Sacto 9-1-1
December 31, 2010
Teenage boy fatally shot in Meadowview

By Chelsea Phua and Bill Lindelof

A teenage boy was shot and killed in Meadowview on New Year's Eve.

Sacramento Police Department spokeswoman Officer Laura Peck said officers responded to a report of a shooting in the 7400 block of 29th Street, north of Meadowview Road, at 9:54 p.m. They arrived to find the 15 year old lying on the street.

Sacramento Fire Department medical personnel pronounced him dead at the scene. His name had not been released, pending notification of relatives.

A neighbor reported hearing several gunshots. Detectives this morning had not determined a motive in the shooting and there are no suspects yet identified.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132

December 31, 2010
Citrus Heights woman accused of setting fire to own home

By Cathy Locke
amy silva.jpg
A Citrus Heights woman has been arrested on suspicion of arson, accused of setting fire to her own home.

Amy Gail Silva, 38, is being held in Sacramento County Main Jail without bail.

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District spokesman Capt. Christian Pebbles said firefighters were called to the home Silva owns and occupies in the 5500 block of Cedar Creek Way at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. He said the fire department's arson unit and the Citrus Heights Police Department conducted a joint investigation into the origin and cause of the fire. They determined that it started in the living area of the house and had been deliberately set.

The fire was quickly controlled and no one was injured. Damage to the residence was estimated at $50,000.

Pebbles said Silva was at the residence at the time and was taken into custody on suspicion of arson to an inhabited dwelling.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 31, 2010
Ex-Sac State prof arrested on suspicion of indecent exposure

By Andy Furillo and Matt Kawahara

A former Sacramento State professor was arrested in Idaho last weekend after a teenaged Idaho girl reported that he allegedly exposed himself while on a flight from Salt Lake City to Lewiston, according to media reports and records. Police said the man told them that he had spilled Tabasco sauce on his groin and the girl mistook his actions.

Rafael Escamilla, a professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at Sacramento State until he left the university last year for a new job in Florida, denied any wrongdoing.

"I can't say much," Escamilla said in a telephone interview with The Bee today. "My attorney advised me not to say anything about it, other than I'll be pleading not guilty. I am not guilty."

The Lewiston Morning Tribune reported the 17-year-old girl, who was sitting next to the man, told Lewiston police that she moved to a different seat after seeing the 50-year-old Escamilla's exposed his genitals.

When the flight landed, the girl told her father, who told Transportation Security Administration personnel, the Morning Tribune reported. TSA personnel informed Lewiston police about the incident.

Escamilla said the case "was more of a misunderstanding type thing. She thought one thing was going on and in effect it was totally different that what she perceived. She went by perceptions. That's what's going to come out in the trial if there is one."

Escamilla told police that he had spilled Tabasco sauce on his groin area, causing it to itch, the newspaper reported.

The Nez Perce County Jail confirmed that Escamilla, who gave an address in Gulf Breeze, Fla., was booked into the jail on Dec. 26 on suspicion of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor.

Escamilla told The Bee he had been employed at Sacramento State for eight years until his move to Florida last year. According to the university's web site, Escamilla taught biomechanics-related courses. The web site web site still lists Escamilla as a faculty member.

Earlier this month, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported that Escamilla left Sacramento State after being appointed an affiliate professor in the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of South Florida.

Escamilla is also director of research for the Andrews Institute's Andrews-Paulos Research and Education Institute, based in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

December 31, 2010
Sacramento PD arrests parolee at large after chase

By Matt Kawahara

An Auburn parolee-at-large is in jail today after leading a Sacramento police officer on a foot chase in North Sacramento Thursday afternoon.

At about 5:30 p.m. Thursday, an officer spotted a suspicious vehicle in an alley between Las Palmas Road and Alamos Avenue, according to the Sacramento Police Department's activity logs.

The driver of the vehicle fled on foot, according to the logs. The officer pursued, but lost sight of the suspect.

A perimeter was set up and K-9 units were brought in. They found the suspect hiding on the front porch of a residence.

The vehicle was determined to be a stolen vehicle, the logs state. Drugs and stolen property were found inside the vehicle, police said.

Stephen Crouch, 31, of Auburn, was found to be a parolee-at-large, arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of felony counts of motor vehicle theft and receiving stolen property, and a misdemeanor count of resisting officers, police said.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 31, 2010
Ask Sacto 9-1-1: Homeless man serving 15 to life for fatal carjacking

Q. What is the status of a homeless man who killed Alfredo Solis? The man's name is Kevin Dwayne Henderson.

A: Henderson, now 51, is serving a 15 years to life sentence at Mule Creek State Prison at Ione for the 2002 murder, records show.

Henderson, who was homeless, killed Solis, 51, in a carjacking as the Antelope man was on his way to buy building supplies for his daughter's home, The Bee reported.

Solis' body was found July 14, 2002, near the Union Pacific railroad tracks in an abandoned almond orchard north of Antelope and Roseville roads. Solis disappeared the day before while making a trip to a Home Depot store only about a quarter mile from his home.

A couple said that Henderson came to their home the night that Solis disappeared with an injured arm and a pickup truck they had never seen before. The pickup had blood inside.

They called the Sacramento Sheriff's Department and Henderson was arrested.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

December 31, 2010
Local police to conduct holiday DUI crackdown

By Matt Kawahara

Several local law enforcement agencies will have DUI saturation patrols on the road tonight.

The Sacramento Police Department will have its DUI team out, along with patrols that will be on the lookout for drunk drivers, said department spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong.

Police departments in Citrus Heights, West Sacramento, Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova also reported that they will have saturation patrols.

The California Highway Patrol will also conduct a saturation patrol in North Sacramento, as part of the 2010 Holiday DUI Enforcement Campaign, funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The CHP's maximum DUI enforcement period begins at 6 p.m. tonight and ends midnight Sunday, with all available officers deployed on the freeways and county roads they patrol.

Anyone convicted of driving drunk in Sacramento County may face stiff penalties. The county is participating in a program that requires all individuals convicted of first-time drunken driving offenses to have an interlock ignition device installed in their cars.

A driver with the device in his or her car must give a clean breath sample, or the car will not start.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 31, 2010
Elk Grove PD arrests home-invasion suspect found next door

By Matt Kawahara

Chavez Jordan.jpgElk Grove police have arrested one suspect in connection with a home-invasion robbery that took place Thursday afternoon, said Elk Grove Police Department spokesman Chris Trim.

Chavez Jordan (left), 19, of Elk Grove, was arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of kidnapping, residential robbery and conspiracy. His bail was set at $120,000.

Jordan was arrested after being detained for questioning from the residence next door to the crime scene. A 17-year-old male, who was also detained, has been released, Trim said.

The investigation is ongoing, Trim said.

The robbery occurred at about 2:30 p.m. in the 9500 block of Stone Springs Drive.

Three children were at home when the doorbell rang, Trim said. A 15-year-old boy opened the door, and one of two men on the doorstep displayed a handgun, Trim said.

The intruders handcuffed the 15-year-old boy and ordered the other two children to stay in their rooms, Trim said. The robbers stole three TVs, other electronic items, jewelry and personal property.

When police officers arrived, they learned that individuals of interest in the case might be at the house next door, Trim said.

Officers contacted three occupants of the house, including Jordan, and found items that matched the description of items taken in the robbery, Trim said.

One occupant, a 22-year-old woman, was released after making a statement to police.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 30, 2010
Rio Linda pastor charged with child molestation

By Cathy Locke

td.jpgThe pastor of the Rio Linda Baptist Church is being held in Sacramento County Main Jail on $6 million bail, charged with multiple counts of sexual child molestation.

Citrus Heights Police announced late Thursday that Tom Gene Daniels, 48, was arrested Dec. 9. Lt. Ray Bechler said police had postponed publicizing the arrest while they continued their investigation into the case.

The District Attorney's Office's increased Daniels' bail from $1 million to $6 million earlier this month because Daniels was considered a flight risk, Bechler said.

Daniels has been employed as a foster parent and day care provider, and currently is the head pastor at the Rio Linda Baptist Church.

Bechler said the charges against Daniels involve incidents that allegedly occurred between June 2004 and June 2007. Citrus Heights Police investigated an initial complaint in 2008 but were unable to come up with enough evidence for the DA to file charges, he said. In recent months, another victim came forward. The district attorney filed charges Dec. 9, and Daniels was arrested the same day.

Court documents show that he was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday, but it was continued to Jan. 20.

Police ask anyone with information regarding Daniels to contact Bechler at the Citrus Heights Police Department, (916) 727-5500.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 30, 2010
Coroner identifies man in fatal shooting at Marconi Avenue

By Matt Kawahara

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office released the name of the man fatally shot at an apartment complex on Marconi Avenue last night.

The man was identified as 25-year-old Stanley Bishop Edward of Sacramento.

The Sacramento Sheriff's Department said Edward was found in the parking lot behind the apartment complex in the 2400 block of Marconi Avenue at about 8:44 p.m. Thursday night.

He had suffered a gunshot wound to his head and was pronounced dead at the scene, said Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran.

Residents of the apartment complex told investigators they heard multiple gunshots and saw three unidentified black males running from the scene, Curran said.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 30, 2010
Woman, two juveniles arrested in connection with market theft

By Cathy Locke

Woodland police have arrested an 18-year-old woman and two juvenile girls on suspicion of burglarizing a Quick Stop market.

A Woodland Police detective on Wednesday spotted a vehicle parked next to Campbell Park, 701 Thomas St., with a license plate number that matched that of a vehicle used in the theft of beer from the Quick Stop at 10 Kentucky Ave. earlier in the day. Several females had been reported as suspects in the theft, according to a Police Department news release.

The detective noticed several females sitting together in the park. When patrol officers arrived, they contacted the group and found them in possession of the same brand of beer reported stolen from the store. A witness was brought to the scene and identified some of the females as those involved in the theft and also identified the beer as having come from the store, police said.

The three females were taken into custody, and police reported finding numerous other items on their possession and in the vehicle that officers suspect may have been stolen. Included were clothing, cell phones and wristwatches.

The 18-year-old, identified as Adolaria Herrera of Yuba City, and the two juveniles were arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Police said the case is still under investigation and more arrests may be forthcoming.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call the Woodland Police Department at (530) 661-7800 or (530) 666-2411.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 30, 2010
Elk Grove police question man, teen after robbery

By Cathy Locke

Elk Grove police are questioning two people regarding a home-invasion robbery that occurred this afternoon.

Police Department spokesman Christopher Trim said the robbery occurred about 2:30 p.m. in the 9500 block of Stone Springs Drive.

He said three children, ages 15, 13 and 10, were at home when the doorbell rang. The 15-year-old went to the door, looked through the peephole and saw two males, one Asian and the other, black. The teenager opened the door and the Asian man displayed a handgun.

The 15-year-old resident was handcuffed by the black man. The intruders confronted the other two children and ordered them to stay in their rooms, but did not tie them up or otherwise restrain them.

The intruders then went through the house taking three televisions, including two 55-inch sets, as well as other electronic items, jewelry and personal property before leaving through a side door.

When police officers arrived, they learned that individuals of interest in the case might be at the house next door, Trim said. The officers went to the next-door residence and contacted three occupants, a 22-year-old woman, a 19-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy. Inside the house, police found items that matched the description of items taken in the robbery. Trim said the victims later identified two 55-inch TVs and other items as property taken from their home.

The woman was released after making a statement to police, but Trim said the 19-year-old and 17-year-old males were taken to the Elk Grove Police Department for further questioning. As of early this evening, no one had been arrested.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 30, 2010
Three puppies taken during Rancho Cordova robbery

By Cathy Locke

Three Yorkshire terrier puppies were reported stolen during a home invasion robbery in Rancho Cordova this afternoon.

Sacramento County sheriff's deputies assigned to the Rancho Cordova Police Department responded to a home in the 2500 block of Aramon Drive about 2:40 p.m. The homeowner, a 57-year-old woman, told deputies that two men came to her house, knocked her down and stole the 9-week-old brown and black puppies, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

The woman said that she had advertised the puppies for sale on the Internet, and she received a phone call about 10 minutes before the robbery. The caller inquired about the puppies and asked for her address.

The woman described the suspects as light-skinned black men, about 6 feet tall. She said one man was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and the other was wearing a white sweatshirt. The victim told deputies that she thinks the person who called her asking for information before the robbery was a woman.

Anyone with information regarding the robbery is asked to call the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department at (916) 874-5115, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357. Information also may be provided via text message by texting to 274637, then entering SACTIP followed by the tip information. Those who call or text can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 30, 2010
$2,000 reward offered in Yuba County assault

By Cathy Locke

sketch.JPGA $2,000 reward is being offered in an effort to find the man who assaulted a Yuba County woman Monday morning.

Yuba County Sheriff Steve Durfor announced that a local group, the Fellowship of Friends, has offered the reword for information leading to the identification, apprehension and conviction of the suspect in the attack. A sketch of the man was released (left).

The assault occurred in the community of Oregon House. The victim, a 47-year-old woman, left her home in Oregon House about 5 a.m. and was driving down Marysville Road when her car broke down between Road 270 and Frenchtown Road. A man pulled over in a pickup truck and agreed to give her a ride to the Oregon House Store.

However, the man drove past the store and struck the woman in the face and body with a blunt object while driving, according to a Sheriff's Department news release. He then pulled over, and the two struggled before the woman was able to fight him off and escape. She ran to a home, where residents called the Sheriff's Department.

The woman was treated for her injuries at Rideout Hospital and later released.

The man is described as white, or light-skinned Hispanic, in his mid to late 30s, with brown hair and a full, neatly groomed beard. His truck was described as a dark-colored extra cab pickup. Officials said he may have injuries to his hands and face as a result of the struggle.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Yuba County Sheriff's Department at (530) 749-7777. Callers may remain anonymous.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 30, 2010
Carmichael woman, son arrested in connection with fatal hit-and-run

By Cathy Locke

A Carmichael woman and her 26-year-old son have been arrested in connection with Monday's hit-and-run death of Foothill Farms resident Yuriy Kokhanyy.

California Highway Patrol officers arrested Donna Fraser, 58, and her son Glen Henderson.

CHP spokeswoman Lizz Dutton said Fraser owns the car, but was not in the vehicle when the incident occurred. Her son was driving the car at the time of the collision.

Kokhanyy, 42, was crossing from the north side of Greenback Lane to the south side, just east of Garfield Avenue, about 6:05 p.m. He was crossing the eastbound lanes when he was struck by a vehicle traveling in the right lane. After Kokhanyy was struck, the driver did not stop and instead continued eastbound, according to the CHP.

Kokhanyy was thrown to the ground, suffering fatal injuries, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kokhanyy was crossing outside of a crosswalk and was wearing blue jeans and a dark-colored jacket, according to the CHP.

Fraser was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy and being an accessory after the fact. Henderson was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run, conspiracy and being an unlicensed driver. Officials said he also faces the possibility of a vehicular manslaughter charge pending further investigation.

Fraser and Henderson were booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on Wednesday. Fraser is being held on $75,000 bail and Henderson, on $150,000 bail.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 30, 2010
Westbound I-80 onramp at Madison Avenue closed

By Cathy Locke

The California Highway Patrol has announced that the westbound Madison Avenue onramp to westbound Interstate 80 will be closed until about 4:15 p.m. for cleanup of an unknown substance on the ramp.

The CHP website reports that a white powder was found in roadway and a bag on the side of the ramp.

No details were available.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 30, 2010
Missing snowboarder found dead

By Kim Minugh and Bill Lindelof

The search for a missing snowboarder near the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort came to a tragic conclusion this morning when rescuers found her body in a tree well, according to authorities.

Rescue helicopter crews spotted the body of 25-year-old Shawnte Marie Willis of Tahoma this morning on a part of the mountain that previously had been off-limits to rescue crews because of inclement weather, Placer County sheriff's Capt. Jeff Ausnow said in a press conference.

Authorities believe Willis might have hit a tree while snowboarding, Ausnow said. Her body was found in a tree well.

"The news is tragic," Ausnow said.

Willis went missing Tuesday afternoon. Search and rescue efforts were hampered by high winds and low visibility that prevented the use of search vehicles including helicopters and snowmobiles. Blowing snow also had covered any tracks.

Ausnow described the area, which is U.S. Forest Service land, as "treacherous," and said 80- to 100-mile an hour winds had been blowing there.

"The weather would not allow us to get there," he said.

Ground search crews were called off Wednesday because of the threat of avalanches. However, Ausnow said today there were no obvious signs of an avalanche in the area where Willis' body was found.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

December 30, 2010
Gallery: The top crime stories of 2010

Click on the image below to see the top crime stories of 2010 in a Bee photo gallery.


December 30, 2010
Sacramento PD gets $500,000 grant for anti-DUI work

By Bill Lindelof

The Sacramento Police Department has been awarded a $500,000 grant to stop drunk driving.

Sacramento has the highest rate of fatal and injury crashes based on population and average number of miles driven among the state's largest cities, police said.

The grant from the state Office of Traffic safety will allow brief screening, education and intervention of DUI offenders at the jail. First-time drunk drivers will be asked to participate in an assessment of their drinking and driving before being released.

The goal of the year-long program is to find out if the jailhouse intervention and follow-up assessments can change driving behavior and stem the number of repeat drunk driving offenders.

The grant will also fund a media campaign targeting young adults. Alcohol-related traffic crashes remain the single greatest cause of death among teens and young adults, police said.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 30, 2010
Ask Sacto 9-1-1: 2 teens who stabbed woman to death out of prison

Q: What happened to the two young girls that stabbed to death an 80-year-old woman in an Auburn apartment complex in the early '80s? I heard that one girl also stabbed a prison guard. - jimbob, Auburn

A: Shirley Wolf, then 14, and Cindy Collier, then 15, were convicted of the slaying of June 14, 1983, slaying of 85-year-old Anna Brackett.

The victim died in her condominium after being stabbed 28 times with a butcher knife. The death wound was 4 inches deep, authorities said.

Wolf and Collier each received an 8-year sentence in the California Youth Authority for the killing, The Bee reported.

Wolf was still in prison until at least the late 1990s after she assaulted guards, in one case stabbing a California Youth Authority supervisor. The supervisor survived the attack. She also tried to escape by ramming a stolen prison vehicle into a prison gate.

The Bee was unable to determine the current locations of Wolf and Collier, but they are no longer in the state prison system.

In 1983, Wolf told authorities that she and Collier picked out cars they liked at an Auburn apartment complex and then knocked on doors with numbers that matched the car stalls, asking for directions, for a glass of water or to use a phone.

Brackett answered their knock and chatted with the girls for three hours.

"Saw she was an old lady. Perfect car. Just a setup. We figured we'd kill her," Wolf told sheriff's deputies. Wolf said it was her "job" to hold down Brackett and kill her while Collier ransacked the house.

"She was telling me to stop," Wolf told sheriff's deputies. "That she was dying. And I turned and I go, 'Good.'"

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

December 29, 2010
Search continues for missing Winters man

By Cathy Locke

Ground, air and underwater searches failed locate a 49-year-old Winters man who was reported last seen Monday afternoon on the bank of Putah Creek.

Family members reported Jose De Jesus Lopez as a missing person about 10 a.m. Wednesday, said Lt. Sergio Gutierrez of the Winters Police Department.

Gutierrez said friends reported that they had been drinking beer with Lopez between about 1 and 4 p.m. Monday, and when they left he was still sitting by the creek. When he did not return to the residence that he shares with roommates, his friends went back to the creek to look for him on Tuesday and contacted family members.

During a search of the area, Gutierrez said a ball cap belonging to Lopez was found hanging on a tree. Friends told police that the location was further down the embankment than where they had last seen him, raising concerns that he might have fallen in the water.

