison costs.

Samuel has been arrested on suspicion of murdering 17-year-old Lily Burk, the Los Feliz teenager whose body was found Saturday morning in her Volvo at 5th and Alameda.
Police arrested Samuel nearby 12 hours earlier on drug charges, according the Times’ LA Now.

The LA Sheriff’s Department Inmate Information website shows Samuel was arrest April 23 on a parole violation, booked at Van Nuys Jail and assigned to a drug treatment program. He was formally released June 24(SAMUEL1.htm).

LA Now quoted law enforcement officials as describing Samuel as a transient with a history of violent crimes and drug problems.

Los Angeles Assistant Police Chief Earl Paysinger said metro officers
detained Samuel, suspecting he had been involved in other criminal
activity. The officers canvassed the area, looking for evidence of a
possible crime but didn’t discover anything out of the ordinary.

This case raises all the right questions about what we’re doing freeing criminals who all too often plead out to lesser charges to avoid conviction for violent crimes — plea bargains that are all too common.

Here’s a guy who is living on the streets, doing hard drugs who got paroled and was left unsupervised by probation officers and released without anyone thinking of the possible consequences.

And now Lily Burk is dead because he apparently accosted her while she was running an errand and tried to rob her.

What in God’s name are we doing?

35 thoughts on “Lily Burk Murder Suspect: Classic Case of a “Non-Violent Offender” Being Freed from Prison”

  1. This happened at the L A County jail under Sheriff Lee Baca and D A Steve Cooley — just like the case of Pedro Espinoza, who murdered Jamiel Shaw, Jr. the very next day, about the same timeline as this killer.
    So why just blame Schwarzenegger here? And Baca is now threatening to close at least one jail if the Supervisors cut any of his $12 BILLION budget — event though he’s known and allegedly agreed to share in the county-wide cuts. Sure some of the pain is a result of the state cuts, but if only the state were to blame you wouldn’t all be blaming the city for its lack of budget management foresight. SURE the city’s to blame, all levels of government are.
    BUT this is a failure of basic procedures at the COUNTY jail. In the Shaw case it was blamed on the mayor’s and city’s alleged policies on being a sanctuary city and became all about illegal immigration. The talk show yakkers even dumped the unfortunate Mrs. Balogna (whose husband and 2 sons were killed by an illegal released under similar circumstances) OF SAN FRANCISCO on the doorstep of the mayor and Jack Weiss. Turned it into a ludicrously misguided City Attorney campaign issue — when it was the fault of Steve Cooley, who has hundreds of investigators (who are instead apparently harassing former political opponents, like his protege Trutanich) who are supposed to keep track of these criminals, and of Baca.
    This underscores that what is really at fault is a serious flaw in their entire system, allowing dangerous felons to plea-bargain back onto the streets. Whether or not the criminal is an illegal. By the way that happens way more often than we’d like, and with criminals of all ethnic stripes and in all neighborhoods. For example, an Asian husband in jail for violating a restraining order after repeatedly threatening to kill his wife, was released despite her pleas and murdered her as soon as he got out: this happened the week before Cooley’s last election and his office kept it covered up, released the info only AFTER the election, with him home and incommunicado allegedly with a “bad head cold.”

  2. It’s important to add that Samuels was released from state prison on February with a prior history of drug and gun possession felonies AND KIDNAPPING. Arrested for a parole violation on April 23rd, released to a drug treatment program which obviously didn’t work, because he was arrested last Friday night after being seen doing drugs on the street — after he’d killed the girl but before her body and car had been found. So the cops had no idea who he was at the time? Baca’s dept. doesn’t share data with LAPD? Luckily he was already in jail. Weren’t his fingerprints on file? Or were they in the process of being run anyway, which is how his history was discovered?
    Whose idea was it to release Samuels to a drug treatment program with priors including kidnapping? Is that part of Baca’s “compassionate” treatment? That’s fine for non-violent offenders but this guy was a known felon and kidnapper!

