October 11, 1978 |
Long Beach, California
|Criminal penalty||Life without the possibility of parole|
|Date||May 25, 1997|
Jeremy Strohmeyer (born October 11, 1978) is a Long Beach, California man who murdered 7-year-old South Los Angeles elementary school student Sherrice Iverson (October 20, 1989 – May 25, 1997) at Primadonna Resort and Casino in Primm, Nevada, on May 25, 1997.
The case drew national attention by focusing on the safety of children in casinos and on the revelation that Strohmeyer's friend, David Cash Jr., said he saw the crime in progress but did not stop it.
In the early morning hours of May 25, 1997, two males, Jeremy Strohmeyer (age 18) and David Cash, Jr. (age 17), were at the Primadonna Resort & Casino at Primm, Nevada, near the California state line. The two young men had arrived at the gambling establishment, accompanied by Cash's father, from their homes in Long Beach. Strohmeyer was a student at Wilson High School in Long Beach.
At around 4 a.m., Strohmeyer began repeatedly making apparently "playful" contact with 7-year-old Sherrice Iverson, who was roaming the casino alone. The young girl's father was gambling and drinking. Her older brother Harold was supposed to be watching her but failed to do so, resulting in Sherrice running around unmonitored. The girl had been returned to her father several times through the day, having been found alone by security. Eventually, Strohmeyer followed Sherrice into a women's restroom.
While in the restroom, the two began throwing wet paper wads at one another. Sherrice then reportedly tossed a yellow plastic "Wet Floor" sign at Strohmeyer. At around this time Strohmeyer's friend, David Cash, entered the restroom and witnessed Strohmeyer forcibly taking Iverson into a stall. When Cash looked in from the adjacent stall, he saw Strohmeyer holding his left hand over Iverson's mouth and fondling her with his right. After this, Cash left the restroom and was followed 20 minutes later by Strohmeyer, who immediately confessed to him that he had molested and killed the girl.
Three days later, Strohmeyer was taken into custody at his home. Two classmates in Long Beach had identified him after security tape footage captured by cameras at the casino was released by Nevada police and played on the television news. Strohmeyer was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and sexual assault of a minor. When questioned by police, Strohmeyer stated that he molested Iverson and strangled her to stifle her screams. Before leaving, Strohmeyer noticed Iverson was still alive and twisted her head in an attempt to break her neck, and after hearing a loud popping sound, rested her body in a sitting position on the toilet with her feet in the bowl. Strohmeyer's attorneys later tried to have the confession suppressed because he was not given legal counsel. However, the police claimed that Strohmeyer waived his right to have an attorney present during questioning.
Strohmeyer's defense attorney was Leslie Abramson, who represented many high-profile clients, including the Menendez brothers. Strohmeyer claimed he was high on alcohol and drugs at the time and did not remember committing the crimes. It was even suggested that perhaps the witness, David Cash, had, in fact, been the one to murder Sherrice, as Strohmeyer claimed to have no recollection of his actions and the witness was the one to actually tell him what he had seen him doing in the bathroom that night. Abramson also noted that Strohmeyer's biological father is in prison and his biological mother is in a mental hospital.
Strohmeyer's trial was scheduled to begin in September 1998. According to prosecutors, Strohmeyer hoarded pornography, including pornographic images of children, and admitted fantasizing about sex with young girls. Allegedly, prior to the murder, Strohmeyer wrote in an internet chat room that "I fantasize about having sex with 5 and 6 year-old girls all the time", although Abramson claimed prosecutors could not prove the message came from him. Prosecutors also claimed that Strohmeyer had asked his former girlfriend to dress up as a school girl for him.
Strohmeyer was originally facing a possible death sentence for the murder (had the case gone to trial), but hours before his trial was to start, Abramson entered a plea bargain on his behalf. On September 8, 1998, Strohmeyer pleaded guilty to four charges: first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, sexual assault on a minor with substantial bodily harm and sexual assault on a minor. On October 14, 1998, he was sentenced to four life terms, one for each crime he pleaded guilty to, to be served consecutively without possibility of parole.