Gutierrez said the California Highway Patrol flew over the area but reported no sign of the man. Police then called for assistance from the Yolo County Sheriff's Department, which requested the services of a state Drowning Accident Rescue Team. Divers did a sweep of the area, but found no sign of Lopez.

Gutierrez said flows in the creek fluctuate and the water is murky because of storm runoff. He said the search has been called off for the night, but police will continue to monitor the area along the creek.

Anyone who may have seen Lopez since Monday afternoon is asked to call the Winters Police Department at (530) 795-4561.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 29, 2010
Galt arson suspects sought

By Cathy Locke

Galt police seek the public's help identifying two men involved in an early Wednesday arson that damaged the women's restroom at the Galt Market.

The incident occurred at 3:45 a.m. at the market at 905 Meladee Lane. Damage to the restroom was estimated at $15,000.

The images of the men, described as in the early 20s, were caught on video surveillance.

Anyone with information about the crime or the suspects is asked to call the Galt Police Department at (209) 366-7000.


Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 29, 2010
Sacramento man sentenced to 4 years in death of his father

By Andy Furillo

Eclip_image0027_JPG777[1].jpgA man who pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter in the death of his father was sentenced today to four years in state prison.

Nicholas Farrel Emmett (left), 28, had initially been charged with murder in the July 1, 2009, death of his father, Douglas Farrel Emmett, 56, in the apartment they shared on Marconi Avenue.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Marjorie Koller imposed the term following a plea bargain between Assistant Public Defender Richard Cohen and Deputy District Attorney Donell Slivka.

Autopsy results showed that Douglas Emmett had suffered blunt force injuries and that he'd been asphyxiated, but they also found he had pulmonary heart disease and that he had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death. The autopsy listed the cause of death as "undetermined."

At Nicholas Emmett's preliminary hearing last month, a forensic pathologist retained for the defense testified that the death was not a homicide and that it could have been the result of any of a number of other causes, including heart disease.

According to his probation report, the defendant had been arrested four times in the 15 months prior to the killing for assaulting or threatening to kill his father. He had been placed in the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center three times on 72-hour holds after the arrests.

On the last arrest before his father's death, Nicholas Emmett pleaded no contest to battery and was sentenced to three years probation and 15 days in jail.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

December 29, 2010
Search for missing snowboarder to continue Thursday morning

By Bill Lindelof and Cathy Locke

The search for a missing snowboarder will continue later this morning after rescuers in a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter Wednesday night could not find the 25-year-old Tahoma woman.

Capt. Jeff Ausnow of the Placer County Sheriff's Department said the search for Shawnte Marie Willis at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort will resume with at 7 a.m. today.

Ausnow said the helicopter, which is based at Mather Airport, used forward-looking infrared technology to try to locate Willis. The search concluded about midnight Wednesday.

He said the ground search was called off earlier Wednesday night because of the danger of avalanches. But he said about 40 volunteers on skis and snowshoes are prepared to head into the backcountry this morning. Helicopters are also scheduled to assist in the search this morning, he said.

The helicopter search was the first opportunity rescue teams have had to use air support, Ausnow said, noting that a break in the weather they had hoped for before nightfall Wednesday did not occur.

Ausnow said high winds and low visibility had prevented the use of search vehicles, including helicopters and snowmobiles, and blowing snow has covered tracks. Although the search area is relatively small, he characterized it as backcountry on U.S. Forest Service land that is not groomed for skiing.

As the search continues, Willis' family in Humboldt County is hoping for the best but is worried because she has epilepsy.

Her cousin, Don Hubbs, in Humboldt County, said that the family is optimistic that Willis is fine because she is an athlete and veteran winter sports enthusiast.

"She's a ski instructor in the Tahoe area," Hubbs said. "She has warm clothes, gloves and a helmet on. She knows all about snow, but she does have epilepsy and the stress will bring that out."

About 4 p.m. Tuesday, Placer County deputies responded to the resort near Truckee for a report of a missing snowboarder.

Deputies were told by Willis' boyfriend that she was snowboarding "off the back side" of Alpine Meadows about 1:30 p.m.

When she could not be located, deputies were called in and the search began. Searchers included skiers and snowmobile riders.

Willis was born and raised in Humboldt County. Hubbs described his cousin as someone who could keep her wits about her in a trying situation and not get discouraged.

"She's pretty spunky," Hubbs said.

He is hopeful that Willis might have used her snowboard to build a snow cave in order to survive the cold conditions overnight, waiting out the storm.

"That's what I'm thinking," he said. "She should know to dig a hole and hunker down."

The Epilepsy Foundation states on its website that the most frequent cause of an unexpected seizure is failure to take medication as prescribed.

Bee staff writer Chelsea Phua and Bee researcher Pete Basofin contributed to this report.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 29, 2010
Sacramento PD releases photo of N. Natomas break-in suspect

By Bee Staff

Natomas Burglary.jpgThe Sacramento Police Department released a surveillance photo today of a suspect (left), who allgedley attempted to commit a burglary in North Natomas.

At about 1 p.m. Monday, someone attempted to break into a home near Natomas Boulevard and Club Center Drive, according to a Police Department news release.

The victim's home surveillance system captured an image of the suspect.

The suspect is described as a male Hispanic, in his 20s or 30s, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, weighing 170 to 210 pounds, with short black hair, mustache and goatee. He was wearing a white t-shirt, black jacket, and black pants.

The suspect apparently knocked on the victim's door and when there was no answer he forced entry from the rear of the house, but fled when the alarm sounded, the release states.

There have been other burglaries in the Natomas area with similar entry methods since Dec. 18, the release states.

Police believe that the burglar or burglars are knocking on victims' doors and if there is no answer, the residence is burglarized.

The burglaries have occurred at various hours of the day.

In one of the burglaries two suspects were described as male Hispanics, in their 20s, 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet tall, weighing 185 pounds with facial hair. They were wearing dark clothing.

A third suspect was described as a male white, in his 20s, 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 145 pounds with a shaved head. He was wearing a dark colored sweatshirt.

It is unknown if all these burglaries are connected, police said.

The Sacramento Police Department asks anyone with information to contact Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information.

Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

December 29, 2010
Sacramento PD to run DUI checkpoint on Thursday

By Bee Staff

The Sacramento Police Department will conduct a sobriety and driver's license checkpoint beginning at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, at 21st Street and Capital Avenue.

The checkpoint will be in effect for five to seven hours, the Police Department said in a news release.

Traffic flowing through the checkpoint will be contacted by uniformed officers, who will be checking for impaired drivers, the release states.

Officers will also check driver's licenses.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Q/A: Why cops announce DUI checkpoints

December 29, 2010
Sacramento PD: Party crashers steal man's teeth jewelry

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police say party crashers not only broke a chair on a man but also took his teeth jewelry, commonly known as grill.

The uninvited subjects crashed the party in the 4100 block of Brookfield Drive in south Sacramento Tuesday night, police said.

When the resident of the home asked her friend to evict the unwanted partygoers, a fight broke out.

During the fracas, one of the party crashers grabbed a chair and hit the man trying to do the evicting, breaking the furniture.

Police said the man suffered minor injuries, but lost some personal property when his grillwork was stolen. Grills are removable, decorative metal frames that are snapped over teeth.

Sometimes studded with jewels, grills were made popular by hip-hop artists.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 29, 2010
Elk Grove PD releases photo of bank robbery suspect

By Bee Staff

bankrobbery2.jpgElk Grove police have released a photo of the suspect in the robbery of the U.S. Bank at 5000 Laguna Boulevard Tuesday afternoon.

A Police Department spokesman Christopher Trim said the man entered the bank about 3:30 p.m. and presented a note to a teller demanding money. No weapon was seen, but the teller, concerned about safety, complied and the man left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

According to witnesses, the suspect was last seen getting into the passenger side of a vehicle that was driven by an unknown person, police said.

The white vehicle was described as a mid-1990s compact four-door sedan, possibly a Mazda or a Toyota with a California license plate containing the letter X.

The vehicle was last seen traveling northbound on Franklin Boulevard.

The suspect was described as a black male in his 20s, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 180 to 200 pounds.

The suspect was wearing a black beanie, dark sunglasses, a brown Cleveland Browns football jersey with the number 32 and the word "Brown" across the back over a black long-sleeve shirt, black gloves, baggy dark jeans and white athletic shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Elk Grove Police Department Detective Bureau at (916) 478-8060 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP (4357).

Callers to Crime Alert can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00.

Tips can also be sent via SMS text message by entering CRIMES (274637) on a cell phone, followed by Tip732 (agency identification number) and the message.

Report #10-12028.

December 28, 2010
Man, teen girl arrested in connection with fatal shooting

By Chelsea Phua

Sacramento police have arrested a 19-year-old man in connection with the death of an 18-year-old who died in a hospital Monday night.

About 7:35 p.m. Tuesday, about 24 hours after a 16-year-old girl brought Tiekarian Troutman to a medical clinic for his gunshot wound, police arrested Marquis Greenwood for allegedly shooting and killing Troutman.

Police said they believe Greenwood, Troutman and the girl tried to rob a business near 12th and E streets about 6:15 p.m. Monday. During the robbery, a struggle apparently ensued between the robbers and an employee of the business and investigators believe Greenwood shot Troutman by accident.

The 16-year-old girl then took Troutman to a medical clinic on 30th and Q streets. He was later transported to UC Davis Medical Center, where he died a few hours later.

Police arrested Greenwood near 14th Avenue and 42nd Street on suspicion of murder and attempted robbery. The teenage girl was also arrested on suspicion of murder, attempted robbery and possession of narcotics, police said.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 28, 2010
Man struck by light-rail train identified

By Cathy Locke

A man struck by a light-rail train Monday evening has been identified as Markel Jerome Washington, 19, of Sacramento, according to the Sacramento County Coroner's Office website.

Sacramento Police Department spokesman Konrad Von Schoech said the northbound train was about 600 yards from the light-rail station at Freeport Boulevard and Fourth Avenue shortly before 7 p.m. when, according to the train operator, Washington suddenly appeared on the tracks.

The train was traveling about 55 mph and the operator applied the brakes but was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the man.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 28, 2010
Elk Grove bank robbed, bandit flees in vehicle

By Cathy Locke

Elk Grove police are searching for a man who robbed the U.S. Bank at 5000 Laguna Boulevard this afternoon.

Police Department spokesman Christopher Trim said the man entered the bank about 3:30 p.m. and presented a note to a teller demanding money. No weapon was seen, but the teller, concerned about safety, complied and the man left with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Trim said witnesses reported seeing the man get into a white compact car, which headed north on Franklin Boulevard toward Sacramento.

The man was described as black, in his 20s, between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet tall, and weighing more than 200 pounds. Trim said he was reported wearing a black beanie-style knit cap, sunglasses, and a Cleveland Browns football jersey with the number 32 and the name "Brown" on the back. He also was wearing dark-colored pants and gloves.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357. Callers may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 28, 2010
Carjack, assault suspect kills himself in Yolo jail, authorities say

By Cathy Locke

A 19-year-old man accused of carjacking and biting a California Highway Patrol officer committed suicide in Yolo County Jail on Sunday, authorities said today.

Robert LaBrash, the county's chief deputy coroner, said an autopsy found that Juan Antonio Bravo Lopez of Woodland died of asphyxia by hanging.

He said Bravo Lopez was not under suicide watch and was in a cell by himself. Jail staff found him unconscious at 5:10 a.m. Sunday and immediately began CPR, LaBrash said. Bravo Lopez was taken to Woodland Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

LaBrash said toxicology tests are being conducted and the results won't be known for two to four weeks.

Bravo Lopez was arrested shortly after 8 p.m. Friday. According to a California Highway Patrol report, an officer observed him speeding westbound on County Road 31 west of County Road 95 at 89 mph.

When the officer attempted a traffic stop, Bravo Lopez tried to evade the officer, traveling at high speed with the vehicle's lights off, the CHP said.

Following a short pursuit, Bravo Lopez stopped on Russell Boulevard, west of County Road 93A.

But when the CHP officer attempted to arrest him, Bravo Lopez fought with the officer and tried to run away, the reports states.

A woman driving a Jeep stopped because Bravo Lopez was in the road, and Bravo Lopez tried to get into the Jeep from the passenger side, before the woman fled in the vehicle, officials said.

Additional officers arrived and assisted in arresting Bravo Lopez, who was taken to Sutter General Hospital for medical clearance, the CHP said. There he continued to struggle with officers and bit a CHP sergeant on the upper arm, according to the report.

He subsequently was booked into Yolo County Jail on suspicion of resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and carjacking.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 28, 2010
Coyote stakes out Sacramento office building

By Bee Staff

A coyote has staked out the California Farm Bureau building on the Garden Highway, but an animal trapper said it is "probably" nothing to be concerned about.

The coyote has been there for a week, workers said.

A Sacramento Animal Services Department worker was called to the building at 2300 River Plaza Drive today, but declined to take action because the city department does not handle wild-animal calls, a city spokeswoman said.

The coyote appeared to make itself at home around the building, strolling around the parking lot and curling up in a ball in a nearby open space, workers said.

Debi Earl, who works for the California Canning Peach Association in the building, said she thought the coyote's behavior is strange because the animal was curled up in a ball in the middle of the field, even during the rain.

The coyote, which appears to be "fat and healthy," also did not appear to be afraid of her, she said.

She said she sees a lot of coyotes while riding her horse.

"Normally, they are very shy," she said. They also "seek shelter when it is raining."

Earl supplied The Bee with photos of the coyote.

The building is near the Sacramento River and Natomas Oaks Park and not far from Discovery Park, which a local trapper said may be the reason the coyote is around the building.

"Everything is flooded now. Skunks, rabbits, rats are moving away from the rising waters," said Steve Andert, owner of Creature Catchers in Cool. "The coyote is following its food source."

He said it "probably nothing to be alarmed about" because rabid animals tend to walk like "they are drunk."

Earl said she doesn't think the animal is rabid either, but still see the animal's behavior as "very strange."

coyote 022.jpg

December 28, 2010
Galt PD arrests federal fugitive after chase

By Bill Lindelof

clip_image002.jpgGalt police said today that officers captured a fugitive wanted by U.S. marshals after a foot chase on Monday.

Thomas Kirby Birt (left), 35, of Lockeford, was arrested on an outstanding federal warrant for violation of probation, suspicion of possession of a loaded and concealed firearm, resisting arrest and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Birt, whom police considered armed and dangerous, was arrested after a foot chase through Meadowview Park at Meadowview Drive and Kost Road Monday about 1:15 p.m.

The foot pursuit ended when a police dog stopped Birt, police said.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 28, 2010
Sacramento PD investigating mystery fatal shooting

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police detectives are investigating the gunshot death of a teenager but few details about his killing are known.

The Sacramento County coroner today identified the teen as Tiekarian Troutman, 18, of Sacramento.

Police said that he was taken to a Sacramento hospital by another person for treatment on Monday. Police, who responded to the hospital about 7 p.m., said Troutman had been shot in his upper body.

The coroner's department said Troutman's time of death was 9:14 p.m. Monday. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Few details are known about Troutman's death, including where the shooting occurred, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357. Tipsters may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 27, 2010
Butte County man dies in single-vehicle crash

By Cathy Locke

A 47-year-old man died Monday afternoon when his vehicle overturned on a winding portion of Forbestown Road in Butte County.

According to the California Highway Patrol report, Robert Todd Lonsberry of Forbestown was driving his full-size Chevrolet pickup westbound on a winding portion of Forbestown Road, about a half-mile west of the Forbestown Store, shortly after 3 p.m. As he entered a left curve in the roadway, the tires on the right side of the truck went off the edge of the pavement. In an attempt to get the vehicle back on the pavement, Lonsberry overcorrected and lost control of the truck, the report says.

The pickup turned counterclockwise as it slid back across the road and into a dirt embankment on the south side of the road. The truck then rolled over and came to rest on the passenger side, facing eastbound in the eastbound lane. Lonsberry, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was partially ejected through the truck's right side window and suffered a fatal head injury when the vehicle rolled on top of him.

The CHP reported that an open can of beer was found in the vehicle, and alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the crash.

Had Lonsberry been wearing his seatbelt, officials said, he might have been able to ride out the crash and walk away with minor injuries. The report says the pickup sustained moderate damage to its right side and was still drivable.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 27, 2010
Man dies after being struck by light-rail train

By Cathy Locke

An 18-year-old man died Monday when he was struck by a light rail train shortly before 7 p.m.

Sacramento Police Department spokesman Konrad von Schoech said the train was northbound and was about 600 yards from the light-rail station at Freeport Boulevard and Fourth Avenue when, according to the train operator, a person suddenly appeared on the tracks.

The operator applied the brakes but was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the man, who died at the scene. Von Schoech said the train was traveling about 55 mph.

The victim's name is not being released pending notification of family.

Von Schoech said light rail will be shut down between Sacramento City College and Broadway for the rest of the night. Regional Transit is providing buses to transport light-rail passengers.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 27, 2010
Coroner identifies hit-and-run victim

By Bill Lindelof

A pedestrian who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver Monday night on Greenback Lane east of Garfield Avenue has been identified by the Sacramento County coroner's department.

The man, who died shortly after 6 p.m., was identified as Yuriy Kokhanyy, 42, of Sacramento.

CHP spokeswoman Lizz Dutton said Kokhanyy was crossing from the north side of Greenback Lane to the south side when he was struck by a vehicle traveling eastbound on Greenback Lane. The driver of the vehicle, described as a white or light-colored compact car, did not stop.

Kokhanyy was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dutton said the CHP seeks to locate the vehicle, which continued eastbound on Greenback toward Auburn Boulevard. She said the vehicle would have front end damage, including a broken headlight. It also probably has a cracked windshield and possible damage to the right side mirror.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 27, 2010
Firebomb tossed into Woodland home of 102-year-old

By Hudson Sangree

Woodland police suspect a 102-year-old woman was the inadvertent target of a firebombing late Sunday night.

Georgia Traynham was with her caretaker at her home in the 500 block of West Keystone Avenue when someone threw a Molotov-cocktail type device through her front window just before midnight, said Cpl. Ron Cordova of the Woodland police department.

When officers arrived they found a neighbor trying to extinguish the fire with a garden hose. They forced their way into the house and rescued the women, both of whom suffered smoke inhalation, Cordova said. Police did not identify the caretaker.

Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and alerted police they had found what appeared to be components of a homemade firebomb, he said.

Georgia Traynham, born in 1908, is the mother of Woodland Daily Democrat sports editor Gary Traynham.

Cordova said police have no reason to believe she was the intended target.

"She fell victim to somebody who decided to throw a device at her home," Cordova said.

The suspected arson is under investigation, he said.

Call The Bee's Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.

December 27, 2010
No room in Lexus for suspected TV thieves

By Bill Lindelof

Thieves were thwarted by the size of a TV during a daylight burglary in Sacramento, leaving a stolen television at the curb when it would not fit in the getaway car.

Sacramento police said burglars entered a home around 4 p.m. Sunday on Sedley Court in North Laguna through a backyard window, making off with a television.

However, when they tried to fit it into their Lexus, the TV just would not fit. Giving up in frustration, the burglars left the television on the sidewalk and drove away.

A neighbor watching the unsuccessful heist unfold telephoned police who traced the Lexus to a 19-year-old man.

The man, who police declined to identify, was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property. They are still on the lookout for his two suspected accomplices.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 27, 2010
Suspected passport fraud nets a dozen

By Bill Lindelof

The law enforcement arm of the U.S. State Department announced today that agents arrested 12 people in the Central Valley this year for suspected passport fraud.

Pat Durken, special agent in charge of the Diplomatic Security Service San Francisco office, said the accused are suspected of applying for a passport using counterfeit, stolen or other unlawfully-obtained documentation, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Among those arrested were Juan Carlos Lopez Hernandez of Woodland and Alexander Sabolovic of Sacramento.

