Sacto 9-1-1

The Sacramento County Coroner's office today released the name of the man shot to death during a struggle in Foothill Farms last night.

He was identified as Mario Jose Rodriguez, 36, of Roseville.

Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies said that they responded to a call about 11:45 p.m. Sunday regarding a man who had been shot at an apartment in the 3900 block of Madison Avenue. The caller said that a casual acquaintance of his had been shot inside his apartment and that two men had fled.

A man sought in connection with a 20-year-old homicide in Redding was booked into Shasta County Jail today, a year after DNA evidence linked him to the case.

Brian Eric Norton is being held on a no-bail warrant accusing him of murder in the death of Despina Magioudis, according to a Redding Police Department news release.

Magioudis, 53, was found in a field on the north side of East Cypress on Aug. 10, 1991. The police investigation revealed that she had been sexually assaulted and died as a result of strangulation and bludgeoning. Redding police and the California Department of Justice Crime laboratory pursued the case for years, but it finally went cold, officials said.

1984 homicide sketch.bmpThe Nevada County Sheriff's Office seeks the public's help in identifying a woman whose body was found 27 year's ago and is believed to be the victim of a homicide.

The body of a young woman was discovered July 8, 1984, six miles north of Nevada City along Highway 49, just south of the Independence Trail head, according to a Sheriff's Department news release. The body was about 50 feet below a dirt parking area.

The possible cause of death was identified as strangulation, and the woman was believed to have been dead two to three weeks before the body was found.

A Sacramento-based appellate court today ordered the release on parole of an Oroville man doing a 15-years-to-life sentence for second-degree murder.

The appellate court reinstated the Board of Parole Hearings' grant of parole two years ago to Raymond Rodel Walker at his 10th parole hearing.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed the board's decision after concluding that Walker's release would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society.

By Ron Trujillo
rtrujillo@sacbee.com

A 20-year-old man was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with an argument on a light-rail train that escalated into a shooting behind a discount store in Rancho Cordova.

Deandre Brooks was found guilty by jury of killing Juan Carlos Sanchez, 21, of Rancho Cordova, on Nov. 21, 2009, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney's news release today.

Brooks and Sanchez, a father of two young boys, began talking trash on the light-rail train and decided to settle the dispute with a fistfight. But Brooks pulled out a handgun and shot Sanchez six times, including at least once when he was face down on the pavement.

Brooks will be sentenced Aug. 5. He faces a 50 years-to-life sentence.

Editor's note: An earlier version of the story had the incorrect last name of Brooks due to information provided by the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office.

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By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

The mother accused of killing her infant daughter in a microwave earlier this year was arraigned this afternoon on charges of murder and assault causing death to a child under the age of 8.

Ka Yang, 29, also faces a special circumstance that the murder was intentional and involved torture, which, if found true, could make her eligible for the death penalty or life without parole.

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By Kim Minugh

Quick to exploit the recent tragedy of a Sacramento infant allegedly killed in a microwave by her mother is PETA.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is negotiating with outdoor advertisers in Sacramento to erect a billboard inspired by the March 17 death of 7-week-old Mirabelle Thao-Lo, according to a news release PETA sent to The Bee.

The billboard features a photo of a person sticking a raw pork chop into a microwave, juxtaposed against a photo of a mother pig and her piglet. Between the two photos is the message "Everybody's Somebody's Baby. Go Vegan."

"The billboard serves to remind people that the vast majority of animals killed for human consumption are just babies who have yet to see their first birthday," the news release states.

The woman accused of killing her baby in a microwave earlier this year repeatedly told authorities that the baby likely was injured during a fall as she suffered a blackout-inducing seizure, and even suggested that she suffered from a split personality, according to court records.

Sacramento police on Tuesday arrested 29-year-old Ka Yang on suspicion of killing her 6-week-old daughter, Mirabelle Thao-Lo, in March. She is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on suspicion of murder and assault resulting in the death of a child under the age of 8.

The investigation began on March 17, when paramedics were called to a home in the 800 block of Rood Avenue and found the infant severely burned. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her mother told family members, firefighters and, later, police detectives that she suffered a seizure while holding the baby as she worked at the computer, according to homicide Detective Thomas Shrum's request for an arrest warrant.

By Ed Fletcher
efletcher@sacbee.com

The Placer County District Attorney's office announced today that they have made an arrest in January 2000 Roseville homicide.

Michael Elijah Adams, a 44-year-old transient suspected of being a member of a violent train-hopping gang, was arrested May 17 in Clark County, Wash., on unrelated charges.

Adams now faces charges related to the January 2000 murder of John Semler Owens, a 46-year-old transient freight-train rider. Owens was found dead Jan. 21 on a gravel service road near the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

The Bee first reported his connection to the Roseville murder June 4, but the DA's office refused to talk about the case and ordered the Roseville Police Department not to talk about the case.

According to the DA's office, Adams agreed to be extradited to California.


Yang.JPGIn what police say is an extremely rare and disturbing case, a Sacramento woman was arrested this morning for allegedly killing her 6-week-old daughter in March by placing her in a microwave oven.

Ka Yang, 29, was arrested at her Sacramento home this morning and charged with homicide after a three-month investigation into what caused unusual burns on the child, Mirabelle Thao-Lo, who was found dead on the afternoon of March 17.

Sacramento police spokeswoman Laura Peck said there have been only three previous cases involving a child being burned in a microwave, and that detectives studied those cases and consulted with medical experts and pathologists before making the arrest.

Convicted murderer Steven Paul Colver is due to have one last reunion with his former 14-year-old lover.

El Dorado County Judge Daniel B. Proud today scheduled sentencing for Tylar Marie Witt, now 16, at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 12, the same time Colver, 21, is due to be sent to prison for the June 12, 2009, slaying of Witt's mother, Joanne M. Witt, 47.

Tylar Witt could be eligible for parole at age 29 in a plea deal for second-degree murder in exchange for testifying against her former 19-year-old boyfriend in his recent trial.

Colver was convicted last week of first-degree murder and special circumstances of lying in wait and killing a witness, factors that stand to imprison him without the possibility of parole.

Authorities say Tylar Witt summoned Colver to her house to kill her mother after Joanne Witt gave El Dorado County detectives the girl's diary as part of a statutory rape complaint against Colver. Prosecutors said Colver brutally stabbed Joanne Witt to death before the teens fled to San Francisco and unsuccessfully tried to kill themselves with cereal and cake laced with rat poison.

- Peter Hecht

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Greta Curtis Fall sentenced reputed street gang members Marquel Dixon and Ronald Grant to life in prison with no chance of parole today, District Attorney Jan Scully announced.

Dixon and Grant, along with Marcus Scott Jr., were convicted by separate juries in the killing of Perrell Marquise Waters in 2009.

Scott was sentenced last week, also to life in prison.

In addition to life in prison without possibility of parole, Dixon received an additional 25-year sentence, Grant received 39 additional years and Scott got an added 35 years.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kenny today sentenced Kristen Gibson to 25 years to life in prison, District Attorney Jan Scully announced.

Kenny found Gibson guilty of first-degree murder in May, after a non-jury trial on charges of killing her newborn by drowning the full-term baby boy in a toilet.

Gibson, 35, gave birth to the baby in the bathroom of her Rancho Cordova home in July 2008.

She cut the umbilical cord with cuticle scissors and drowned the baby.

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By Carlos Alcala
calcala@sacbee.com


Sacramento police released video images of what they have termed "a unique suspect vehicle" they believe is connected to the May 19 shooting death of Balbir Singh Dhami.

At the same time, they have released a sketch of the suspect in the shooting, who is described as a short, thin, African American male, who had short hair and a yellow sweatshirt at the time of the shooting.

Dhami and his wife were shot at the door of their Marla Way home.

Dhami was dead at the scene. His wife was treated at the hospital.

Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully announced Thursday that Bryan Johnson has been convicted of first-degree murder in the November 2007 killing of Sophia Marquez, according to a district attorney's office news release.

Marquez's body was found half-nude near Highway 99 and Martin Luther King Blvd. The 26-year-old, a south Sacramento drifter, had been strangled, The Bee reported.

DNA evidence found beneath her fingernails was used to match Johnson to the crime, according to the release.

Johnson, 45, faces 25 years to life in prison, the release states. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 15 at in Sacramento Superior Court.

Sacramento police have arrested a man in connection with a May 31 homicide on Del Paso Boulevard.

The Sacramento Police Department announced Dawayne Lawrence (below), 35, was arrested June 7. He is accused of murdering Adam Steinbach, 27, who was found lying on the roadside at Del Paso and Northgate boulevards shortly after 11 p.m. May 31. Police reported that he was found dead of stab wounds.Dawayne Lawrence.jpg

Shortly after officers arrived at the homicide scene, they received a call about a vehicle on fire near Academy Way and Kathleen Avenue. It was later determined that the vehicle that was set on fire belonged to Steinbach, according to a Police Department news release.

Huante.JPGThe second suspect wanted in the April shooting death of a 19-year-old in a south Natomas parking lot has turned himself in, the Sacramento Police Department reported.

Fred Huante, 19, left, turned himself in to authorities at the Sacramento County Main Jail on Monday, said Sacramento police spokeswoman Officer Laura Peck.

Huante had been wanted in connection with the April 14 shooting at Northgate Boulevard and San Juan Road that left Francisco Flores, 19, dead, and Flores' 20-year-old brother with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, police reported.

Rivers.jpgSacramento County Sheriff's detectives have arrested a 22-year-old man in connection with the 2007 slaying of 39-year-old John Pogacar near Rancho Cordova, the sheriff's department reported.

Kirk Jared Rivers, 22, left, walked into the sheriff's department Monday afternoon and handed a security officer a note in which he claimed responsibility for the killing of a man in 2007, said sheriff's department spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos.

Rivers was detained and interviewed by homicide detectives, who determined there was enough evidence to arrest Rivers in connection with Pogacar's death, according to a sheriff's department news release.

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Joseph Raheem Williams of voluntary manslaughter in the Feb. 10, 2008, shooting death of Alex Hunter outside the DoubleTree Hotel on Arden Way.

Williams, now 27, a reputed Sacramento street gang member, had been charged with murder in the death of Hunter, who was celebrating his 21st birthday.

Williams is facing a prison term of more than 22 years as a result of the voluntary manslaughter conviction and the sentencing enhancement that he personally used the gun to kill Hunter.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com


Sacramento Superior Court Judge Greta Curtis Fall today sentenced reputed street gang member Marcus Scott Jr. to life in prison with no chance of parole for murdering a man two years ago.

Scott, 22, was convicted last month in the Dec. 15, 2009, gang-related shooting death of Perrell Marquis Waters, 19.

The sentences on two co-defendants in the case, Marquel Lamar Dixon, 18, and Ronald Delano Grant, 21, were continued.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

With accused killer Steven Paul Colver on the witness stand, a prosecutor today put a gruesome photo of Joanne Witt's face and her knife-ravaged neck on a projection screen, aggressively challenging his version that he only arrived after she was dead.

A day after Colver testified he nudged the leg of Joanne Witt with his palm to check on her after the El Dorado Hills mother was stabbed by her then 14-year-old daughter, Tyar Marie Witt, prosecutor Lisette Suder bore into him in a blistering exchange over how he happened to touch the victim exactly where male DNA was later found on her body.

"You would admit that face is very obviously the face of a dead woman," the El Dorado County deputy district attorney sternly said to Colve as she gestured to the grim crime scene photo.

"Yes, ma'am," Colver replied.

"So you had to touch her body above the knee to make sure she was dead?" Suder continued.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

As he prepared to die in a suicide pact after the murder of Joanne M. Witt, Steven Paul Colver penned a heartfelt note to his mother, thanking her for raising him with "a sense of moral justice" and apologizing for failing to "have been a better son."

Jan Colver dabbed tears from her eyes in a Placerville courtroom after hearing - for the first time - her son's message to her. It was found in the trunk of then-19-year-old Steven Colver's car after he and his girlfriend, Tylar Marie Witt, fled to San Francisco following the June 12, 2009 slaying of Joanne Witt, Tylar's mother. The teens had told friends they were fleeing to take their lives so they live together in eternity.

Jan Colver, who was unaware of her son's relationship with Tylar Witt, had strenuously tried to talk her son out of renting a room in the El Dorado Hills home of Joanne Witt and her then-14-year-old daughter. She had offered him a rent-free room at her home in Folsom when her son began looking for a place to stay when his father, Richard Colver, put his El Dorado Hills home up for sale. The Colver parents had divorced eight years earlier.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office has released the name of the 28-year-old man shot to death by Galt Police Department officers Friday.

Philip Oliver, 28, of Galt, was killed by officers who had responded to a report that Oliver was assaulting his mother at her home in the 100 block of Franston Street.

When officers arrived at about 5:20 p.m., and contacted Oliver outside the house, Oliver allegedly told them he had guns in the house and was going to shoot them, Galt police Lt. Jim Uptegrove said.

By Matt Kawahara


The Sacramento County Coroner's Office has released the name of the man found stabbed to death along the American River Parkway on the night of May 31.

Adam Michael Steinbach, 29, of Gold River, died from stab wounds to the upper body, the Sacramento Police Department reported. He was found in the area of Del Paso Boulevard and Northgate Boulevard.

Officers were responding to reports that came in about 11:20 p.m. about a noisy disturbance in the wooded area, Sacramento police reported.

Police have not released details about what Steinbach was doing in the area or the circumstances that led to his killing.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A mentally disturbed woman who drowned her 3-year-old daughter two years ago was sentenced today to a possible life-time placement in Napa State Hospital.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Marjorie Koller said that if doctors at the psychiatric facility ever find that Anul Malik Ram regains her sanity, the 34-year-old defendant will then be transferred to the state prison system to complete a 15-to-life term.

The dual sentences resulted from Ram's April 29 guilty plea to second-degree murder in the Nov. 15, 2009, drowning death of her daughter, Divya Ram, in the defendant's bathtub. Along with the guilty plea to the second-degree murder charge, Ram also claimed that she was not guilty by reason of insanity in the attempted murder of her then-7-year-old son.

At the time of the killing, Ram had been taking a variety of medications for schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and seizures.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White today found Priscilla Ramirez guilty of second-degree murder in the July 21, 2009, shooting deaths of Everett Antonio Taylor and Deshawn Dante Holloway in the Seavey Circle housing project.

White gave his verdict following a one-day court trial for the 21-year-old defendant on May 9. Ramirez was accused of prompting her cousin and another man to kill Taylor, 28, her boyfriend at the time, because he had been seeing other women. Evidence showed that Ramirez had lied to her two accomplices that Taylor had raped and beat her.

The judge scheduled Ramirez for a June 24 sentencing. Two separate juries convicted her cousin, Philip Perez Gonzales Jr., 27, and gunman Michael Leepatrick Armstrong, 23, of second-degree murder on April 15.

Gonzales also is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24. White on May 27 sentenced Armstrong to a 25-to-life prison term.

A Sacramento Superior Court jury has convicted Jose Duarte of first-degree murder in the 2008 death of a 20-year-old woman in her south Natomas apartment.

On Aug. 10, 2008, Alicia Ray was found dead in her apartment on West El Camino Avenue. The apartment had been set on fire and Ray's body was found naked and severely burned with binding around her neck. The cause of death was determined to be strangulation, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney's Office news release.

Officials said Duarte, 24, and Ray had a previous sexual relationship. On the night of the murder, Duarte went to Ray's apartment after he got off work. He gave law-enforcement officers conflicting statements about what happened that night and denied any involvement in killing Ray.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

As a defense lawyer bored in on her fascination with television crime dramas, Tylar Marie Witt testified today about the aftermath of her mother's murder - when she closed the windows and blinds, turned on the air conditioning and warned her boyfriend not to touch anything.

In her second day of testimony on the June 12, 2009 slaying of her mother, Joanne M. Witt, the 16-year-old girl told how Steven Paul Colver shielded her with a Sponge Bob Square Pants blanket as she moved around the bed where her mother lay savagely stabbed to death.

She testified in a Placerville courtroom that she took it upon herself to secure the house after the murder because Colver "couldn't do anything. He couldn't touch anything."

By Bee staff
A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Zang Her of murder and burglary in connection with the death of John Lone Eage in his Carmichael home in 2004, according to a release from Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully.
The jury also determined the murder was committed during a burglary, a special circumstance, according to the release.
No verdict was reached on the charge that Her personally used a deadly or dangerous weapon during the crime, the release said.
Lone Eagle, a 65-year-old real estate foreclosure speculator, died during a home invasion robbery. His employees told The Bee at the time of his death that he kept tens of thousands of dollars in cash in his home office.
Her was arrested Jan. 22, 2009, on a cold DNA hit.
Sentencing was scheduled for July 28.

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

The man accused of killing three people at a Loomis home over the weekend entered not guilty pleas to all charges at his arraignment in Placer County Superior Court on Wednesday.

Jeremy Ray Baker, 36, of Roseville, was formally charged with three counts of murder and one count of possessing a firearm silencer.

He was also charged with a special allegation of personally and intentionally discharging a firearm causing death or great bodily injury, and a special circumstances allegation of multiple murder.

The latter allegation could make Baker eligible for the death penalty, although that decision has yet to be made, said Placer County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Wilson.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Juan Carlos Carranco of second-degree murder in the fatal Oct. 31, 2009, shooting of Carlos Cervantes Jr. at a party in the south area.

Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan scheduled the sentencing on the 18-year-old Carranco, a reputed street gang member, for June 24.

Cervantes, 23, died nearly four weeks after the shooting on Clover Manor Way.

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By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Testimony got under way today in the trial of a homeless woman accused of murder in the death of a man who died 13 months after she shot him at a downtown Sacramento bus stop after he swore at her as she panhandled him.

When Audrey Jackson, 50, asked Frank Perez for spare change so she could catch the bus, "He says, 'Why don't you get a job?' or, 'Why don't you get your family to help you, you 'effing b,' " witness Francisco Garcia testified in Sacramento Superior Court.

A man was found stabbed to death along the American River Parkway late last night, Sacramento police said.

The man, only described as being in his 30s, was found in an area frequented by the homeless near Northgate Boulevard and Del Paso Boulevard. Reports came into the police department about 11:20 p.m. about some kind of noisy disturbance in the wooded area, police said.

A police sergeant who happened to be patrolling nearby, quickly responded to the scene but it was too late. The man, who has not been identified, died from at least one stab wound.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Roseville police will continue their investigation Tuesday into the death of a 44-year-old man who was found shot in an office park on Industrial Avenue this afternoon.

Sgt. Daniel Wanamaker said police received a report of a disturbance at 3:19 p.m. While officers were en route they were told that gunshots had been heard coming from the offices of Skim X, an extreme sports company in the 8200 block of Industrial Avenue.

Wanamaker said officers established a perimeter around the building at the rear of the business park. Armed with shields and rifles, they entered the warehouse-style building at 3:55 p.m. and found Christopher Dale Northam dead with at least one gunshot wound.

Authorities and family members spent Sunday trying to piece together the events leading to three grisly killings on a quiet Loomis street this weekend.

On Saturday morning, the three victims were discovered in a home on the 6100 block of Rachel Lane.

The Placer County Sheriff's Department identified them Sunday as John Camara, 46, the owner of the home; Nanette Florance, 47, and Lawrence Jeremiah Fay Jr., 48.

A family member, Kristy Harlan, described Fay as longtime friend of Camara who lived occasionally at the home. Harlan said Florance suffered from Parkinson's disease and was cared for by Camara while living at the house.

By Anita Creamer and Gina Kim

acreamer@sacbee.com

A man and a woman were found dead of head wounds in a Loomis home Saturday, and a second man was taken to a local trauma center in what could be a murder-suicide scenario, Placer County Sheriff's Department officials said.

"We think they all lived there," said Det. Sgt. Alfredo Guitron. "It didn't seem like anything was out of place in the house.

"We don't think they're related. I don't know if there was a dating relationship. These same people have been here a long time, from what I understand."

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com
Jury deliberations got under way today in two separate Sacramento murder trials.
One panel received the case of Juan Carlos Carranco, 18, who is accused in the Oct. 31, 2009, shooting of Carlos Cervantes Jr., 23, at a party on Clover Manor Way in the south area.
Two other men also have been convicted in the party shooting. Christopher Jun Leong, 22, whom a jury found guilty of attempted murder earlier this year, was sentenced to 25 years to life.
Before the Carranco trial, co-defendant Manuel Miguel Sotelo, pleaded no contest to assault with a deadly weapon. He will be sentenced June 24.
In the other murder trial that went to the jury today, Zang Her, 30, is accused in the strangulation killing of John Lone Eagle, 65, whose body was discovered Aug. 23, 2004. Her was arrested Jan. 22, 2009, on a cold DNA hit.
Authorities believe Lone Eagle, a real estate foreclosure speculator who flashed large amounts of cash, was slain in a robbery inside his Rampart Drive home in Carmichael.

Balbir Singh Dhami2.JPGSacramento police today released the description of the suspected getaway car in the killing of 53-year-old Balbir Singh Dhami.

The suspected getaway car is described as a 1990s, gold, four-door Mazda Protégé or 323.

Dhami was killed May 19 when a man came to his home and shot him as he stood just inside the front door of his North Laguna house. His wife was also shot and critically injured.

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Ignacio Leyba of murdering Oquitzin Bravo last year at an after-hours party on 47th Avenue.

Leyba, 27, a reputed Norteno street gang member, shot and killed the 33-year-old Bravo in the early-morning hours of Sept. 26, jurors found in returning the second-degree murder verdict. The panel also found him guilty of trying to murder a friend of Bravo's at the same party by shooting him in the abdomen. Leyba picked up a third conviction for being a felon in possession of a gun.

Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard scheduled Leyba's sentencing for June 24.

- Andy Furillo

The Sacramento County coroner's office has identified the man who allegedly killed his sister before killing himself Saturday evening as 44-year-old Robert Dean Carrillo.

Sheriff's authorities allege Carrillo shot his sister, 34-year-old Dolores Tornel, after they got into an argument in the garage of a North Highlands home.

The shooting occurred as family and friends were celebrating the birthday of Tornel's son.

Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos said detectives believe the argument started when Tornel told Carrillo he had to leave her home. He had been staying at his sister's place, Ramos said, because he was down on his luck.

Related post with video:
Coroner IDs woman shot by brother in North Highlands

David Scott Denson was sentenced today to 153 years to life in prison for the first-degree murder of a 29-year-old woman in April 2009.

A Sacramento Superior Court jury last month convicted Denson of the shooting death of Dusty Rose Vasquez at a Del Paso Road residence.

He also was found guilty of two counts of attempted premeditated murder, using a firearm in the attempted murders and for being a felon in possession of a gun.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office has confirmed that Balbir Singh Dhami, 53, was the victim of a shooting Thursday in the 7900 block of Marla Way that also left Dhami's wife wounded.

The wife's name has not been released by investigators.

Police are still investigating the death of Dhami, who had a criminal history involving a drug conspiracy conviction and a son who is a fugitive in a murder case.

Read The Bee's earlier story on the Dhami shooting here.

A man who pleaded guilty last month to the 1981 first-degree murder of a blind, deaf 88-year-old Sacramento woman has been sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Leroy Veal, 60, pleaded guilty to the murder of Pauline Colombatto and was sentenced by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Savage. Veal also admitted to three special circumstance allegations that the crime occurred during the commission of burglary, attempted robbery and rape.

In exchange for a plea to these offenses and a waiver of appellate rights, the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office agreed not to pursue the death penalty, but instead have Veal sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole, according to a news release.

A woman who died early today at a Colfax home in what sheriff's deputies believe was a domestic dispute has been identified as Sarah Burr, 30, of Grass Valley.

Lee Martin Konnerth, 35, described as Burr's boyfriend, was booked into Placer County Jail after he was taken into custody by an off-duty officer. The officer heard gunshots in the vicinity of Catskill Drive, between Weimar and Colfax, and went to the scene to investigate.

The officer found Burr dead on the porch of the home. He took two men into custody at gunpoint until Placer County sheriff's deputies arrived.

Konnerth.jpgPlacer County sheriff's officials said a Colfax man was arrested early today on suspicion of homicide in the killing of a woman in a domestic dispute.

Lee Martin Konnerth, 35, was booked into Placer County Jail after he was taken into custody by an off-duty officer. The officer heard gunshots Sunday evening in the vicinity of Catskill Drive between Weimar and Colfax and went to the scene to investigate.

The officer found the woman dead on the porch of the home. He took two men into custody at gunpoint until Placer County Sheriff's deputies arrived.

michaelpulliambanks.jpgA homicide suspect reportedly seen earlier this week on the campus of California State University, Sacramento, has turned himself in to Antioch police, according to university officials.

Nineteen-year-old Michael Pulliambanks, right, was wanted in the fatal shooting of 24-year-old man in Antioch last December.

Investigators believe Pulliambanks was on the Sacramento campus Tuesday to visit an acquaintance who lives in a residence hall. The suspect is not a university student.

The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department is seeking to identify a man who may have information regarding a shooting in south Sacramento last week that claimed the life of 58-year-old Joe Baker.susp.jpg

About 12 p.m. May 4, Baker was a passenger in a vehicle traveling northbound on Highway 99 near Florin Road. The vehicle was struck by gunfire, with a bullet penetrating the car and striking Baker in the lower back. He was taken to a nearby hospital and died from his injury Saturday.

The driver of the vehicle in which Baker was riding reported seeing a vehicle right next to hers at the time the shooting occurred, according to a Sheriff's Department news release. The vehicle was described as an early model - possibly late 1970s or 1980s - light blue, compact or mid-size sedan, with faded or oxidized paint.

The Sacramento County Coroner's office has identified the victim of a fatal south Sacramento car-to-car shooting Thursday that was the county's second such homicide in as many days.

Dutch Julius Adams, 20, of Sacramento, died Friday morning from injuries he sustained when he was shot Thursday evening near 47th Avenue and Franklin Boulevard, according to the coroner's office website.

Adams was reportedly sitting in the back seat of a vehicle that was shot at by occupants of another vehicle near that intersection, according to a Sacramento County Sheriff's Department news release.

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested a 48-year-old man in connection with a 1987 homicide in midtown, after cold case detectives and the Sacramento County Crime Lab were able to use DNA to identify a suspect, the Sacramento Police Department reported.

Gregory Samuel Olguin was arrested Friday morning in the 9100 block of Elk Grove Boulevard in Elk Grove, nearly 24 years after the killing of 52-year-old Richard Schultz near 21st and K streets, according to a police department news release.

At 9:39 p.m., on June 1, 1987, Sacramento police officers responded to a report of a subject lying in blood at 21st and K streets, the release states. Officers arrived on scene and located a male white adult who had been stabbed in the chest.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Billy James Ray of second-degree murder in the July 5 stabbing death of Troy Allan Wheeler.

The panel began deliberations Wednesday. Ray, 20, was charged with retrieving a steak knife and stabbing Wheeler during a pre-dawn altercation in the Hazel Avenue home of the defendant's uncle.

According to the prosecutor's trial brief, Wheeler, 39, and his girlfriend were staying at the uncle's house after the couple had been evicted from their own residence.

Ray, who also stayed at the house on occasion, got into an argument with his uncle around the time of the murder. Wheeler woke up during the argument and was killed when Ray directed his anger toward him, the jury found.

Ray, his uncle, Wheeler and Wheeler's girlfriend all had a history of methamphetamine abuse, according to the prosecutor's brief.

Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard scheduled Ray's sentencing for June 3.

By Jane Braxton Little

A Yuba City man suspected of murder is being held without bail in the Sutter County jail pending his arraignment, scheduled for 3 p.m. today in Sutter County Superior Court.

Ricky Rae Kingsley, 53, was camping at Murphy Creek on state Highway 70 Friday when two U.S. Forest Service law enforcement agents patrolling the area encountered him.

The officers discovered a body inside Kingsley's vehicle that appeared to be a homicide victim, said Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood.


Thao.jpgSacramento County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives have arrested a 57-year-old homeless man in connection with the January shooting death of a woman in south Sacramento, according to a department news release.

Teng Thao, 57, left, was taken into custody Wednesday near 37th Street and 41st Avenue -- just blocks from where Jennifer Cha, 25, was found shot to death in the early morning of Jan. 9, according to the release.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The lawyer for the accused gunman in a fatal 2006 Land Park pot robbery where a teenager was shot to death argued today that prosecutors did not prove their case against his client.

Defense attorney C. Emmett Mahle said that the case against Alex Brown Jr. fell short because five of the key prosecution witnesses all had "agendas" that undermined their credibility.

Mahle mostly targeted witness Sophia Garduno in his argument. In her testimony, Garduno identified Brown, 34, as the gunman in the Jan. 3, 2006, shooting death of James Ramirez, 18, inside his parents' Land Park home.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Closing arguments got under way today in the murder trial of three defendants accused in the Jan. 3, 2006, shooting death of a teenager in the doorway of his parents' Land Park home.

"Let's say it like it is," Deputy District Attorney Sean Laird told the jury, then turning to Alex Brown Jr., Terry Larell Alexander and David Jacob Carrera and saying, "The evidence in this case revealed these three men to be monsters."

Brown, 34, Carrera, 33, and Alexander, 26, are accused of killing James Ramirez, 18, in a failed attempt to rob the victim of either marijuana or money.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office has identified the 20-year-old man who was gunned down at a Foothill Farms apartment complex Friday evening.

Alex E. Toliver, 20, of Citrus Heights, was found by Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputies who responded at about 8:30 p.m., to a call of shots fired and a man down at the Logan Park apartments in the 4100 block of Palm Avenue.

Paramedics responded and pronounced Toliver dead at the scene, said sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos.

Investigators were trying to determine why Toliver was at the complex and did not provide a suspect description Friday evening. No new information has been released.

A man stabbed to death last week at a Stockton Boulevard apartment complex has been identified by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office as Victor Vincent Cepeda, 41, of Sacramento.

Cepeda was allegedly stabbed by a juvenile family member last Tuesday following an argument at the apartment complex in the 7300 block of Stockton Boulevard, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department reported.

Deputies found medical personal tending to Cepeda after arriving at the complex at about 10 p.m. He had been stabbed several times in the chest and other parts of his body, according to a sheriff's department release.

San Francisco police have arrested a suspect in the April 14 shooting death of Francisco Flores in Sacramento, local police officials reported today.

Based on information from the Career Criminal Apprehension Team, Vincent Rivera (photo below, left), 25, was located and taken into custody today.

No further details on the arrest were available.

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

A man in his early 20s was shot to death in the parking lot of a Foothill Farms apartment complex Friday night, a Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.

AA NH SHOOTING2.JPG

At about 8:30 p.m., sheriff's deputies were called to the Logan Park apartments in the 4100 block of Palm Avenue, by a resident who reported hearing multiple shots and seeing a man lying motionless on the ground, said sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos.

When deputies arrived at the complex, northeast of Watt and Madison avenues, they located a man with a gunshot wound to the head, Ramos said. Paramedics responded and pronounced him dead at the scene.

A man who died after being shot early Sunday morning at a south Sacramento nightclub has been identified by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office as Jesse D. Fowler, 29, of Elk Grove.

The shooting occurred about 1:20 a.m. at Warners Rendezvous nightclub in the 7100 block of Governors Circle, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. Deputies found Fowler with a gunshot wound to the head and up to 150 people at the scene. Fowler was taken to a hospital where he died later in the day.

A second victim, who suffered non-life-threatening wounds, arrived at a hospital later Sunday and told authorities he and his vehicle had been fired upon.

More study is needed to determine the identity of human remains found over the weekend in a Yolo County creek bed, a sheriff's spokesman said today.

Hunters found the human bones on Sunday in a dry creek bed in the northern part of the county. Yolo County sheriff's deputies and coroner's officials responded and concurred with the hunters that the bones were human.

The bones were collected for analysis.

On Tuesday, another search turned up more bones. The bones found included two leg bones, one rib bone and a jawbone.

The name of the man killed in a bloody knifing outside a pot dispensary in South Sacramento on Wednesday has been released this morning by the Sacramento County Coroner.

The man was identified as Jesus A. Galvan-Mendoza, 24, of Sacramento.

Galvan-Mendoza was one of three victims stabbed outside the R&R Wellness Center on Quinta Court near Stockton Boulevard. Two of the victims went by private vehicle to a local hospital, including Galvan-Mendoza, who was pronounced dead at 12:04 p.m.

Sacramento police are asking for the public's help in locating two suspects in a fatal south Natomas shooting that left a 19-year-old man dead last week.

Police are searching for Vincent Rivera, 25, bottom left, and Fred Huante, 19, bottom right, according to a police department release. Rivera is described as a male black adult, 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, with shaved black hair and brown eyes. Huante is described as a male white adult, 5-foot-8, 120 pounds, with shaved brown hair and green eyes.

They are wanted in connection with an April 14 shooting in a parking lot at Northgate Boulevard and San Juan Road that left Francisco Flores, 19, dead, and his 20-year-old brother with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, according to the release.

photo[1].JPGBy Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

Sacramento police now believe a stabbing outside a medical marijuana dispensary this morning may have been gang-related, said Sgt. Norm Leong, police spokesman.

Rival groups may have run into each other in the dispensary and then got into a fight outside.

Police said several people were stabbed, one fatally, outside a medicinal marijuana dispensary on Quinta Court near Stockton Boulevard in south Sacramento at about 11:45 a.m. today.

Juvenile Sacramento County sheriff's deputies have arrested a 16-year-old juvenile in the stabbing death of a family member last night in the south area.

Deputies were called to an apartment complex about 10 p.m. Tuesday in the 7300 block of Stockton Boulevard near Florin Road where medical personnel were tending to stabbing victim, a sheriff's spokesman said.

The man was transported to a hospital where he died several hours later.

Three people were killed in Sacramento on Sunday in a rash of violence.

A hail of bullets outside a bar, a fight settled with a knife and gunfire at a house party resulted in three men dying in three different neighborhoods, law enforcement authorities reported. Homicide detectives continued to search for suspects and coroner's deputies were kept busy notifying relatives of the dead this morning.

The most recent death occurred Sunday night about 8 p.m. when an 18-year-old man was knifed in the neck outside a home in the 4600 block of Galbrath Drive in North Highlands. He was identified by coroner's deputies as Vladimer Y. Korets.

Chris Kangas of Nevada County has died from injuries sustained when his girlfriend hit him in the head with a full beer bottle, Detective Sgt. Stephen Tripp of the County Sheriff's Department said Saturday.

Although that was not the only blow struck during the deadly domestic dispute, it apparently was the fatal one, Tripp said.

"It was a real knock-down-and-drag-out that went on for several minutes," Tripp said of the alleged clash early Thursday between the 26-year-old Kangas and Audrey Yoder, 21.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office has identified the 19-year-old man who was shot to death in a south Natomas parking lot Thursday afternoon.

He was identified as Francisco Flores, 19, of Sacramento, according to the coroner's website.

The shooting, which occurred in the parking lot of a small shopping center at Northgate Boulevard and San Juan Road at about 4:45 p.m., also left Flores' 20-year-old brother with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds, police said.


Jurors deliberated for barely a day before they convicted David Scott Denson of first-degree murder today for the April 10, 2009, north area shooting death of Dusty Rose Vasquez.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin J. McCormick's scheduled Denson's sentencing for May 20.

Police and prosecutors said Denson, 32, was angry that his girlfriend had sex with another man and that he went over to the man's house with the intent to shoot him. Vasquez, the man's sister, greeted Denson at the door, and he then shot her in the face.

The jury also found Denson guilty of attempted murder for shooting the brother as well as Vasquez' mother, all of whom were at the Del Paso Road residence where the shooting took place.

-Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Two separate Sacramento juries returned second-degree murder convictions today against two men in the shooting deaths of two other men two years ago in the Seavey Circle housing project.

Michael Lee Armstrong, 23, and Philip Perez Gonzales Jr., 27, are scheduled for a May 27 sentencing for the July 21, 2009, killings of Everett Antonio Taylor, 28, and Deshawn Dante Holloway, 35.

Evidence in the Sacramento Superior Court trial showed that the two defendants shot the victims at the urging of Taylor's girlfriend, Priscilla Ramirez, 21. Ramirez told the men Taylor had raped her, an accusation that the prosecution in the case termed a lie.

Ramirez is scheduled for a May 9 trial in front of Judge Steve White.

-By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A man accused of the 1981 first-degree murder of a blind, deaf 88-year-old Sacramento woman has pleaded guilty to the crime.

Leroy Veal, 60, admitted killing Pauline Colombatto and to three special circumstances allegations that the crime occurred during the commission of burglary, attempted robbery and rape, the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office announced today.

In exchange for the plea to these offenses and a waiver of appellate rights, the District Attorney's Office agreed not to pursue the death penalty, but to instead have Veal sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

One of two Monk Mobb gang members today received four 25-to-life prison terms, plus an additional 45 years, for the Halloween Night 2008 shooting death of party host Patrick Razaghzadeh.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Greta Curtis Fall imposed the sentence on 21-year-old Elijah Rasean Fields, who crashed the party with other gang members.

A jury last month convicted Fields of murder and three counts of attempted murder for the killing of Razaghzadeh, 24, and injuring three of his friends at the Halloween party on Rogue River Drive in the Larchmont-La Riviera area.

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

One man died and his older brother was taken to the hospital following a shooting this afternoon in a small shopping center at Northgate Boulevard and San Juan Road in south Natomas, according to Sacramento police.

Police responded about 4:45 p.m. and found two men -- a 20 year old and his 19-year-old brother shot at the strip center

The 19-year-old man man was pronounced dead at the scene, while his 20-year-old brother was taken to a local hospital. The extent of his injuries was unknown at 6 p.m.

Larry Jones[1].jpgSacramento County Sheriff's detectives arrested today the sixth and final suspect in the south Sacramento barbershop shootout that left two people dead last December, according to a sheriff's department news release.

Larry Dean Jones, Jr., 29, was taken into custody today at about 1:30 p.m. without incident, in Sacramento County, according to the release. (Photo at left is a jail booking from a prior arrest of Jones.)

Detectives from the Sheriff's Major Crimes Bureau and Gang Suppression Unit arrested Jones without incident at a residence in the county, the release states.

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

Before authorities released word that they had arrested a 77-year-old Reno man in four slayings going back to 1977, they alerted law enforcement officials in Sacramento and elsewhere months ago to review cold case homicides for possible connections.

Piquing their interest was the fact that all four of Joseph Naso's alleged victims had first and last names starting with the same initials, and detectives went to work checking their files.

"They went through homicides as well as female missing person's reports and got no matches with the name alliteration," Sacramento sheriff's spokesman Jason Ramos said today.

Gov. Jerry Brown has reversed the state Board of Parole Hearings decision to grant a parole to a 49-year-old Yolo County child killer.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig praised the decision to keep Christopher Fowler behind bars. Fowler was scheduled to be paroled to Yolo County.

"Our community cannot risk having a man who savagely killed a baby for no apparent reason living back among us," Reisig said in a news release.

J.Dalton.jpgThe murder trial of Jennifer Dalton - accused of killing her ex-husband in 2009 - is underway after attorneys gave their opening statements this morning.

Dalton faces a murder charge in the July 2009 shooting death of Craig Dalton, 39, at Jennifer Dalton's Elk Grove home.

Before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley, Deputy District Attorney Chris Ore argued in his opening statements that Jennifer Dalton, angry over a failed marriage and financial woes, had been planning the shooting for months.

20090619-131.pdf - Adobe Reader.JPGA Sacramento County jury has found 24-year-old Roy Houston guilty of murder in a Feb. 17, 2005 shooting that prosecutors have described as a gang-retaliation killing.

Slain in the North Sacramento shooting was 21-year-old Donald McCall. Jurors also found Houston guilty of the attempted murder of Randall Hudson and Joseph McCoy, and found to be true the special circumstances of using a firearm, shooting from a car and committing the crime on behalf of a gang.

For a separate March 2005 incident, jurors also convicted Houston of the attempted murder of Kenneth Bell. They found to be true special circumstances of using a firearm and shooting at an occupied vehicle.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The Sutter County Sheriff's Department is investigating as a homicide the death of a Live Oak man.

