Barry Bonds Asks for Conviction to be Overturned
Home-run champion Barry Bonds asked a federal judge in San Francisco Wednesday to overturn his conviction on the only count on which he was found guilty in April.
The count was obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony in 2003 to a grand jury investigating steroid distribution by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.
Bonds' lawyers argue in papers filed with U.S. District Judge Susan Illston that a statement the trial jurors identified as evasive was rambling but not untruthful, and was therefore not a crime.
"Unauthorized rambling is not a crime," the defense attorneys wrote. The former San Francisco Giants slugger's motion asks for either a judgment of acquittal or an order for a new trial on that count.
At Bonds' trial in Illston's court in April, the jury deadlocked on three other charges that he lied when he told the 2003 grand jury he never knowingly took steroids or human growth hormone or received any kind of injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson. Illston declared a mistrial on those charges and is scheduled to set a new trial date on those counts at a July 1 hearing, unless prosecutors decide not to retry Bonds.
At that hearing, Illston is also expected to give prosecutors a deadline for filing a response to the Wednesday's motion. Joshua Eaton, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, said prosecutors have no comment on retrial plans or the defense motion.
"We are not commenting on any matters related to the Bonds prosecution," Eaton said.
The 2003 statement that the trial jurors found to be evasive was Bonds' response to a prosecutor's question about whether Anderson had ever given him anything that required a syringe to inject himself with. In that answer, Bonds said he did not talk to Anderson about the trainer's business.
He referred to himself as a "celebrity child with a famous father," baseball player Bobby Bonds, and said, "I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see."
Former BART Cop Mehserle Released From Jail, Spends Time with Family
Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle is spending time with his family this week after his release from jail for killing BART passenger Oscar Grant III, his attorney said Wednesday.
Mehserle, 29, was released from the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail at about 12:30 a.m. Monday after serving a total of about a year in custody for his involuntary manslaughter conviction for killing Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, at the Fruitvale station in Oakland shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2009.
Mehserle "is glad to be out of custody and spending time with his family," Michael Rains, his lawyer, said.
Mehserle is now at an undisclosed location with his girlfriend and their 2 1/2-year-old son and will also be spending time with his parents, his sister and other family members, Rains said.
Rains said Mehserle will begin looking for a job next week but at this point he does not know what will materialize or where Mehserle will wind up living.
"Where he settles down depends on safety, security and job considerations," Rains said.
Mehserle shot Grant after he and other BART officers responded to reports that there had been a fight on a train.
In a highly-publicized trial that was moved to Los Angeles because of concerns about whether Mehserle could get a fair trial in Alameda County, Mehserle admitted that he shot and killed Grant but said he had meant to use his Taser on Grant and fired his service gun by mistake.
Alameda County prosecutors sought to have Mehserle convicted of second-degree murder, but in a verdict on July 8 that sparked a large protest in downtown Oakland, jurors only convicted Mehserle of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.
On Nov. 5, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Mehserle to two years in custody. Mehserle was released after serving only one year because of credits he received.
Jury Hears Closing Arguments in Antioch Murder Trial
Jurors heard closing arguments Wednesday in the trial for an Antioch woman accused of torturing and abusing her two foster children for years and ultimately killing one of them in 2008.
On Sept. 2, 2008, Antioch police were called to the home of Shemeeka Davis, now 40, where they found 15-year-old Jazzmin Davis dead on the floor.
She had died about two hours earlier, but Davis did not call 911.
Instead, she called her mother, who eventually called police, attorneys said.
At the time of her death, Jazzmin, who was 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighed only 78 pounds and had scars and injuries covering her entire body, prosecutor Satish Jallepalli said.
The coroner found that she died from a combination of physical abuse and malnutrition, Jallepalli said.
Jazzmin's twin brother was also severely malnourished and had extensive injuries, but he lived and was able to testify during trial to the abuse he and his sister suffered at the hands of Davis, who had cared for them since birth.
Davis has entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to one count of murder, two counts of torture and two counts of felony child abuse.
Because of the dual plea, if Davis is found guilty of any of the charges, there will be a second phase to the trial, during which jurors will be asked to decide whether Davis was legally sane at the time she allegedly committed the crimes.
Her attorney, Betty Barker, argued throughout the trial that Davis suffered from several severe mental illnesses, including psychotic delusions, and was therefore unable to form the intent to torture either of the children or to murder Jazzmin. T
he jury began deliberating in the case Wednesday afternoon in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez and are expected to resume deliberations today at 9 a.m.