Among their range of duties, Diplomatic Security personnel protect the Secretary of State and investigate passport and visa fraud. In 2008, the Diplomatic Security Service participated in 2,487 arrests around the world, primarily for passport and visa fraud.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 26, 2010
Police arrest two after chase from Sacramento to Hood

By Robert Lewis

After leading police on a chase from the city of Sacramento south along the river past the unincorporated community of Hood, the driver of a fleeing car finally stopped and surrendered to officers along with her passenger.

Few details were immediately available, although police said the incident started when an officer attempted to make a traffic stop. The female driver fled and the officer called dispatch around 10 p.m. to inform them of the chase. At that time the chase was near the intersection of Howe and Northrop avenues. When police ran the license plate of the car through their computer system, it was registered as stolen.

In a riveting half-hour ride, a police officer could be heard calmly relaying the progress of the chase over the crackle of the police scanner. A police helicopter relayed traffic information as the cars sped from Land Park, down Freeport Road and on to River Road.

Assisting officers eventually set up a spike strip and managed to blow out the tires of the woman's vehicle. The woman continued for a way with her tires sparking, but eventually stopped the car on River Road near Randall Island Road. Officers released a police dog, but recalled the animal when the woman and her passenger raised their hands and indicated they would surrender.

No more details were immediately available. California Highway Patrol and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department assisted in the chase.

Call The Bee's Robert Lewis, (916 321-1061.

December 26, 2010
Yolo holiday DUI crackdown nabs eight motorists

By Robert Lewis

Holidays might drive some people to drink, but if drinking they shouldn't be driving.

Eight people learned that the hard way in Yolo County when they were arrested over the past week for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to a press release from the Davis Police Department. The arrests took place between Dec. 17 and Christmas and were part of a coordinated holiday crackdown on drunken driving.

Revelers beware: The cops aren't done yet. Extra DUI saturation patrols will be watching the roads in Woodland, Davis, West Sacramento, Winters and portions of unincorporated Yolo County over the next few days.

Funding for the holiday DUI crackdown came from a California Office of Traffic Safety grant through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Police are urging motorists who see drunken drivers on the road to call 911.

Call The Bee's Robert Lewis, (916) 321-1061.

December 25, 2010
Sacramento PD finds missing man, 80, safe at hospital

By Bee Staff

The Sacramento Police Department found tonight an 80-year-old man reported missing in the downtown area.

Wai Ching was found safe at the UCD Medical Center in Sacramento.

December 25, 2010
Christmas Eve in Sacramento has its share of violence

By Rick Daysog

Violent crime didn't take the day off on Christmas Eve.

Shortly after noontime, Sacramento police officers came to the aid of a motorist near 3rd and J streets who said his nephew who was a passenger had been shot.

Police said they found a large amount of marijuana in the car but the driver said he had a prescription for medical marijuana. The victim had non-life threatening injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital.

At 1:40 p.m., police responded to an attempted robbery at a gasoline station at the 1100 block of 43rd Avenue. A motorist said he was sitting in his car while filling up when two suspects allegedly demanded money by putting what he thought was a gun to his neck. The victim said he drove off without money being taken.

Police also were called to investigate a possible drug lab at an apartment complex at the 1600 block of Kathleen Avenue at 10 p.m. Friday. Police and fire officials didn't find a lab but discovered a small amount of crystal methamphetamine and two loaded guns.

One suspect fled the scene but was apprehended while another struggled with officers before he was taken into custody. A third suspect was taken into custody without incident.

Call The Bee's Rick Daysog, (916) 321-1207.

December 24, 2010
Light-rail train hits pedestrian in Sacramento

By Chelsea Phua and Carlos Alcalá

A light-rail vehicle struck a pedestrian in Sacramento this afternoon, sending the victim to the hospital in serious condition, police said.

The accident occurred about 3 p.m. at where the train crosses Stockton Boulevard near 34th Street.

Officer Konrad von Shoech said an officer in the area saw the pedestrian on his cell phone walking southbound on Stockton Boulevard moments before the accident.

Von Shoech said the train operator honked several times, but the man appeared to be distracted by his phone and didn't hear the train approaching. He continued walking onto the tracks where he was struck, police said.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 24, 2010
CHP: Oroville man killed in head-on crash; driver jailed

By Carlos Alcalá

A man died Thursday when his car was hit head-on in Oroville by a van driven by an apparently intoxicated woman, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Peggy Castaneda, 46, of Oroville was driving a Dodge Grand Caravan east, while Robert Alexander, 69, was driving west, both on Oro Dam Boulevard East, near Rusty Dusty Road.

Castaneda, due to her intoxication level, allowed her van to drift over the double-yellow lines, according to the CHP incident report.

The left front of her vehicle hit the left front of Alexander's Suzuki Samurai. Both cars overturned.

Alexander was taken to a hospital where he died.

The Butte County Sherriff Office's online jail records showed Castaneda still in custody this afternoon.

The collision is still under investigation, the CHP said.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcalá, (916) 321-1987.

December 24, 2010
Sacramento PD looking for 'grinch' trying to steal packages

By Carlos Alcalá

A would-be holiday package thief is reportedly following delivery trucks, Sacramento police said today.

The suspected package nabber was first seen near 56th and H before noon today, and may have stolen a delivery left by a FedEx driver, police said.

The suspect, described by officers as a "grinch," was driving a faded yellow or white Toyota pickup with a camper shell. The truck was reported a second time by a driver about 30 minutes later.

"Even though it's Christmas time, there are people out there trying to victimize you," said Officer Konrad von Shoech. "If they see the opportunity they're going to take it."

Police have leads, von Shoech said, but have not an arrest in the case as of 1 p.m.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcalá (916) 321-1987.

December 24, 2010
Citrus Heights man who killed stepmother due parole hearing

By Bee Staff

A Citrus Heights man who shot and killed his stepmother in 1991 after being told he could not move back in with his parents is due a parole hearing next month.

A Sacramento Superior Court jury found Charles Gifford Cunningham Jr., now 48, guilty of second-degree murder for the May 18, 1991, slaying of Hazel W. Cunningham, 52.

Disowned by his father and rebuked by the judge for not accepting responsibility for his actions, Cunningham was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison, The Bee reported.

"This person is no longer my son," an angry Charles Cunningham Sr. told Superior Court Judge Steven H. Rodda before his son was sentenced.

Cunningham Sr. said he witnessed the slaying of his wife and called it "an act of deliberate murder. . . . I will live with the pure hatred in his eyes until the day I die."

Evidence produced at the trial showed that Cunningham Jr., angered by his parents' decision not to permit him to return to their residence to live, armed himself with a modified rifle, showed up at their patio and confronted the couple standing on the other side of a locked, sliding glass door.

Hazel Cunningham bolted from the room but was struck in the temple by a bullet that went through the glass door and a wall.

The gunman's father said his son then leveled the gun at him, but it jammed, permitting him to duck out the front door.

At the sentencing, Cunningham Jr. said the U.S. Navy, aware of his mental problems, gave him "four jugs of mind-altering drugs and sent me on my way." And he blamed his family because, he said, they knew he had a gun and didn't do anything to prevent what happened.

"I'm ashamed of the death of my mom. She was my mom," Cunningham Jr. told the judge. "But I'm not ashamed of anything I've done after I was arrested."

Rodda replied, "The ultimate responsibility for what happened is yours."

Cunningham's hearing will be Jan. 3 at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and state prison in Corcoran where he is incarcerated.

If you want to give your opinion of an inmate's suitability for parole, you may mail a letter to:

Martin Hoshino, executive director

Board of Parole Hearings

1515 K Street

Sacramento, CA 95811

For more information on the Board of Parole Hearings, go to:

Bee researcher Linda Beymer contributed to this report

December 24, 2010
Sacramento PD arrests 2 men after chase, hunt

By Matt Kawahara

Two people have been arrested after they led Sacramento police officers on a chase in South Sacramento Thursday night.

Officers responded to the 1300 block of Florin Road around 10:30 p.m. after receiving reports of a suspicious occupied vehicle possibly involved in narcotic activity, Sacramento police reported in the department's crime logs.

The logs gave this account:

The officers briefly talked with the occupants of the vehicle, at which point the driver of the vehicle started the engine and sped away.

Officers followed the vehicle, which pulled into an apartment complex in the 6000 block of South Land Park Drive and continued to the rear of the complex.

Just before reaching a dead end, the driver and passenger jumped out of the vehicle. The vehicle rolled into a fence and caused minor damage.

The passenger, a 33-year-old male, was caught by an officer and found to have a loaded gun in his pocket.

The driver, a 31-year-old male, hopped a fence and ran through a creek into an adjacent neighborhood.

After an extensive ground search that was joined by air and K9 units, the driver was found and arrested.

Police did not identify the arrested men.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 24, 2010
Ask Sacto 9-1-1: Retired engineer killed in Rio Linda robbery

Q. What happened to the people who murdered Keith Peterson in Rio Linda several years ago? - Anonymous, Rocklin

A: Matthew J. Pennucci and Robert Dean McDaniel were convicted of murdering and robbing Peterson on April 24, 1995, at his Rio Linda home, records show.

A third person, Deanna Cooke, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Pennucci, now 43, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the Corcoran State Prison, records show.

McDaniel, now 46, is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga.

Cook has since been released from prison.

Robbery was the motive for the killing. Valuable items, including appliances and cash, were taken from Peterson's U Street residence, The Bee reported.

Peterson, a 54-year-old retired aerospace worker, was shot several times in the face with a small-caliber weapon.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

December 23, 2010
Housekeeper arrested on suspicion of financial elder abuse

By Cathy Locke

An Auburn woman who worked as a housekeeper for an elderly Folsom resident has been arrested on suspicion of elder abuse after allegedly fraudulently cashing the victim's check.

On Wednesday, Auburn police arrested Sharri Shifflett, 42, after following up on a report received from the Folsom Police Department.

Shifflett had been cleaning house for the Folsom woman for months when the woman was moved to a convalescent hospital because of failing health, according to an Auburn Police Department news release.

While the victim was away, family members who knew that Shifflett had been the woman's housekeeper, hired her to clean the victim's unoccupied home, police said. During this time, Shifflett allegedly obtained one of the woman's checks and later cashed it at an Auburn bank, officials said. Folsom Police were contacted Dec. 16 about the check incident.

After receiving a report from Folsom Police on Tuesday, Auburn detectives began investigating the case and discovered additional evidence of Shifflett's involvement in fraudulently cashing the Folsom woman's check, police said. Detectives interviewed her and later placed her under arrest.

Shifflett was booked into Placer County Jail on suspicion of elder abuse, identity theft, burglary and passing/forging documents. Her bail is set at $265,000.

Police said Shifflett's position as a housekeeper potentially granted her access to clients' personal information. Police ask anyone with knowledge of similar conduct by Shifflett to call Auburn Detective Adam Cline at (530) 823-4237, ext. 238.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 23, 2010
Sacramento PD seeks help in identifying 'Sunglass' bank robber

By Cathy Locke

Sunglass 3.jpgThe Sacramento Police Department is asking the community's help in identifying the "Sunglass" bank robber (photos left and below), who has robbed two banks in the city and may be involved in other robberies in the region.

At 10:47 a.m. Dec. 10, the man entered a bank near Folsom Boulevard and 64th Street. He demanded money from the teller and then left on foot after obtaining an undisclosed amount of cash, according to a Police Department news release.

At 9:55 a.m. Tuesday, he entered a bank near West El Camino Avenue and Truxel Road. Police say he waited in line but left the bank as he got to the front of the line without contacting any employee.

At 4:38 p.m. on Tuesday, he entered a bank near Folsom Boulevard and Watt Avenue. There he demanded money from the teller and left on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The man is described as African American, in his 30s, 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds and wearing sunglasses.

The Sacramento Police Department asks anyone with information about the robberies to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357, or text a tip to 274637. Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information.

Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

Sunglass 1.jpg

December 23, 2010
Nearly 1,000 attend funeral of Sacramento woman killed saving her son

By Chelsea Phua

Monique Nelson and Son.jpgAbout 1,000 people today attended the funeral of Monique Roxanne Nelson (left with son Jayden), who died shielding her young son from stray bullets in a Dec. 14 shootout outside a south Sacramento barbershop.

Elected and school officials, members of the local Chamber of Commerce and co-workers from the Sacramento International Airport, where Nelson worked at her family's bookstore, were among those who grieved alongside her family, relatives and friends.

Her 2-year-old son, Jayden Butler-Nelson, was not at the services held at St Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Oak Park.

Deborah Nelson, Monique's mother, described her daughter as her "angel with that infectious smile" and a "caregiver extraordinaire." She talked about how Monique, who worked for several years as a medical assistant, took care of her when she became very ill this year.

"She was the mother and I was the child," Deborah Nelson said.

Richard Nelson, Monique's brother, recalled happy childhood memories that reflected his sister's mischievous and dare-devil nature.

On one occasion, he jumped into the swimming pool in his Sunday suit to pull her out of the water. On another occasion, she had her head stuck between the bars of an iron gate and their mother and the postman, who happened to be there, had to rescue her by applying butter and Vaseline cream over her head and ears, he said.

Richard Nelson also said his sister was very spiritual. While helping to clear out her apartment after her death, he found she had a series of books on religion and a letter she wrote saying she wanted her favorite gospel music, "Safe in His Arms," played at her funeral. It was.

Authorities said Ms. Nelson was strapping Jayden into his car seat in a parking lot outside the Fly Cuts & Styles barbershop that Tuesday afternoon when gunmen started firing inside the shop.

The vicious exchange spilled outside, where Ms. Nelson had parked her vehicle. Sacramento County sheriff's deputies arrived to find Ms. Nelson's lifeless body draped over her son, who was not harmed.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 23, 2010
Woodland PD arrests 4 in burglary, car theft

By Matt Kawahara

Woodland police arrested four males this morning on suspicion of burglary and auto theft, according to a Woodland Police Department news release.

At 1:04 a.m., a Woodland police officer encountered a man in a construction area south of Tyler Drive, according to the release.

The officer detained the man due to recent thefts of copper wire in the area, the release states.

The officer later located an unreported stolen vehicle. The detained man - identified as 22-year-old Leonidas Constable of Woodland - told the officer that three other people with Constable ran away upon seeing the officer. The officer linked Constable and the three others to the stolen car, police said.

Another officer found the trio and contacted the car owner, who reported that the vehicle had been stolen from the 700 block of Bourn Drive and that the victim's residence had also been burglarized, according to the release.

Constable, 20-year-old Mathew Nichols of Woodland, and two 17-year-old males were arrested, police said.

The two adults were booked into the Yolo County Jail, police said. The juveniles were taken to the Yolo County Juvenile Hall.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 23, 2010
Sacramento area schools ask public's help in protecting campuses

By Melody Gutierrez

Winter break has proven costly for Sacramento school districts as vandals, thieves and arsonists have hit the empty campuses.

Area school districts see more property losses in December than any other month, according to a Sacramento City Unified School District press release.

Most area school districts began winter break Dec. 20 and will be off until Jan. 3. While the campuses are dark, districts are asking the community to help watch school properties.

"Any time there is a break there is an uptick in vandalism and burglaries," said Twin Rivers Police Department spokesman Officer William Cho. "We rely on the community to keep watch on the properties. A majority of the calls we get are from neighbors who see suspicious behavior. They have helped us catch quite a few suspects."

The Twin Rivers PD polices the Twin Rivers School District, among other duties.

Residents who would like to report suspicious activity within Sacramento city limits can call (916) 264-5471. Residents outside city boundaries should call the county Sheriff's Department at (916) 874-5115.

Sacramento City Unified school security can be called 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (916) 643-7444.

The Twin Rivers Police Department can also be called 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (916) 286-4875.

Call The Bee's Melody Gutierrez, (916) 326-5521.

December 23, 2010
$100,000 State Fair robbery remains 'ongoing investigation'

By Bee Staff

$100,000 robbery at the California State Fair this summer remain an "ongoing investigation," a spokeswoman for the Cal Expo Police Department said.

No arrests have been announced.

She said the Cal Expo police, who are responsible for law enforcement on the fair site year-round, are working on the case with help from the Sacramento Police Department.

She declined further comment.

On July 21, two men wearing disguises and carrying handguns walked into a cash-counting room operated by a food vendor and walked out a short time later with about $100,000 stuffed into a plastic bag.

Here is an earlier Bee report on the robbery:

$100,000 stolen in California State Fair robbery

December 23, 2010
FedEx plane makes emergency landing at Sacramento International Airport

By Matthew Kawahara

A FedEx cargo jet on its way to Reno made an emergency landing at the Sacramento International Airport this morning.

The jet, flying from Memphis to Reno, reported being low on fuel, said airport spokeswoman Gina Swankie. Because of fog in Reno, the jet was diverted to Sacramento, where it landed safely just before 8 a.m., Swankie said.

Emergency personnel responded as a precaution because the jet's pilot had declared an in-flight emergency, Swankie said.

The four crew members were not injured, she said.

Call The Bee's Matthew Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 23, 2010
Sacramento firefighters battling light-rail blaze when train pulls away

By Matt Kawahara

Fire crews extinguished a fire on a light-rail train this morning, but their first attempt was foiled when the train drove away, a Sacramento Fire Department spokesman said.

Crews responded to the Regional Transit light-rail station at Florin Perkins Road and Folsom Boulevard this morning after receiving reports of an RT car on fire, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Jonathan Burgess.

All passengers exited the train, Burgess said. Passengers had not been exposed to flames or smoke inside the rail car, he said.

Crews began to assess the fire, which was located on the undercarriage of the car and was producing heavy black smoke, Burgess said.

As firefighters were standing alongside the car, it drove away, Burgess said.

"It sounds like there was some sort of communication error or breakdown," he said.

Fire crews followed the train for nearly a mile and a half before it stopped again, he said.

"During that time, our fire companies were in pursuit," Burgess said.

The train stopped at the Starfire station near La Riviera Drive and Folsom Boulevard.

Crews extinguished the fire and called a Level 2 hazmat situation because of the electrical equipment involved in the fire, including the car's battery and generator, Burgess said.

The car likely started moving again after it originally stopped because it is standard procedure to tow a car with an overheating resistor grid to a location where it can be inspected, said Regional Transit spokeswoman Alane Masui.

The mechanic moving the car may have been under the impression that the electrical equipment under the car was smoking without a fire having been sparked, Masui said.

The mechanic stopped at the Starfire station after the Fire Department caught up with him, Masui said.

Fire crews extinguished the blaze and light-rail service resumed around 9 a.m.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 23, 2010
Ask Sacto 9-1-1: Man stabbed, dies as plea for help ignored

Q. Are Walter Currie and Paul E. Davis still in prison? They killed my brother Eldred Hardin 18 years ago in the Dos Rios housing project.

A: The killers of your brother - Paul E. Davis and Walter Currie Jr. - are in prison, records show.

Davis, now 37, is in the Folsom State Prison. Currie, now 35, is the Mule Creek State Prison at Ione.

The two men were convicted of the May 11, 1992, stabbing death of Hardin, 37, The Bee reported.

The men mistook Hardin for a person who had information about an earlier robbery of Davis.

After the stabbing, Hardin staggered to a nearby apartment at the Dos Rios government-subsidized housing project - just north of downtown Sacramento - where his pleas for help were ignored.

He later was dragged by residents to a lawn area where he died.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

December 22, 2010
Smoke detectors credited for alerting Elk Grove residents during fire

By Cathy Locke

Smoke detectors are credited for alerting residents of an Elk Grove home to an early-morning fire.

Cosumnes Fire Department firefighters responded to a report of a fire at a home in the 8600 block of Mannington Street at 3:35 a.m. today. The residents were awakened by smoke detectors and found smoke in the house and a fire burning in the wall and ceiling above their fireplace.