The sheriff's dispatch center received a 911 call at 5:38 p.m. Sunday reporting an unresponsive man in the 9300 block of North Butte Road in Live Oak. The Live Oak Fire Department located a man, identified as Marvin Leon Hammons, 64, who had suffered a gunshot wound, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

California Department of Justice criminalists conducted a forensic examination of the crime scene, and Sutter County detectives initiated an investigation into what is being treated as a homicide, pending an autopsy.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Sutter County Sheriff's Department at (530) 822-7307, or contact "Leave a Tip" on the sheriff's website at www.suttersheriff.org .

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

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested two suspects in connection with the killing of a 19-year-old man last month in north Sacramento.

Alanzo Jackson Banks, 30, and Herbert Antonio Alvarez, 19, were arrested today in Rodeo in Contra Costa County, Sacramento Police Department spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said.

Rashad Stephen Alexander was shot to death in the parking lot of a bar in the 3200 block of Northgate Boulevard in the early hours of March 12, police reported.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County District Attorney's office will not prosecute the man who fatally shot another after a confrontation at the Canterbury Inn earlier this year, according to authorities.

However, prosecutors have charged the shooter - 38-year-old Jason Calvin Walker - with two felony counts of illegally possessing assault weapons, according to the DA's office and court records.

The charges stemmed from a Jan. 5 shooting at the Canterbury Inn in North Sacramento. Police responded and found 29-year-old Christopher Maurice Johnston dead. Detectives determined Johnson had gotten drunk and began fighting with a friend when a man - later identified as Walker - came out of his room to break up the fight. Later, Johnson was shot as he broke into Walker's room.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted two people of first-degree murder in the June 8, 2008, shooting death of Samuel Alex Wilson in a Florin Road strip mall.

Police and prosecutors said the killing resulted from Wilson ripping off the suspects in a deal for electronic goods earlier that day.

According to Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett's trial brief, Wilson purportedly sold new television sets and laptops out of the back of his van to the suspects. But when they opened the boxes, the containers were stuffed with Spanish-language telephone books and plywood, Triplett's brief said.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

The Rio Linda man accused of chasing down and killing the man he mistakenly believed had burglarized his house was arraigned today on one charge of murder, according to authorities.

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives arrested Steven Andrew Zinda, left, 29, on Sunday after he called early that morning to report he had severely injured a burglar.

Deputies found 20-year-old David Valdez fatally injured in a nearby field. Coroner's records indicate he had suffered multiple blows to the head from an axe.

By Bee Staff

Based on information from Sacramento-based U.S. marshals, an Amador County murder suspect was arrested today in Mexico.

Justin Bryan Bergo was arrested by Mexican authorities in Tijuana, according to a news release from the U.S. Marshals Central Valley Fugitive Task Force for the Eastern District of California

A warrant was issued in Amador County on Thursday for Bergo, charging him in the murder of his mother, the release states.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A man convicted of the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend and her new companion in 2007 has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Miguel Carranza, 42, was convicted by a Sacramento County jury in February of two counts of first-degree murder and use of a firearm, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney's Office news release Friday.

In November 2007, Carranza shot and killed Yesenia Lopez, 29, and Jezer Lopez, 32, as they walked to their car after Yesenia Lopez got off work at a beauty salon on Northgate Boulevard in Sacramento.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A 36-year-old man has been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison after a DNA sample linked him to the 2004 murder of Juanita Johnson.

Christopher Rogers was convicted by a Sacramento County jury in October of first-degree murder and the use of a firearm. He was sentenced Friday by Superior Court Judge Eugene Balonon.

Johnson's body was found on the doorstep of a home early Thanksgiving Day 2004 on 40th Street near 44th Avenue in south Sacramento . A trail of blood led down the street to where she had been shot one time in the head, according to a Sacramento County District Attorney's Office news release. Evidence, including a condom, indicated that a sexual act had taken place, officials said.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A man convicted of murdering his drug dealer was sentenced today to 15 years to life in prison.

Jeffrey Bruce Campbell, 48, received the term from Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin J. McCormick.

Jurors convicted Campbell last month of second-degree murder in the May 19, 2009, stabbing death of 19-year-old Frederick Howard.

Prosecutors charged that Howard was trying to collect a $100 drug debt from Campbell when the defendant stabbed him to death and dumped his body in an industrial area in Rancho Cordova.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A man who murdered his wife four years ago has been sentenced Tuesday to 15 years to life in prison.

Augustine Espino Munoz, 40, pleaded guilty last month to the Nov. 8, 2007, strangulation of his ex-wife, Jill Alamo, whose body was found in a ditch in the 900 block of Elder Creek Road.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge imposed the term on Munoz on Tuesday.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County coroner's department has released the name of the man killed in the South area on Tuesday.

He was identified as Michael Jason Garcia, 28, of Sacramento.

Deputies were called to the 6500 block of Rancho Grande Way about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday. Once at the home near Elder Creek Road and 65th Street Expressway, deputies learned that Garcia had been taken to the Rancho Grande house from a home on Stamper Way.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A judge yesterday sentenced a pimp who was convicted of murdering a rival to 50 years to life in prison.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge handed down the term to Charles Antonio Williams, 26, for the shooting death last May 8 of Marcel Hatch, 29.

According to a prosecutor's trial brief, the two men worked as pimps out of a motel on Auburn Boulevard.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento jury today convicted two members of a North Highlands street gang of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a 2008 Halloween Night party host.

Gunman Elijah Rasean Fields, 20, and fellow Monk Mobb gang member Corey Andre Carmicle, 24, also were convicted of three additional counts of attempted murder in the Nov. 1, 2008, shooting that killed Patrick Razaghzadeh, 24.

"Relief," said Trish O'Connor, the mother of the murder victim, after the verdict was announced. "I feel like there was justice and resolution. There is no closure. There is never going to be closure. But there is justice."

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Citrus Heights police are asking for the public's help in their investigation of the killing of David Lynch, the skinhead leader who was found shot to death in his home last week. Investigators are interested in surveillance videos from the neighborhood or information on Lynch's activities the week before he was killed.

Residents of the Merlindale Drive and Farmgate Way neighborhoods who may have surveillance video of vehicles leaving the area after Lynch was killed are asked to step forward, the release states, according to a Citrus Heights Police Department release.

Lynch, whom officials called a skilled recruiter and organizer for a prominent white supremacy group in the Sacramento area, was found dead from gunshot wounds to his head and upper torso at his home on Merlindale Drive on March 2.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The man accused of murder in the hit-and-run killing of a security guard at a nightclub in Sacramento's Lavender Heights neighborhood testified today that he had no recollection of ever slamming his car into the man.

But on cross-examination, Michael Bruce Weisz denied the previous trial testimony of his lover who told jurors that the defendant called him on the phone and admitted that he had hit someone with his car while trying to get out of the Badlands parking lot.

Leroy Berry Fisher III, 64, a popular security guard at the gay bars in the area, died about an hour after the Sept. 23, 2009, incident.

Darshan Mundy, spokesperson for the Sikh Temple Sacramento, discusses the shooting of two Sikh men, at a news conference in West Sacramento.

By Stephen Magagnini
smagagnini@sacbee.com

The U.S. Department of Justice today sent its regional director of its Community Relations Service to Elk Grove to help Sikh families cope with the Friday shooting of two elderly Sikh men.

Members of the community and area law enforcement fear the shooting, which left 67-year-old Surinder Singh dead and a 78-year-old Gurmej Atwal in critical condition could be a hate crime.

Investigators are waiting for Atwal to recover from multiple gunshot wounds so he can be interviewed. He is in stable but critical condition in intensive care. He underwent a second surgery Monday, after taking two bullets to the torso.

By Kim Minugh and Bill Lindelof
kminugh@sacbee.com

The man gunned down near a south Sacramento elementary school this morning has been identified as 48-year-old Mark Vincent Colquitt, according to the Sacramento County Coroner's office.

Colquitt, a Sacramento resident, was found shot to death in the 2800 block of 21st Avenue, across the street from Ethel Phillips Elementary School, about 5:45 a.m., police said.

His body was found on the sidewalk in front of a home. He was transported to a local hospital, where he died shortly before 6:30 a.m., according to authorities.

RP SIKH PRESS CONF.JPGBy Stephen Magagnini
smagagnini@sacbee.com

Nearly 100 community leaders including Sikhs from throughout Northern California gathered today at the West Sacramento gurdwara to announce a reward of nearly $30,000 for information leading to the arrest of those who shot two elderly men on their afternoon walk in Elk Grove last Friday.

The reward is for information about the fatal shooting of Surinder Singh and the wounding of his friend, Gurmej Atwal, as they walked along the street. The violence has shocked members of the Sikh community. Many fear they were shot because they were mistaken for being Muslim and are victims of a hate crime.

At today's event, Elk Grove Police Capt. Bryan Noblett said witnesses at the scene described a 1999-2003 beige or tan Ford F150 pickup truck in the area of the shooting.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

John Luebbers, the school janitor accused of killing Placerville elementary school principal Sam LaCara, made a brief appearance in court this morning as a hearing was delayed in his murder case.

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister scheduled a court conference for April 11 to prepare for a preliminary hearing in the case.

Luebbers, 44, is accused of gunning down LaCara, his friend and golfing partner at the Louisiana Schnell School on Feb. 2. Authorities said Luebbers, the school's lead custodian, apparently was agitated over the planned hiring of a night janitor. Sent home by the principal to cool off, Luebbers allegedly went to his home in the town of El Dorado, returned to school with a gun and shot LaCara.

Bee staff

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has offered a $5,000 reward after two Sikh men were gunned down while walking in Elk Grove.

The executive director of the council's Sacramento Valley chapter noted that Sikh men in beards and turbans are often targeted by those who mistake them for Muslims. "The Muslim community offers its condolences and support to the Sikh community in this time of sorrow," Basim Elkarra said.

Elk Grove police said Sunday they didn't have new information to release about the shootings that shocked the community. Both victims were frail from heart attacks and advancing years and they slowly ambled through a quiet Elk Grove neighborhood during their daily afternoon walk.

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

Sacramento Sheriff's homicide detectives continue to investigate a fatal Friday night shooting in south Sacramento, officials announced today.

After receiving reports of shots fired at 8:40 p.m. Friday, deputies found an as-yet unidentified man with a gunshot wound in his head in a car in the 7000 block of Chandler Drive.

He was taken to a nearby hospital where he died.

dennis robert mains[1].jpgBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Convicted murderer Dennis Mains (left) rambled for nearly 10 minutes about how he was "sick" and "delusional" when he killed his wife.

Then the judge silenced him from the bench and sentenced him to a prison term of 50 years to life.

"What you did was cold, it was callous, and it was cruel," Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kenny told Mains, who shot 61-year-old Pamela Wales twice in the head while she slept. "And there is one more word for it - it was cowardly."

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

An admitted gang member testified today that "I pulled a gun out and shot with my eyes closed" when he killed the host of a 2008 Halloween Night party in the La Riviera-Larchmont Park area.

"I mean it just happened," Elijah Rasean Fields, 20, told a Sacramento Superior Court jury. "I don't really see it in my mind. I know it just happened."

Patrick Razaghzadeh, 24, was hit five times from the bullets fired from Fields' handgun, including once in the forehead. He fell to the pavement and died in the back yard of the house he and some buddies had been renting on Rogue River Drive.

By Sam Stanton and Bill Lindelof
sstanton@sacbee.com

Citrus Heights police have detained a close friend of slain skinhead leader David Austin Lynch, but they have not linked him to Wednesday's killing and the man's former mother-in-law told The Bee today that the two men were best of friends.

Charles Gilbert Demar III, a 36-year-old tattoo artist and skinhead band leader, was booked into the Sacramento County Jail Wednesday night on drug and gang charges and is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. Demar declined to be interviewed by The Bee in the jail this morning.

Shaffer photo.jpgBy Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives have added a suspicon of murder charge to the sole suspect in custody in connection with the killing of a Rancho Cordova woman earlier this year, according to authorities.

Demetrius Shaffer (left photo), 32, is accused in the fatal strangulation of Rajeet Kor Singh, 37, whose body was found near light rail tracks on New Year's morning, said sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos.

Shaffer, who already was in custody on an unrelated rape charge, also was booked on suspicion of penetration with a foreign object, Ramos said.

Perry[1].JPG By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury convicted Jonathan Lamar Perry Jr. today of second-degree murder in the July 21, 2008, beating death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old son, Jahmaurae Allen.

It took the panel more than two full days of deliberations before returning the verdict.

Judge Lloyd G. Connelly set the sentencing date on Perry for April 25.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Convicted murderer James Ray Alden was sentenced today to life in prison with no chance of parole for the April 9, 2009, stabbing death of Richard Seeger in Carmichael Park.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Allen H. Sumner imposed the term after a jury last month found the 37-year-old Alden guilty of murdering Seeger, 57, during the course of a robbery.

Alden testified earlier this year that he was passed out on his friend's porch - drunk and stoned - when Seeger was stabbed to death.

Graylon Lindsey.jpg Jahmal Dawson.jpgBy Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Elk Grove police have arrested a seventh person in the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old at a high school graduation party.

Graylon Lindsey (left), 18, of Elk Grove was arrested on suspicion of homicide. Detectives are also seeking an eighth person, Jahmal Dawson (right), 18, who should be considered armed and dangerous, police said.

The six adults and a 15-year-old are suspected in the shooting of D'Andre Blackwell at a Holiday Inn Express in Elk Grove on June 5. Blackwell was celebrating his high school graduation when he was shot in the chest during a confrontation.

Marquise Smith.jpgBy Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives arrested a 20-year-old man this morning in connection with the September death of Danielle Benefield, according to authorities.

Accused in the fatal shooting at the Fastrip gas station in south Sacramento County is Marquise Vincent Smith (left), said sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jason Ramos.

Smith already was in custody on suspicion of driving under the influence when officials added the murder charge this morning. He is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Marcus Davis.jpgBy Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Two suspects wanted in connection with a fatal shooting outside a North Natomas restaurant last weekend have turned themselves in, said Sacramento Police Department spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong.

Robert Lucas(r).jpgMarcus Jamal Davis (left photo), 26, and Robert Earl Lucas (right photo), 30, both of Vallejo, were taken into custody Thursday by Sacramento police and booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of murder, according to a Police Department release.

Both are ineligible for bail, according to jail booking logs.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The death of a woman more than a half-century after she was assaulted as an infant has been ruled a homicide.

The Sacramento Police Department was notified Jan. 18 of this year that the death of 57-year-old Sandra Smith was the result of injuries sustained in1954 and thus a homicide.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office advised police that on Jan. 30, 2010, Smith died from blunt force injuries to her head that she suffered in April of 1954. The injuries had left her disabled and under long-time care since then.

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Elk Grove police have arrested six people in connection with the killing of an 18-year-old former Valley High School student at a graduation party in Elk Grove last summer.

The five adults and one juvenile were arrested in connection with the shooting of D'Andre Blackwell at the Holiday Inn Express on West Stockton Boulevard on June 5, according to a release from the Elk Grove Police Department.

Blackwell, 18, died after he was shot in the chest during a confrontation at the hotel, authorities said.

Homicide Suspects.jpg By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

The Sacramento Police Department has released photos of two suspects caught on surveillance cameras shortly before the shooting of 27-year-old Chester Jackson early Sunday morning.

Officers were call to the 2900 block of Advantage Way at 2:40 a.m. regarding an individual who had been shot outside the International House of Pancakes.

When police arrived, they found Jackson on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. He had been shot and was later declared dead at the scene.

Perry[1].JPGBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The attorneys finished their closing arguments in the Jonathan Lamar Perry murder trial today with the prosecutor saying the defendant acted out of anger when he beat his girlfriend's 4-year-old son to death. The defense lawyer contended his client didn't mean to kill the boy.

Deputy District Attorney Jeff Ritschard said Perry (left) "brutally assaulted" Jahmauree Allen in their North Highlands apartment three years ago.

According to the prosecutor, the defendant's massive size - 6-foot-3, 270 pounds - compared to the diminutive, 3-foot-7, 42-pound boy, combined with what Ritschard described as an "attack" on Allen, added up to conscious disregard for human life and a second-degree murder case.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A murder case that resulted in a mistrial last summer was halfway resolved today when one of two defendants pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Dion Daryl Wheelwright, 44, entered his plea to the homicide charge in the April 29, 2009, shooting death of Curtis James Anderson Jr., 20.

Wheelwright, who admitted to being an accomplice in the killing, agreed to testify against the accused gunman, Jamarl Smith, 27.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A relapsed drug addict who stabbed his reputed dope dealer to death two years ago was convicted of second-degree murder today by a Sacramento Superior Court jury.

Jeffrey Bruce Campbell, 48, is facing at least a 15-to-life term for the May 19, 2009, killing of Frederick Howard, 19, whose body was found behind a trash bin on Fite Circle in Rancho Cordova.

Judge Kevin J. McCormick scheduled Campbell's sentencing for March 17.

Campbell testified at trial that he stabbed Howard in an argument over a $100 crack cocaine debt the defendant owed the victim.

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

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested three suspects in connection with the killing of Antonne Nelms, 20, who was shot to death in south Sacramento last December, according to a Sacramento Police Department release.

Darrell Miller, 18, Tyvone Allen, 18, and Torrey Adams, 31, were taken into custody Thursday without incident and booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of murder, the release states. The suspects did not immediately appear in online jail booking logs.

Nelms was found by responding officers in the 5000 block of Mack Road just before 3 p.m. Dec. 20, 2010, with an apparent gunshot wound, The Bee reported. He was treated at the scene by the Sacramento Fire Department and was transported to a local hospital, where he died.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Lamont Lee Rhinehart of the July 2007 murder of his child's mother, prosecutors said.

Jurors also found that Rhinehart, 37, stabbed and killed Avery Marie Polk, 27, during the commission of a rape.

The special circumstance allegation of the sex killing qualifies Rhinehart for a life term in prison with no chance of parole.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The murder trial for two brothers accused of carrying out a hit on a state correctional officer for their older sibling who used to be a Sacramento sheriff's deputy has been rescheduled for Aug. 5.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White put the case back during a hearing Tuesday for Gary Vue, 29, and his brother Chong Vue, 31.

Their older brother, Chu Vue, 46, was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for the Oct. 15, 2008, killing of Steve Lo, 39.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A woman charged in the death of her 3-year-old stepson pleaded no contest today to felony child endangerment resulting in death and is facing a likely 25-to-life sentence.

Dayshawna Lawrence, 23, entered her plea in the March 25 death of Jeremiah McRath on the first day of jury selection in her trial. She had been charged with murder as well as the child endangerment charge.

"The death of a vulnerable child like Jeremiah at the hands of someone who is supposed to be caring for them is extremely tragic," Deputy District Attorney Sheri Greco said. "So in this case, we're going to seek the maximum sentence we could have obtained had the case gone to trial, that being 25 to life."

Perry[1].JPGBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Prosecutors played a tape today where they said Jonathan Lamar Perry (left) admitted to giving his girlfriend's 4-year-old son a "whupping" the day the boy died.

"I'm calling to confess what happened," said a voice prosecutors identified as Perry's. The statement was in a voicemail left for a Sacramento sheriff's detective who was investigating the July 21, 2008, death of Jahmaurae Allen.

Perry said in the voicemail that the boy "peed on himself" and "I got mad." Perry said "I gave him a whupping, and he kept crying," which the defendant said was "aggravating me."

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's officials thanked the community this morning for assisting detectives in the complicated and lengthy investigation into December's deadly barbershop shootout, a review that yielded murder charges against five suspects this week.

Charges also have been filed against a sixth suspect who remains at large, according to authorities.

At a news conference to discuss the case, sheriff's officials said the charges could not have been filed without the tips and information that came in from residents.

Miguel Carranza[1].jpgBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Miguel Carranza (left) of murder in the Nov. 8, 2007, shooting deaths of his former girlfriend, Yesenia Lopez, and her new boyfriend, Jezer Lopez.

Judge Steve White scheduled Carranza's sentencing for March 18. Carranza, who turns 32 next week, is facing a life sentence with no possibility of parole on the jury's special-circumstance finding that he committed multiple murders.

While prosecutors cast Yesenia Lopez, 29, and Jezer Lopez, 32, as victims of a love-triangle killing, Carranza's attorney suggested it was connected to a retaliation execution in Mexico linked to the Sinaloa drug cartel.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A body was removed from the American River after it was discovered by fisherman late this morning near the Howe Avenue access.

Capt. Christian Pebbles of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District said the department's boat companies responded to a call at 11:52 a.m. He said the body of an adult male was found lodged among trees under water.

Pebbles said he did not know how long the body might have been in the water.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A 21-year-old Yuba City man was shot and killed Friday night while driving away from a convenience store, the Sutter County Sheriff's Department reported today.

Alfredo Martinez had just bought some gas at the Quick Stop at Lincoln Road around 10 p.m. Friday night and drove out to the west when a car pulled up alongside and someone inside fired at him several times and hit him once.

Martinez, who had two passengers with him, tried to get away by heading north on Sanborn Road but drove off into an orchard at Cherry Street.

dennis robert mains[1].jpgBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento jury convicted Dennis Robert Mains of first-degree murder today in the April 25, 2008, shooting death of his wife, Pamela Wales.

Mains, who called himself "Outlaw Josie Wales" after the Clint Eastwood movie character, sat silently at the defense table when the jury released its verdict after a single day of deliberations.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kenny scheduled the second phase of the bifurcated trial for Monday on Mains, who pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

A public memorial for Principal Sam LaCara of Louisiana Schnell School will take place at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Green Valley Community Church, 3500 Missouri Flat Road, Placerville.

LaCara was fatally shot in his school office on Wednesday, allegedly by a school janitor.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the Sam LaCara Memorial Fund through the El Dorado Community Foundation.

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

John Luebbers, the Placerville school custodian accused of killing the principal who was his friend and golfing partner, was arraigned on a charge of murder this afternoon as his family members and friends hugged and sobbed in the courtroom.

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas Phimister ordered Luebbers held without bail after the janitor entered a plea of not guilty in the shooting death of Sam LaCara, the principal at the Louisiana Schnell School in Placerville.

Luebbers is due to appear in court March 7 for a conference to set a preliminary hearing in the case.

alexander lewis.jpgBy Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives said today they have arrested a 5th person in connection with the June 15 killing of 50-year-old Fernando Vichez in the Town & Country Village neighborhood.

On Wednesday, Sacramento County sheriff's deputies arrested Alexander Marquis Lewis (left), 18, on suspicion of murder and robbery. He was taken into custody at his home in the 4800 block of Pasa Robles Way.

Witnesses told investigators that Vichez was walking on Howe Avenue near Whippoorwill Lane when a vehicle stopped and suspects got out. They approached Vichez and a fight began.

kumar[1].JPGBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A man who killed a woman and her 3-year-old son with a meat cleaver was sentenced to life in prison today with no chance of parole.

Lalesh Kumar (photo left), 37, had been facing a possible death sentence if he would have gone to trial for the killings of Virginia Pulido, 33, and her son Ramiro.

But he pleaded no contest last month to murder charges in the June 11, 2005, slayings at the Pulido apartment on South Meadows Place, near Florin Road and 29th Street as well as to the assaults on two police officers who took him into custody the same day, in exchange for the life term in prison.

By Andy Furillo
afrurillo@sacbee.com

Prosecutors scored their first conviction in a fatal Halloween Night 2008 party shooting when one of three remaining "Monk Mobb" murder defendants pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

Carlos "Scarecrow" Allen, 19, entered his plea in front of Sacramento Superior Court Judge Joseph Orr, in an arrangement worked out between Deputy District Attorney Andrew Solomon and defense lawyer Kevin J. Adamson.

Orr set Allen's sentencing date for March 11. Allen faces 11 years for the manslaughter, plus another eight months in a separate guilty plea to being an accessory to an unrelated drive-by shooting in 2009.

By Bill Lindelof
cphua@sacbee.com

Sacramento police said today they have arrested a man and two teenagers in the drive-by killing of a 20-year-old Sacramento resident - but still need to find the possible murder weapon.

Police believe another motorist found the missing gun and are asking him to turn it in.

The dead man has been identified by Sacramento County Coroner's deputies as Deandre James Ellison. Ellison was shot and killed about 4:40 p.m. Wednesday in the driveway of a home in the 900 block of Carmel Avenue in Del Paso Heights.

murdersuspect.jpgBy Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

An argument ended in South Sacramento this morning with a grandson assaulting and stabbing his grandfather, authorities say.

Arondrei Abel-Bey (left photo), 33, was arrested on suspicion of homicide in the killing of his 83-year-old grandfather. Sacramento County coroner's officials identified the victim as Isaac Williams.

At about 6 a.m. Sacramento police officers responded to the house near 64th Avenue and Amherst Street where a burglary was reported to have occurred. When they arrived, officers found the elderly man dead in his home with stab wounds to his upper body.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives have arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Lanajah Dupree, the second suspect in that case, according to officials.

This morning, authorities booked Nikko Jermaine Alexander into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, booking records show.

Alexander is accused in the July 11, 2010 slaying of Dupree, sheriff's officials confirmed. Dupree, of Sparks, Nev., was an innocent bystander hit by gunfire exchanged between rival gang members outside a party billed for an "under-21" crowd.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A judge folded his arms, sat back in his chair at the bench and fought back tears today when he sentenced a man and woman convicted of murder in the sadistic beating death of the woman's 5-year-old son.

"This is a case where a child was brutally beaten," Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael P. Kenny said. Kenny choked off his emotions as he handed down the prison terms to Eduardo Zamora Jr. (bottom left) and Amber Ingram (bottom right) in the June 17, 2009, killing of Braeden James Gardner in the couple's Rosemont duplex.

Zamora, 32, received a 32-to-life term for his first-degree murder conviction and an additional life term on a separate count of torturing the boy by beating him black and blue over nearly every square inch of his body.

By Cathy Locke and Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's deputies have arrested a 43-year-old woman in connection with a homicide at a Foothill Farms apartment complex Thursday night, a department spokesman said.

Tiffany Renee Henry was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of murder early this morning, according to booking logs. She is ineligible for bail.

Sheriff's deputies responded to reports of a woman with a gun at the apartment complex on Andrea Boulevard near Elkhorn Boulevard shortly before 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

By Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com
df.jpg

Sacramento police have arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with the death of a 50-year-old man whose dismembered body was found inside an apartment fire in early August.

Department spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said detectives believe that Daniel Foalima (pictured) was trying to rob Arun Singh on Aug. 7 at about 2:45 p.m. inside an apartment in the 900 block of North Avenue when Foalima killed Singh.

"There were items we believe were missing from the apartment," Leong said, but he did not divulge what was taken.

To try to conceal evidence of the crime, Foalima dismembered Singh and tried to burn down the apartment, police said. However, the apartment's sprinkler system activated and prevented the fire from spreading.

Firefighters arrived to find Singh's charred and dismembered body inside. Investigators are withholding some details of the crime - such as the extent of the dismemberment and whether the victim and suspect knew each other- because they hope someone may still come forward with more information, Leong said.

Neighbors and friends of the victim's family said Singh's arms and legs had been cut off, and his chest set on fire. The Sacramento County Coroner's officials later released information that Singh was beaten, choked and stabbed, but did not describe the condition of the body.

Police said Foalima was arrested Aug. 26 on a parole violation and held at the Deuel Vocational Institution, a state prison in Tracy. Leong said Foalima was scheduled to be released Friday from the facility when Sacramento police arrested him on suspicion of Singh's murder.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento judge declared a mistrial today when a Superior Court jury failed to reach verdicts on a second defendant in a shooting at an Elk Grove party two years ago that left a woman dead and three men seriously injured.

Deputy District Attorney Sheri Greco immediately announced that her office would retry Tamara Nicole Bassett for murder and on four other counts in the April 18, 2009, shooting that killed 25-year-old Alison Joelle Freeseha.

The jury also failed to reach verdicts on the two remaining counts on Bassett's boyfriend and co-defendant in the case, Raymond Thomas Vigel, 21.

Jurors on Wednesday convicted Vigel of first-degree murder in Freeseha's death. They also found him guilty of another count of attempted murder and a third of shooting into an inhabited dwelling.

Judge Greta Curtis Fall set Vigel's sentencing date for Feb. 4. The judge set March 1 as the date for the retrial for both Bassett, 24, who is facing five counts, and for the two remaining counts on Vigel.

According to testimony at trial, someone punched Bassett in the face at the party in the 6800 block of Paseo Del Sol Way. She then announced that she was going to get her boyfriend and have him come back and shoot up the place.

She then returned with Vigel, who fired the shots that killed Freeseha and hurt the other three people, witnesses said.

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

By Peter Hecht and Bill Lindelof
phecht@sacbee.com

Police have arrested two more suspects in connection with the death of 48-year-old Scott Hanson on New Year's Day in Sacramento.

Five people have been arrested to date in connection with the case. The fifth, Camicia Soto, 31, of Sacramento, was arrested today for investigation of having helped plan the robbery that led to Hanson's murder and critical injuries to a second man.

"We do not believe she was present at the homicide," said Sacramento police spokesman Norm Leong. "However, she did play a role in the planning of the robbery."

On Thursday night, Citrus Heights police stopped a vehicle on Interstate 80 near Longview Avenue Thursday night and arrested a fourth suspect, Jaime Charles Sandoval, 35.

He was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of murder, attempted murder and attempted robbery.

Already arrested in the fatal beating of Hanson on suspicion of murder are Joseph Conn, 22; Arsenio Barajas, 21; and Bryan Smith, 19.

A second victim, a 46-year-old man who lived with Hanson, survived the attempted robbery and attack but was hospitalized in critical condition. He remains in the hospital.

Officers responding to reports of an assault found Hanson in the backyard of a home on the 2100 block of Amanda Way about 4:20 a.m. Jan. 1. The second victim was found inside.

Detectives suspect that the four men and the victims did not know each other and that the attack was random. Leong declined to say what detectives believe the suspects sought in the robbery.

Call The Bee's Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Raymond Thomas Vigel of first-degree murder in the April 18, 2009, shooting death of Alison Joelle Freeseha at a party in Elk Grove.

Jurors did not reach verdicts on Vigel's girlfriend, Tamara Nicole Bassett, who was also accused of murder in the case. Judge Greta Curtis Fall ordered the panel to resume deliberations.

Besides the murder count, the jury also convicted Vigel, 21, of another count of attempted murder and a third count of shooting into an inhabited dwelling. It did not reach verdicts on two additional counts against him of attempted murder.

According to testimony at their trial, Bassett, 24, had been slugged in the face by a man at the party in the 6800 block of Paseo Del Sol Way and then went and got Vigel, her boyfriend, to come back with her to shoot up the party.

Freeseha, 25, who had arrived at the party after the punching incident, was shot and killed. Three other men were shot and seriously wounded, one of whom was paralyzed from the waist down.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested three men in connection with the death of 48-year-old Scott Hanson on New Year's Day - the fatal outcome of what detectives suspect was a robbery attempt, according to authorities.

Joseph Conn, 22; Arsenio Barajas, 21; and Bryan Smith, 19 are in custody on charges related to the fatal beating of Hanson and the serious beating of another man, said police Sgt. Norm Leong.

Barajas has been booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of murder, booking records show. Conn was booked on suspicion of felony conspiracy and violating the terms of his probation. Smith has not yet been booked.

The second victim, a 46-year-old man who lived with Hanson, survived the attack but was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, Leong said. He remains in the hospital.

Officers responding to reports of an assault found Hanson in the backyard of a home on the 2100 block of Amanda Way about 4:20 a.m. Jan. 1. The second victim was found inside.

Detectives suspect that the three men and the victims did not know each other and that the attack was random. Leong declined to say what detectives believe the suspects sought in the robbery.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A 15-year-old boy fatally shot on New Year's Eve in the Meadowview area has been identified as Elijah Stacy Cook of Sacramento, according to the Sacramento County Coroner's Office website.

Sacramento Police have arrested two brothers, Johnathan Mendivil, 20, and Jeremy Mendivil, 18, on suspicion of murder.

Cook was shot in the 7400 block of 29th Street about 9:30 p.m. Friday. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Based on their investigation, detectives believe that Johnathan and Jeremy Mendivil had gone looking for Cook as retribution for a prior assault.

Police say they believe the Mendivils were driving in the area when they spotted Cook and recognized him as one of three people who had assaulted Johnathan Mendivil on Dec. 18. Police say they believe the Mendivil brothers confronted Cook and that one of one of them shot and killed him.

Both are being held in Sacramento County Main Jail without bail.

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

Law enforcement officials reported 84 homicides in Sacramento County during 2010, up from 70 in 2009 but similar to the average over the last decade, police and coroner's data show.

Use this new interactive map to see the location of each homicide during 2010.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County Coroner's department has released the name of the first homicide of the New Year.

Michael Scott Hanson, 48, was identified as the man who died of head trauma early Saturday morning in a South Sacramento assault.

Sacramento police said that at about 4:20 a.m. officers responded to the 2100 block of Amanda Way in Meadowview where two men had been assaulted by unknown suspects. Both victims were found in the back yard of the residence.

Hanson died at the scene. A second man in his 40s also suffered head trauma and was transported to a hospital.

No motive has been released for the assaults. In 2010, 33 homicides were recorded in Sacramento.

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

By Blair Anthony Robertson
brobertston@sacbee.com
victim.jpg
Authorities have identified the body of a 37-year-old Rancho Cordova woman found Saturday naked from the waist down as Rajeet Kor Singh and have compiled enough evidence from the scene to consider it a homicide case.

Though the cause of death remains unknown and there were no obvious signs of violence at the scene, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department is asking for the public's help as it launches a homicide investigation. Precisely how the woman died will be determined by an autopsy conducted by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office.

Meanwhile, authorities are looking for clues and asking that anyone who saw or spoke with the victim from 8 p.m. Friday until the discovery of the body at 10:59 a.m. Saturday near Mills Park and Olson drives, is asked to call homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115, Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP, or via text message to 274673 (CRIMES), then enter SACTIP followed by the information. Any witnesses have the option of remaining anonymous and may be eligible for an award up to $1,000.

A neighbor who lives within a block of the victim's listed address noticed the body lying between his backyard fence and the light-rail tracks, according to Sheriff's Department news release.

Photo provided by Sacramento County Sheriff's Dept.

Call The Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

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.

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.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

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

shootingone.jpg
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
kminugh@sacbee.com

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.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento police officers on Thursday night arrested a 44-year-old man in the Hagginwood neighborhood who was wanted in connection with a homicide in Oregon, according to authorities.

Aaron Henry Harrison was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail at 3 a.m., according to booking records. He is expected to be extradited to Oregon.

Harrison is accused in the death of 64-year-old Larry Cline, who was found dead Sunday in his Klamath Falls home, according to local news reports. The coroner found Cline died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Klamath County authorities contacted Sacramento police Thursday, indicating that Harrison might be staying with relatives in the area, said police spokeswoman Officer Laura Peck. Just before 6 p.m., officers - including the SWAT team - responded to a home on Rosalind Street and found Harrison.

SWAT officers assisted because Harrison was considered a "high-risk" suspect, Peck said. However, he was arrested without incident.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Sacramento Superior Court judges today sentenced three recently convicted murderers to life terms in prison.

Nadine Danielle Klein and George Ellis Wallace were sent off with no chance of parole while Ruben Adrian Rivera Jr. received a 50-to-life term.

Klein, 21, was sentenced by Judge Steve White for the June 3, 2009, robbery and stabbing death of James Douglas Arthur, 23, in his Boulevard Park home. Klein was convicted of setting up the robbery that resulted in Arthur's death. Two other defendants had previously been sentenced to life without parole for the killing.

Wallace, 38, was sentenced by Judge Patrick Marlette for the Dec. 15 shotgun killings of Clifford Eugene Brown, 54, and James Edward Turner, 60. Wallace was convicted of shooting the men to death because they had witnessed a shooting carried out by his girlfriend.

Rivera, 31, was sentenced by Judge Geoffrey A. Goodman for the Jan. 20, 2007, shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, Erika Barrios, 26.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Sacramento Superior Court judges today sentenced three recently-convicted murderers to life terms in prison.

Nadine Danielle Klein and George Ellis Wallace were both sent off with no chance of parole while Ruben Adrian Rivera Jr. received a 50-to-life term.

Klein, 21, was sentenced by Judge Steve White for the June 3, 2009, robbery and stabbing death of James Douglas Arthur, 23, in his Boulevard Park home. Klein was convicted of setting up the robbery that resulted in Arthur's death. Two other defendants had previously been sentenced to life without parole for the killing.

Wallace, 38, was sentenced by Judge Patrick Marlette for the Dec. 15 shotgun killings of Clifford Eugene Brown, 54, and James Edward Turner, 60. Wallace was convicted of shooting the men to death because they had witnessed a shooting carried out by his girlfriend.

Rivera, 31, was sentenced by Judge Geoffrey A. Goodman for the Jan. 20, 2007, shooting death of his ex-girlfriend, Erika Barrios, 26.

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

Kathryn Jessica Spiak.JPGBy Chelsea Phua and Bill Lindelof
cphua@sacbee.com

A 40-year-old woman suspected of stabbing to death her 32-year-old boyfriend in their Rancho Cordova apartment during a domestic dispute was arrested early Thursday, authorities said.

Online Sacramento County Main Jail records show Kathryn Jessica Spiak, 40, was booked on suspicion of homicide.

Coroner's officials identified the man as Jeremy Kevin Jones, who authorities said died in a second-floor apartment in the 2000 block of West La Loma Drive Wednesday night.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said Spiak had called police about 8:40 p.m. after she allegedly stabbed her boyfriend. She was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the victim when officers arrived, Curran said.

Detectives believe that the couple, who lived together in the unit, were involved in an argument.

Christina Whiteside, Jones' 37-year-old stepsister, described him as a good brother.

"He always made me laugh" she said.

Whiteside, who lives in Pollock Pines, said she has not been in touch with her brother for about a year, but they were very close growing up.

"We went on fishing and hunting trips," she said.

Whiteside said Jones used to ask her to write "Ren" - his nickname - with sunblock on his back so the words would show up when he got a tan.

Jones wrestled at El Dorado High School, where he graduated, Whiteside said. He then joined the U.S. Army, and was stationed in Germany for a few years.

During one of his visits home, Whiteside introduced her then-best friend to Jones and they were married within three weeks.

The couple has a daughter, Whiteside said. About a year and a half ago, Jones' uncle visited Whiteside and her husband at their home and told them that Jones had separated from his wife.

The Bee's Bill Lindelof contributed to this report.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento judge sentenced a man today to life in prison with no chance of parole for the rape and murder of an 80-year-old woman in her north side home more than 20 years ago.

Donald Carter, 57, was arrested last year on a DNA cold hit after he was processed into the downtown jail on a dope charge and authorities obtained a swab of his genetic material.

Jurors in September convicted Carter of the May 23, 1989, beating death of Sophia McAlllister, a neighbor who lived a block and a half away from him, in her Eleanor Avenue home.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Eugene L. Balanon imposed the term on Carter.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives have arrested two suspects in connection with a fatal shooting they allege stemmed from a marijuana deal in October.

Accused of killing 35-year-old Steven Carmassi on Oct. 29 are 21-year-old Dejohng Mariedenie Taylor (left below) of Citrus Heights and 24-year-old Latics Marcus Collins (right below) of Sacramento, said sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran.

Both were arrested Thursday night after they voluntarily met with homicide detectives for questioning, Curran said. Later that night, they were booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of murder and attempted robbery, according to booking records.

The night of Oct. 29, sheriff's deputies responded to a call regarding a white Chevrolet pickup truck that had crashed into several cars in the parking lot of Hard Times Billiards, near the intersection of Auburn Boulevard and Garfield Avenue.

Deputies found Carmassi behind the wheel of the pickup, suffering from injuries. After Carmassi was transported to a local hospital, staff members alerted the Sheriff's Department that he had suffered a gunshot wound to the upper body and had died.

After investigating the shooting, detectives allege that Taylor and Collins had met Carmassi in a nearby parking lot to buy marijuana from him, Curran said. The two suspects attempted to rob Carmassi of the pot and, during the robbery, Carmassi was shot, Curran said.

Both suspects are scheduled to be arraigned in court Monday, according to booking records.

