San Francisco Bay Area Tuesday Morning News Roundup

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Regional: Eve of Historic Marriage Equality Supreme Court Hearings Marked By SF March, Rally 

California's Proposition 8, the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, goes before the U.S. Supreme Court today.

The justices are expected to rule on the constitutionality of the measure by the end of June, after hearing one hour of arguments this morning.

The challenge to Proposition 8, which started out as a lawsuit filed by two couples in federal court in San Francisco four years ago, is one of two marriage cases being heard by the high court this week.

In a second case, the court will hear arguments Wednesday on a New York widow's challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA.

While the Proposition 8 dispute concerns whether an individual state can prohibit gay marriage, the DOMA case has to do with whether the U.S. government can deny federal benefits and tax advantages to couples who were legally married in their state. Nine states and Washington, D.C., currently allow same-sex marriage.

In today's arguments, the sponsors of Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure, are appealing a ruling in which a federal appeals court in San Francisco last year struck down the initiative.

The sponsors contend California voters were entitled to believe that restricting marriage to male-female unions benefits society because it "advances society's vital interest in responsible procreation and childrearing."

They also argue that states, acting through ballot measures or legislatures, have the right to define marriage within their territory.

The two lesbian and gay couples from Berkeley and Burbank who challenged the initiative say it violates their constitutional rights of equal treatment and due process.

The couples agree that "marriage is a unique, venerable and essential institution. They simply want to be part of it," their lawyers said in a brief submitted to the court.

The plaintiffs say there is no proof that same-sex marriage harms heterosexual marriage.

Meanwhile, they argue, being denied the status and benefits of marriage hurts gays and lesbians and the nearly 40,000 children they are raising in California.

The court could rule on Proposition 8 in any of a number of ways.

It could uphold the initiative or it could strike it down on grounds that could apply to California alone, to eight states or to all 50 states.

The court could also decide to dismiss the appeal if it concludes that the sponsors lacked the legal authority to step in to defend Proposition 8 on appeal after California officials declined to do so.

San Jose: Missing Infant Distraught But Safe After Nearly Five Hour Abduction

A San Jose police officer who rescued an 11-month girl from a stolen vehicle after a nearly five-hour ordeal Monday said the infant was crying when he found her and gave him a hug when he took her out.

Officer Carlos Acosta described as "gut wrenching" the few minutes after someone reported seeing the parked car to when he found the girl crouching in a child seat, distressed but unharmed.

Acosta, a 14-year veteran officer, accompanied the infant in an ambulance to a hospital and she was "very excited" during an emotional reunion with her mother.

"It was a great feeling to locate her safely and return her to her mother," Acosta said at a news conference Monday afternoon outside police headquarters at 201 W. Mission St. in San Jose.

The child, Gabriela Quintero, was inside a Jeep Liberty that was stolen from outside her mother's San Jose home at about 6:45 a.m. and prompted authorities to issue an Amber Alert, police said.

The Jeep was found at an apartment complex near the Seven Trees Community Center after a citizen reported it to an apartment security guard who called 911 at 11:17 a.m., police Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.

Acosta and an unidentified police recruit, who were patrolling the area, got the call and arrived at 11:22 a.m. to find the white 2006 Jeep in a carport area in the 400 block of Amargosa Court, Dwyer said.

The Jeep was parked unevenly and the hazard lights were blinking which attracted the interest of the citizen who reported the vehicle, Dwyer said.

The suspected car thief was still at large and police are not sure if the suspect is male or female since no one reported seeing the driver enter or leave the Jeep, Dwyer said.

The girl's mother, Graciella Quintero, said she had noticed a suspicious woman who was wearing a dark top and

Fremont: Lawyer's Give Closing Arguments In Fatal Stabbing of Newark Teen

The question of who fatally stabbed 18-year-old Newark Memorial High School football star Osana Futi in Fremont last April was heatedly debated Monday in closing arguments in the trial of the man who's been charged in the case.

Prosecutor Elgin Lowe told jurors that he believes 19-year-old Abraham Hade of Fremont is guilty because his blood was found on the knife that was used to kill Futi, the victim's blood was found on Hade's pants and footprints matching Hade's size of Air Jordan shoes were found at the scene.

But defense lawyer Tom Knutsen said Hade is "an innocent" and alleged that Futi was actually killed by a friend of Hade's who was only 14 at the time of the murder and at one point told Fremont police that he was the one who stabbed Futi.

Knutsen claimed that Hade is wrongfully accused because of what he alleged was a "rush to judgment" by Fremont police and prosecutors to pin Futi's death on Hade.

Knutsen said the investigation into the death of Hade, who died several hours after he was stabbed near Yellowstone Park and Hyde Park drives after 11 p.m. on April 28, 2012, was "poor and inexcusable" and based on "tunnel vision."

However, Lowe said he believes that the teenage boy was only trying to take the rap for Futi's murder because he is a juvenile who would face a lesser sentence in juvenile court than Hade faces in adult court.

