Posted Nov 06, 2013 09:50 pm CST
Two married law school graduates are nearing a conclusion in the California criminal case they faced after allegedly framing a volunteer at their son’s elementary school in a drug set-up.
Jill Bjorkholm Easter, 40, pleaded guilty last month to false imprisonment of the volunteer. But Kent Wycliff Easter, 40, is fighting the felony false imprisonment charge, contending at trial in the Santa Ana case that his wife masterminded the set-up of volunteer Kelli Peters and is entirely to blame for the incident, reports the Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now blog.
The volunteer, Kelli Peters, who went on to become president of the local PTA chapter, was investigated by Irvine police for months after an anonymous tip in 2011 resulted in the discovery of drugs in Peters’ vehicle. A subsequent search of her home revealed no drugs or signs of drug use, and authorities eventually charged the Easters with conspiring to procure the false arrest of Peters. Authorities said the couple was motivated by a grudge against Peters, who they accused in a civil suit of locking their son out of the school building for about 20 minutes one day.
Now Kent Easter is pointing the finger at his wife, saying at trial, through his lawyer, that he was ailing and asleep early on the morning of Feb. 16, 2011 when she planted marijuana, prescription painkillers and a pot pipe in Peters’ vehicle. The next day, Kent Easter said, he was coerced by his wife into calling Irvine police from a public hotel phone and reporting, as if he had seen it, the stash that she claimed to have seen in Peters’ vehicle, according to the newspaper.
Police say the couple were in near-constant cellphone contact as the claimed conspiracy unfolded.
“Kent Easter was a trusting husband, what he wasn’t was a standup to his wife,” his lawyer, Tom Bienert, told the court, calling his client “a good human being who didn’t have a backbone against his wife, she wore the pants in the family.”
The Easters have separated but haven’t filed for divorce, the lawyer said.
Kent Easter is a law graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, and Jill Easter earned her law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Both formerly worked as associates for a Silicon Valley powerhouse. When they were initially charged, her law license was inactive and he worked as a partner at a local law firm.
After pleading guilty, Jill Easter was sentenced in October to one year in prison, with all but 120 days stayed, followed by three years of probation, and 100 hours of community service, an earlier L.A. Now post reports.
ABAJournal.com: “Husband and Wife Attorneys Charged in ‘Bizarre’ Claimed Conspiracy to Get School Volunteer Arrested”
ABAJournal.com: “Parent Volunteer Sues Mom-and-Dad Law Grads Charged with Framing Her in Fake Drug-Possession Case”
Navelgazing (OC Weekly): “Kent Wycliffe Easter and Jill Bjorkholm Easter, Irvine Lawyer Couple Accused of Planting Drugs, Sue DA, Cops, Newspaper and Critics”