Although firefighters had some difficulty finding the fire that was burning behind a wall and in the crawl space above the ceiling, they were able to bring it under control in 20 minutes, according to a fire department news release.

Fire officials said the smoke detectors allowed the family time to escape without injury and helped reduce the damage caused by the spreading fire.

Deputy Fire Chief John Michelini said this is the second time in recent weeks that Cosumnes firefighters have responded a fire in which smoke detectors were responsible for preventing a possible loss of life.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 22, 2010
Ask Sacto 9-1-1: Argument leads to murder, arson

Q. I'm trying to figure out what happened to the men who killed an old grade-school friend of mine named Jason Taylor. - Troy, Sacramento

A: Gregory Debortoli was convicted of second-degree murder and arson in the death of your friend, Jason Taylor, in July 2002, according to records and Bee reports.

Online court records show him receiving a four-year 8-month sentence. However, Debortoli, now 36, is still incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison at Ione, according to California Corrections Department records. The Bee could not obtain further records on Debortoli.

Debortoli, 36, spent an evening drinking in a Rosemont bar with the Taylor, 23. The pair met two men, and all four left in Taylor's car "in an intoxicated state," according to sheriff's reports.

With Debortoli driving and Taylor sitting next to him, the two got into an argument. Debortoli hit Taylor numerous times, then pulled over and locked him in the trunk, according to reports.

Debortoli drove the other men home after they became alarmed by the incident, a sheriff's spokeswoman told The Bee after Debortoli's arrest.

Authorities said they believe Debortoli then drove to the parking lot of a church in the 8200 block of East Stockton Boulevard, robbed Taylor and killed him with a blunt object.

Shortly before 5:30 a.m., Debortoli set the vehicle on fire and walked toward a nearby motel, the spokeswoman said.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

December 22, 2010
Horse recovering after attack by dog in Old Sacramento

By Cathy Locke

A carriage horse attacked by a pit bull in Old Sacramento on Tuesday afternoon was reported doing well today after being treated for his wounds.

"He's eating carrots already," said Dianna Newborn, owner of Sunny, a 7-year-old standard breed gelding.

The horse was on Second Street pulling a carriage with a driver and three passengers aboard, when it was attacked by a pit bull. The dog bit the horse's face and legs, abandoning the attack only after a citizen, John Dixon of Granite Bay, came to Sunny's aid.

Dixon kicked the dog several times. Dixon cornered the dog, and restrained it by placing his foot on its neck until police arrived. Unable to gain control of the dog, police finally shot and killed the animal.

Neither the carriage driver nor his passengers were injured.

Sunny received five stitches to his face and three stitches in each of his front legs. Newborn said the horse also has tears underneath his legs.

The owner of the dog has not been located, and Newborn said the animal is being tested for rabies. She said all horses working in Old Sacramento are required to have rabies vaccinations, but she is keeping Sunny in quarantine at her stables as a precaution.

Newborn said the horse, a former harness racer, is expected to make a full recovery from his physical injuries, and probably could return to work in a couple of months. Much will depend on how Sunny responds psychologically.

"He's a real sweetheart of a horse," she said, but he may be more wary as a result of the attack.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 22, 2010
Federal funds fuel Sacramento area DUI crackdown

By Bee Staff

The holiday period DUI checkpoints in the Sacramento area are part of several years of federally funded anti-DUI efforts statewide, administered through the Office of Traffic Safety to local and state law enforcement, DAs, courts and other agencies.

Here is a list of grants in the Sacramento area:


-California State Fair Police - $50,000.

-Citrus Heights Police Department - $213, 276.

-Elk Grove Police Department - $160,000.

-Folsom Police Department - $160,000.

-Rancho Cordova Police Department - $116,000.

-Sacramento Police Department - $670,500.

-Sacramento County DA/Courts - $999,164.

-Elk Grove DUI mini-grant - $33,223.

-Citrus Heights DUI mini-grant - $37,835.

-Sacramento DUI mini-grant - $100,648.

-South Lake Tahoe Avoid DUI Campaign - $321,513.

-South Lake Tahoe DUI mini-grant - $27,524.


-Sacramento County DA/Courts & Probation - $616,000.

-Sacramento Police Department - $1 million.

-Citrus Heights/Sacramento County Avoid Campaign - $243,500.

-Citrus Heights Police Department - $230,000.

-Folsom - $150,000 (not all DUI related).

-Rancho Cordova - $240,000 (not all DUI related).

-Sacramento DUI mini-grant - $98,460.

-Galt DUI mini-grant - $8,607.

-West Sacramento DUI mini-grant - $16,862.

-Lincoln Avoid DUI Campaign - $454,000.

-West Sacramento DUI mini-grant - $16,862.

-Placer County Probation - $67,904.

-Roseville DUI mini-grant - $20,162.

In addition, the federal government through the Office of Traffic Safety is funding three-year anti-DUI efforts in Citrus Heights, South Lake Tahoe, Lincoln and Davis.

Federal funds also are helping fund a pilot program in four counties, including Sacramento County, for ignition interlock devices for first-time DUI offenders. A driver has to blow into the device and if his or her breath doesn't record a zero blood-alcohol reading, the vehicle's engine will not start.

December 22, 2010
Sacramento coroner IDs Wilton teen killed in crash

By Bill Lindelof

The Sacramento County Coroner has identified a Wilton teen as the victim of a car accident Tuesday.

Maisie Marie Sanders, 19, of Wilton died at the scene of the 11:50 a.m. accident at Clay Station Road and Tavernor Road, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP said that a pickup truck was northbound on Clay Station Road when a car westbound on Tavernor Road driven by Sanders pulled into the path of the truck.

Tavernor Road has stop signs in both directions at Clay Station Road, the CHP said.

The CHP said it is not clear if Sanders stopped and then entered the intersection or slowed down and rolled into the intersection.

Her car was hit broadside and she sustained fatal injuries.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 22, 2010
San Quentin inmate, 42, found dead in Death Row cell

By Sam Stanton

Officials at San Quentin State Prison are investigating the cause of death of a 42-year-old inmate who was found unresponsive in his Death Row cell Monday afternoon.

John Levae Post, who was sentenced to death Dec. 17, 2001, out of Los Angeles, was found in his cell at 2:20 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 2:52 p.m., officials said.

Post was convicted in the 1996 drive-by shooting deaths of 17-year-old Aaron Johnson and 23-year-old Larry Logan.

State prison officials say that since 1978, when capital punishment was reinstated in California, 52 Death Row inmates have died from natural causes and 18 committed suicide. Thirteen have been executed in California and one was executed in Missouri.

As of Monday, there were 717 inmates on Death row in San Quentin.

Call The Bee's Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091.

December 22, 2010
Car thief shows owner cashless envelope before fleeing

By Bill Lindelof

A man handed a cashless envelope to a car owner before making off with the vehicle Tuesday.

The suspect approached the victim in the 3500 block of South Winning Way in South Sacramento around noon about buying a 1998 Ford Escort.

As they were completing paperwork for the supposed purchase, the owner of the car asked the man to show him the money.

Instead, the suspect grabbed the car keys from the victim's hand and handed him an envelope that turned out to only contain paper. The thief fled in the car.

The suspect was described as a black male, 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 160 pounds with short hair.

December 22, 2010
Roseville PD dog finds missing Alzheimer's sufferer

By Bill Lindelof

miskewicz_apollo.jpgApollo the police dog tracked down a missing Alzheimer's sufferer Monday night in Roseville.

The Roseville Police Department canine was called upon about 10 p.m. when the Roseville resident in her 70s wandered from her home. Minutes after Apollo - whose partner is Officer Scott Miskewcycz (both pictured at left) - put his nose to work, the woman was found.

She was located by the dog in a neighbor's carport, not far from her residence. The woman was reunited with family.

Roseville police volunteers can provide Alzheimer's and others suffering from dementia with radio transmitter bracelets under a free program called Project Lifesavers.

In the event a person wanders away, the transmitters allow police to track them without a police dog.

For more information call (916) 746-1077.

December 22, 2010
Sacramento PD: Thief steals car - with kids inside - then abandons all

By Bill Lindelof

A father recovered both his vehicle and his kids after they were taken by a thief on Tuesday.

The dad left his 5- and 8-year-old children in his vehicle when he went into a business in the 3500 block of Northgate Boulevard Tuesday evening. While inside, a teen got into the father's vehicle and drove off.

The children were eventually dropped off and were found unharmed, Sacramento police said. The vehicle was found abandoned in the 4000 block of Norwood Avenue, a couple of miles away.

The suspect was described as male, black, about 17 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 160 pounds, with short hair. He was wearing a black leather coat and black baseball cap with a white logo.

December 22, 2010
Vellanoweth appeal denied in Sacramento DUI crash that killed 4

By Bee Staff

RP VELLANOWETH[1].JPGA California appeals court has upheld the conviction of Roberto P. Vellanoweth (photo left at his trial), a once-prominent state executive and gubernatorial appointee, for a fatal DUI crash in Sacramento that killed four people in 2007.

Vellanoweth was sentenced to 17 years and 8 months for on four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and two counts of drunken driving leading to great bodily injury.

On March 26, 2007, Vellanoweth, now 66, crashed his Jeep Grand Cherokee into another car and killed Brizchelle Rice-Nash, 21, her 19-month-old son, Kamall Osby, her sister Brittanya Rice-Nash, 17, and family friend Shanice Patrice Carter, 18. A fifth teenage victim survived the crash but suffered extensive internal injuries.

According to trial testimony, Vellanoweth was speeding at 72 miles per hour on the rain-slickened South Land Park Drive near Wymore Way when he hit the other car. Testimony showed he was impaired by a blood-alcohol reading measured several hours later at 0.16. A minimum reading of 0.08 is considered legally impaired.

Vellanoweth's appeal for clemency form Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pending.

The link below is the 3rd District Court of Appeal's ruling on Vellanoweth's petition. (Warning: The ruling quotes trial testimony that contains obscenities.)


December 22, 2010
Ask Sacto 9-1-1: Gang member at Pelican Bay after killing boy, 13

Q. In the mid 1990s, a young boy was shot to death on his way to a skating rink in a case of mistaken identify. Was anyone ever convicted? - Anonymous, Elk Grove

A: Banquo "Bankroll" Young is serving 25 years to life in prison for the Nov. 19, 1994, killing of 13-year-old Antoine Bryant.

Young, now 35, is incarcerated at Pelican Bay State Prison, records show.

Investigators said that Bryant was killed because Young, gang member, was trying to settle a score from an earlier shooting involving the car that transported the slain youth.

Police said Bryant and his friends "had no idea there had been a previous altercation" as they headed for a roller-skating rink.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

December 21, 2010
Reward offered in Foresthill church burglary

By Cathy Locke

A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for vandalizing and burglarizing a Foresthill church Dec. 13.

The Placer County Sheriff's Office is investigating the case, and Placer County Crime Stoppers is offering the award for anonymous tips.

Vandals entered the New Hope Lutheran Church where Forest Charter School students were preparing for a performance, according to a Sheriff's Office news release. The intruders destroyed property and stole numerous items. Some of the stolen items were found in a shack about 50 yards behind the school in a forested area.

Witnesses reported seeing a young man riding away from the church on a bicycle shortly after the crime was discovered.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Placer County Sheriff's Office at (530) 889-7800, or Placer County Crime Stoppers at (800) 923-8191.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 21, 2010
Pit bull shot, killed after attacking horse in Old Sacramento

By Cathy Locke

A Sacramento police officer shot and killed a pit bull Tuesday afternoon after it attacked a horse pulling a carriage in Old Sacramento.

Carriage driver Jim Frenken of Elverta said he did not know the extent of injuries to the horse, which was taken to a veterinarian for treatment. Neither Frenken, his passengers, nor a man who restrained the dog until police arrived were injured in the incident.

Frenken said he was driving a man and two children around Old Sacramento and had noticed someone in the bushes along Second Street as he circled the block a couple of times.

The next time he came around and headed north on Second Street, he spotted the dog running down the street and a man chasing him. He said the dog attacked the horse, biting its nose and at one point putting its head inside the horse's mouth.

Frenken succeeded in controlling carriage as it continued down the street with the horse under attack.

That's when John Dixon of Granite Bay, who was celebrating his 42nd birthday with his fiancée, intervened.

"I saw the horse buck up," Dixon said, "and I saw the dog hanging from the horse's face."

Dixon, who was wearing cowboy boots, said he kicked the dog several times before it let go of the horse's face. But the dog then attacked the horse's shoulder and leg.

Dixon continued to kick the dog, which finally abandoned the attack and headed down the street. Dixon pursued the animal, cornered it, put his boot on the dog's neck and held it down until police arrived.

Sacramento Police Department spokesman Norm Leong said several officers responded to the incident. Repeated efforts to control the dog failed, and fearing that the dog might break loose, the decision was made to shoot it.

Dixon said he continued to hold the dog down as the officer shot it. Police had no choice, Dixon said, adding that he owns dogs himself.

bp dog gone 2.JPG

John Dixon of Granite Bay, right and Jim Frenken, the carriage driver shake hands in front of where a pit bull was shot and killed by police officers. The carriage drivers horse was attacked on 2nd Street in Old Sacramento by a pit bull and John was able to kick the dog off the horse and chase him down until police arrived. Bee photo by Bryan Patrick

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 21, 2010
Sheriff: 3 suspects held in slaying of Sacramento man

By Bee Staff

belton.jpgSacramento County sheriff's detectives have identified three people as suspects in the slaying of a Sacramento man. All three suspects are in custody, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Being held in the death of Baljinder Kumar, 37, are 20-year-old Cassondra Ladawnya Belton (photo) and two 17-year-old juveniles, a male and a female, said Sgt. Tim Curran, sheriff's spokesman.

Curran gave this chain of events:

At about 10:35 a.m. Saturday, a woman walking on Hood Franklin Road near Corky Lane called 911 after she discovered a body on the side of the road. Deputies found Kumar's body, which had no obvious signs of trauma.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office later determined Kumar's death was a homicide.

On Sunday, California Highway Patrol officers spotted Kumar's vehicle (which sheriff's investigators determined had been stolen) driving in Oroville with three occupants.

The CHP officers stopped the vehicle and arrested the driver, Belton, on charges of theft of a vehicle and possession of stolen property. She was booked into the Butte County Jail. The two 17-year-old juveniles in the vehicle were placed with Butte County Child Protective Services.

Meanwhile, sheriff's homicide detectives developed information that leaves them to believe Kumar was acquainted with Belton and the two juveniles. They further believe Belton and the juveniles murdered Kumar, dumped his body on Hood Franklin Road and robbed him of his vehicle, Curran said.

On Monday, the two juveniles were returned to Sacramento, arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of murder and robbery. Investigators are working with the Butte County Sheriff's Department to return Belton to Sacramento where she will also be arrested in connection to Kumar's murder, Curran said.

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call sheriff's homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115, Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP; or send a text message tip by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter SACTIP followed by the tip information.

Those who call or text can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

December 21, 2010
Placer Co. bandit claims he's victim too; needs money for presents

By Cathy Locke

Placer County sheriff's detectives are looking for a robber who held two Weimar Country Store clerks at gunpoint during a robbery Monday night, claiming he needed the money for Christmas.

Although the man left the clerks bound and made off with money from the cash register, he apologized, telling them he also had been robbed and needed money for Christmas, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

The man entered the store on Paoli Lane at 7:05 p.m. He approached a male clerk who was working at the back of the store and showed a handgun.

The man ordered the clerk to the front of the store, where the male clerk and a female clerk were ordered to open the cash register and dump the money into a bag.

The robber then bound the clerks' wrists and left the store on foot.

The man, whose face was covered during the robbery, was described as 20 to 25 years old, 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds, with brownish-blond hair.

Shortly after the robber left, two vehicles were seen leaving the area: a silver Toyota pickup truck, and a tan or brown Ford pickup with a red camper shell.

After the man left, the male clerk was able to free himself and call 911.

Anyone with information about the suspect or the vehicles is asked to call Detective Bill Summers at (530) 889-7843. Anyone wishing to provide information but remain anonymous may call Placer County Crime Stoppers at (800) 923-8191.

Individuals providing information to Crime Stoppers could be eligible for a cash reward.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 21, 2010
Placer County crackdown brings 19 DUI arrests - so far

By Bee Staff

A DUI crackdown that began last week in Placer County has so far resulted in 19 arrests for driving under the influence.

The arrests from early Friday morning through midnight Monday came from special anti-DUI deployments and regular patrols, according to a news release from a task force made up of area law enforcement coordinating the effort.

In 2009, 22 DUI arrests occurred during the same four-day time period, the release states.

There were no DUI fatalities reported over the weekend in Placer County, the release states.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The effort continues through the New Year's weekend.

December 21, 2010
Coroner IDs pedestrian killed in south Sacramento

By Bill Lindelof

The Sacramento County Coroner's Department has released the name of a man who was hit and killed while trying to cross a south Sacramento street this morning.

The man was identified as Sunday Cross, 86, of Sacramento.

Sacramento police said he was attempting to walk across Fruitridge Road near Stockton Boulevard at about 6:30 a.m. when he was hit by a vehicle traveling westbound.

The driver stopped after the accident. The investigation is continuing.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 21, 2010
Sacramento sheriff's deputies find cock fighting event

By Bee Staff

Sacramento County sheriff's deputies on patrol this weekend interrupted a cock-fighting event, according to a crime summary released this week.

Just after 11 p.m. Saturday in the 3200 block of Dierssen Road, deputies came across the cock fighting in a rural area of unincorporated Sacramento County, causing participants to flee on foot and in vehicles, the summary states.

No arrests were immediately made. However, left behind were 30 live, injured or dead birds. The birds were collected by animal control officers.

A fighting pen and implements were found. Food preparation and alcohol facilities "consistent with these events were present," the deputies reported.

Investigators were working to identify the property owner or tenant, the release states. The deputies described the site as "publicly accessible agricultural land."

December 21, 2010
Elk Grove PD seeks help in finding beating suspect

By Bill Lindelof

Elk Grove police are requesting help in locating a suspect they said beat and robbed another man a month ago.

Detectives arrested one suspect - Julie Fox, 25, of Sacramento - but have not been able to find 35-year-old James Peacock (below in photos with and without facial hair).

Police allege that the pair robbed and beat a 48-year-old man at a storage facility on Union Park Drive on Nov. 18.

A $500,000 warrant has been issued for Peacock's arrest. Peacock, police said, was armed with a revolver during the robbery.

Anyone with information is asked to call police detectives at (916) 478-8060 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357.

Tipsters to Crime Alert can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.

photo 1.jpg photo 2.jpg

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 21, 2010
Man killed by train in east Sacramento near Hwy. 50 overpass

By Bill Lindelof

A man was hit and killed by a train Monday afternoon in eastern Sacramento.

Sacramento police said that the man, identified by the Sacramento County Coroner as Alfred Warren Barnes, 42, was walking on tracks about 1:30 p.m. south of the Highway 50 overpass and west of the 3200 block of Ramona Avenue when he was hit by a northbound train.

Sacramento police said railroad authorities would handle the investigation into the death.

No other details were available.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 21, 2010
Sacramento cab rider pulls knife, but then tips driver

By Bee Staff

A rider pulled a knife on a Sacramento cab driver over the weekend, but then paid the fare, including a tip, according to police.

A cab driver had a dispute with a rider over the destination at 20th and Q streets in midtown Sacramento on Saturday, according to a crime report.

The fare pulled a folding-blade knife, but no threats were made. The cab driver fled on foot.

The rider also fled on foot but not before paying (and tipping) the cab driver.

The rider was not found, police said.

December 21, 2010
U.S. civil, criminal collections up sharply for Sacramento region

By Cathy Locke

Collections in civil and criminal judgments for the Eastern District of California, which includes Sacramento, are up significantly, the U.S. attorney said.