Lowe said the boy's confession isn't believable because he was wrong about the area on Futi's body where he was stabbed and wrong about the location where the stabbing occurred.

The prosecutor alleged that Hade and the juvenile both belong to a branch of the Norteno gang called Fremont Mexican Territory, and that in the gang culture, it is expected that juveniles will take the blame for crimes because the consequences they face are less severe than those faced by adults.

However, Knutsen said Hade doesn't belong to a gang, although he admitted that Hade may know some gang members.

Although Lowe and Knutsen disagree about who killed Futi, who was set to graduate from high school last June, they both said his death stemmed from a long-running feud between Newark Memorial football players and Norteno gang members.

They said the feud started when Futi's close friend and football teammate, 17-year-old Justice Afoa, was fatally stabbed near the intersection of Cedar Boulevard and Birch Street in Newark at about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2010.

That crime was still unsolved when Futi was fatally stabbed.

In January, three reputed gang members were charged with murder in connection with Afoa's death, and a fourth suspect was charged with assaulting Afoa and a friend in an earlier incident.

Alameda Co.: Man Shot By Deputies Friday Dies in Hospital

A Castro Valley man shot by sheriff's deputies Friday in a bizarre confrontation first with his family and then with deputies died in a hospital on Sunday, the sheriff's office announced Monday.

The man, identified as 49-year-old Terrence Barry, allegedly threatened sheriff's deputies who came to his home and shouldered a homemade replica firearm at an approaching sheriff's vehicle, prompting a sergeant to shoot him, sheriff's officials said.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office first received reports at about 7 p.m. Friday from Barry's family in the 3400 block of Seven Hills Road.

The family told dispatchers that Barry was acting belligerent, threatening and that the rest of the family was fleeing and leaving him in the house.

Barry allegedly then called sheriff's dispatchers and said that he was going to "shoot up the world."

He called again minutes later and said he had a machine gun and would shoot any deputies who arrived at his home, sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson said.

To respond to the threat, deputies loaded into an armored vehicle and as they proceeded up Seven Hills Road they saw Barry come out of the side of the house and shoulder what appeared to be a rifle, Nelson said.

Barry ducked behind some juniper bushes near his driveway, and then popped up again behind the bushes nearby, again shouldering the apparent rifle, Nelson said.

A sheriff's sergeant fired three shots at Barry from a porthole on top of the armored vehicle, striking him twice. He was rushed to Eden Medical Center and was taken to emergency surgery for his wounds but succumbed Sunday afternoon.

The weapon he was holding turned out to be a replica firearm, made of wood with a handle to resemble a rifle. Barry was on probation for weapons charges, Nelson said.

SF: Muni Reducing Service on Certain Lines During Spring Break Week

With many students on spring break this week, San Francisco Municipal Railway is also taking a break with reduced service on a dozen lines between Monday and Friday, agency officials said.

San Francisco Unified School District and San Francisco State University students are out of school this week, prompting Muni to cut back morning and afternoon service on lines expected to see a decrease in ridership as a result.

The lines that will run less frequently this week are the 8AX/8BX-Bayshore Express, 9L-San Bruno Limited, 14-Mission Local, 22-Fillmore, 24-Divisadero, 29-Sunset, 31-Balboa, 38-Geary, 43-Masonic, 48-Quintara/24th Street and 49-Van Ness/Mission.

Additionally, the 28L-19th Avenue line, which focuses on school trips, will not run at all this week, according to Muni officials.

Regular service will resume on the lines on April 1. Data collected last year showed that the number of people riding Muni on spring break week was about 17 percent less than average for the morning commute and 9 percent less for the afternoon commute.

Muni officials say the reduction in employee overtime and vehicle maintenance this week will save an estimated $45,000.

Similar changes during school breaks in December saved the agency about $275,000 and more reductions could take place this summer as well, officials said.

San Mateo Co.: Devil's Slide Tunnel Opening Celebration Draws Hundreds

Hundreds gathered on a coastal San Mateo County hillside Monday to celebrate the opening of two tunnels that will replace a notorious stretch of state Highway 1 at Devil's Slide.

The event marked the completion of the $439 million Tom Lantos Tunnels, which bypass a steep, winding portion of coastal highway between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay that has long been susceptible to rockslide-related closures.

Monday morning, under gray skies, a crowd gathered outside the tunnels, named after the late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, whose former Congressional seat is now filled by Jackie Speier.

Addressing the crowd, state Sen. Jerry Hill said that one of the most devastating landslides along Devil's Slide forced a closure of Highway 1 that lasted for several months in 1995.

The closure turned Pacifica into "the world's biggest cul-de-sac" and generated momentum to find a permanent solution to traveling safely and securely through the area all year round.

Caltrans had initially proposed an overland by-pass route east of the troubled roadway, a proposal that met with fierce opposition from local citizens who were concerned about the impact of constructing a four-lane highway over Montara Mountain.

