San Francisco Bay Area Friday Morning News Roundup

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San Francisco Law Library Sues City For More Support

The board president of the San Francisco Law Library said Thursday the institution found itself "between a rock and hard place" when it sued the city for more support.

The lawsuit, filed by the library against the city and county of San Francisco in Superior Court Wednesday, claims the municipality is violating its duty under the City Charter to provide "suitable and sufficient quarters" for the library.

Kurt Melchior, a San Francisco lawyer who chairs the library's board of directors, said the board has been negotiating with the city for adequate space since 1994, but is now up against a May deadline to vacate its present temporary location.

"We're just trying to get the city to do what's required by law," Melchior said.

The library is presently located at the War Memorial Veterans Building, which is scheduled to close in May for two years of seismic upgrading.

The law book collection was moved there in 1995 when City Hall, its former location, closed for seismic retrofitting.

The lawsuit says library officials have found a possible new site, in a building at Van Ness Avenue and Post Street, but the city is willing to pay for only 22,000 square feet of space.

The suit alleges that amount of space would make the library "a grossly substandard public law library" and says the institution needs at least 30,000 square feet to fulfill its duties to serve lawyers and the public.

Jack Song, deputy press secretary to City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said city lawyers could not comment on the case because it is pending litigation.

A Superior Court hearing on the lawsuit has not yet been scheduled.

The lawsuit asks for a court order requiring the city to provide "complete, adequate, readily accessible and suitable space and facilities" of 30,000 to 35,000 square feet and to allow the library to stay in the Veterans Building until that space is provided.

The library is an independent public agency created by the Legislature in 1870 and governed by a board made up of judges and lawyers. It was the state's first public county law library. California law now requires all counties to have such libraries.

The City Charter requires that the library must be open to judges, lawyers and members of the public.

According to the lawsuit, the library now has 263,480 volumes, but is currently forced to keep two-thirds of the collection in storage because of inadequate space in its current location.

Oakland Drug Dealer Who Claimed Self-Defense Is Convicted Of Murder

An Oakland drug dealer who claimed that he was acting in self-defense was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder for fatally shooting a friend the friend's home in West Oakland in September 2011.

Michael Peau, 24, admitted during his one-week trial that he killed Roberto Guzman, 22, in the 3200 block of Hannah Street at about 11:55 a.m. on Sept. 24, 2011, but said he did so only after Guzman tried to attack him with a screwdriver.

Peau testified that he always carries a gun because he's a drug dealer and feels a need to protect himself.

But jurors apparently didn't believe Peau because they reached a verdict against him late Thursday morning after deliberating for only several hours.

Peau will face a state prison term of 50 years to life when Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer sentences him on March 22 because in addition to first-degree murder jurors convicted him of using a gun to kill Guzman.

Prosecutor Luis Marin told jurors that Guzman lived with his girlfriend and her family at their house on Hannah Street and had been friends with Peau but became upset with Peau because of a transaction in which his girlfriend's father bought a car from Peau.

Marin said Peau offered to sell the father a used car for $100 and assured him that there weren't any problems with it.

However, the prosecutor said that when the father went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to register the car, officials told him it had been stolen at gunpoint and took the car from the father, turning it over to Oakland police.

Afterward, Guzman told Peau, "I don't want to see you again" and told him not to come around anymore at the house where he lived with his girlfriend's family, Marin said.

The prosecutor said Peau "didn't appreciate the way Mr. Guzman had talked to him so he decided to have the last word" by firing a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun at Guzman 11 times, striking him 10 times.

Marin said Peau, 23, should be convicted of murder because, "The evidence proves the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

But Peau's attorney, David Bryden, said Peau shot Guzman only because he believed Guzman would seriously injure him or kill him when Guzman grabbed a screwdriver, which he described as "a large stabbing instrument" and "charged" at Peau.

Bryden said Peau approached Guzman as he was working on his car because "he wanted to work something out" but Guzman charged at him.