Collins has one previous criminal case in Sacramento County, according to online Superior Court records. In 2004, he was charged with drug possession, but the case appears to have been dismissed after Collins was diverted to a treatment program.

In 2009, Taylor was charged in separate cases with petty theft and possession or purchase for sale of a controlled substance, but both cases were dismissed, according to Superior Court records.

dejohngtaylor.jpg

lacticscollins.JPG

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The gunmen who carried out the contract murder of a pregnant woman and her fetus five years ago were sentenced Wednesday to life terms in prison.

Khae Saephan, 24, will have no chance of parole while co-defendant Xeng Saetern was sentenced to 100 years to life by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Roland L. Candee.

The two were convicted in the Dec. 29, 2005, killing of Si Saeturn, 28, and her 5-month-old fetus.

Si Saeturn's husband, Nai Saechao - who contracted for her murder - and two other accomplices have been convicted and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Saechao had previously been identified by authorities as Si Saeturn's husband.

A sixth defendant, Chang Vern Saephan, received a four-year term last month after having pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter earlier this year.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives have arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old boy Saturday morning, according to authorities.

Detectives booked Luis Prudente into the Sacramento County Main Jail this morning on suspicion of murder and attempted murder, according to booking records. He also was placed on an immigration-related hold because he is undocumented.

Prudente stands accused in the death of Jesse Dean Jones, who was shot behind Encina High School as he was walking home early Saturday morning with a 15-year-old female friend, said sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran. A second suspect remains at large, Curran said.

A car pulled up to the pair at the intersection of Wittkop Way and Clinton Road about 2 a.m. Saturday, Curran said. A person got out of the car and fired shots before getting back into the car and fleeing, Curran said.

Jones was shot in the stomach, and his friend in the foot. They were taken to a nearby hospital, where Jones was pronounced dead. The girl was treated and released.

Detectives suspect Prudente pulled the trigger, but they are not clear whether he was driving the car. They are still searching for a second suspect who was in the car with Prudente and who has not been identified, Curran said. However, Curran noted that Prudente is cooperating with authorities.

At this point, detectives suspect the shooting was gang-related and fueled by "rival gang affiliations," Curran said. Prudente previously had been validated by law enforcement as a gang member, the spokesman said.

Prudente is scheduled to be arraigned in court Tuesday, jail booking records show.

Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Tips also can be texted to 274637 with the word "SACTIP" followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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

IMG_20101127_170213.jpg

Above is note that was left today at the site where Jesse Jones of Sacramento was fatally wounded. Bee Staff photo by Kim Minugh.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

A 15-year-old boy was shot and killed early this morning as he and a friend were walking to their homes near Encina High School, according to authorities.

Those responsible for the death of Jesse Dean Jones remained at large tonight, and Sacramento County sheriff's detectives were asking for the public's help in identifying them.

Jones was walking with a 15-year-old female friend about 2 a.m. when an unknown car pulled up next to them at the corner of Wittkop Way and Clinton Road, behind the high school campus, said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran.

A person got out of the car and fired several shots, striking Jones in the stomach and his friend in the foot, Curran said.

The victims were transported to an area hospital, where Jones, a freshman at Encina High, was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival. His female friend suffered a non-life-threatening injury and was expected to survive, Curran said.

Detectives do not know where the victims had been prior to the shooting, but were told the teens were headed home, Curran said. Both live in the area.

Curran said it's not clear whether the victims were targeted or chosen at random.

At least two people were in the car, one of them the shooter, but the female victim was not able to provide a description of the assailants or their vehicle, Curran said.

Efforts by The Bee to find Jones' family were unsuccessful.

This evening, as the sun set behind Encina High School, the neighborhood was quiet. The only remnant of the morning's crime was a piece of paper that had been stapled to a street sign, addressed to Jones' family.

"I am so sorry 4 your loss," the note read. "For what (it's) worth we were there 4 him ... too the end. I am soo sorry."

The note was signed by several people whose names were not legible.

Jones' killing was the 37th in the Sheriff's Department's jurisdiction this year.

Anyone with information regarding this homicide is asked to call detectives at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Tips also can be texted to 274637 with the word "SACTIP" followed by the tip information.

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

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

By Bee Staff

A man who was extradited from Mexico has been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison for a 2007 slaying in Citrus Heights.

A jury convicted Edgar Martinez, 22, of first-degree murder and personally discharging a firearm causing death, Sacramento District Attorney Jan Scully said in a news release.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 8, 2007, Martinez became involved in an argument with Jose Segura, 23, at a house on Van Maren Lane in Citrus Heights, Scully said.

During the argument, Martinez shot Segura four times, killing him. Martinez then fled to Mexico, she said.

Citrus Heights Police Department detectives were able to find Martinez and secure his extradition, she said.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Two more suspects are in custody in connection with the June 15 killing of 50-year-old Fernando Vichez in the Town & Country Village neighborhood, according to authorities.

On Monday, Sacramento County sheriff's detectives arrested 36-year-old Fitima Goodman on suspicion of murder and robbery, said department spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran.

Also that day, Fresno police arrested Goodman's 15-year-old son on the same charges, Curran said. The boy had been staying at his father's house in Fresno, Curran said.

Already in custody is Jermaine Antonio Barnes, 22. Detectives allege that Goodman was driving a car in which her son, Barnes and another passenger the morning of June 15 when they came across Vichez walking in the area of Howe Avenue and Whippoorwill Lane, Curran said.

Three people got out of the car and attempted to rob Vichez of cash, but he ended up beaten and shot, Curran said.

A sheriff's deputy patrolling the area heard the gunshots and found Vichez lying in the street. He died later at a hospital.

The relationship between Goodman, her son and Barnes is unknown. Detectives believe Vichez was not known to his assailants and instead was chosen at random, Curran said.

A fourth arrest in the case is possible, Curran said.

Goodman, who is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, has one previous criminal case in Sacramento County, according to online Superior Court records. She was convicted of misdemeanor petty theft in 1995, though the conviction was dismissed in 2006.

Barnes is due back in court Dec. 17.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

The man convicted of harboring Chu Vue's fugitive brothers - who are accused of going on to kill a correctional officer - walked out of Sacramento's courthouse a free man today after a brief sentencing hearing.

RP LANG VUE IN COURT[2].JPGSacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White sentenced Lang Vue (right), who a jury found guilty of felony accessory, to three years in prison. However, Vue received enough credit for time already served in custody to escape further incarceration.

Vue will be on parole for three years, according to White, and will not be allowed to possess firearms.

Vue was found guilty of harboring Gary and Chong Vue - the brothers of former Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Chu Vue and the alleged killers of correctional officer Steve Lo - while they were fugitives from authorities in Minnesota, where they were wanted for murder.

Lang and Chu Vue, who are distant cousins and members of the same Hmong clan, were tried together in Sacramento County Superior Court on charges of murder.

A jury found Chu Vue guilty of first-degree murder for arranging Lo's killing, but failed to find enough evidence that Lang Vue knew of Gary and Chong Vue's alleged intentions to convict him of murder. They found him guilty of being an accessory.

As he left the courtroom this morning, Lang Vue declined to comment, other than to say it was "cool" to finally be free. His attorney, Matthew Scoble, also declined to comment, citing an ongoing gag order in the case.

Prosecutor Eric Kindall argued that Chu Vue masterminded the plot because Lo was having an affair with Chu Vue's wife, Chia.

Chu Vue, who faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.

His brothers, Gary and Chong, are expected to be tried on murder charges next year.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Quran Mahammed Jones[1].jpgThe former Sacramento State student accused in the beating murder of his dormitory roommate today pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Marjorie Koller appointed two doctors to examine Jones (left), 21. She scheduled them to return to court Jan. 7 with their reports on Jones.

Quran Jones was found "mumbling," hitting the floor with a baseball bat with his eyes wide open and pointing in different directions when officers broke in on the dorm room where they found a savagely-wounded Scott Gregory Hawkins lying on the floor, according to a Sacramento police synopsis of the case.

"His tongue was hanging out of his mouth," one Sacramento State police officer was quoted as saying about Jones in the synopsis. "He looked really strange. The whole time I saw him, he had his tongue hanging out of his mouth."

The officers shot and seriously wounded Jones when he reportedly lunged at them with a knife in the Oct. 21, 2009, incident. Jones has made his court appearances sitting in a wheelchair.

Hawkins, 23, a junior college transfer who was living in the same suite with Jones in the campus' new American River Courtyard dormitory, died of blunt force trauma in the attack. He also had been stabbed in the head.

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

Q: In the late 1990s or early 2000s, Helen Mae Jordan was murdered and her husband shot by a guy named Johnny Sierra. What happened to Johnny? - Anonymous, Sacramento

A: Johnny Ray Sierra, now 33, is in prison, serving a 25-years-to-life sentence, according to court and prison records.

Sierra, who lived just blocks from the victims' home in North Highlands, pleaded guilty on Dec. 5, 2001 to second-degree murder in the slaying of Jordan and no contest to assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting of her husband, Roger James, court records and Bee reports show.

Detectives told The Bee at the time of Sierra's arrest that they believe the couple was shot on Aug. 26, 2000, after a dispute over a monetary debt.

When deputies arrived outside Sierra's motel room, the next day, Sierra eventually jumped out of the room, extended his arms as if to shoot, pointed a tube of toothpaste at deputies and yelled, "Bang, bang, bang!"

He was then taken into custody.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento judge today sentenced Nicholas Manuel Moreno to 21 years in prison for the New Year's Eve shooting death last year of Kyle Ray Smith.

Moreno, had pleaded no contest last month after a jury could not reach a verdict on whether to convict him of second-degree murder. The panel was split 7-5 in favor of guilt when Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet declared a mistrial.

Smith, who was also 20, was shot and killed in the driveway of a house on Camelia River Way in the Greenhaven neighborhood at 1:10 a.m. during a New Year's Eve party.

According to testimony at trial, Moreno had been harassing women at the party and was asked to leave. While they were leaving, Moreno and his friends then got into a fist fight with other partygoers.

Moreno pulled out a handgun; he testified he accidentally shot and killed Smith when he hit him with the pistol.

Moreno also was in a car that was involved in the Dec. 22, 2006, shooting death of Marc Grimes on a quiet Elk Grove side street. The driver of the car, Manuel Jose Cervin, was convicted of murder in the case and sentenced to 40 years to life in prison.

Authorities never identified the gunman in the Grimes shooting, although Cervin told police in an interview that it was Moreno, investigators said.

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

By Kim Minugh

kminugh@sacbee.com

The 22-year-old man who sheriff's deputies say jumped from a third-story window in September while trying to flee them - and their arrest warrant for murder - has recovered from the life-threatening injuries he suffered in that fall and is now in Sacramento, according to authorities.

Robert Antonio Vasquez is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on one count of murder, according to Superior Court records.

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives accuse Vasquez of fatally shooting 49-year-old Madalene Thomas on Sept. 12 while she was driving with her nephew in Rancho Cordova.

Detectives obtained a warrant for Vasquez's arrest and said they tracked him to a motel in Redwood City two days after the homicide. When they knocked on his room door, he jumped out a window and landed on his head, suffering severe injuries, according to authorities.

Vasquez was arrested but then admitted to an area hospital for treatment. He was released this week, and transferred to the Sacramento County Main Jail on Monday, booking records show.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

A bank account has been set up for the surviving Saetern children, whose father was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of killing their mother and two brothers.

The money will be used to help pay for the burial of 46-year-old Chio Chong Saechao and her sons, Jerry Wang Saetern, 22, and Vern Cheo Saetern, 19, according to a family friend. Funds also will be set aside to pay for college for the two youngest surviving daughters, who are 12 and 7 years old.

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives allege the victims were killed in their home by 47-year-old Kouei Wang Saetern after an argument late Monday night between Saetern and his wife, Saechao, that drew in the couple's two sons. Saetern is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on three charges of murder.

The two youngest daughters and their 13-year-old cousin were in the Home Country Way residence when the argument began, but fled to a neighbor's house when Saetern allegedly became violent.

The girls are being cared for by their two adult sisters.

Donations can be made at any Bank of America location. The account number is 09055-26858 and the routing number is 121000358.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested four suspects in connection with the November 2009 death of 47-year-old Donald Kirby, who detectives allege was killed in a robbery gone bad, according to authorities.

This morning, police arrested Elias Garcia, 23; Christopher Merrill, 22; Roman Hooker, 24; and Calvin Holmes, 21 (from left to right below), said police Sgt. Norm Leong. They face one charge each of murder, burglary and attempted robbery, he said.

Detectives suspect the four men went to Kirby's V Street apartment on Nov. 12, 2009 to rob him of marijuana and other property, Leong said. What soured the mission is not known for sure, however detectives believe the victim resisted, prompting the shooting, Leong said.

Police have identified Garcia as the alleged gunmen, Leong said. Detectives believe at least one of the suspects had bought marijuana from Kirby before.

Garcia, Hooker and Holmes were arrested this morning without incident, Leong said. Merrill has been in custody for a parole violation since September; his new charges will be added.

Elias Garcia.jpg Merrillmug.jpg Roman Hooker.jpg Calvin Holmes.jpg

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A Woodland man convicted of the 1983 murder of his girlfriend's 22-month-old son has been deemed suitable for parole.

A panel of two Board of Parole Hearing commissioners on Monday found Christopher Fowler, 49, suitable to be released from prison into the Woodland community, according to a Yolo County District Attorney's Office news release.

In 1984, Fowler was convicted and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole for the Nov. 1, 1983 murder of his girlfriend's son.

The night before the murder, Fowler and his girlfriend were arguing at their Woodland home. Fowler didn't sleep that night, and the next day he was babysitting the toddler and the youngster's 3-year-old sister.

When the toddler would not stop crying Fowler smacked him in the face, shook him and threw him to the ground twice, officials said. The assault occurred in the presence of the 3-year-old sister.

Fowler and the baby's grandmother drove the toddler to Woodland Memorial Hospital. The youngster was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento due to life-threatening injuries. He was in a coma until Nov. 3, when he was pronounced dead as a result of fatal injuries to his brain.

Monday's parole hearing was held at California Solano State Prison in Vacaville, where Fowler was imprisoned. He has been in prison for 27 years and has had 12 previous hearings, according to the news release. Commissioners denied him parole on each occasion, the release states.

During the most recent hearing, the release states, the panel heard from the toddler's grandmother and two aunts, who asked commissioners to keep Fowler in prison.

Woodland Police Chief Dan Bellini and Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto sent letters to Parole Board members urging them to keep Fowler in prison, and representatives of the District Attorney's Office also appeared before the board to argue against Fowler's release.

In granting Fowler parole, the commissioners said he could move back to Woodland, but that they would like him to live in transitional housing for a few months before moving into his parents' house, according to the news release.

The Parole Board's decision could become final in 120 days after it is reviewed by the Board of Parole Hearings and then sent to the governor, who has the option of reversing the commissioners' decision.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

A man wanted for murder in Mexico, but arrested in Yuba County has been turned over today to Mexican authorities by U.S. immigration officers.

David Isidoro Ramirez-Priego, 37, is wanted in the Mexican state of Hidalgo for a homicide in the town of Canali.

He is accused of shooting Rosendo Lara Oviedo in the head at point blank range in a bar after the victim refused to buy him a drink.

Ramirez was arrested Oct. 31 on suspicion of drunk driving by the California Highway Patrol. After being transported to the Yuba County jail, he was screened by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a search that revealed an outstanding murder warrant.

He told immigration officials he was living in Marysville and was working in construction. Ramirez was turned over to Mexican law enforcement at the border in San Ysidro.

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

RP SHOOTING.JPGSacramento coroner identifies victims in triple homicide

By Kim Minugh and Bill Lindelof
kminugh@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office has identified the victims of Monday night's triple homicide in south Sacramento as Chio Chong Saechao, 46; Jerry Wang Saetern, 22; and Vern Cheo Saeteurn, 19. Coroner's and sheriff's officials could not explain the difference in the spelling of Vern Cheo Saeteurn's last name.

clip_image002.jpgThe mother and her two sons were shot to death in their residence on Home Country Way about 11 p.m. Monday. Sheriff's detectives allege they died at the hands of 47-year-old Kouei Wang Saetern (left), Chio Saechao's husband and the father of the couple's adult sons.

Kouei Saetern was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail early this morning on suspicion of three counts of murder. From there, he declined an interview with The Bee this afternoon.

A fight broke out between husband and wife, said sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran. The fight escalated, and the adult sons tried to intervene on behalf of their mother, Curran said. (An earlier report that the fight started over what to watch on television has been discounted, investigators said late today.)

Kouei Saetern retrieved a rifle and came back to shoot the victims, Curran said.

The couple's young daughters, 12 and 7 years old, and a nephew had fled the house when the argument escalated and sought refuge at a neighbor's house, Curran said. They were not harmed.

Deputies arrived to find the three victims dead inside the home, each with one gunshot wound. They found Kouei Saetern in the garage and took him into custody for questioning.

Three rifles were taken from the home, including the one detectives believe was used in the attack.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A woman whose shooting of two people in a south Sacramento apartment last year set the stage for her boyfriend's double-murder of two witnesses was convicted Monday for her end of the deal.

Bryanna Nadine Warren, 22, was found guilty by a Sacramento Superior Court jury on one count of attempted murder and another of assault with a deadly weapon.

She is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 9 by Judge Roland L. Candee.

Her boyfriend, George Ellis Wallace, 38, was convicted Sept. 30 of two counts of murder in the Dec. 15 shooting deaths of Clifford Eugene Brown, 54, and James Edward Turner, 60.

Wallace's sentencing has been rescheduled to Dec. 10.

Wallace killed the two men Dec. 15 because they were witnesses against Warren in a nonfatal shooting in an 18th Avenue apartment, the prosecution previously stated in a court brief. Turner witnessed Warren's shooting the previous month of the 54-year-old Brown and a woman friend of his, the brief states.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury convicted a father of first-degree murder Monday in the stabbing death last year of his son.

Jerry Valencia Villa will be sentenced Dec. 3 by Judge Timothy M. Frawley.

Villa, 51, had claimed self-defense in the April 4, 2009, killing of his 26-year-old son, Alexander, saying that the victim showed up at his Pasadena Avenue doorstep near Renfree Park and threatened him after a dispute between the two that had begun to rage the previous day.

Prosecutors said Villa had been drinking most of the day at the time of the stabbing that took place around 10:50 p.m.

According to court papers, the elder Villa got angry at his son at a wedding party a day earlier when Alexander Villa had roughly handled the defendant's teacup Chihuahuas.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Sheriff's homicide detectives are investigating the killing of a man whose bloodied body was found today at a Fair Oaks apartment complex.

The body of the man, whose name has not been released, was found on a second-story landing between two apartments at the complex in the 4800 block of Sunset Terrace.

The man, described as being 30 to 40 years old, is believed to have gotten into a fight with an unknown suspect who fled the scene. He had suffered significant blood loss and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Investigators have not spoken to anyone who witnessed the fight, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Department.

The victim's death was preceded by a call to the department about 2:45 a.m. from apartment complex security guards about a man causing a disturbance.

Guards said that a man, apparently the homicide victim, was wandering through the complex "being loud and obnoxious."

Deputies were not able to find the man who was earlier causing the disturbance.

However, they returned about 45 minutes later to the same complex on a call to dispatchers about the sounds of a fight. They discovered the body on the landing.

Anyone with information is asked to call detectives at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357.


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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

clip_image002.jpgjones.jpgA judge today ordered Quran Jones (left) to stand trial for the beating and stabbing death last year of fellow Sacramento State student and dorm mate Scott Gregory Hawkins.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet made his decision to hold Jones over for trial after a brief preliminary hearing in which two police detectives testified.

Jones, 21, appeared in court in a wheelchair. He was shot and wounded by Sacramento State police officers after he lunged at them with a knife when they responded to the disturbance in the dorm suite he shared with the 23-year-old Hawkins, according to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors.

The judge set Jones' next court appearance for Nov. 19.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The sentencing on fired former Sacramento sheriff's deputy Chu Vue for the murder of state correctional officer Steve Lo two years ago was delayed today because the probation report on the case had not yet been completed.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White rescheduled Vue's sentencing for Nov. 29.

A jury convicted the 45-year-old Vue on Sept. 19 in the killing of the 39-year-old prison officer.

Evidence at trial showed that Vue arranged for two of his younger brothers to carry out the shooting death of Lo because the officer was having an affair with the former deputy's wife.

Vue's younger brothers, Gary Vue and Chong Vue, are scheduled to be tried Feb. 15.

Sentencing today also was delayed on Vue's co-defendant, fellow Hmong clan member Lang Vue.

Lang Vue was acquitted on murder charges, but was convicted of being an accessory to a felony by harboring Chu Vue's two younger brothers.

The brothers were wanted on a Minnesota murder charges when Lo was shot and killed Oct. 15, 2008, in the garage of his south Sacramento home while he was preparing to go to work.

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

By Bee Staff

A mental patient who is accused of strangling a psychiatric nurse in Napa over the weekend stabbed a woman more than 11 times in Sacramento in 1997, Bee reports and records show.

20101026__ecct1027napadeath~1_VIEWER.jpgJess Willard Massey (left), 37, is accused of killing Donna Gross, whose body was found in a small courtyard at the Napa State Hospital on Saturday.

In 1997, Massey was deemed insane when he stabbed a 49-year-old woman as she walked to her truck in a parking garage on R Street, across the street from her job at the Department of Corrections, The Bee reported.

In a plea agreement, Massey pleaded guilty by reason of insanity for attempted murder but accepted convictions for carjacking and assault.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge ordered Massey to be confined in a mental institution until he regained his sanity. He then would start serving 31-year sentence for carjacking and assault.

"I want to apologize for what I did to you. I hope some day you can accept my apology. I thank Jesus Christ for keeping you alive," Massey said to the victim when he was sentenced.

Earlier on the day he attacked the woman in Sacramento, Massey was released from prison where he was serving time for assaulting another woman.

Massey's public defender said his client has a "significant history of mental illness" which required Massey be housed in a mental hospital as early as 13.

After the Napa attack, California's Department of Mental Health said it has implemented new security measures at Napa State Hospital where the nurse was killed.

A department spokeswoman told KTVU-TV in Oakland that the police presence at the hospital has been increased. Patient access to hospital grounds has also been restricted and a shuttle service is now available to take staff to the parking lot.

Friends of Gross who gathered on Tuesday night at a candlelight vigil for the 54-year-old described her as a caring person who was dedicated to her job.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A murder trial that provided a glimpse into an upper-level, Sacramento-based methamphetamine distribution ring ended in a conviction Tuesday for defendant Poe Blue Siavii.

Jurors took less than two days to return their first-degree verdict against the defendant charged in the May 4, 2008, shooting death of Joshua Aaron Kalb at the Elkhorn Boulevard park-and-ride off Highway 99.

Siavii, 33, faces a life term in prison with no chance of parole. He had been accused in the special-circumstance case of murdering Kalb, 28, while lying in wait.

"Thank God," said the victim's mother, Tina Kalb. "The right decision was made. Now my family and I can put our lives back together somehow."

Prosecutors said Siavii was mad at Kalb, who was one of his drug suppliers, for pressuring him too hard to pay off a drug debt. They also said Siavii suspected Kalb of stealing $30,000 from him.

Testimony at trial showed that their operation, which stretched into Hawaii, once turned more than $900,000 in cash in a three-week period in late 2007.

A lower-level dealer who worked for Siavii testified in the trial that Siavii had told him to meet him at the park-and-ride near the airport the night of the killing. When he got there, the witness said he heard a couple of gunshots come out of Kalb's car and that Siavii emerged to wipe the vehicle down.

Siavii testified at trial that it was the dealer, Stephen Riddick, who did the shooting.

"I don't know where they found the presentation lacking in terms of why Mr. Riddick was not the shooter," Siavii's lawyers, Kyle R. Knapp, said in an interview. "On behalf of the Siavii family, we are very disappointed."

The jury foreman, who declined to give his name, said that Siavii hurt his credibility by initially telling sheriff's homicide detectives he wasn't at the park-and-ride. Cell phone transmissions showed Siavii making calls from the area and his DNA was found on a Coca-Cola can in the lot. He later admitted that he had been there.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge James L. Long scheduled Siavii's sentencing for Nov. 22.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County Coroner's department has released the name of a 16-year-old who was killed over the weekend in what police said was a drive-by shooting in south Sacramento.

He has been identified as Jimmy Le of Sacramento.

Sacramento police said they are now investigating the case a homicide.

The teen was attending a party in the 6100 block of Lemon Bell Way when the shooting happened shortly after midnight Sunday.

Someone reportedly fired from a light-colored car. Three others were wounded and taken to area hospitals with non life-threatening injuries.

Le died on Tuesday.

Police are asking anyone with information to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or to text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Enter SACTIP followed by the crime information.

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

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Two teenagers have been arrested in the killing of a Sacramento cab driver earlier this week.

James Walker, 54, was found dead in his taxi early Monday at Hillsdale Village Apartments near Madison Avenue and Interstate 80.

Thumbnail image for 10-18-2010 WALKER JAMES.jpg

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives early this morning booked Jermaine John Campbell, 19, and Jonathan Steven Hudson, 18, into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of murder and robbery.

Campbell was also booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, a charge unrelated to the killing of Walker, according to Sacramento County Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran.

Campbell was arrested at a home in the 2500 block of Seamist Drive and Hudson was arrested in the 500 block of El Camino Avenue.

Sheriff's detectives allege that the two young men were visiting friends at the apartment complex and telephoned for a taxi with the intent to rob the driver.

When Walker arrived at the complex he was shot and killed when the two suspects tried to rob him, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

Walker suffered at least one gunshot wound to his upper body, Curran said.

Deputies were called to the 5100 block of Hillsdale Boulevard Monday after residents reported hearing gunshots at 3:14 a.m.

Deputies found Walker in the driver's seat of his cab, parked in the driveway of the apartment parking lot. Paramedics arrived a short time later and pronounced Walker dead, Curran said.

Nobody witnessed the shooting, Curran said.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A woman who said she fired gunshots into the air when a fight broke out at a North Sacramento apartment complex last year has been sentenced to three years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

Fifty-year-old Susan Ogburn, who has also gone by the name Susan Woods, pleaded no contest in August in the shooting death of Fernando Munoz, 25.

Munoz was fatally wounded March 21, 2009 at an apartment complex at Altos and Eleanor avenues.

Ogburn told police at the time of her arrest that she was trying to help Munoz, a friend, and others on his side of the melee and instead hit him in the upper body.

During an emotional sentencing hearing Friday in Sacramento Superior Court, public defender Jennifer Cerri said that Ogburn, at the urging of her family, wished to withdraw her plea and retain another attorney to represent her.

Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall opposed the request, and it was subsequently denied by Judge Michael A. Savage.

A video showing Munoz, the father of five young children, with family and friends was shown during the hearing. His mother, Sandy Carrell, said a three-year prison term was not adequate for taking a life.

Munoz's family sobbed as they viewed the scenes of his life, and Ogburn, standing in the courtroom cell, appeared to be trying to hold back tears as she nodded toward her family in the courtroom

"This is where my son is now," Carrell said, displaying a gold-colored metal box that she said contained her son's cremated remains.

Carrell said her son never carried a gun and it was not right that his life was taken by someone who did.

Judge Savage said he understood that Munoz's family was not satisfied with the sentence, which was less than the six-year prison term recommended in the probation report. But Savage said he respected the District Attorney's Office's recommendation for the lower sentence.

Kindall said after the hearing that the lesser sentence was sought because "there were issues with proof."

As part of the plea agreement, the voluntary manslaughter will count as a "strike" offense, Kindall said.

After serving her prison sentence, Ogburn will be on parole up to three years. She also was ordered to pay $200 in restitution as well as restitution of $7,548 to the Victims of Violent Crimes Program. The latter amount, however, will be the subject of a restitution hearing Nov. 19.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced a 34-year-old woman today to 15 years to life in prison after she struck and killed 54-year-old Stanley Spaeth while driving drunk in April 2009 - her fifth drunken driving offense.

Rebecca Vela[1].jpgJudge Kevin J. McCormick handed down the sentence - the maximum Rebecca Vela (left) faced - during an emotional hearing this afternoon.

Vela's blood-alcohol level was .21 the night of April 18, 2009 when she rear-ended Spaeth's motorcycle as he was headed home on East Stockton Boulevard in Elk Grove. He had just finished a shift working as a security guard - a second job he had picked up to help pay for his older daughter's upcoming college tuition.

In September, McCormick found Vela guilty of second-degree murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, driving under the influence with prior convictions for the offense and hit-and-run.

Several of Spaeth's relatives spoke at today's hearing of their devastation over his death, his wife's struggle with financial ruin and their collective anger toward a woman whose pattern of drunken driving had reached a fatal climax.

"Rebecca Vela had many opportunities to change her behavior and stop drinking and driving before she murdered our son," said Virginia Spaeth, the victim's mother.

Vela cried for much of the hearing and offered a tearful apology to her victim's family.

"There are no words to express my remorse, my shame or my guilt," she sobbed. "I'm deeply sorry."

She went on to pledge to begin bettering herself, and to "never drink again."

After the sentencing, Spaeth's family members embraced each other and the Elk Grove police detectives who investigated the case.

Spaeth's wife, Denise Spaeth, was somber in her reaction to Vela's sentence.

"It's not a cause for celebration, but it's as much justice as we can have," she said, her eyes red and swollen. "I would rather the law for first offenders change to make this not happen again."

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives have arrested a third suspect in connection with the Sept. 26 shooting death of Oquitzin Bravo.

Olivia Maria Castellano, 20, was arrested Tuesday night and booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of murder and accessory after the fact, according to jail booking records.

Detectives allege that Castellano was at the 47th Avenue party at which the 33-year-old Bravo was fatally shot and helped move the man's body from the backyard, where the shooting occurred, to the street, where deputies found him, said sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran.

Castellano is the daughter of the party's host, Curran said. Her relationship to the other suspects in custody not known, he said.

Ignacio Leyba, 26, is suspected of shooting a second victim at the home (that victim has been treated and released from a hospital).

David Goodier, 27, is accused of assaulting a third victim.

Both men face charges of assault with a deadly weapon, Curran said.

Detectives say the three victims were invited to the party by a friend of the hosts. They allege that Leyba, Goodier, and possibly others started a fight with the victims for unknown reasons before shots were fired.

Anyone with additional information regarding this shooting is urged to call Sheriff's Homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP.

Tipsters may also text message a tip by texting "SACTIP" to 274637, 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 Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Lincoln police have released the name of a man who was shot and killed on Sunday - the first homicide case that the city has seen in a decade.

He was identified as Antonio Morales, 36, of Lincoln.

Police continue to look for Gerardo Ramirez, 37, as a suspect in the fatal shooting of Morales.

Officers responded at about 9 p.m. on Sunday to a report that a man had been shot in the 1600 block of First Street. When they arrived at the Oaks at Joiner Ranch apartment complex they found the dead man.

Several people, including at least four adults, were inside the apartment when the shooting happened, said Lt. Paul Shelgren.

According to witnesses, Shelgren said the victim and the suspect were arguing when the suspect pulled out a handgun and shot Morales.

Investigators are working to determine what the men were arguing about and what triggered the shooting. Shelgren said both men knew each other.

Shelgren said investigators believe that Ramirez fled in a 1996 blue Toyota 4-Runner pick-up truck with the license plate number 5BXC720.

City officials said that the killing was the first homicide in Lincoln in a decade.

"This is the first homicide we have had since 1999 or 2000," said Jill Thompson, a city spokeswoman.

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

By Chelsea Phua and Bill Lindelof
cphua@sacbee.com

Lincoln police are working the first homicide case that the city has seen in a decade.

They are looking for Gerardo Ramirez, 37, as a suspect in the fatal shooting of another man on Sunday night. Authorities are withholding the dead man's identity pending notification of family.

Officers responded at about 9 p.m. on Sunday to a report that a man had been shot at 1685 First St. When they arrived at the Oaks at Joiner Ranch apartment complex they found the dead man.

Several people, including at least four adults, were inside the apartment when the shooting happened, said Lt. Paul Shelgren. According to witnesses, Shelgren said the victim and the suspect were arguing when the suspect pulled out a handgun and shot the victim. Investigators are working to determine what the men were arguing about and what triggered the shooting. Shelgren said both men knew each other.

Shelgren said investigators believe that Ramirez took off in a 1996 blue Toyota 4-Runner pick-up truck with the license plate number 5BXC720.

City officials said that the killing was the first homicide in Lincoln in a decade.

"This is the first homicide we have had since 1999 or 2000," said Jill Thompson, a city spokeswoman.

A 41-year-old Lincoln man was arrested Dec. 20, 2000 on suspicion of stabbing his father to death.

Shelgren said Sunday's killing was an isolated incident.

"This is not an everyday or every year occurrence in Lincoln," Shelgren said. "I would imagine people are shocked."

"But the potential for this type of crime does exist," he said, noting Lincoln's growth and its proximity to other larger cities in the area such as Sacramento.

Most of the witnesses only spoke Spanish, Shelgren said. A lieutenant on duty that night who was fluent in Spanish helped translate the witnesses' statements.

Shelgren advises that anyone who has information or who spots Ramirez should try to observe as much information as possible without intervening into the situation. Anyone with information is asked to call Lincoln Police detective Jason Maschmeyer at (916) 645-4040

By Hudson Sangree and Matt Kawahara
hsangree@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County coroner's office has identified a man who was shot to death at a Carmichael apartment complex Saturday as Richard Alfred Lovett, 35.

The shooting occurred just after 7 p.m. at an apartment complex in the 8700 block of Fair Oaks Boulevard, said Sacramento Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran.

The victim was found on the ground in a parking lot, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, Curran said. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

Curran said a black male in dark clothing was seen jumping in a vehicle after the shooting. The vehicle left at a high rate of speed.

Witnesses said they heard sounds of an argument and then heard gunshots.

Darryl Jackson, who lives nearby, said he was awakened by the sound of gunfire.

"What I heard was like four short shots, bam, bam, bam, bam," he said.

Jackson said he grabbed a flashlight, ran outside and looked over the gate that separates the parking lot where the shooting occurred from the parking lot at the complex where Jackson lives.

Jackson said he saw the victim on the ground with a handful of people gathered around him, including a woman who had to be pulled off of the victim.

"They were picking her up and she was going hysterical," Jackson said.

Sheriff's homicide detectives have not determined a motive for the shooting or a suspect, Curran said in a news release.

Authorities are asking anyone with information to call detectives at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP.

Tipsters may also send a text message by texting to 274637 (CRIMES). 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 Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.

By Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

Sacramento County Sheriff's homicide detectives have arrested two men believed to be involved in a fight that resulted in the shooting death of a 33-year-old man at a Sept. 26 party in south Sacramento.

However, neither man is believed to be the killer.

Oquitzin Bravo and another man was shot during the fight, which broke out at a home in the 5600 block of 47th Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. Bravo was transported to the hospital, where he died.

The second victim, a 30-year-old man, was also taken to the hospital, but has since been released.

Detectives said a third man was assaulted and held at knife-point during the shooting, but he escaped into the neighborhood and hid until deputies arrived.

Authorities said they believe that Ignacio Leyba, 26, shot the second victim and David Goodier, 27, assaulted the third.

Leyba was arrested Sept. 29 at a home in Sacramento and Goodier was arrested on Thursday in Springfield, Ore., where he had been staying with relatives, sheriff officials said.

Investigators say they are working to identify who shot and killed Bravo.

Detectives say that the three victims were invited to the party by a friend of the hosts.

The shooting occurred after Leyba, Goodier and perhaps other people, allegedly started a fight with the victims in the backyard of the home. It's unknown why the fight started.

Authorities said the party's hosts, who live at the 47th Avenue home, have been uncooperative in identifying all the guests at the party.

However, investigators found video surveillance photos from a store near the home.

Leyba was one of the men in the surveillance photos, said department spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran.

The other man in the photos has also been questioned, but not charged at this point, Curran said. Goodier wasn't in the photos.

Leyba was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on charges that include assault with a deadly weapon.

Goodier was booked on the same charge at the Springfield City Jail.

Sacramento County Sheriff's detectives are working with Oregon officials to have Goodier returned to Sacramento.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP.

Tipsters can also send a text message by texting to 274637 (CRIMES). Enter SACTIP, followed by the 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.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Manuel Alvarado-Guerre of first-degree murder in the stabbing death two years ago of Rodolfo Nunez in the North Highlands area.

Authorities said an alcohol-fueled argument over a cell phone prompted a dispute that led to the Oct. 8, 2008, killing of the 28-year-old Nunez.

The victim left a house where he and Alvarado-Guerre had been drinking and passed out in some bushes in a strip-mall parking lot on Walerga Road.

Alvarado-Guerre, 36, followed Nunez, woke him up and stabbed him to death, according to Deputy District Attorney Jeff Ritschard's trial brief.

Judge Michael P. Kenny scheduled Alvarado-Guerre's sentencing for Nov. 5.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A prisoner at California State Prison, Sacramento in Folsom has pleaded guilty to the 2008 murder of a fellow prisoner.

Steven "Matt" Schultz pleaded guilty today to the first-degree murder of Shannon Graling, according to Sacramento County District Attorney's Office news release.

Schultz was sentenced to 50 years to life to be served consecutive to the life term he is serving for murdering his mother and dumping her body in a Rocklin quarry.

"Schultz was scheduled to be considered for parole in 10 years for the murder of his mother," Deputy District Attorney David Brown said in a written statement. "This conviction ensures that he will never be released from prison."

On Feb. 14, 2008, Schultz was in the prison recreation yard when he approached Graling from behind and slit his throat with a box cutter blade, officials said. Graling's jugular vein and carotid artery were severed, and he quickly died from massive blood loss.

Graling was a convicted child molester from the Santa Cruz area and was serving a 401-year sentence.

Schultz was serving a 26-year-to-life sentence for the first-degree murder of his mother, Barbara Schultz. In July 1997, Schultz, then 17 years old, told friends that he intended to murder his mother.

A day later, Schultz struck his mother with a baseball bat, and used his hands and an extension cord to strangle her.

He then threw a party at the Rocklin home and invited his friends to a bedroom to view her corpse. With the aid of friends, he disposed of her body in a water-filled rock quarry.

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

By Bee Staff

A 22-year-old Sacramento man has been arrested in the June 15 robbery-slaying of Fernando Vichez, a Sacramento County sheriff's spokesman said.

Jermaine Antonio Barnes was arrested Thursday by detectives of the sheriff's Homicide Bureau and Major Crimes Bureau at a home in Merced, said Sgt. Tim Curran.

Detectives believe Barnes is one of the suspects responsible for the killing the 50-year-old Vichez in the early hours of June 15 at Howe Avenue and Whippoorwill Lane, Curran said.

A deputy performing a vehicle stop in the area heard the gunshots and discovered Vichez lying in the street and suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The deputy performed cardio pulmonary resuscitation on Vichez until paramedics arrived but Vichez was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later, Curran said.

Witnesses told investigators Vichez was walking on Howe Avenue when a vehicle stopped and three men got out, approached the victim and started fighting with him.

During the fight, one of the suspects produced an unknown type gun and shot the victim multiple times, Curran said.

The suspects then got back into the vehicle and fled.

Detectives have identified three additional suspects in this murder and are working to find them, Curran said.

Barnes was booked into the Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of murder and robbery, Curran said.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call detectives at (916) 874-5057, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP.

Information can be sent by text message tip by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

Sacramento County Sheriff's Department personnel have arrested a Sacramento man in connection with a June 15 robbery and homicide in North Sacramento.

Sheriff's detectives arrested 22-year-old Jermaine Antonio Barnes on Thursday afternoon at a friend's home in Merced, according to a department release.

Detectives believe that Barnes is one of the suspects responsible for killing Fernando Valladares Vichez, 50, near Howe Avenue and Whippoorwill Lane, according to the release.

In the early morning of June 15, a sheriff's deputy in that area heard gunshots and drove to the location, where the deputy found Vichez lying in the street with multiple gunshot wounds, according to the release. Vichez was ttaken to an area hospital and pronounced dead a short time later.

According to the release, witnesses said Vichez was walking on Howe Avenue when three men got out of a vehicle, approached Vichez and started fighting with him. During the fight, one suspect produced a firearm and shot Vichez several times. The suspects then got back into the vehicle and fled.

