More than a year after a man tried to kill him after breaking into his home, a 91-year-old World War II veteran’s collection of firearms and other belongings are still being held by the police.
On Jan. 3, 2012, Jay Leone, who was 90 at the time, was confronted by a ruthless home intruder at his home in Greenbrae, Calif. Police say Samuel Cutrufelli, a meth addict with an assault record, broke into the residence, put a gun to Leone’s head, tied his wrists, blindfolded him and tore his bedroom apart looking for valuables to steal.
Leone, who is a proud gun collector and World War II veteran, testified in court that he was able to get his hands free and convinced the burglar to let him use the bathroom where he retrieved one of his five guns from the bathroom.
The homeowner then confronted the criminal, sparking a gunfight. Leone hit Cutrufelli several times in the body, however, Leone was also shot once in the face during the gunfight.
Both men survived and a Marin County, Calif. jury later convicted Cutrufelli, 31, of attempted murder, robbery, burglary and other crimes. Last Thursday, Judge Andrew Sweet sentenced him to 86 years to life in state prison, the Marin Independent Journal reports. Cutrufelli also tried to later sue Leone for firing back at him “negligently.”
It is now more than a year later and the attempted murderer is behind bars, so why does Leone not have his guns, bullets, watches and jewelry back?
Apparently, Cutrufelli has 60 days to file an appeal in the case and an appeal itself could drag on for years and police have to hold onto the evidence until then. At best, Leone may have his things back in two months — but it could also be years.
“Those guns are worth a fortune,” said Leone, 91. “That’s stealing from me.”
Deputy District Attorney Dorothy Chou Proudfoot, the trial’s prosecutor, said she is trying to get Leone his property back.
“On felony cases, I generally wait until the 60-day notice of appeal period expires, and if no appeal has been filed in that time, I will bring a motion to return all the evidence that was seized pursuant to search warrant, and notify the law enforcement agency that I am no longer requesting that they retain evidence seized by other means,” Proudfoot said.
“If an appeal is filed, then I’ll have to decide what to do,” she added.
“Public Defender Jose Varela, whose staff represented Cutrufelli for the sentencing after he dismissed his trial lawyer, said the public defender’s office is obligated to protect the evidence,” the Independent Journal adds.
“We have a duty to appellate counsel to ensure that any evidence important to Mr. Cutrufelli’s appeal be kept in the court’s custody for further review,” Varela explained. “Our only concern with regards to the retention of the evidence is to ensure a fair appeal.”
Watch Leone give a hospital bedside account of what happened back in 2012 via CBS San Francisco: