San Francisco Bay Area Thursday Morning News Roundup

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Sonoma Co.: Three Men Fatally Shot in Forrestville Waiting to Buy Marijuana

The three men who were fatally shot in Forestville area residence Tuesday were waiting for someone who was going to sell them "a significant amount" of marijuana, a Sonoma County sheriff's lieutenant said Wednesday afternoon.

"People associated with the victims said it was a pot deal gone bad.

We believe the victims were associated with another involved party.

The victims were the buyers," Lt. Dennis O'Leary said.

The sheriff's office has identified the victims as Richard Lewin, 46, of Huntington, N.Y., Raleigh Butler, 26, a former Petaluma resident who most recently was living in the Lake Tahoe area, and Todd Klarkowski, 42, of Boulder, Colo.

Butler's brother and Butler's brother's girlfriend, who called 911, found the bodies around 3:15 p.m. Tuesday in the bedroom of a cabin on property at 9707 Ross Station Road in the Forestville area, O'Leary said.

He said it's believed the shootings happened around noon.

Butler's brother told investigators he was expecting a call from his brother and became concerned and went to the residence when he did not hear from him for four to six hours, O'Leary said.

Butler's brother and his girlfriend are not suspected of being involved in the marijuana deal, O'Leary said.

Butler's mother was renting a residence on the property but was out of state when the murders occurred, O'Leary said.

"There was a lot of blood at the scene, but no sign of a struggle," O'Leary said.

Some processed marijuana was found at the scene but not a weapon, he said.

"I don't believe people in the neighborhood are in any danger," O'Leary said.

"We're working on leads and interviewing associates of the three victims." Autopsies are scheduled for today. 

SF: Police Release More Info About Person of Interest in Kevin Collins Case

San Francisco police Wednesday released more information about a person of interest in the disappearance of 10-year-old Kevin Collins from the city's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood nearly three decades ago.

Dan Leonard Therrien, who also went by Wayne Jackson as well as three other aliases, died in San Francisco in 2008 but investigators are seeking more information from someone who might have seen or talked to him around the time of the disappearance on Feb. 10, 1984.

"This case is a case that haunts the San Francisco Police Department," police Chief Greg Suhr said.

Kevin was last seen at Masonic Avenue and Oak Street after leaving basketball practice at nearby St. Agnes School and was seen by multiple witnesses standing beside a white man about 6 feet tall with blonde hair who had a large black dog, police Lt. Tim Plyer said.

Therrien, who lived nearby in the 1100 block of Masonic Avenue, owned a large black dog and had a criminal history including a 1981 arrest under the name Wayne Jackson for lewd acts on a 7-year-old boy near Fisherman's Wharf, Plyer said.

After he posted bail and did not appear in court for the case, police caught up with him in 1982 at the Masonic Avenue home, where he gave the name Kelly Sean Stewart.

He was eventually convicted for lewd acts on a child and was sentenced to six months in jail and three years' probation, Plyer said.

Investigators also recently discovered that Therrien was arrested under the name Raymond William Stewart in 1973 in Canada for kidnapping and sexually assaulting two 13-year-old boys there, but was released and fled the country, Plyer said.

He was never arrested again on those charges, in part because of the use of the multiple identities, Plyer said.

Given the similar description, his criminal history and his residence near where Kevin was last seen, he is considered a person of interest in the case, according to Plyer.

Therrien died of natural causes in the city's Sunset District in 2008, he said.

Police thought they might have cracked the case last week when they decided to search the Masonic Avenue home with cadaver dogs that uncovered bones underneath the concrete floor of the garage.

However, the preliminary assessment by the medical examiner's office indicates that the bones are from an animal, Plyer said.

Fairfield: Family of Slain Teen Releases Statement; Police Won't Say How She Died

Fairfield police are not disclosing how a 13-year-old Suisun City girl was murdered, but they said reports that a gray minivan might be involved are inaccurate.

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, police released a statement from the family of Genelle Conway-Allen, whose naked body was found by a passerby in a parking lot on the south side of Allan Witt Park in Fairfield around 6:45 a.m. Friday.

"This has been a devastating tragedy for our family and community. We need to thank everyone for the outpouring of support at the memorial site," the family said.

After thanking police for working hard on the investigation, the family said they are still in a state of shock and asked for privacy.

"Thank you for your love and support during this difficult time," the family said.

Conway-Allen, who lived in a foster home, was last seen during the late afternoon hours on Jan. 31 in the vicinity of Railroad Avenue in Suisun City, Sgt. Matthew Bloesch said.

In what police said was a photo taken minutes before she was last seen, the teen was wearing a gray sweater, blue jean-style leggings and a pink backpack.

Bloesch said police are not releasing information that might hinder the investigation, and that Suisun City and Fairfield police will investigate the homicide "in a professional, consistent and strategic manner" until the suspect or suspects have been identified, located and arrested.

Police also reminded parents to teach children what to do if they are approached or followed and to make every effort to escape and attract attention to themselves.

Anyone who saw Conway-Allen between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning is asked to call Fairfield police at (707) 428-7345.

