WEST HOLLYWOOD—The murder trial for the man accused of holding two men hostage at knifepoint inside a West Hollywood apartment has been postponed until July 25, according to court documents.
On April 7, 2014, Alexander Tor McDonald, 30, utilized a knife and threatened to kill his roommates John Winkler and Liam Mulligan as they were watching a basketball game of the NBA finals in their West Hollywood apartment.
Mulligan testified that McDonald had been acting strangely before he pulled a kitchen knife on Mulligan, Winkler and a third man. Mulligan recalled McDonald telling them, “You guys are going to die tonight. Maybe one of you will live,” he said during court testimony.
Mulligan said McDonald stabbed one of the men in the leg. Mulligan jumped in to try to restrain him, but was stabbed in the neck, he said. Both Mulligan and Winkler attempted to flee by rushing for the door.
Deputies from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department shot Mulligan in the leg, as he rushed out of the apartment clutching his neck, where he was stabbed by the suspect. Winkler who was not far behind, was mistaken by sheriff’s deputies as the suspect and was shot in the chest and died at the scene.
In a statement issued on April 7, 2014, authorities said, “The apartment door suddenly opened and a male victim came rushing out. He was covered in blood and bleeding profusely from the neck. Simultaneously, Winkler ran out of the door, lunging at the back of the fleeing victim. Both ran directly at the deputies.”
The Winkler family’s lawsuit indicated that before the shooting, a woman in the apartment complex showed deputies photos of McDonald and Winkler, clearly identifying McDonald as the alleged assailant.
A $5 million settlement was approved by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in August 2015, in Winkler’s death. Winkler was a TV production assistant who moved to Southern California from Seattle. Mulligan filed a claim for a $25 million suit
“To even the most jaded bystander, it is clear that the Sheriff’s deputy who mistakenly shot and killed my son was either horribly trained, or simply ignored the established procedures,” said Lisa Ostegren, Winkler’s mother, in a statement released after the settlement was approved. “I won’t allow them to sweep this under the rug by writing a check; they have to stand and deliver.”
“It is a tragedy when any parent loses a child, but learning that John was killed by those sworn to protect him is almost too much to comprehend,” said Ostegren in the statement. “There hasn’t been a single day in which John’s death doesn’t bring me to tears, and I can’t imagine a day in which I will stop grieving over him.”
According to Sim Osborn, the family attorney, Winkler’s family made sure the settlement required a plan to be developed that outlines the training and procedures by the Sheriff’s department in similar hostage situations. The goal moving forward is to ensure this type of mistake doesn’t happen again.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which provides police services for West Hollywood, has refused to disclose the specific “corrective measures” taken by the department, citing California’s Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights.
McDonald is being charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count of torture. Under California’s felony-murder rule, a defendant can be convicted of murder if someone dies while the defendant was committing a felony.
Written By Darylese Shook and Casey Jacobs