Disappointed family members and friends leave a Porterville courtroom after a judge sided with the Tulare County District Attorney's Office in the case against Kamhen Saleh. The 22-year-old Porterville college student is accused of shooting and killing two men trying to rob him in front of OfficeMax back in August. Saleh claims he shot them in self-defense after the two threatened him with a knife and tried to run him over.
Attorney John Jackson said, "I think the DA's office has taken the position in this case to selectively prosecute my client, particularly in regards to Judge Roper's position and to proceed in a manner that's not normally proceeded on."
Prosecutors initially charged him with first degree murder but during a hearing last month, a judge found he should only be held to answer to voluntary manslaughter. Despite the ruling, the district attorney's office decided to file second degree murder charges against him, anyway. A new judge in the case sided with the district attorney's office.
Prosecutor Robert Dempsie said, "The people can file what has been proven at the preliminary hearing and there appeared to be a dispute whether there was evidence of implied malice that had been presented. This shows, yes, there was sufficient evidence of implied malice to file the murder charge."
While the case is scheduled to go to trial next month, Saleh's attorneys may still try and reverse this judge's decision. Jackson says he'll likely file a "writ of prohibition" before the next court date, essentially forcing the 5th district court of appeals in Fresno to make a final decision which charges Saleh should face.
Jackson explained, "Basically directs the filing of the information to be as Judge Roper ruled which would be voluntary manslaughter."
Kamhen Saleh will be back in court on January 7th.