Collections nationwide by the U.S. Department of Justice reached and all-time high in fiscal year 2010, said Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. attorney in Sacramento.

In for the Eastern District, collections in criminal judgments in the 2010 fiscal year were 29 percent higher than the approximately $2.9 million collected in fiscal year 2009, and collections on civil judgments were up 40 percent from the $59.9 million collected in fiscal 2009, Wagner said in a news release.

The Eastern District runs roughly from Bakersfield from the Oregon border.

Collections fall into four categories: collections on restitution orders, penalties and assessments in criminal cases; collections on judgments for damages, penalties and debts in civil cases; collections on criminal forfeiture judgments; and collections on civil forfeiture judgments.

Apart from forfeiture, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District collected $103,635,447 on criminal and civil judgments in fiscal year 2010. Of this amount, $4,146,245 was collected in restitution, fines, penalties and assessments in criminal cases, and $99,489,202 was collected in damages, statutory penalties and debts in civil cases.

Major civil collections included $67.5 million on a settlement of a whistle-blower suit under the False Claims Act and more than $27 million on settlements in tort cases arising from wildfires on National Forest land, officials reported. Criminal collections included $2,520,981 on restitution orders to compensate victims of crimes like fraud and embezzlement.

In addition, the office collected $4,344,632 in criminal and civil forfeiture actions in fiscal 2010, representing nearly a 25 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.

From the forfeited funds, the office was able to compensate crime victims for their losses, with $2,214,634 returned to crime victims through the Justice Department's restoration and remission programs, an increase of more than $1 million from the previous year.

An additional $1,261,242 was delivered to cooperating federal, state and local law enforcement agencies through the department's "equitable sharing" program, for use in criminal investigations, training, detention facilities and other law enforcement purposes, officials said.

The funds described consist of actual funds collected, not judgment amounts. The total of approximately $108 million recovered by attorneys in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District in collection and forfeiture actions in fiscal year 2010 represents at least six times the operating budget for the entire office during the year, Wagner said.

"Our responsibility is not only to convict those who violate federal law," Wagner said in a written statement, "but also to ensure that crime does not pay, that victims receive the restitution they are due, and that the United States recovers funds that it is fairly owed."

The U.S. Attorneys' offices are responsible for enforcing and collecting civil and criminal debts owed to the United States and criminal debts owed to federal crime victims. Department of Justice statistics indicate that of the $6.68 billion recovered in such cases in fiscal 2010, the amount collected in criminal actions totaled $2.84 billion in restitution, criminal fines and felony assessments.

Restitution is paid directly to the victim, but criminal fines and felony assessments are paid to the department's Crime Victims' Fund, which distributes the monies to state victim compensation and victim assistance programs.

Approximately $3.84 billion was collected in civil actions nationwide. Officials said the largest civil collections were from affirmative civil enforcement cases, in which the United States recovered government money lost to fraud or other misconduct, or collected fines imposed on corporations for violations of federal health, safety, civil rights or environmental laws.

Civil debts also were collected on behalf of several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Internal Revenue Service and the Small Business Administration.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 21, 2010
CHP to increase enforcement for holiday weekend

By Cathy Locke

The California Highway Patrol will ramp up its enforcement this weekend as holiday travelers take to the roads.

The Christmas maximum enforcement period will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and continue until midnight Sunday. CHP offices statewide will deploy special enforcement teams in addition to officers already scheduled to work.

Officials remind drivers to wear their seatbelts, make sure children are in appropriate safety seats, drive at safe speeds for various conditions and never drink and drive.

The CHP reports that 22 people were killed in collisions statewide during the Christmas holiday enforcement period last year. Among the vehicle occupants killed within the CHP's jurisdiction, more than half were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, according to a CHP news release. CHP officers also made a total of 1,104 arrests statewide for driving under the influence during the 2009 maximum enforcement period.

A similar holiday enforcement effort is planned during the New Year's weekend, beginning at 6 p.m. Dec. 31 and continuing until midnight Jan. 2.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, 9916) 321-5287.

December 20, 2010
Crash snarls traffic on Jackson Road

By Cathy Locke

The California Highways Patrol reports that all lanes of Jackson Road at Latrobe Road have reopened after a traffic accident had closed all lanes.

The roadway was reopened at 6:20 p.m., the CHP reports.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 20, 2010
Man suspected of stealing van full of meals arrested after chase

By Cathy Locke

A 20-year-old man is in Yolo County Jail after allegedly stealing a van filled with meals that were to be distributed to people who are homeless.

West Sacramento police reported that members of the Broderick Christian Center this morning had a van loaded with meals that they intended to pass out to homeless people at the Broderick boat ramp. The van's motor was running, and the driver saw a man get into the vehicle and drive away.

The victim followed the van while calling for police.

West Sacramento police officers quickly located the van at Jefferson Boulevard and Sacramento Avenue and sought to stop it. The driver of the vehicle failed to yield, and led officers on a low-speed pursuit through the Broderick and Bryte neighborhoods, according to a Police Department news release.

The van then entered the freeway at the Jefferson onramp heading west, and continued onto eastbound Interstate 80, attempting to exit at Reed Avenue. The driver lost control and crashed into a fence.

The driver of the stolen vehicle, identified as Tasi Grass, 20, was taken into custody without incident and booked into Yolo County Jail on suspicion of vehicle theft.

Police said the vehicle and meals were recovered and returned to Broderick Christian Center for distribution.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 20, 2010
Roseville police looking for beating suspects

By Cathy Locke

Roseville Crime Stoppers and the Roseville Police Department seek the public's help in identifying two individuals who beat and robbed a man in his apartment parking lot earlier this month.

About 10:20 p.m. Dec. 6, someone knocked on the door of the man's apartment in the 400 block of Cirby Way and told him that his pickup had just been vandalized. When the man went outside to check on the truck, which had not been vandalized, he was attacked by two men who beat him and took his cell phone, according to a Police Department news release.

Police were called, and the man was taken by ambulance to a hospital for treatment of scrapes and bruises.

The assailants were described as men in their early 20s; one was black and the other was white. Both were about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing about 170 pounds and wearing dark-colored hooded sweatshirts and jeans. They were seen leaving in a small black car, similar to a Toyota Corolla, police said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Roseville Crime Stoppers at (916) 783-7867. Callers may remain anonymous, and may be eligible for a cash reward form information leading to an arrest.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 20, 2010
South Sacramento shooting victim identified

By Chelsea Phua and Cathy Locke

A man who died in a south Sacramento shooting this afternoon has been identified as 20-year-old Antonne Ray Nelms, according to the Sacramento County Coroner's website.

Just before 3 p.m., officers responded to a call on Mack Road near Center Parkway, said Lt. Tom Sweeney. As they arrived, a woman came up to officers and said that a man was down in a grassy area between an apartment complex and the Church of Christ.

Nelms was treated at the scene by the Sacramento Fire Department and transported to Kaiser Permanente South Medical Center, where he died.

The Sacramento Police Department urges anyone with information about the crime to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357 or text a tip to 274637. Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 20, 2010
Three Loomis men arrested in burglaries

By Cathy Locke

Three Loomis men were arrested over the weekend, accused of residential and vehicle burglaries.

Placer County sheriff's detectives arrested Jacob Ronald Dalaney, 20, Philip Hodge, 23, and Kevin Johnson, 56. Delaney is being held on suspicion of burglary, possession of stolen property, and possession of a controlled substance and needles. Hodge is accused of possessing stolen property and burglary tools, and parole violation. Johnson was arrested on suspicion of theft of a firearm.

Sheriff's officials say they found property taken from several Loomis-area homes and vehicles and are seeking the owners of power tools and a camera that may have been taken from garages and vehicles. Anyone who believes those items may have been stolen from them in the past two weeks is asked to call Detective Ryan West at (916) 652-2423.

Hodge is being held without bail. Delaney's bail is set $60,000 and Johnson's bail at $80,000.

Sheriff's officials remind residents that unlocked garages and vehicles are easy targets for criminals and urge people to keep their belongings secure.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 20, 2010
North Highlands man convicted in father's death

By Chelsea Phua

A Sacramento County jury on Monday convicted a 31-year-old man of involuntary manslaughter in the killing of his father, court officials said.

Curtis Lee Atkinson of North Highlands had an early morning fight in July with his 52-year-old father, also by the same name.

When authorities arrived in the 6800 block of San Tomas Drive in Citrus Heights shortly before 2 a.m. on July 22, the elder Atkinson had stopped breathing.

His son's sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20, 8:30 a.m., at Dept. 63 in Sacramento County Main Jail.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 20, 2010
Lodi police arrest couple for fight with officers

By Bill Lindelof

Lodi police arrested a man and his wife after a struggle Saturday night in which they said one officer was hit over the head with a cellphone.

Police said the officer suffered a small cut and bump in the struggle.

The altercation occurred Saturday during an overnight saturation of the city looking for drunken drivers. In all, officers arrested 10 suspects, five for DUI.

A total of 40 stops of vehicles were made, resulting in 34 citations being written and 8 vehicles being towed.

About 9 p.m. officers stopped a car driven by Luis Hernandez in the 300 block of East Pine Street. Police allege that Hernandez ran from officers but was caught in front of his home.

Police say Hernandez fought with them and that during the confrontation his wife, Angeles Bernal, tried to help her husband escape by hitting an officer in the head with her cell phone.

Hernandez was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, resisting arrest and two outstanding warrants, police said. Hernandez was also arrested on suspicion of being in the country illegally.

Bernal was arrested on suspicion of battery on a police officer.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 20, 2010
Copper wire stolen in Woodland

By Bill Lindelof

Vandals cut the power to sports field lighting in Woodland when they took 1,000-feet of copper wire.

Woodland police were dispatched Saturday morning to the Woodland Community & Senior Center, 2001 East St. They found that nine in-ground electrical boxes had been vandalized.

Wiring from the boxes supply lighting for sports fields at the center. In all nine of the damaged boxes, copper wiring had been cut.

In some of the boxes, wiring had been pulled from its underground conduit. An estimated 1,000- to 1,500-feet of copper wire was stolen. Repair costs were estimated at $5,000.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 19, 2010
Davis holiday DUI crackdown nabs six motorists

By Loretta Kalb

A drunken driving crackdown netted a half-dozen arrests in Yolo County in the 48 hours through midnight Saturday, the Davis Police Department reported today.

Sgt. Rod Rifredi of the Davis Police Department said the number of arrests could grow larger as additional reports come in from the eight law enforcement agencies participating in the crackdown.

DUI arrests and data collection are planned to continue through New Year's weekend, until midnight Sunday, Jan. 2.

Funding for the program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety via the National Highway traffic Safety Administration.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

December 19, 2010
Body found on Hood Franklin Road in the Delta

By Loretta Kalb

A woman walking on Hood Franklin Road in the Delta discovered the body of an unidentified man on the side of the road, Sacramento County Sheriff's officials said Saturday.

Sheriff's spokesman Tim Curran said homicide detectives and crime scene investigators were called to the scene near Corky Lane in the town of Hood shortly after 10:30 a.m. Saturday. They found no obvious signs of trauma but are treating the case as suspicious until the county coroner determines a cause of death.

Anyone with information regarding the man's identity or the circumstances surrounding his death is urged to call homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Individuals can also send a tip by texting 274637 (CRIMES) and entering SACTIP followed by the information.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

December 19, 2010
Pedestrian's erratic behavior prompts I-80 closure Saturday night

By Loretta Kalb

A distressed woman climbed onto an elevated sign at an Interstate 80 freeway offramp in Auburn Saturday evening, prompting an extended freeway shutdown and a call to a county crisis negotiator, Auburn Police said today.

Police said the 21-year-old woman was reported to be walking westbound on I-80 at about 7:20 p.m., prompting the California Highway Patrol to call for police assistance.

Auburn Police had tried to talk to the woman, according to the police report issued by Sgt. Dave Lawicka. He said the department then sought help from the Placer County Sheriff's Department crisis negotiator, who was able to get the woman to talk only sporadically.

Ultimately the woman, whose identity was not released, agreed to climb down from the elevated sign at the Ophir Road off ramp with help from the Auburn Fire Department.

While the negotiations were going on, the westbound lanes of the freeway were closed for the woman's safety and to enable negotiators to speak to the woman and hear her responses.

She was taken to Sutter Roseville Hospital for a mental health evaluation, Lawicka reported.

At the hospital, she displayed symptoms of being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol; and she mentioned she had recently eaten mushrooms growing in the area, police said.

Call The Bee's Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

December 18, 2010
Former CPS worker sentenced for Placer Co. extortion attempt

By Cathy Locke

yolanda fryson.jpgA former Yuba County Child Protective Services worker who falsely accused a Placer County man of child molestation in an extortion attempt has been sentenced to prison.

Yolanda Perez Fryson (left), 43, of Rocklin was found guilty of extortion, forgery and fraud during a jury trial.

On Wednesday, Placer Superior Court Judge Joseph O'Flaherty, sentenced her to nine years and four months in prison, calling her extortion attempt "close to the worst crime I've seen in my 21 years on the bench."

The victim, a 40-year-old Roseville man, attended the sentencing and fought back tears as he told the court how being falsely accused of child molestation had turned his world upside down, according to a Placer County District Attorney's Office news release.

The release gave this account:

The man said he spent "three days of hell" wondering what to do and kept imagining being led away in handcuffs by police or having people point to him in the false belief that he was a child molester. The man said he briefly contemplated suicide.

The man eventually told an attorney about Fryson's accusation. The attorney referred him to the Placer County Sheriff's Office, which set up a sting operation in which the victim met with Fryson in a parking lot to hand over $10,000 in exchange for dropping the alleged molestation issue.

Fryson was immediately arrested when she accepted the money.

At the time, Fryson was on administrative leave from the Yuba County Child Protective Services Office because of an arrest for a check kiting scheme, in which a person deposits worthless checks into bank accounts and quickly withdraws money before the insufficient funds can be confirmed, the release states.

During the extortion attempt on the Roseville man, Fryson, who was on leave from her job and out on bail for the check fraud charge, displayed her CPS badge, which she had previously reported lost or stolen.

Prosecutor Stephanie Macumber of the Placer County District Attorney's Office said Fryson continued to commit crimes even after the extortion and check kiting incidents. Again out on bail and attempting to get out of the check fraud charges, Fryson forged a letter absolving her of wrongdoing and signed the name of a 29-year bank employee, Macumber said.

Fryson also pressured at least two other bank employees to write letters stating that the overdrafts were bank errors and not her fault, Macumber said.

Fryson's trial on 16 felony counts took place in October. The jury on Nov. 1 returned guilty verdicts on all counts, including attempted extortion, check fraud, falsifying evidence, forgery and accepting a bribe.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 18, 2010
Placer sheriff's deputies settle labor charge for $600 per member

By Cathy Locke

Members of the Placer County Deputy's Sheriff's Association will each receive two one-time payments totaling $600 under a settlement agreement with the county.

The agreement, approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, resolves an unfair practice charge brought by the association against the county before the Public Employee Relations Board regarding contract negotiations in 2009.

Under the agreement, the county will issue two one-time payments, each in the amount of $300, to active members of the association. The payments will be made this month and in July 2011.

The association had accused the county of declaring arbitrary deadlines to conclude contract negotiations in 2009.

The settlement agreement states that both parities acknowledge that they have a mutual obligation to not declare arbitrary deadlines for concluding negotiations and to clarify their respective positions at the bargaining table.

The Board of Supervisors last month approved a new two-year contract with the association, ending a years-long standoff. The parties had last ratified an agreement in December 2006.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 18, 2010
Possible package thief reported in North Natomas

By Carlos Alcalá

A suspect was detained, but released, after reports that someone appeared to be stealing delivered packages in North Natomas Friday.

A caller indicated a man on a bicycle was following UPS and FedEx drivers around in the area and possibly taking packages, according to a report by the Sacramento Police Department.

A security guard in the area stopped a teen matching the description, but a witness could not make a positive identification.

The subject's identity was ascertained and he was released.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcalá, (916) 321-1987.

December 18, 2010
Gridley woman hit by van, killed in Chico

By Carlos Alcalá

A 32-year-old Gridley woman was killed when she was struck by a van on a Chico off ramp Friday, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The woman, whose name was not released, walked out into traffic in "dark, rainy conditions," according to the investigating officer's report.

She was hit by a van leaving southbound Highway 99 to E. 20th Street. The van's driver was not identified.

The woman was taken to Enloe Hospital and pronounced dead.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcalá, (916) 321-1987.

December 17, 2010
Ask Sacto 9-1-1: Yolo Co. man in prison for murder over life insurance

Q: What happened to Ralph Marcus? He was accused of murdering a young boy in a fraudulent scam for life insurance profit. - L. Pipkin, Sacramento

A: Ralph A. Marcus was sentenced Jan. 13, 2000 in Yolo Superior Court to life in prison without parole for killing an 18-year-old friend to collect $850,000 in insurance money, The Bee reported.

Marcus, now 56, is incarcerated in the Pleasant Valley State Prison at Coalinga, records show.

The sentence came nearly three years after Nicholas Howard disappeared while driving home on a narrow two-lane levee road, sparking a Sacramento River search by Marcus and other volunteers.

Marcus strangled Howard, a longtime family friend who died in February 1997.

At trial, prosecutors argued that Marcus killed his friend in an attempt to collect on an $850,000 life insurance policy and to seek revenge against Howard's mother, who had rebuffed his romantic advances for more than 25 years.

Marcus had persuaded Howard to make him the beneficiary of a 1996 life insurance policy.

He told Howard that if he were the beneficiary, he would be able to "quadruple the receipts and make it more lucrative" for Howard's survivors, the prosecutor said.

Days after Howard's disappearance, his empty car turned up in the river near Clarksburg. Nearly three weeks later, Feb. 25, 1997, Howard's body was recovered about a half-mile downstream. An autopsy revealed he had been slain.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Marcus had tampered with the car to make it look like an accident.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

December 17, 2010
Last of 4 defendants sentenced in Sacramento mortgage fraud

By Cathy Locke

The last of four defendants in a Sacramento-area mortgage fraud scheme has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Melissa Villegas, 31, of Sacramento entered the plea today before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia.

Three other defendants pleaded guilty in the case earlier this year.

Rick Villegas, 33, of Sacramento pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Dec. 14 and Kathleen DeLapp, 47, of Auburn pleaded guilty to misprision, or concealing knowledge, of felony on Dec. 9. Robert Martinson, 48, of Newcastle, pleaded guilty to mail fraud on Jan. 8.

According to court documents, the defendants schemed to defraud mortgage lenders by submitting fraudulent loan applications in the names of straw buyers and other investors.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice news release, Martinson ran a branch of MAC Real Estate Services out of a gym on Watt Avenue in North Highlands, which he owned but operated under his wife's name and license. Martinson purchased dozens of homes throughout the Sacramento area as investment properties and placed title to them in "Sheryl's LLC."

The release gave this account:

In 2005, as the housing market began to slow, officials said, Martinson unloaded properties from Sheryl's LLC using straw buyers.

DeLapp was a loan processor for MAC Real Estate Services and an account executive for Aegis Mortgage. She processed some of the loans for Martinson's buyers.

When DeLapp could not process the loans through Aegis, she, for a fee, assisted Martinson in facilitating real estate loans with other lenders.

DeLapp processed loan applications from Martinson that contained inconsistent representations to the lender about occupying the property, officials said.

Co-defendants Rick Villegas and his wife at the time, Melissa Villegas, were mortgage loan officers working out of their home under the license of Landmark Realty Co.

In 2006, their firm brokered six home loans that contained materially false representations concerning the borrowers' income, employment history and intent to occupy the homes as the primary residence.

