Brianna Kupfer murder: Vigil held for UCLA grad student murdered while working in high-end furniture store
California community mourns UCLA grad student killed in brutal stabbing.
FIRST ON FOX: The career criminal accused of savagely stabbing Los Angeles design student Brianna Kupfer to death in a random attack at an upscale furniture store plans to represent himself at trial, an official said.
After Shawn Laval Smith, 31, was found mentally competent, a judge signed off on his application to defend himself in the murder case, a spokesman for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office told Fox News Digital.
In several recent high-profile trials where defendants have represented themselves, courtrooms have turned into a bizarre spectacles.
Waukesha Parade killer Darrell Brooks, who was repeatedly removed from the Wisconsin courtroom for disruptive behavior, cross-examined his own victims.
WHO IS BRIANNA KUPFER, THE LOS ANGELES STABBING VICTIM?
A photo combination of Brianna Kupfer and her alleged killer Shawn Laval Smith
(Family handout/mugshot )
Brooks was convicted on all charges last month.
Smith, who has an extensive criminal record, strolled into Croft House Jan. 13 at about 2:30 p.m.
The UCLA graduate student, who was alone in the store, immediately texted her manager to say the man was giving her a “bad vibe.”
Minutes later she was dead and riddled with 26 stab wounds.
Brianna Kupfer worked at Croft House, a luxury furniture store in Los Angeles, where she was stabbed to death.
Smith had an active warrant for assaulting a police officer at the time of the murder.
The case has become a flash point for critics of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón’s soft-on-crime policies, which some say are making Los Angeles streets unsafe.
FATHER OF SLAIN UCLA GRAD STUDENT BLAMES POLITICIANS FOR CRIME SPIKE
“He should have been in jail,” her father, Todd Kupfer, previously told Fox News Digital.
Brianna Kupfer in a family portrait.
Gascón, who narrowly survived a recall effort this year, issued a directive in 2020 stating that his office would no longer seek life without parole sentences.
Before the policy change, prosecutors could add a special circumstances allegation to a murder charge, which, if a defendant is convicted, would result in a sentence of life without parole.
BRIANNA KUPFER SENT PAL OMINOUS TEXT BEFORE SHE WAS STABBED TO DEATH
In February 2022, Gascón walked back this policy under immense public pressure and now allows prosecutors to apply for the sentencing enhancement from a commission he established.
Brianna Kupfer was studying design as a grad student at UCLA.
The commission approved the special circumstances allegation in Kupfer’s case, Fox News Digital has learned. Smith is charged with one count of murder with a deadly weapon.
The amended complaint has the added allegation that Smith “intentionally killed the victim by means of lying in wait,” which is the special circumstances allegation.
If convicted, Smith will now face life without the possibility of parole.
If the enhancement had not been approved, Smith could have served as little as 17 years, with time off for good behavior.
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Smith is due back in Los Angeles Superior Court Dec. 5.