Pro-tunnel advocates -- who eventually called themselves "tunnelistas" -- worked tirelessly to bring the issue to San Mateo County voters, who in 1996 passed Measure T and launched the planning process for what would become the state's newest tunnel to be built since Oakland's Caldecott Tunnel in 1964.

Several dozen "tunnelistas" attended Monday's ribbon-cutting, many carrying yellow bumper stickers from the Measure T campaign that read "Think Tunnel."

Moss Beach resident Zoe Kersteen-Tucker stood before the northbound tunnel bore and thanked the pro-tunnel advocates, who she called "rabble rousers, activists and crusaders." "Hooray! It's the 'people's tunnel,'" she said.

"We did it!" Speier, who called the tunnels "a new landmark" and "the Golden Gate Bridge of the south," acknowledged the dedication of lawmakers and county residents who helped make the tunnel project a reality.

"Tunnel vision is sometimes the broadest vision of them all," she said.

Santa Clara Co.: County's Second Gun Buy Back Yields More Than 600 Firearms

A second gun buy back event held by Santa Clara County officials this month garnered more than 600 firearms and paid out more the $61,000 on Saturday.

The buy back held Saturday at the Reid-Hillview Airport at 2500 Cunningham Ave. in San Jose yielded 610 guns adding to the 1,116 firearms collected at a March 2 event at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.

The guns collected comprised of 17 assault weapons, 225 handguns, 237 rifles, 123 shotguns and eight other weapons such as BB guns that did not receive a pay out.

Participants in the anonymous buy back received money for turning in the weapons, with a total of $61,150 paid out.

At the March 2 event sponsored by the county, $114,000 was paid out, a record amount compared to similar events in other Bay Area counties.

Saturday's buy back included a peace walk, a resource fair and other entertainment as part of a third annual event held by county Supervisor Dave Cortese's office at Most Holy Trinity Church, located near the airport at 2040 Nassau Drive.

Some 200 participants were part of the fair, where 150 gang-related items were collected, such as knives, pellet guns, bandanas, and other gang clothing.

Michelle Pelayo-Osorio from Cortese's office said there was remaining money from the county's March 2 buy back that was used for Saturday's event.

Usually Cortese's office hosts a gun exchange with items donated from corporate sponsors at the community safety event, however this year there were funds available to coordinate a buy back, she said.

"The goal is how to continue to do it...and get the neighborhood involved," Pelayo-Osorio said.

Santa Rosa: Two Sacramento Men Arrested in Human Trafficking Sting

Two Sacramento men were arrested Sunday afternoon during a human trafficking sting operation in Santa Rosa, according to police.

At about 12:30 p.m., Santa Rosa police officers responded to a report of domestic violence.

While investigating the report, they learned about a woman who was being forced into commercial sex trafficking.

Detectives were called to take over the investigation, and they found that two women had been brought to Santa Rosa from Sacramento several weeks before to work as prostitutes, according to police.

Using information on the Internet posted by one of the women, a sting operation was conducted at a local hotel and three people were arrested.

Glen Harris, 23, was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and pimping, police said. Jerome Martin, 25, was arrested for allegedly aiding and abetting human trafficking and pimping.

They were booked into the Sonoma County jail. A 27-year-old woman was cited for prostitution and released.

SF: Man Fatally Shot in Bayview Last Week Identified

A man who was found fatally shot in a car in San Francisco's Bayview District last week has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 32-year-old Dwayne Tatum.

The shooting was reported at 3:22 p.m. on March 18 in the 1300 block of Thomas Avenue.

Tatum, a San Francisco resident, was found sitting in a car with gunshot wounds to his head and chest. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

It took a week for the medical examiner's office to release Tatum's identity because authorities were initially unable to find family members to notify them of his death.

No arrests had been made in the case and no suspect information was available as of Monday, police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi said.

Anyone with information about the homicide is encouraged to call the Police Department's homicide detail at (415) 553-1145.

People can also call an anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.

Daly City: Ankle Injury Prompts Air Rescue From Thornton Beach

Firefighters airlifted a person with an ankle injury from a Daly City beach trail Monday afternoon, fire officials said.

The injury was reported 4:29 p.m. near the Thornton Beach overlook at John Daly Boulevard and Skyline Boulevard, according to the North County Fire Authority.

The injured walker was about 150 yards down the trail to the beach.

Firefighter paramedics evaluated her and then called for air support from East Bay Regional Parks because of her injury and limited access to the trail.

She was airlifted from the beach back to the top of the trail and then taken to a hospital by ambulance.

Bay Area Tuesday Morning Weather Report

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely in the Bay Area this morning. Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s, with westerly winds around 10 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies are likely this evening, with patchy fog and drizzle after midnight. Lows are expected to be in the upper 40s, with westerly winds up to 15 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies and a chance of rain are likely Wednesday morning. Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s, with southwest winds up to 10 mph.

 

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