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Teen arrested for alleged follow-home robbery spree; LAPD chief blasts DA

An 18-year-old man who was arrested and released three times earlier this year has been arrested in connection with a series of follow-home robberies, including an early morning attack last month on two UCLA students, police said Tuesday.

Matthew Adams pleaded not guilty Monday to one felony count of first-degree residential robbery and six counts of second-degree robbery, along with allegations that he personally used a handgun in the commission of a Jan. 20 robbery.

The charges involve alleged crimes between Jan. 7 and March 30.

Adams was arrested by Los Angeles police during a traffic stop March 31. He has remained behind bars since then, according to jail records. He had previously been arrested and released three times between Jan. 9 and Feb. 21, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The multiple releases and re-arrests drew the attention of LAPD Chief Michel Moore, who expressed disappointment with Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón during Tuesday’s Police Commission meeting for not adding firearm enhancements to Adams’ charges and others like it.

“While I appreciate the filings that have been obtained, I’m disappointed that the full weight of the existing laws and the support of our district attorney and the court to hold this individual responsible and accountable and keep him from the community was missed,” Moore said.

“When we see these individual cases where people are not being held accountable or they’re being held accountable and they’re being released on their own recognizance to have a court calendar four or five months from now, we see these types of instances,” the chief added.

Adams is suspected in a string of robberies, including an attack on two UCLA students at about 2:25 a.m. March 30 in the 500 block of Bentley Avenue, according to the LAPD.

Adams and another male suspect allegedly approached the students outside a residence, with one alleged victim being struck on the head with a firearm as the suspects took two high-end watches and an iPhone totaling $145,000, police said.

Adams and an unidentified suspect are also accused of the Jan. 7 robbery of a man who was returning home from dining at a high-end restaurant in the 8700 block of Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, and the Jan. 14 robbery of two men who were visiting the United States and were robbed of a high-end watch and other property as they walked toward their hotel from a nightclub in the 700 block of La Cienega Boulevard, according to police.

Adams also was allegedly among a group of men who confronted two male victims who had parked on Detroit Street, north of Sunset Boulevard, while they were waiting to pick up food on Jan. 20. The suspects fled in three separate vehicles after getting away with a watch, jewelry, cash and a purse, according to police.

Moore used the case to advocate for firearm sentencing enhancements given to people who use a gun while carrying out a felony offense.

“Today, we see that the use of enhancements has been sharply curtailed … I believe that’s inconsistent with the underlying importance of those enhancements as to deterring others from being engaged in serious violent felonies with the use of a firearm,” Moore said.

Gascón’s office told City News Service on Tuesday that Adams was released on his own recognizance in the prior two occasions because those cases involved gun possession, which is currently a zero-bail offense. The DA’s Office added that it filed gun enhancements along with seven counts of robbery on Monday.

Gascón has been criticized for policies that many see as favoring criminals over victims, but he has repeatedly defended his policies, saying his stances were well-known during his 2020 campaign and his election signified public support for his reform agenda

He has defended directives on eliminating most sentencing enhancements, citing data on recidivism to back up his case, and pointing out that some crime victims support his changes.

“The pain and trauma of losing a loved one is immeasurable and I recognize and respect that some victims want me to impose the maximum punishment in their case,” Gascón said last year. “Research shows that excessive sentencing practices have exacerbated recidivism leading to more victims of crime. Our system of justice can’t continue to rely on policies that create more victims tomorrow simply because some victims want the maximum punishment imposed in their case today.”

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