2 Boys Arrested for Slaughtering Chickens
Two boys have been arrested on suspicion of cruelty to animals after they allegedly broke into a chicken coop at a community garden and slaughtered 11 chickens with a shovel over the weekend, Alameda police said.
Police arrested a 9-year-old Hayward boy Wednesday morning after gathering information from a 12-year-old Oakland boy who was arrested Tuesday for allegedly killing chickens at the garden, located at Lemoore Road at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, Sgt. Wayland Gee said.
Witnesses reported seeing the two beating the animals at the chicken coop run by the Alameda Point Collaborative, a nonprofit that provides transitional housing and support for about 500 people, including 300 children, who were once homeless, Gee said.
A resident at the collaborative first discovered the lock leading to the garden was broken, before seeing the dead chickens and a shovel covered in blood Sunday afternoon, executive director Doug Biggs said. The man called animal control, which then notified Alameda police.
The chicken coop is part of the collaborative's Growing Youth Project, which is designed to provide employment, teach responsibility and provide access to healthy food to children who care for the chickens and the garden, Biggs said.
Seven of the 18 chickens were unharmed, but the loss of the chickens puts a strain on the collaborative, which uses their eggs to provide breakfast for its residents on Wednesdays, he said.
The eggs are also valuable to the 10 children who care for the chickens, and sell their eggs to fundraise for field trips and outings, Biggs said.
The financial loss of the dead chickens is about $500, but it could mean that the summer camping trip, which involves about 25 children, will be canceled, he said.
The 12-year-old and 9-year-old have been referred to juvenile probation and it does not appear that there are any others involved with killing the chickens, Gee said.
It is not clear if either of the boys have a history of juvenile delinquency, he said.
SFMTA Chief Nat Ford to Leave Agency at Month's End
After months of speculation that the head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was looking to leave, executive director Nathaniel Ford Wednesday night confirmed that he will depart the agency by month's end, two and a half years before his contract's end.
The decision was apparently mutual, according to the agency's Board of Director's Chairman Tom Nolan.
"A series of things came together. The bottom line is it's a good time for him and a good time for us," Nolan said.
"Did I accomplish everything I set out to do? No, but I think that I'm leaving the agency in much better shape than I found it," Ford said outside an awards event Wednesday night.
Recent developments at the agency include a new, binding three-year contract between the SFMTA and its transit operators' union and progress with planning and securing funding for the Central Subway project.
"A great deal of action has been taken care of, or are on task," Ford said.
Agency executives, including Ford, were attending Wednesday night's Golden Wheel Awards, sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, where the agency's
Livable Streets team was being recognized for its work in creating green separated bikeways, which Ford cited as further progress.
Ford said that he does not yet have another job lined up, but that he plans to spend time with friends and family while evaluating his options.
His departure will be certified at the board's next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
Ford, who joined the SFMTA as its CEO in 2006, will receive a separation package of $380,000 that includes a year's salary, deferred compensation and unused vacation time.
The agency's Board of Directors will be charged with selecting Ford's successor, and Mayor Ed Lee said he expects the board will scrutinize candidates to ensure that the agency continues the city's "efforts to build the best public transit system for all San Franciscans."
Should the board not have Ford's replacement lined up before June 30, the agency's first deputy executive director, Carter Rohan, will become the interim executive director.
SJ Teacher Arraigned on Child Sexual Abuse Charges
A teacher in San Jose accused of sexually abusing a child was arraigned Wednesday but did not enter a plea, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said.
Colette Phelps, who has taught at the private Stratford School in San Jose for the past five years, is charged with two counts of committing a lewd or lascivious act with a child aged 14 or 15.
The acts are alleged to have occurred with a teenage boy between April 10 and June 1 of this year, district attorney's spokeswoman Amy Cornell said. Phelps, 28, of Los Gatos, appeared in Santa Clara County Superior Court at 9:30 a.m. but did not enter a plea, according to Cornell.
Phelps was ordered to return to court to enter a plea on July 8 at 9:30 a.m. in Department 23. Stratford Schools founder Sherry Adams said in a statement that the school put Phelps on indefinite leave as soon as it learned of the situation and then fired her.
"We are taking this matter very seriously," Adams said. "We have done our utmost to fully cooperate with the police during the investigation as well as ensure the privacy of all involved."
