Sen. Hancock Intorduces Bill to Replace Death Penalty with Prison Impisonment, Citing State Budget Crisis
State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, introduced legislation Monday that would replace the death penalty in California with permanent imprisonment, which she called "an expensive failure." Hancock said the state's budget problems and a new study that calls the death penalty a multi-billion-dollar "debacle" are the reasons she's seeking to abolish the death penalty in California at this time. The report, which was written by U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon, a former prosecutor, and Loyola Law School professor Paula M. Mitchell, and is being published in the Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review this week, says the cost of maintaining the current total of 714 death row inmates is $184 million a year more than what taxpayers would spend without the death penalty. It says that $4 billion of state and federal taxpayer money has been expended administering the death penalty since the state reinstated it in 1978 but only 13 death row inmates have been executed in that time. Hancock said 35 death row inmates have died of natural causes since 1978 and 18 other inmates have committed suicide. Hancock said if the state abolished the death penalty and saved $184 million a year, "We could send a lot of kids to college on full scholarships." Hancock said she wants to redirect the funds currently spent on the death penalty to other programs because she is "heartsick about the dreadful cuts to health and services programs" and other state programs. Hancock said she does not think the death penalty is effective in preventing serious crimes, and the law review report supports her view. "The death penalty is not deterring crime, because generally it is sociopaths and mentally ill people who are committing murders and they aren't making calculated decisions about their actions," she said.
Congresswoman Woolsey Announces Retirment After End of Term
Ten-term Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey announced Monday afternoon she is retiring at the end of her current term. Woolsey, a Democrat whose 6th District includes Marin County and most of Sonoma County, made the announcement Monday afternoon at her Petaluma home. Rumors of her intention to retire first surfaced in December. Woolsey, 73, was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 and has been re-elected to every term since. She is the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Just before her current term ends in 2012, Woolsey will turn 75, and she said that "after two decades of service in this district, it will be time for me to move on." Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams and author Norman Solomon have indicated they intend to run for Woolsey's seat.
Union City H.S. School Remembers Classmate who Died Suddently of Heart Attack
A Union City high school will remember a classmate who suddenly died just after the school year ended, a school district spokesman said. Jessica Diaz, 16, who lived in Union City with her single-father Santos Diaz, died unexpectedly from an apparent heart attack while exercising on June 18. She had just finished her sophomore year James Logan High School in Union City, according to New Haven Unified School District spokesman Rick La Plante. A viewing is scheduled today from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Our Lady of the Rosary Church on 703 C St. in Union City. On Wednesday, a 10 a.m. mass is planned also at Our Lady of the Rosary with a burial following at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery on 1051 Harder Road in Hayward. Jessica was a student in her high school's Puente Program, which serves Latino and other underrepresented students. Last week Puente students held a memorial on campus for Jessica. "She was a popular member of the Puente Program," La Plante said. "A number of children came to her memorial service." A memorial fund has been set up to help Diaz's family pay for funeral expenses. Checks can be written to Jessica Diaz and/or Santos Diaz and mailed to the attention of James Logan High School teacher Julie Panebianco at 1800 H St., Union City, 94587.
SF Supes Will Consider Proposal to Install AT&T Boxes
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors today will again consider a proposal by AT&T to upgrade its network by installing hundreds of boxes around the city to house the technology. The board has twice delayed a vote on the company's plan, and after the second continuance last month, AT&T said it will propose a scaled-back version of the proposal, which had included the installation of 726 4-foot-tall boxes. The boxes would house the company's "Lightspeed" high-speed data transmission technology that would improve its U-verse Internet, cable and landline phone service in the city. In February, San Francisco's Planning Department gave the project an exemption from the usually lengthy environmental review process, but opponents appealed the exemption to the board, saying the boxes would impede pedestrian traffic, inconvenience property owners and reduce the aesthetic appeal of the city. The opponents -- which include San Francisco Beautiful and the Planning Association of the Richmond -- have said the cumulative impact of the hundreds of boxes is enough to warrant the environmental review, so AT&T spokesman Lane Kasselman said the company is paring down the total number of boxes in the proposal. Kasselman said Monday that AT&T officials "have been meeting with most of the supervisors and come up with some specifics that may be amenable to some of them," and said "we're looking forward to having a significant amount of support" for the plan at today's meeting. When the issue first came in front of the board at its April 26 meeting, AT&T officials also pointed out that the company would still have to get a permit from the city's Department of Public Works for each individual box, and would work around neighborhoods that did not want the boxes. Supervisor Scott Wiener, when announcing the most recent delay of a vote on the project last month, said, "I hope (AT&T) will think outside the box, literally and figuratively, and come up with something we can live with."