  3. Thanks for the rush to judgment. Your comments are totally irresponsible. Maybe this guy did it and maybe he didn’t. But isn’t is just a bit early to convict?

  4. Ruth– his prints match those in the car. Her throat was slashed–no, he’s probably an innocent bystander, picked up by the LAPD’s Cossacks (the mounted patrol).
    This is within walking distance of my loft, and whenever we call about public drunks, defacating in the street, the police pretty much yawn. The ACLU had been very noisy that public intoxication was a victimless crime.
    But why no booking photo in the LAT? Come to think of it, we’ve never seen a photo of the woman accused in the USC hit and run, either.

  5. Yeah Ruth and maybe the Wizard of Oz is real instead of being the alter-ego of a ne’re-do-well mad scientist. This crime, like the others before – including the murder of Jamiel Shaw, Jr. should make any normal person sick as hell.
    When 27,000 inmates are released to the communities of California because of a budget crisis, odds are that more senseless murders will occur. Those murders will be the co-responsibility of California legislators and the perpetrator. Now, if Arnold does an end-run around the Capitol body and mandates early release by executive order… The future safety of law-abiding citizens in this state would be uncertain at best.

  6. Charlie Samuel was on parole for Petty Theft with Priors. His last release date was on 2-20-2009. He was arrested in April 2009 and in June 2009 he was placed into a residential drug treatment program by his parole agent. The Department of Adult Parole Operations Region 3 classified Samuel as a low level , non-violent criminal offender based solely on his commitment offense. At some point Samuel left the Residential Drug Treatment Program. Samuel was being supervised out of the Inglewood 2 parole unit and at the lowest level of parole supervision.
    Just months ago the 2nd person in charge of the Department of Adult Parole Operations Robert Ambroselli sent out directives to all parole regions for all Parole District Administrators to reduce parole supervision levels on all parolees who commitment offenses did not fall under 667.5 ( violent crime ) of the California Penal Code. However in many cases in Region 3 Maria Franco Acting Chief Deputy Regional in Region 3 ( Los Angeles County ) directed Parole District Administrators that parolees with violent commitment offenses to have their parole supervision reduced to lower a supervision levels.
    Los Angeles Police Officer Ricardo Lizzaraga was shot and killed by a non-violent, low level parolee.
    The parolee arrested for the murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Abel Escalante is a hard core gang member yet he was classified as a non-violent ,low level criminal offender.
    The parolee arrested for the murder of little Roberto Lopez is a hard core gang member yet he was classified as a non-violent , low level criminal offender.
    The list goes on and on.
    Get ready as the Head of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Matthew Cate and our Governor want to release thousand of inmates from state prison classified as non-violent , low level criminal offenders based solely on their current commitment offenses and not on their complete criminal arrest history.
    The Department of Corrections and our State Elected officials are no longer concerned with the welfare and safety of the residents from the State of California

  7. I can’t get over the feeling that something feels odd here besides the horrific crime. I wonder if it is an open and shut case.

  8. This is just the beginning…just because someone is labeled non-violent criminal does not mean that they will continue to be non-violent criminals. I have empathy on the Burk family and cannot imagine what they are going through.
    To get it straight, Mr. Cate does not want to release the non-violent criminals…that is the Governor’s plan…I work for CDCR as an officer for sometime and I do care about protecting the public from these criminals, but on the other hand you have hundreds advocating that the non-violent criminals should be release early and/or given another “chance”.
    In the end, I have learned that the non-violent criminals are the ones that need to be look at more closely because either they haven’t been caught doing their violent crimes (yet) or eventually they will do a violent crime…
    Thinking about it, our economy is at the worst it has been in decades…now our Governor wants to release thousands back into the community…And not to mention changing some of criminal codes so it makes it easier to commit non-violent crimes which could turn into violent crimes…not a good formula.