Bryden told jurors that Peau should only be convicted of voluntary manslaughter because Peau believed he had to shoot Guzman in order to protect himself.

The defense attorney said Thursday that he's "surprised and dismayed" that jurors convicted Peau of first-degree murder, saying he thinks the most Peau should have been convicted of is second-degree murder.

San Francisco Municipal Cable Car Accident Injures Seven People

Seven people were injured Wednesday morning when a San Francisco Municipal Railway cable car struck a bolt lodged into the tracks, according to authorities.

The bolt was stuck in the trackway, causing the inbound Powell-Hyde cable car to stop abruptly on Powell just before Washington streets around 10:15 a.m., San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transit John Haley said.

The 2-inch bolt was jammed at the top of the tracks, about 6 inches above the underground cables that are covered in sensors that trigger an alarm if there is an obstruction.

The alarm alerts operators to stop the cables, according Haley.

In Wednesday's case, the bolt never touched the sensors.

The alarm is usually triggered as many as two to three times a day, Haley said, however the crews usually find trash, such as a hot dog wrapper, that makes its way deep into the tracks.

After the bolt suddenly halted the cable car, five passengers and two cable car operators were transported to the hospital with minor injuries, San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

One of the injured passengers was a man in his 80s who suffered a head injury, Talmadge said.

After a review of the incident, Muni inspectors have determined the bolt had come lose from a switch plate covering a portion of the tracks, Haley said.

Haley said there was nothing wrong with the cable car vehicle itself, however the car did sustain some damage in the incident and is undergoing repairs to its underside.

It is expected to be back in service within the next three days, he said.

The bolt incident has prompted a review of the track maintenance system, Haley said.

The more than 40 switches part of the cable car system are checked each night and now a weekly check will test the tightness of the bolts securing the switch plates, he said.

Bus shuttles were in place for passengers on the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde cable car lines through early Wednesday afternoon the while officials inspected the cause of the accident.

Cable car service resumed around 1:30 p.m.

Thieves Bind Janitor To Desk And Steal Fairfield School's IPads

Two men bound a janitor with duct tape and stole 40 iPads from the Sem Yeto Continuation High School in Fairfield Wednesday night, a police lieutenant said.

The 50-year-old custodian was walking from one building to another on the school campus at 301 E. Alaska Ave. around 9:50 p.m. when two men, one of them armed, approached him. Lt. Randall Boggs said.

The suspects ordered the man to lie on the ground and threatened to kill him if he didn't cooperate, Boggs said.

The suspects told the custodian to take them where the school's iPads were stored, Boggs said.

They bound his hands with duct tape, bound the janitor to a desk and stole the iPads, valued at $350 each, Boggs said.

The uninjured custodian partially freed his hands and called police, and he was still partially taped to a desk when officers arrived, Boggs said.

Police were unable to locate the robbers.

The robbery was the third in four months in which thieves targeted the school's iPads, Boggs said.

The school was burglarized in September and October, but this is the first time the armed robbers accosted school staff, Boggs said.

The black male suspects are in their 20s with a medium build, police said.

One man is 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 7 inches and was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans with a white design on the back pockets, white gloves and white and black shoes.

The other suspect is 5 feet 9 inches to 6 feet and was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, a black leather jacket, dark jeans, gloves and black and white shoes.

East Palo Alto Murder Suspect Released From Jail

A man who prosecutors say killed an East Palo Alto community leader in 2010 was released from jail Tuesday, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

Gregory Leon Elarms, 60, allegedly confessed to killing David Lewis outside the Hillsdale Shopping Center on June 9, 2010, but a judge threw out murder charges against him.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Hall ruled that San Mateo police had inappropriately obtained a confession from Elarms in violation of his Miranda rights, rendering his confession inadmissible at trial.

Prosecutors are appealing, but Wagstaffe said the process could take 12 to 18 months.

On Jan. 3, Elarms pleaded no contest to three counts of felony possession of shanks in jail and was set to receive a maximum of four years in state prison under the terms of a plea agreement, according to Wagstaffe.