Fairfield Police Identify Man Shot as Jordan Hughes, Faces Charges of Atemmpted Murder of Police Officer
Fairfield police identified the man who was shot in his girlfriend's apartment Sunday night as 20-year-old Jordan Hughes. He had a confrontation with his 19-year-old girlfriend in Vallejo earlier Sunday and was waiting in her apartment for her to get home, Lt. Greg Hurlbut said. The woman's father picked her up in Vallejo after the confrontation and called police around 11:15 p.m. because he believed Hughes was hiding in his daughter's apartment, Hurlbut said. When police went to the apartment, the girlfriend told them Hughes was dangerous and that there had been several previous incidents of domestic violence, Hurlbut said. She said Hughes had threatened her with a handgun on another occasion, Hurlbut said. The girlfriend asked police to check her apartment because the door to it was unlocked and she was afraid that Hughes was hiding inside, Hurlbut said. The girlfriend also told police Hughes had made suicidal statements, Hurlbut said. Two officers searched the apartment and found that the bathroom door was locked, then called for additional officers, Hurlbut said. When two more officers arrived, police called out several times for anyone inside the locked bathroom to surrender, Hurlbut said. When no one responded after several minutes, the officers forced the door open, Hurlbut said. Hughes fired at the officers and police fired back and yelled for him to surrender, Hurlbut said. Hughes surrendered more than an hour later and was taken into custody. He had been shot once in the right arm and once in the chest and was taken to a Bay Area trauma center, Hurlbut said. His injuries are not life threatening. Hughes faces four counts of attempted murder of a police officer Hurlbut said. Hughes' family lives in Vallejo but he often stayed overnight at his girlfriend's apartment, Hurlbut said. Fairfield police and the Solano County District Attorney's Office are investigating the incident.
Mountain View Man Attacked, Shot, Robbed in Own Garage
A 53-year-old Mountain View man was working in his garage Monday afternoon when a pair of men attacked him, shot him in the thigh, and took off with his pellet gun, according to police. The shooting occurred around 1:10 p.m. in the 200 block of Del Medio Avenue, police said. The victim told police the suspects approached him when he was in his garage and demanded his wallet. When he refused, both men attacked the victim. During the scuffle, one suspect took out a semi-automatic handgun and shot the victim in the thigh, police said. The suspects then snatched the victim's pellet gun and fled in a black sedan that had a rear spoiler. The victim's wallet was not taken, according to police. He was transported to a hospital to undergo surgery for a single gunshot wound. One suspect was described as a black man and the second was described as a Hispanic man. Both are believed to be in their late teens or early 20s and were wearing hooded jackets or sweatshirts with the hoods pulled up over their heads and partially covering their faces. They were last seen driving south on Del Medio Avenue, according to police.
Search for Vacaville Man That Went Overboard on Tomales Bay Called Off
Authorities have called off the search for a Vacaville man who fell out of a boat on Tomales Bay Sunday afternoon. Bach Van Nguyen, 48, was last seen piloting the 12-foot aluminum boat -- one fitted with a motor -- that he was using to transport friends and relatives across the bay, Marin County sheriff's Lt. Barry Heying said. Nguyen was not wearing a life jacket when he fell out of the boat near Lawson's Landing around 3 p.m., U.S. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Aaron Bretz said Monday morning. People on shore saw Nguyen fall out of the boat and called 911, Bretz said. The boat washed ashore near Tom's Point south of Dillon Beach, Bretz said. The Coast Guard's air station in San Francisco and the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office each sent a helicopter, and the National Park Service and Marin County Sheriff's Office joined the search Sunday. Heying said the search was suspended at 9:30 p.m. Sunday. Nguyen is an Asian male who is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 165 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call the Marin County Sheriff's Office at (415) 499-7233.
Thieves Break Into Danville Veterans Memorial Building Construction Site
Thieves broke into the Veterans Memorial Building construction site in Danville over the weekend and police are asking for the public's help identifying them, a spokesman for the town said Monday. The break-in, which was at 400 Hartz Ave., was discovered at about 8 a.m. Monday when workers arrived at the site, spokesman Geoff Gillette said. They discovered that copper wiring, construction tools and other items were taken, Gillette said. Some damage was also reported. Police are investigating the theft and looking for anyone who may have been near the site over the weekend and saw or heard anything unusual. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Sgt. Allan Shields at (925) 314-3703.
