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Subject: Article: Cleaves Sentenced to 16 Years to Life in Road Rage Murder

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Date Posted: Monday, November 05, 12:35:40pm
In reply to: Died Sept 9, 2017, another one not posted here or at Boot Hill 's message, "Archive - Actor Robert Cleaves dies at 88" on Monday, November 05, 03:25:05am


Cleaves Sentenced to 16 Years to Life in Road Rage Murder

By Jorge Casuso

A judge on Wednesday sentenced former actor Robert Weldon Cleaves to 16 years to life in prison for the 1998 road rage murder of a Culver City man on a street in Ocean Park.

Cleaves, 71, had been found guilty last month of second-degree murder for the gruesome dragging death of 38-year-old Arnold Guerriero. The verdict included an additional charge of using a dangerous or deadly weapon, in this case Cleaves' vehicle.

"Everyone that came in touch with him (Cleaves) was lessened," Assistant District Attorney Ralph Shapiro said after the sentencing. "He was a mean, aggressive, nasty person."

Shapiro told the court Wednesday that Cleaves had been charged in a series of arson fires near the senior building he lived at in Venice. The five incidents, which occurred over a two-year period more than a decade ago involved acquaintances who had had disagreements with the former actor.

The District Attorneys office filed a case, but it was never pursued, Shapiro said. The evidence was not used in the current trial because witnesses could not be located.

Before Judge Steven Suzukawa imposed the maximum sentence, three people spoke on behalf of the victim, calling him a well-liked man with lots of friends.

The trial, which got under way with jury selection on Feb. 28, included six days of often graphic testimony from a stream of witnesses who saw parts of the incident unfold.

What began as a traffic argument between the occupants of Guerriero's car and Cleaves on Main Street ended when Cleaves plowed into Guerriero with his Ford Maverick and then dragged him the length of a football field.

Cleaves allegedly hit his breaks and Guerriero slid under the car and became lodged on the axle. Cleaves took off down Marine Street, dragging Guerriero for the length of a city block before the man was dislodged and left in the intersection of Marine and Second streets. Cleaves turned himself into police a short time later.

Shapiro argued that the former bit-part actor intended to kill Guerriero and that he acted not in self-defense but malice. Defense attorney William Pitman argued that his client never intended to hit Guerriero, but that he was trying to flee from the 300-pound man out of fear.

The 12-member jury had been given an extensive list of instructions and potential charges ranging from first degree murder to involuntary manslaughter. Cleaves had pleaded not guilty to the charge of first degree murder with special circumstances of torture.

Guerriero's widow, Dawn, has launched an on-line anti-road rage campaign at www.stoproadragenow.com

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I wonder if he died in prison or was released early? (NT)RGMonday, November 05, 12:36:42pm

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