Vallejo Special Education Teacher Arrested for Raping Developmentally Challenged Student Aide
A 56-year-old special education teacher who works at a Vallejo elementary school was arrested Monday on suspicion of raping a developmentally challenged student aide, police said.
Jerry Johnson is alleged to have committed the sexual assault on the Loma Vista Elementary School campus during school hours, police said.
Johnson teaches students who are in kindergarten or pre-kindergarten.
According to police, the victim is 18 years old but has the mentality of a 7-year-old.
The victim, a student aide of Johnson's, assisted other developmentally disabled students, police said. Johnson was taken into custody in Elk Grove, the same city where he resides, with the assistance of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, according to Vallejo police.
Johnson was arrested on a warrant for $750,000 on suspicion of rape of a person who is incapable of consenting due to their mental and developmental disabilities, police said.
Police are asking for the public's help in determining if similar incidents have occurred.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police Detective Cpl. John Garcia at (707) 648-4517.
Man Found Competent to Stand Trial for Murder of Mother
Psychiatrists at Napa State Hospital have found a Danville man competent to stand trial for the 2006 bludgeoning death of his mother, Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Dan Cabral said Monday.
Andrew Mantas, now 21, was 16 when his mother, 43-year-old Dimitra Mantas, was beaten to death with an aluminum baseball bat in the family's Danville home on Nov. 6, 2006.
Police arrested Andrew Mantas just hours after the slaying as he was driving through Blackhawk country club on a stolen golf cart.
He told police he thought someone was after him, his attorney Daniel Horowitz said in the weeks following the slaying.
Horowitz could not be immediately reached for comment Monday afternoon, but has said in the past that Andrew Mantas had been suffering from a progressive mental illness for at least 18 months before his mother's death.
In the weeks before his mother's death, Danville police had documented at least two incidents where Andrew Mantas had randomly attacked people, Horowitz said.
Neighbors also told police that Andrew Mantas had been behaving strangely and knocking on their doors asking for help, Horowitz said.
Just days before Dimitra Mantas was killed, she took her son to her priest and told him she believed he was possessed by demons.
The priest told her that her son needed immediate psychiatric help, Horowitz said. But when Dimitra Mantas took her son to a hospital, hospital staff refused to admit him, Horowitz said.
They told her to take him home and make an appointment for him with a psychologist the following week, Horowitz said.
Two days later, Dimitra Mantas was beaten to death. In the months that followed, Horowitz said Andrew Mantas had no idea his mother was dead or that he had allegedly killed her.
He heard voices and was diagnosed with several severe mental illnesses.
Andrew Mantas has been charged as an adult and his next hearing is scheduled for June 27 in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez.
Arbitrator Declares Agreement Rejected by Muni Operators' Union to Become Binding Contract
Less than a week after members of the city's transit operators' union voted down a tentative agreement between the union and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, an arbitrator declared that the terms of that rejected agreement are to become the operators' binding contract for the next three years.
On Wednesday, union members rejected the agreement, which had been signed by union representatives and SFMTA management, by a vote of 944 to 488.
Union leadership had made a yes-vote recommendation.
That tentative agreement was the product of three months of bargaining between the SFMTA and Transport Workers Union Local 250-A.
In accordance with Proposition G -- passed by city voters last November -- an arbitrator then became responsible for the contract and had to decide between each side's final offers on outstanding issues.
Monday, arbitrator Carol Vendrillo ruled that the terms of the tentative agreement would be binding between the SFMTA and the more than 2,000 union members.
According to Vendrillo's decision, the terms of the agreement "represent the best resolution of these protracted labor negotiations and are in the best interest of both the parties and the riding public."
Vendrillo's decision is final and binding.
The new contract will take effect on July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, and will remain in effect until 2014, according to the SFMTA.
An arbitration hearing was held with SFMTA management and union representatives on Thursday, when both parties presented their last best offers.
"Further discussion made it clear ... that if any provision of the [agreement] were altered, the careful equilibrium that the parties had established in that agreement would be upset, and virtually all aspects ... would have to be re-opened," Vendrillo wrote in her decision.
In effect, Vendrillo ruled in the union's favor on economic concessions and in the SFMTA's favor regarding discipline and grievance procedures. "
We view this decision as a win for our members on wages, benefits and pension issues," local president Rafael Cabrera said in a statement.
