San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday Morning News Roundup

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Regional: Bay Area Celebrates News That it will Host Super Bowl 2016

Cheers rang out all over the Bay Area Tuesday when it was announced that the San Francisco 49ers have been selected to host the 2016 Super Bowl at their new stadium in Santa Clara.

The decision was made public late Tuesday morning after a vote by 32 National Football League team owners at a meeting in Boston.

Dozens of people gathered in Santa Clara City Council chambers at City Hall to watch live coverage of the NFL's decision.

When the news was announced, fans shouted with joy and waved red rally rags bearing the 49ers logo.

A jubilant Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews said, "Before we built a stadium, we landed the 50th Super Bowl."

The NFL team owners chose the 49ers' $1.2 billion Levi's Stadium to serve as the site for Super Bowl L over a competing bid by the Miami Dolphins.

The 49ers are planning to move from Candlestick Park to the new 68,500-seat stadium in Santa Clara in 2014.

Matthews said that when he heard the game would be played in his city, "a shot of electricity came through me."

He said it is estimated that a Super Bowl brings between $300 and $500 million in economic benefits to the surrounding region.

"I was not building a stadium, I was building an ATM machine," Matthews said of efforts to push the project forward.

Jed York, 49ers CEO, said at a noon news conference in Boston, "There's a lot of things that were going in our favor. I think it was the overwhelming support from the community that made the difference."

"I think it shows that the 49ers try to win with class on and off the field, and this is one of those examples off the field," York said.

Matthews, accompanied by his wife Julie at City Hall, said he was exhausted from the emotional "roller coaster" involved in the Super Bowl bid, and that he was heading home to take a nap.

He thanked San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for his efforts in the process.

Lee learned the Super Bowl news when he was handed a note during a ceremony at City Hall Tuesday morning to honor the Golden State Warriors and point guard Stephen Curry for their NBA playoff run.

"I had to read it three times," he said.

The announcement drew raucous cheers from the crowd at City Hall. Lee said, "A lot of people were betting on us because this is what we do.

This is the kind of international event that we love hosting."

Curry said that after seeing the fan support for his team, he knows Bay Area residents will come out in droves for the Super Bowl.

"It's going to be amazing," he said. "The Bay Area loves their sports, so to be able to host the Super Bowl, it's going to be a thrill."

He added, "Hopefully we're not playing that night so we can go watch it."

Regional: Bay Area Fire Captain Among Search and Rescue Team Sent to Oklahoma

A Fremont fire captain is among six people from California search-and-rescue teams that have been sent to assist in the aftermath of a deadly tornado that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday.

Capt. Steven Promes, a member of Oakland-based California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 4, is providing transportation and logistics support to three rescue teams that have responded to Okalahoma from Texas, Tennessee and Nebraska, Oakland fire Battalion Chief Robert Lipp said Tuesday.

Lipp said that despite "extreme devastation" at the scene -- where a two-mile wide hurricane killed dozens when it touched town and spread a debris field around 20 miles long -- it is unlikely that any full California search-and-rescue teams will be deployed.

"It sounds like they are going to have all the personnel they need," he said. A spokesman for a second Bay Area urban search and rescue team said that the 80-person task force based in Menlo Park will remain on standby throughout the week in case the Federal Emergency Management Agency calls in for more resources.

The team includes firefighters, paramedics, canine search dogs, and structural engineers and is ready to deploy in six to eight hours, California Task Force 3 program director Tim Campbell said.

There are 28 USAR teams nationwide that can be called on by FEMA to assist with major disasters. The last time the Menlo Park team was deployed was in 2008, after Hurricane Gustav hit the Gulf States.

More help is heading to the Okalahoma area in the form of donations, according to the Bay Area Chapter of the Red Cross.

San Jose Sharks fans are being encouraged to donate funds as part of a collection drive at tonight's game, team officials said.

Donations for tornado victims will be collected at the street rally prior to the Sharks game, as well as at entrances to HP Pavilion and at Sharks Foundation booths inside.

Additionally, an automatic $10 donation can be made directly to the Red Cross by texting "REDCROSS" to 90999. Donations of any amount can be made online at www.redcross.org.