Officials said Melissa Villegas assisted on two of the loan applications, knowing that the applications contained false declarations of primary residence, false employment and false income information.

Rick Villegas signed one of the applications as the loan interviewer, knowing that the interview never occurred and that information on the loan applications was false, officials said.

Melissa Villegas is scheduled for sentencing on March 11, Martinson on Feb. 25, and DeLapp and Rick Villegas on March 4.

The case is the product of a investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the California Department of Real Estate. Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Carlberg is prosecuting the case.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 17, 2010
Ringleader of credit-repair fraud sentenced in Sacramento

By Cathy Locke

The ringleader of a credit-repair fraud scheme that caused $1.5 million to $2 million in losses has been sentenced to more than five years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia Jr. today sentenced Jerry Van Le, 31, of Stockton, to 5 and 1/2 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for multiple counts of mail, wire and credit application fraud. Le pleaded guilty to the charge in February.

Judge Garcia ordered Le's immediate detention. The judge said the sentence was warranted because Le previously engaged in similar conduct and his actions affected not only the individuals whose credit he ruined through identity theft, but also his co-defendants by introducing them to criminal activity, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

According to court documents, Le worked with individuals throughout the Sacramento area to commit acts of fraud in connection with his credit-repair business.

He created fraudulent identities for himself and his customers so he could use these identities to establish fraudulent lines of credit with banks and credit unions, credit card companies and car dealerships.

To create these identities and the accompanying credit histories, Le used contacts within the finance industry to help build the fraudulent credit histories.

When Le or his customers applied for credit using these identities, officials said, the credit bureaus would report that the applicant was a good credit risk based on the bogus histories Le had created.

In support of the applications submitted to obtain loans for items, Le furnished himself or provided his customers with fraudulent paperwork, including bogus pay slips, W-2 forms, letters from nonexistent employers and fake California driver's licenses.

Using the scheme, Le and others purchased a home in Lincoln for $378,674. They also purchased luxury vehicles, including BMWs, Mercedes and Range Rovers.

Total losses from Le's own fraudulent activities and the losses sustained as a result of the fraudulent credit applications submitted by those he assisted were between $1.5 million and $2 million, officials said.

Others involved in the scheme who have been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California include Keilan Johnson, Chung Jeng Tang, Nathan Bitner, Corey Ebanks and Tehan Ferguson.

Bitner and Tang were sentenced in January to six months, and 12 months and one day in prison, respectively. Ebanks was sentenced in July to 18 months in prison, and Johnson was sentenced in August to a two-year prison term. Ferguson is to be sentenced Feb. 18.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Placer County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Reardon prosecuted the case.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 17, 2010
Placer County aide arrested for embezzlement

By Ed Fletcher

A key assistant to Placer County Supervisor Kirk Uhler was arrested for embezzlement Friday.

Incoming District Attorney Scott Owens told The Bee Uhler's district director, Brian Jagger, is believed to have embezzled $15,000 to $20,000 from Owens' campaign account. Jagger had served as Owens' campaign treasurer.

"Money from my campaign account was diverted to personal use," Owens said. "It's shocking and disappointing."

Owens said he referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney's Office and that the sheriff's department was handling the investigation.

Owens had expected to be challenged in his bid to replace District Attorney Bradford R. Fenocchio, who did not seek reelection, but no opposition materialized.

Owens said he had loaned his campaign a significant sum of money. He noticed the discrepancy when attempting to return the money to his personal accounts

Jagger, who was taken into custody Friday, was active in the Placer County theater community and authored a 2010 production in which his boss, Uhler, played the lead role.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.

December 17, 2010
DA: Parolee shot by Twin Rivers officer won't be charged

By Cathy Locke

A parolee shot by a Twin Rivers Police Department officer during a chase in October won't be charged in the case and was released from jail this week following a parole revocation hearing.

The hearing officer determined that Ricardo Sazo, 29, did not assault the officer who shot him Oct. 28, as he was riding a bicycle on Nogales Street in the Del Paso Heights area, said attorney Eric Berg of Berg and Associates, the law firm representing Sazo.

Shelly Orio, spokeswoman for the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, said the district attorney declined to file charges against Sazo due to insufficient evidence.

Sazo was freed from jail on Monday, Berg said.

According to the Twin Rivers Police Department, an officer on patrol about 1:20 p.m. Oct. 28 saw a man on a bicycle who looked suspicious.

The officer said the man, identified as Sazo, a parolee, repeatedly reached behind his back toward his waistband during a chase, prompting the officer to deploy his stun gun and eventually fire his service weapon.

Sazo was arrested on suspicion of parole violations and resisting an officer, said Officer William Cho, Twin Rivers Police Department spokesman.

Berg said Sazo is still recovering from hand, leg and shoulder injuries, and is pursuing a claim against the Police Department.

Orio said the District Attorney's special investigation unit is continuing to investigate the officer's involvement in the shooting.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 17, 2010
Galt man sentenced for receiving child porn

By Cathy Locke

A Galt man has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for receipt of child pornography.

U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. today sentenced Juan Jose Mancilla, 42, to 12 years and seven months in prison, followed by a lifetime term of supervised release. Mancilla pleaded guilty on March 19.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Sacramento Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. The federally funded task force is managed by the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and includes agents from federal, state and local agencies.

The task force's purpose is to investigate online child exploitation crimes, including child pornography, enticement and sex trafficking.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 17, 2010
Sacramento couple fined for illegal Elk hunting in Idaho

By Matt Kawahara

Barbera Johnson Illegal Elk.jpgA Sacramento couple were fined more than $8,000 and had their hunting licenses suspended for five years by a county judge in northern Idaho earlier this week for using bait to hunt elk, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Robert Johnson, 41, pleaded guilty in Boundary County Court on Monday to two counts of possession of unlawfully taken elk and one count of hunting elk without a tag, a Fish and Game spokesman said.

Barbara Johnson (seen in photo supplied by Idaho Fish and Game), 40, also pleaded guilty Monday to one count each of taking an elk over bait, hunting elk without a license and hunting elk without a tag, said Fish and Game senior conservation officer Greg Johnson.

Robert and Barbara Johnson could not be reached for comment.

The charges were the culmination of an investigation into baiting activities carried out by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game that began last December.

Department officials found out a year ago that people using a private property in Bonners Ferry may have been putting out feed to bait elk onto the property, making them easier hunting targets, Greg Johnson said.

It is "highly illegal" to hunt over bait, he said. "When it gets cold and they're hungry and you're showing feed, they're sitting ducks."

Officers surveyed the property last December and found evidence of those activities, including a tree stand and a baited site.

However, they did not find evidence that elk had been killed, possibly because low snow levels meant elk were scarce, Greg Johnson said.

Officers returned to the property earlier this month and observed 40 to 50 elk being baited almost right up to the residence, Johnson said.

Officers observed Barbara Johnson shoot and kill a bull elk with a bow and arrow from a tree stand on the bait site, Greg Johnson said.

A county prosecutor then applied for a search warrant for the property, which was issued on Dec. 11 and served on Dec. 12.

During service of the warrant, Fish and Game officers discovered a cow elk that had been killed by Robert Johnson hanging in a shop on the property with the bull elk killed by Barbara Johnson.

Officers also discovered that Barbara Johnson had killed the bull elk without a license or tag, and there was evidence that the couple had hunted after shooting hours, Greg Johnson said.

"There was fairly blatant disregard for hunting ethics and the hunting rules," he said.

Fish and Game officers arrested Robert Johnson and issued citations to Barbara Johnson and her father, Richard Raine, the owner of the property.

All three pleaded guilty to all charges.

Raine pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of unlawfully taken elk and was fined $1,000.

Barbara Johnson was fined $3,000. Robert Johnson was fined $3,000 and assessed $2,250 in civil penalties. He was also assessed $350 in processing fees.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 17, 2010
Roseville man sentenced for counterfeit software

By Cathy Locke

A Roseville man has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for selling counterfeit software.

U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. today sentenced Derick Breski, 45, to the prison term, followed by three years of supervised release for criminal copyright infringement. Breski pleaded guilty Aug. 13.

Between November 2009 and March of this year, Breski sold copyrighted software such as Adobe, Autocad, Rosetta Stone and software from Microsoft, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

Officials said he obtained copies of the software illegally by downloading it from file-sharing services on the Internet. He then created copies of the illegally downloaded software and sold those copies to customers.

The case resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Taylor prosecuted the case.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 17, 2010
Sacramento judge wants Facebook to explain court absence

By Andy Furillo

A Sacramento judge said today he intends to issue an order to show cause why Facebook should not be held in contempt for failing to respond to a subpoena to appear in court.

"Is there anyone from Facebook present?" Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kenny asked while several suspected street gang members and their lawyers sat in front of him.

Two lawyers at the defense table had subpoenaed the social-networking giant in an effort to obtain the postings of a juror who made mention of the gang beatdown trial - contrary to admonitions that he not discuss the case - in his Facebook updates.

When nobody responded to the judge's question, Kenny said he intends to issue the order and instructed the defense attorneys to prepare it for him.

Mike Wise, the Sacramento lawyer who is representing one of the defendants in the case, said he expects to have the order ready for the judge's signature by this afternoon.

"It's going to effectively say, show up and explain why you failed to comply with the subpoena and explain why you should not be subject to sanctions for contempt of court," Wise said.

The defendants who were in court today had been convicted of assorted charges related to the unprovoked beating of a man at a gas station near the Arden Fair Mall on Halloween night 2008.

Their sentencings have been delayed while the defense attorneys, who want the convictions overturned on grounds that the juror may have been improperly influenced, have sought to obtain the Facebook postings.

Wise said it's "critical" that Facebook turn over the materials.

"There's a growing concern among trial attorneys that jurors in particular cases use Facebook, and Facebook and other social media are so prevalent and so available on our mobile devices," Wise said. "I think it's important we get to it and see what's happening."

Facebook representatives were not immediately available today.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

December 17, 2010
Two women arrested for shoplifting in Folsom

By Matthew Kawahara

The Folsom Police Department has reported that two holiday shoplifters were arrested over the weekend after they stole a leather jacket at the Folsom Premium Outlets and were later found to have over $3,800 in stolen goods in their car.

Officers responded to the outlets after a retailer reported two women had stolen a jacket from a display, according to a Folsom Police Department release.

An officer spotted the suspect vehicle leaving the parking lot and attempted to stop the vehicle, the release states. The driver refused to stop, leading officers on a slow 1.5-mile pursuit.

The driver eventually stopped, and officers found more than $3,800 in stolen jewelry, bath wares and clothing from stores throughout the Sacramento area, according to the release.

Mauricea Vale, 20, of Sacramento, was arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of multiple theft-related charges, false representation to a police officer and reckless evasion. She is ineligible for bail.

Jessica Galloway, 27, of Antioch, was arrested for possession of stolen property and false representation to a police officer. She was cited and released, according to the release.

Call The Bee's Matthew Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 17, 2010
Fatality confirmed in head-on collision in Lincoln

By Matthew Kawahara

A Sacramento woman has died after a head-on collision on State Route 65 in Lincoln early this morning.

The 51-year-old woman was driving a 2000 Lexus SUV northbound on SR 65 at Sterling Parkway just before 5:15 a.m. when the SUV crossed over the center lane into the southbound lane of Highway 65, according to a Lincoln Police Department release.

The SUV crossed into the path of and collided with a 2008 Ford van being driven by a 47-year-old Lincoln man with three passengers, according to the release.

The driver of the SUV was the lone occupant of the vehicle, the release states. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her identity was not immediately available.

All four people in the van had to be extricated from the van by members of the Lincoln Fire Department, the release states. The driver and one passenger were transported to Sutter Roseville Hospital with serious injuries, it states.

The other two passengers were transported to Mercy San Juan Hospital with moderate to major injuries.

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the driver of the SUV to cross the median.

Southbound lanes of Highway 65 at Sterling Parkway remain closed indefinitely while an investigation of the collision is completed.

Call The Bee's Matthew Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 17, 2010
Citrus Heights PD reports no arrests at DUI checkpoint

By Matthew Kawahara

The first sobriety checkpoint held in Sacramento County as part of the state's Holiday DUI Enforcement Campaign ended early this morning with no drivers arrested for DUI, the Citrus Heights Police Department reported.

Law enforcement agencies statewide are holding over 230 checkpoints and ramping up DUI task force operations this holiday season with grant funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Last night's checkpoint was held from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. at San Juan Avenue and Madison Avenue.

Citrus Heights police reported that 1,217 vehicles drove through the checkpoint, 8 vehicles were towed, no drivers were arrested for DUI, and 28 citations were issued, according to a release.

Citrus Heights police are coordinating task force operations in Sacramento County for the DUI Enforcement Campaign.

Call The Bee's Matthew Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 16, 2010
Sacramento mother remembers slain daughter at shooting site

By Chelsea Phua

Deborah Nelson, a retired elementary school principal, said she dedicated her life as an educator to teaching young people to resolve conflicts without violence.

On Thursday evening, at a vigil for her 30-year-old daughter, who was killed by stray bullets in a shootout outside a south Sacramento barbershop, Nelson called for "this senselessness" to end.

"A 30-year-old mother shouldn't worry about dying from a bullet," Nelson said, trying to hold back tears.

Her daughter, Monique Nelson, was strapping her 2-year-old son into the car seat on Tuesday afternoon in a strip mall on Stockton Boulevard when the gun battle broke out.

Authorities said at least one man walked into the Fly Cuts & Styles barbershop near Lindale Drive and opened fire without a word. At least one other person inside the shop returned fire and the shootout spilled over into the parking lot.

The bullets struck seven people, killing Monique Nelson and 20-year-old Marvion Dashawn Barksdale.

Authorities said Monique Nelson was an innocent bystander who tried to shield her son from the bullets, but isn't clear what role if any Barksdale - a known gang member to law enforcement - played in the shootout.

Detectives suspect gang members were involved in the incident but aren't sure whether any gang conflicts triggered the shooting, a Sacramento County Sheriff's spokesman said.

Thursday evening, at the shooting site, about 60 people gathered around a makeshift memorial of candles, flowers, balloons and stuff toys for Monique Nelson. They prayed, sang hymns and wept for a woman her brother Richard Nelson described as having a big heart and infectious laughter.

Richard Nelson said his young nephew, Jayden, is healthy and the family is finding ways to keep him busy. Evening time just before bedtime is especially difficult because Jayden would ask for his mother.

Latisha Davis, a friend of one of the barbershop's owner, organized the vigil, even though she has never met Monique Nelson.

Other than family and friends, many who did not know the young mother - a supervisor at her family's bookstore at Sacramento International Airport - showed up with gifts and flowers.

In the same parking lot, in front of the barbershop and under the tree, a smaller crowd gathered for Barksdale, also in front of a makeshift memorial of candles and balloons.

Barksdale's cousin, Rayvaum Davis, said Barksdale loved his one-year-old daughter.

"His daughter was everything to him," Rayvaum Davis said.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 16, 2010
Part-time Mesa Verde HS coach arrested in drug bust

By Cathy Locke

milburn.jpgA part-time coach at Mesa Verde High School in Citrus Heights has been arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana and prescription drugs for sale.

Citrus Heights police arrested Nathanael Matthew Milburn (left), 36, Wednesday after serving a search warrant at his Citrus Heights residence.

Lt. Ray Bechler said police found large quantities of separately packaged Vicodin and more than six ounces of marijuana in ready-for-sale packages.

Trent Allen, a spokesman for the San Juan Unified School District, confirmed that Milburn coached girl's basketball at Mesa Verde High and had previously coached the freshman boy's football team.

Allen said the district had been advised of Milburn's arrest and that he is no longer employed at the school. Milburn was not a faculty member.

Because Milburn had considerable contact with students, Bechler said police are looking into whether he was selling prescription drugs or marijuana to students.

He said police detectives received tips regarding the possible drug activity about a week and a half ago. In addition to the drugs, officers seized Milburn's cell phone and are seeking to identify other people who may have been involved, Bechler said.

Milburn was booked into Sacramento County Jail on Wednesday. The jail's website indicated he was released today.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 16, 2010
230 DUI checkpoints planned statewide, including Sacramento area

By Matt Kawahara

California traffic safety officials today announced a statewide crackdown on drunk driving this holiday season. The effort includes more than 230 sobriety checkpoints between today and Jan. 2, many in the Sacramento area.

Law enforcement agencies statewide will launch checkpoints, DUI task forces and saturation patrols, funded by more than $5 million in grants distributed by the California Office of Traffic Safety.

The first checkpoint under the Holiday DUI Enforcement Campaign is scheduled for tonight from 7 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. on Madison Avenue, east of San Juan Avenue, in Citrus Heights, police announced at a press conference Thursday.

Here are the enforcement efforts planned for the weekend in the Sacramento area under the Holiday Enforcement Campaign:


- DUI checkpoint in Folsom

- DUI task force of Rancho Cordova Police Department

- DUI checkpoint in Roseville

- DUI saturation patrols in Placerville from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.


- DUI checkpoint in Auburn

- CHP-conducted DUI checkpoint in South Sacramento

- DUI/Drivers License checkpoint in Placerville from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

- DUI/Drivers License checkpoint in Lodi from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.

- DUI saturation patrol in Lodi.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 16, 2010
Sacramento murderer takes his own life in prison, officials say

By Andy Furillo

A man convicted of murder in Sacramento three months ago has committed suicide in prison.

Officials at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy said it looks like Jack Aaron Squires hung himself in his cell Dec. 7.

"All indications are that he committed suicide," prison spokesman Lt. Gilbert Valenzuela said.

Squires was convicted Sept. 14 in Sacramento Superior Court in the 2008 shooting deaths of his mother and grandmother in their Woodlake home.

Judge Robert M. Twiss sentenced Squires on Oct. 15 to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

December 16, 2010
Three plead no contest in attempted jail break

By Andy Furillo

Three people pleaded no contest today in the failed effort to break three inmates out of the downtown Sacramento jail last year.

Adam Ramsey, Jackie Phoulivanh and Rosetta Ivory Rogers entered their pleas today in Sacramento Superior Court and are scheduled to be sentenced next month by Judge Kevin J. McCormick.

Two other suspects accused in the escape attempt began their preliminary hearings today. One of them is Andre Pulido, 27, convicted last year of murder in the Oak Park shooting death of UC Berkeley student Rodrigo Rodriguez Jr. The other is Alex Brown, 33, who was awaiting trial in the 2006 shooting death of James Ramirez in South Land Park. Brown's murder trial is scheduled for next month.

Ramsey was jailed and awaiting trial on assault with a deadly weapon charges at the time of the Aug. 16, 2009, breakout attempt. He had since been convicted in that case and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He faces another 13 years as a result of his plea today.

Phoulivanh and Rogers are both facing terms of three years and four months.

Sheriff's officials said the two women tried to shoot out a window on an upper-level cell at the jail at 6th and I streets. Inside the jail, sources said the inmates had accumulated extra bedding and had hoped to fashion a rope made out of sheets and blankets to shimmy down the side of the building to the ground below.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

December 16, 2010
Jury convicts man of assaulting deputy; no verdict on attempted murder

By Andy Furillo

A jury has convicted a man of assault on a peace officer with great bodily injury in the shooting of a Sacramento sheriff's deputy last year, but failed to reach a verdict on a charge of attempted murder.

Today's announcement by Jordan Elijah Latour's jury came a week after a separate panel convicted co-defendant Marcus Antone Zapata of trying to kill the deputy.

Authorities identified Latour as the gunman in the shooting. Zapata was not armed.

A third jury couldn't reach an attempted murder verdict on a third defendant in the case, Loureece Clark.

Deputy District Attorney William Satchell said in court his office intends to retry Latour for attempted murder in the Aug. 8, 2009, shooting of Deputy Duke Lewis.