A federal judge in San Francisco said Monday he hopes to rule quickly -- possibly within 24 hours -- on a bid by sponsors of Proposition 8 to have him nullify another judge's decision overturning the ban on same-sex marriage.
"I understand this is an important case," U.S. District Judge James Ware told attorneys after hearing two hours of arguments on the issue. "It is my intent to give you a written decision quickly ... so that you can move beyond this and go back to other matters," Ware said.
The sponsors of the voter initiative claim the original judge, now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, had a conflict of interest because he has had a 10-year relationship with another man and might want to get married.
Charles Cooper, a lawyer for the Proposition 8 sponsors, argued that Walker had an obligation to disclose his relationship and to say whether he wanted to marry.
"That is a fact clearly relevant," Cooper argued. Walker ruled last year that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.
That ruling is now on appeal, but Proposition 8 supporters have meanwhile claimed that Walker should have been disqualified from hearing the case.
After retiring, Walker disclosed this spring that he has a longtime gay partner, but has never commented on whether he wants to marry. Ware noted that there is no direct evidence that Walker was interested in getting married.
Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for two couples who sued to block Proposition 8, argued that Walker is really being challenged simply because he is gay and said it is unfair to question his integrity.
The motion is "frivolous, deeply offensive and unfortunate," Boutrous told the judge.
"We assume that all federal judges will decide cases based on the law no matter what their background," Boutrous said.
Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against OPD, Alameda Sherrif
A class action lawsuit filed Monday alleges that the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office violated the rights of 150 people who were arrested after former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced last Nov. 5.
The suit, filed in federal court in Oakland, claims that Oakland police unconstitutionally and unlawfully arrested the protesters without probable cause and sheriff's deputies caused them pain, discomfort, embarrassment and humiliation by holding them for up to 24 hours with little access to restrooms or food.
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild, also alleges that deputies forced some of those arrested to provide DNA samples even though the arrests were only based on the allegation of participating in an unlawful assembly, which is a non-violent misdemeanor.
The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages for the protesters who were arrested as well as an injunction that would force the Oakland Police Department to comply with its crowd control policies.
The lawsuit was filed only hours after Mesherle, 29, was released from the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail at about 12:30 a.m. Monday.
Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man who was unarmed, after Mehserle and other officers responded to reports that there was a fight on a train.
Mehserle admitted in a highly-publicized trial last year that he shot and killed Grant but claimed he had meant to use his stun gun on Grant and fired his service gun by mistake.
Alameda County prosecutors sought to have Mehserle convicted of murder, but in a verdict on July 8 jurors only convicted him of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.
On Nov. 5, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Mehserle to two years. Mehserle was released from custody Monday because he was given credit for time he served in jail before and after his conviction.
A rally was held in downtown Oakland that evening, after which some demonstrators marched toward the Fruitvale BART station.
Sonoma County Supes Will Restore $6M to Budget
Sonoma County's Board of Supervisors indicated Monday afternoon they will restore nearly $6 million to the 2011-12 budget, including money for the sheriff's office's Henry-1 helicopter.
The five-member board took several straw votes to restore funding during Monday's first day of budget hearings.
The hearings will continue today and official votes on any funding restorations are expected Wednesday.
The board reviewed the budgets of the Health and Human Services departments, and justice services that include the district attorney's, public defender's and sheriff's offices and the probation department.
The county is trying to cut $42.8 million from the general fund budget, reducing it to $379.3 million.
The total 2011-12 county budget is $1.2 billion.
The justice services' budgets were targeted for $21.7 million in cuts and Health and Human services for $7 million in reductions. Justice services comprise 51 percent of the general fund budget.
Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, whose office faces a $12.4 million cut and loss of 56 positions, said it would cost $350,000 just to mothball Henry-1, maintain it for possible sale and to lease the hanger at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport through the end of the year.
The helicopter's budget has already been cut by $900,000, Freitas said. Restoring $900,000 and increasing total funding to $1.2 million with the use of one-time funds would reduce its 24/7 service to a 40-hour week.
The helicopter would also be on call after hours but off duty two days a week, Freitas said.
The helicopter performs searches, rescues, law enforcement duties and has fire-fighting capabilities.
Board members said the sheriff's office should consider recouping some of its helicopter expenses by requesting donations for searches and rescues and by charging out-of-county residents who are rescued in Sonoma County.