Berkeley: 2-Alarm Hills Fire Causes Extensive Damage But No Injuries

A spectacular two-alarm fire caused extensive damage to a home in a heavily-wooded section of the Berkeley hills Wednesday, but there weren't any injuries to the residents or firefighters.

Berkeley fire officials said the three-story home with wooden shingles at the top of a steep driveway at 1177 Keith Ave. was fully engulfed when they arrived a few moments after a resident of nearby Keeler Avenue reported smoke.

Interim fire Chief Gil Dong said the fire was contained as of 12:25 p.m. but about an hour later smoke and flames were still coming from the third floor.

Acting deputy fire Chief Avery Webb said the fire mainly was confined to the home's second and third floors and nearby homes weren't damaged, although there were some scary moments and nearby residents were advised but not forced to evacuate.

Webb said it wasn't immediately clear if the people who live at 1177 Keith Ave. were at home when the fire broke out.

The residents were nearby as firefighters completed their work but declined to talk to reporters.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire and the amount of damage to the house hasn't been assessed, Webb said.

He said it was "difficult" for firefighters to get to the house and battle the blaze because the roads are curvy and narrow, there are a lot of trees and long hoses had to be run up the hill to carry water to the house.

Webb said five engines, two trucks, two ambulances and additional fire personnel responded to fight the fire.

SF: U.S. Judge Overturns $512,000 Jury Verdict in Santa Rosa Police Shooting Case

A federal judge in San Francisco has set aside a $512,000 jury award and ordered a new trial on a lawsuit filed by the family of a Santa Rosa man fatally shot by a city police officer in 2007.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer wrote in a ruling issued on Monday that the jury verdict reached in his court in September was "contrary to the clear weight of the evidence."

The award to the wife, mother and young daughter of Richard DeSantis was granted by a unanimous civil jury after a three-week trial. DeSantis, 30, who had bipolar disorder, was shot and killed by Sgt. Richard Celli in his driveway early on April 7, 2007, after Celli and other officers responded to 911 call from DeSantis' wife, Patricia DeSantis.

Patricia DeSantis said in the call that her husband had fired a gun into the ceiling of their home. The officers said they fired at DeSantis after he failed to remain in a prone position as instructed and appeared to be charging at them. It was later determined that Celli fired the fatal shot.

Breyer wrote that there was "no credible evidence at trial to support an inference that Sgt. Celli acted with an intent or purpose to harm Mr. DeSantis, separate from legitimate law enforcement objectives."

In addition to ordering a new trial, Breyer ordered the two sides to meet with U.S. Magistrate Joseph Spero to discuss a possible settlement.

The meeting has been scheduled for May 6. City Attorney Caroline Fowler said, "We agree with the judge's assessment and believe that the evidence did not support the jury's verdict.

"We are very happy that Sgt. Celli's actions have been vindicated and we are looking forward to moving forward with this matter," Fowler said.

Benjamin Nisenbaum, a lawyer for the DeSantis family, said, "We think the verdict was appropriate and was well substantiated by the evidence."

SF: Aunt, Uncle of 49ers Tight End Killed in Crash Caused by Drunken Driver

The aunt and uncle of San Francisco 49ers tight end Delanie Walker were killed in a crash caused by an alleged drunken driver early Monday morning in Louisiana after the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

Walker posted on Twitter Wednesday morning that his relatives Alice and Bryan Young were killed in the crash just hours after the 49ers' 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

"I'm going to miss y'all but I know they are in a better place," he wrote, while also including two pictures he recently took with his aunt and uncle.

The NFL's website said the deaths were linked to a crash in St. Charles Parish, La., shortly after 5:30 a.m. Monday.

According to Louisiana State Police officials, the crash was caused by Nechole Thomas, 26, of Houston, who was allegedly intoxicated and rear-ended a 2012 Nissan Altima stopped on the side of the road.

Both vehicles caught fire and the driver and passenger inside the Altima were killed. The St. Charles Parish coroner's office has not officially confirmed Alice and Bryan Young as the victims.

Thomas survived with minor injuries but was arrested on suspicion of two counts of vehicular homicide, DWI and reckless operation of a motor vehicle, police said.

Walker received an outpouring of support on social media Wednesday, including from 49ers owner Jed York, who wrote on Twitter, "We are praying for you and your family."

Regional: Oyster Farm Announces Appeal of Its Bid to Stay Open

The owners of the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm announced Wednesday they are appealing a ruling in which a federal trial judge declined to block the closure of the decades-old farm at Point Reyes National Seashore.

In a statement released by his lawyers, co-owner Kevin Lunny said, "We continue to be grateful for the outpouring of support from our community.

We have had time to weigh our options carefully, and have decided to appeal the judge's decision."

Lawyers for Lunny and the company filed a notice of appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco Wednesday.

Lunny and his wife, Nancy Lunny, bought the oyster farm from a predecessor company in 2004 and took over a 40-year permit that expired in 2012.

In a federal lawsuit, they are challenging a decision in which U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar in November announced he was turning down their request for a 10-year extension and allowing the permit to expire so that the area could return to wilderness.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of Oakland declined to issue a preliminary injunction that would have enabled the farm to stay open until a full trial is held on the lawsuit.