Adams said the school regularly consults with experts on school safety policies, training and human resources on the safety measures it has in place, which include background checks, fingerprinting and specific training related to child safety.
San Jose Police received reports at around 10 a.m. on June 1 that Phelps had allegedly committed lewd acts with a Stratford School student.
Later that day Phelps was arrested on suspicion of child sexual abuse, according to police.
She was booked into Santa Clara County Jail and is now out of custody, according to police. Defense attorney Steve Clark did not return a call requesting comment.
Study: SF Poor Youth Bombarded with Illegal Alcohol Ads
A group of students studying alcohol advertising in San Francisco have completed a study that confirms what many of them already knew: the city's low-income youth are bombarded with messages about drinking, often to an illegal extent.
San Francisco Youth Creating Community Change, a citywide coalition of young adults using public health approaches to reduce underage drinking and improve neighborhood safety, surveyed about one-tenth of the city's off-site alcohol outlets to see if they were in compliance of the state's "Lee Law."
The law, named for Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, requires corner stores that serve alcohol to devote no more than one-third of their window space to alcohol advertising. More than half of the outlets the students surveyed broke that rule, while 27 percent had more than 60 percent of their storefronts covered in alcohol advertising, according to a report released Wednesday.
"San Francisco Youth Creating Community Change believes that steps must be taken to address this issue," the students said in the report.
The young researchers focused on the Mission and Excelsior districts and Bayview-Hunters Point, Tenderloin, Japantown, Portola and South of Market neighborhoods.
They found that alcohol was easily the most dominant product in storefront advertising -- it was twice as prevalent as both junk food and tobacco advertising, according to the report.
Advertising for healthy food such as produce comprised just 5 percent of the ads the students encountered.
A spokesman for the Youth Leadership Institute, which staffs the Youth Creating Community Change coalition, said the findings were particularly troubling because many youth rely on the corner stores for snacks, groceries and other household items.
"If they're getting exposed to the alcohol advertising, it's going to impact the decisions they make," spokesman Andre Morand said.
Several studies have linked alcohol advertising and promotion to younger and increased alcohol consumption.
Hayward Police Searching for Suspects in Robberies, Shootings
Hayward police said they are looking for two male suspects believed to be responsible for two robberies and shootings near the South Hayward BART station late Tuesday night.
Lt. Roger Keener said the first incident occurred about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday when two women in their late teens or early 20s were accosted by the two suspects as they were walking on Tennyson Road near the BART station, about 25 feet outside BART property.
He said one of the suspects fired a shot in the air, apparently as a scare tactic or as a way of getting the victims' attention.
The suspects then took some valuables from the women, Keener said.
A few minutes later, at about 11:17 p.m., the suspects approached a man and his wife who had exited the BART station and were walking west on Tennyson Road in the same area where the women had been robbed, according to Keener.
One of the suspects had a gun and they demanded that the victims hand over their wallet and purse, Keener said. He said the victims didn't resist and gave the suspects their possessions, but the armed suspect still shot the man several times before he and his accomplice ran away, Keener said.
The victim was taken to a hospital, where he is in stable condition and has been able to talk to investigators, according to Keener.
The man's wife was not injured. Keener described the suspects as two Hispanic males who are in their late teens or early 20s and are about 5 feet 8 inches tall with thin builds.
He said both suspects were dressed in black clothes.
One suspect had a white covering over his face and the other suspect pulled his black T-shirt over his head to cover his face, Keener said. Hayward police said anyone with information about the robberies and shootings is urged to call them at (510) 293-7272 or (510) 293-7000.
Oakland Man Accused of Robbing, Raping Arrested
A man accused of robbing and raping a 28-year-old North Oakland woman who captured him on video with her cellphone was arrested Tuesday night, police said Wednesday.
The suspect, 47-year-old Dion McDaniel of Oakland, is suspected of breaking into the woman's home in the 900 block of Apgar Street on the morning of June 7 while she was home alone, police said.
The woman confronted the intruder and filmed him on her cellphone, but after that he sexually assaulted her and then left with electronics taken from the home, police said.
The video shows a man walking out of the house with a box full of property while the woman asks him how he got in and whether he will leave.
The Oakland Police Department released the video and accompanying still images on June 9, asking the public to help identify the suspect. McDaniel, who court documents said also goes by "Darryl" sometimes, was arrested at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday by Oakland police officers and parole agents.
He was charged Wednesday with four felony counts of burglary, attempted oral copulation, forcible rape and forcible sodomy, according to court documents.