Lewis suffered serious injuries to his shoulder and clavicle and missed 14 months of work due to the shooting. Lewis was shot in a confrontation behind a Foothill Farms area strip mall after a bank robbery in Rocklin in which the suspects eluded police in a freeway chase that reached speeds of 115 mph.

Besides the assault on the officer, Latour's jury convicted the 21-year-old defendant of robbery, felony evasion and resisting arrest. It acquitted him on single counts of assault and attempted robbery and it failed to reach verdicts on two other robbery counts and another charge of resisting arrest.

The panel voted 8-4 to convict Latour of attempted murder, and after five court days of deliberation, the forewoman told Sacramento Superior Court Judge David De Alba that further discussion wouldn't help the jury reach the unanimous decision required for a verdict.

One of the jurors who voted to acquit Latour of attempted murder said she didn't feel there was enough evidence to prove that he intended to kill the officer.

"It was trying to see if he really, really was trying to kill him, or just get away," juror Annette Cheney said in an interview.

Judge De Alba scheduled Latour's sentencing for Jan. 11.

Regardless of what happens if he is retried, Latour, who has a previous serious felony on his record, is facing a minimum term of about 40 years in state prison.

Zapata, 18, who was convicted of all nine counts filed against him, is slated for a Jan. 21 sentencing.

Clark, 36, was convicted last week of resisting arrest, but his jury failed to reach verdicts on his remaining eight counts, including the attempted murder allegation. Clark is scheduled for a hearing Friday on his retrial.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

December 16, 2010
Police arrest suspect in barbershop shooting

By Kim Minugh

Sacramento County sheriff's deputies have arrested the lone identified suspect in Tuesday's fatal shootout on Stockton Boulevard.

Lonnie Orlando Mitchell, 24, of Sacramento, was arrested this morning on Interstate 5 on Southern California's Grapevine, said sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran. Deputies stopped Mitchell with help from the California Highway Patrol.

Mitchell has been booked into the Los Angeles County Jail in Santa Clarita.

Two women who were with Mitchell were identified and released, Curran said.

Earlier this morning, detectives received information that Mitchell was driving to L.A. They caught up to him on the Grapevine, Curran said.

Detectives suspect Mitchell is one of at least four gunmen who exchanged gunfire at the Fly Cuts & Styles barbershop. Seven people were injured by the gunfire, two of whom were killed.

Monique Nelson, 30, died at the scene after being struck as she tried to shield her toddler, who was strapped into his car seat. Nelson likely saved the life of her 2-year-old son, Jayden, detectives said.

Marvion Barksdale, 20, was also struck in the exchange and died Wednesday morning from a gunshot wound to the chest.

Detectives are still working to determine everyone involved in the fatal shootout and their role. Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

December 16, 2010
Police suspect woman intentionally rolled vehicle

By Matt Kawahara

The driver of a vehicle that led Sacramento police on a short pursuit along Highway 50 this morning before rolling over on the highway may have wrecked the car intentionally, a police spokesman said.

Officers were responding to reports of a hit-and-run on Power Inn Road near Highway 50 around 8:20 a.m. when they saw a vehicle leave the scene, said Sacramento Police Department spokesman Officer Konrad von Schoech.

Officers followed the vehicle onto eastbound Highway 50 and, partway into the pursuit, realized that the driver of the vehicle was intentionally trying to hit the center median, von Schoech said. The vehicle then hit the median and rolled over several times east of Bradshaw Road, he said.

When officers approached the vehicle, they saw the female occupant trying to cut herself, von Schoech said. She was detained and taken to the hospital for a mental evaluation, he said.

The woman did not sustain major injuries from the crash, and her role in the original hit-and-run incident is unclear, von Schoech said. It appears that her vehicle may have been hit, as she had rear-end damage to her car, he said.

The pursuit lasted several minutes and California Highway Patrol was also involved.

Another collision occurred in the back-up that resulted from the pursuit and subsequent crash, said CHP spokesman Officer Rich Wetzel.

Call The Bee's Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

December 15, 2010
West Sacramento man convicted for sexual assaults

By Cathy Locke

A Yolo County jury today convicted a West Sacramento man of double kidnapping for rape.

Theodore Wooten, 21, was found guilty of sexual assault, kidnapping and other violent felony charges for attacks on two women in May.

Wooten forced his way into a West Sacramento motel May 1 and tried to rape a woman who is mentally ill, and often homeless and living on the streets, according to a Yolo County District Attorney's Office news release. When she resisted the attack, Wooten savagely beat her, officials said.

Wooten escaped, and on May 27, he attacked another woman. In this instance, he forced the victim off the street and behind a business in the early morning hours, officials said. A concerned citizen called 911, and West Sacramento police officers caught Wooten in the act of sexually assaulting the woman.

Yolo County Superior Court Judge Stephen L. Mock is scheduled to sentence Wooten on Jan. 14.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 15, 2010
Sacramento sheriff asks public's help in finding barbershop shooting suspect

By Kim Minugh

orlando mitchell.jpgSacramento County sheriff's detectives are seeking the public's help in locating a suspect in Tuesday's fatal shootout on Stockton Boulevard, identified by authorities as 24-year-old Lonnie Orlando Mitchell (left).

Mitchell, a Sacramento resident, is described as a black man, 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds, according to the Sheriff's Department. He has black hair, brown eyes and numerous tattoos (see below). His last known address is on Center Parkway.

Sheriff's officials said Mitchell should be considered armed and dangerous.

Detectives suspect Mitchell as one of at least four gunmen in the exchange of gunfire at the Fly Cuts & Styles barbershop.

Seven people were hit by gunfire, two of whom were killed.

Monique Nelson, 30, was struck as she tried to shield her toddler, who was strapped into his car seat. Nelson died at the scene. Detectives believe Nelson was in innocent victim of stray bullets who prevented her son from being struck by bullets.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said today that a second person - 20-year-old Marvion Barksdale - died this morning from a gunshot wound to the chest.

His role in the incident, as well as the role of the five living wounded men, is still being determined, Curran said.

Anyone with information about Mitchell's whereabouts or this crime is asked to call sheriff's detectives at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

mitchell tattoo 1.jpg mitchell tattoo 2.jpg

December 15, 2010
Twin Rivers PD: 2 men arrested in attempted copper theft at school

By Bee Staff

Two Sacramento men were arrested early this morning as they allegedly prepared to remove copper from Las Palmas School in North Sacramento, according to the Twin Rivers Police Department.

Twin Rivers officers responded to an alarm at the school at 577 La Palmas Ave. at 1:42 a.m. As they began checking the area, they heard two people on the roof, according to a Police Department news release.

The officers spotted the suspects, who began to run on top of the roof. The Twin Rivers officers requested assistance from the Sacramento Police Department.

Officers ordered the suspects off the roof and detained them at gunpoint, police said.

Arrested were Michael Locke, 39, and Tyrone Locke, 32.

Officer William Cho, Twin Rivers Police Department spokesman, said the men were in possession of burglary tools and told detectives that they were about to start removing copper from equipment on the roof when they spotted the police cars.

Michael Locke (below left) was found to be on parole and was arrested on suspicion of violation of parole, attempted grand theft, possession of burglary tools, conspiracy and trespassing, police said.

Police said Tyrone Locke (below right) was found to be on probation and was arrested on suspicion of violation of probation, attempted grand theft, possession of burglary tools, conspiracy and trespassing.

Both men were booked into Sacramento County Jail and are being held without bail.

Michael Locke.JPG Tyrone Locke.JPG

December 15, 2010
Folsom care provider sentenced for elder abuse in woman's death

By Andy Furillo

A Folsom residential care provider who pleaded guilty to elder abuse in the death of an 82-year-old woman was sentenced today to a year in county jail.

Adriana Catuna, 49, will be allowed to request that she serve the time on home detention under the sentence handed down by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gary E. Ransom.

The judge also placed Catuna on five years probation and scheduled a restitution hearing for Jan. 26.

Catuna entered her plea in connection with the Oct. 13, 2007, death of Georgia Fitsos.

One of Fistos' sons claimed he discovered his mother alone and having difficulty breathing in the Broadstone Residential Facility in August 2007.

He had his mother rushed to a hospital where emergency room physicians treated her for sepsis from the open bed sore.

She died in a skilled nursing facility two months later.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

December 15, 2010
CHP to conduct DUI checkpoint Friday in Sacramento County

By Bee Staff

The Rancho Cordova area office of the California Highway Patrol will conduct a DUI checkpoint beginning at 9 p.m. Friday and lasting until 1 a.m. at an undisclosed location within the unincorporated area of Sacramento County.

"By publicizing our efforts we believe that we can deter motorists from drinking and driving," said Lt. Greg Ferrero, Rancho Cordova Area Commander.

"Traffic volume permitting, all vehicles will be checked and drivers who are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs can expect to be arrested," Ferrero said.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

December 15, 2010
Ask Sacto 9-1-1: Killers of generous convenience store clerk in prison

Q. James Kunitz, my brother, was killed at a convenience store he managed in 1980. He was a good man who loaned people money to buy groceries. Where are the men who killed him? I heard one had his sentence commuted. - S.L., Sacramento

A: The two men convicted of murdering your brother are in prison, records show.

Michael J. Rhinehart, now 51, is in the Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad.

Michael Avery Hunt, also now 51, is in the California State Prison, Sacramento.

Both men are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole.

In 1983, Hunt requested that a court to change his sentence to life with the chance of parole. A Sacramento Superior Court judge rejected the request.

On Jan. 15, 1980, Kunitz, 34, was accosted by Rhinehart and Hunt, according to court testimony.

Kunitz was leaving the Shortstop Market at Fruitridge Road and Wilkinson Street with a sack of store receipts.

Kunitz was shot in the chest and the back. The two men stole the sack that contained a small amount of money. Kunitz died four days later.

For a complete list of questions answered by Sacto911, click here

December 14, 2010
Body found in Davis a woman in early 50s, police say

By Cathy Locke

The body found Monday near Highway 113 in Davis has been determined to be that of a woman in her early 50s.

Although the woman has not been identified, an autopsy performed this morning by the Yolo County Coroner's Office determined that she was 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighed about 120 pounds and had brown hair, according to a Davis Police Department news release.

Police were called Monday afternoon to a wooded area between the west edge of Drake Drive and Highway 113 regarding a suspicious death. Officers found a highly decomposed human body on a mattress surrounded by what appeared to be a homeless camp.

Because of the level of tissue degradation, positive identification is pending and the cause of death has not been determined, police said.

Detectives are investigating the case as a suspicious death.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Davis Police Investigations Division at (530) 747-5400.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 14, 2010
Ruling on Galleria arson gag order postponed until later this week

By Ed Fletcher

A judge in Auburn has put off until later this week a decision on whether to issue a gag order in the Galleria arson case, saying it may come Thursday or Friday.

The judge's decision followed an afternoon of sparring over who can see a report on the fire that was prepared by Roseville city officials.

Prosecutors seeking the gag order do not want the report released, saying it could create publicity that would make it difficult to find an unbiased jury.

Prosecutors have received two draft versions of the report and got the first one Dec. 2. In today's hearing, Roseville city spokeswoman Megan MacPherson was called to testify about its contents.

Roseville officials had planned to release the documents last week, but prosecutors sought their gag order and the matter has been tied up in court.

Placer Superior Court Judge Larry Gaddis said he received prosecutors' latest 10-page filing that argues against release of the materials at noon today, and added that he had not had a chance yet to read it.

He met privately for a time this afternoon with the prosecutors and defense attorney for arson suspect Alexander Piggee, 23.

Piggee, who was in court today, is accused of setting the Oct. 21 blaze at the region's largest mall, but criminal proceedings have been suspended while his mental competency is evaluated.

A doctor's report on Piggee is expected to be completed by Jan. 21, with a hearing on it set for Feb. 8.

The Roseville fire report is expected to shed light on why the sprinkler system inside the mall was turned off during the blaze and who ordered it, but the request for the gag order has so far prevented its release.

Defense attorney Johnny Griffin III has opposed the gag order and said today that "even if the media reported all of the discovery I received I would still oppose the restraining order."

He also asked the court to provide him a copy of the report, and that matter is expected to be discussed further this afternoon.

The Bee and the First Amendment Coalition also have opposed a gag order being issued.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.

December 14, 2010
Sacramento jury convicts man of molestation, sex with minor

By Andy Furillo

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Odis James Williams of child molestation and of having sex with a minor.

Williams, 53, was convicted on two counts of molesting a child under 14 years old three or more times, one count of unlawful oral copulation with a child and another count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

According to court records, Williams had been charged in a 16-count child molestation complaint in 1994 but was acquitted or had the charges dismissed in each instance.

He is facing a life term at his Jan. 21 sentencing in front of Judge Sharon A. Lueras.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

December 14, 2010
Mental exam of Galleria arson suspect due Jan. 21

By Ed Fletcher

A court hearing in Auburn is under way on whether a gag order should be issued in the Roseville Galleria case, but no decision has been made yet.

Placer Superior Court Judge Larry Gaddis met privately for a time with the prosecutors and defense attorney for arson suspect Alexander Piggee, 23, and court resumed again at about 3 p.m.

Piggee is accused of setting the Oct. 21 blaze at the region's largest mall, but criminal proceedings have been suspended while his mental competency is evaluated.

A doctor's report on Piggee is expected to be completed by Jan. 21, with a hearing on it set for Feb. 8.

Prosecutors are seeking a gag order in the case, a move that has stopped Roseville city officials from releasing a report on how authorities responded to the fire.

That report was expected to shed light on why the sprinkler system inside the mall was turned off during the blaze and who ordered it, but the request for the gag order has so far prevented its release.

Defense attorney Johnny Griffin III has opposed the gag order and said today that "even if the media reported all of the discovery I received I would still oppose the restraining order."

The Bee and the First Amendment Coalition also have opposed a gag order being issued. Prosecutors say they want it to avoid more publicity that could make it harder to find an unbiased jury.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.

December 14, 2010
Shootout at Sacramento barbershop leaves 1 dead, 6 wounded

Scene of fatal shooting in strip mall at Stockton Boulevard and Lindale Drive this afternoon. The body of the victim is covered on the ground by the SUV at the center. Photo by Paul Kitagaki Jr.

By Kim Minugh

Two men entered a south Sacramento barbershop this afternoon and opened fire on two men getting haircuts, who apparently returned fire, leaving a 30-year-old woman dead, a man with life-threatening injuries and five others wounded, investigators said.

• See a photo gallery

The woman who was fatally shot in the parking lot as she was putting her toddler into a sport utility vehicle apparently was an innocent bystander, said Sgt. Tim Curran, Sacramento Sheriff's Department spokesman.

Firefighters and deputies were caring for the toddler this afternoon as they searched for family members to take custody of the child.

The shooting that started in the Fly Cuts and Styles barbershop in the 6900 block of Stockton Boulevard, spilled into the parking lot early this afternoon, Curran said.

Detectives believe that among the wounded are the two men who started the shooting and the two targets who fired back. Another victim was a barber, Curran said.

Detectives have determined that shortly after 1 p.m., two men came into the barbershop and opened fire, hitting two men who were getting haircuts. The two targets returned fire.

There was an exchange of gunfire inside and outside in the parking lot, Curran said.

Detectives believe that the woman who was killed was hit by stray gunfire and was not a target, Curran said. She had just left a one-hour photo shop that is two doors down from the barbershop.

Curran said it "definitely was not a robbery."

Detectives were still trying at 3 p.m. to sort out which of the gunshot victims were the initial shooters and who were the targets.

At least two dozen people were inside a back room of the barbershop at the time of the shooting, including some who were playing cards or dominoes, Curran said.

Curran noted that there could have been more victims, given how busy the area is.

"This is crazy," Curran said. "This time of the day with holiday shopping going on the number of victims we have could have risen quickly."

Witnesses reported a white sedan leaving the scene, however it is unclear who left in that vehicle.

Detectives are unsure if any words exchanged before the firing began, Curran said.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

December 14, 2010
Sacramento PD releases photo of carjacking suspect

By Bill Lindelof

suspectcarjacking3.JPGThe Sacramento police department released a photo (left and below) today of one suspect in a brazen midtown carjacking.

Police asked for help in finding the man who they suspect held up a victim at gunpoint along with accomplices, making off with the victim's car.

The crime occurred about 8:30 a.m. Dec. 1 when a man drove from a convenience store. He was stopped by a car that pulled in front vehicle and came to a halt near 15th and W streets, an usually busy stretch of road at that time of day.

Two men jumped out and ordered him from his car at gunpoint. The two jumped into the carjacking victim's car and drove away.

The other two accomplices fled in their vehicle. The victim's car was later recovered.

The suspects' descriptions are sketchy - four men their early 20s.

One of them, photographed by a security camera at the convenience store, wore a gray, hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

The suspect's vehicle (see below) was a small, sliver, four-door car, possibly a Kia.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

suspectcarjacking.JPG suspcarjackingveh.JPG

December 14, 2010
Sacramento FD: Powder found in UCD mail not harmful

By Kim Minugh and Bill Lindelof

A powdery substance discovered in mail at UC Davis' body donation office on Broadway today has been determined to be safe, according to authorities.

Building occupants evacuated this morning after an employee opening mail found powder and called 911.

The Fire Department evacuated the office but has since lifted the evacuation order after determining that the mystery powder was "an innocuous substance" that posed no safety hazard, a Fire Department spokesman said.

There also was no threat made in the letter containing the powder, the spokesman said.

The donated bodies housed in the office are used to teach medical and undergraduate anatomy students.

The building is shared with the Sacramento County Coroner's Department.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

December 14, 2010
Sacramento PD: 3 burglary suspects arrested in South Land Park

By Bill Lindelof

Sacramento police nabbed three suspected burglars in South Land Park Monday morning.

Officers responded to a report of a burglary at a residence in the 5400 block of South Land Park Drive shortly before noon.

They found a car they believed belonged to the burglary suspects and attempted to detain the occupants. The suspects in the vehicle fled on foot and two were quickly collared.

The third suspect was detained a few blocks away. Stolen property was found in the suspect's vehicle, police said.

The three men arrested on suspicion of burglary were Joshua Gonzales, 22, Robert Kim, 19, and Robert Green, also 19, police said.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 14, 2010
Sacramento son who killed mom for life insurance due parole hearing

By Bee Staff

The only child of a Sacramento couple who plotted their murders to collect life insurance benefits is due a parole hearing.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced Robert James Casebolt, now 37, to 25 years to life for the Dec. 16, 1990 bedside slaying of Michelle Casebolt, 36, and the attempted murder of her husband, Robert, then 39.

Jackie Aaron Henderson, now 36, was convicted of being the triggerman and is in prison.

A third man, Eric Borchert, now 38, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. A prosecutor described Borchert as a "little devil" who encouraged Casebolt in the plot.

According to Robert Casebolt's pre-plea report, the plan to kill his parents for what he said was more than $1 million in death benefits evolved from years of what he felt was unfair treatment at home, The Bee reported.

His mother yelled at him constantly, sifted through his mail and listened to his telephone conversations, telling him, when he complained, that she had a right to invade his privacy because she "was paying the bill, " Casebolt told investigators.

His parents had "grounded" him for two years, he said.

Another cloud in the stormy relationship with his mother and father was a requirement that he turn over two-thirds of a paycheck from a part-time job at a fast-food restaurant to help with the family's finances, the report said.

James Casebolt confirmed that his son had been contributing to the family monetary needs, but said a ledger of his contributions was being maintained and that they intended to repay him in the future by way of a college education and a car upon graduation from high school.

Casebolt wasn't shy about telling his schoolmates he needed help killing his parents. At least one other teen turned him down before Henderson agreed to do the job for $25,000 in cash, a car, housing and any other expenses that might arise, investigators said in court documents.

The plan called for Casebolt to let Henderson into the house after his parents had retired, stage a break-in to make it look like a burglary, and then kill the Casebolts as they slept, using pillows to muffle the sound of gunfire.