After the trial
Strohmeyer was initially incarcerated at Ely State Prison, a maximum security prison located north of Ely, Nevada where most prisoners in Nevada who are serving life without parole are imprisoned for at least the early portion of their sentences. He was placed in administrative segregation, meaning that he was not placed in the general inmate population, but rather in his own cell in a special secured section. His prison number is #059389. Strohmeyer was reportedly transferred to the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada where he is classified as "medium" custody. Jeremy Strohmeyer currently serves his life sentence without a possibility of parole at High Desert State Prison in Indian Springs, Nevada.
Jeremy Strohmeyer subsequently appealed his conviction.
In 2000, he was unsuccessfully defended by Camille Abate. Strohmeyer recanted his confession and accused Abramson of lying to him and bullying him into pleading guilty in order to cover up her misunderstandings about Nevada Law. Strohmeyer's new attorneys also suggested that Abramson wanted him to plead guilty because Strohmeyer's parents could not afford to pay her additional funds if the case went to trial. Abramson denied all the allegations. Ultimately, his appeal was rejected.
Lawsuit by adoptive parents
In October 1999, Strohmeyer's adoptive parents filed a $1 million lawsuit against Los Angeles County and its adoption workers. They claimed that social workers deliberately withheld crucial information that would have stopped them from adopting him as an infant. Specifically, they claimed they were never told that Strohmeyer's biological mother had severe mental problems, including that she suffered from chronic schizophrenia and had been hospitalized more than 60 times prior to Strohmeyer's birth.
However, the Strohmeyers have stated that they will continue to support their adopted son despite the fact that he will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in prison.
Sherrice Iverson's mother demanded that David Cash, Jr., be charged as an accessory, but authorities stated there was not enough evidence connecting him to the actual crime, and Cash was never prosecuted for any offense related to the murder.
In the weeks following Strohmeyer's arrest, Cash told the Los Angeles Times that he did not dwell on the murder of Sherrice Iverson. "I'm not going to get upset over somebody else's life. I just worry about myself first. I'm not going to lose sleep over somebody else's problems." He also told the newspaper that the publicity surrounding the case had made it easier for him to "score with women." Cash also told the Long Beach Press-Telegram: "I'm no idiot ... I'll get my money out of this."
Cash would go on to face being labeled "the bad Samaritan," and also the target of a campaign by students who attempted to get him kicked out of UC Berkeley for not stopping the crime. Two local Los Angeles radio hosts, Tim Conway Jr. and Doug Steckler, subsequently held a rally to have Cash expelled from the University of California at Berkeley, but University officials stated that they had no basis to remove him since he was not convicted of any crime.
Cash did express equivocal remorse over Iverson's death in a radio interview, stating that "I have a lot of remorse toward the Iverson family. It was a very tragic event...The simple fact remains I don't know this little girl ... I don't know people in Panama or Africa who are killed every day, so I can't feel remorse for them. The only person I know is Jeremy Strohmeyer", but still insisted that he did nothing wrong.
The Sherrice Iverson bill
Sherrice Iverson's murder led to the passage of Nevada State Assembly Bill 267, requiring people to report to authorities when they have reasonable suspicions that a child younger than 18 is being sexually abused or violently treated. The impetus for the bill stemmed from Cash's inaction during the commission of the crime.
The "Sherrice Iverson" bill, introduced by Nevada State Assembly Majority Leader Richard Perkins (D-Henderson), provides for a fine and possible jail time for anyone who fails to report a crime of the nature that led to the creation of the bill. The bill was enacted in 2000.
Sherrice Iverson's murder also led to the passage of California Assembly Bill 1422, the Sherrice Iverson Child Victim Protection Act, which added section 152.3 to California's Penal Code. This duty to rescue law requires that a person notify law enforcement if they witness a murder, rape, or any lewd or lascivious act, where the victim is under 14 years old.
Increased Security at Nevada Casinos
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