Barnes was taken to Sacramento County Main Jail and booked on charges of murder and robbery.

Detectives have identified three other suspects in the homicide and are working to locate and arrest them, according to the release.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court judge today sentenced Michael Eugene Jastraub to 30 years to life in prison for killing a 30-year-old Sacramento State graduate student in a traffic wreck two years ago.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Trena Burger-Plavan imposed the term on Jastraub, 42, for the May 15, 2008, death of Janell Denise Cummings. The judge added a sentence of 11 years, 4 months for related charges to run consecutively to the longer sentence.

Jastraub was convicted of second-degree murder July 16 for driving under the influence of methamphetamine, methadone and other drugs when his car caused the collision that resulted in Cummings' death.

Jastraub also was convicted on two felony counts of injuring people while driving under the influence of the drugs and two more felony counts of drug possession.

Jurors also convicted him on misdemeanor drug and paraphernalia possession, driving without a license and hit and run. He also was convicted of driving without insurance.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced Kevin Harper Jr. today to state prison for 25 years to life on his conviction for an assault on a child that resulted in death.

Harper[1].JPGHarper (left), 27, had been acquitted July 16 of second-degree murder in the death of his 6-month-old son, Jaden Harper, who died two days after his father took him to the hospital Aug. 21, 2008, with internal injuries.

But a Sacramento Superior Court jury found Harper guilty of involuntary manslaughter and the assault on a child resulting in death. The latter offense carries the 25-to-life term.

Deputy District Attorney Rochelle Hao said Harper hurt the boy by shaking him. Assistant Public Defender Sue Karlton argued that Jaden Harper suffered from chronic internal bleeding.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet imposed the term.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento jury today convicted George Ellis Wallace of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of two men in their 18th Avenue apartment last year.

Wallace, 38, told the jury "God bless you" after it returned verdicts that he murdered two witnesses to a non-fatal shooting for which his girlfriend has been accused.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette is likely to sentence Wallace to prison for the rest of his life with no chance of parole for the murder conviction that carried two special-circumstance allegations. One was for killing witnesses, the other for multiple murders.

The judge scheduled Wallace's sentencing for Oct. 29.

The fatal shootings of Clifford Eugene Brown, 54, and James Edward Turner, 60, took place after Wallace's girlfriend went to Brown's apartment in the 2200 block of 18th Avenue on Nov. 29 and shot him and his girlfriend, according to police and prosecutors.

Deputy District Attorney Donell Slivka's trial brief said Bryanna Warren, 32, shot Brown and his girlfriend after she had engaged in fistfight with the other woman the previous day. Warren was arrested in the shootings Dec. 2.

Her trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday. She's been charged with attempted murder.

According to the trial brief for Wallace, a man wearing a black ski mask broke into Brown's apartment Dec. 15. Sacramento police later found a copy of Bryanna Warren's police report in Wallace's Sunny Slope Drive apartment.

Investigators also retrieved Wallace's computer and found that he had been conducting Internet searches on Brown, the brief said.

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

RP VUE SIA VANG CRIES[1].JPG

Sia Vang, 32, wife of Steve Lo wipes away tears while she talks to members of the media outside the courtroom after the verdicts were announced. Bee staff photo by Randy Pench

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento jury convicted former Sacramento sheriff's deputy Chu Vue today of murder charges for masterminding the Oct. 15, 2008, shooting death of state correctional officer Steve Lo.

The same jury also acquitted Vue's co-defendant and fellow Hmong clan member, Lang Vue, of the murder count. The panel convicted Lang Vue, however, or harboring the two accused gunmen in the case - Chu Vue's younger brothers Gary Vue and Chong Vue.

RP CHO VUE.JPG
Chu Vue (left), 45, also was convicted of harboring the brothers, who were fugitives who were wanted for murder in Minnesota at the time Lo was shot and killed. The brothers have since been convicted of the Minnesota killing.

"I'm very satisfied with the verdict," said Sia Vang, the wife of the slain correctional officer. "A man that kills another man should be put behind bars for the rest of his life. He should not have any freedom at all."

Chu Vue is facing a probable life term with no chance of parole at his scheduled Oct. 29 sentencing in front of Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White. The jury also found true the special circumstance allegation that the killers were lying in wait when Lo was gunned down.

The judge ordered Lang Vue, 27, released on his own recognizance, after the co-defendant's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Matthew Scoble, said that his client has already served the maximum time for his conviction on what was technically an accessory to a felony count.

Jury foreman Chris Clark said evidence against the former sheriff's deputy was overwhelming.

"It was the amount of evidence," he said, "reaching a height that could not be denied. It wasn't one piece or two pieces. It was the entirety of the evidence that got us there."

Most compelling, Clark said, was Vue's inability on the witness stand to explain his telephone calls to his brothers in the hours leading up to Lo's killing.

Vue spent six days on the witness stand testifying on his own behalf during the seven-week trial.

"It did not help," Clark said.

One unidentified but distraught relative of Vue tried to say something to him as the courtroom emptied, but deputies blocked her from reaching him.

Vue's lawyer, Donald Masuda, as well as Scoble and Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall all cited the pending gag order in the case and did not answer questions afterward.

The Sacramento District Attorney's Office released a statement saying, "Justice was served today in the conviction of Chu Vue for the murder of Correctional Officer Steve Lo."

The statement said the office would not say anything further due to the upcoming trial in February of Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31.

The eight-man, four-woman panel returned its verdict after three and a half days of deliberation.

Police and prosecutors say Chu Vue orchestrated the attack on Lo in the garage of his south area home after the fired former deputy found out that Lo was having an affair with his wife, Chia.

Lo, 39, was shot and killed in the garage of his Tambor Way home in south Sacramento just before 5 a.m. He was in uniform and getting ready to drive to work at the California Medical Facility.

He worked there as a correctional officer. Chia Vue was employed at the Vacaville prison as a medical technical assistant.

Police and prosecutors say their affair had hit critical mass by June 2008, when Lo took Chia Vue to his daughter's high school graduation. By the end of the month, Chu Vue had begun illegally accessing sheriff's computer files to try and get information on Lo, whose name had been entered in the system as a result of his two arrests for domestic violence-related incidents with his first wife. Criminal charges were filed and dismissed in both cases against Lo.

Evidence at the trial showed that Vue had obtained Lo's home address by Aug. 8, 2008. On Aug. 17, he had six calls from one of his cell phones ping off the transmission tower closest to Lo's house. He continued his research on Lo, and between Aug. 23 and Aug. 28, his cell phone pinged off the same tower at 8450 Stockton Boulevard a total of 16 times, phone records showed.

But he denied at trial that he was conducting a surveillance on the correctional officer, saying that his gym is in the neighborhood and probably accounted for his presence. Records subpoenaed by police and prosecutors from the gym during the trial, however, did not match the timing of the phone calls.

langvue.JPG
On Aug. 29, Vue's phone bounced off the tower 11 more times, and on Sept. 4, co-defendant Lang Vue's phone was transmitting in Lo's neighborhood. Lang Vue (left), who lived about a mile and a half away from Lo's house, testified that he regularly shopped at a supermarket close to the slain officer's residence.

Vue testified at trial that his wife told him on Sept. 6 that "we're through," just a couple days before he discovered photographs Lo took of him and Chia Vue together in various sexual poses. Three days after the discovery of the sex photographs, Vue had a sister deposit $25,000 that he said he'd been "hoarding" into a safe deposit box.

A surveillance camera on Steve Lo's street caught Vue driving down the block on Sept. 15. Vue admitted to the drive-by, saying he was checking out the house to see if his wife was there.

By Sept. 19, Vue's brothers had made their first trip to the Sacramento area, after having lived for about seven months in a broken-down mobile home on a 20-acre piece of land in a desolate region of Tehama County. Chu Vue purchased the land the previous year through a hidden buyer, his cousin. He said he planned to use the property for hunting and fishing trips. He testified at trial that he only used it once for that purpose.

The same day the brothers showed up in Sacramento, Chu Vue called them on an untraceable, prepaid cellular phone. "I just wanted to see how they were doing," he testified.

Lang Vue testified that he brought the brothers down from Corning, that they had contacted him after an estimated year and a half of being on the run for the Minnesota murder charges.

In Sacramento, he rented them motel rooms and cars. He said they paid him for the rentals; Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall suggested it was Chu Vue who secretly paid for their upkeep and transportation.

Chu Vue testified that he did not know the brothers were in Sacramento, but the phone records showed him talking to them while both of their cellular devices were pinging off the same towers near the Ramada Inn on Bannon Street. Kindall suggested they actually had a face-to-face meeting at that time.

Cars that bore strong resemblances to the ones Lang Vue had been renting for the brothers began showing up on the surveillance videos on Lo's street about the time Lang Vue had been obtaining the vehicles.

On Sept. 22, one of the rental cars was caught on the tape at the same minute that a prepaid cell phone linked to the brothers pinged off the tower in Lo's neighborhood. Lang Vue bore a resemblance to the driver of the car, but he denied under oath that it was him.

He did, however, admit to driving the brothers to the Tehama County property in the same car he rented within hours of the time stamps on the video and the pinging of the brothers' phone in the neighborhood.

On Sept. 24, Chu Vue's car once again was caught on the video tape driving past Lo's house. He said he was supposed to meet his wife around then at the gym and that he swung by Tambor Way when she didn't' meet him there.

Chu Vue withdrew $3,000 from one of his bank accounts on Oct. 6, and the next day the brothers - through Lang Vue - bought a black Chevy Blazer for $2,000. Prosecutors say the car was depicted in a surveillance video 12 minutes before Steve Lo's wife called 911 to say her husband had been shot. The brothers then used the same car to leave Sacramento two days after the killing, the prosecution alleged.

Kindall, the prosecutor, argued that Vue was obsessed with his wife and that her affair with Lo drove him "over the edge." Vue, Kindall argued, had "the oldest motive known to man" to commit murder. He said that Vue's brothers "owed him big time" for helping them stay free while they were wanted on murder charges.

Chu Vue's lawyer, Donald Masuda, said his client had "moved on" from his relationship with Chia Vue. The lawyer said Vue's wife had been having affairs with so many men that it didn't make sense for Vue to single out just one.

Masuda said the killing was the work of the younger "dirt bag" brothers alone.

Photo caption: Former Sacramento sheriff's deputy Chu Vue listens as the verdict is read in Sacramento Superior court on Wednesday. A jury convicted Vue of of murder for masterminding the Oct. 15, 2008, shooting death of state correctional officer Steve Lo. Photo by Randy Pench

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Jurors have reached a verdict in the Chu Vue murder trial, a court official said today.

Sacramento Superior Court spokeswoman Ginger Sylvester said the eight-man, four-woman panel will announce its verdict at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The case is being heard by Judge Steve White.

The jury reached its decision just before it went home for the day today, at the end of its fourth day of deliberations.

The panel began its discussions on the case last Thursday. It has had no substantive questions on the law or requests for readbacks of testimony.

Vue, 45, is accused of arranging the Oct. 15, 2008, shooting death of state correctional officer Steve Lo because the victim was having an affair with the former deputy's wife.

Vue is being tried along with co-defendant Lang Vue, 27, a fellow Hmong clan member.

Lang Vue is accused of renting motel rooms and cars for the former deputy's brothers, who have been named as the gunmen in the case.

The brothers, Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31, were wanted for a 2001 murder in Minnesota at the time of the Lo killing.

They have since been convicted in that case. They are scheduled to be tried next year for Lo's death.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said jurors had not reached a verdict today.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Three Sacramento men were convicted Monday in the gang-related murder of a 25-year-old man in the north Sacramento area three years ago.

Hector Jaime Garcia, 26, Edward Garcia, 23, and Manuel Alvarez Jr., 25, are scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 5 by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Greta Curtis Fall.

A separate jury began its deliberations today on a fourth defendant in the case, David Moses Ballesteros, 23.

They were accused in the Aug. 19, 2007, shooting death of Stephen Matthew "Bo" Clay in the 700 block of Eleanor Avenue.

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

By Queenie Wong and Loretta Kalb
qwong@sacbee.com

A 33-year-old man, who police say was shot to death after a fight broke out at a party in south Sacramento early today, has been identified as Oquitzin Bravo, according to Sacramento County Coroner's Office online records.

The victim was shot in the abdomen and taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to the Sacramento Sheriff's Department.

The shooting, which wounded another person, is still under investigation and no arrests have been made, said Sgt. Tim Curran, a sheriff's spokesman.

The second man, 30, suffered at least one gunshot wound to his upper body and was transferred to a local hospital where authorities said he is expected to survive.

Deputies arrived at a home in the 5600 block of 47th Ave. shortly after 2:30 a.m. today and found two men wounded by gunfire.

Witnesses said the men were attending a party in the home when they fought with at least one other partygoer. During a fight, an unidentified man drew a handgun and fired several times at the victims, Curran said. The suspect fled on foot.

Witnesses described the suspect as a 6-feet tall white man with a skinny build, wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information is urged to call Sheriff's homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Tipsters may also send a text message tip by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.


View 5600 Block of 47th Ave in a larger map

Call The Bee's Queenie Wong, (916) 321-1008.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Jurors began deliberations in the Chu Vue murder trial today, sent off after the prosecutor again said that the fired former Sacramento sheriff's deputy's obsession with his cheating wife led him to arrange the killing of her lover, state correctional officer Steve Lo.

"He made Steve Lo pay the price for getting between him and his wife," Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall told the eight-man, four-woman Sacramento Superior Court jury.

Judge Steve White sent the panel into deliberations in the seventh week of the trial in which 93 witnesses, including Chu Vue and his co-defendant, fellow Hmong clan member Lang Vue, testified.

Chu Vue, 45, and Lang Vue, 27, are accused of orchestrating, aiding and abetting a murder conspiracy in which Lo was gunned down in the garage of his Tambor Way home on Oct. 15, 2008, while he was leaving for work at his job at the California Medical Facility.

It is at the Vacaville prison where Lo got involved with Chu Vue's wife, Chia, who was employed as a medical technical assistant.

The former deputy is accused of retaining his brothers to carry out the shooting death of Lo. The brothers, Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31, were wanted on a federal murder warrant for a 2001 killing in Minnesota at the time of Lo's death. They have since been convicted in the Minnesota murder and are scheduled to be tried in the Lo case next year.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Chu Vue's lawyer today blamed the shooting death of state correctional officer Steve Lo two years ago solely on the defendant's two younger brothers, saying of the pair, "I think they like to kill."

In his closing arguments at Vue's murder trial, defense attorney Donald Masuda said younger brother Gary Vue and Chong Vue also had two other possible motives to kill Lo. One was that Lo might turn them in because they were both subject of federal murder warrants. The other was that they were trying to protect the family honor because Chu Vue's wife, Chia, was having an affair with Lo.

Masuda based his third motive on the fact that the brothers had already killed a man in Minnesota in 2001, for which they have subsequently been convicted.

"These two guys, Gary and Chong, they like to hurt people," Masuda said.

In blaming the brothers, Masuda again asserted that Vue did not order the Oct. 15, 2008, shooting death of Lo and asked the jury to acquit his client.

Masuda said that if language barriers may have prevented Vue from getting his message to the jury in his testimony that lasted six days, the translation, in the lawyer's words would have been, "I didn't know those two dirtbag brothers of mine were going to do this.

"There was no planning," Masuda said. "This was just as arbitrary and dumb as that shooting in Minnesota."

Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall, in his rebuttal remarks, told the jury, "Don't trust Chu Vue." He called Gary and Chong Vue "the scum of the earth" and "a couple of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals." But he also said it was Chu Vue who arranged the killing to get back at Lo for the affair and that his co-defendant and fellow Hmong clan member, Lang Vue, also aided and abetted the purported gunmen and conspired with them.

Chu Vue and Lang Vue "are in this up to their eyeballs," Kindall said.

Chu Vue, 45, is accused or putting his brothers up to shoot and kill the 39-year-old Lo over the affair the correctional officer was having with the fired former Sacramento sheriff's deputy's wife.

Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31, are scheduled to be tried early next year.

Kindall's is scheduled to conclude his rebuttal Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court, after which Steve White will instruct the jury for the final time and send the six-man, six-woman panel into deliberations.

Masuda also argued today that his client, a fired former Sacramento sheriff's deputy, is "not an obsessive person" who was out to kill the man having an affair with his wife and that he never "stalked" the correctional officer whose shooting death he is charged with arranging. Those charges leveled against his client on Tuesday by Kindall in his closing argument were just a bunch of "spin," Masuda said.

"That's what happened yesterday," Masuda told a six-man, six-woman Sacramento Superior Court jury. "That's what's happened throughout this case."

Masuda then stepped back, pointed at Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall and said, "This man here is highly intelligent, and he's putting a spin on everything."

Vue, 45, is accused or putting his brothers up to shoot and kill Steve Lo on Oct. 15, 2008, over the affair the correctional officer was having with the former deputy's wife,.

The defendant's younger brother, Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31, are scheduled to be tried early next year. At the time of Lo's death, the two accused gunmen were wanted on a murder warrant out of Minnesota. They've since been convicted in that case.

Masuda had not yet touched on Vue's relationship with his younger brothers before Judge Steve White called for the noon recess. His closing argument is expected to conclude this afternoon, after which Kindall will deliver his rebuttal remarks. White will then present his final instructions to the jury either today or tomorrow, after which it will begin deliberations in a case that is now in its seventh week of trial.

Kindall on Tuesday said that Vue's obsession with his wife drove the former deputy "over the edge" and into murder. Today, Masuda countered by saying that obsession is not one of his client's character traits. To demonstrate his point, Masuda referred to testimony from a woman Vue had been trying to pursue in his own extramarital activity and said that when she told him she was not interested in a relationship with him, Vue he stopped going after her.

"He's not an obsessive person," Masuda said. "He's not somebody who stalks people."

The defense attorney again was challenging a contention issued the day before by Kindall that Vue had "stalked" and "hunted" down Lo once he obtained the correctional officer's name. The prosecutor cited the dozens of phone calls Vue made from cell phones that pinged off a tower near Lo's home as evidence of his staking out the correctional officer. But Masuda said that such a conclusion was the product of additional "spin" by Kindall.

In trying to explain the calls, Masuda said there were numerous stores and restaurants that Vue frequented in the vicinity of the cell tower in Stockton Boulevard that is closest to Lo's home on Tambor Way.

Masuda, in his opening statements to the jury at the outset of trial, said that the younger brothers acted on their own in killing Lo. He said then that they shot the officer because they feared Chia Vue had told him about their fugitive status. As for his client's relationship with his wife, Vue testified in the trial that he "moved on" from her after he found out that she was having affairs with a number of men.

Kindall on Tuesday said that Vue had done nothing of the sort, and that his continued letters to her and other relatives while he was in jail proved his obsession, which Masuda today said was "just spin."

"Who wrote in the book of morality...that relationships are never going to go up and down?" Masuda said. "Who makes those rules? Nobody."

Earlier today, Matthew Scoble, the attorney for Vue's fellow Hmong clan member and co-defendant in the murder trial, Lang Vue, 27, concluded his closing argument by saying his client was innocent.

Lang Vue, a longtime friend of Gary Vue and also an acquaintance of his older brother, is accused of aiding and abetting the gunmen by renting them cars and motel rooms and delivering the money on a car they bought to use the morning of the killing and then a few days later to drive back to Minnesota from Sacramento.

Scoble likened his client's involvement to that of the ticket agents who sold airplane tickets to the Sept. 11 terrorists who hijacked planes and flew them into buildings. Lang Vue, he said, had no idea what the brothers were up to when they contacted him in the weeks prior to the killing.

"These men used this man as a pawn," Scoble said of the brothers and his client. "They used and abused his affection. And they did it without him knowing."

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A 57-year-old man with a quarter-century criminal record was convicted today in a DNA cold-hit murder case.

The Sacramento Superior Court Jury also found Donald Carter guilty of rape, robbery and burglary in the May 23, 1989, beating death of Sophia McAllister, 80, in her home in the 500 block of Eleanor Boulevard.

Carter, whose past convictions range from drug cases to assault, was arrested in the case last year, after a 2005 DNA test matched his genetic material to the McAllister killing.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 15.

In 2005, the Sacramento County Crime Lab developed a DNA profile for a possible suspect, but it didn't match any offenders on state or national databases at that time.

In March, 2009, Sacramento Police Department investigators linked that evidence with a DNA sample gathered from Carter. The sample was taken when Carter was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on an unrelated narcotics charge.

Records indicated that Carter lived about two blocks from McAllister at the time of the killing, according to a police report.

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

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

Tylar Marie Witt, whose lurid writings detailed a forbidden teenage relationship and an alleged murder plot, pleaded guilty today of the brutal killing of her mother.

tylarwitt.jpgWitt (left) was 14 at the time of June, 2009 killing of her mother, Joanne Witt, in their El Dorado Hills home.

She accepted a plea bargain that will send her to prison for 15 years to life in exchange for her testimony at the trial of her former boyfriend, Steven Paul Colver (bottom right).

Colver, who was 19 at the time of the crime, is charged with stabbing Joanne Witt to death in her bed after Tylar Witt summoned him to house in the predawn hours.

The teen lovers were allegedly furious that Joanne Witt filed a statutory rape report against Colver and gave authorities her daughter's journal detailing a sexual relationship between the teens.

Under a plea bargain agreed to before El Dorado County Judge James R. Wagoner, Witt pleaded guilty to first-degree murder with two special circumstances: lying in wait and killing a witness.

If she fails to cooperate with authorities, she will be sent to prison for 25 years to life. Under the plea bargain, she will get 15 years for second-degree murder.NorCal Mom Killed[1].jpg

Witt originally pleaded non-guilty by reason of insanity in to the case.

Her attorney, Mark Ralphs, said the plea deal - long in the works - means that "Witt has to testify truthfully" in all upcoming proceedings.

"What everyone has bargained for is her truthful testimony," Ralphs said.

Prosecutor Lisette Suder said court documents signed by the Witt, now 15, affirmed the girl's role in the killing.

"She pleaded guilty to murder and murder with special circumstances," Suder said. "She didn't say, 'No contest.' She said, 'I plead guilty.'"

Call The Bee's Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.

Chu Vue[1].jpgBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The defense rested today in the Chu Vue murder trial, setting the stage for closing arguments that Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White scheduled for Tuesday.

Defense attorney Donald Masuda concluded his case by calling two prison employees from the California Medical Facility in Vacaville. The employees testified that they had sex with Vue's wife in the year after the Oct. 15, 2008, shooting death of their fellow correctional officer Steve Lo.

Masuda had said earlier in the trial that the testimony was necessary to undercut suggestions that Vue still loved his wife and wanted to maintain his relationship with her even after he was arrested and charged with murder in Lo's death.

Prosecutors say that he arranged the killing in anger over his wife's affair with Lo and that he was obsessed with her, even through his testimony that concluded on Wednesday. The defense maintained in trial that Vue had moved on from the relationship and that her affairs did not motivate him to kill anybody.

Vue, 45, is on trial with fellow Hmong clan member Lang Vue, 27, who is accused of renting motel rooms and cars and then buying a sports utility vehicle that the suspected gunmen drove the night of the killing and then used to drive home to Minnesota afterward.

The accused gunmen are Chu Vue's younger brothers, Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31. The two were wanted for a 2001 murder in Minnesota at the time of Steve Lo's death. They have since been convicted in the Minnesota case and are scheduled to be tried next year in the Lo shooting.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The last hour of Chu Vue's testimony turned into a warm-up Wednesday for the prosecution and defense attorneys to practice their closing arguments.

While the fired former Sacramento sheriff's deputy sat and answered "no" to everything, Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall ran through the heart of his case in the form of a string of questions, concluding by asking Vue if he was the "mastermind" of the "assassination" of state correctional officer Steve Lo.

Defense lawyer Donald Masuda then used his client in the same fashion, going back to his theory that Vue's younger brothers carried out the hit on their own and that the former deputy is "not the mastermind of anything."

At the end of his sixth day of testimony, toward the end of the sixth week of the trial, Vue stepped down from the witness stand and Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White told the jury that the end is near.

"It's likely that the evidence will conclude tomorrow," White told the jury at the close of Wednesday's session. "I expect you'll be deliberating on this case next week."

Earlier Thursday, Kindall confronted Vue with several jail letters the defendant rote to his wife that suggested he was still deeply in love with her long after he contends he had moved on from the relationship.

"I miss you and love only you," the fired former Sacramento sheriff's deputy wrote to his wife, Chia, on May 22, 2009, according to a translation from the original Hmong script.

"Wait for me, be faithful to me. Even though I am not there with you, you must be faithful to me," he wrote in another.

"Maybe you will see I can be measured up against other men/husbands you dream about," Vue said in a different letter.

He told her at one point, "Please love me a little bit and I will be greatly happy."

The letters presented by Kindall were intended to undermine a key defense of Vue's that he had no reason to arrange the shooting death of Lo because he had moved on from his relationship with his wife and was seeing other women.

Police and prosecutors say Vue, 45, retained his younger brothers Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31, to carry out the Oct. 15, 2008, killing because his wife was having an affair with Lo.

The brothers at the time were wanted for a 2001 murder in Minnesota. They have since been arrested and convicted in the Minnesota case. They are scheduled to stand trial in Lo's killing next year.

Kindall suggested in his continued cross-examination of Vue today that the defendant was "obsessed" with his wife.

Vue denied it.

Vue said in one letter he was so upset that his wife had not mailed him back that if she didn't hear from him again soon, it would be because he was on suicide watch.

He talked about his dreams of her while he was in jail and his recollections of washing her while they took showers together in the better days of their marriage.

The letters took a turn in tone after Vue had been in custody for several months and she stopped accepting his calls or returning his mail.

This past April 20, he wrote to Chia Vue to tell her that "it is because of your playing around that led to the destruction of our lives."

He told her in the same note, there will "be a day where you will even be more sorry for yourself and more miserable than you are now."

In a letter to his pastor, Vue wrote about his wife, "I believe Satan does have a strong hold on her."

Vue suggested in letters to his children that he was upset with the fact that his wife continued to see other men, while he was in custody.

"One day her lies are going to catch up with her and it's going to be worse than it is now," Vue wrote to one of his daughters, after saying in an earlier letter that "it bugs the s--- out of me" that she was dating another prison employee.

Chia Vue, a medical technical assistant at the California Medical Facility, worked in the Vacaville prison along with Lo at the time of his death.

Defense attorney Masuda noted in his questioning that his client also wrote love letters to another female interest of his, which the lawyer suggested undercut the idea that the defendant was obsessed with his wife.

In denying any obsession, Vue testified under questioning from Masuda that "I knew for a fact that Chia and I were not going to work out." He said she "betrayed me," but that "she's still the mother of my children" and that he needed her at the time "to support me financially" so he could pay for his defense.

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

By Carlos Alcala
calcala@sacbee.com

A jury gave the death penalty today to David Charles Zanon for running down and killing California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Russell on July 31, 2007.

ZANONx32654[1].JPGThe El Dorado County Superior Court jury found Zanon (left) guilty on Aug. 4 of killing Russell in a manner that required a second deliberation to determine if Zanon's crimes merited the death penalty.

Zanon, who had a warrant for his arrest, was found outside a burglarized business in Rancho Cordova and sped off, leading officers from multiple jurisdictions on a chase along Highway 50.

Prosecutors argued that Zanon coldly and with premeditation steered off Highway 50 in El Dorado County onto the median to kill Russell, who had just set out a spike strip in an attempt to stop him.

In addition to the murder, Zanon was found guilty of attempting to murder CHP Officer Wayne Kenneweg, whom he also swerved toward during the pursuit that led from Rancho Cordova deep into El Dorado County.

Zanon also was found guilty of assault on Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Shannon Schumaker; guilty of evading an officer, causing death; felony leaving the scene of an accident; and receiving stolen property.

"Today, justice has finally been served for the cold-blooded killing of Officer Scott Russell," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "While nothing can erase the everlasting pain and sorrow felt by Officer Russell's family and friends, may today's decision at least bring some relief that this process is over."

His defense, conducted by Mark D. Millard, attempted to undercut the prosecution's allegations that Zanon wanted to kill the officers he encountered.

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

By Queenie Wong
qwong@sacbee.com

A 22-year-old Sacramento resident was arrested this morning in Redwood City in connection with a fatal shooting in Rancho Cordova and has been transported to a Bay Area hospital after he jumped from a third-story window trying to escape detectives, according to law enforcement officials.

According to Sacramento County Sheriff's Department officials, Robert Vasquez will face charges for the killing of 49-year-old Madalene Thomas, who was fatally shot Sunday morning on Explorer Drive in Rancho Cordova while driving in a car with her 18-year-old nephew.

According to a Sheriff's Department news release, here are the details of the arrest:

Detectives tracked down Vasquez shortly after 3 a.m. to a motel on El Camino Real in Redwood City. When detectives knocked on his motel room door, the suspect jumped from the third story window, trying to escape. Detectives found him lying in the parking lot with multiple serious injuries.

Paramedics transported him to a hospital, where he is in critical condition. Once he's released from the hospital, he will be transported to Sacramento, where he will face murder charges, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Another suspect has always been identified and was interviewed by detectives, but he has not been arrested. The investigation is ongoing and a motive for the murder is unclear, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Anyone with information about the shooting should call sheriff's homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115.

Call The Bee's Queenie Wong, (916) 321-1008.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Chu Vue testified today that it was his daughter who first told him that Steve Lo had been shot and killed, but that he had no idea at the time who might have done it.

Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall, in his second day of cross-examination, expressed incredulity that Vue didn't know who had done it, in that he had spoken to his brothers in the preceding weeks and that one of them had told him they wanted to "jack" Lo up.

"If I knew who it was them who did the killing, I wouldn't be sitting here right now," Vue testified.

Vue, 45, a fired former Sacramento sheriff's deputy, is accused of murder on charges that he arranged Lo's slaying because the victim was having an affair with Vue's wife.

He testified his daughter woke him up at noon the day of the Oct. 15, 2008, shooting of Lo to tell him that she had spoken to her mother and "she said something about mom's boyfriend being killed."

The questioning came as Kindall continued his relentless cross-examination, wearing Vue down with literally hundreds of questions the past two days about the timing of his phone calls and the contents of the conversations he had with his on-the-lam brothers in the month leading up to the shooting death of Lo, a state correctional officer.

Vue seemed to grow tired as the morning wore on, his voice dropping several decibel levels.

He was at a loss to explain his dozens of calls to his younger brothers Chong and Gary Vue.

In one conversation, Kindall noted that Vue was calling one of his brothers at 6:51 p.m. on Sept. 21, 2008, at the same time his car was seen driving past Lo's south Sacramento house. It was a little more than three weeks before Lo was gunned down in his garage while he was going to work.

"I don't know," Vue answered, when asked what they were talking about. "I don't recall why I'm making that phone call."'

Vue had testified he was looking for his wife. Prosecutors say it was her affair with Lo that motivated Vue to have the 39-year-old victim killed. The younger brothers are accused of carrying out the fatal shooting attack.

Asked if he was angry while he was looking for his wife, Vue replied, "I'd say I was angry, yes."

Later that same evening, Chong Vue's cell phone pinged off the transmission tower closest to Chu Vue's house, but the former deputy denied that the brothers ever stayed at his residence or that he ever saw them there after Minnesota authorities swore out a warrant for their arrest for a 2001 murder in Minneapolis. They were later convicted in that case.

An hour after Chong Vue's phone pinged off the tower closest to his brother's house, it pinged again off the tower closest to Steve Lo's house.

Lo was shot and killed Oct. 15, 2008. Chong Vue and Gary Vue are scheduled to be tried for Lo's murder next year.

Some of Kindall's pointed questions contained what police and prosecutors believe are the answers to the events that led up to Lo's killing.

When Vue could not explain why his cell phone pinged off the tower near Lo's home three times on Sept. 27, 2008. Kindall asked, "It certainly had nothing to do with your conducting a surveillance on Steve Lo's home?"

"No," Vue replied.

Kindall noted that on Sept. 28, 2008, Vue was running a trace on a number he retrieved from his wife's cell phone, some three weeks after he said he had come to terms with the fact their marriage was through.

"Why are you still snooping on her on the 28th of September, Mr. Vue?" Kindall asked.

"I don't think it was snooping," Vue replied. "I was curious."

"Curious or obsessed, Mr. Vue?" Kindall asked.

Judge Steve White sustained defense attorney Donald Masuda's objection to Kindall's question.

The cross-examination continues this afternoon in Sacramento Superior Court.

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

By Jane Braxton Little

Lassen County officials battling to block a convicted killer from being paroled in their rural area were close to a partial victory Tuesday.

Loren Herzog, initially convicted of three first-degree murders and implicated in several others, will most likely be paroled to state property near a state prison in Lassen County, said Ken DeVore, chief of staff for Assemblyman Dan Logue.

"It's a 95 percent done deal," DeVore said.

One option is to release Herzog to state property near a state prison in Lassen County, said Steve Thomson, a spokesman for Assemblyman Dan Logue. His announcement mid-way through a Lassen County Board of Supervisors meeting today drew a cheer from the emotional crowd of 450 residents but it did not halt their efforts to completely prevent Herzog from being placed in Lassen County.

"None of us wants this scum here," said Supervisor Jack Hanson., whose district includes the tiny community of Doyle, where the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation planned to relocate Herzog on Saturday after his release Friday from a prison in Riverside County.

Herzog won an appeals court ruling after his 2001 conviction on first-degree murder charges that included the rape and murder of Cyndi Vanderheiden in 1998. He then pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in Vanderheiden's death, reducing his initial 78-year sentence to 14 years.

The prison system cannot hold Herzog after Friday, said Lassen County Sheriff Steve Warren.

Placing him on the grounds of a prison, where he will wear an electronic monitor be under constant surveillance, is better than having him loose in an unprotected community, he said. But Warren and the county supervisors pledged to continue their campaign to prevent Herzog from entering Lassen County under any circumstances.

They are seeking a court order prohibiting the state Department of Corrections from sending Herzog to the rural county.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Jack Aaron Squires for the shooting deaths of his mother and grandmother two years ago in their Woodlake home.

Jurors also found that Squires, 47, committed the murders for financial gain. Along with the multiple murders, it was a special allegation that figures to result in a life prison term with no chance of parole for Squires at his scheduled Oct. 15 sentencing by Judge Robert M. Twiss.

Police and prosecutors said that Squires killed his mother, Kathleen Roloff, 65, and his grandmother, Elma Alberta Matranga, 94, so he could get to the proceeds of a $400,000 loan they had taken out against the house in the leafy north area neighborhood where they were both shot and killed. (An earlier version of this story misspelled Matranga's first name.)

Squires had claimed that his mother was suicidal and that she killed his grandmother and then turned the gun on herself.

Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet said in her closing argument last week that forensics evidence conclusively demonstrated that Roloff did not kill herself.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A woman with three prior drunken driving convictions was found guilty of murder Monday for a fatal collision in Elk Grove that took the life of a 54-year-old man last year.

Rebecca Vela[1].jpgThe Sacramento Superior Court jury also found Rebecca Armida Vela (left), 34, guilty of hit and run, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and driving under the influence in the April 18, 2009, crash that killed Stanley Franklin Spaeth Jr.

Vela is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 13 by Judge Kevin J. McCormick.

Spaeth was headed home from work - a second job he picked up to prepare for his oldest daughter's college enrollment in the fall - when his motorcycle was struck on East Stockton Boulevard in Elk Grove. He was thrown from his motorcycle and suffered fatal injuries.

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

By Niesha Lofing
nlofing@sacbee.com

Sacramento police are investigating an early morning midtown shooting that left one dead and three injured following Second Saturday.

Officers were patrolling around J and 18th streets, where more than 200 people had gathered, when they heard several gunshots, Officer Konrad von Schoech said.

People began screaming and running away. Officers were unable to see the shooter.

"It was kind of chaotic," he said.

Officers found four shooting victims as the crowd began to disperse. Two men and one woman, all in their 20s, were trying to crawl to safety, von Schoech said. They were taken to local hospitals and are expected to survive their injuries.

A man, 24, suffered at least one gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Sacramento County Coroners Office identified the man killed as Victor Hugo Perez Zavala of Sacramento.

Homicide investigators are trying to determine what caused the shooting. They're also investigating whether the shooting was connected to a fight between two large groups of people earlier Saturday evening, he said.

The shooting occurred after Second Saturday had concluded and police do not think the crowds gathered had been taking part in the art event.

"They were clearly loitering out there," von Schoech said.

Five additional police officers have been added to patrols during Second Saturday because of an increase in nuisance complaints.

"We find that a lot of the nuisance reports are due to juveniles are milling around loitering," he said..

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text a tip to 274637 and enter SACTIP, followed by the tip information.

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

Call The Bee's Niesha Lofing at (916) 321-1270.

By Loretta Kalb
lkalb@sacbee.com

A 49-year-old woman who was shot to death while driving with her son in Rancho Cordova this morning has been identified as Madalene Cecilia Thomas.

Thomas, whose identity was released today by the Sacramento County Coroner's Office, was driving with her 18-year-old son about 12:30 a.m. when she was shot by the driver of another vehicle near the intersection of Explorer Drive and Greensboro Circle, south of Highway 50, police spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said.

Thomas' son was not injured in the shooting.

When Rancho Cordova police officers arrived, the woman was inside her car in the parking lot of a business complex at the 3000 block of Explorer Drive.

She had suffered one gunshot to her upper body. Paramedics arrived a short time later and pronounced her dead at the scene.

The woman's son told officers they were headed south on Explorer Drive when a car with two occupants passed them and stopped near the Greensboro Circle intersection. When his mother pulled alongside the stopped car, the driver of the other vehicle got out and fired one shot, authorities reported.

Although the woman was hit, she was able to drive a short distance, until her car hit a tree at the business complex, authorities said.

Police said the woman's son was unable to describe either of the suspects or the other vehicle.

Anyone with information about the murder is urged to call Sheriff's Homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP; or text 274637 (CRIMES) then 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 Loretta Kalb, (916) 321-1073.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

reed.jpgThe second suspect wanted in connection with the fatal shootout at a North Highlands pharmacy earlier this month is in custody in Nevada, according to authorities.

Reno police officers arrested 33-year-old Bernard Krungerrun Reed of Rancho Cordova at a motel Thursday night, said Sacramento County sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran.

The arrest was made at the behest of sheriff's detectives, who identified Reed as the second suspect in the Sept. 2 homicide and traced him to Reno, Curran said.

Reed and 42-year-old Kelvin Peterson, who has been in custody since Sept. 4, are accused in the death of Tania Gurskiy, a 27-year-old clerk killed during a botched robbery attempt at the Rexall pharmacy on Watt Avenue.

When Reed is transferred to Sacramento County, he will be booked into the Main Jail on charges of murder and robbery, Curran said.

Authorities also announced today that Peterson, the first suspect, was identified after he lost a fingertip during his exchange of gunfire with a pharmacy clerk.

The fingertip had a complete fingerprint detail, and state Department of Justice technicians were able to match it to Peterson, putting him at the scene of the homicide, Curran said.

Reed was not armed during the incident, Curran said.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Chu Vue testified today that his wanted-for-murder brothers found out that his wife was breaking up with her lover and that he heard one of them say, "This guy knows too much."

The former Sacramento sheriff deputy's statement about his brothers came at the end of a day of testimony where he denied having anything to do with the killing of state correctional officer Steve Lo.

Defense attorney Donald Masuda said in his opening statement to the jury at the outset of trial that Vue's younger brother Gary Vue killed Lo on his own because he thought the officer was going to turn in the brothers.

Chu Vue[1].jpgVue (left) testified that he had been telling his younger brothers Gary and Chong Vue himself to turn themselves in for a 2001 murder in Minnesota for which they were ultimately convicted.

In a phone conversation with his brothers a few days before Steve Lo's death, Chu Vue said he told Chong Vue about the end of his wife Chia Vue's affair with Lo.

"Chong said, 'Can we trust this guy Steve Lo?'" Chu Vue testified. "I said, 'I don't know, but you guys leave it alone. Go back to Minnesota.'"

The testimony did not explain why the brothers would have had a problem with Lo. But Vue testified earlier in the day that Chia Vue knew the brothers were murder fugitives.