  9. Not to pile on, but I wonder if she’d been taught that the homeless were just regular folks, down on their luck? I’m rather taken aback that she volunteered at a needle exchange place–what were her parents thinking? Her school also might rethink their policy of “love, happiness and mystical unicorns with rainbow manes and tails.”
    Her death might have been prevented with a can of pepper spray and a self-defense class.

  10. I find that all kids seem to have a false sense of the world. I blame it on the schools. they teach these poor young things that compassion and love are superior to suspicion, stereotyping etc. They teach them that the homeless are victims of white supremecy etc. I believe in compassion and love also. In a perfect world that would be the best solution. but this is not a perfect world. My father always taught me to keep my eyes and ears open and that people aren’t always what they seem. “And don’t be taken for a fool” If you said that now a kid would thing you were racist. Thats what the hell is wrong. Its all these liberal school teachers who are giving them a false sense of security. Thats why they say the definition of a conservative is a liberal who has just been mugged. Frank

  11. Which criminals should be paroled and how we’d pay to keep them locked up are legitimate questions. Posts blaming her, her school, her parents are disgusting. I guess you see this as a great opportunity to assert your superiority. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  12. I am so sorry for the Burk family and don’t know what could have happened to have changed Samuel’s behavior. Using this terrible situation to lash out at all individuals that have made mistakes doesn’t fix the problem. We have become a vengeful society that reacts instead of thinking the issues through. Did Samuels have any family support while he was in prison? Did he have any when he got out of prison? There are prisoners that never deserve to get out whether violent or nonviolent. Then there are some that do. What filter do we put them through to determine which one is which? Unless we as a society want to continue to pay more and more to punish indefinitely everyone that makes a mistake we need to figure this out. Eleven years ago I was plunged into a life I never imagined when my son messed up badly and was sentenced to 14 years. I have learned few have support from families. There is no help inside the prison or jails and there is absolutely none for them when they get out. So while I do mourn with the rest of you over beautiful Lily’s senseless death throwing everyone into the same basket won’t help her and won’t solve the problem. We need a better filter than just violent/nonviolent. Do they have strong, consistent support might be one.

  13. Screw Samuels,that black piece of crap.Career criminal,he would rob you and kill you anytime.Don’t sympathize with these criminal scumbags.THEY BELONG IN PRISON FOR LIFE.AND I WOULD GLADLY PAY MORE TAXES TO KEEP THOSE SCUMS THERE.

  14. I think it is wrong to exploit the tragic death of Lily Burk to make a political point. What in God’s name are you doing, Mr. Kaye?
    I would also like to suggest that you moderate the comments that are posted on this site.

  15. Jim, it is tragedies like this that need to be jammed down the throats of elected officials who fail to do their JOB; make sure the public is safe. They are so concerned about the suspects rights that they completely trample the rights of the victims and every law abiding citizen.
    I do agree with you on the moderating the comments. I think inflammatory language does nothing for this discussion or any other discussion for that matter.