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said the rape and sodomy charges carry enhancements because they allegedly occurred during a robbery.
McDaniel also has an extensive criminal history, including 11 prior felony convictions for drug and burglary offenses.
He will be arraigned today at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse at 661 Washington St. in Oakland, Drenick said.
Sonoma Supes Restore Funds for Road Maintenance, Sherriff's Helicopter
Money to maintain 100 miles of roads and help keep the sheriff's office's helicopter flying were added back to the fiscal year 2011-12 Sonoma County budget Wednesday morning.
The Board of Supervisors restored those items by a straw vote.
A final vote is scheduled for this morning. County Administrator Veronica Ferguson identified areas where $42.8 million had to be cut from the budget.
Department heads also compiled lists of programs they wanted spared from the budget ax.
Supervisors spent the least three days reviewing those items that were placed on a budget restorations list.
Programs and positions reinstated in the general fund budget by Wednesday's straw vote total $7.1 million.
Restored items related to the criminal justice system total $4.7 million.
Several board members indicated before the budget hearings this week that public safety, children and county residents who are particularly vulnerable to service cuts would be their priorities when adding people and programs back in the budget.
The total county budget is $1.2 billion, and the general fund portion of the budget for most county services was $379 million before this week's hearings.
The board agreed to restore $900,000 to the sheriff's office's Henry-1 helicopter's $1.9 million budget that was slated, along with five employees, for elimination.
The helicopter responded 24/7 to searches and rescues, fires and law enforcement activities inside and outside the county.
In addition to the $900,000, Sheriff Steve Freitas is adding to the helicopter budget the $300,000 that it would have spent to mothball Henry-1.
Freitas also is shifting $200,000 in unspent revenue that had been set aside for a department audit. The helicopter budget now stands at $1.4 million.
The helicopter crew will be on duty eight hours and on call 16 hours five days a week, Freitas said.
The crew may or may not be available to respond to emergencies on the other two days, Freitas said.
America's Cup Organizers Unveil Field of Teams
Organizers of the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco Wednesday unveiled the field of teams who will compete in the sailing race in 2013.
Representatives of teams from China, Italy, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden and France, which has two teams, joined the U.S. team, Oracle Racing, at a news conference at the Ferry Building Wednesday morning.
A ninth team that will contend will be announced next week in Europe.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined race officials to welcome the teams to the event and said he is looking forward to "how exciting this race is going to be."
The AC45 catamarans being used in upcoming America's Cup World Series races were taken out on the Bay on Monday and made headlines when one of Oracle Racing's vessels capsized.
Helmsman Russell Coutts, one of the crewmembers who fell from the boat when it capsized, said the windy conditions in the Bay make it hard to separate being on the edge from going over it.
"One of the challenges ... is recognizing where that point is," Coutts said. "We're starting to recognize when that limit is reached."
Richard Worth, chairman of the America's Cup Event Authority, said the incident was an example of the "fast and dangerous new boats" being used in the upcoming races. A larger and even faster boat, the AC72 catamaran, will be used in the America's Cup regatta held in 2013.
Of the teams taking part in the America's Cup race, the Korean team is new to the event, while China is entering for just the second time. The America's Cup World Series races start in August in Portugal.
Other events are planned in the United Kingdom in September and San Diego in November before two World Series events and the Louis Vuitton Cup will be held in San Francisco in 2012.
The America's Cup Challenger Series will be held from July 13 to Sept. 1, 2013, and the America's Cup Finals will take place from Sept. 7 to Sept. 22, 2013.
Bicyclist Dies After Being Hit By Car in Castro Valley
A bicyclist died after being struck by a car in Castro Valley Wednesday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The collision occurred at about 9:40 a.m. near the intersection of Fairmont Drive and Foothill Boulevard.
A 32-year-old San Francisco woman was driving a 1995 Honda Civic east on Fairmont Drive at about 35 mph when she diverted her eyes from the roadway and allowed the car to veer to the right, according to the CHP.
The Honda struck a bicyclist who was also traveling east on Fairmont Drive.
The bicyclist, 56-year-old Timothy Bucher, hit his head on the windshield of the car and landed in the roadway, CHP officials said.
Bucher was wearing his helmet but still suffered major injuries.
He was taken to Eden Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to the CHP.
The driver of the Honda was not arrested, but the collision remains under investigation.
Drugs and alcohol are not believed to have played a role in the crash.