Antioch Kidnappers Sentenced to 431 years in Prison
Almost two decades to the day after Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped, an El Dorado County judge handed down maximum sentences to Phillip and Nancy Garrido, telling Phillip Garrido he is "evil" for abducting, raping, and imprisoning Dugard for 18 years.
District Attorney Vern Pierson said both Dugard and the district attorney's office are relieved the case is over.
"I think it's safe to say a nightmare has come to an end," he said.
Judge Douglas Phimister said he took into account the planning and callousness of the kidnapping, which occurred June 10, 1991, when he decided to give Phillip Garrido 431 years in prison, the maximum allowed under a plea bargain in which Garrido admitted to kidnapping Dugard as well as 13 counts of sexual assault and lewd acts, plus enhancements.
Nancy Garrido, 55, received 36 years in accordance with her agreement, in which she pleaded guilty to kidnapping, one count of rape by force and several enhancements.
Phimister said he thinks Phillip Garrido has no soul.
"What you've done to this child is beyond horrible," the judge said.
He called Garrido, 60, the "poster child" of a sexual predator beyond rehabilitation, pointing to prior convictions for rape and kidnapping in Nevada.
Garrido and his wife admitted to using a stun gun to kidnap Dugard, now 31, on her way to a bus stop, and holding her in a compound in the backyard of their home near Antioch.
Phillip Garrido repeatedly raped her over the years and she bore two children by him.
The crimes were discovered in 2009 after a University of California at Berkeley police officer noticed Phillip Garrido and Jaycee's two daughters acting strangely on the college campus.
Dugard did not attend the sentencing at El Dorado Superior Court in Placerville Thursday, but wrote a statement for her mother, Terry Probyn, to read.
She said she chose not to appear because she "refused to waste another second" of her life in the Garridos' presence.
"I hated every second of every day for 18 years because of you," Probyn read on her daughter's behalf. "I hope you have as many sleepless nights as I did."
Antioch Kidnapping Victim Testifies
Fear held Jaycee Dugard captive during the 18 years that she was imprisoned in the Antioch backyard of her kidnappers, Phillip and Nancy Garrido.
In grand jury testimony released Thursday, Dugard describes how she went from being an 11-year-old girl living in South Lake Tahoe to a mother of two confined to a concealed compound on the Garridos' Antioch property.
Dugard recounts her abduction, her physical and psychological confinement, the years of sexual abuse that she endured, and her confusion over why she had been taken away from her family.
"I was very scared. I didn't know who he was. I didn't know why he was doing this. I just wanted to go home," she said in the testimony.
The 158 pages were released hours after an El Dorado County judge handed down maximum sentences to the Garridos for abducting, raping, and imprisoning Dugard for 18 years.
On the morning of June 10, 1991, Dugard was walking to the bus stop on her way to school, as she had countless mornings before, except that on this morning a car approached her from behind as she was halfway up the hill.
While she expected that the man would ask for directions, instead he shot his hand out of the car window and used a stun gun to shock Dugard, who stumbled into the bushes.
As a man, who she would later learn was Phillip Garrido, exited the car, Dugard tried to back away, but found herself paralyzed.
She said, "I feel like my whole body ... wouldn't work. It was tingly, and I can't -- nothing works."
She was stuffed into the backseat of Garrido's car, a blanket on top of her and a person holding her down during the 180-mile journey from El Dorado County to eastern Contra Costa County, where the Garridos would hold her captive until 2009.
"It seemed like forever," Dugard said of the ride, during which she heard Phillip Garrido remark to a passenger in the car that they had succeeded in pulling off the kidnapping.
According to Dugard, Garrido said, "I can't believe we got away with it," and he started laughing.
SF Firefighters Mourn Fallen Colleague
San Francisco firefighters gathered to mourn the loss of one of their own Thursday afternoon after a 21-year veteran of the department died after being injured while battling a blaze in the city's Diamond Heights neighborhood earlier Thursday.
Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, was one of three firefighters injured in the blaze, which was reported at 10:44 a.m. at a four-story home at 133 Berkeley Way.
All three were taken to San Francisco General Hospital where Perez died at about 11:50 a.m.
One of the other firefighters, identified as firefighter/paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53, remained in critical condition Thursday afternoon, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said at a news conference held at the hospital.
The third firefighter, a woman whose name was not immediately available, was treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation and minor burns and was released.
Hayes-White said Perez was a classmate of hers when they entered the department's academy in 1990.
She said he previously served as a deputy with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office and as a U.S. Marine.
"His whole life was spent serving the community," she said.
Perez's two brothers also serve the community -- one is a San Francisco police officer and the other is an Oakland police officer.