Masuda also suggested in his opening statement last month that Lo would have known about the brothers' circumstances through Chia Vue.

Vue testified that he then heard his brother Gary say in the background, about Lo, "This guy knows too much."

In earlier testimony, Chu Vue admitted that it was his truck depicted at least twice driving down Steve Lo's street in the month before the state correctional officer was shot and killed in the garage of his south Sacramento home.

But Vue said he had good reason to be driving down Tambor Way - his wife, Chia Vue, was having an affair with Lo, and he was checking to see if she was there.

Authorities say surveillance videos on the block captured Vue's vehicle on two other occasions driving down Lo's street, but Vue said he was not sure it was his truck.

Police and prosecutors say it was Chu Vue's anger and jealousy over his wife Chia Vue's affair with Lo that drove him to arrange for his two younger brothers to carry out the fatal Oct. 15, 2008, shooting.

Authorities say Vue was casing Lo's home when he conducted his drive-bys. He testified today that was not the case.

When he drove by Lo's house on Sept. 16, 2008, he said that he and his wife had already informed their two younger children they were getting a divorce. He said he drove by the house that day "to see if she was out there."

On Sept. 24, 2008, Vue said he was supposed to meet his wife at a gym not far from Lo's house but that she didn't show up.

"I didn't see her at the workout," he said. "After I did my workout, I figured I'd drive by and check if she was there." He told the jury, "I was just looking for her."

Vue is expected to spend the rest of the afternoon testifying in his Sacramento Superior Court trial in front of Judge Steve White.

Vue said in his morning testimony today that his wife admitted that she was having an affair with Lo when he asked her about mysterious telephone numbers that were showing up on their monthly bills.

Chia Vue told him in early September 2008 that their marriage was finished.

"We're through," he said she told him in a phone message. "I will leave you everything - the house, the kids. I will start a new life with someone," Vue quoted his wife as saying.

He said she also admitted she was having sexual encounters with several other employees at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, where Chia Vue and Steve Lo also worked.

Also in his testimony today, Vue tried to explain why his two younger brothers who were wanted for a 2001 murder in Minnesota were living in a mobile home on a 20-acre piece of property he bought - surreptitiously, under a relative's name -- in 2007, near Corning in Tehama County.

He said his younger brothers Gary Vue and Chong Vue had contacted him from a place they were hiding out near Fresno. He said he spoke to Chong Vue and told him he needed to go back to Minnesota and turn himself in.

But Chu Vue said he offered to let the two of them stay at the Corning property until he got back from a vacation in Laos in late 2007 when "we could resolve the issue."

"I know it was harboring," Vue said, admitting to the felony violation of harboring his brothers who were wanted fugitives at the time on the murder warrant out of Minneapolis.

Vue said he acquired the property in the first place to use as a base for his hunting and fishing hobbies.

The former deputy, under questioning from his attorney, Donald Masuda, also sought to undercut the prosecution's contention that he and his brother Gary were close enough to carry out a murder plot together by testifying that they had a lousy relationship.

Vue said he first helped send Gary Vue off to Minnesota when the younger brother got into gang activity in Sacramento as a youth. When he found out Gary was involved in a murder in Minnesota, he said he exploded.

"I talked to him and I said, 'Why do you do the same thing over and over again?'" Vue testified. "He said f-- off. Get out of my business...So I beat him up."

He said he told Gary Vue in a later conversation, "I hope you go to prison for life."

Chu Vue said his conversation with Gary Vue took place in mid-2006, after he first learned that Gary and Chong were wanted for the Minnesota for which they were later convicted.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Chu Vue began testifying in his own defense this afternoon at his murder trial, giving a brief recitation of Hmong culture and beliefs before the trial wrapped up for the day.

The former Sacramento sheriff's deputy is scheduled to be back on the witness stand when the trial resumes Wednesday in front of Superior Court Judge Steve White.

Dressed in a blue suit and chained to his chair, Vue did not get into any of the key details of the case in his 20 minutes on the stand during which he was questioned by his attorney, Donald Masuda.

He testified about how he was born in Laos, moved to the United States at age 13, went to school in Sacramento, got his bachelor's degree from Sacramento State and worked for the Sheriff's Department for 13 years.

The 45-year-old defendant's employment with the agency came to an end following the Oct. 15, 2008, shooting death of California correctional officer Steve Lo in the garage of his Tambor Way home in south Sacramento.

Authorities charged Vue with setting up the killing because Lo was having an affair with the former deputy's wife, Chia Vue.

Also charged in the case is Vue's fellow Hmong clan member, Lang Vue, 27, who is accused of renting motel rooms and cars and buying a vehicle for the allgeded gunmen - Chu Vue's younger brothers, Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31.

The two younger Vues were wanted for a murder in Minnesota at the time of Lo's death. They have since been convicted in that case.

They are waiting to stand trial on murder charges in the Lo killing.

Chu Vue described growing up in a small village of about 15 families in Laos, one where there was no running water or electricity. He described how the Hmong culture is rooted in the spiritual belief that their ancestors look over them after they die.

"That's what we believe and worship," he said.

The spiritual aspect of the culture figures to come into play later in his testimony when it comes time for Vue to explain his many phone calls to his younger brothers around the time that Lo was killed.

Previous witnesses have testified that the Vue clan had just experienced the deaths of two of its elders around the time of Lo's killing and that Chu Vue, as a respected leader in the group, had the responsibility to help direct the funeral arrangements.

Also today, Chu Vue's lawyer said he no longer intends to call the defendant's wife to testify about her extra-martial affairs. But Masuda still asked the judge to force her to appear in court to show the jury she's good looking.

The prosecutor objected to putting Chia Vue on exhibition in front of the jury as if she were "a Kewpie doll."

Superior Court Judge Steve White agreed and turned down Masuda's request.

In arguing to present Chia Vue to the jury, Masuda said the panel is "entitled to see what she looks like." Masuda has alleged that she had numerous affairs before and after Lo's death and that her husband's motive to kill could be lessened in the eyes of the jury if it knew the extent of her extramarital sexual activity.

Masuda added that "I want to show she's an attractive lady."

White said that Chia Vue "is not an exhibition or a prop."

"She's she's not going to be hauled in here every time a reference to her is made," White said.

The judge said a picture of Chia Vue has already been entered as an exhibit in the case, but Masuda said the Department of Motor Vehicles photo doesn't do justice to the woman's looks.

Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall, meanwhile, said bringing Chia Vue into court to be seen only and not heard would be an abuse of the subpoena process.

"Subpoenas are supposed to be used to compel witnesses to testify in a court of law, not to be an exhibit in a case," Kindall said.

Kindall chided Masuda for criticizing the DMV photo of Chia Vue while in his opening statement showing a picture of her having sex with Steve Lo. The prosecutor characterized the photo taken on the victim's cell phone as "hideous."

He protested Masuda's effort "to bring her in like a Kewpie doll." Such a move is intended "to humiliate her," Kindall said.

Also at trial today, one correctional employee testified that he had an affair with Chia Vue that involved two sexual encounters in 2006 and 2007.

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

By Hudson Sangree
hsangree@sacbee.com

A Yolo County judge will wait until Monday to decide if a defendant in a high-profile cop-killing case should have more time to prepare his own defense, and whether he will have a lawyer to advise him.

JV TOPETE 02[2].JPGMarco Antonio Topete (photo left) is accused of gunning down Yolo County Sheriff's Deputy Jose Antonio Diaz on June 15, 2008, following a chase near the rural town of Dunnigan.

His trial is slated to start Monday, beginning with evidentiary motions, but it could be delayed because Topete is now representing himself.

Topete opted to act as his own attorney late last month after his lawyers could not persuade Judge Paul Richardson to grant them a trial continuance.

Now Topete is asking for his trial to be postponed until March 2011 so he has time to prepare his own defense in a case where he could face the death penalty if convicted.

Richardson has ordered one of Topete's two court-appointed defense lawyers, Thomas Purtell, of Woodland, to remain involved in the case to advise Topete. But Purtell, 83, said he lacks the capacity to perform the role alone and asked the judge to relieve him.

The judge will address Purtell's motion and Topete's request to continue the case Monday at 8:30 a.m. in Department 6 of the Yolo Superior Court.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury voted today that Glenn Wade Jennings (photo left) should be sentenced to death for the June 2, 2004, liquor store robbery murder of Kulwant Sufi.

JENNINGS[1].JPG1.JPGThe six-man, six-woman panel returned its verdict in the penalty phase of Jennings' trial in its 13th day of deliberations.

One juror interviewed outside the courtroom said the "viciousness" of the killing and the fact that Jennings, 57, began stabbing the 61-year-old woman before she ever had a chance to give him money out of the cash register or defend herself figured strongly in his own decision to impose the death sentence.

Jennings attacked Sufi in the family-owned store on Florin Road. Sufi suffered stab wounds to the heart, coronary artery, lungs, arms and breast.

Jennings is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 22 by Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard.

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

shootout2.JPG

Photo: Officers discuss how to approach a suspect wanted in connection with Thursday's fatal North Highlands pharmacy shootout. The suspect is cornered in a North Sacramento home near Bowles and Beaumont streets.

By Matt Kawahara
mkawahara@sacbee.com

A suspect in a fatal pharmacy shooting surrendered peacefully to Sacramento police early this evening after holing up in a North Sacramento apartment earlier today.

The suspect, identified as Kelvin Peterson, (an earlier version of the story gave his first name as Kevin) came out after officers fired tear gas into the apartment at the corner of Beaumont and Bowles streets, said Sgt. Tim Curran, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokesman.

See a photo gallery

Curran said Peterson will be booked into Sacramento County jail on suspicion of murder.

The standoff began after Sacramento police officers and Sacramento County sheriff's deputies, acting on a citizen's tip, cornered the suspect in the apartment.

The 42-year-old Peterson was alone in one unit of a four-unit single-story apartment complex, Curran said.

Earlier Curran said it was unclear if the suspect was armed, but he definitely was wounded, as evidenced by a bandaged hand.

One of the suspects in Thursday's fatal pharmacy holdup and shootout was wounded in the hand, Curran said. A female store employee at the Rexall pharmacy in the 5600 block of Watt Avenue was killed.

Curran earlier said investigators were "confident" that the suspect in the apartment was the robber who was armed.

Between 50 and 70 people were evacuated from the area, he said.

Around 12:45 p.m., a citizen reported to the Sheriff's Department that he recognized one of the holdup suspects from a surveillance video displayed in the media, Curran said. The citizen also said the man had a bandaged hand.

He gave the address for the suspect as the apartment complex on Bowles.

A woman who was in the apartment unit where the suspect is holed up, "left voluntarily," Curran said.

The suspect is from Los Angeles, Curran said.. The suspect's ties to Sacramento are unknown, Curran said.

The apartment complex is in the Sacramento Police Department's jurisdiction. Curran said the Sacramento SWAT members were deployed around the apartment.

Tania Gurskiy, 27, was shot to death when a gunfight erupted in the pharmacy around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, authorities said.

The two robbers entered the pharmacy and demanded drugs as one of them threatened employees with a gun, Curran said.

A male employee of the pharmacy then pulled out a gun and a shootout began, Curran said. Gurskiy was struck in the chest and a 37-year-old pregnant female employee was shot in the foot.

Gurskiy was taken to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead a short time later. The employee with the foot wound was also taken to a local hospital.

Authorities have not determined who fired first or which gun fired the bullets that struck the two victims.

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

By Miranda Simon
msimon@sacbee.com

The woman found shot to death in a gold sedan on the corner of Palmer House Drive and Blackhawk Drive at 2:26 a.m. today has been identified as Danielle Ericka Benefield of Sacramento.

The 29-year-old woman was driver of the car and died from a gunshot wound to her upper body. The only passenger in the car, a 26-year-old woman, was uninjured.

Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies who responded to the call said Benefield and her passenger had been at the Fastrip gas station on the corner of Florin Road and Power Inn Road with a crowd of 50 to 70 people.

"We've learned the gas station is a gathering spot," said Sergeant Tim Curran, the sheriff department spokesman. "They went there specifically to hang out."

There was no parking space at the gas station, so the women parked on Florin Road, Curran said. They were in the car when three to seven gunshots were fired by someone in the crowd.

The crowd had left when deputies arrived a few minutes later, but they detained five people. None of them is considered a suspect. People interviewed provided no information about the shooting but said the crowd dispersed when the gunshots were fired, Curran said.

The type of firearm hasn't been determined, Curran said.

Investigators were not able to establish a motive for the murder, and it is unclear whether Benefield was the target.

Anyone with information regarding this shooting is urged to call Sheriff's Homicide detectives at (916) 874-5115, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357. Tipsters may also send a text message tip by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) then 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 Miranda Simon, (916) 321-1119.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

A 26-year-old Antelope man is in custody in Kern County today, accused in the killing of a well-known horse trainer in his Watt Avenue apartment last weekend, according to authorities.

Sheriff's detectives arrested Juan Carlos Orozco at a relative's home in Kern County late Thursday night, said spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran. Detectives allege he is responsible for the death of 69-year-old Galen May, who was found dead in his apartment by a neighbor Saturday afternoon, Curran said.

Orozco, who lived in the same Antelope-area apartment complex as May, was booked in the Kern County jail on suspicion of murder, burglary and resisting arrest, Curran said. Authorities expect him to be transferred to Sacramento County in the coming days.

The Sacramento County coroner's office has not yet determined how May was killed, saying only that a number of factors contributed to his death, Curran said.

Detectives believe he was killed sometime between the morning of Aug. 26 and the afternoon of Aug. 28, when a neighbor discovered his front door ajar and his body on the floor.

Detectives do not know the motive for the killing. Initially, they investigated the possibility that May's affinity for gambling might have played a role, but they have not determined whether that is the case, Curran said.

They allege Orozco stole May's car and found surveillance video of Orozco at a Hayward gas station. When detectives canvassed the apartment complex with that video, a neighbor identified the man driving May's car as Orozco.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

An Elk Grove woman who admitted to murdering her 3-year-old adopted daughter from China was sentenced today to 15 years to life in prison.

Sabrina Alberta Banks, 42, was arrested last year in the May 2, 2008, death of her daughter Lavender.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Ernest W. Sawtelle imposed the term today after Banks pleaded no contest to the second-degree murder charge on July 27.

According to a probation report filed in the case, Banks called paramedics to say that her daughter was unresponsive. She said she thought the girl had choked on a piece of pizza.

An autopsy later showed the girl died of multiple blunt force injuries and "probable asphyxia," according to the report.

Banks had several child abuse allegations filed against her from 1998 to 2003, according to the probation report.

One of them included the death of a 4-month-old who died in Banks' care after being placed in her foster home under emergency circumstances, the probation report said.

No charges were filed in that case.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County District Attorney formally charged 12 suspects, eight of them under the age of 18, with murder today in the death of 15-year-old Aliyah Smith.

Gallery: 12 arraigned for murder of 15-year-old

During the highly emotional arraignments - in which the defendants appeared before Judge Ernest W. Sawtelle in waves - each suspect also was charged with a felony count of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling.

The eight minors appeared in the juvenile hall uniform of white t-shirts and blue pants. However, they were charged as adults in connection with the Jan. 3 fatal shooting of Smith.

Six of the minors are females, and, appearing shackled to each other, several wept openly as Sawtelle read the charges.

The four adults wore the orange uniforms issued by the Sacramento County Main Jail. The three adult men appeared nervous and fidgety. The one female adult shook her head as she listened to Sawtelle.

Dozens of family members and friends attended the hearing in support of the suspects, some of them hugging and sobbing in the audience.

Smith's mother, Catrina Kilgore, also sat in the audience, crying quietly and dabbing her eyes.

The defendants are: Mary Adams, 15; Shavana Adams, 17 (16 at the time of the alleged crime); Marschell Brumfield Jr., 19; Marcel Bullard Jr., 18; Omar Davis, 17 (16 at the time); Talisha Harston, 16; D'Andre Monroe, 18; Tyrell Penney, 17 (16 at the time); Brielle Randell, 15; Natosha Rassberry, 16; Loren Searcey, 15; and Alison Williams, 18 (17 at the time).

Rassberry was appointed a public defender, who said he did not know enough about the case yet to comment.

The remaining defendants will be represented by attorneys, to be determined later, from the Conflict Criminal Defenders panel.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The judge in the Chu Vue murder trial issued a tentative ruling today that he will not block an effort to put the defendant's wife on the witness stand next week to testify about other affairs she may have been having at the time state correctional officer Steve Lo was shot and killed two years ago.

Chia Vue's lawyer, Gregory Foster, filed a motion today to quash a subpoena for her to testify as a witness in the case that was sought by her husband, the former Sacramento sheriff's deputy accused of arranging the shooting death of state correctional officer Steve Lo nearly two years ago.

Foster argued in his motion that she shouldn't have to testify on grounds that it would violate her marital privilege of not having to testify against her spouse.

Foster also said that Chia Vue's testimony could be self-incriminating if it gets into accusations that she helped harbor Chu Vue's younger brothers, the purported gunmen in the case, while they were murder fugitives in the years prior to Lo's death.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White ruled later in the day that the marital privilege does not apply to Chia Vue. Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall said in the earlier hearing that Chia Vue filed divorce papers against her husband in May.

Defense attorney Donald Masuda said during the late-afternoon hearing that he intends to bring in evidence next week that Chia Vue was engaged in several extra-marital affairs at the time of Lo's death.

He said that the number of affairs would help his case by showing the wife was going to bed with so many men that it wouldn't make sense for him to target only one of them for murder.

Kindall said that such testimony would turn the trial into "a circus."

"We should not be having a parade of people going through this courtroom saying, 'I slept with her. No, I didn't,'" Kindall said.

Masuda, meanwhile, told the court that Chu Vue will be testifying in his own defense when the trial resumes next week.

Also in the morning session today, the trial reached one of its dramatic high moments when the prosecutor probed co-defendant Lang Vue about the younger Vue brothers using his house as their base of operations before they purportedly shot and killed Lo.

Lang Vue had testified under direct questioning that he thought murder fugitives Gary and Chong Vue were in the Sacramento area to pay respects to their ill parents before they headed back to Minnesota to turn themselves in.

In his questioning of Lang Vue, deputy D.A. Kindall noted that a cell phone linked to Gary and Chong Vue pinged off a tower near Lang Vue's house at 4:33 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 15, 2008 - just 13 minutes a car believed to be the pair's was seen on a surveillance video tape driving down Steve Lo's street.

Another 12 minutes after the sighting of the black Chevy Blazer, Lo's wife called 911 to report that her husband had been shot in the garage of their home on Tambor Way. Lo died a few hours later.

"Isn't it true, sir, that they were using your home as a base from which to go out and kill Steve Lo?" Kindall asked Lang Vue.

"Probably," the defendant replied, in front of the eight-man, four-woman Sacramento Superior Court jury. "I would guess so."

Thirty five minutes after the shooting, the accused gunmen's cell phone pinged again off the tower closest to Lang Vue's house.

"Is it true that Gary Vue was back at your house making calls right after the murder?" Kindall asked.

"I was sleeping," Lang Vue replied.

Lang Vue had testified earlier in the trial that he gave Gary Vue a key to his Elk Grove house and that he didn't know the precise movements of the suspected shooter around the time of the Lo killing. He has insisted repeatedly during his two days on the witness stand that he did not know the intended to kill Lo.

Chu Vue, 45, a former Sacramento sheriff's deputy, is accused of arranging the Lo killing because the correctional officer was having an affair with his wife.

Lang Vue, 27, is accused of aiding and abetting the shooting death by obtaining motel rooms, rental cars and then buying a car for Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31.

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

By Denny Walsh
dwalsh@sacbee.com

A challenge to the conviction and life sentence of Richard Anthony Brewer, the notorious "Bread Store killer," was tossed out Wednesday by U. S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. in Sacramento.

Burrell followed the recommendation of U. S. Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows, who found Brewer's defense was not prejudiced when he was excluded from part of a closed hearing on misconduct allegations leveled against his lawyer by the Public Defender's Office, which employed the lawyer at the time.

Brewer, now 38, will now go to the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals with his claim that he made an ill-informed decision to keep his lawyer because he was barred from the hearing.

He was found guilty by a jury of murdering the assistant manager of the J Street eatery, 23-year-old Jason Frost, with three shotgun blasts during a robbery gone bad two days before Christmas of 1996. Brewer, who wore a mask with a devil's face, was frustrated that Frost didn't have a key to the safe.

He was sentenced on Oct. 25, 2001, to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 25 years on five other charges, including the use of a firearm and a robbery of the same establishment a month earlier.

Four other men were convicted in connection with the incident that rocked the community. One of them pleaded guilty to manslaughter and testified for the prosecution.

Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

From the Modesto Bee:

Police arrested a Sacramento man Wednesday as part of an investigation into a 2008 gang-related homicide that took place in south Modesto.

George Sanchez, 33, was arrested at his home in the 3300 block of Broken Branch Court in Sacramento on suspicion of helping the men who allegedly killed Victor Gaona in September 2008 escape police.

One other man -- Alex Mares, 23, of Modesto -- was arrested on suspicion of killing Gaona, and is awaiting a court hearing. He was apprehended in November 2008.


Police are seeking three other Modesto men on suspicion of killing Gaona, who was 35 when he was shot to death. The suspects are Javier Gomez, 24; Armando Pulido, 27; and Alexander Morfin, 21.

Gaona was shot to death in the area of Dezzani Lane and Ustick Road in south Modesto on Sept. 3, 2008. Police initially called the shooting a gang-related fight.

His killers allegedly fled the scene in a Honda Accord that was discovered by police in Sacramento.

Police are seeking information that could help them find Gomez, Pulido and Morfin. All are known to police as Norteno gang members, and each is considered armed and dangerous.

Police ask anyone who may have information regarding this incident to please call Stanislaus County District Attorney Investigator Froilan Mariscal at (209) 525-5550 or Crime Stoppers toll free at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters can also text information to Crime Stoppers by sending a text message to 274637. Just type "TIP704" along with your message.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

The eight minors arrested Tuesday in connection with the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl in January will be prosecuted as adults, the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office confirmed today.

The juveniles - plus four adults - are scheduled to be arraigned in Sacramento Superior Court on Thursday.

All 12 suspects are expected appear together, each charged with one count of murder and one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling, according to authorities.

The suspects are accused in the Jan. 3 death of Aliyah Smith, who was shot while hiding in a Nedra Court home.

Sacramento police allege Smith had fought with one of the suspects at a party the previous night, and that the group of 12 came to Nedra Court to seek revenge for the altercation.

The suspects are scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. in Department 63 at the Sacramento County Main Jail.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The Chu Vue murder trial today pivoted to the defense with co-defendant Lang Vue testifying in his own behalf that he knew nothing about the shooting death of state correctional officer Steve Lo.

"Mr. Vue, did you have anything to do with the killing of Steve Lo?" asked Lang Vue's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Matthew Scoble, after the prosecution had rested its case.

"No," Vue replied.

Vue, 27, is accused of murder in the case on the theory that he aided and abetted Chu Vue, the former Sacramento sheriff's deputy, who authorities say arranged for Lo's killing because the correctional officer was having an affair with Chu Vue's wife.

Lang Vue admitted that he rented motel rooms and cars for the purported gunmen in the case, Chu Vue's younger brothers, Gary Vue and Chong Vue.

But Lang Vue testified that he did not know that they were involved in planning to kill Lo, as they are accused in a separate murder complaint.

Lang Vue said he knew Gary and Chong Vue were wanted for a murder in Minnesota when he heard from them about a month before the Oct. 15, 2008, killing of Steve Lo.

He said he thought they were in town to visit their ill parents and "make amends" to them for their bad pasts, before heading to Minnesota and turn themselves in for the murder of which they were ultimately convicted.

"Gary told me they were tired of running from the law," Lang Vue said. He testified that Gary told him he "just wanted to confess his sins" to his parents.

Cell phone records show that Lang Vue had a number of telephone calls with Chu Vue from June to October in 2008.

He testified that he at first contacted Chu Vue because he was ripped off on a television purchase. He said he thought his fellow Hmong clan member could help him out "because he was a sheriff's deputy."

Later phone conversations between the two, Lang Vue testified, involved a sick relative who later died.

Lang Vue said Gary Vue gave him the money to rent the motel rooms where he and his brother stayed and the cars they drove around the time Steve Lo was killed.

He said they needed somebody to make the transactions for them because they were fugitives and didn't have any identification.

He testified that he went with Gary Vue to buy the Chevy Blazer purportedly caught on surveillance tape on Steve Lo's street on Tambor Way in south Sacramento about 12 minutes for the shooting.

Lang Vue said Gary Vue paid for the vehicle and filled out the paperwork with the seller. He said he went along with the accused gunman in Steve Lo's death to buy the vehicle because "if anyone asked for ID, I'd just show mine."

Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall is slated to cross-examine Lang Vue this afternoon.

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

By Bill Lindelof and Chelsea Phua
blindelof@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have released the name of a man shot last night in the Glen Elder neighborhood.

Police identified the man as Christopher Xiong, 19, of Sacramento.

About 9 p.m., neighbors reported hearing gunshots in the 7600 block of 52nd Avenue west of Power Inn Road, said Sgt. Norm Leong, Sacramento Police Department spokesman.

When officers arrived, they found Xiong in front of his house suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to an area hospital where he died.

"There were a lot of shots. I heard the motor (of a car) accelerating," said Jeff Springer, who lives in the neighborhood.

After coming out of his home, Springer said he heard many people screaming and a lot of commotion in the area.

Detectives are investigating the motive for the shooting and ask anyone with information to contact Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blinelof@sacbee.com

A Sacramento man was shot to death in Oakland on Sunday night, police said.

James Hollister, 20, was killed in the 6700 block of Leona Creek Drive at 10:09 p.m. Sunday. Police were called to the scene and found him suffering from a gunshot wound, a police spokeswoman said.

Police report that the shooting suspect drove a dark SUV.

The Oakland Tribune reported that Hollister was standing with other men at an apartment complex when the shooting occurred, though no witnesses stayed to speak with police.

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

By Hudson Sangree
hsangree@sacbee.com


Sacramento County Sheriff's detectives have arrested two area residents in the shooting death of a 23-year-old man early this morning near 42nd Street and Fruitridge Road.

Chai Choy Saechao, 34, and Jensen Jordan Yoro, 22, were booked into the Sacramento County jail on murder charges and are being held without bail, according to a sheriff's department news release.

Investigators say Saechao and Yoro killed Alonzo Haynes - whom family members described as a college student and aspiring lawyer.

Haynes was shot in the chest and crashed into a light pole as he drove away in a black SUV. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the crash scene, near the corner of 42nd Street and Apostolo Circle.

The shooting occurred at a home a short distance away, said sheriff's spokesman Tim Curran.

Deputies responded to the call at 3:18 a.m. and detained several people walking in the area and at nearby homes.

Investigators believe that the suspects and Haynes had argued earlier in the night. They said Haynes was shot when he confronted them in the Apostolo Circle area.

He was able to get into his vehicle and drive a short distance before he collapsed and crashed, Curran said.

Detectives think the shooting was gang related, Curran said. Haynes' relatives denied he was involved in a gang.

The suspects are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A judge today sentenced a man to life in prison without possibility of parole for the stomping and BB-gun torture murder of a disabled former Marine two years ago near a Rancho Cordova convenience store.

Frank Abella, 20, had asked for a 26-to-life term, but Sacramento Superior Court Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard sided with the prosecutor who said the June 7, 2008, killing of William Deer, 50, was particularly egregious.

"Rarely does one encounter a case containing as much depravity and horror as this case involving the painful stomping death and BB gun torture of an innocent, disabled man," Deputy District Attorney Sheri Greco said in her sentencing brief.

Deer had bought a cup of coffee and was sitting on a curb drinking it when he was approached and attacked by Abella and a second killer, James Davis Washington, who also is now 20. Washington received a life without parole term last month.

Abella's lawyer argued that his client grew up in harsh circumstances, with a mother who was a methamphetamine addict and a father he barely knew who was in and out of prison.

"LWOP means denial of hope," defense attorney Michael D. Long wrote in his court memorandum.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury acquitted a man of murder Wednesday but found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 27-year-old woman.

Roosevelt Latarius Billups testified in his trial that he had intended to commit suicide when he shot and killed Brittney Austin in her North Natomas apartment on May 14, 2008.

Austin's body was found on the sidewalk in front of her apartment at 4800 Kokomo Drive with a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Billups, 33, had described Austin as the "love of his life," according to Deputy District Attorney Donell Slivka's trial brief. But Austin had told her mother that she had met another man, the brief states.

Billups had initially told police he hadn't seen Austin for a week before she was killed but later admitted that he had gone to her house the morning of her death to kill himself.

"He said that he placed the gun to his head and the victim slapped his hand and the gun went off," Slivka's brief said.

Police found a shell casing on the floor of Austin's bathroom.

The prosecutor's trial brief said Austin had told her mother the night before her death that she had met another man and visited with him that day. She told her mother that "she really liked him."

Billups is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 27. by Judge Laurie M. Earl.

The defendant was represented in the case by Assistant Public Defender John Perkins.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

"I did something really bad, man."

Police and prosecutors say that's what Jack Aaron Squires said just a few hours before authorities found his mother and grandmother shot and killed in their Sacramento home.

Squires, 47, went on trial today in Sacramento Superior Court for two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of his mother, Kathleen Roloff, 65, and his grandmother, Elma Alberta Matranga, 94.

The bodies of the two women were found in their home the morning of April 29, 2008, in the 600 block of Blackwood Street in the leafy Woodlake neighborhood of North Sacramento on the morning of April 29, 2008.

In her opening statement today, Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet said Squires made the incriminating remark to his brother in a telephone conversation in the pre-dawn hours before police found the two bodies.

Bladet told the six-man, six-woman jury that Squires killed the women for financial gain and that he was upset when his mother took out a $400,000 loan on the house and told Squires he wouldn't get a penny of it.

The prosecutor said Squires was caught on a video surveillance camera withdrawing money from an ATM at the Thunder Valley casino about the time of the killings.

Defense attorney Paul Irish said his client is not guilty. The lawyer questioned the credibility of Squires' brother, who related the defendant's purported admissions to investigators.

Irish said that Kathleen Roloff was suicidal and suggested that she killed her mother before turning the gun on herself.

The trial is being heard in front of Judge Robert M. Twiss.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The prosecution zoomed through seven more witnesses today in the Chu Vue murder trial, putting more building blocks in place in what so far has been its circumstantial case against the former Sacramento sheriff's deputy.

As the third week of Vue's trial kicked off in front of Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White, the most compelling testimony of the morning came from Vue's boss at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center.

Lt. Chet Madison provided the jury with testimony about Chu Vue's work schedule in the months before the Oct. 15, 2008, shooting death of state correctional officer Steve Lo in the garage of his home on Tambor Way. The schedule included Vue taking a few days of sick leave time before the killing, and the lieutenant's testimony included his reading of a notation that got to the heart of the prosecution's case against Vue:

"Just a heads up," Madison wrote in an Aug. 6, 2008, memorandum. "Chu Vue is having marital problems. Wife is cheating on him."

Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall said in his opening statement two weeks ago that Chu Vue, 45, arranged to have the 39-year-old victim killed because Lo was having an affair with the former deputy's wife.

Co-defendant Lang Vue, 27, is accused in the case of aiding and abetting the killing by procuring rental cars and motel rooms and then buying a vehicle for the accused gunmen.

Authorities say the shooters are Chu Vue's younger brothers, Chong Vue, 31, and Gary Vue, 29. They are scheduled to be tried separately later this month. At the time of Lo's death, the brothers were fugitives on a murder warrant out of Minnesota. They have since been convicted in that case.

Also today, Sacramento police Det. Bryce Heinlein said that the search of Chu Vue's work locker at the branch jail the day after the killing turned up a slip of paper with the name and Minnesota address and telephone number of one of his wanted brothers, Chong Vue.

In other testimony, a police community services officer testified about seizing a divorce-related filing among the paperwork taken during a search of his Elk Grove home. A crime lab criminalist identified one bullet that killed Lo and another recovered from his garage. A Union Bank manager testified about Chu Vue setting up an account at her Elk Grove branch and withdrawing money from it in the days and months before the killing.

One forensic investigator testified about recovering a handgun from the home of slain correctional officer Steve Lo that apparently belonged to the victim. A police detective said he recovered firearms from Vue's work locker that were not linked to the killing. Another police detective recalled the search of co-defendant Lang Vue's home where officers recovered four computers.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested the roommate of a man beaten to death in a Del Paso Heights apartment early this morning.

Police arrested Anthony Bettanini, 49, on suspicion of homicide in the killing of his roommate. Police said that the victim was killed with a weightlifting dumbbell.

Police were called to an upstairs apartment in the 3700 block of Norwood Avenue about 1:42 a.m. Monday when a man said he came home to find his roommate dead on the floor.

The victim, described by authorities as white and in his early 50s, was bleeding heavily from blunt force trauma and died at the scene.

Homicide investigators interviewed the roommate and neighbors in the small apartment complex. Later, police reported they had arrested Bettanini.

Bettani and the victim, who police declined to identity pending notification of family, had lived in the apartment for three or four months. Detectives believe that the two argued and that the disagreement escalated into violence.

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

By Kim Minugh
kiminugh@sacbee.com

For the first time since Chu Vue's arrest, his sister admitted today that he had told her he knew the name of his wife's lover, Steve Lo.

Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall pointed out that Allyssa Vue, one of Chu Vue's younger sisters, had never before told a detective or investigator that she and her brother knew the name of the man having an affair with Chia Vue - a man who was shot to death Oct. 15, 2008.

When he asked why she had never said anything, Allyssa Vue said she was scared.

"They'd think he did it," she said nervously from the stand.

Chu Vue, a former Sacramento County sheriff's deputy, is on trial with co-defendant and distant cousin Lang Vue for the slaying of Lo, a correctional officer. Chu Vue is the alleged mastermind of the plot, with the final fatal act carried out by his younger brothers, Gary and Chong Vue.

Lang Vue is accused of aiding and abetting the younger Vue brothers, who at the time were on the run from Minnesota authorities who suspected them in a murder there.

Allyssa Vue has pleaded no contest to a felony charge of harboring fugitives. She testified today that she rented Gary and Chong Vue a motel room Oct. 2, 2008, at the request of her brother Chu.

She acknowledged she knew Gary was evading authorities at that time, but not Chong. She also did not know why Gary was a wanted man, she said.

During her sometimes emotional and contradictory testimony, Allyssa Vue told the court about her close-knit family, saying, "I love all my brothers."

Twice she broke into tears when describing her father's ailing medical condition. He has been ill since a stroke a few years ago, and suffered a second stroke last Thursday as he prepared to come to court, Allyssa Vue said.

He remains in the hospital, unable to eat, she said.

Allyssa Vue also described Gary and Chong Vue's troubled childhoods, when they got wrapped up in gangs. Family members decided to send them to Minnesota to "straighten up," as another Vue brother, Chue Neng, had done.

Allyssa Vue said her brothers did well in Minnesota, particularly under the watchful eye of Chue Neng: Gary graduated from high school, and he and Chong appeared to steer clear of the law. That is, until Chue Neng returned to Sacramento to care for their ailing father.

Then, Gary began to run wild, Allyssa Vue testified.

"He never came home," she said.

She told the court that her brother Chong, though older, usually followed Gary's lead. She said she often gave her brothers money for one purpose, only for them to spend it on another, more nefarious one.

Allyssa Vue said she didn't know if they were selling drugs, but noticed they often had nice things that they couldn't have afforded on their allowance.

She said Gary's troubles in particular drove a wedge between he and older brother Chu. Because of that tension, she said she was surprised when Chu asked her to help Gary and Chong secure a motel room.

She said she hasn't seen them since that day.

Allyssa Vue will continue her testimony this afternoon.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Stuck testifying in his brother's murder trial, aware of criminal charges against another brother and facing charges of his own, Lee Vue said today on the stand that he's bitter about the trouble two distant cousins have brought upon his family with their alleged involvement in a killing.

"I'm really pissed off," he said.

Lee Vue testified that when those cousins, Gary and Chong Vue, showed up at the home he shared with his three younger brothers, he wanted them out. He knew they were wanted for murder out of Minnesota -- he had seen them featured on "America's Most Wanted" -- and warned his brother Lang three times they were bad news.

"I was worried," Lee Vue said today in Sacramento Superior Court. "I've never been in trouble with the law. None of us (brothers) have. Why would we want to get into it?"

Lang Vue is on trial with co-defendant and cousin Chu Vue for the 2008 murder of correctional officer Steve Lo. Chu Vue, a former Sacramento County sheriff's deputy, is accused of arranging the killing in retribution for his wife's affair with Lo.

Chu Vue's younger brothers Gary and Chong -- who have since been convicted of the Minnesota gang murder -- are the alleged gunmen in the Lo case and will be tried for murder separately. Lang Vue is accused of aiding and abetting the fugitive brothers.

Lee Vue faces charges of harboring fugitives, as does another of his younger brothers, Mason Vue. Both men testified that Gary and Chong Vue stayed at their house about the time of Lo's Oct. 15, 2008, killing; Mason Vue specifically testified that he heard of the murder halfway through Gary and Chong's roughly three-day stay.

Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall read from transcripts of Lee Vue's conversations with Sacramento police detectives and said Lee Vue told police he had warned his brother, "This (expletive) is going to get us (expletive) hurt."

On the stand, Lee Vue acknowledged he had the authority to order Lang Vue to kick the fugitives out because he was the older brother, important in Hmong culture. But he said he didn't because his brother had told him not to worry about it.

When Gary and Chong Vue left days later, Lee Vue said he never broached the subject with Lang Vue again.

"Yes, I was curious why they were there, but it was none of my business," he testified. "I just wanted them out."

Lee Vue's testimony will continue this afternoon.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com
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A 23-year-old man wanted in connection with an Oakland homicide was taken into custody about 5:20 p.m. today after an approximately four-hour standoff with law enforcement officers at an Arden-Arcade apartment complex.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Tim Curran said Sacramento police notified the sheriff's department about 1 p.m. that they were attempting to make an arrest at the Oak Terrace Apartments, 2224 Edison Ave. Sacramento police had been notified by Oakland police that Brian Brown, wanted in connection with a homicide in that city, was believed to be staying there with two other people.

When Sacramento police arrived at the complex, they saw Brown outside talking on a phone. When he saw police, he went inside the apartment. Because a handgun had been used in the Oakland crime, police did not go to the apartment but instead used the public address system on one of the patrol cars to announce their presence and ask Brown to come outside. When he did not respond, the SWAT team was summoned and 20 units in the 62-unit complex were evacuated, Curran said. Fifteen to 20 residents were affected.

After Brown failed to respond to officers' repeated attempts to make contact with him, the SWAT team fired several rounds of tear gas into the apartment. The SWAT officers then entered the apartment and discovered Brown had broken through an interior wall into an adjoining unit.

After tear gas was fired into the neighboring apartment, Brown came out and surrendered.

Curran said Oakland police officers, who had arrived shortly after the standoff began, took custody of Brown, who will be returned to Oakland to face a murder charge.

Janet Washbon, manager of the Oak Terrace complex, said in a telephone interview about 5 p.m. that she was not at the complex when the apartments were evacuated and had been unable to return. She said Edison Avenue was closed between Bell Street and Howe Avenue.

Washbon said she was waiting at Dyer Kelly Elementary School had been receiving phone calls from apartment residents wanting to know why they weren't being admitted to the area.

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

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Photos contributed by Leslie Wayne Riser

By Peter Hecht
phect@sacbee.com

A 14-year-old girl's story of medieval-era betrayal and murder can be introduced into evidence in the trial of two teen lovers accused of killing the girl's mother in her El Dorado Hills home, a judge ruled Monday.

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Melikian also ruled that Tylar Marie Witt, now 15, and Steven Paul Colver, 20, can be tried together for the killing of Witt's mother, Joanne Witt.

Melikian on June 14 ruled that Colver could receive a separate trial if prosecutors introduced a lurid, hand-written story by Tylar Witt that detailed a killing - set in medieval times - that mirrored many circumstances of Joanne Witt stabbing in June 2009.