Terrell Blay Identified in Connection with Mid-Market Shooting, According to SF Police
San Francisco police have released the name of an 18-year-old man arrested in connection with a shooting near Market and Seventh streets that injured five people on Saturday evening. Terrell Blay was one of two people arrested after the shooting, which occurred at about 6:15 p.m. Saturday, police spokesman Sgt. Mike Andraychak said. Witnesses said they saw two groups of people involved in some sort of fight before the shooting, police said. Along with the person who was targeted, four bystanders were shot. The unintended victims are a 17-year-old boy from El Cerrito, a 22-year-old man from Santa Cruz, a 45-year-old man visiting from England, and a 74-year-old San Francisco resident, police said. All five victims were taken to San Francisco General Hospital and are expected to survive. Blay and a 16-year-old boy were arrested shortly after the shooting. The teen's name is not being released because he is a juvenile, Andraychak said. They were arrested on suspicion of several felonies including assault with a deadly weapon and gang-related offenses, police said. District attorney's office spokeswoman Erica Terry Derryck said prosecutors have until Wednesday to decide whether to file charges in connection with the shooting. The shooting was not related to this weekend's San Francisco Pride celebration taking place nearby at Civic Center Plaza.
SF DA Gascon Announces Parternship with YMCA to Employ At-Risk Youth
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon Monday announced a new partnership with the city's Bayview Hunters Point YMCA center to provide paid internships for at-risk high school students this summer. The Changing the Odds internship program will provide 10 students with the chance to work as an intern with the district attorney's office for four weeks, starting on July 11. The students are ones who need to recover school credits lost as a result of truancy or dropping out, and are already participating in the YMCA-run CARE program, which allows them to successfully transition back into an academic setting where they can earn a high school diploma. For the first time this summer, people in the CARE program will have the opportunity to participate in the district attorney's internship program. Gascon said, "The reality is no kid should be considered to be a throwaway kid," and that the goal of the program "is to provide them a better understanding of the criminal justice system." The students will be given a weekly stipend of $250 and perform various administrative duties and get mentored by prosecutors in the district attorney's office. The CARE program is funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant, and the district attorney's office is also contributing $25,000 toward the internship program, Gascon said. Charles Collins, president of the YMCA of San Francisco, said the program is especially important during the summer months. "During the summertime, it's a dangerous time for a lot of our kids," Collins said. "They're not in school, they don't have their regular programmed activities." Gina Fromer, executive director of the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA, said, "This program ... can give them some options to see how the real world works." Gascon, who said he was a high school dropout himself before getting back on track through a stint in the military, said he hoped other organizations and businesses in San Francisco will donate money to help expand the program to include more students. "It takes a village to raise a kid," he said.
Alamo Church Holds Nightly Prayers for Teen Injured at Santa Cruz Beach
The Creekside Community Church in Alamo will be holding nightly prayer sessions this week for a teenager who was injured at a beach in Santa Cruz County on Saturday when a tunnel he was digging in the sand collapsed on him. According to a Facebook page set up by the church's high school pastor Sean Donohue, Ryan Buchanan was on a church high school field trip to Sunset State Beach in unincorporated Santa Cruz County just west of Watsonville. Ryan and another boy, both 17, had dug two holes in the sand with a tunnel connecting them, said Mike McMenamy, public safety superintendent for the Santa Cruz state parks district. McMenamy estimated that the holes were about 7 feet deep with a tunnel at the bottom that connected them. "They were in and about these holes when the tunnel part and presumably part of the holes collapsed and buried them," McMenamy said. "People started screaming and digging to get the kids out," McMenamy said. The lifeguards, who were only about 125 yards away, were alerted to the situation at about 4:30 p.m. and quickly began digging as well, McMenamy said. While they were working, firefighters from Cal Fire and the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District joined the rescue efforts, along with two ambulance crews, deputies from the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, California Highway Patrol officers and state park rangers. Rescuers had the first boy out of the sand within about five minutes and the second boy, Ryan, who was deeper in the sand, was pulled out a few minutes after that, McMenamy said. The first boy was taken by ambulance to Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, where he was released that evening, McMenamy said. Ryan was taken by helicopter to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition. Updates on how he was doing were not available Monday.
Hercules Woman Dies from House Fire Injuries
A woman who was pulled from her burning house in Hercules early Saturday morning has died from her injuries, Rodeo-Hercules Fire Chief Charles Hanley said Monday. The one-alarm fire was reported shortly after 1 a.m. at 475 Falcon Way, a fire dispatcher said. The victim, identified by the Santa Clara County medical examiner's office as 61-year-old Kathleen Bristol, was trapped inside her one-story home, the dispatcher said. Firefighters were able to get her out of the house and she was airlifted to the burn center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, where she died late Saturday night, Hanley said. Firefighters had the blaze under control within about 30 minutes. No other injuries were reported. Rodeo-Hercules Fire District firefighters received assistance from the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, the Pinole Fire Department and the Crockett-Carquinez Fire Department, Hanley said. He said an official cause of the fire hadn't been determined, but it appears to have started in the kitchen and is not considered suspicious.