But on Tuesday, Judge Craig Parsons granted the defense's request to release Elarms on his own recognizance, Wagstaffe said.

"We put a lot of power in our judges and a majority of the time, they get it right," Wagstaffe said. "This is one of the times the judge got it wrong."

Elarms' release is conditional to him showing up at future court hearings. He is set to appear in court next on March 5 on the defense's motion to withdraw the plea or for imposition of the sentence, Wagstaffe said.

He said prosecutors are worried that Elarms may flee or hurt someone else.

"We have our concerns. This is a man who confessed to a murder," Wagstaffe said. "All we can do now is hope he comes back on March 5."

On Dec. 18, 2010, Elarms -- who was not a suspect at the time -- allegedly contacted San Mateo police detectives and claimed to have information about Lewis' killing, according to police.

Prosecutors said Elarms requested police protection because he believed his life was in danger.

Detectives offered to meet with Elarms, and while he was in police custody -- but before he was arrested -- he allegedly confessed to the murder and "muttered" something about needing an attorney, Wagstaffe said.

Elarms was arrested, and since then had been in custody in San Mateo County Jail and at Atascadero State Hospital.

Prior to his death, Lewis, a reformed drug addict and convicted felon, was active in the community as an advocate for rehabilitation and re-entry programs for ex-convicts.

Search For Missing Man In Annadel State Park Scaled Back

The search for a Sacramento man missing in Annadel State Park since Saturday has been scaled back, a Sonoma police lieutenant said Thursday afternoon.

Jason Kyles abandoned his Ford pickup around 9 a.m. Saturday after he drove through a gate onto private property and had a brief conversation with a woman who lived there, Lt. Brett Sackett said.

He was last seen naked and chanting by a hiker on Saturday, Sackett said.

Search and rescue teams from Sonoma, Marin, Alameda and Contra Costa counties searched the park east of Santa Rosa until early Sunday morning.

Kyles' family and a Sonoma County search and rescue team were still searching Thursday, Sackett said.

Kyles' mother told authorities her son stopped taking his medical marijuana, Sackett said. The family said he is despondent, and in a note said he was heading to New York to visit his family, Sackett said.

Footprints and a handprint found Tuesday in an area of the park that leads to the Oakmont retirement community indicated Kyles might have been heading toward homes in that area.

Searchers combed the complex but found no trace of the missing man, according to Sackett.

Searchers Thursday were focusing on the areas of Lake Ilsanjo and the Warren Richardson and Canyon trails, Sackett said.

Kyles is 6 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes and was wearing a T-shirt, blue jeans, black and orange shoes and a heavy, tan canvas jacket.

Anyone with information about him is asked to call the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office at (707) 565-2650.

Man Burned In Explosion On Boat At Alameda's Grand Marina

A man was injured in an explosion on a boat at Alameda's Grand Marina Thursday afternoon, a fire official said.

Firefighters responded at 12:56 p.m. to a report of a boat fire at the marina located at 2099 Grand St., Alameda fire Division Chief Doug Long said.

They arrived to find a man who had suffered burns to about 20 percent of his body from some sort of explosion on a 30-foot fiberglass sailboat docked at the marina, Long said.

The man jumped into the water to extinguish himself and was rescued by other people who also used hoses at the dock to put out the fire on the boat before firefighters arrived, according to Long.

The man was taken by ambulance to a nearby park, where a medical helicopter airlifted him to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Long said.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation, he said.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather Report

Mostly cloudy skies and scattered showers are likely in the Bay Area this morning. Highs are likely to be in the mid 50s, with winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Partly cloudy skies are likely this evening, with clear skies expected later in the night. Lows are expected to be in the mid 40s, with northern winds up to 15 mph.

Sunny skies are likely Saturday. Highs are expected to be in the mid 50s, with winds up to 10 mph in the afternoon.

A beach hazard advisory is in effect through Saturday morning.

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