But the judge reversed himself Monday after prosecutor Lisette Suder argued that legal precedent permitted the girl's story - "The Killer and his Raven" - to be introduced as evidence, even if prosecutors try Witt and Colver together as intended.

"This evidence will not require separate trials for Colver and Witt," Melikian ruled.

Joanne Witt was found dead of multiple stab wounds in the bedroom of her El Dorado Hills home days after she had handed over her daughter's diary - detailing a sexual relationship between Tylar Witt and Colver - as part of a statutory rape allegation against Colver, then 19.

After the murder, Witt and Colver fled to San Francisco. Along the way, authorities say, Colver mailed suicide notes and "The Killer and his Raven" to a friend of Witt's.

Prosecutors say the story chronicles an intense romantic relationship and the teen's anger and panic after Joanne Witt handed over Tylar Witt's real-life diary to authorities.

Call The Bee's Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.

Chu Vue[1].jpgBy Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Details began to emerge in court today about the reaches to which Chu Vue went in trying to find information about his wife's lover before he allegedly arranged for the man's murder.

He asked a colleague at the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department to run a license plate - which came back to correctional officer Steve Lo - under the ruse that the car had nearly run him down, according to testimony. He searched the man's name in law enforcement databases, and even consulted a store owner he thought was part of Lo's Hmong clan, seeking information about Lo, testimony showed.

Vue, who is no longer employed by the Sheriff's Department, is on trial for the Oct. 15, 2008 fatal shooting of Lo. Police and prosecutors allege that he hired two of his brothers - Gary and Chong Vue - to kill Lo because he was having an affair with Vue's wife.

Chu Vue is on trial with co-defendant and cousin Lang Vue, who is accused of aiding and abetting Gary and Chong Vue - who at the time were wanted for murder out of Minnesota - before and after the killing.

Gary and Chong Vue have since been convicted of the Minnesota murder, and will stand trial for Lo's murder separately.

Now in the trial's second week, Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall covered a variety of topics today with nearly a dozen witnesses, including a sheriff's crime scene investigator that testified he ran a license plate for Chu Vue after the deputy said a car nearly hit him outside of a gym.

"I remember I saw the name," CSI Van Truong said of the vehicle's registered owner. "It was an Asian name."

Department of Justice records later confirmed it was Lo's license plate that Vue had asked him to run.

Truong testified that when he read about Lo's fatal shooting in the newspaper, he "made the connection" to the earlier incident with Vue and notified supervisors, who then called Sacramento police homicide detectives.

Tony Lao, who owns a market on Rio Linda Boulevard, testified that Vue once stopped in to ask if Lao knew Lo, saying he had a friend in Fresno who wanted to become a correctional officer and might benefit from talking with Lo. Vue indicated the men might know each other, Lao testified, because he thought they were part of the same Hmong clan. Lao did not know Lo, and never heard from Vue again, he said in court.

Kevin Paltzer, a senior information technology analyst for the Sheriff's Department, testified about records showing Vue had accessed law enforcement databases to run variations of the name "Steve Lo" in a number of searches spanning August and September 2008.

Vue was fired from the Sheriff's Department after he failed to cooperate with an internal affairs investigation stemming from those allegations.

As the day's testimony reached an end, Sacramento Police Officer Anne Marie Howland began discussing the "hundreds of hours" she and a handful of officers spent reviewing surveillance footage from a camera owned by one of Lo's neighbors.

Some of that video will be shown in court Tuesday, and, based on previous statements by police and prosecutors, is likely to show footage of Vue casing the neighborhood.

Also covered in today's testimony:

- The renting of Sacramento hotel rooms by Lang Vue and Chu Vue's sister, Allyssa Vue, who already has pleaded out in the case. The prosecution suspects those rooms were rented for Chu Vue's wanted brothers.

- The purchase of a black sports utility vehicle, possibly by Lang Vue and another man.

- Chu Vue's sudden closure of a bank account after he purchased a cashier's check for more than $10,000. According to Bank of America records shown in court today, that money came largely from two cash advanced Vue took from credit cards. Testimony showed only that the cashier's check was later deposited into a different bank account.

- Allegations from a man who did work for a man named "John" - identified in court as Chu Vue - that Vue had refused to pay him, saying he didn't have to pay because "I'm a sheriff." Jose Escamilla testified he had done work for Vue on a mobile home in Corning that prosecutors allege housed Gary and Chong Vue while they were on the run from Minnesota authorities.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento teenager convicted of voluntary manslaughter in a gang-related shooting death two years ago was sentenced today to 26 years in prison.

Marvel Barksdale, 17, received the term from Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley for the Aug. 22, 2008, killing of 16-year-old Robert Haynes at a house party in Meadowview.

Barksdale got only six years for the manslaughter, but Frawley sentenced him to 10 years for carrying out the shooting in furtherance of street gang activity and 10 more years for use of the firearm.

Three other teenagers were injured in the shooting on Detroit Avenue, at the party attended by more than 50 youths.

The night of the shooting, Haynes, a projected starter on the Sacramento High School football team, told his mother he was going to the State Fair.

Witnesses said that Barksdale, then a sophomore at Foothill High School, showed up at the party with friends from the Guttah Boys gang.

They gathered in the backyard at the party and then stormed inside after the Fourth Avenue Bloods gang contingent arrived.

One witness testified he saw a gunshot-like flash come from Barksdale's side as the Guttah Boys ran into the house through a sliding glass door. A .32-caliber bullet, meanwhile, struck Haynes in the back of the head and killed him.

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

Chu Vue[1].jpgBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The daughter of slain correctional officer Steve Lo testified today that her father introduced her to his mistress and that the woman gave her gifts and told her that they would be "best friends forever."

Brenda Lo said she later learned that the woman who gave her the gifts and who identified herself as "Cynthia" was Chia Vue, the wife of former Sacramento sheriff's deputy Chu Vue, who is on trial for murder in Steve Lo's shooting death.

Brenda Lo, 16, testified in Sacramento Superior Court that Chia Vue gave her a $60 gift card for her middle school graduation as well as a watch.

"The watch was on her wrist," Brenda Lo testified. "She took it off and said, 'It's a gift. You can keep it.' "

The girl's testimony on behalf of the prosecution appeared to undercut a key contention of Chu Vue's defense. In his opening statement, defense attorney Donald Masuda told the jury that Lo and Chia Vue were about to break off their affair.

Masuda said the accused gunmen in the case -- Chu Vue's two younger brothers -- carried out the fatal attack on their own. The two were both wanted on a murder warrant out of Minnesota, and Masuda said they killed Lo because he found out about them through his relationship with Chia Vue and they thought he would turn them in.

On cross-examination, Masuda read from a police report where Brenda Lo was quoted as telling investigators that she heard her dad say in regards to Chia Vue, "That's not my girlfriend."

Brenda Lo, however, denied making that statement to police. She confirmed under questioning from Masuda that Chia Vue had told her in their brief relationship that they were "best friends forever."

Under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall, the girl said her father introduced her to his "so-called friend" at the graduation in June 2008.

"She asked me if she could take me out to lunch as a graduation gift," Brenda Lo testified, and also for "some girl talk."

Steve Lo at the time was still married to his second wife, Sia Vang. Brenda Lo is the daughter of Steve Lo's first wife.

Brenda Lo said Chia Vue gave her the gifts and also wrote down her phone number and gave it to her.

After her father was shot and killed, Brenda Lo testified that Chia Vue twice accompanied her on trips to the Stockton cemetery where Steve Lo is buried. The girl testified that Chia Vue "sounded very depressed" and on both occasions was apologizing.

"She was crying," Brenda Lo said. "She didn't talk much. She was just really crying."

Steve Lo, 39, was gunned down in the garage of his Tambor Way home in south Sacramento on Oct. 15, 2008.

Chu Vue, 45, is on trial for murder in the killing along with co-defendant and cousin Lang Vue, 27, who is accused of aiding and abetting the killing by procuring rental cars, motel rooms and then buying a sports utility vehicle for the purported gunmen in the case.

Authorities say the shooters were Chu Vue's younger brothers, Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31. They are scheduled to be tried separately later this month.

At the time of Steve Lo's death, the brothers were wanted for murder in a 2001 gang-related drive-by shooting death in Minnesota. Both have since been convicted in that case.

Police and prosecutors say Chu Vue planned the fatal attack on Lo because the correctional officer launched into the affair with the former deputy's wife. Masuda told jurors that his client didn't have a motive to kill Lo because Chu Vue had since "moved on" from trying to keep his marriage intact.

Several of Chu Vue's coworkers at the sheriff's Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center also testified today that he told them about the problems he was having in his marriage and that he found out that his wife was having an affair.

Deputy Khu Xiong said that Vue at first appeared to be upset over his wife's affair, but that he became "acceptive" of it.

"He was like, 'Everything's cool. We've moved on. I don't want to go back to that life,' " Xiong testified.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

A man whose body was found burning inside a Del Paso Heights apartment Saturday morning died after being beaten, choked and stabbed, the Sacramento County Coroner's Office said today.

Sacramento police continue to investigate the death of 50-year-old Arun Kumar Singh, but they have not identified any suspects or a motive, spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said today.

Neighbors found Singh's body inside his daughter's North Avenue apartment Saturday morning. They told The Bee that the man's arms and legs had been cut off and his torso set on fire.

Today, Leong confirmed that there had been some dismemberment to the body, but not to the extent the witnesses reported. He said he could not be more specific because of the ongoing homicide investigation.

The coroner's office also would not describe the condition of the body, citing the investigation. Officials did say, however, that Singh's official cause of death was blunt force trauma, stab wounds and strangulation.

According to Sacramento Superior Court records online, Singh had a criminal history involving drugs.

In 1995, he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor driving under the influence, and in 1996 to misdemeanor drug possession. In 2006, he pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count each of driving under the influence and being under the influence of a controlled substance, records show.

Leong said Singh's history will be investigated, but said that it's unclear yet whether that played a role in the man's death.

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

Chu Vue[1].jpgBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The wife of a state correctional officer shot and killed in his garage nearly two years ago testified today about seeing her husband sprawled out unconscious on the concrete floor and bleeding profusely from the wound to his forehead that ended his life barely four hours later.

Sia Vang said she heard "a lot of commotion" in the garage just before 5 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2008, before she checked out the scene to discover that her husband, Steve Lo, leaning against a wall, "was really hurt."

"He wasn't moving," Vang said. "He was bleeding from the back of his head. I pulled him down so he was flat on his back ... I checked his pulse ... I was hovering over him ... I panicked."

Lo, 39, died just before 9 a.m. that day of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Police and prosecutors say that former Sacramento sheriff's deputy Chu Vue planned the killing because his wife was having an affair with Lo.

Vue, 45, is now facing murder charges in Sacramento Superior Court. A cousin of Vue's, Lang Vue, 27, is on trial with him.

Vue's two younger brothers, Gary and Chong Vue, also have been charged but will be tried separately.

Gary Vue, 29, and Chong Vue, 31, are accused of carrying out what Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall has characterized as the "assassination" of Lo.

The victim's wife testified she suspected he was having an affair and that she confronted him about it. She said Lo at first denied the extramarital relationship.

"He said I was crazy," Vang told the jury.

Under cross-examination from Chu Vue's attorney, Donald Masuda, Vang said her husband would later indirectly admit to the affair and that he agreed to change his work hours and stop working so much overtime at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.

Chu Vue's wife, Chia, also was employed at the prison as a medical technical assistant.

Prosecutors say that Lo and Chia Vue had met at the Rodeway Inn in West Sacramento as recently as 10 days before he was killed.

Also today, investigators from Minnesota and Sacramento County testified about questioning Gary Vue in March 2006 about a murder in Minneapolis in 2001.

Gary Vue admitted to the slaying in a videotaped interview. Investigators were forced to let him go because they told him beforehand that he was not under arrest and was free to leave at any time during their questioning of him.

The investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Gary Vue later that day, but he had fled in the meantime.

When officers went to take him into custody, Sacramento sheriff's Det. Dan Cabral testified that Chu Vue, who had been on a sheriff's task force to track his brother down, was at the south area residence where they thought the younger brother was staying.

Cabral testified that he told Chu Vue of his brother's admission in the interview that day.

Chu Vue then "made a comment he was going to whip his ass," Cabral said. "I advised him to leave it alone."

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

By Miranda Simon
msimon@sacbee.com

Sacramento police are investigating the homicide of a 50-year-old man whose mutilated body was found in an apartment fire in the 900 block of North Avenue early Saturday.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Arun Kumar Singh.

Neighbors and friends of the victim's 23-year-old daughter said the man's arms and legs had been cut off, and his chest set on fire.

Police would not confirm that Singh was dismembered, saying only that there was "some mutilation," and said two set fires in the building were linked to the homicide.

In a news release, police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said: "Detectives believe that the male was murdered. The cause of death and the motive for the murder has yet to be determined."

Erika Knight, 20, who lives in a unit upstairs at the North Avenue Apartments, made the gruesome discovery, with others in the building.

"I see the smoke coming out the door, a neighbor of mine opened the door, and we discovered his body was laying there and a heck of a lot of smoke. It was just a disaster," she said.

"The body was laying there burning," Knight said.

The Sacramento Fire Department arrived at the apartment fire in Del Paso Heights at 2:46 a.m. Police were called for assistance.

A second, small stairwell fire was reported while police and firefighters were on the scene. "We believe both fires are arsons and are related to the homicide," said Leong. "Obviously, the big question is why," he said.

Knight and her sister, Rocshell Daughton, 21, as well as another neighbor and a maintenance worker, came out when the fire alarm went off.

"We didn't know it was that apartment. We just saw smoke coming out," said Daughton, who was visiting her sister.

The neighbor in the unit facing the fire kicked in the door and found the body, said Daughton.

"The man's chest was on fire so we tried to get the fire extinguishers, but they weren't working, so the maintenance guy went to get the water hose and put the fire out."

Singh didn't live in the apartment, but regularly visited his daughter, who lives there with her child, her roommate and the roommate's two children, Knight said.

She said the daughter was not at the apartment Friday night and that she called to notify the woman that her father was dead.

"I spoke to him a few times," Knight said of Singh. "He's cool, he's a sweet guy, he wouldn't harm anything or anybody."

She said Singh fixed radios and VCRs and also cleaned apartments around the complex, even though "it was not his job."

"He visits his daughter, he visits his granddaughter, takes his granddaughter for walks.

"He's just a regular guy, and I don't understand why anybody would do something like that to him," Knight said.

Sacramento fire officials said fire sprinklers limited the damage to one apartment. There were no reported injuries to firefighters or the residents who entered the apartment.

Homicide detectives, crime scene investigators and arson investigators are working to gather more evidence, Leong 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) then enter SACTIP followed by the tip information.

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

Call The Bee's Miranda Simon, (916) 321-1119.


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By Robert Lewis
rlewis@sacbee.com

A fifth suspect has been arrested in connection with the May 8 slaying of 29-year-old Marcel Hatch at the Eco Lodge at 2912 Auburn Blvd.

clip_image002.jpgmays.jpgLas Vegas police arrested Brandy Lee Mays (photo left), 30, on Friday on an active warrant, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department.

Brandy's brothers - Demetrius, Lorenzo and Kenyatta Mays - were arrested in Sacramento on Thursday in connection with the homicide.

Another man, Charles Antonio Williams, was arrested May 11 in the slaying.

The arrests stem from fight between Hatch and Williams, a 25-year-old Rocklin resident, at the motel on May 7, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Williams allegedly returned to the motel shortly before 8:40 p.m. the next day in a black sports utility vehicle with several passengers and shot Hatch in the stomach. Detectives said they believe the companions were the four members of the Mays family arrested this week.

Deputies responded to the scene and transported Hatch to the hospital where he eventually died on May 10.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Williams on May 11. He is still in custody at the county's main jail along with the three Mays brothers. All four face murder charges.

Brandy Mays is being held at Clark County Jail. The Sheriff's Department is working with Las Vegas authorities to get her returned to Sacramento where she will be booked on suspicion of murder, according to a sheriff's department spokesman.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives have arrested three brothers in connection with the May 8 shooting death of a 29-year-old man at an Auburn Boulevard motel, according to authorities.

That brings to four the number of suspects accused in Marcel Hatch's killing. Detectives arrested their first suspect, 25-year-old Charles Antonio Williams, on May 11.

Arrested on Thursday night were three of Williams' passengers at the time of the shooting, said sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran. Those suspects are (from left in photos below): Kenyatta Mays, 18; Lorenzo Jesus Mays, 27; and Demetrius Wayne Mays, 30, according to Sacramento County Main Jail booking records.

Curran confirmed that the three men are brothers. He did not know their relationship to Williams, who detectives allege was the shooter, Curran said.

Detectives suspect that Williams and Hatch were in a physical fight May 7, Curran said. Williams and the Mays brothers returned to confront Hatch the next night at the Eco Lodge on Auburn Boulevard.

Hatch suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen and died days later at a hospital, according to authorities.

The Mays brothers were booked into the Main Jail late Thursday night, records show. They face one charge each of murder. Demetrius Mays also was booked on an unrelated charge of child endangerment from a 2008 case in which there was a warrant for his arrest, according to the records.

In 2007, Demetrius Mays pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of battery, according to online Superior Court records. He was sentenced to 60 days of the Sheriff's Work Project and three years of informal probation.

Those records show no adult criminal histories for the younger Mays brothers.

clip_image002.jpgkenyatta.jpg1.jpg clip_image002.jpglorenzo.jpg1.jpg clip_image002.jpgdemetrius.jpg

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

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County jury today convicted David Charles Zanon of running down and killing a California Highway Patrol officer and attempting to murder other officers.

ZANONx32654[1].JPGThe first-degree murder conviction with special allegations makes Zanon (photo left), 40, eligible for the death penalty.

Zanon killed California Highway Patrol Officer Scott Russell in a 30-mile, high-speed chase in which Russell was struck and killed along Highway 50 in Shingle Springs while attempting to stop the chase with a spike strip on July 31, 2007.

Zanon also was found guilty of the attempted murder of CHP Officer Wayne Kenneweg, who earlier had attempted to stop the pursuit with a spike strip.

He also was found guilty of the attempted murder of Sacramento County Sheriff's Deputy Shannon Schumaker, who made the initial contact with Zanon in Rancho Cordova.

Police say Zanon was discovered burglarizing a Rancho Cordova business on the same day as he killed Russell. He then led officers from several jurisdictions on a high-speed chase deep into El Dorado County.

Near the Ponderosa Road exit, officials say, he coldly steered his getaway car off the freeway onto the median and ran down Russell.

Minutes after leaving the Rancho Cordova site with deputies in pursuit, Zanon swerved toward Schumaker's vehicle as he responded to the scene.

The El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson compared Zanon's action to a "game of chicken."

On Highway 50 in El Dorado Hills, Pierson recounted, Zanon swerved toward Kenneweg attempting to lay a spike strip.

Along the way, he threw things out of his vehicle into the path of those pursuing him and called his friends, Pierson said.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow expressed gratitude for the verdict.

"On behalf of the entire CHP family, I wish to extend our deepest appreciation to the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office, the El Dorado Superior Court, the members of the jury and all the supporters of the CHP and Officer Scott Russell," Farrow said.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento judge has sentenced a man who murdered his uncle to 18 years and four months to life in prison.

Superior Court Judge James L. Long imposed the term Tuesday on Jason Dewayne Shepherd, 27.

Shepherd and his younger brother Shawn Christophe Shepherd, 25, were convicted of second-degree murder June 29 in the bludgeon slaying of their uncle, David Bryan Bishop, 47.

Shawn Shepherd's sentencing was delayed until Aug. 3.

The jury found that Jason Shepherd beat his uncle to death with a baseball bat because he suspected Bishop of stealing his girlfriend's underwear.

Shawn Shepherd then helped his brother tie up Bishop and dump his body in a creek outside of Jackpot, Nev., according to the evidence at trial.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury convicted Glenn Wade Jennings today of first-degree murder in the robbery slaying of a liquor store clerk on Florin Road six years ago, qualifying him for a possible death penalty.

Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard scheduled the penalty phase of Jennings' trial for Aug. 9. The judge said she expects the testimony in the penalty phase to take most of that week.

Jennings, 57, stabbed Kulwant Sufi, 61, 11 times in the June 2, 2004, attack inside the DK Discount Liquor store in the 8400 block of Florin Road.

"I'm very happy he jury has found him guilty for the things he has done," said Chanan Sufi, the victim's husband.

It took the jury a little less than two days of deliberations to reach a verdict in the case after hearing seven days of testimony over the past three weeks.

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

Associated Press

A state appeals court has put the case against a Stockton man accused of fatally shooting a California Highway Patrol officer on hold. The man was due to be tried in Sacramento later this summer.

CHP OFFICER KILLED[1].jpgThe 5th District Court of Appeal in Fresno on Monday afternoon stayed all proceedings against 34-year-old Columbus Allen Jr. (photo left) to consider a defense motion that the Sacramento County judge presiding over the case be removed.

Earlier on Monday, it appeared as if the case was headed to trial after a Stanislaus County judge rejected defense motions to delay the proceedings and move them out of Sacramento.

Allen is accused of shooting Officer Earl Scott during a traffic stop in 2006 in Stanislaus County.

A judge granted Allen a change of venue in August 2009 citing extensive pretrial publicity.

By Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

Sacramento police arrested a 57-year-old man earlier today in connection with a 30-year-old homicide case.

Robert Blockton.JPG

Authorities say they believe that Robert Blockton was seen with the victim, Charles Redmond, hours before Redmond was found stabbed to death at Miller Park on Nov. 3, 1980 at 5:30 a.m. Redmond was 22 years old when he died, a police spokesman said.

Detectives said Redmond and Blockton knew each other and they arrested Blockton. But charges were eventually dropped and Blockton was released.

In 2007, cold case homicide detectives discovered several pieces of evidence taken from the victim during the autopsy that had never been processed for DNA.

The items were submitted to the Sacramento County District Attorney's Crime Lab and criminalists were able to harvest a partial DNA profile.

This year, detectives found out that Blockton was arrested on possession of ammunition as a felon. Detectives contacted him and obtained a DNA sample. The DNA profile found on the victim and the DNA sample from Blockton matched, authorities said.

Blockton was arrested earlier today at his home in the 7000 block of Greenhaven Drive and booked into Sacramento County jail on suspicion of murder.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A 20-year-old man who participated in the torture murder of a disabled former Marine two years ago was sentenced today to spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole.

The life term was imposed on James Davis Washington by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin J. McCormick for the June 7, 2008, murder of William "Billy" Deer, 50.

Deer had bought a cup of coffee and was drinking it on a curb next door to a 7-Eleven in the 10200 block of Mills Station Road in Rancho Cordova when he was attacked by Washington and another man named Frank Abella, who also is now 20.

Abella, who also was convicted of first-degree murder with special circumstances in a separate trial, is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 27.

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

By Bill Lindelof and Chelsea Phua
blindelof@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested a 20-year-old man on suspicion of homicide in the death of his baby nearly a year ago.

Everett Quinn.jpgEverett Bobbylee Quinn (photo left) was booked into Sacramento County Jail Wednesday night on suspicion of homicide and assault charges, police said.

Police said they suspect that Quinn caused the injuries that resulted in his baby's death.

Placer county coroner officials identified the baby as Heratio Wysinger, who was 4 months old when he died July 27, 2009.

The lengthy period between the boy's death and Quinn's arrest was due to the need for experts to look into the boy's death, said Sgt. Norm Leong, Sacramento Police Department spokesman.

Placer County coroner officials identified the baby as Heratio Wysinger, who was 4 months old when he died July 27, 2009, in a Roseville hospital.

Placer County Sheriff's spokesman Dena Erwin said the cause of death included "blunt force impact and rotational injuries."

Erwin said the infant's brain was sent for extensive neuropathological study and the report was returned to the coroner's office two months ago. The baby also suffered from chronic cystic encephalopathy, a disease of the brain.

Leong said police do not known exactly why or how Quinn might have harmed his child.

On May 19, 2009, officers responded to the 5300 block of Mack Road regarding a baby who was vomiting blood.

The initial investigation revealed that Quinn was taking care of his baby while the child's mother was in the shower. Fire department medical personnel were called when the baby vomited blood.

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

By Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

The 19-year-old man accused of killing a 14-year-old girl at a Sacramento County teen party is scheduled for arraignment Monday afternoon.

Jaivonne Flenory-Davis appeared in Sacramento County Superior Court briefly on Friday on a felony burglary case that he pleaded no contest to in June.

He was scheduled to be sentenced to no more than a year in county jail on the burglary conviction, said W. Bradley Holmes, Flenory-Davis' attorney.

Holmes told the judge that he hadn't had time to review the pre-sentencing report and asked that the sentencing to be postponed to Tuesday. The judge granted the request.

Flenory-Davis had been out on bail awaiting the burglary sentencing when Sunday's shooting, which killed Lanajah Nachelle Dupree, happened at an "under 21" party on Auburn Boulevard.

Sheriff's officials said they believe Flenory-Davis was connected to a fight that broke out between rival gang members at the dance party and that he fired randomly into the crowd, intending to hurt rival gang members but instead struck Dupree.

A 17-year-old girl was also injured, but is expected to survive.

Dupree's family told The Bee that she was selected to join the cheerleading team as a high school freshman and had aspired to be a nurse.

At least 10 of Flenory-Davis' family members - including his mother, aunt and sister - attended his Friday court appearance.

They declined to speak to The Bee. Flenory-Davis was not available for an interview.

Holmes said he has yet to review the murder case.

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

Previous coverage:

Suspect arrested in teen's death at Auburn Boulevard dance party - July 16, 2010

Security's imperative for teen parties, say organizers, officers - July 15, 2010

Marcos Breton: Party site where girl was slain lacked license - July 14, 2010

Safe party turns deadly for teen visitor from Nevada - July 13, 2010

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento man pleaded no contest today to murdering two people and trying to kill two more in a 2007 south-area shooting spree that his lawyer said was spawned by the defendant's mental health issues.

Jay Patrick Johnson had been facing the death penalty in the handgun killings of Lee Candelaria and Ramona Alice Gonzales. But in an agreement worked out between Deputy District Attorney Kevin Greene and defense attorneys Linda Parisi and John Perkins, Johnson, 41, is likely to be sentenced to two terms of life in prison with no chance of parole.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Laurie M. Earl scheduled Johnson's sentencing for Aug. 6.

Johnson gunned down Candelaria, 25, and his girlfriend, Gonzales, in the apartment they shared in the 6900 block of Lewiston Way shortly after midnight on Feb. 18, 2007. Just before he shot and killed Candelaria and Gonzales with his .45 handgun, Johnson admitted today that he also shot Trong Le and Kevin Julian outside a gas station when they wouldn't give him a cigarette. Just after the killings Johnson set fire to his own apartment.

"There are some serious issues about mental health and other factors that contributed to this event," Parisi said of her client.

She said she worked out the plea agreement with Greene and Deputy District Attorney John O'Mara, the homicide chief in the District Attorney's Office.

"It really was a joint contribution from all sides, talking about what might be a fair resolution," Parisi said.

Greene declined to comment.

The brother of one of the victims expressed anger about the outcome.

"It's been three and a half years," John Candelaria said. "Murder is murder, and justice is justice, and this just seems like, if my brother and his girlfriend were famous people or related to somebody, if they had a little more pull, with somebody more higher up, this would have happened a lot quicker."

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

7M4MCDONALD.xlgraphic.prod_affiliate.4.JPGThe family of Anthony Jerome "A.J." McDonald (left) is holding a celebration service for the well-liked man who was found slain in his apartment near the Arden Fair Mall on July 2.

"He was truly loved by so many people," McDonald's daughter, Jernita Belcher, said today. "I hope my dad is at peace. He no longer has to suffer the daily stresses of life."

Belcher said the service will be 11 a.m. Friday at the Morgan and Jones Funeral Home, 4200 Broadway.

Sheriff's detectives said they do not have any leads on who killed McDonald, a 54-year-old recovered drug addict who was the most popular person in his Wyda Way complex.

A coroner's spokeswoman said an autopsy determined McDonald's death was a homicide, but exact cause of death is being withheld for now.

Beyond the apartment building, McDonald also was well-known and liked around the Salvation Army complex at 12th and B streets.

"Major" Mary Rocheleau said McDonald played bass guitar in the Salvation Army's worship band.

"He was so precious," Rocheleau said. "He was quiet. He would just lay back and play the bass."

Sheriff's officials have asked for the public's help to solve the case. The numbers to call are (916) 874-5057 for sheriff's investigators, (916) 443-4357 for Crime Alert, and the text number is 274637 followed by SACTIP. Officials have posted a $1,000 reward in the case.

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

By Chelsea Phua and Bill Lindelof
cphua@sacbee.com

A 14-year-old Nevada girl who was killed in what authorities said was a random shooting at an Arden Arcade party on Sunday night was looking forward to joining the cheerleading team as a high school freshman, her mother said.

YOUNGVICTIM.jpg"Dancing came easy to her," Nikia Johnson said during a phone interview from her home in Sparks, Nev., this morning, talking about her only daughter, Lanajah Nachelle Dupree (left).

Dupree had a 9-year-old brother, and she made breakfast for him, walked him home from school and took him skating.

Another teen, 17, was shot in the arm and upper body during Sunday's violence and is expected to survive, authorities say.

The shooting occurred after 10 p.m. during a party for people younger that 21 at Venue 4 Rent at 2906 Auburn Blvd. When deputies arrived at 10:17 p.m. they found Dupree lying in the doorway of the party venue. She had been shot once in the upper body.

Dupree died shortly after being transported by ambulance to a hospital.

Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokesman Tim Curran said about 200 people were partying in the hall when an argument started.

Security guards hired for the event started moving attendees outside in an attempt to calm the crowd. The shooter, described as a male wearing dark clothing, was standing near the street.

Detectives believe that the shooter had attended the party, Curran said, but the Venue 4 Rent manager, Kevin Kennedy, disputed that.

He said the promoter had hired armed security guards, who had denied entry to some "thug-type individuals" earlier that night.

Authorities say the gunman fired his weapon into the air before shooting into the crowd, which had moved to the parking lot, Curran said. The assailant was last seen walking west on Auburn Boulevard.

Authorities say they don't think the shooter targeted the victims, and it is unclear what fueled the argument or if it was related to the shooting, Curran said.

Curran said authorities don't know if the suspect is younger than 21 because they are unsure how closely security personnel had checked IDs.

Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at (916) 874-5057 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357.

Staff writer Matt Kawahara, researcher Pete Basofin and online content developer Nathaniel Miller contributed to this report.

Harper.jpgBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Closing arguments began today in Sacramento Superior Court in the second-degree murder trial of a man accused of shaking his 6-month-old baby to death two years ago.

Deputy District Attorney Rochelle Hao told jurors that Kevin Harper, who worked the graveyard shift as a stocker at a Wal-Mart store, grew frustrated when his son, Jaden, woke him as he tried to sleep during the day. The prosecutor said the 26-year-old defendant lost control just long enough to kill his child.

"He was a healthy, thriving baby boy until Aug. 21, 2008, when something horrible happened," Hao said. "He was left with someone who was supposed to care for him. He was left with someone he should have been able to trust. He was left with his father, Kevin Harper, who murdered him."

Assistant Public Defender Sue Karlton argued that the baby, who was born prematurely, had a bleeding disorder almost from the time he entered the world, and that he had been taken to the emergency room twice in the months before he died because blood was found in his stool and in his vomit. There had never been any indication in the boy's prior hospital visits that he had been subject to child abuse, Karlton said.

"The proof here is that this child was bleeding and had been bleeding throughout his entire short life," Karlton told the jury.

An autopsy showed that Jaden Harper died of blunt head and neck trauma due to "shaken impact," Hao told the jury. Karlton disputed the coroner's findings, saying that "these dinky little bruises" found on the boy's body were not consistent with anybody shaking him or slamming him against a hard surface.

Hao is scheduled to give her rebuttal argument early this afternoon, before Judge Michael W. Sweet instructs the jury and sends jurors to deliberate.

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

By Deia de Brito
ddebrito@sacbee.com

An apparent road rage incident in Yolo County on Saturday afternoon left one man dead and his killer at large.

Jorge Gutierres, a 52-year-old resident of the Colusa County community of College City, was northbound on County Road 99 W near Dunnigan when authorities say a series of passing incidents led to his stabbing death.

A passenger in the victim's car told investigators that Gutierres, who was driving a Jeep Cherokee, passed a black Ford Mustang convertible, a Yolo County Sheriff's Department news release states. The Mustang and Jeep continued passing each other until the Mustang's driver stopped in front of Gutierres' Jeep and exited his car. After smashing Gutierres' window, the suspect stabbed the victim several times in the arm, authorities say.

The suspect returned to his car and resumed driving north on County Road 99 W. Witnesses said the suspect was accompanied by a passenger in the Mustang.

Yolo County sheriff's deputies and Dunnigan firefighters arriving at the scene of the assault found Gutierres in the driver's seat of the Jeep, suffering from several stab wounds to his left arm. He was transported by air to UC Davis Medical Center, where he later died.

The suspect was described as a Hispanic male, 30 to 40 years old, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10, with dark hair in a buzz cut.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the Yolo County Sheriff's Department at (530) 668-5280.

Call The Bee's Deia de Brito, (916) 321-1087.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

An 18-year-old man is in custody in connection with a fatal shooting at a July 4 party near Rutter Park, according to authorities.

Sacramento County sheriff's Major Crimes detectives arrested Imari Malik Powell at a Motel 6 in Oakland this morning, said sheriff's Sgt. Tim Curran.

Powell was booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail on suspicion of murder, booking records show. He also had an outstanding warrant for making threats with a firearm, records show.

Powell is accused in the death of 21-year-old Dawayne Edward Douglas, who died after being shot at a large July 4 block party on the 7700 block of Scottsdale Drive, Curran said. Douglas ran from the scene and collapsed on Florinda Way. He died later at the hospital.

More than 300 people attended the party. Several partygoers told detectives they heard an argument, followed by multiple gunshots, authorities said.

Curran said the shooting might have stemmed from a prior dating relationship between Powell's mother and Douglas.

Powell is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, booking records show.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento judge today ordered that Aaron Norman Dunn be executed by lethal injection for his 2006 shotgun killing spree in which he murdered two men who had just finished dining with their families in Elk Grove.

MOREDUNN.JPG"It is the judgment and sentence of this court that you, Aaron Norman Dunn, should be put to death within the walls of San Quentin in the manner proscribed by law upon the date to be fixed by this court in the warrant of execution," Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet told the 32-year-old defendant.

Dunn (left) was convicted of murder April 13 in the March 25, 2006, slayings of Michael John Daly, 45, and Jon Johnson, 46. The two men were leaving popular Laguna Boulevard restaurants when they were killed by Dunn, who was distraught over the break-up of his marriage and had been ingesting methamphetamine.

The same jury that convicted Dunn voted on May 12 to recommend he face the death penalty. Dunn also was convicted of trying to kill four other people in the spree, two of whom were Elk Grove police officers.

Wearing a yellow jail T-shirt and flanked by three defense lawyers, Dunn remained silent but fiddled with a pencil at times during the sentencing hearing. At one point, he turned to look at Karen Johnson, the wife of victim Jon Johnson, who told the court, "Satan worked through that man that night."

Still, Johnson told the killer, "Aaron Dunn, I have forgiven you."

In a letter read to the court by Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett, Daly's older sister, Dianne McGarry, refuted the defense contention that drugs, depression and a lousy upbringing combined to lead Dunn to murder.

McGarry said in her letter to Dunn that he had a choice in the events that have sent him to California's death row.

"Aaron Dunn, you have brought these consequences upon yourself with the actions you chose in March 25, 2006," McGarry wrote. She told Dunn in the letter, "You are truly a cold, ruthless killer."

Earlier in the hearing, Sweet rejected a defense motion to exercise "independent mercy" and refrain from sentencing Dunn to death.

The judge said the aggravating circumstances of the killings were "so horrendous" that they outweighed the defendant's problematic upbringing of a drug-abusing father and an indifferent, uncaring mother.

Sweet then delayed the sentencing hearing for a half hour while he read the probation report on Dunn that had been filed under seal.

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

KCRA: Widow: I've forgiven Aaron Dunn:

Previous coverage:

Jurors tell why they decided spree killer must die - May 13, 2010

Jurors still weighing fate of killer in Elk Grove spree - May 5, 2010

Jury weighs fate of Elk Grove killer of 2 men - April 30, 2010

Family describes killer's grim life - April 27, 2010

Victims' relatives tell of pain, loss at killer's sentencing hearing - April 23, 2010

Jury convicts man of gunning down 2 in Elk Grove - April 14, 2010

Jury deliberating fate of double-murder defendant Aaron Norman Dunn - April 13, 2010

Prosecutor, doctor spar over Elk Grove murder defendant's actions - April 8, 2010

Prosecutor eager to attack psychiatrist in Elk Grove shooting spree trial - April 7, 2010

Meth psychosis cited in killings; defendant's words cast doubt - April 6, 2010

Elk Grove cop testifies how she and partner stopped deadly rampage - March 17, 2010

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

By Deia de Brito
ddebrito@sacbee.com

A Fourth of July block party ended up with one man dead last night, deputies said.

The 21-year old, identified as Dawayne Edward Douglas of Sacramento, suffered at least one gunshot wound to his upper body. Sheriff's deputies found the victim lying in the middle of Florinda Way, south of Scottsdale Drive, near the party of 200-300 people.

Several people attending the party told investigators that they had heard an argument followed by multiple gunshots, deputies said.

The shooting occurred on the 7700 block of Scottsdale Drive. The victim ran around the corner and collapsed on Florinda Drive.

Deputies tried to resuscitate the victim until paramedics arrived and took him to a hospital, where he was shortly pronounced dead. Investigators haven't established a suspect or determined a motive for the homicide.

Anyone with information is regarding this murder is urged to call Sheriff's Homicide detectives at (916) 874-5057, or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Tipsters may also send a text message tip by texting to 274637 (CRIMES), then 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 Deia de Brito, (916) 321-1087.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A judge today ordered Gary and Chong Vue to stand trial for murder in the Oct. 15, 2008, shooting death of state correctional officer Steve Lo.

The Vue brothers are the younger siblings of Chu Vue, the former Sacramento County sheriff's deputy who is accused in the case of masterminding the Lo killing. Police and prosecutors say Chu Vue arranged for his younger brothers to shoot the officer because Lo, 39, was having an affair with the former deputy's wife.

After a half-day preliminary hearing, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White ordered Chong Vue, 31, and Gary Vue, 29, back to court for a trial readiness conference on Aug. 20.

Gary and Chong Vue will be tried separately from their 45-year-old brother, whose trial date has been set for July 21.

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

Related stories:

Killer expected to testify against brother in Sacramento murder trial

Judge agrees to gag order for Chu Vue murder trial

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

San Francisco police said that they have received DNA results confirming that man in the Arden Way standoff in Sacramento likely was the suspect in an April homicide in San Francisco.

According to a San Francisco police news release, authorities received confirmation Tuesday that DNA samples taken from the scene of the fatal stabbing of Charles McAleer-Bonilla matched those from Anthony Alvarez, who was fatally shot by the Sacramento County sheriff's SWAT team in June after he had holed up with a 16-month-old hostage for 56 hours. The toddler was unhurt.

The standoff began when Concord police, assisted by the Sheriff's Department, tried to take Alvarez into custody at an Arden Way apartment. At that time, he was a suspect in a series of Bay Area bank robberies and in the attempted murder of a Concord police officer.

He also was a suspect in the San Francisco homicide, authorities said at the time, although DNA tests did not confirm the link until this week.

Despite the DNA results, San Francisco police stated in the news release that detectives will be taking "additional investigative steps" before closing the McAleer-Bonilla homicide case.