Gonzalez Rogers said Congress in a 2009 law gave the secretary "complete discretion" to decide whether to renew the permit.

The appeal will seek to overturn that ruling and obtain an order for a preliminary injunction.

The farm's lawyers said in a case statement filed with the appeals court that they will also seek a temporary injunction that would keep the farm open during the appeal.

If it does not win an injunction during the appeal, the oyster company has a deadline of March 15 to remove its equipment.

The farm grows oysters on 1,000 acres of submerged lands in Drakes Estero, an estuary of Drakes Bay, and packages them on 1.5 acres of land along the shoreline.

It says it produces more than one-third of all oysters grown in California.

The Point Reyes seashore area was made part of the national park system, which is managed by the Interior Department, in 1962.

SJ: Woman Allegedly Forged Signatures of Four City Council Members, Dozens of City Officials On Petitions

A Daly City woman has been charged with forging the signatures of about 80 San Jose city officials and their spouses, including four City Council members, on petitions for a ballot measure on that passed in November, prosecutors said.

Laura Frei, 55, allegedly signed or had someone sign the names of the city officials and others on documents used to qualify Measure D to raise the minimum wage in San Jose from $8 to $10 an hour, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Judy Lee said.

Prosecutors believe that as many as 80 of the signatures Frei turned in last April for the measure were false, such as San Jose councilmembers Xavier Campos, Rose Herrera, Sam Liccardo and Donald Rocha, Lee said.

Additional signatures allegedly forged on the papers included those of City Manager Debra Figone, City Attorney Richard Doyle, then-City Clerk Dennis Hawkins and Hawkins' wife, Marie, and other city officials and their spouses, Lee said.

The district attorney's office stopped after confirming 16 fraudulent signatures for purposes of charging Frei with circulating a petition with false or forged signatures, a felony for which she faces up to three years in county jail, Lee said.

Frei, out on her own recognizance, failed to show for her arraignment Wednesday and the judge stayed a bench warrant for her arrest, giving Frei until today to come to court and will issue the warrant if she does not, Lee said.

San Jose company H&H Petitions -- which has not been charged -- hired the defendant last year as a subcontractor to gather signatures for Measure D and paid her from $1,000 to $1,500 for about 200 signatures, Lee said.

An investigator for the district attorney's office interviewed 13 people about their signatures on Frei's petitions and all said they did not sign them, Lee said.

"This crime doesn't just affect the individuals whose signatures were forged," Lee said. "It is also a crime against the public because it undermines voter confidence in the electoral process."

Santa Clara Co.: DA Says Police Acted Lawfully in 2011 Shooting Death of Unarmed Suspect

A San Jose police sergeant acted lawfully when he shot an unarmed man to death in 2011 after believing he was reaching for a gun inside a reported stolen car, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said.

Police Sgt. Sergio Carabarin was justified in killing Varun Kumar, 32, as Kumar rammed his car into police vehicles trying to escape from a San Jose apartment complex, the district attorney's office said.

In a 25-page report released Wednesday, the district attorney's office concluded that prior to the shooting, police tried non-lethal ways to get Kumar to give up, including Taser darts, a blow to the head with a pistol, attempts to pull him out of the car and repeated verbal commands.

The report cited statements from witnesses who claimed that Kumar, a convicted felon on parole who been sentenced to prison 10 times, appeared determined to remain in his car to use it escape arrest.

"Sgt. Carabarin's use of deadly force was in response to an apparent and immediate threat of great bodily injury or death to himself, other officers and civilian bystanders," the report said.

"His conduct is therefore justifiable in the defense of himself and others, and no criminal liability attaches to him," the office said.

The altercation began midday on Oct. 16, 2011 when Kumar was in a 2011 Ford Taurus in the rear parking lot of the Parkside Terrace Apartments at 463 Wooster Ave. near East 26th Street in San Jose.

Police arrived at Kumar's car following an emergency call about a man brandishing a gun.

From the car's license plate, officers learned the Taurus had been reported stolen two weeks before in San Jose before and was involved in a robbery in San Jose three days earlier.

After the suspect refused to surrender and drove into police cars, Carabarin, standing behind the car, thought Kumar was trying to grab a gun from the car's center console.

Carabarin then fired three shots at Kumar, hitting him once in the back. Kumar died at the scene.

An autopsy revealed that Kumar was under the influence of a high dosage of methamphetamine at the time of the shooting.

The report noted that police did not find a weapon in Kumar's car and that the person who called a dispatcher about a man brandishing a weapon had falsely reported having seen a gun.

The officer nonetheless acted legally, thinking that Kumar was armed and that he and others were in danger when he fired, the office said.

Bay Area Thursday Morning Weather Forecast

Showers are likely in the Bay Area this morning. Highs are likely to be in the mid 50s, with southwest winds up to 20 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies with a chance of showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms are likely this evening. Lows are expected to be in the mid 40s, with western winds up to 15 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies with a chance of showers and a slight chance of thunderstorms are likely Friday. Highs are expected to be in the mid 50s, with winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

A beach hazard advisory is in effect through Saturday morning.

 

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