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March 15, 2013

OCDA TO OPPOSE PAROLE OF INMATE CONVICTED OF ATTEMPTED MURDER OF EX-GIRLFRIEND AND SHOOTING-MURDER OF HER HUSBAND

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — fayarfa @ 12:13 am

SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas is opposing the parole of a man convicted of the attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend and murder of her husband in 1983. Ivan Von Staich, 56, was found guilty of one felony count of murder and one felony count of attempted murder with sentencing enhancements for the use of a deadly weapon and inflicting great bodily injury. Staich was sentenced May 23, 1986, to 30 years to life in prison and is currently being held at the California Men’s Colony (CMC), San Luis Obispo. This case was originally prosecuted by former Deputy District Attorney Richard King. Staich is scheduled for a parole hearing tomorrow, March 15, 2013, at CMC before the Board of Parole Hearings, California Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos will appear at the hearing to oppose parole.

Circumstances of 1983 Murder and Attempted Murder

At approximately 1:00 a.m. on Dec. 8, 1983, then-27-year-old Staich arrived at the home of his ex-girlfriend Cynthia Topper, and her husband Robert Topper. He armed himself with two hammers, cut the telephone wire to the Toppers’ house, kicked open the front door, and proceeded into the bedroom where the Toppers were sleeping. He struck Cynthia Topper with a hammer before she fled to the kitchen.

Robert Topper armed himself with a firearm, which he kept for protection, and fired at Staich, severing one of his fingers. Staich attacked Robert Topper, wrestled the gun away, and repeatedly bludgeoned him with a hammer. Staich then executed Robert Topper by shooting him five times with Topper’s firearm while he was on the ground. Staich then chased Cynthia Topper into the kitchen, where she had retrieved another gun to protect herself. The gun was not loaded. Staich took the gun from Cynthia Topper and pistol whipped her in the head, causing skull fractures. Doctors later had to perform two separate lobotomies on Cynthia Topper, removing large portions of her brain.

In 1983, Cynthia Topper had been a college student but after Staich’s brutal beating, she was left with the mental capacity of a 5th grader.

                                                                                                   

History of Violence

On June 20, 1983, approximately five months prior to the murder, Staich was released from prison on parole. He convinced Cynthia Topper to pick him up even though they were no longer a couple. While she was driving, Staich struck her in the jaw with his fists and threatened to kill her. She had to plead for her life and tell him she loved him in order to make him stop. After she reported the incident to Staich’s halfway house, he threatened to kill her again. Later that month, Staich broke into Cynthia Topper’s home and stole photographs. He also began calling and harassing Robert Topper. Due to the threats and harassment, Staich’s parole was revoked. On Nov. 17, 1983, he was released with the order to stay away from the Toppers.

Threat to Public Safety

In the months before the commitment offense, Staich had been threatening the Toppers from prison. It was made explicitly clear to Staich that he was not to have any contact with Cynthia Topper after his release from prison, yet he made attempts to locate her, including making 67 phone calls to her father and breaking into her former home to search for clues of her whereabouts.

At the time of his sentencing, the Honorable Robert Fitzgerald stated, “A more dangerous individual I have not had in my court before Mr. Staich, and I have sentenced four people to death in this court, all deserving souls, but none of which I find to be as dangerous as Mr. Staich.”

Since his incarceration, Staich has accumulated 11 prison rules violations including four violations of grooming standards, refusing a direct order, destroying state property, unauthorized phone calls, and disobeying orders. Staich was also disciplined for being in possession of dangerous property, mailing threatening and intimidating correspondence, and stalking. Staich has also failed to seek self-help or self-improvement. The inmate’s disobedient behavior even in a controlled environment shows he poses an unreasonable danger to society.

In 2011, Staich was found suitable for parole despite objections from the OCDA. Senior Deputy District Attorney Ray Armstrong attended the hearing to oppose Staich’s parole. The decision was later reversed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

The circumstances of the murder and Staich’s violent history show the inmate’s callous disregard for human life. His release into society poses a significant threat to public safety and, therefore, he should not be released.

Orange County District Attorney / For Immediate Release / March 14, 2013

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