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

Previous coverage:

Gifts overwhelm family of toddler held in 56-hour standoff - June 26, 2010

Sacramento County sheriff still tallying cost of 3-day standoff - June 17, 2010

Sacramento standoff attracted gawkers - June 17, 2010

Sacramento County sheriff blames standoff on hostage-taker, not S.F. police - June 16, 2010

Timeline of the standoff - June 12, 2010

Standoff ends with suspect dead, child OK - June 12, 2010

Residents return to site of deadly standoff - June 12, 2010

Robbery suspect holds 16-month-old for a second night - June 11, 2010

Armed robbery suspect holds baby hostage in Arden apartment complex - June 10, 2010

Bee Staff, Associated Press

A West Sacramento man has been arrested on a fugitive warrant from New Hampshire, alleging he caused an apartment fire in 1989 that killed four family members.

mcleod.JPGNew Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney said Wednesday evening that 53-year-old David McLeod (photo left) had been arrested on four counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Carl Hina, his wife Lori, their 4-month-old daughter Lillian, and Carl Hina's 12-year-old daughter Sara.

The medical examiner ruled all four victims died from smoke inhalation after the Jan. 14, 1989 fire on High Street in Keene.

Delaney said McLeod was arrested Wednesday in West Sacramento, where he has lived for 15 years and had a family.

McLeod is in the Yolo County jail tonight after being arranged earlier in the Yolo County Superior Court on the New Hampshire charges. However, McLeod is fighting extradition.

Marion Meyer, who lives several houses away from the McLeod residence in West Sacramento, said she didn't know the family well but sometiems the McLeod children would "come over to swim." She said she didn't think David McLeod was employed.

Earlier, two adult women shooed TV camera crews away from the McLeod residence. They said they didn't want to talk to the media. One woman sprayed water from a bottle on the crews.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury convicted two men of second-degree murder Tuesday in the beating death of their uncle two years ago.

Jason DeWayne Shepherd, 27, and Shawn Christophe Shepherd, 25, face at least 15-years-to-life prison terms in the May 6, 2008, killing of their uncle David Bryan Bishop, 47.

Jurors found that Jayson Shepherd beat Bishop to death with a baseball bat because he suspected his uncle of stealing his girlfriend's underwear.

Shawn Shepherd, meanwhile, was charged in the case for helping his brother tie up Bishop after the beating and then assisting him in disposing of the body by dumping it in a creek outside Jackpot, Nev.

Beside the murder, the Shepherds also were convicted of identity theft and forgery in connection with case.

Jason Shepherd also was convicted of second-degree commercial burglary. Shaw Shepherd was acquitted on that charge.

Judge James L. Long scheduled their sentencing for July 27.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

A Mexican murder suspect captured earlier this month in Sacramento was turned over by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers today to representatives from the Mexican Attorney General's Office at the border crossing in San Ysidro.

Israel Toledo-Vieyra, 32, is accused of killing Ascenscion Cedejas-Miranda nearly a decade ago, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement news release. An arrest warrant for Toledo-Vieyra was issued by a judge in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico in September 2000. (Toledo-Vieyra is show below in a cell at the border crossing as he awaits Mexican officials. Photo is courtesy of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.)

He came into federal custody after being arrested by Sacramento police June 16 based on a tip provided by the U.S. Marshals Service Southwest Regional Fugitive Taskforce.

Toledo-Vieyra was convicted in February 1999 on perjury charges in Sacramento County and sentenced to 45 days in jail, the news release says.

An immigration judge ordered him removed to Mexico in March 1999 and he was immediately deported.

Officials say Toledo-Vieyra was a fugitive from justice in Mexico and was in the United States illegally. Officials say Toledo-Vieyra had been hiding in the Sacramento area for more 10 years prior to his arrest earlier this month.

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

IMG00021revised.jpg

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A North Highlands man has been sentenced to one year in county jail and five years probation for accidentally shooting his friend and roommate to death with a shotgun last year.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Joseph Orr imposed the term Wednesday on Jason Batalla, 24, in the Nov. 21, 2009, death of Thomas Conrad Kruger, 21, in a plea agreement worked out between Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet and defense attorney Eric Hintz, according to court records.

Batalla pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

Batalla's probation report said that he and Kruger were "good friends" who had just moved into an apartment together in the 6700 block of Medora Drive. The two had been drinking beer and watching a basketball game on television when Batalla showed his .12-gauge Mossburg shotgun to Kruger, according to the report.

The report said that Batalla accidentally chambered a round into the gun and that the weapon went off when he was putting it away.

Batalla pleaded guilty on May 26.

According to the report, Batalla did not have a measureable blood-alcohol level when he was tested after the shooting. He did have a minimal level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana in his system, the report said, but his lawyer said the amount was so low that it suggested it had been well more than a day since Batalla had ingested it.

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

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

A 31-year-old man who was arrested in connection with a fatal bar fight over the weekend has been released from jail and will not face charges, according to authorities.

On Saturday night, Sacramento police arrested Andre Huerta on suspicion of murder in connection with the stabbing death of 23-year-old Ryan McPhee earlier that morning at the Q Street Bar and Grill in midtown.

However, Huerta was released from the Sacramento County Main Jail today, booking records show.

Police Sgt. Norm Leong said detectives determined that Huerta was involved in a fight involving McPhee, but that he was not the person who stabbed McPhee. As of now, he does not face charges in connection with the fight, Leong said.

A second suspect - 26-year-old Jonathan Montejano - remains in custody on suspicion of murder and assault with a deadly weapon, booking records show.

McPhee was stabbed on the sidewalk outside of the bar after a fight spilled outside, according to police.

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

Previous coverage:

Man stabbed to death in bar fight - June 20, 2010

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Gabriel Ricardo Dominguez of first-degree murder in the May 1, 2009, stabbing death of Samuel Sanchez.

gd[1].JPGThe jury also convicted Dominguez (left in 2009 booking photo) of having a loaded handgun in his car at the time of the killing that police and prosecutors say was gang-related.

Dominguez, 19, faces at 25-to-life term at his scheduled Aug. 2 sentencing in front of Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan. He also could receive an added eight months on the gun charge.

Sanchez, 21, was killed in a brawl outside the Express Stop Liquor on Julliard Drive near the College Greens Shopping Center in the Folsom Boulevard-Florin-Perkins Road area.

Even though the jury convicted Dominguez of murder, it did not reach a verdicts on the special finding that he personally used a knife in Sanchez' death. Deputy District Attorney Sean Laird also had argued, however, that the jury could convict Dominguez of murder under the theory that the natural and probable consequences of his behavior on the day of the killing led to the death.

The panel also could not decide whether the killing took place for the benefit of a street gang. The gang enhancement would have added 10 years and the weapons allegation another year to Dominguez' term.

Judge Meegan declared a mistrial on the two special findings. She scheduled a hearing for July 2 for the district attorney to decide whether to retry the allegations.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

ha_siackarson41981.JPG

A judge today called slain Sacramento sheriff's Deputy Vu Nguyen "a true hero" and then sentenced the teenager convicted of shooting the officer to death on a gloomy mid-week morning three years ago to spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole.

"He dedicated his life to shield us from dangerous gang members ... but also he was there to help people, to perhaps turn them from such a dark choice," Sacramento Superior Court Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan said of Nguyen.

The 37-year-old street cop was gunned down Dec. 19, 2007 while chasing a young but prolific lawbreaker through the backyards of a tough south Sacramento neighborhood.

"He gave his life in this and he is not forgotten," the judge said.

Jurors on April 28 convicted the youth who killed Nguyen. The defendant, Jimmy Siackasorn, is now 19-years-old. He was 16 at the time he murdered Nguyen.

Assistant Public Defender Sue Karlton filed a motion before the sentencing arguing that a life in prison without parole for a 16-year-old killer amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

But Meegan said that Siackasorn "ambushed" Nguyen, "executed" him on top of a chicken coop behind a house on 37th Street. And she forcefully turned back the defense motion.

"This was a cold and vicious killing, and it was no less so because the number of years this defendant had lived on earth was 16 at the time he committed that crime," Meegan said.

Throughout his many arrests and stays in juvenile detention facilities before the murder, Siackasorn often told officers how he would like to kill them if he got a chance, according to testimony at trial.

The defendant sat with his hands folded in front of him during the sentencing and did not raise his eyes to meet the laser-stare Meegan laid on him while she sent him off to prison.

A slight tumult interrupted the proceedings when one of the murdered deputy's brothers, emotionally distraught, challenged Siackasorn to turn around and look at him when he read his victim's impact statement.

The defendant's face went blank while he continued to look down at his hands.

Another brother of the deputy, Thang Nguyen, told the court of a "void" in his family's life that is "irreconcilable."

Thang Nguyen told Siackasorn "you're still very young" and "you will one day feel remorse - this is my hope."

"But when you do feel remorse," Thang Nguyen said, "make no mistake. It's because you took a life ...You took a gift that was not yours to take."

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


Photo caption: Jimmy Siackasorn shows little emotion after he was sentenced to 25 years to llife without the possibilty of parole on Friday, in Sacramento Superior Court. Photo by Hector Amezcua

Previous coverage:

Gang member guilty in Sacramento deputy's slaying - April 29, 2010

Prosecutor: Detective's alleged killer knew he was shooting cop - April 20, 2010

Dead officer's partner in Sacramento sheriff's gang unit testifies in Jimmy Siackasorn's murder trial - March 16, 2010

Judge quotes shooting suspect as saying deputy deserved to die - Feb. 25, 2010

Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

El Dorado County sheriff's deputies have arrested a man in the shooting death of a woman in El Dorado Hills.

Deputies were called to the scene of a shooting in the 2100 block of Valley View Parkway at 7 p.m. Thursday, according to a Sheriff's Department news release.

clip_image002eldo.JPGWhen they arrived, Steven Mittelman (photo left), 55, of El Dorado Hills, was outside the apartment where the shooting occurred, the release states. Inside the apartment, deputies found the dead woman.

The 63-year-old woman, whose name has not been released, had suffered what appeared to be a single gunshot wound.

Deputies called in detectives who conducted a crime scene investigation at the home into the early morning hours today.

Detectives questioned Mittelman and later booked him into jail on suspicion of homicide, according to the release.

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

By Bill Lindelof and Kim Minugh
blindelof@sacbee.com

Quick work by a Sacramento County Sheriff's deputy early Tuesday6/15 could not save a man who was shot on an Arden Arcade street.

At 1:42 a.m. a call came into the sheriff's department dispatchers regarding gunshots heard in the area of Howe Avenue and Whippoorwill Lane near Marconi Avenue and Interstate 80.

A deputy conducting a vehicle stop in the area had heard the gunshots and responded to the location.

The deputy found a 50-year-old man in the street suffering from more than one gunshot wound.

The deputy administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation until paramedics arrived.

The man was transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to a sheriff's department news release.

Coroner's deputies have yet to identify on the victim.

Homicide detectives learned that the man was walking along Howe Avenue when a vehicle stopped and three men got out.

The trio approached the man and started fighting with him.

In the course of the fight, one assailant shot the man and the suspects then hopped back into the vehicle and fled.

A witness could not provide a description of the weapon, suspects or the suspects' vehicle. A motive has not been determined.

Anyone with information regarding the killing is asked to call detectives at (916) 874-5057 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357.

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

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com

An El Dorado County judge today denied motions to grant separate trials to Tylar Marie Witt and Stephen Paul Cover in the murder of Witt's mother, Joanne - unless prosecutors choose to introduce Witt's lurid short story about young lovers inspired to kill.

El Dorado Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Melikian said he would not grant defense motions to allow Will and Culver to be tried separately - or with two juries - unless prosecutors introduce into evidence Witt's story, "A Raven and his Killer."

Authorities say the girl's "Raven" story, set in medieval times, parallels the real-life murder of Joanne Witt in June 2009.

They allege Joanne Witt was stabbed to death by Colver at the behest of Witt after Joanne Witt gave her daughter's dairy detailing a sexual relationship with Colver to El Dorado County sheriff's detectives investigating a statutory rape allegation.

In "The Killer and his Raven," Witt wrote about teen lovers driven to murder after their dreams were "shattered" by a woman who handed over her teenage girl's romantic journal to police.

Prosecutor Lizette Suder said she will decide whether to introduce the "Raven" story based on the outcome of other motions in the case. The trial is due to be moved to El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Daniel B. Proud.

Colver, 19, has pleaded not guilty in the killing. Tylar Witt, 15, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Joanne Witt was found stabbed to death June 15, 2009, in the master bedroom of her home.

Call The Bee's Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.

Previous coverage:

El Dorado prosecutor won't seek death penalty for murder plot suspect, 19 - Jan. 23, 2010

El Dorado County murder trial ordered for teens - Jan. 8, 2010

Teenager charged with killing mom in El Dorado Hills to be tried as adult - Nov. 25, 2009

El Dorado judge to decide how girl will be tried in homicide case - Nov. 20, 2009

Prosecution outlines lurid murder plot in El Dorado Hills mom's stabbing - Nov. 18, 2009

El Dorado judge to decide whether to try girl as adult in mom's killing - Aug. 25, 2009

Teen fugitives planned suicide, search warrant states - June 24, 2009

Girl, 14, boyfriend charged in slaying of her mother in El Dorado Hills - June 23, 2009

Teen charged with murder in killing of girlfriend's mom - June 20, 2009

Did teen love lead to mom's stabbing death? - June 18, 2009

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento street gang member convicted of first-degree murder for killing a rival during a shootout two years ago has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, online court records show.

Billy Saechao was sent to the Department of Corrections on Friday by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Laurie M. Earl for the killing of Koua Lee, 20.

An estimated 40 shots were fired in the battle between two street gangs March 21, 2008, on Millroy Way in south Sacramento.

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

By Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. - Tucson police have arrested a suspect in the killing of a former Sacramento woman who's body was discovered in an east Tucson park Thursday morning.

Police arrested 26-year-old Francisco Romero after the body of 46-year-old Sandra Stevens, who had been living in Tucson, was discovered.

While processing the crime scene at Freedom Park Thursday morning, officers observed a man near the children's playground.

Upon contact, Tucson police said officers noted evidence tying the man to the crime scene.

Romero was detained and transported to the main police station for an interview before he was booked into Pima County jail on a charge of first degree murder.

Detectives are withholding the cause and manner of Stevens' death as well as the motive for the slaying.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested a man for the fatal shooting of a 39-year-old man in a Gardenland parking lot over the weekend.

Carlton Reid.jpgPolice said they arrested Carlton Lydale Reid (photo left), 35, on suspicion of homicide. Police made the arrest Monday evening after he was located at 16th and P Streets.

He is suspected in the killing of Gregory David Lewis, who was shot Saturday. Police now believe that the killing was related to narcotics and that both men knew each other.

About 1:40 a.m. Saturday, Sacramento police responded to calls reporting gunshots in the area of Northgate Boulevard and West El Camino Avenue.

There, they found Lewis, suffering from a gunshot wound. He later was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Detectives said that Lewis and another person had driven to a parking lot between a clothing store and a convenience store. As they were sitting in their car, a man approached and engaged in a conversation.

The man, who police now suspect was Reid, then shot Lewis.

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

By Kim Minugh and Carlos Alcalá
kminugh@sacbee.com

Sacramento police are unclear what led an unknown suspect to fatally shoot a 39-year-old man in a Gardenland parking lot early this morning.

However, detectives are aware of the victim's drug history, according to a police spokesman - a history laid out in court records.

About 1:40 a.m., Sacramento police responded to calls reporting gunshots in the area of Northgate Boulevard and West El Camino Avenue, said Sacramento police Sgt. Norm Leong.

There, they found Gregory David Lewis on the ground of a parking lot, suffering from a gunshot wound, Leong said. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Detectives later learned that Lewis and another person had driven to the parking lot, located between a clothing store and a convenience store, Leong said. Lewis got out of the car to talk to another man, who then shot Lewis and fled, Leong said.

The gunman was described to police as a black man between 30 and 40 years old, 5 feet 11 inches to 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing between 180 and 210 pounds. The man was wearing dark clothing, according to police.

It's unclear whether the victim and the suspect were acquaintances, Leong said. He declined to describe the relationship between the victim and the person in the car with him for the person's safety, saying only that they knew each other.

Leong said the motive remains elusive, but said detectives know of Lewis' drug history. He also said there is no evidence of gang involvement in the case.

According to Superior Court records, Lewis has been convicted of felony drug possession five times dating back to 1992. Once, he was convicted of felony resisting arrest, and twice he was convicted of misdemeanor evasion of police, the records show.

Efforts by The Bee to contact Lewis' family were unsuccessful.

Saturday's killing was the 16th in the city this year. During the same period last year - which boasted an unusually low homicide tally - there had been nine.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637. Enter "SACTIP" followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The sentencing of a man convicted of murder in the vicious stabbing death of Jim Arthur last year in Boulevard Park was delayed today until next month because the defendant's probation report wasn't finished.

Johnathan Allan Baker asked Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White to go ahead and sentence him anyway. White rescheduled the sentencing to July 1.

Baker, 22, stabbed Arthur, 23, an estimated 140 times during the course of the June 3, 2009, killing, "because he was gay," one of his co-defendants in the case told police.

Baker and co-defendants Jeremy Dale Ackerman and Nadine Klein, both 21, were accused of killing Baker during the course of robbing him. Ackerman also has been convicted in the case and is slated for a July 1 sentencing.

Klein's jury could not reach a verdict and White set her retrial for Sept. 16.

Police and prosecutors said Baker, Ackerman and Klein were heavy methamphetamine users who met Arthur through their mutual use of the drug.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The defendant in a purported gang slaying at a Meadowview house party two years ago took the witness stand today and denied that he had anything to do with it.

"I ain't never went in...I stayed back," Marvel Barksdale testified in Sacramento Superior Court, saying that he remained in the backyard when shooting broke out in the living room of the party house on Detroit Avenue.

Two witnesses at the trial identified the 17-year-old defendant as the shooter and a third said she saw him with a gun at the party on the Aug. 22, 2008, night when Robert Haynes was shot to death.

Police and prosecutors say the fatal shooting resulted from a dispute between the Meadowview-based Guttah Boys and the Fourth Avenue Bloods of Oak Park.

Haynes, 16, had been affiliated with "FAB," but had been more focused on sports and academics at Sacramento High School at the time of his death, school officials said.

Barksdale denied being a member of the Guttah Boys. He said he was affiliated, however, with G-Mobb that serves as a south area umbrella gang that includes elements of the Guttah Boys, law enforcement officials say.

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

Previous coverage:

Fourth reluctant witness jailed in Sacramento gang shooting trial - May 22, 2010

Q: Around 20 years ago John Arana was murdered. He was a friend of mine. Was that crime ever solved? - Anonymous, Sacramento

A: A suspect in Arana's homicide was arrested Jan. 6 of this year and is awaiting trail in Sacramento Superior Court, according to court records and Bee reports.

mizzou[1].JPGMichael J. Peterson (photo left), 44, was extradited from Missouri, where he was in prison for an unrelated crime. Authorities matched his DNA with a DNA profile developed from evidence in the 1992 slaying of 40-year-old John Arana.

Arana died from stab wounds Nov. 5, 1992, at his home in the 5400 block of 10th Avenue. A few days after his death, his stolen truck was found about a mile from his home.

Arana, who lived alone and was a part-time driver for a print shop, was discovered by a friend who dropped by the victim's home.

Peterson was on parole at the time.

Peterson is in the Sacramento County jail, awaiting trial on murder and robbery charges.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White today slapped a gag order on the prosecution and defense in the murder trial of former sheriff's deputy Chu Vue that is scheduled to begin next month.

Chu Vue[1].jpgWhite's order came on the request of Deputy District Attorney Eric Kindall. Defense attorneys Donald Masuda, who is representing Chu Vue (photo left), and Matthew Scobel, who is representing co-defendant Lang Vue, did not object to the prosecutor's request.

Trial is scheduled to begin July 21 for Chu Vue, 45, and Lang Vue, 27, who is no relation. They are charged in Oct. 15, 2008 slaying of California correctional officer Steve Lo, 39, who was gunned down in the garage of his south Sacramento home while he was getting ready to go to work.

Police and prosecutors say Lo was having an affair with Chu Vue's wife at the time of his death.

The accused gunmen in the case, Chu Vue's younger brothers Chong Vue, 31, and Gary Vue, 29, will be tried separately.

The gag order will prevent the lawyers from discussing the case with news reporters. Kindall's motion requesting the order was sealed by the judge.

White also granted the prosecutor's request to deny "extended" media coverage of the trial, a ruling mostly aimed at broadcast news outlets. He said he would allow the electronic media and still photographers to take pictures of the defendant's at some point in the early stages of the trial, however.

Kindall opposed the limited allowance granted to the visual journalists, saying "it would be nice to keep the temperature down" in terms of media attention on the case during jury selection.

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

By Robert D. Dávila
bdavila@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested a 36-year-old man in the fatal stabbing of another man who was believed to be flirting with the suspect's wife at a South Natomas apartment complex, according to police.

William Todd was arrested near Azevedo Drive and Atrisco Circle as he fled the complex on foot, police said in a news release.

Todd is suspected of stabbing a 44-year-old man at the apartment around 8:10 p.m. Monday in the 3200 block of Azevedo Drive, officials said. The victim, identfied by Sacramento County coroner's officials as David Paul Endres, died after he was taken to UC Davis Medical Center.

Statements from witnesses indicated both men were visiting the apartment and Todd believed the victim was flirting with his wife, police said. Todd became angry, stabbed the victim with a knife and fled on foot, the release states.

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

Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for as much as $1,000 in reward.

Call The Bee's Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077.

By Melody Gutierrez
mgutierrez@sacbee.com

Sacramento police officers are investigating a homicide at an apartment complex in the 3200 block of Azevedo Drive in South Natomas.

Sacramento police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said police responded to a call at 8:10 p.m. and arrived to find a man in his 40s suffering from stab wounds. The victim was transported to UC Davis Medical Center, where he died.

Leong said the victim was visiting someone at the apartment complex. Police have detained a person who Leong said they are investigating. Leong said a motive is not clear.

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

By Carlos Alcalá
calcala@sacbee.com

A 60-year-old woman shot and killed in her Elk Grove home Friday has been identified as Marian Renee Harry.

Willie Harry.jpgPolice arrested her husband, Willie Harry (photo left), 64, in connection with the shooting on Orchard Hill Way.

Marian Harry was found in an upstairs bedroom with a single gunshot wound to the head and Elk Grove Police officers discovered a rifle believed to be the weapon used in the shooting.

Willie Harry was arrested on suspicion of murder. Police continue to investigate the motive for the shooting. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the police department communications center at (916) 714-5515.

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

Previous stories:

Husband arrested in wife's Elk Grove homicide - May 29, 2010

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A homeless man who beat somebody to death with a tree branch six years ago pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter today and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

John Flex Paulaau, 55, had been charged with murder in the death of Steven Berg, who was 44 when he was attacked Jan. 23, 2004, and died six days later. Berg was bludgeoned while riding his bicycle near Bannon Street and Bercut Drive, coroner's records show.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Russell L. Hom approved the plea deal and imposed the sentence today after Paulaau had been returned recently from Atascadero State Hospital. Paulaau was sent to the facility in June 2005 when he was found to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, according to court records.

Paulaau's attorney, Russell W. Miller, said his client had been beaten up by a group of men just before the killing and that he thought Berg was one of people who had attacked him.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Separate Sacramento Superior Court juries have convicted two defendants of first-degree murder but could not reach a verdict on a third accused killer in the stabbing death of a 23-year-old man last year in Boulevard Park.

The third and final panel told Judge Steve White it was hung up today in its deliberations on Nadine Klein, 21.

They said they were split 9-3 in favor of guilt in the death of Jim Arthur, 23, who prosecutors said suffered 140 stab wounds in the June 3 attack inside his mother's house on 22nd Street.

White declared a mistrial and ordered Klein to return for a retrial on Sept. 16.

Two other juries returned the convictions against Johnathan Allan Baker, 22, and Jeremy Ackerman, 21. Baker, who was convicted May 11, will be sentenced June 4. Ackerman's jury convicted him on Friday. He will be sentenced July 1.

According to evidence at trial, Ackerman and Klein met Arthur and smoked methamphetamine with him. Prosecutors said those two and Baker then planned to rob Arthur's mother's house.

Ackerman told police that during the course of the robbery, Baker began the knife assault on Arthur "because he was gay." Ackerman also said in his interview with detectives that he also stabbed the victim during the attack.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have arrested a suspect in the mysterious 4-year-old gunshot slaying of a man killed during a visit to Sacramento to see his son.

Joseph Wayne Bush, 38 had driven nearly 2,000 miles from Illinois to visit his young son. He was killed Feb. 10, 2006, two days after arriving in Sacramento, authorities said.

Taurus Baker.jpgBush was killed during an attempted carjacking, according to a Police Department news release.

Bush was found slumped over the steering wheel of his gray Toyota Camry in the parking lot of a shopping center in the 6000 block of Mack Road.

Police initially didn't find a motive or a suspect.

Last year detectives received information in the cold case that led them to revisit the homicide, police said.

Based on witness information and forensic evidence, detectives believe that Taurus Aquarius Baker (photo left), 20, killed Bush during an attempted carjacking, according to the release.

Baker would have been 16 years old at the time of the shooting.

He was arrested Monday without incident by the Career Criminal Apprehension Team near Laguna and Franklin boulevards.

Baker was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of homicide, robbery and attempted carjacking.

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

By Bill Lindelof and Chelsea Phua
blindelof@sacbee.com

No motive or suspects have been found in the death of a 26-year-old man who was stabbed early this morning at a Rancho Cordova apartment complex.

Sacramento County coroner's officials have identified the man as Jason Carlson.

Rancho Cordova Police Department officers were called to the Village East complex in the 9800 block of Lincoln Village Drive at 3:50 a.m.

Officers said they found Carlson in a vehicle in the parking lot with a knife wound in his chest. Officers performed CPR on the Rancho Cordova man until paramedics arrived.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital at 5 a.m.

Homicide detectives have determined that Carlson "was stabbed after an altercation with an unknown suspect," according to a department news release.

A man and a woman were detained for questioning in the homicide, a department spokesman said.

Anyone with information is asked to call homicide detectives at (916) 874-5057 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-4357.

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

Sacramento police announced the arrest this morning of a man in connection with the May 8 shooting death of Xavier Gallegos in north Sacramento.

Douglas Rivas, 20, was arrested at 9:15 a.m. at his home in the 3300 block of Horseshoe Drive in the Arden-Arcade area on suspicion of murder and attempted murder. Detectives believe the homicide was gang related, according to a Sacramento Police Department news release.

At 7:48 a.m. May 8, officers responded to a report of a large fight with two people shot at Dixieanne Avenue and Oakmont Street. Gallegos, 21, died at the scene.

A 19-year-old man also had been shot and was taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Based on the investigation, officers believe that the victims got into an argument with a group of people who were attending a party at a hall on Del Paso Boulevard, the news release states.

The argument escalated, turned physical and continued onto Dixieanne Avenue, where the two men were shot.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A man on trial for murder pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter today, just before prosecution and defense attorneys were going to reargue the case to a jury.

ceballos[1].jpgOscar Humberto Ceballos (photo left), 23, now faces 21 years in prison. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Gary S. Mullen scheduled Ceballos' sentencing date for Sept. 17.

Jurors on Thursday acquitted Ceballos of first-degree murder in the April 27, 2009, shooting death of Pablo Martin on 45th Avenue near Martin Luther King Boulevard.

When it resumed deliberations, the panel then could not decide whether to convict Ceballos of second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter.

Deputy District Attorney Charles Gonzalez then offered the voluntary manslaughter deal today, which defense attorney Jesse Ortiz and Ceballos accepted.

Martin, 34, was married to Ceballos' sister. The victim and his wife had been involved in a dispute earlier on the day of the killing, which prompted Ceballos to come to her defense, according to trial testimony.

Ceballos and Martin first got into a fist fight. Ceballos left, but then came back with a gun and shot and killed Martin when the two combatants went at it again, police and prosecutors said.

Ortiz argued that the shooting took place in self defense. He said Ceballos thought he saw a flash of chrome in the victim's pocket that the defendant mistook for a gun.

Gonzalez said Martin was unarmed. The prosecutor characterized the killing as "an execution."

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Deputies from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department fugitive bureau have arrested a man on suspicion of killing a man at an Auburn Boulevard motel.

Charles Antonio Williams, 25, was booked into Sacramento County Jail on suspicion of homicide Tuesday. He is suspected of shooting Marcel Hatch, 29, Saturday night at the Eco Lodge, 2912 Auburn Blvd.

Hatch suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen. Hospital officials notified deputies Monday that he had died.

Warrant Fugitive bureau detectives arrested Williams at his Rocklin apartment in the 2600 block of Sunset Boulevard.

Investigators said witnesses told them that Hatch and Williams were involved in a fight on Friday night. Williams is suspected of returning to the motel the next day and shooting Hatch.

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

aaronnormandunn.JPGBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today recommended that Aaron Norman Dunn be sentenced to death for the March 25, 2006, shooting spree in Elk Grove in which he murdered two people and tried to kill four more.

The panel came back with its decision after deliberating nearly nine days on the penalty phase of Dunn's trial. The jury chose the death penalty instead of a term of life in prison with no chance of parole. It was the first death penalty verdict returned by a Sacramento jury in three years.

Dunn, 33, was convicted April 13 on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of cameraman Jon Johnson, 46, and Xerox salesman Michael John Daly, 45.

It took the six-man, six-woman panel a little more than a day to convict Dunn in the guilt phase of his trial.

"He attacked our community," juror Fred Young said.

Trial evidence showed that Dunn was distraught over the breakup of his marriage, his estrangement from his wife who had begun dating men she had met on the internet, and his loss of contact with his daughter.

Under the influence of methamphetamine, Dunn drove to Elk Grove from his residence in Olivehurst and went on a shotgun rampage along Laguna Boulevard.

Witnesses said he swung his car along the side of the road and shot and killed Daly as the victim was driving out of a Chili's restaurant onto Laguna Boulevard. Daly's wife and two children also were in the car.

Dunn continued east on Laguna Boulevard and crashed into a truck while hanging out of his vehicle and aiming his shotgun at an Elk Grove police car. He shot out the back window of the police car then aimed and fired at another motorist, who was slightly injured by flying glass.

Dunn left his car, cut through a McDonald's parking lot and went to the front of Mandango's Bar and Grill, where Johnson and his wife were just coming out after eating dinner. Dunn shot Johnson in the face with his shotgun and was seen on a surveillance video holding the gun over his head and celebrating as he returned toward Laguna Boulevard.

Once out on the street, he confronted the two Elk Grove police officers he had fired on earlier. He chased one of them around the patrol car and shot and wounded a motorist who had stopped to help. The two officers, Janell Bestpitch and Tisha Smith, stopped the spree by shooting Dunn several times with their revolvers.

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

Previous coverage:

Jurors still weighing fate of killer in Elk Grove spree - May 5, 2010

Jury weighs fate of Elk Grove killer of 2 men - April 30, 2010

Family describes killer's grim life - April 27, 2010

Victims' relatives tell of pain, loss at killer's sentencing hearing - April 23, 2010

Jury convicts man of gunning down 2 in Elk Grove - April 14, 2010

Jury deliberating fate of double-murder defendant Aaron Norman Dunn - April 13, 2010

Prosecutor, doctor spar over Elk Grove murder defendant's actions - April 8, 2010

Prosecutor eager to attack psychiatrist in Elk Grove shooting spree trial - April 7, 2010

Meth psychosis cited in killings; defendant's words cast doubt - April 6, 2010

Elk Grove cop testifies how she and partner stopped deadly rampage - March 17, 2010

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

aaronnormandunn.JPGBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Jurors in the Aaron Norman Dunn murder case today completed more than eight days of deliberations without reaching a verdict in the penalty phase of the convicted spree killer's trial.

The panel took a little more than one day to return first-degree murder convictions April 13 against Dunn for the shooting deaths of Michael John Daly, 45, and Jon Johnson, 46. The two were shot down while out with their families in Elk Grove.

Dunn, 33, also was convicted of trying to kill four other people the night of the March 25, 2006, shootings. Police and prosecutors, as well as his defense attorneys, said Dunn was distraught over the breakup of his marriage and his estranged wife going out with other men.

Jurors haven't had any more questions for Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet since they asked last week whether they could consider remorse as an aggravating factor in the case.

A Sacramento jury has not sentenced a defendant to death since April 25, 2007, when a panel recommended capital punishment in a penalty phase retrial for James Leslie Karis Jr.

Karis, a paroled rapist, had been convicted and sentenced in 1982 for the kidnap-murder of a woman in Placerville. His trial had been moved to Sacramento from El Dorado County because of pre-trial publicity.

The last death penalty murder sentence in Sacramento that also included a guilt phase in the trial was returned on Dec. 21, 2006 against Joseph Moreno Aguayo for the kidnap, rape and murder of a woman in 1979.

Both Karis and Aguayo are on California's death row.

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

Previous coverage:

Jurors still weighing fate of killer in Elk Grove spree - May 5, 2010

Jury weighs fate of Elk Grove killer of 2 men - April 30, 2010

Family describes killer's grim life - April 27, 2010

Victims' relatives tell of pain, loss at killer's sentencing hearing - April 23, 2010

Jury convicts man of gunning down 2 in Elk Grove - April 14, 2010

Jury deliberating fate of double-murder defendant Aaron Norman Dunn - April 13, 2010

Prosecutor, doctor spar over Elk Grove murder defendant's actions - April 8, 2010

Prosecutor eager to attack psychiatrist in Elk Grove shooting spree trial - April 7, 2010

Meth psychosis cited in killings; defendant's words cast doubt - April 6, 2010

Elk Grove cop testifies how she and partner stopped deadly rampage - March 17, 2010

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

melissahuckaby.jpgBy Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The woman accused of killing little Sandra Cantu of Tracy has pleaded guilty today to murder and kidnapping.

Melissa Chantel Huckaby pleaded guilty in the packed San Joaquin County Superior courtroom of Judge Linda Lofthus to killing the 8-year-old in April 2009.

Huckaby's plea allows her to avoid the death penalty. She will be sentenced June 14 to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors had come to court expecting to set hearings. However, Huckaby, a former Sunday school teacher, chose instead to plead guilty to the two most serious charges facing her in the murder of the Tracy girl last March.

Huckaby avoids a jury trial, and several counts were dismissed against her, including a poisoning charge and lewd act on a minor.

Cantu disappeared last year from her mobile home park after leaving her home to play. After a search, the girl's body was found inside a suitcase in a irrigation ditch several miles from her home.

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

Previous coverage:

Cantu slaying defendant charged with drugging others - May 23, 2009

Fox 40 coverage:

 

By Loretta Kalb
lkalb@sacbee.com

Coroner's officials today identified the victim of a fatal shooting Saturday night in north Sacramento as 21-year-old Xavier Gallegos.

Sacramento Police said the shooting and the wounding of a second man occurred outside a quinceanera, or coming-of-age ceremony, being held in a hall near Dixieanne Avenue and Cambridge Street. Two men were walking past the hall when they got into an argument with at least one other man, police said.

In the shooting that followed at about 7:30 p.m., Gallegos, of Sacramento, was killed and his 19-year-old friend was wounded. The friend is expected to survive.

Police are seeking a male Hispanic suspect, in his 20s, about 5 feet 7 and weighing about 160 pounds who was seen wearing a light colored shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the police Crime Alert line at (916) 443-4357. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.

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

By Anna Tong
atong@sacbee.com

One person was shot to death and another wounded tonight outside a quinceanera in north Sacramento, police said.

Two men were walking past a hall near Dixieanne Avenue and Cambridge Street where a quinceanera was being held when they got into an argument with at least one man, police said.

The shooting followed at about 7:30 p.m. A 21-year-old man was killed and his 19-year-old companion was wounded but is expected to survive.

Police are looking for male Hispanic about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds.

No other information was available.

Call The Bee's Anna Tong, (916) 321-1045.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A couple of convicted killers sobbed in stereo when a judge sentenced them to life in prison with no chance of parole for the robbery murder of a prostitution trick they lured into an alley.

Rebecca Dawn Brousseau, 32, heaved tears and needed a second tissue box to mop them up on Friday when Sacramento Superior Court Judge Russell L. Hom refused to grant her even a sliver of parole hope.

Cristo Luis Lopez, 23, looked into the audience through reddened eyes and over a teardrop tattoo that he told a probation officer "represents the sadness I feel because I killed somebody."

Lopez apologized to nearly 20 friends and relatives of the 32-year-old victim, Khet Saelee, including his 3-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son.

Saelee said he was going to a friend's house the night of Nov. 22, 2008, investigators said.

Sacramento sheriff's deputies found his body the next day in his vehicle in an alley between Baker Avenue and Roosevelt Avenue, just west of a heavily-trafficked Stockton Boulevard prostitution stroll.

His pants were unbuttoned and his zipper was down, according to a probation report on the case.

Investigators broke the case about four months later when they got word that Lopez, a Norteno gang member with the nickname "L'il Listo," had been bragging about the killing.

Detectives also tracked down a witness who said she heard Brousseau and Lopez discuss the prospect of a trick robbery the night before Saelee was killed.

Lopez admitted his involvement in an interview with detectives, according to his probation report. The 10th-grade Hiram Johnson High School dropout with a record of convictions for spousal abuse, assault with a knife, car theft and burglary said he was a daily methamphetamine user at the time of the killing, the report said.

Brousseau also did crank every day, according to her probation report. She is an 11th-grade dropout from Bella Vista High School.

She said she'd been working as a prostitute for six years, "and that's what I was doing that evening," she said in the probation report.

She denied robbing anybody.

In sentencing the pair, Hom said it was an unprovoked murder. The judge told Lopez he shot a man who was "no threat to you."

Hom told Brousseau that it was "unfortunate you're in this situation." He noted six letters written on her behalf and described her parents as victims of "the drugs and the life you participated in."

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento street gang member was convicted of second-degree murder today for killing a rival in a shootout two years ago in which an estimated 40 shots were fired.

Jurors returned the verdict against Billy Chan Saechao, 18. He was accused in the 1 a.m., March 21, 2008, shooting death of Koua Lee, 20.

According to a prosecution trial brief, Saechao, a member of the Mien Pride Gangsters, went to a party in the 7600 block of Millroy Way in south Sacramento to pick up his girlfriend.

When he and three friends got there, they saw another group of young men that included Lee, whom the prosecution brief identified as a member of the True Blue Crips.

After the two groups exchanged words, gunfire rang out, and investigators later recovered the 40 casings from several different handguns, the brief said.

Fifteen of the casings came from a weapon recovered beneath the car seat where Lee was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the chest, the brief said.

Two other young men were injured in the shootout.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Laurie M. Earl scheduled Saechao's sentencing for June 11.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Jules Gholar[1].jpgA Sacramento Superior Court jury today convicted Jules Gholar of second-degree murder in the 2008 Thanksgiving Day shooting death of Augusta James in Oak Park.

Gholar (photo left), 27, had been smoking crystal methamphetamine and trying to buy more drugs when he shot and killed James, 32, outside a house on 35th Street around 2:20 a.m., according to a prosecution trial brief.

James had just gotten out of jail the day before he was murdered, the brief said.

A key piece of evidence in the case was James' dying declaration. When a Sacramento police officer responded to the shooting and asked James who did it, the victim responded, "Jules," according to the brief.

Judge David De Alba scheduled Gholar's sentencing for June 11.

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

aaronnormandunn.JPGBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Jurors have now completed more than three days of deliberations without deciding whether Aaron Norman Dunn should get the death penalty for shooting two men to death during a March 25, 2006, rampage in Elk Grove.

The six-man, six-woman panel did send a question to Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet late in its deliberations today asking whether it could consider Dunn's lack of remorse as an aggravating factor in deciding whether to impose the ultimate term.

In his response to the jury's question, Sweet wrote to the jury that it could consider it as a factor in aggravation if the panel found that Dunn exhibited a lack of remorse at the crime scene. Witnesses testified at trial that after the second of his two fatal shootings, Dunn held his shotgun with both hands over his head in celebration.

Sweet also told the jury it could not consider any evidence of his lack of remorse after the crime as an aggravating factor, but that it "may make remorse unavailable as a mitigating factor."

Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett chided Dunn during his closing argument for his lack of remorse throughout the case, while defense lawyers Amy Rogers and Hayes Gable III did not offer remorse as a mitigating factor on behalf of their client.

The jury convicted Dunn, 33, on April 13 of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of multiple murders for the killings of cameraman Jon Johnson, 46, and Xerox salesman Michael John Daly, 45.

The jury also found Dunn guilty of trying to kill four other people in the spree that was set off by his rage over the breakup of his marriage.