  16. There seem to be two different issues here that are getting lumped together and used interchangeably–
    1. Parolees/releasees are being incorrectly or misleadingly labelled “non-violent” offenders either due to budget-related lowering of standards or looking at only the most recent “commitment” offense instead of the entire history.
    2. Actual non-violent offenders occasionally go on to commit more serious crimes.
    I can understand #1 being an issue. You have someone who is repeatedly committing *actual* violent crimes– kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, assault, rape, etc– fine, yes, lock them up. Throw away the key. They are a clear danger to society and themselves.
    But I don’t see how #2 is even under discussion. It seems retarded to me to think that someone– especially a young someone, which I imagine most of them are– who commits vandalism, shoplifting, or smokes a little pot then goes onto grand larceny and murder.
    If you truly believe that, then how do you justify releasing anyone who has committed any crime ever?
    Someone above commented: In the end, I have learned that the non-violent criminals are the ones that need to be look at more closely because either they haven’t been caught doing their violent crimes (yet) or eventually they will do a violent crime…
    By that logic, people who violate the speeding ticket should be given life sentences because clearly they just haven’t been caught running red lights and driving on the wrong side of the road, and eventually every last one of them will end up drag racing down Main Street and killing dozens. Most people break a law at some point during their lives, even leaving aside the hilariously archaic “Sneezing is forbidden in public in the presence of a lady” type laws. Traffic violations are so common that you don’t even have to appear in court, nor report them to an employer when you are applying for a job. Millions and millions of Americans have tried marijuana. That’s a lot of exceptions to your rule there. The fact that you claim to work in corrections only scares me more. You do know that laws change, right? They change all the time (see the previously mentioned hilariously archaic laws). Clearly, then, asserting that every last person who has broken a law is merely a murderer waiting to strike is nonsense.
    But more than that– Wow. Has anyone in this thread read the Constitution? Read any Victor Hugo? “Innocent until proven guilty” isn’t just a cliché, it’s the basis of our entire law system. Because judgment can be so subjective and complex (anyone who’s watched even the crappiest law shows has seen them wrestle with issues that are less black and white than they seem– no racial pun intended), it is our duty as U.S. citizens to assume innocence until guilt is proven “beyond reasonable doubt.” There are procedures in place to do this. If you want to change the system, change the Constitution. You know, that whole Amendment process. Until then, though, once people have done their time, they should be considered equal to everyone else (in the eyes of the law).
    How many monsters have we ourselves created with our draconian prison system and complete lack of compassion or humanity? How many kids whose only crime was getting caught with an eighth-ounce of weed? Especially here in California, how many people got caught on “three strikes?” For vandalism, petty theft, or other minor crimes?
    And before you flame me (and I know I will get flamed), just consider what happens to you if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and the cops “know” you did it? If I went to jail for a crime I didn’t commit– or a minor one that I did– I might come out a career criminal too.

  17. I am continually amazed at the arrogance of those that feel they know the plight and personality of the “homeless.” They, for the most part, have no clue as to the level of sick violence that lurks in the souls of some of these folks. They were born into violence, raised on violence and have managed to hide their pathology just enough to pass. We must have compassion and continually attempt to assist those less fortunate than ourselves, but as the caged tiger, you had better feed and care for them through bars.
    I have been a police officer in Los Angeles for 28 years and am still amazed at the level of depravity that some are capable of. I am sickened by violence. I know it and hate it.
    I want to live in that land of unicorns and gently wafting butterflies, but I am afraid that it doesn’t exist. Don’t be paranoid, but do be aware and ready………

  18. Alanna, You make a couple of good points initially, then you cite examples of our obviously flawed legal system, and bemoan the poor, innocent victims of this system.
    This article is about Charlie Samuel and how HE was classified as a “non-violent offender”, how we’re freeing criminals who plead out to lesser charges to avoid conviction for violent crimes, and how the Governator and the State Legislature are calling for the early release of some prisoners. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate the way we classify “non-violent”.

  19. Yes I am troubled by the continual viscious acts that occur in the world today and the lack of concern by our elected officials. Samuels and many other “CAREER CRIMINALS” are beyond the point of rehabiltation.The public should be concerned that these monsters are out on the streets intermingling with us.Have we truely evolved into a safer society? The answer is an emphatic “NO”.No doubt the blame can be spread amongst several entities, but what are the real solutions to this growing cloud of evilness.

  20. The more liberal you are, the less this actually seems to shock after reading this and other sources. Or as Alanna seems to say,
    “just consider what happens to you if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and the cops “know” you did it? If I went to jail for a crime I didn’t commit– or a minor one that I did– I might come out a career criminal too.”
    The sheer stupidity of this is amazing.
    I know for sure Lily Burk was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But it was I am sure a coincidence that Charlie Samuel was on video tape in her car and had her keys with him when arrested. Yea right.
    Liberalism is indeed a mental disease.

