The lawyer for a man carjacked by Christopher Dorner the day Dorner died objected Tuesday to the newly announced process for distributing a reward of $1 million or more that had been offered for the ex-police officer's capture or conviction.
Rick Heltebrake, who has earlier publicly claimed the reward, raised questions in an eight-page letter sent to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Heltebrake's lawyer, Allen Thomas, wrote that an announcement Friday left it unclear how the reward process will work. And he said the questions should be resolved before claimants are asked to waive their right to challenge the results in court.
LAPD Lt. Natalie Cortez, the coordinator for the reward applications, was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The lawyer for two other people seeking the reward, Jim and Karen Reynolds, said he did not have any concerns about the fairness of the reward process.
The process was announced jointly by the cities of Los Angeles and Irvine, Los Angeles and Riverside counties, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, First Watch Corp., the Los Angeles Dodgers and the University of Southern California, plus anonymous donors.
The announcement set a deadline of April 19 for applications and said a panel of three retired judges will decide who gets some or all of the reward.
Some of the organizations and the city of Irvine are putting money into a trust account and have agreed to abide by the retired judges' decision.
But three of the participants - the city of L.A. and Los Angeles and Riverside counties - will require separate applications and could make their own decisions on who gets the reward. The joint announcement said police officials can "advocate" that those three jurisdictions follow the judges' decision, but there are no guarantees.
"First, and most conspicuously, missing from the proposed procedures and the Acknowledgement and Waiver Form is a confirmation of the actual amount of the reward subject to these procedures," Thomas wrote in his letter.
The letter asks whether the retired judges' possible conflicts of interest have been checked. They have continued to do legal work in retirement, and Thomas asks whether any could have done work for the city of L.A. or the LAPD.
The letter also asks whether and how the judges are being paid, how they will hear evidence, whether they will meet privately or publicly, whether the information submitted to them will be open under the Public Records Act and whether the three must vote unanimously to reach a decision.
Dorner, a fired LAPD officer who believed he had been treated unfairly, killed four people during a 10-day rampage, including the daughter of an LAPD officer, a Riverside police officer and a San Bernardino County sheriff's detective. In an online manifesto, he threatened to kill other LAPD officers, and hundreds of officers fanned out across Southern California to protect their colleagues for more than a week while Dorner was at large.
Dorner killed himself Feb. 12 after being spotted and fleeing to a cabin in the San Bernardino Mountains, where sheriff's deputies surrounded him.
The Reynoldses, the couple who own the Big Bear condo where Dorner hid out for days, also have claimed the reward. Dorner tied up the Reynoldses when they surprised him in their condo on Feb. 12.
He stole their Nissan SUV, then fled. Karen Reynolds managed to call 911 despite her hands being tied.
State fish and wildlife officers spotted Dorner, but he escaped down a side road and lost them.
After crashing the Reynoldses' SUV, Dorner carjacked Heltebrake, who works as a Boy Scout ranger at Camp Tahquitz in the San Bernardino National Forest, and drove his white truck away.
Heltebrake called a friend who is a sheriff's deputy and told him what had happened.
As Dorner fled, the wildlife officers spotted him again and he exchanged fire with them. He then ditched the truck and ran into a cabin, where a final firefight took place. Dorner shot himself as police fired tear gas into the cabin, which started a fire that burned it to the ground.
A lawyer for the Reynoldses, Kirk Hallam, has said Heltebrake does not deserve the reward because sheriff's deputies were already chasing Dorner before Heltebrake's call.
Hallam said in an email message Wednesday, "... we do NOT share (Heltebrake's lawyer's) concerns about the impartiality of the three judge panel, and we look forward to a very quick and streamlined presentation of the evidence and a binding determination of all the issues."