From first-degree murder to manslaughter, Mugridge negotiates favorable plea

After nearly two years of negotiations with the Fresno County District Attorney, David Mugridge announced that he secured a plea deal for his client Jahleel McGruder. The deal allows Mr. McGruder to plead no contest to manslaughter and robbery, rather than face a murder trial and possible life sentence. Now, Mr. McGruder will now serve the balance of 23 years in prison with credit for time served in Fresno County Jail awaiting trial.

Mr. McGruder was accused along with Marquis Graves in the death of Brajoni Freeman, who was found dead in his home with a single gunshot wound. Mr. Freeman was a home barber who also sold drugs out of his home.

“We were very happy to take this deal, especially when his exposure was life in prison without parole,” Attorney Mugridge told the Fresno Bee.

Mugridge thinks the deal was a result of changing laws around felony murder as well as a lack of evidence sufficient for a first-degree murder conviction.

Video surveillance shows both suspects arriving at Freeman’s apartment, then leaving a few minutes later, Mugridge noted.”

The video does not show that the men entered the apartment, nor does it show any shooting. With the short duration of the visit and Mr. Freeman’s drug trade, it is possible that Mr. McGruder and Mr. Graves made a quick drug transaction and left,” Mr. Mugridge said. “Nonetheless, it’s always a win when you take a life sentence off the table.”

Mr. McGruder will be sentenced July 8, 2022.

Attorney Mugridge receives prestigious legal award

On April 24, 2022, Attorney David R. Mugridge was honored with the 2021 Dr. Ann Streissguth Award at the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Conference at Texas Tech Law School in Lubbock, Texas.

The award is given by the University of Washington Medical School to the attorney who most advances the awareness of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD) in American courtrooms.

Dr. Richard Adler and prior recipient Attorney William Martin presented Attorney Mugridge with the award. They praised Attorney Mugridge for his 12-plus years of dedication in the Capital Murder Case, People v. Leroy Johnson. After a 4-month trial, the jury rejected the prosecutor’s request that a penalty of death be imposed. Instead, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of Life Without the Possibility of Parole.

Convicted under felony murder rule? How to reduce your sentence

In January 2019, Senate Bill 1437 became law. This bill ended the practice of sentencing participants in a felony resulting in a death as if they were the actual killer. Now, co-defendants who were NOT the actual killers, who did not aid and abet in the kill, or who did not act with reckless indifference to human life will now be sentenced for what they did. The new law is retroactive.

What does this mean for people currently incarcerated under the felony murder rule? If you were not the actual killer, a major participant, did not act with reckless indifference to human life, and the victim is not a member of law enforcement, you can be re-sentenced under California law based on what you did. This means that a person involved in a drug deal that results in death can now be re-sentenced on the drug charges.

The point of SB 1437 is more proportional and equitable sentencing in California. To that end, people convicted under the old law may file a petition under Cal. Pen. Code 1170.95 for re-sentencing. This applies whether you took a plea or were convicted after a trial. Once the petition for re-sentencing is accepted by the court, the district attorney will respond, and a hearing or hearings will be held, in order to determine eligibility.

Initially, district attorney’s offices were objecting to the re-sentencing petitions on the grounds that the passage of SB 1437 was unconstitutional. This issue has recently been resolved. See People v. Cruz (Mar. 18, 2020, No. G057564); People v. Solis (Mar. 18, 2020, No. G057510); People v. Lamoureux (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 241, (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 270; and People v. Superior Court (Gooden) (2019) 42 Cal.App.5th 270.

If you have a conviction under the felony murder rule that you think qualifies you for re-sentencing under Cal. Pen. Code 1170.95, call Mugridge Law Firm for a free consultation.


The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a substitute for your own legal research. If you have questions, Mugridge Law Firm offers free consultations. Call us at 559.840.0020 or email us at [email protected]

Expungement: Let’s clean up your record

Time heals all wounds, or so the adage goes. In the criminal world, it can work to “heal” offenses on your record.

A felony or misdemeanor, even an old one, can hold you back in employment, training, and educational opportunities. Many felonies and misdemeanors can be reduced after a period of time with a clean record by the court. The expungement process is how you make that request. Each offense requires a separate petition for expungement.

Do you have an offense over two years old? Have you completed all the terms set by the court? We want to help you get clean up your record.