The panel has been deliberating since Thursday afternoon whether to sentence Dunn to death or to life in prison with no chance of parole.

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

Previous coverage:

Jury weighs fate of Elk Grove killer of 2 men - April 30, 2010

Family describes killer's grim life - April 27, 2010

Victims' relatives tell of pain, loss at killer's sentencing hearing - April 23, 2010

Jury convicts man of gunning down 2 in Elk Grove - April 14, 2010

Jury deliberating fate of double-murder defendant Aaron Norman Dunn - April 13, 2010

Prosecutor, doctor spar over Elk Grove murder defendant's actions - April 8, 2010

Prosecutor eager to attack psychiatrist in Elk Grove shooting spree trial - April 7, 2010

Meth psychosis cited in killings; defendant's words cast doubt - April 6, 2010

Elk Grove cop testifies how she and partner stopped deadly rampage - March 17, 2010

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Three young men have been arrested on suspicion of homicide in the brazen killing of a 17-year-old Calvine High School student in March.

Marque Alexander Johnson was gunned down March 17 as he headed to a bus stop in his south Sacramento neighborhood.

Police said he was slain by three men on Summerdale Way near Mack Road about 7 a.m. and died later at a local hospital.

Police said they have Kalief Raheem Taylor, Marquice Devon Wallace and Robert Maurice Hunt (from left to right below) in Sacramento County Jail, all booked on suspicion of homicide and participation in a criminal street gang.

All three suspects are 18 years old.

The young men had been in jail on other charges before being re-booked on homicide charges.

attachment.jpgtaylor.jpg attachment.jpgwallace.jpg attachment.jpghunt.jpg

aaronnormandunn.JPGBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Jurors went home today without reaching a decision in the penalty phase of the Aaron Norman Dunn murder trial.

The six-man, six-woman panel began deliberations Thursday on whether Dunn should be put to death or spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole for the March 25, 2006, shotgun spree-shooting deaths of Michael John Daly, 45, and Jon Johnson, in Elk Grove.

Dunn, 33, was convicted April 13 on two counts of first-degree murder. He also was convicted of trying to kill four other people, including two Elk Grove police officers, in his drug-fueled rampage on a Saturday night on Laguna Boulevard.

The jury is scheduled to resume deliberations Monday in Sacramento Superior Court.

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

Previous coverage:

Family describes killer's grim life - April 27, 2010

Victims' relatives tell of pain, loss at killer's sentencing hearing - April 23, 2010

Jury convicts man of gunning down 2 in Elk Grove - April 14, 2010

Jury deliberating fate of double-murder defendant Aaron Norman Dunn - April 13, 2010

Prosecutor, doctor spar over Elk Grove murder defendant's actions - April 8, 2010

Prosecutor eager to attack psychiatrist in Elk Grove shooting spree trial - April 7, 2010

Meth psychosis cited in killings; defendant's words cast doubt - April 6, 2010

Elk Grove cop testifies how she and partner stopped deadly rampage - March 17, 2010

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

aaronnormandunn.JPGBy Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Jurors began deliberations today on whether to execute Aaron Norman Dunn or sentence him to life in prison with no chance of parole for his murder spree that killed two men in Elk Grove four years ago.

The panel went out about 2 p.m. after prosecution and defense attorneys gave their closing arguments on the issue of whether Dunn lives or dies.

Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett told the Sacramento Superior Court panel that Dunn's rampage that killed Jon Johnson and Michael John Daly on March 25, 2006, while they were out with their families was so horrific that the circumstances of the crime alone should be enough to qualify the 33-year-old Dunn for the death penalty.

"Now you're being asked to speak the conscience of the community," Triplett said. The prosecutor called Dunn "the community's worst nightmare" who "achieved a level of depravity only the smallest fraction of people do."

Triplett said "capital punishment would be meaningless if it does not apply to this man."

Dunn drove to Elk Grove from Olivehurst and killed Daly, 45, and Johnson, 46, in a rage prompted by the breakup of Dunn's marriage and the impending loss of his daughter and amplified by his heavy use of methamphetamine.

Besides killing Johnson and Daly, he also shot one other man and was convicted of trying to kill four other people, including two Elk Grove police officers.

The same jury that is now contemplating his sentence convicted him last week of the murders and attempted murders.

Assistant Public Defender Amy Rogers told the jury its decision in the penalty phase of the trial will be the "most awesome responsibility" they will ever undertake.

Rogers said Dunn was a loving father, husband and uncle until the he went off the edge when his wife took up with other men and took their daughter with her.

When they left him, Dunn went on to lose his electrician's job and his house.

"He lost everything that a person values, that a man values," Rogers said.

She said that the methamphetamine use did not justify the murders in the jurors' minds, but that it might explain them.

Rogers also noted that Dunn was raised by a father who used drugs and consorted with prostitutes in front of him and a mother who essentially abandoned him.

She told the jury that no family members appeared in court to support Dunn unless they were subpoenaed to testify.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm asking you to be compassionate, strong and noble," Rogers told the jury. "Reject death. Come back with a verdict of life without possibility of parole."

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

Previous coverage:

Family describes killer's grim life - April 27, 2010

Victims' relatives tell of pain, loss at killer's sentencing hearing - April 23, 2010

Jury convicts man of gunning down 2 in Elk Grove - April 14, 2010

Jury deliberating fate of double-murder defendant Aaron Norman Dunn - April 13, 2010

Prosecutor, doctor spar over Elk Grove murder defendant's actions - April 8, 2010

Prosecutor eager to attack psychiatrist in Elk Grove shooting spree trial - April 7, 2010

Meth psychosis cited in killings; defendant's words cast doubt - April 6, 2010

Elk Grove cop testifies how she and partner stopped deadly rampage - March 17, 2010

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The penalty phase of Aaron Norman Dunn's murder trial resumed today with defense attorneys telling the life story of a man abandoned by his father then by his wife and whose life then unraveled before he took off on a murder spree four years ago in Elk Grove.

Defense attorney Hayes Gable III said Dunn, 33, turned to drugs and drinking after his father left the family when the defendant was about 12 years old.

Dunn, convicted last week in the murder of two men in the March 25, 2006, spree killings in Elk Grove, lived a relatively normal life when he reached adulthood, but it fell apart when his wife left him for Internet romance, Gable said in his opening statement to the jury for the penalty phase.

Dunn's lawyers said he was in the midst of a methamphetamine-induced psychosis when he shot and killed Jon Johnson, 46, and Michael John Daly, 45, while the two men were each having nights out with their families.

Gable called two witnesses before the jury broke for lunch. One of them, a childhood friend named Christoph Hangartner, testified that Dunn was left with a "pretty lenient" mother when the defendant's father told the family he was gay and left their Marysville residence.

"We could get away with a lot of stuff there," at Dunn's house, once his father left, Hangartner testified. "Drinking, smoking weed, things of that nature."

Hangartner testified that he, Dunn and the defendant's younger brother had all begun using methamphetamine by the time they were in their early teens.

The defense case is expected to take up the afternoon session in front of Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet and probably will run into tomorrow.

At the outset of today's session. Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett told Sweet outside the presence of the jury that Dunn got in a fight in the downtown jail last week with a man who is facing murder charges. Triplett said he intends to present evidence of the fight as rebuttal evidence once the defense is finished with its case.

Jurors will then be asked to decide whether Dunn should be punished by the death penalty or life in prison with no chance of parole.

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

Previous coverage:

Victims' relatives tell of pain, loss at killer's sentencing hearing - April 23, 2010

Jury convicts man of gunning down 2 in Elk Grove - April 14, 2010

Jury deliberating fate of double-murder defendant Aaron Norman Dunn - April 13, 2010

Prosecutor, doctor spar over Elk Grove murder defendant's actions - April 8, 2010

Prosecutor eager to attack psychiatrist in Elk Grove shooting spree trial - April 7, 2010

Meth psychosis cited in killings; defendant's words cast doubt - April 6, 2010

Elk Grove cop testifies how she and partner stopped deadly rampage - March 17, 2010

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

The penalty phase of Aaron Norman Dunn's murder trial got under way today with the jury set to decide whether the Elk Grove spree killer will be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet told the panel that among the factors it must consider is whether Dunn's ability to consider the impact of the March 25, 2006, rampage that killed two men was impaired by "mental defect" or intoxication.

Defense lawyers Amy Rogers and Hayes Gable III put on evidence during the guilt phase of the trial that Dunn shot and killed Jon Johnson, 46, and Michael John Daly, 45, while he was in a methamphetamine-induced psychotic state.

Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett put on four witnesses this morning in his case that he said could wrap up by the end of the day.

The prosecution witnesses included a bouncer in a Yuba City bar who testified about getting assaulted while breaking up a fight in 2005. The bouncer, Sandee Bassi, did not specifically identify Dunn as one of the men who assaulted him.

Another witness, William Alejandro Garza, said that Dunn was in a group of four youths that assaulted him while he was walking home from Marysville High School in 1993.

Garza said that Dunn said "What"s up? C'mon, punk," moments before he was attacked. Garza said Dunn kicked him in the face and chipped a tooth during the attack.

A former Sacramento jail deputy said he found an object during a November 2008 search of Dunn's cell that the officer believed to be a weapon.

The item was a plastic bag stuffed with wet, wadded up newspaper tied to a string. Defense lawyers contended the object was a jail communication device used to pass notes.

Another deputy testified that he saw Dunn get into a fight with another inmate at the jail.

Relatives of the victims are expected to testify later today about the impact of the killings on their lives.

The defense is scheduled to put on its evidence next week.

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

Previous coverage:

Jury convicts man of gunning down 2 in Elk Grove - April 14, 2010

Jury deliberating fate of double-murder defendant Aaron Norman Dunn - April 13, 2010

Prosecutor, doctor spar over Elk Grove murder defendant's actions - April 8, 2010

Prosecutor eager to attack psychiatrist in Elk Grove shooting spree trial - April 7, 2010

Meth psychosis cited in killings; defendant's words cast doubt - April 6, 2010

Elk Grove cop testifies how she and partner stopped deadly rampage - March 17, 2010

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Sacramento police have identified a man they believe along with a teen is responsible for the fatal shooting of a Natomas High School football coach.

Maurice Reed Jr.jpgMaurice Reed Jr. was booked into jail on suspicion of murder and robbery.

A 17-year-old male also was arrested on suspicion of murder in the case but was not identified because he is a juvenile.

The 17-year-old was arrested in Sacramento County and Reed was arrested in the Bay Area, police said.

Both have been arrested on suspicion of murder.

The two are accused of shooting and killing Salvador Heredia-Arriaga, 26, when he walked into the middle of a home-invasion robbery that they were conducting on March 26 in a South Natomas apartment.

Heredia-Arriaga was visiting friends at an apartment complex in the 2600 block of River Plaza Drive.

Police said detectives believe two armed suspects entered the residence to rob the occupants.

The suspects are believed to have targeted the residence for a home invasion robbery because of on-going marijuana sales at the location, police said

The teen and Reed are suspected of shooting Heredia-Arriaga and fleeing, police said.

Union City police and Sacramento detectives found Reed in Union City, Alameda County on Wednesday where he was taken into custody after a chase on foot.

Detectives later found and took into custody the 17-year-old suspect near Watt and Whitney avenues in Arden Arcade.

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

Previous coverage:

Slain teacher-coach to be awarded posthumous law degree he sought - April 2, 2010

Slain coach's funeral to be held in cathedral - March 31, 2010

Natomas High coach, teacher killed by robbers, Sacramento police say - March 28, 2010

By Diana Lambert
dlmbert@sacbee.com

Roseville police are investigating a suspicious death in the 500 block of Farridge Drive.

Lt. Mark Toupin said investigators are treating the death as a homicide.

Police received a call at 5:20 p.m. asking them to conduct a welfare check.

They discovered a dead man inside the home, Toupin said.

Toupin would not provide any information about the man or why officers suspect the death was a homicide.

Call The Bee's Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090.

By Anna Tong
atong@sacbee.com

A man suspected of killing a male prostitute in 2004 near Broadway has been arrested.

Ignacio Bulahan.jpgToday's arrest of Ignacio Bulahan (left), 34, of Sacramento follows a witness coming forward in 2009. Sacramento police arrested Bulahan at his home on the 3500 block of First Avenue.

Police found the body of Thyotis Jackson, 22, in May 2004. The man, dressed as a woman, had been working as a prostitute when he fought with an unidentified person before being stabbed, having his throat cut and being left face down near First Avenue and Broadway, police said.

After reopening the case, police used forensic evidence to identify Bulahan as their suspect. Though police say they believe he murdered Jackson, they don't have a motive for the killing.

Call The Bee's Anna Tong, (916) 321-1045.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A man who helped steal, torture and kill in a violent Foothill Farms incident two years ago has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Daniel James Norman, 44, was sent away by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Steve White for the April 20, 2008, killing of Wilbur Reynolds, 76, in the victim's Foothill Farms home.

A jury convicted Norman on March 13.

The man Norman helped, David Kenneth Hamilton, 39, was shot and killed while running from police the day Reynolds was killed. Police and prosecutors say Hamilton beat Reynolds for six hours and then set his home on fire while the victim was tied to a chair.

Authorities said Hamilton was mad because Reynolds reported him to police for abusing a woman.

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

By Kim Minugh and Chelsea Phua
kiminugh@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office has identified the male victim in Monday's drive-by shooting as 27-year-old Stefon Mayers.

Earlier, family members and friends had publicly confirmed the victim to be Stefon Mayers, Jr., but the coroner's office had not made an official identification until Wednesday.

The other victim in the shooting, which took place on Howe Avenue south of Marconi Avenue, was 18-year-old Jazzmyne Bruner.

No arrests have been made in the case.

Bruner's family has set up a memorial account at: Jazzmyne Sharnae Bruner Memorial Account, Wells Fargo Bank, 121 Park Ave. Center Plaza, San Jose, CA, 95113. The account no. is 8379238887 and the phone number is (408) 277-6535.

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

Previous coverage:

Motive unclear in Sacramento County drive-by killings - April 14, 2010

Two dead in midday drive-by shooting on Howe Avenue - April 13, 2010

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A gunman who shot and killed a man walking along a Rancho Cordova street nearly two years ago has been convicted of first-degree murder in Sacramento Superior Court.

The jury's verdict was returned Thursday against Victor Anthony Ortega, 20, for the May 28, 2008, shooting death of Marcus Mayes, 18.

Police and prosecutors said Ortega confronted Mayes on Viking Drive, then shot him dead after the two scuffled.

Ortega also was convicted of trying to kill a friend of Mayes.

The defendant's sentencing is scheduled for May 6 in front of Judge James L. Long.

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

Casey Brown.jpgBy Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

Police used videos from surveillance cameras in downtown Sacramento to identify a 25-year-old man suspected of killing a 68-year-old woman over the weekend.

Sacramento Police Department spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong said police arrested Casey Brown (top left photo) in West Sacramento on Monday in connection with the murder of Bernice Nickson, whose family members said was a transient for several years.

Nickson appeared to have been stabbed in the neck when California Highway Patrol officers found her at about 4:15 a.m. Saturday lying on Eighth Street between Capitol Mall and N Street.

She was taken to UC Davis Medical Center where she later died from her injuries, police said.

Police detectives first studied Regional Transit surveillance cameras, which helped them determine a general description and initial direction of travel of the suspect. A witness had also told officers at the crime scene that he had found a knife a few blocks away.

K9 dogs from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team tracked the suspect's direction of travel to the Westfield Downtown Plaza, where surveillance cameras there showed a witness observing the suspect.

composite.jpgPolice found the witness, who helped provide information for a composite sketch (at right).

A Sacramento police community service officer recognized the suspect from the sketch, having met the suspect a few months ago when the suspect's North Sacramento apartment was reportedly burglarized, Leong said.

Police said they have yet to determine a motive for the killing.

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

By Sam Stanton
sstanton@sacbee.com

A woman stabbed to death in downtown Sacramento has been identified as Bernice Nickson, a 64-year-old who lived as a transient for several years, family members said Sunday.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office had not completed an autopsy and was not releasing her identity Sunday, but family members said they had been told by authorities that Nickson was the victim of the attack.

Jeannette Plowden said her sister had three grown children.

She was discovered at 4:29 a.m. Saturday lying on Eighth Street between Capitol Mall and N Street. Police said she appeared to have been stabbed in the neck.

Police have no suspects or motive.

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

By Carlos Alcala
calcala@sacbee.com

Sacramento police are investigating a fatal stabbing in downtown Sacramento.

A woman, believed to be a transient in her 60s, was discovered by California Highway Patrol officers at 4:29 a.m. Saturday.

She was lying on Eighth Street between Capitol Mall and N Street and "appears to have been stabbed in the neck area," said Sgt. Norm Leong.

She was taken to a hospital and died. There are no suspect descriptions or known motive, Leong said.

Because she appears to have been a transient, it may be difficult to get a positive identification of the victim, a coroner's official said.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcala, (916) 321-1079.

By Carlos Alcala
calcala@sacbee.com

Kenneth Painter, a Nevada City resident reported missing Wednesday, was found dead with gunshot wounds, the Nevada County sheriff reported.

The search for Painter, 53, included the county's Major Crimes Unit. His car, bearing indications of foul play, was found Thursday outside Nevada City.

A Nevada County Search and Rescue dog located Painter's body at about 11 a.m. Friday in a remote area off Harmony Ridge Road near Cooper Road in Nevada City. The Department of Justice will process the scene for evidence.

Sheriff's officials have not indicated possible motives for the killing, who was last seen Monday.

Call The Bee's Carlos Alcala, (916) 321-1079.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court judge sentenced a 32-year-old man to 50-years-to-life imprisonment today for killing his girlfriend's unborn baby by stabbing her in the stomach.

That's after Danny Ray Poplin Jr. serves 12 years for corporal injury and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with his Dec. 31, 2006 attack, Judge Greta Curtis Fall ruled.

In November, a jury found Poplin guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend's baby, which he suspected to have been that of another man. It wasn't until DNA tests returned before trial that he knew it was, in fact, his own. His girlfriend was about six months pregnant.

His girlfriend, 28-year-old Vanessa Roberts, survived the stabbing and was in court today to watch the sentencing.

The first-degree murder charge carried a sentence of 25 years to life, a term then doubled because of a prior "strike" conviction: In 1996, Poplin was pleaded guilty to a felony count of first-degree burglary.

At the request of Poplin's defense attorney - and with no objection from the prosecution - Fall also agreed to recommend that Poplin, who is deaf, be housed at a special needs facility run by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

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

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

The state DNA data bank has reached 12,000 crime scene matches to violent offenders and other suspects, according to the California Attorney General's office.

Those matches have led to the convictions of thousands of convictions of rapists, murderers and kidnappers, a news release states.

On average, the data bank gets 300 matches a month. In March, the data bank had 405, a record.

The data bank, in existence since 1994, has more than 1.5 million DNA samples.

Voter-approved Proposition 69 in 2004 required all defendants convicted of a felony to submit a DNA sample. On Jan. 1, 2009 that requirement was extended to all adults arrested on felony charges.

Each day, law enforcement officers submit DNA evidence to a state Department of Justice crime lab or local labs to identify suspects.

The release gave this list of notable recent cases where DNA evidence has played a part in leading to a suspect:

- In February, John Gardner III, a convicted sex offender, was arrested on suspicion of rape and homicide in the disappearance of 17-year-old Chelsea King. The high school student was found in a shallow grave in a San Diego park.

- In January, David Joseph Carpenter, a Death Row inmate known as the Trailside Killer, was tied by DNA evidence to the 1979 killing of Mary Bennet. Bennet was stabbed to death in San Francisco.

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

Ramos, Jaime3.jpgBy Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

One of El Dorado County's major criminal cases has come to a close.

El Dorado Superior Court Judge James R. Wagoner sentenced Jaime Ramos, left, to 25 years to life in prison last month for his role in the 2008 murder of Garden Valley resident Ron Presba.

Ramos, 22, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in July 2009, but sentencing was delayed pending his testimony in the trial of his co-defendant, Presba's wife.

However, Patricia Ann Presba, 49, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in January.

She was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison earlier in March for the murder of her husband and the attempted murder of Ramos. She also received a 10-year enhancement for use of a firearm.

Carol Sanders, clerk for Judge Wagoner, said that under a plea agreement, Ramos was to receive a prison sentence of between 15 and 25 years in exchange for his testimony had Presba gone to trial.

The judge decided on the 25-year sentence based on a review of briefs and evidence in the case, Sanders said.

According to prosecutors, Presba and Ramos were lovers.

Firefighters battling a wildland fire along Highway 193 near Kelsey found Ron Presba's body June 25, 2008, inside a charred sport-utility vehicle in a ravine.

A month later, Patricia Presba vanished from the couple's Garden Valley home. A friend found the front door of the home open and covered in blood. More blood later was discovered inside the house, authorities said.

A day after Patricia Presba was reported missing, a Utah Motor Vehicle Enforcement officer was looking for stolen vehicles at a Salt Lake City motel and found a vehicle sought in connection with Patricia Presba's disappearance.

Investigators found her and Ramos inside the motel.

When the two were arrested, Ramos had three gunshot wounds and Patricia Presba had stab wounds to her arms.

Both were later extradited to El Dorado County.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

Previous coverage:

Man pleads guilty in killing, will testify against victim's wife - Aug. 1, 2009

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Aaron Norman Dunn is a possible sociopath who had a copy of the Satanic Bible in his car when he went on a killing spree in Elk Grove four years ago, a prosecutor said today.

Deputy District Attorney Scott Triplett made the remarks in a heated exchange with the judge in Dunn's death-penalty murder trial about the prosecutor's impending cross-examination of a defense psychiatrist.

Dr. Douglas Tucker of UC San Francisco testified Monday that Dunn, 33, suffered from "methamphetamine psychosis" when he shot and killed two people during his March 25, 2006, rampage.

Defense attorney Amy Rogers told jurors in her opening statement that the drugs prevented Dunn from forming the intent to kill and that he shouldn't be convicted of anything more than second-degree murder.

Triplett said today he wants to ask Tucker, whom the prosecutor characterized as "a joke," if he explored other possible mental conditions that might have affected Dunn. Among the ones mentioned by the prosecutor: anti-social personality disorder and intermittent explosive disorder.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael W. Sweet said he was all in favor of a "full-throttled" cross-examination on the prosecutor's part. But Sweet told Triplett he risked a possible mistrial if he delves too far into some areas such as Dunn's criminal background that the judge excluded in pretrial motions from the jury's consideration.

Besides the different psychiatric maladies, Triplett said he also wants to ask Tucker if he knew that Dunn had the Satanic Bible in the trunk of his car the night he shot and killed Michael John Daly, 45, and Jon Johnson, 46, and whether it might have affected his diagnosis.

Sweet said it "might be a stretch" to connect the Satanic Bible to the Elk Grove killings, but the judge did not specifically bar it.

The book was written in 1969 by an author named Anton Levay. According to gotquestions.org, the Satanic Bible is a collection of essays on satanic "rituals and ideology" that reflect Satan as "a symbol of struggle against a tyrannical God."

The prosecutor argued that the defense introduction of Tucker's psychiatric testimony opens the door to cross-examining him with evidence of Dunn's criminal record that included a lengthy stint in the old California Youth Authority as a youth and that he also abused animals.

Triplett's cross-examination of Tucker is expected to take place at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1079.

Previous coverage:

Meth psychosis cited in killings; defendant's words cast doubt - April 6, 2010

Elk Grove cop testifies how she and partner stopped deadly rampage - March 17, 2010

Witnesses tell of lives shattered in deadly Elk Grove shooting spree - March 12, 2010

Prosecutor, defense attorneys agree suspect killed two people in Elk Grove - March 10, 2010

Elk Grove residents eligible for murder case jury - Dec. 11, 2009

Prosecutor's bid for Placer DA could stall trial for double killing - Dec. 2, 2009

Homicide suspect's lawyers don't want any Elk Grove jurors - Aug. 11, 2009

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A woman who helped plan a robbery that turned into murder and then assisted in cleaning up the mess afterwards was sentenced today to 25 years to life in prison.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Marjorie Koller imposed the term on Tammy Renee Turney, 49, for the Nov. 26, 2006, shooting death of Vallejo tattoo artist David Barreda Jr.,33, at a residence on Mendocino Boulevard, east of Highway 99 near Fruitridge Boulevard.

Turney pleaded no contest to the murder charge Feb. 26.

Her son, Richard Antonio Hundley, and triggerman Curtis Level Chapman both have already been convicted in the case and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A Sacramento Superior Court jury today found Carolyn Marie Simmons guilty of second-degree murder in the June 16, 1991, bludgeon murder of Richard Jackson in his south area apartment.

Simmons, 54, is scheduled to be sentenced May 7 by Judge Maryanne G. Gilliard.

Police and prosecutors said Simmons killed the 66-year-old Jackson when he didn't promptly pay her after she performed an act of prostitution.

Investigators did not break the case until January 2009, when Simmons' son came forward to police and told them he had information about the bludgeon killing of Jackson.

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

Previous coverage:

Sacramento County jury gets '91 murder case - March 30, 2010

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

Friends and family members of two men killed in Wilton earlier this month announced this morning they have raised $7,000 to contribute to a reward for information in the case.

That brings to $8,250 the amount available for tipsters who pass along information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the March 20 fatal shootings of Marlon Maurice Aguilar Morales and Christopher Alexander Valdes.

clip_image002.jpgaguilar.jpgMorales (photo top left), 18, and Valdes (photo bottom left), 19, were killed as they left a party held inside of a barn at a friend's home on Rising Road in unincorporated Sacramento County.

Sacramento County sheriff's detectives say as many as 60 people attended the party, although they have only identified and spoken to about two dozen of them. They are urging other attendees - even those who left before the shootings - to come forward.

clip_image002.jpgvaldes.jpgWitnesses told detectives that the party was going smoothly and that there were no problems before partygoers began to disperse about 1:30 a.m. At that point, about a dozen people - whose connection to the partygoers remains unclear - showed up uninvited and were asked to leave, said Detective Jason Cvitanov.

The uninvited people grew angry, and at least four of them physically fought with Morales and Valdes before someone fired several shots, striking the victims. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

Detectives have not identified the shooter or the uninvited people.

Friends and family members pleaded with members of the public to help detectives identify the "cowards" responsible for the killings.

"They didn't deserve to die like this," said Claudia Barrientos, Valdes' mother.

She said she fears that the suspects could hurt other people before they are caught.

"Our children are in danger," Valdes said. "Tomorrow, it could be your son or daughter."

Anyone with information is asked to call sheriff's homicide detectives at (916) 874-5057 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637. Enter "SACTIP" followed by the information.

Callers can remain anonymous.

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

Previous coverage:

Two Elk Grove men shot to death outside Wilton party - March 21, 2010

By Phillip Reese and Cathy Locke
preese@sacbee.com

Salvador Heredia-Arriaga wanted to give something back to his community, so after graduating from UC Santa Cruz, he moved home to Natomas, took a job as a substitute teacher and helped coach the high school football team.

"You have the privilege of going to college," his mother, Susan Heredia, vice president of the Natomas Unified School Board, recalled telling him. "Use that privilege to make a difference."

SAM_0005.JPGLate Friday night, two armed men entered an apartment on the 2600 block of River Plaza Drive in south Natomas and shot and killed Heredia-Arriaga, according to police. Heredia-Arriaga (left in photo supplied by his family) was 26.

Based on a preliminary investigation, detectives believe Heredia-Arriaga was just visiting friends when he arrived in the middle of a home-invasion robbery at the River Pointe apartment complex, interrupting the intruders.

After shooting Heredia-Arriaga, the robbers and ran away. As of this evening, they are still at large.

The suspects are described as black, in their late teens to early 20s, wearing dark hooded sweatshirts and blue jeans.

"He just happened to stop by three minutes too soon," his mother Susan Heredia said.

Heredia-Arriaga grew up in Natomas, attending local schools. His two passions were history and football.

Not content to just play, Heredia-Arriaga would study the game and try and dissect how it worked. A defensive lineman, he didn't let a lack of natural ability get in his way.

"Salvador was a very average athlete who had an incredible work ethic," said Terry Stark, who was the head football coach at Natomas High during Heredia-Arriaga's senior year. "He would do everything he could to get on the field.

"He ended up being a starter for us. It wasn't a great team, but, thanks partly to his leadership, we were able to get to 5-5 that year," Stark added.

After high school, Heredia-Arriaga headed to UC-Santa Cruz, where he majored in history.

"He read everything he could get his hands on," Susan Heredia said.

A good student, Heredia-Arriaga had a lot of options in front of him.

He came back to south Natomas and became the junior varsity football coach at Natomas High. He also started substitute teaching for the district.

"He was a coach for all the right reasons," Stark said. "He saw what the game of football could do for so many young men. He wanted to make sure they got they got through school and have the opportunity to go to college."

At the time of his death, Heredia-Arriaga was getting ready to go to law school, his mother said. He would have likely contributed greatly to the community that nurtured him.

"He was very conscious of social issues," she said, adding that he also worked with disadvantaged kids through a city of Sacramento program. "He had a desire to try to develop youth."

Call The Bee's Phillip Reese, (916) 321-1137.

By Bill Lindelof
blindelof@sacbee.com

Detectives plan to interview the surviving witness in a fatal shooting and suicide that grew out of a road rage incident in El Dorado County.

The fatal incident began about 2:45 p.m. Sunday in the Somerset area.

"We don't have much information beyond that," said Sgt. Jim Byers, spokesman for the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department.

Officers responded to Newtown Road and Broadway near Placerville after receiving calls about gunshots and an automobile accident.

KOHUTEK.JPGlarsondead.JPGThey found Jenson Cornelius Kohutek (far left), 36, dead in a burgundy Toyota truck. Jack Eugene Larson (left), 49, was critically wounded in a green Toyota sport utility vehicle.

Larson was transported to Marshall Hospital where he died.

Deputies said Kohutek shot Larson and then took his own life. A 72-year-old woman passenger in Larson's SUV was not injured.

Deputies said the two men did not know each other. The dispute between the men apparently was the outgrowth of road rage.

"It sounds like the initial incident was instigated by Kohutek, and then it was a continuing event up until the point they crashed," said Byers.

The cars ended up side-by-side, just off the road. Kohutek did not get out of his car to shoot, Byers said.

"He just raised the gun and fired into the car, narrowly missing the female passenger who was in the front seat," said Byers. "Obviously, she is pretty traumatized."

She has been interviewed once by detectives, and they plan a follow-up interview.

It remains unclear what prompted the road rage.

"There are no witnesses, beside her," Byers said of the female passenger. "There were other witnesses along the way who saw the swerving and weaving and the hand gestures."

A road rage incident that somewhat mirrors what happened in El Dorado County, occurred when Donald Rodger Bell shot himself to death on May 20, 2001,

He committed suicide near the roadside memorial on Highway 50 to the man he was accused of killing in a road-rage incident about three weeks earlier.

Investigators said Bell, 52, of Elk Grove called 911 on his cell phone about 10 a.m. to tell police that he intended to shoot himself. He asked the 911 operator to relay a message to his wife, and then fired one shot to his head.

Bell faced voluntary manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Timothy Michael Mann, 53, of Orangevale on May 6, 2001. Bell was out on bail.

The incident between Mann and Bell started just before 11:30 a.m. when both motorists were traveling with family members east on Highway 50 near Bradshaw Road. Sheriff's officials said Bell, who was driving a small white pickup truck, pulled into traffic in front of Mann's four-door sedan.

The two exchanged angry words and gestures while continuing east before exiting at Hazel Avenue. Mann pulled into the left-hand turn lane and Bell followed him in his truck.

While they were sitting at the light waiting for it to change, Bell allegedly got out of the car and gestured to Mann. Mann left his car, and the two men began arguing. Witnesses said Mann took a swing at Bell, who then shot Mann.

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

By Chelsea Phua
cphua@sacbee.com

Sacramento County Coroner's officials have identified the 17-year-old boy shot to death Wednesday morning on a south Sacramento street as Marque Alexander Johnson of Sacramento.

At about 7 a.m., police arrived at Mack Road and Summerdale Way in the Parkway neighborhood to find the teenager on the sidewalk next to an apartment complex, police said.

The boy was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Three men approached the boy on foot, then fled into the apartment complex after the shooting, police said.

The suspects were described to police as three black men in their late teens or early 20s and wearing dark clothing. One had "dreadlock-type" hair, police said.

A police spokesman said the victim is known to law enforcement, but he did not elaborate.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637. Enter "SACTIP" followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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

By Kim Minugh and Bill Lindelof
kminugh@sacbee.com

A teenage boy was shot to death on a south Sacramento street this morning, police said.

Sacramento police were called to Mack Road and Summerdale Way in south Sacramento's Parkway neighborhood at 7 a.m.

There, officers found the 17-year-old lying on the sidewalk next to an apartment complex, said police spokesman Sgt. Norm Leong.

The boy was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:28 a.m.

Police have learned that three male suspects approached the boy on foot, and fled into the apartment complex after the shooting, Leong said.

The suspects were described to police as three black men in their late teens or early 20s and wearing dark clothing. One had "dreadlock-type" hair, Leong said.

The victim has not yet been identified. Leong said he is known to law enforcement, but he did not elaborate.

The homicide does not appear related to a shooting that occurred a half-mile away on Mack Road last week, Leong said. The victim in that shooting survived.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP or text in a tip to 274637. Enter "SACTIP" followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

Jimmy Siackasorn was "a very angry and hostile young man" when he allegedly shot and killed a Sacramento County sheriff's detective in 2007, a prosecutor said today.

At the time of the killing, Siackasorn, 19, held a "hatred" for law enforcement and had a long history of threatening to kill police and probation officers, a Sacramento Superior Court jury was told.

Siackasorn, 19, is on trial for murder in the death of sheriff's gang Det. Vu Nguyen on Dec. 19, 2007. The defendant is charged with killing the 37-year-old Nguyen during a foot pursuit that took place in a gang-infested area of unincorporated south Sacramento called "The Avenues," Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard said in his opening remarks.

Defense attorney Sue Karlton said in her opening statements that her client shot Nguyen but that the shooting was in self defense and Siackasorn didn't know Nguyen was a detective.

Norgaard said Nguyen and his partner drove up on Siackasorn while the defendant was standing on the corner of 42nd Avenue and 37th Street waiting to buy marijuana. Siackasorn then took off running and shot and killed Nguyen during a chase that took them into a back yard.

The prosecutor said that Siackasorn had 26 arrests going back to when the defendant was 12 years old and that over the years he made his hatred for law enforcement known.

"I'm going to blast staff in the face when I'm on the outs," Siackasorn once told a probation officer at the Sacramento County Boys Ranch, Norgaard told the jury.

Siackasorn told a probation officer during another contact at his residence, "You're lucky I didn't know you guys were coming, because we would have shot it out," the prosecutor said.

Siackasorn also admitted to shooting the deputy in several conversations he had with people in the hours after the shooting.

Norgaard said Siackasorn knew through his many contacts with law enforcement, including plainclothes officers such as Nguyen, what kind of cars they drove and that he knew the detective and his partner were gang detectives when they pulled up to talk to him.

Karlton, however, said the detectives who drove up to her client didn't say anything and did not identify themselves as law enforcement officers.

"Jimmy Siackasorn didn't know Vu Nguyen was a police officer, and he shot in self defense," Karlton said.

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

Previous coverage:

Judge quotes shooting suspect as saying deputy deserved to die - Feb. 25, 2010

By Loretta Kalb
lkalb@sacbee.com

Two people were murdered and their killer committed suicide Saturday night in an apparent love triangle, Sacramento County Sheriff's Department spokesman, Sgt. Tim Curran, reported today.

Authorities said deputies arrived at the 5300 block of Thurman Way at 9:30 p.m. after a report of multiple gunshots. They found three people on the ground, including a 28-year-old man and his girlfriend, 17. Both had suffered multiple gunshot wounds to their upper bodies.

A 25-year-old man, described as the girl's ex-boyfriend, had a single gunshot wound to his head. A semi-automatic handgun was found next to his body.

Paramedics pronounced all three dead at the scene.

Witnesses told authorities that before the shooting the ex-boyfriend drove to the girl's home south of Fruitridge Road on Thurman Way, argued with her and left.

He returned minutes later, found the male victim who also lived on Thurman Way, and shot him.

He then shot his ex-girlfriend, who was standing a short distance away. Then he turned the gun on himself, authorities said.

Identities of the three were withheld pending notification of their families.

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

By Cathy Locke
clocke@sacbee.com

One woman is dead and another under arrest following an early morning fight in Citrus Heights.

SinglePhotoFromID.jpgPolice Sgt. Lee Herrington said officers responded to reports of a fight at an apartment complex at 7683 Greenback Lane at 2:34 a.m. Police and medical personnel with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department found one woman dead with major injuries that appeared to have resulted from a violent struggle.

Herrington said the investigation indicated a knife may have been used in the assault, but stabbing has not been determined to be the cause of death.

Lan Anh Le (left), 20, of Citrus Heights was arrested.

Herrington said the initial investigation indicated that Le and the victim were acquainted and got into a violent fight at of near an apartment. The fight moved out into a common area where the victim died from her injuries. No information was available about what led to the fight, Herrington said.

The Sacramento County Coroner's Office identified the victim as Monica Anne Anderson, 26.

Le suffered minor injuries and was treated at Mercy San Juan Medical Center. She is being booked into Sacramento County Main Jail today on suspicion of murder, Herrington said.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 773-6866.

By Kim Minugh
kminugh@sacbee.com

The Sacramento County District Attorney's office announced today that it is not seeking the death penalty for Chong Vue, one of four defendants being tried for murder in the 2008 death of correctional officer Steve Lo.

Instead, the DA's office is seeking life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, prosecutor Eric Kindall said in court today.

The DA's intentions are the same for the other three defendants in the case: former Sacramento County sheriff's deputy Chu Vue, his brother Gary Vue, and friend Lang Vue, who is of no relation. Chong Vue, who is also Chu and Gary Vue's brother, had been in Minnesota and was the last defendant to come before the court.

In Minnesota, Chong Vue pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a 2001 drive-by shooting in Hennepin County.

Gary Vue was the triggerman in that shooting and was convicted in December of first-degree murder in that case.

The brothers were sentenced but then extradited to Sacramento County to face murder charges here.

Chu Vue is accused of orchestrating the fatal shooting of Lo, who was gunned down in the garage of his south Sacramento home.

Chong and Gary Vue are accused of carrying out the killing, and Lang Vue is accused of aiding and abetting the other suspects.

Allyssa Vue, sister to Chu, Chong and Gary Vue, pleaded no contest in February to acting as an accessory in the case.

Two friends, two brothers Lee Vue and Mason Vue, also are accused of acting as accessories and are scheduled to start trial in April.

Chu Vue and Lang Vue's trial is scheduled to begin April 15.

The trial for Gary and Chong Vue, who will be prosecuted separately, is expected to begin later.

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

By Andy Furillo
afurillo@sacbee.com

A judge said from the bench today that he disagreed with a jury's verdict in his courtroom last month that acquitted a Sacramento man of murder in the death of a 3-year-old boy.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley's comments came in the sentencing of Rosalie Uribe, who pleaded no contest to child endangerment charges for placing her three children in the care of Joseph Skates, the man the jury turned loose.

"Don't be confused by that verdict," Frawley told Uribe, who sniffled and wiped tears from her eyes during the judge's excoriation of her and her ex-boyfriend at today's sentencing. "Joseph Skates got the benefit of the doubts that the jury apparently had. But their verdict was not innocent."

Frawley then made it clear that he felt the jury made a mistake Feb. 11 when it acquitted Skates.

"I personally was convinced by the evidence," Frawley told Uribe. "He killed your son."

The judge blasted Skates for never calling 911 when Manuel "Manny" Maciel sustained his fatal injuries Nov. 7, 2008 and instead called "his protector, his mother."

Frawley said he agreed with the prosecution theory in the case that Skates killed Maciel, who died of blunt-force trauma injuries to the head, because the boy had wet his pajamas.

"He is an emotional person," Frawley said of Skates. "He didn't deal with it right. He flew off the handle. He didn't want to kill Manny. But he reacted, and he did kill Manny."

Noting published reports i