The Colorado rapist who moved to Carmichael last year through an interstate agreement violated his parole when he asked a Sacramento woman to send him naked photos of herself, a Sacramento County judge ruled Wednesday afternoon.
It’s one of six parole violation allegations filed against Christopher Lawyer, 43, that Judge Curtis Fiorini found to be true during the hearing. He dismissed two other allegations related to Lawyer notifying his employers about his previous criminal history.
“There is a big difference between being able to have a relationship with a consensual adult and searching for pornographic materials,” Fiorini said in court Wednesday. “That’s predatory conduct."
The ruling could put an end to Lawyer’s stay in California, according to the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision. The interstate agency is responsible for overseeing the transfer process that allows parolees like Lawyer to cross state lines if they meet certain qualifications.
Colorado officials will receive a report of the judge’s ruling within the next 10 days, and will then have just over two weeks to decide whether to accept Lawyer back into their custody, according to the interstate commission.
Lawyer was approved to move in with an aunt and her partner in their Carmichael home in October 2017 after being released from a 12-years-to-life conviction of raping a woman at gunpoint in 2001, court documents say.
He was arrested in Carmichael in February by a local sex offender enforcement team on suspicion of staying out past a 10 p.m. curfew outlined in the conditions of his parole. By that point, some neighbors already knew of Lawyer’s move to the area after The Sacramento Bee published a story noting he was not listed on the California sex offender website.
In that same story, family members of a woman who went missing and was found dead in a rugged Auburn canyon said she had been acting strangely and was texting Lawyer before her death.
Authorities cleared Lawyer in the woman's death, though Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Robert Gold alleged Lawyer asked the woman, identified as Yinshan “Michelle” Wong, to send him nude photographs of herself.
Other evidence found by authorities after Lawyer’s arrest included bookmarks to a video on the porn website PornHub on two of his devices, and a pornographic DVD found in a bedroom drawer.
During the hearing, Lawyer’s girlfriend testified that the two watched pornographic videos together. As part of his parole terms, Lawyer is barred from owning, keeping or watching porn.
“I think the judge was thoughtful in his ruling and we’re pleased with his decision,” Gold said after the hearing.
Boulder’s newspaper, the Daily Camera, chronicled several failed attempts to find Lawyer housing in the state after his release, saying he was moved to a Boulder homeless shelter at one point after being rejected by residents in other neighborhoods.
Pat Davis, the aunt who let Lawyer live with her during his stay with her in Carmichael, said the judge’s ruling was not what she had hoped for.
“I still think that if he’s having sex with somebody, which he was, that viewing pornography … I don’t see the difference,” she said outside of the courtroom.
The parole violations do not mean Colorado officials have to accept Lawyer’s return to the state. Mandatory retaking from a state that sends a parolee elsewhere happens only in certain situations outlined by the interstate commission, including when a parolee is convicted of a new felony or violent crime, or when they are found fleeing from their home or work and avoiding authorities.
Longtime Carmichael resident Sheryl Husmann said she attended the hearings in Lawyer's case because it was important for her to see what the evidence showed. She said the case was complicated by the interstate compact agreement, a process she was not familiar with prior to Lawyer’s arrest.
“I feel great now,” Husmann said after the hearing. “I was a little nervous, I was.”