  21. Anonymous, the disease isn’t liberalism, it’s…I don’t quite know what you’d call it.
    For the record, I’m a pretty diehard “liberal” politically and socially, but also a realist. I’ve grown up in L.A. and in my opinion the liberal days of the 1970s when I was a kid were a thousand times more racially understanding and tolerant than today.
    I had a classic white liberal upper-middle-class Hancock Park schooling and upbringing, but with none of the PC insanity that has somehow, for too many seemingly otherwise intelligent and sensible people, become some sort of religion and precludes them from seeing or accepting actual reality. That can be very dangerous.
    Later I lived up in Los Feliz as a teenager, too. I went to a liberal private school. I had to take the bus and later drive the old family cadillac all over L.A.-including downtown to the library. Because of this past I’ve thought a lot about Lily Burk, about what happened to her and why. She did nothing “wrong”, needless to say. It can never be her “fault” that she was attacked. It’s always the fault of the criminal who did it, period.
    But she was very young. 17 is YOUNG, it is a naive, sheltered and idealistic age. She was a bright, lively, yet dreamy girl by all accounts. I can’t blame her for perhaps-perhaps!-overestimating her own street sense and for extending her sense of compassion to this man who quickly abducted and murdered her. He took advantage of her, of that there is no doubt.
    But she should never have given him the benefit of the doubt-not after he approached her on the street. That’s not racism, it’s self-defense for a woman alone in a very dense and violent city. She had terrible luck in this degenerate being right there where she happened to be, but I fear that a very loving and well meaning fantasy of everyone being heard out with friendliness might have gone badly wrong. Even Christ and his apostles in all their works of love and compassion were young, strong MEN who could defend themselves, not young girls.
    So anyway, not all liberals live in a fantasy world. The evidence was there from the beginning against Samuel and it’s piled up since to the point where it’s madness to bend over backwards(which one has to do) to imagine a scenario where–what? Did NO ONE kill Lily Burk? Was it space aliens? Come on. ATM footage, security cam, fingerprints, cel and keys on his person–incriminating remarks. But hey! Maybe it wasn’t HIM! What would Sherlock Holmes say? What does Occam’s Razor tell us? This nonsense of “don’t prejudge” is legal procedure for a reason, but it’s also foolish to adhere to it when all evidence points otherwise. And in only one direction.
    Being black doesn’t make you guilty but neither does it make you innocent. To hell with political correctness. There’s such a thing as common sense and reality. The more important calling to account must be the rehab center, the parole system, and authorities that would toss career criminals into the street and let the rest of us fend for ourselves.
    So speaks a liberal with the best of hopes but the wariness of real life under her belt.

  22. These evil people are going to be released no matter what. What has to be done is, they need to be supervised much better. There needs to be more Parole Agents monitoring these sick F–ks. Currently, Parole Agents are overworked and don’t have the tie to monitor everyone on their caseload. Some Parole Departments have many vacancies that have not been filled putting more pressure on the Parole Agents trying to work the oversized caseloads. The State needs to hire more Agents ASAP! I would pay more taxes if the money went to hiring more Parole Agents, Police Officers and Sheriffs. I really hope Arnold doesn’t release these inmates, if he does, more people like Lily will be killed. If the GOV. does release these so called -non-violent- offenders, he had better make sure the state hires more Parole Agents to monitor these criminals.

  23. Excuse me, but the disease IS, liberalism. It is liberal policies, releasing people from prison without the most extreme care, allowing open borders, where millions of unknown people, thousands of which are murderous criminals, are allowed to mingle in a society of citizens and commit mayhem on them with impunity, or allowing unlimited numbers of people, not citizens, suck a state dry of its social services, that the citizenry paid into for themselves, or allowing thousands and thousands of gang members, many illegal aliens to roam free and commit mayhem on citizens,etc.etc. OH, YOU HAD BETTER BELIEVE LIBERALISM IS THE CAUSE AND DISEASE THAT AFFLICTS US AND KILLS US.