SJ: Fund Set Up to Defray Cost of Funerals for Woman, 1-Year-Old Killed in Knife Attack

A firefighters' fund is raising money to cover funeral and medical costs of a seasonal Cal Fire employee who lost his mother-in-law and nephew in a knife attack that also wounded his 3-year-old daughter, a fire captain said Tuesday.

Cal Fire firefighter Luis Herrera-Martinez had worked 24-hour shifts for a week at a station in the Sunol area of Alameda County when he left for his home in San Jose last Wednesday, said Cal Fire Capt. Paul Provence, who is based in Morgan Hill. Inside the home, Herrera-Martinez discovered the bodies of his mother-in-law, Yolanda Ramirez, 48, and his 1-year-old nephew, Gabriel, and his injured daughter, all of whom had been stabbed, Provence said.

The man who has been charged in the knife attack, Ruben Ramirez, 28, is Herrera-Martinez's brother-in-law, Provence said.

The Fire Family Foundation, a charity founded by the Los Angeles Fireman's Credit Union to assist firefighters and their families, will be accepting donations to help Herrera-Martinez meet expenses for two funerals and his daughter's medical needs, Provence said.

Donations may be made, care of "In loving memory of Yolanda and Gabriel Ramirez," at the foundation's website, www.firefamilyfoundation.org, Provence said.

The joint funeral for Yolanda and Gabriel has been scheduled for May 31 at 6 p.m. at the Oak Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park, 300 Curtner Ave.in San Jose, a spokeswoman for the funeral home said.

Herrera-Martinez had been hired as a seasonal firefighter by Cal Fire on May 6, received his training and was assigned to Sunol to back up a strike team of firefighters working a fire in Butte County, Provence said. "He had just left duty" the day of the stabbings, Provence said. 

"He was on his way to his mother-in-law's house to pick up his daughter." Herrera-Martinez's daughter, Joclyn Herrera, was released from the hospital on Sunday, Provence said.

Ruben Ramirez was charged Friday in Santa Clara County Superior Court with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, according to the District Attorney's office.

The charges involve special circumstances for a double murder that could make Ramirez eligible to receive the death penalty or life imprisonment if he is convicted, prosecutors said.

Ramirez had been suffering from mental health problems, which could become an issue in the case, according to prosecutors.

SF: City Honors Golden State Warriors for Playoff Run; Curry Given Key to City

The Golden State Warriors and their star point guard Stephen Curry were honored at San Francisco City Hall Tuesday for their run in the NBA playoffs this year, just the franchise's second postseason appearance in the past 19 years.

Curry was given an honorary key to the city by Mayor Ed Lee for leading the team into the second round of the playoffs while also setting the NBA regular season record with 272 three-pointers made.

The Warriors were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by the San Antonio Spurs in a six-game series that ended last Thursday.

"The entire San Francisco Bay Area is so proud," Lee said while sporting a bright blue Warriors jacket. "Our city knows the future holds great things."

Warriors team president Rick Welts thanked the city for welcoming them -- the team plans on moving to a new arena being proposed along the city's waterfront by the start of the 2017 season.

"We're a lot closer to that dream of 2017," Welts said.

He mentioned the fans clad in yellow Warriors shirts who stuck around at Oracle Arena in Oakland after the season-ending loss last week to cheer the team and thank them for the successful season.

"It was clear to everybody at that point that this season wasn't the end of anything, it was the start of something pretty special," Welts said.

Curry attended the ceremony with his wife and young daughter and thanked Warriors fans for their support.

Hundreds of fans packed into the City Hall rotunda and on walkways along the upper levels of the building.

"The success we had this year, it's only going to get better," he said. "We have our sights set on bigger things."

Curry told the fans, "Keep those yellow shirts crispy and ironed, bottle up that energy and come next October, we'll start right up on another mission."

Antioch: Man Found Dead Friday Was Killed in Self-Defense, Authorities Say 

A man whose body was discovered near an Antioch apartment complex last week was killed in an act of self-defense, according to prosecutors and police.

Police said officers responded to a report of a possible dead body near the entrance to an apartment complex in the 3400 block of Hudson Court around 8 a.m. on Friday.

