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During her time in the District Attorney’s Office, Ari handled many of the most complex and difficult cases in the county.  Some of those include:

Donald Schmidt:  Donald Schmidt was 17 years old when he sodomized and drowned his 3 year neighbor, and then pretended to discover her body.  He was not tried as an adult, but rather committed to the California Youth Authority.  There, he was designated a sexually violent predator.  Just ten years later and against all expectations, lead psychologist Stan Blondek deemed Schmidt  rehabilitated and recommended that Schmidt be released.  Ari took on the case and fought to have Schmidt remain in custody.  She thoroughly investigated the psychologist and ended up proving that he was not qualified for his position, despite the fact that the government employed him in that role for years.   Judge Tom Kelly threw Blondek’s testimony out, commenting, “I have never before seen such an unqualified ‘expert’ witness.”  Schmidt remained in custody.   

Walter Stephens:  Stephens was charged with murdering his neighbor by shooting him, beating him with the weapon and then burning his body in a back yard burn pit in the Lompico area.   Famed defense attorney Tony Serra defended Stephens.  Shortly before trial, attorney Serra was featured in an article in the U.S. News and World Report, wherein he was named “one of the top ten defense attorneys in the United States.”  Ari beat him and Stephens was convicted of murder.

The Aptos Armed Robbery Bank Take Over:  Eight people were charged with planning and executing an armed robbery of the Wells Fargo Bank in Aptos in December 2003.  The facts sounded like a script form Hollywood:   A female bank teller was charged with providing information to her boyfriend, which was used to plan the elaborate crime.  He recruited men from Southern California to find weapons,  steal get away cars and stake out bridges along the planned escape route, monitoring for police and advising the robbers via radio.  Masked men entered the bank armed with assault rifles, ordered people to the ground , and forced a teller to open the vault.  The robbers eventually fled with more than $100,000.  Quick work by the Sheriff’s Department led to their arrest and all participants were  convicted of various charges.  

The Kelly Chilcote Home Invasion Murder  :  Kelly Chilcote was a beloved figure in Watsonville, who was rumored to keep large amounts of cash in his home.  This led a group of five people to break into his home, torture him and ultimately kill him.  They later partied in a hotel room with Mr. Chilcote’s finest bottles of alcohol, taking picture of themselves celebrating.  The group bought a van and fled to Florida, where they ended up in a gun battle with police.   Further investigation  showed that two of the defendants, Kimberly LaBore and Eddie Dotson, has also beaten and stabbed  a young drifter to death  whose identity has never been discovered.  Ari successfully prosecuted the defendants.  Dotson was sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole.  

Paid for by Ariadne "Ari" Symons for Judge
343 Soquel Avenue, #137
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
FPPC #1419781

Treasurer Fred Keeley
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