Among the sheriff's office's programs that might be spared cuts are funding for Henry-1, for retaining three employees in a domestic violence and sexual assault unit and a violent crimes and property crimes unit, and for partial funding of a gang crimes unit.
Those restorations total $1.9 million.
San Mateo Attorneys File Motion to Dismiss Discrimination Lawsuit
Attorneys for San Mateo County Monday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed in April that alleges the county's system of holding countywide elections to vote for its Board of Supervisors discriminates against minority residents.
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area said in its April 14 civil suit that the county's at-large rather than by-district elections dilute the voting power of Latino and Asian communities, which combined make up nearly 50 percent the county's population.
"The motivation for bringing the suit is that there is a voting system in place that dilutes Latin and Asian voting power," Lawyer's Committee director of litigation Robert Rubin said.
The lawsuit claims that the diminished ability of some minority residents to elect representatives to the Board of Supervisors is a violation of the California Voting Rights Act, Rubin said. Joe Cotchett, an attorney representing the county, said that San Mateo is a charter county, and as such is entitled by the California Constitution to choose its own system of electing supervisors.
The state's 12 charter counties have the option to conduct supervisorial elections by district or in at-large elections.
"We are a charter county and under the Constitution we are allowed to do that," Cotchett said. "Our system is constitutionally correct." Monday's motion to dismiss the case was based on that constitutional right, Cotchett said.
Of the state's 58 counties, San Mateo County is the only one that elects its supervisors with at-large elections.
The option to switch to district elections has been put before voters on three occasions -- most recently in 1980 -- and each time has failed to pass, Cotchett said.
The preservation of at-large elections is in the best interest of the people of San Mateo County, Board of Supervisors president Carol Groom said in a statement.
"At-large voting honors the principle that public officials are accountable to the entire community," Groom said. Rubin disagreed. "I think that the folks in the Asian and Latino communities feel otherwise," he said.
Prosecutors Will Not Seek Death Penalty for German Tourist Shooting
Prosecutors said Monday they will not seek the death penalty against six people charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a German tourist near San Francisco's Union Square last year.
A total of seven suspects were arrested last month and an eighth is still being sought in connection with the death of Mechthild Schroer, a 50-year-old woman from Minden, Germany, on Aug. 8, 2010, in the 400 block of Mason Street.
Phillip Stewart, 19, Marcus Blueford, 19, Delvon Scott, 20, Willie Eason, 19, and Raheem Jackson, 17, were charged with murder, while Gethsamine Pita, 18, and a juvenile were charged with being an accessory to murder, prosecutors said.
The suspects were set to be arraigned and enter pleas in San Francisco Superior Court Monday, but the hearing was continued to July 19.
But at Monday's hearing, Assistant District Attorney Eric Fleming told Judge Jeffrey Ross that prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty in the case after taking into account the defendants' ages and prior criminal histories.
Schroer, who was visiting the U.S. with her husband Stefan, was apparently caught in the crossfire of a shootout between two groups of people outside a private party, police said.
The couple had been staying at a nearby hotel.
Two teens, a 15-year-old boy and 19-year-old woman, were also hit by the gunfire but survived. None of the three victims were the intended targets, according to police.
The chaotic shooting generated extensive evidence-gathering -- Fleming said at Monday's hearing that there was enough documentation to fill 80 compact discs worth of memory for each suspect.
All seven suspects were also charged with the commission of a crime in association with a criminal street gang, but police have said that all seven are not members of the same gang.
They are all being held on bail amounts ranging from $1 million to $7 million.
Judge Suspends Trial Against Fisherman's Wharf Worker
A judge in San Francisco Monday suspended criminal proceedings against a Fisherman's Wharf souvenir shop worker accused in the January killings of two employees at a neighboring business in order to allow a psychologist to assess the defendant's mental competency.
Hong Ri Wu, 56, is suspected of shooting Feng Ping Ou, a 30-year-old woman, and Qiong Han Chu, a 30-year-old man, at about 8:20 p.m. on Jan. 30 inside the souvenir and luggage shop where they worked at 269 Jefferson St., police said.
Wu, a San Francisco resident, pleaded not guilty in February to two counts of murder, with special allegations of firearm use and multiple murders.