Their plans went awry when a bullet fired through a pillow flattened out and failed to penetrate the head of James Casebolt, 39.

Casebolt's hearing will be Dec. 21 at the Pleasant Valley State Prison where he is incarcerated.

If you want to give your opinion of an inmate's suitability for parole, you may mail a letter to:

Martin Hoshino, executive director

Board of Parole Hearings

1515 K Street

Sacramento, CA 95811

For more information on the Board of Parole Hearings, go to:

Bee researcher Linda Beymer contributed to this report

December 14, 2010
Citrus Heights PD to run DUI checkpoint on Thursday

By Bee Staff

The Citrus Heights Police Department will operate a DUI /drivers license checkpoint beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday and running to 3:30 a.m. on Madison Avenue, east of San Juan Avenue.

The checkpoint is one in a series that are being funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to a Police Department news release.

Officers will be checking drivers for signs of impairment and for possessing a valid driver's license. The vehicles of drivers without a valid driver's license are subject to tow.

Citrus Heights police have investigated collisions in this area wherein alcohol has been a factor and decided increased education and enforcement are needed in this general area, the release states.

December 14, 2010
Teens honored for turning from crime to college

By Bill Lindelof

Five teens with a criminal past today will be given $1,000 scholarships for turning their lives around.

All five were once on probation for crimes such as theft, drugs or fighting. All have shown remorse and started their lives anew.

They have removed themselves from potentially criminal situations, some even attending college out-of-state to get away from bad peers.

The former juvenile offenders include Marcel Shadd, who is on his school's student leadership advisory council and named student of the year, Matthew Bush, a crew leader on the Howe Park beautification project and Tabatha Grayson, a member of her university's public council.

The teens are among the winners of the 2010 Education for Success Scholarship program sponsored by the Sacramento County Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Commission.

The $1,000 scholarships are good for attending either college or trade schools. The volunteer group Juvenile Services Council donated money for the scholarships.

The awards are set for 2 p.m. today in the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors chambers.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 13, 2010
Davis police investigate human remains found near Highway 113

By Chelsea Phua

Davis police are investigating the discovery of decomposing human remains Monday afternoon along Highway 113 as a suspicious death, a department spokesman said.

Lt. Paul Doroshov said about 2:40 p.m., a passer-by found the remains on the east side of the highway in a grassy area between the highway and Drake Drive.

The remains were found in the midst of what appears to be a debris-strewn homeless encampment hidden from the street. A mattress and cooking utensils were among items found surrounding the remains.

"It's badly decomposed," Doroshov said, adding that the body may have belonged to an adult based on its size.

A forensic pathologist will have to examine the body to determine gender and other identifying features, Doroshov said. It's also not clear if the body suffered traumatic injuries because of the state of the decomposition, he said.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 13, 2010
Man sentenced to death for running down, killing CHP officer

By Chelsea Phua

An El Dorado County Superior Court judge on Monday sentenced David Charles Zanon to death for running down and killing California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Russell more than three years ago.

A jury in September recommended the death sentence, after convicting Zanon of first-degree murder in early August.

Zanon, who had a warrant for his arrest, was found outside a burglarized business July 31, 2007, in Rancho Cordova. He sped off, leading officers on a chase on Highway 50 into El Dorado County, where he ran down Russell near the Ponderosa Road exit. Russell had just placed a spike strip on the freeway to stop Zanon.

The jury also found Zanon guilty of attempting to kill another CHP officer during the pursuit and assaulting a Sacramento County Sheriff's deputy.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 13, 2010
3 teens won't face charges in Roseville fast food worker attack

By Ed Fletcher

Three young people who went along for the ride in the drive-thru window assault of a 21-year-old Boston Market server in Roseville will not be charged in the case, officials said Monday.

"Our detectives said their investigation is complete and they do not anticipate any additional arrests," said Roseville Police Department spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther.

A 17-year-old boy turned himself into authorities five days after the Dec. 3 incident in which a serving of hot spinach was thrown in the face of the worker. He was charged with suspicion of committing battery causing great bodily harm. That case is now in the hands of the county prosecutor.

Police had originally sought the four teens in the vehicle during the incident.

One of the occupants threw the 180-degree order of hot creamed spinach into the face of server David Almas, police said. Almas suffered serious burns.

Authorities said the assault appeared to be a copy of a prank in which customers yell "Fire in the hole!" as they throw cold drinks at drive-thru workers, some of which, have been posted on YouTube.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.

December 13, 2010
Mexican citizen sentenced to prison for meth trafficking

By Cathy Locke

A Mexican citizen has been sentenced to 27 years in a United States prison after pleading guilty to methamphetamine trafficking charges.

Francisco Miguel Angel Najera-Gordillo, 35, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia. Najera-Gordillo pleaded guilty Sept. 9, only days before he was scheduled for trial, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

According to documents filed with the court and statements made in open court, Najera-Gordillo offered to sell to a confidential informant approximately 6 pounds of methamphetamine for $12,000 per pound.

On Sept. 2, 2005, Najera-Gordillo was arrested in an Elk Grove Wal-Mart parking lot with 1 pound of methamphetamine on his person and approximately 3.2 kilograms of methamphetamine in a nearby car. Najera-Gordillo originally pleaded guilty in 2006 and was sentenced to 24 1/2 years in prison. He appealed based on ineffective assistance by his original defense attorney, and his conviction was reversed.

Because of his past criminal convictions for crimes that included first-degree burglary and assault on a police officer, Najera-Gordillo is considered a "career criminal" under United States Sentencing Guidelines, officials said.

At sentencing, Judge Garcia stated that there was "no reason to believe that the defendant would not continue returning illegally to the community to commit more crimes."

The case resulted from an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mary Grad and Michael D. Anderson prosecuted the case.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 13, 2010
Auburn man - a 'danger to women' - sentenced to prison

Bennett.JPGBy Cathy Locke

An Auburn man described by a Placer County judge as a "danger to women" has been sentenced to seven years in state prison for domestic violence.

Thomas K. Bennett, 61, was sentenced Friday by Placer County Superior Court Judge Mark S. Curry. The judge noted that Bennett's record showed a history of criminal convictions for domestic violence, according to a Placer County District Attorney's Office news release.

Bennett's latest conviction came in October when a jury found him guilty of inflicting corporal injury upon a cohabitant and of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, both of which are felonies.

Evidence during the trial showed that Bennett beat and choked a cohabitant during an argument at an Auburn apartment March 24 and that he put his hand over the woman's mouth as if to suffocate her.

Judge Curry noted that Bennett had admitted to special allegations that he previously had been convicted and served prison terms for domestic violence, meaning the judge could add extra years in prison for Bennett's latest conviction.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 13, 2010
Sacramento woman gets prison time for student loan fraud

By Cathy Locke

A Sacramento woman has been sentenced to two years in prison for her role in a federal student loan fraud ring.

Jewel Minor, 24, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb. Her prison term will be followed by three years of supervised release. The judge also ordered Minor to pay $118,843.72 in restitution.

Also charged in the case are Sacramento residents Nakesha Sharrieff, aka Takiyah Raheem and Aysia Hanifah, 23; Hoa Tasha Kelly, aka Tasha Kelly, 24; and Teaona Williams, 24.

Jarmal Duplessis, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit student loan fraud and was sentenced on Nov. 8 to nine months in prison, three years or supervised release and ordered to pay $23,293.70 in restitution. Thomas Keys, 23, pleaded guilty Oct. 4 to one count of conspiracy to commit student loan fraud and is to be sentenced Jan. 10.

Minor admitted in her plea agreement that in June 2008, Teaona Williams recruited her to be a "straw student" to obtain student loan funds without going to school, according to a federal Department of Justice news release. Williams introduced Minor to Sharrieff, who signed Minor up for student loan funds.

Minor met Sharrieff at a bank, and Sharrieff gave Minor a check in an envelope that had Minor's cut of the proceeds written on it. Minor cashed the checks, then split the money with Sharrieff, officials said.

Minor recruited additional students for Sharrieff in exchange for a portion of the money obtained. Minor also let Sharrieff use her address to receive checks for other straw students, in exchange for additional payment.

After Minor became involved in the conspiracy, the scheme netted approximately $118,000 in federally provided or insured student loan funds, officials said.

The case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of the Inspector General and the Los Rios Community College District Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jean M. Hobler is prosecuting the case.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 13, 2010
Elk Grove man admits guilt in credit card fraud case

By Cathy Locke

An Elk Grove man has pleaded guilty in federal court to credit card fraud.

Richard Nuwintore, 42, entered the plea Thursday before U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb.

According to court documents, Nuwintore used other people's credit cards without their authorization to purchase airline tickets for himself and others.

Law enforcement officers were able to link Nuwintore to the tickets because either he was the passenger, the e-ticket for someone else was e-mailed to him, or the ticket was for a person who had used Western Union to send money to him, according to a federal Department of Justice news release.

As part of his plea agreement, Nuwintore agreed that the provable loss attributable to him is more than $13,000.

He is to be sentenced Feb. 22.

The case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

December 13, 2010
Roseville police seek leads in high school break-ins

By Bill Lindelof

Roseville police seek help in solving a string of break-ins that have recently struck high school campuses.

Six campus burglaries or acts of vandalism have occurred during the late night or early morning hours.

Here's an itemized breakdown on the crimes:

-- Overnight Dec. 2 and 3 at Woodcreek High. Several vans belonging to the school district had windows shot out.

-- Overnight Dec. 2 and 3, vandalism to Roseville Aquatics Center next to Woodcreek High. Locks cut, flag ropes severed.

-- Last Tuesday night or Wednesday morning at Oakmont High. Burglary and fax machine taken.

-- Last Wednesday night or Thursday morning at Oakmont High. Safe taken with small amount of cash inside.

-- Thursday at Roseville High. Burglary, nothing taken.

-- This morning about 3:30 a.m. at Adelante High. Burglary: window was broken but nothing appears stolen. Burglar may have been frightened by alarm.

Anyone with information is asked to call Roseville Police Crime Stoppers at (916) 783-7867. Callers may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 13, 2010
Detectives arrest two for dognapping

William Keith Hayward Jr.jpgBy Bill Lindelof

Sheriff's robbery detectives have returned a stolen Shih Tzu to its owner after arresting suspected dognappers.

William Keith Hayward, Jr., 18, of North Highlands and Tamarra Chace, 24, of Carmichael were both booked into Sacramento County Jail. Hayward was arrested on suspicion of robbery and Chace was arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property.

Deputies said a woman and her boyfriend were walking in Carmichael on California Avenue near Cassady Lane on Nov. 28 when a car pulled up and a man robbed the couple of the puppy at gunpoint.

Recently, the victims were driving in the area and spotted the suspect driving a similar car. The victims wrote down a complete license plate number and called detectives assigned to their case.

When detectives went to arrest Hayward at Chace's apartment in the 8200 block of Fair Oaks Boulevard, they also found the puppy. Hayward and Chace were arrested and the dog returned to its rightful owners.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 13, 2010
Juries convict man, woman of murder in horrific child abuse case

By Andy Furillo

Two Sacramento Superior Court juries today convicted Eduardo Zamora and Amber Ingram of murder in last year's child-abuse death of her 5-year-old son, Braeden James Gardner.

Zamora's jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and separate counts of child abuse and torture. The 32-year-old defendant is facing a prison term of 50 years to life in prison. Judge Michael P. Kenny scheduled Zamora's scheduling for Jan. 14.

Ingram's panel convicted her of second-degree murder and a separate count of child endangerment by leaving her son in Zamora's care. Ingram, 26, faces a 15-to-life term.

Sheriff's investigators, prosecutors, emergency room doctors and the deputy coroner who conducted the autopsy on Braeden's body that had been bruised from his forehead to his feet said it was one of the worst cases of child abuse they had ever seen.

Paramedics were called to the couple's Rosemont home June 17, 2009, and found the boy's lifeless body.

"Everyday, we think about Braeden - every day," said Marletta Stein, 27, a member of the Ingram jury. "This has consumed our lives. It'd definitely changed my way of thinking...The thought of somebody doing that to him makes me so sick inside."

Even though Stein sat on the Ingram jury, she said that it was difficult sitting in the same room with the man who was accused of inflicting the fatal injuries on the boy.

"Every day we sat in that courtroom and had to look at it, and he was sick - it was sick," she said.

Prosecutors said in the case that Ingram knew of the abuse that Zamora was inflicting on her son but that she failed to act to prevent the danger that took his life.

"I think for anybody in that situation, always put your kids first," Stein said. "Don't ever put them last, and that's what she did."

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.

December 13, 2010
Lodi police shoot beanbags at suspect

Phillip Raymond Ferguson.jpgBy Bill Lindelof

A man was shot twice with bean bags from a police shotgun over the weekend in Lodi.

Phillip Raymond Ferguson, 26, was booked into the Lodi Police Department Jail on suspicion of resisting or obstructing officers, being under the influence of narcotics and an outstanding felony warrant for possession of a dangerous weapon.

Police said that they received several calls Saturday evening from citizens complaining of a passenger in a sport utility vehicle yelling at them as the SUV drove through downtown Lodi. Officers noticed the SUV as it rolled by the police department.

As officers made the stop, they got additional word from a citizen that the loud man might be armed. When officers stopped, Ferguson and two others in the SUV got out at the command of police.

However, police said they were forced to shoot Ferguson with a bean bag when he reached for his waistband. He fell back but attempted to get back into the SUV, police said.

That's when police said they fired another bean bag. This time he complied and was taken into custody.

Call The Bee's Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

December 12, 2010
Vacaville girl and baby brother in critical condition after being stabbed in home invasion

Bee staff

A 13-year-old Vacaville girl and her baby brother were stabbed and seriously wounded in a home invasion early today, police said.

Police said the girl and her 18-month-old brother were home alone on Balsam Drive in Vacaville when an intruder broke into their home while they slept. The girl sustained more than 30 stab wounds and the baby was stabbed 10 times, police said.

The girl was also sexually assaulted during the incident, police said.

The two were reported in critical condition at UC Davis but their wounds weren't considered life threatening, police said.

A juvenile suspect was arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide and sexual assault. Police said the suspect was a friend of the children's older brother, but "we do not have any specific motive."

December 12, 2010
Men paint faces, rob Woodland Chevron

Bee Staff

Woodland police today said they were investigating an early-morning armed robbery at a gas station.

No one was hurt in the 1:30 a.m. incident at a Chevron station on County Road 102.

A store clerk told police that two men walked into the store, claimed they had a handgun, and ordered him into the corner of the store. The men, both over 250 pounds, had their faces painted and wore hooded sweatshirts.

They took an undisclosed amount of cash and some other items, and left in a blue, two-door Saturn with no visible license plate.

December 12, 2010
Warrant sweep nets 21

Bee Staff

Twenty-one people were arrested in the Sacramento area today following a sweep for motorists with active drunk-driving warrants.

Citrus Heights and Folsom police, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department and Sacramento County probation officers conducted a sweep aimed at 39 motorists with driving under the influence warrants. The sweep resulted in 21 arrests, according to Citrus Heights police.

Four of the individuals were arrested on felony charges.

December 12, 2010
Men arrested Friday may be serial burglars

By Dale Kasler

Four men were arrested Friday on suspicion of burglarizing a Citrus Heights home and are being investigated for possible involvement in other break-ins, police announced Sunday.

Police said the men were arrested in connection with a mid-morning break-in on the 8000 block of Kingswood Drive.

A resident called police after observing several suspicious men in the neighborhood. Officers arrested Christopher Duran, 21; Jonathan Rollins, 19; Fareed Burrell, 31; and Alfredo Gonzales, 19.

Citrus Heights Police had been working to quell an increase in daytime residential burglaries, according to a press release.

The four men, who remained in the Sacramento County jail today in lieu of bail, are also being investigated in connection with "numerous residential burglaries in Citrus Heights as well as neighboring cities," police said.

Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066.

December 12, 2010
Inmate discovered dead at Sacramento jail

By Dale Kasler

An inmate was found dead today at the Sacramento County Main Jail.

The Sheriff's Department said the death didn't appear suspicious but an investigation will be undertaken.

The 46-year-old inmate had been jailed since Aug. 22 on charges of resisting arrest, burglary, grand theft, possession of stolen property and evading a peace officer by driving recklessly.

Officials said the man's cellmate notified deputies at 10:06 a.m. that he was unable to waken the man. The jail's medical staff and fire department paramedics attempted to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at 10:32 a.m.

The inmate's name hasn't yet been released.

Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066.

December 11, 2010
Seventh sexual assault strikes Sac State campus

By Carlos Alcalá

Officials at California State University, Sacramento reported another sexual assault took place in a campus dorm late Thursday or early Friday - the seventh since the school year started in September.

Unlike the recent rash of stranger assaults on the campus, the latest assault involved acquaintances and was fueled by alcohol, according to university officials.

The assault took place in the American River Courtyard residence hall and was reported late Friday, said Kim Nava, a spokeswoman for CSUS.

Investigation continues on the crime, a suspect has been identified and an arrest is expected soon, university officials said.

Students have been encouraged to report assaults and the university is trying to be transparent about what's going on to break down reluctance to address the issue, Nava said.

"There may be more of a level of comfort" with reporting assaults, she said.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcalá, (916) 321-1987.

December 11, 2010
Holiday crime prevention tips

By Chelsea Phua

The Folsom Police Department is reminding residents to avoid becoming victims of crime this holiday season.

They offer some tips:

1) Be aware of your surroundings while shopping.

2) Park in brightly lit areas.

3) Don't leave anything of value in your vehicle such as GPS devices, laptops, purses or shopping bags.

4) Be aware of suspicious people and vehicles in your neighborhood.

5) Be aware of telephone and internet scams.

6) Do not respond to unsolicited emails and unfamiliar links.

7) Be careful buying gift cards from auction sites or classified ads. It's safer to purchase the cards directly from merchants.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 10, 2010
56-year-old man arrested on suspicion of annoying girls

By Chelsea Phua

Sacramento police have arrested a 56-year-old man suspected of annoying and soliciting underage girls in three separate incidents this week at Munson Way and Florin Road.

Officials said James Nand approached a 14-year-old girl at about 8 a.m. Monday and asking her if she wanted to make some money. The girl, who was walking to school, ran away and reported the incident.

Police said another girl walking to school Tuesday morning was approached by Nand, who allegedly asked her sexually related questions. The girl ran away but did not report the incident until Friday.

On Thursday, Nand approached a 17-year-old female at about 8 a.m. and asked her sexually related questions, police said. The girl ran away, and a witness was able to obtain the suspect's vehicle license plate.

Based on the information provided by the witness, a patrol and school resource officer were able to identify the suspect and notify detectives, who obtained an arrest warrant for Nand on Friday. He was arrested at about 7:45 p.m. in the 7700 block of Quinby Way, police said.

Call The Bee's Chelsea Phua, (916) 321-1132.

December 10, 2010
Rocklin man jailed for transporting drugs

By Ed Fletcher

A 51-year-old Rocklin man arrested with four pounds of marijuana in his pickup truck last month was sentenced to six months in Placer County jail.

Brian Kirk will also receive three years of probation, according to a press release from the Placer County prosecutor's office.

Kirk entered a guilty plea to a felony charge of illegally transporting marijuana. He was initially stopped for a moving violation on the night of Nov. 7. At that time he was issued a citation for driving with a suspended license and instructed to leave the vehicle. Kirk left the truck, but returned a short time later where upon he was arrested for driving without a license.

A search of the vehicle yielded a suitcase with glass jars filled with marijuana, officials said.

During sentencing, Kirk was instructed by Superior Court Judge Colleen Nichols that he could continue to use marijuana for medial condition, but she instructed him to not drive while under the influence.

Call The Bee's Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269.