Dozens of firefighters gathered to salute Perez as his body was taken out of the hospital to be transferred to the medical examiner's office for an autopsy.
"Our hearts are heavy and they will be for a long time," Hayes-White said. This is the first time in eight years that San Francisco has lost a firefighter in the line of duty.
In January 2003, 40-year-old firefighter Melinda Ohler died after falling from a fire engine as it responded to a call.
What caused Thursday's fire remains under investigation, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.
Talmadge said some firefighters reported seeing a "flashover," or heat explosion, inside the home, and around that time, an emergency alarm was activated from one of the firefighters inside the home.
Dispatch received the alert and notified the incident commander, who tried, but was unable, to reach the firefighter by radio, Talmadge said.
Additional crew members were sent in, and they found two firefighters down and "pretty badly burned."
SF Police Commission Axes Patrol Officer
The San Francisco Police Commission on Wednesday revoked the appointment of a patrol special officer who is a key witness in a 2010 murder case because he is facing disciplinary charges.
Robert Burns, 66, was a patrol special officer appointed by the commission to patrol an area of the city just south of Fisherman's Wharf.
Patrol special officers are authorized under the city charter to provide supplementary police patrols and are contracted to perform private security for businesses and individuals in their appointed areas.
Burns was accused of failing to comply with Police Department requirements related to the patrol special officers' uniforms, insurance and training in 2009 and 2010.
The Police Commission, which has jurisdiction over patrol special police, sustained the allegations and voted unanimously at its meeting Wednesday night to revoke his appointment.
Burns had been contracted to provide security for Club Suede, a nightclub that was the site of a fatal shooting on Feb. 7, 2010.
The club has since been ordered permanently closed by a judge.
That night, 19-year-old Lawon Marshawn Hall was killed and three others were injured in a shooting outside the club.
Burns witnessed the shooting and shot one of the two suspects, later identified as Keandre Davis.
Davis, 21, of Richmond, was arrested at the scene after being shot and faces murder charges in the case.
A man suspected of being the second shooter was arrested in the days after the shooting, but the district attorney's office declined to file charges against him.
Burns, who was recommended for the Police Department's Medal of Valor for his role in apprehending Davis, testified in the preliminary hearing for the murder case last week.
During the hearing, Burns testified he was wearing the uniform required of a patrol special officer that night.
But according to the charges the Police Commission considered, he was noted as not complying with the proper uniform requirements at least 37 times in 2009 and 2010, including on Feb. 3, 2010, four days before the shooting.
The charging document states that on many occasions, Burns' uniform did not have the proper markings, including stripes on the trousers and shoulder epaulettes.
Oakland Community Leaders Gather to Stop Violence
A particularly violent year in Oakland has incited community leaders to come together Thursday and discuss ways to prevent any more shootings, which have killed dozens of locals in recent months.
Hundreds of faith leaders planned to meet at 6 p.m. alongside Oakland Assistant Chief of Police Howard Jordan, Alameda County Chief Probation Officer David Muhammad, and other officials at the At Thy Word Ministries church at 8915 International Blvd. to figure out ways to reduce violence.
"People need to realize that guns are not the answer," said Sherri Lyn-Miller, whose local shop makes T-shirts for the families of slain victims.
Sherri said she sees about 90 percent of families and those connected to murdered victims because of the shirts and other memorabilia her print shop makes.
"We have a generation of babies growing up without fathers, and it's not that their fathers are in prison," she said. "Their fathers are in the ground."
Her voice shook with anger as she described how the lack of gun control was destroying the Oakland community.
"These kids don't have the resources to put the guns in the community," she said. "But they can buy the guns once they're here."
A friend of Sherri's, Flossie Harrington, lost her grandson, 24-year-old Timothy Barnes when he was shot several times in the face while riding his bicycle near Harrington's home near the 2400 block of 90th Avenue on May 20, according to Sherri.
"It was just a few blocks away from us and he was going to his cousin's," Harrington said.
Barnes was unmarried and had a son and daughter, ages 4 and 6.
He was taking community college classes online and living at home with Harrington and his mother, Harrington said.
"I don't know why this happened," she said.
Sherri, who knew Barnes, had her shop make at least 40 T-shirts, buttons, obituaries, prayer cards, and a painting of Barnes for his mom at the funeral, which is scheduled for today.
Sherri said she has a five-pound bichon frise named Snow that Barnes would always play with.
She said, "He'd always come into the shop and ask, 'Where's Snow?'"
Caltrain Scrutinizes On-Time Train Performance
Caltrain's board of directors Thursday morning discussed reasons why the service has failed to meet its goals for on-time trains for the past four months.