Earlier this month, Wu's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway, said in San Francisco Superior Court that she had doubts about Wu's ability to participate in his own defense.
At a mental competency hearing Monday morning, Hathaway said her doubts stem from her conversations with Wu, who was not in court Monday.
Hathaway said her client does not appear to understand the nature of the charges against him or seem capable of assisting in his own defense.
Judge Garrett Wong decided to suspend the criminal proceedings after appointing a forensic psychologist, Dr. Amy Watt, to look into whether Wu is competent to stand trial.
Wu is scheduled to return to court on July 13, when Wong will consider the doctor's report on his competency.
Wu is accused of walking into the victims' store and shooting them. He worked at a nearby competing store and knew Chu and Ou, police said.
The victims, both San Francisco residents, died inside the store.
A gun believed to be the murder weapon was recovered at the scene. Investigators believe the shooting stemmed from a rivalry between the two stores, which sold similar items.
Berkeley Police Suspect Arson in Berkeley Hill Fires
Berkeley police believe that two fires that broke out simultaneously at homes a block away from each other in the Berkeley hills early Wednesday morning are suspicious and likely were caused by arson, a police spokeswoman said Monday.
However, Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said the blazes are still under investigation and that there was no definitive proof of arson at this time, as it may take several weeks to complete lab work to analyze the materials found at the two homes.
Kusmiss said the reason that police believe the fires were caused by arson is there is no evidence that they were caused by spontaneous combustion or some other type of accident.
Another factor is that the blazes occurred in the middle of the night, when arsonists are less likely to be seen or caught, she said.
Police are concerned about the fires because blazes that occur when people are asleep can be "very deadly," Kusmiss said.
Berkeley Fire Chief Debra Pryor said last week that her department sent three engines and a ladder truck to respond to a report that a car was burning in the driveway of a home at 548 Cragmont Ave. at 12:43 a.m.
Wednesday. As the ladder truck approached the blaze, its crew noticed a second blaze at 494 Cragmont Ave. and diverted to that house, she said. At 548 Cragmont Ave., the car fire transferred to an outside building -- a combination of a garage and storage area -- but did not transfer to the house, Pryor said.
The fire was soon brought under control, and no one was injured, she said. Pryor said the fire at 494 Cragmont Ave. was small and was confined to an area outside the house and firefighters were able to put it out quickly with fire extinguishers and a garden hose.
No one was injured in that blaze either, she said.
San Rafael Firefighters Put Out Two Arson Fires
San Rafael firefighters extinguished two suspected arson fires Monday afternoon, Fire Chief Chris Gray said.
Witnesses saw a person, possibly a woman, in the area of both brush fires, Gray said.
A 500-square-foot fire started around 1 p.m. near a homeless encampment behind the Falkirk Cultural Center at 1408 Mission Ave., Gray said. The blaze was quickly extinguished, Gray said.
The second fire at 2:10 p.m. burned about an acre a few hundred yards away, Gray said. Thirty firefighters extinguished that fire in about 45 minutes, Gray said.
The fires are a reminder that heavy vegetation from the rainy spring and winter is now drying out and is combustible, Gray said.
Eight engines responded to the fires.
No injuries were reported, Gray said.
San Rafael police are also investigating the suspected arsons.
Santa Clara Man Arrested for Murder of Maria Orozco
Police have arrested a Santa Clara man in connection with the murder of Maria Orozco, whose body was found earlier this month in a garbage bag in Sunnyvale.
Feliciano Valencia-Santiago, 47, was arrested at about 7:50 p.m.
Friday as he was riding a bicycle in the area of El Camino Real and Halford Avenue in Santa Clara.
Detectives tracked him down after receiving numerous leads. Orozco's body was found on June 5 in a large, loosely cinched garbage bag near some bushes in the 800 block of Ticonderoga Drive, according to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.
Detectives believe Orozco, a 46-year-old San Jose resident, was murdered in a house in the 800 block of Revere Drive in Sunnyvale, less than a mile from where her body was found.
The house has been vacant since a fire broke out there in December, police said.
The Santa Clara County medical examiner's office determined that the cause of Orozco's death was trauma to the head.
Valencia-Santiago was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on a homicide charge.
The California Department of Justice assisted in the investigation.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety at (408) 730-7110. Those who wish to remain anonymous can provide information by sending an email to SVTIP@tipnow.org.