  24. Bobby, you are right, LIBERALISM is killing our state. Illegal Aliens, Criminals and the Welfare system is destroying the state too, all of which liberals have a soft place in their heart for. We need to have more Parole Agents, Police Officers and Sheriffs on the street. More prisons need to be built and prison needs to be a place where no one wants to go. I am willing to pay more taxes for more Parole Agents, Police Officers, Sheriffs, Correctional Officers and more Prisons, so are streets can remain safe and so that no more 17 year old Lily Burk’s are killed ever again. Liberals are kidding themselves if they think a career criminal can be rehabilitated, they can’t! Arnold, I BEG YOU, PLEASE!! don’t release these so called 27,000 non-violent offenders to balance the budget. Cut inmate programs and medical. Arnold, please, protect the citizens of California, I can’t stand to see another Lily Burk killed by one of these scum bags!

  25. I agree with everyone who believes these miscreants should be locked away! Bratton, etc. are taking credit for the dropping crime rate…Hello? It’s the Three Strikes Law! The ACLU, though, is busting it’s butt to have it overturned! Studies show that a small percentage of the population commits a large percentage of crime. Once they are locked up, the crime rate goes way down.
    Don’t blame Schwarzenegger on the budget problems–blame the state workers union! They’re the ones that make it too expensive to run the prisons and the mental health wards. The money is there–I have a friend whose son is mentally ill and the state pays for his apartment–and this is not a poor family. But when the State Workers Union gets involved, prices skyrocket, as does corruption and waste. I’m sorry folks, but the unions are corrupt to the very core. They are destroying this state and the country.
    I should know–the teamsters union put a hit out on my father (a completely innocent worker who had AFL-CIO people working for him–the teamsters wanted to take over)–and that was 35 years ago. The teamsters won. The state workers’ union leaders and the teachers’ union leaders are all cut from the same cloth–greedy at the expense of everyone else. Peopl are afraid to stand up to them because many of them are thugs. I think even the stupid politicians who are owned by the unions are too afraid to stand up to them.

  26. James is right, “Bill me.”
    Go back to indeterminate sentencing giving prison offenders one shot at getting it right on parole, then send them back to prison (home). This reduces crime, prisons and sends a clear message to offenders in the long run. See for yourself.

  27. If it is Bratton that is making those crime statistics go down or three strikes, why is crime dropping in other jurisdictions at a faster rate than LA or California?
    The biggest supporters of three strikes are the very unions–prison guards and penal employees– whose salaries and benefits have gone through the roof.
    Some have attributed the drop to easy access to abortion and some to the fact that the population is graying.
    The issue of crime is complicated and the nonsense of “blaming liberals” for all of society’s failures is just silly. Particularly because most of the people making that accusation have no idea what “liberal” means.

  28. Hate crime laws will never be considered because it wasnt a non-white victim. These laws are targeting white offenders and should be abolished.
    A criminal should be treated according to his actions not his skin color.

  29. Why the hate crime stuff?
    Do you really think Lily was targeted because of her race or religion? Isn’t murder heinous enough for you? Why in the world would you want to add to an already bad atmosphere?
    You want to use a 17 year old girl’s death to try for advantage for racial views. Political manipulation, in this case, is appalling.

  30. The real problem is determinate sentencing in California – once an inmate reaches his parole date, he has to be paroled no matter what chance he has of successfully re-integrating into society.

    Once someone is on parole, they can only be supervised to some extent and cannot be watched 24 x 7. Drug treatment centers are not jails and clients can walk away at any time and as part of treatment get to go out on pass for various purposes, such as job search or a medical appointment.

    In an ideal world, Samuel would not have been paroled this year, but still be in prison. But California prisons are at 175% of capacity.

  31. My condolences go out to the loved ones of the victim of this horrific crime, but what I have noticed is that there is no photograph of the criminal himself on the link given on this page.
    If he slips through the cracks again, how will people know him? What does he have to do to be put away for good, have sex with an underaged individual or something? It seems that violent and dangerous offenders are allowed to infiltrate back into society and commit more crimes because apparently killing or maiming someone is considered a minor felony, as long as sex was not involved, and the victim was not underaged.

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