At a regularly scheduled meeting in San Carlos, the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board of Directors went through several explanations for why trains have been late more than 5 percent of the time for the months of February, March, April and May.
Fatalities are one of reasons trains fail to meet a 95 percent on-time goal for a month, spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.
Other reasons include how long it takes passengers to get on and off trains, crowded trains during special events, and instances when trains move slowly through construction areas, Dunn said.
Another reason trains fail to make their schedule is because Caltrain operators will often wait for a connection with another transit service like Bay Area Rapid Transit.
Trains were on time 93 percent of the time in February and March, 89 percent of the time in April, and 90 percent of the time in May, according to Caltrain.
The board also unanimously adopted a budget for fiscal year 2012, and discussed successes experienced in a recently implemented program for passengers with bicycles.
Effective last week, crews completed a $300,000 project to make sure every train had two of its cars equipped with the parts to hold bicycles for passengers.
Caltrain's older trains are now equipped with two bike cars that have a total capacity of 80 bicycles per train.
The newer trains hold a total of 48 bikes per train, according to Caltrain. Since 2008, Caltrain has made 70 percent of its fleet able to hold 80 bikes.
A bicycle advisory committee was formed in 2010 to address the needs of cyclists on the service.
The committee includes one representative each from San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.
SFMTA Investigates Muni Operators Failure to Let Off Passengers
Officials at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are looking into why a Muni light rail operator did not let people off a train after a passenger became ill and vomited onboard, a spokesman said.
An outbound K-T train took on an unpleasant odor when a passenger began throwing up at about 8:10 a.m. at Montgomery Station, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.
The operator was ordered to allow passengers off at Montgomery station and then to take the train directly to West Portal station, where it would be cleaned, Rose said.
"The plan was always to take the train out of service at West Portal," he said.
Control room officials, however, noticed the train still had passengers aboard as it bypassed Powell Street and Civic Center stations, and ordered the operator to stop at Van Ness station to do so, Rose said.
When the train finally stopped at Van Ness station, the passengers were allowed to leave. It was then taken to the West Portal station, cleaned, and returned to service.
No significant delays were reported, Rose said.
Rose could not say what happened to the sick passenger.
The operator was put on non-driver status pending the investigation as to why the passengers were not offloaded at Montgomery station, Rose said.
Amtrak Train Kills Unidentified Pedestrian on Tracks
A John Doe was struck and killed by a San Jose-bound Amtrak train in Oakland Thursday afternoon, according to Amtrak and the Alameda County coroner's bureau.
Capitol Corridor Train No. 535, which was coming from Sacramento, struck the victim just south of Jack London Square station at about 12:15 p.m., Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said.
Investigators are unsure who the man was because he had no identification on him, according to the coroner's bureau.
Officers are still looking into why the man was on the tracks, but no discipline has been taken on any train crew member as a result of the crash, Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said.
"Crew members won't be disciplined for something that's not their fault," Cole said. The train, which was carrying 39 passengers and four crew members, stopped while those on board waited for assistance, Graham said.
No passengers or crewmembers were injured.
All crewmembers requested to be relieved of duty, so the train remained at the scene until replacement staff arrived, Graham said.
Passengers were transferred to another train in Oakland at about 1:15 p.m., Cole said.
The train was originally due in San Jose at 1:15 p.m.
It was taken out of service while crews performed minimal repairs caused by the crash, Cole said.
Tracks were closed in both directions for almost two hours while officers responded to the scene.
They were reopened shortly after 2 p.m. and other trains using the tracks experienced up to two-hour delays, Cole said.
Novato Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Producing Child Pornography
A Novato man was sentenced in federal court in San Francisco Thursday to 15 years in prison for producing a child pornography video on his iPhone last year.
Jonathan Hill, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in March to one count of producing child pornography.
An FBI affidavit filed in the case last year said that Marin County sheriff's deputies who arrested Hill in March 2010 determined that the video showed a 9-year-old girl exposing her chest and pulling down her pants and also depicted Hill exposing himself to the girl.
The 15-year sentence handed down by White was the mandatory minimum required by federal law for the conviction.
White also ordered Hill to pay $10,000 each to the victim in the 2010 video and to another girl pictured in a different video made by Hill in 2005.
Hill was charged in federal court last year with producing the 2005 video as well, and admitted during his guilty plea to having made it, but that charge was dismissed by prosecutors Thursday as part of the plea bargain.
Hill, a carpenter who worked with his father in a contracting business, told White, "I'm very sorry" for the effects of his acts on the victims, the community and his family.
Hill was arrested by sheriff's deputies on March 20, 2010, after a third girl, who was 10 years old, reported that he had exposed himself to her near an elementary school in Marinwood.
