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    Teen, initially in custody for killing his mother in OC, must remain behind bars pending new trial
    • July 13, 2023

    A 19-year-old who killed his mother more than six years ago and later escaped from both juvenile hall and a halfway house should remain in custody while he awaits an upcoming trial for allegedly crafting a shank behind bars, a judge ruled on Wednesday, July 13, rather than be allowed to live in a transition home now to prepare for his eventual release from lockup.

    Ike Souzer has been behind bars since he was 13 years old, and along with killing his mother was convicted of attacking, a couple of years ago, deputy juvenile correctional officers. But social workers say in the past year he has made great strides, and Souzer told Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven D. Bromberg that he is ready to turn his life around and is willing to face the consequences should he be convicted of his pending felony counts of possessing and manufacturing a deadly weapon as a prisoner.

    “I just want better for myself,” Souzer told the judge. “Running just makes things worse.”

    Souzer’s attorney, David Hammond, requested that Souzer be released pending trial to a transition home and overseen by a 24-hour staff.

    But Judge Bromberg ruled that given Souzer’s history, the temptation to escape and disappear rather than face potential further incarceration would be too great. The veteran judge described the ruling as one of the most difficult he has had to make and acknowledged Souzer’s apparently abusive childhood.

    “He did not grow up like other kids, and that is so unfortunate,” Bromberg said.

    Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer has referred to Souzer as an “extremely dangerous and extremely violent individual,” and Deputy District Attorney Ann Fawaz argued during Wednesday’s hearing that Souzer remains a flight risk.

    In 2017, Souzer’s mother identified him as her killer as she was dying from multiple stab wounds in front of their Garden Grove home. Two years later, the then-15-year-old escaped from juvenile hall in Orange by making his way over a barbed-wire fence, spending a day on the loose before getting caught at a McDonald’s restaurant in Anaheim.

    In 2019, a juvenile court judge found Souzer guilty of voluntary manslaughter. His defense attorney indicated there was evidence that Souzer had acted in self-defense following years of abuse.

    As a minor, Souzer served his sentence in a juvenile facility. In 2021, he pleaded guilty to battery with injury after he was accused of attacking the correctional officers. A year later, Souzer apparently cut off an electronic monitoring device and left a halfway house. Two days later, he was found at a homeless encampment in Anaheim.

    Souzer was moved into an adult jail, where he was accused of crafting the shank, a makeshift knife. His attorney said during Wednesday’s hearing that when he was moved to that jail, Souzer found himself “in over his head” among the more violent and sophisticated inmates.

    Hammond — who has represented Souzer since his arrest at age 13 — and several social workers all told Judge Bromberg that Souzer has grown and matured over the past year and now takes responsibility for his actions. Souzer told the judge that when he was young, running away was how he coped with an abusive family environment, adding that he realized he had made a mistake immediately after cutting off the monitoring device.

    Even if convicted of the pending charges, Souzer would likely face a relatively short prison sentence, the judge acknowledged. Because Souzer has at least one case in juvenile court, his full records are not public so it is unclear what time in custody he could face even if found not guilty of the adult charges.

    The defense attorney argued it was better to release him from lockup now with services to support him, rather than wait and release him following a prison sentence with no support.

    “Our system has raised Ike, for better or for worse,” Hammond told the judge. “He is the product of our system. And our system now has the opportunity to help him grow.”

    Judge Bromberg told Souzer that if he truly wanted help upon his eventual release from lockup, the support would still be there, adding Souzer will “just have to wait a bit longer.”

    “You are not going to be in there forever,” the judge told him.

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    ​ Orange County Register