Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
TWO MEN CHARGED WITH MURDER OF ON-DUTY SHERIFF’S DEPUTY WHO DIED IN 2010 AS A
RESULT OF 1980 SHOOTING
SANTA ANA – Two men previously convicted of attempted murder for shooting an Orange County Sheriff’s Deputy in 1980 have been charged with murder after the paralyzed deputy died in 2010 as a direct result of his injuries from 30 years ago. David Michael Knick, 54, Yucca Valley, and Robert Duston Strong, 55, Riverside, are each charged with one felony count each of murder. If convicted they each face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison. The People will be requesting the defendants be held on $1 million bail at their arraignment this morning, Friday, Nov. 19, 2010, in Department C-J1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
Circumstances of the 1980 Shooting
In the evening of Nov. 6, 1980, Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies Ira Essoe, then-40, and Greg Brown were on-duty in plain clothes in their unmarked patrol vehicle in the parking lot of a mall in Orange. Brown observed three men in the parking lot standing suspiciously in front of a raised hood of a yellow mustang. The three men, Knick, Strong, and David Vogel, 63, Riverside, then closed the hood and walked away.
Minutes later the deputies again observed the three men standing by a black mustang with an open hood. Essoe and Brown stopped their vehicle and approached the men. Brown walked towards the open door on the passenger side of the vehicle as Essoe approached on the driver’s side. As the plain-clothes deputies approached, Strong pointed a gun at Brown and demanded he put his firearm on the ground.
Immediately after Brown placed his department-issued weapon on the ground, shots were fired hitting Essoe twice in the back, paralyzing him instantly. Brown took cover behind nearby parked cars. Strong and Knick took the deputies’ firearms from the ground, stole their patrol car, and fled the scene. Vogel fled the scene on foot. Witnesses called 911.
Approximately an hour later, Knick and Strong were located by California Highway Patrol and led officers on a high-speed chase. During the chase, the defendants crashed the deputies’ patrol car while firing several shots at pursuing officers. Strong and Knick were arrested by police. The Orange Police Department (OPD) investigated the case.
Attempted Murder Convictions
The OCDA filed charges against Knick and Strong. At the time of the crime, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Vogel. Strong was convicted by a jury on July 20, 1981, of one felony count each of attempted murder, possession of a firearm by a felon, and unlawful taking of a vehicle, and two felony counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and auto burglary. He was sentenced to 17 years and four months in state prison. He was released in January 1991 after serving approximately 10 years in state prison.
Knick was convicted by a jury on Aug. 20, 1981, of one felony count each of attempted murder, unlawful taking of a vehicle, possession of a firearm by a felon, and two felony counts each of assault with a deadly weapon, and auto burglary. He was sentenced to 16 years and eight months in state prison.<