He has been in custody without bail since then.
Deputies who searched Hill's home found child pornography and items such as duct tape, plastic ties, latex gloves and condoms that "appear(ed) to be a kit of supplies for abduction and rape," the FBI affidavit said.
In Marin County Superior Court, Hill still faces separate state charges of annoying or molesting children or indecent exposure in three incidents in Marinwood and Kentfield between March 9 and 20, 2010.
Oakland Laptop Thief Arrested
A man who was caught with a stolen laptop computer that was tracked with security software was charged Thursday with felony possession of stolen property, according to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.
Muthanna Aldebashi, 27, a taxi driver who lives in Alameda, is scheduled to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court today.
Oakland police said Aldebashi was arrested on Tuesday after a laptop that was stolen from Joshua Kaufman's North Oakland apartment on March 21 was found at Aldebashi's home.
Kaufman, 35, had previously installed security software on his Apple MacBook and activated the software after his laptop was taken.
The software allowed Kaufman to track his computer's movements and take photographs of Aldebashi, according to police.
The laptop was returned to Kaufman on Wednesday.
Kaufman was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Kaufman posted a joyous message on his blog, which is entitled "This Guy Has My Macbook," after Aldebashi was arrested on Tuesday.
He wrote, "An Oakland police officer just called me to let me know that they arrested the guy in my photos! BOOYA!" Kaufman added, "Nice work OPD," referring to the Oakland Police Department.
Aldebashi is being held at the Glenn Dyer Jail in Oakland in lieu of $20,000 bail.
CA Supreme Court Rules on Pandering Conviction
The California Supreme Court ruled in San Francisco Thursday that a pimp can be convicted of pandering even if the person he tries to recruit is already a prostitute or is an undercover officer.
Pandering is defined in state law as encouraging another person "to become a prostitute" by means of promises, threats or violence.
The court issued its ruling in the case of Jomo Zambia, a janitor who was convicted of pandering by trying to recruit an undercover officer to join his prostitution business in Los Angeles County in 2007.
Zambia encountered Officer Erika Cruz, who was posing as a prostitute, on Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys on June 8, 2007.
He ordered her to get in his truck, said he was a pimp and said he would give her housing and clothing if she worked for him and gave him her money, according to the court ruling.
Cruz then alerted her backup unit and Zambia was arrested and was later convicted of pandering and sentenced to four years in prison.
In his appeal, Zambia argued that the pandering law's use of the word "become" meant that the law didn't apply when the target was already a prostitute or was an undercover officer.
But the state high court by a 5-2 vote said that the law referred to encouraging a person to engage in future acts of prostitution, even if the person is already a prostitute.
Justice Carol Corrigan wrote that the court's interpretation "carries out the Legislature's intent to combat the social evils inherent in recruitment for acts of prostitution."
Pandering is a separate crime from the offense of pimping, which is defined as making money from another person's prostitution and is punishable by similar prison terms.
PG&E Concludes Odor Search at Courthouse
PG&E crews completed their search Thursday afternoon for the source of an odor at the Walnut Creek courthouse that was thought to be natural gas, but found no gas leak anywhere in the area, PG&E spokesman Joe Molica said.
The odor was reported at about 8:20 a.m. at the courthouse at 640 Ygnacio Valley Road and officials evacuated the building, Contra Costa County sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said.
Molica said PG&E was notified shortly before 9 a.m. and crews were at the courthouse by about 9:30.
They conducted a thorough search of the building, but didn't pick up any readings indicating that there was natural gas leaking anywhere inside, Molica said.
He said employees said they had smelled the odor on and off in a hallway in the courthouse for the past 18 months, but reported it Thursday because it seemed stronger than usual, Molica said. "
They did the right thing to report it," Molica said.
During their initial investigation, PG&E crews checked all the appliances in the building and checked the roof for possible leaks, but didn't find anything amiss.
The sheriff's office lifted the evacuation order at about 10:35 a.m. after the building was found to be safe, Lee said.
PG&E crews continued to search the area around the courthouse Thursday afternoon and tested the line that supplies gas to the building, but didn't find any problems, Molica said.
He said that occasionally, other types of odors are mistaken for natural gas, but PG&E encourages people to still report possible gas leaks because the company has highly sensitive equipment that can confirm whether gas is present.
The Bay Area is forecast to be mostly cloudy today, with a chance of rain in the afternoon and highs in the mid to upper 50s.
Rain is expected tonight, with lows near 50 and southwest winds of 10 to 20 mph.
Rain is expected in the morning on Saturday, with widespread showers in the afternoon. Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s to mid 60s.