To be eligible for an expungement, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. You cannot have been ordered to serve time in state prison (unless the Cal. Pen. Code 1170(h)(5) exception applies to you). If you are excluded as a result of a state prison sentence, you can apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation and / or a Pardon.
  2. You must meet the guidelines set forth in Cal. Pen. Code 1203.4, 1203.4(a), or 17.
  3. You must wait at least one year since the date of the conviction. Additionally, you must not have received any other convictions during that period.
  4. You must have completed the terms of your sentence, including incarceration, probation, community service, adult offender work program, restitution, fines, and fees. This includes Department of Motor Vehicle hearings, fines, and fees.
  5. Also, you cannot be serving a sentence for any other offense, or be charged with any other offense. All terms of probation for any offense must be completed prior to petitioning for expungement.
  6. If probation for the offense you wish to expunge was revoked and not reinstated, you are not eligible for expungement.
  7. If you are still on probation for any offense, we can help you file a Motion to Terminate Probation.


If county jail and / or probation is ordered and completed, you should be eligible to petition for expungement under Cal. Pen. Code 17(b)(3) to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor, and Petition for Dismissal under Cal. Pen. Code 1203.4 to expunge the misdemeanor.

If only probation was ordered, but not yet completed, we can help you file a Motion to Terminate Probation. If that is granted, we can file a petition for expungement under Cal. Pen. Code 17(b), and for dismissal of the misdemeanor under Cal. Pen. Code 1203.4.


If probation was ordered and completed, you can file a petition for dismissal under Cal. Pen. Code 1203.4.

If probation was ordered, but not completed, you must first either complete probation or file a successful Motion to Terminate Probation, then file a petition for dismissal under Cal. Pen. Code 1203.4.

If probation was not ordered, you can file a Petition to Dismiss under Cal. Pen. Code 1203.4(a).


This is more common than you think. Many people wish to expunge their records 10, 20, or more years after an offense. You may have long ago discarded the paperwork. For each offense you wish to expunge, you will need a copy of your criminal record or case information.

Never fear, it is neither hard nor terribly expensive to obtain your records. Find a LiveScan fingerprinting site near you.


Part of the application process is a declaration from the applicant. This is your opportunity to tell the court why you want, need, and deserve for your offense to be expunged. Additionally, your family, friends, employers, teachers, and other members of your community can write letters to the court to demonstrate the quality of your character as well as share evidence of your rehabilitation.

For instance, you may include the following:

  • Plans for the future
  • Circumstances of the offense, and how the factors present at the time of the offense have changed.
  • How the conviction has hurt opportunities for employment and education
  • Any training or education completed since the conviction
  • Any drug & alcohol rehabilitation
  • Any religious affiliations (clergy can write you a letter of support)
  • Any efforts you have made to improve your family, community, or society


The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a substitute for your own legal research. If you have questions, Mugridge Law Firm offers free consultations. Call us at 559.840.0020 or email us at [email protected]

The police have your firearms, now what?

There are a number of reasons for the police to seize your legally owned firearms. For instance, the police will seize your firearms in the following situations:

  • Firearms may be seized as evidence in a criminal investigation.
  • Firearms may be surrendered to the sheriff or police for “safekeeping” by the owner or a family member.
  • Firearms may be taken into custody as a result of the owner’s conviction of a felony or certain misdemeanors.
  • If a search of an arrestee’s residence, business. person, or vehicle, firearms found during that search may be taken into custody.
  • A civil harassment or domestic violence restraining order requires the restrained party to turn over all firearms to the sheriff or police for as long as the restraining order remains in effect.
  • A person detained for in-patient mental health evaluation and adjudged to be a threat to themselves or others will be required to surrender all firearms.
  • A person who communicates a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or victims to a licensed psychotherapist will have their firearms seized.
  • For a complete list of offenses that lead to firearm seizure, click here.

Most actions resulting in firearms seizure stem from criminal cases. Mugridge Law Firm is ready to assist with your underlying case, so you can get your firearms back.


To recover seized firearms, fill out the Law Enforcement Gun Release (LEGR) form and pay the required fee to the California Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms. When the department verifies your eliigibility to reclaim your firearm, you have 30 days from the date the notice is issued to submit the paperwork to the law enforcement agency holding the firearm. Note: Different police agencies have different requirements, and may require a court order or other items, in addition to the approved LEGR.


The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a substitute for your own legal research. If you have questions, Mugridge Law Firm offers free consultations. Call us at 559.840.0020 or email us at [email protected]