Officers discovered the man, identified by the Contra Costa County coroner's office as 22-year-old Nyjeah Jenkins, and saw that he had suffered at least one gunshot wound.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. Jenkins was found with a handgun visible in his pocket, Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Mary Knox said.

Hours later, police arrested 19-year-old Jimmy Rider of Antioch on suspicion of murder in connection with Jenkins's death, Knox said.

Rider was taken to county jail in Martinez, where he was held on $1 million bail. Since that time, investigators have learned that Rider shot and killed Jenkins in order to defend himself, another person and his property, Knox said.

The prosecutor said high-quality surveillance footage captured at the apartment complex in Antioch where Jenkins was killed on Thursday night led investigators to that conclusion.

"From video footage of the incident that involved three parties, there appeared to be legitimate claims of self-defense," she said.

In addition, she said, Jenkins had an extensive criminal history while Rider has none.

The 19-year-old is expected to be released from jail Tuesday and the district attorney's office is not filing charges against him, Knox said.

Oakland: Witness Says Youth Killed Two Teen Girls After Argument

A reluctant juvenile witness testified Tuesday that 18-year-old Diantay Powell fatally shot two teenage girls near Brookdale Park in East Oakland last November after an argument over another woman he was seeing.

The juvenile, who nearly was found in contempt of court because he refused to testify at one point, said he was hanging out in a car with Powell, co-defendant Antonio Edwards, 20, 16-year-old Bobbie Sartain and 15-year-old Raquel Gerstel shortly after 5 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2012, when Powell got a phone call and said his girlfriend was coming.

The 16-year-old boy, who was dressed in a blue Alameda County Juvenile Hall sweatshirt, said Sartain, who had been with Powell, got upset at Powell and slapped him and Powell then hit her.

Gerstel then got out of the car, which was parked in the 2600 block of Minna Avenue, and argued with Powell, the short and skinny youth said.

Powell reacted by shooting Gerstel in the head and then shot Sartain after she ran away from the car and said, "I'm not going to tell nobody" about Powell shooting Gerstel, the juvenile said.

The youth said Powell shot Sartain three to five times after she already had been shot and was lying on the ground.

Powell, 18, is charged with two counts of murder and the special circumstance of committing multiple murders.

Edwards is charged with being an accessory for allegedly driving Powell away from the shooting scene.

The juvenile was the second witness to testify in a preliminary hearing that will determine if there's sufficient evidence for Powell and Edwards to be ordered to stand trial.

The first witness in the case, 30-year-old Albert Rich, who has prior convictions for false imprisonment and illegal gun possession, testified that Powell admitted a few days after the incident that he had fatally shot Gerstel and Sartain.

According to family members and friends, Gerstel and Sartain were friends who grew up together in Alameda.

Gerstel lived in San Leandro and was a freshman at Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo. Sartain lived on High Street in Oakland, a few blocks from where the shooting happened.

The juvenile put his hands over his face during much of his testimony Tuesday and it was difficult for the attorneys and the judge in the case to hear him.

The juvenile also paused for long periods before answering most questions and at one point he refused to say anything at all.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson, who is presiding over the case, then told the teen that if he didn't answer any more questions he would be found in contempt of court and be held in jail until he cooperated.

After a short recess, the juvenile agreed to answer questions again but said, "I'm only going to say yes or no."

However, Rolefson told him that he would be required to give longer answers to some questions.

In response to a question from prosecutor Ben Beltramo, the juvenile said Oakland police interviewed him shortly after the fatal shooting when he was in custody in another county for violating his probation in another case.

The juvenile testified that a short time before the shooting, Powell said he was upset because he thought one of the teenage girls had taken his cellphone and he was going to kill one of them.

However, the youth said he thought that Powell was kidding when he said that.

Santa Rosa: Man Arrested for Hitting Pedestrian and Dog in Crosswalk

Santa Rosa police arrested a Healdsburg man on suspicion of striking a pedestrian on Fountaingrove Parkway and fleeing in his vehicle, a police sergeant said.

Mario Molinari, 52, of Santa Rosa, was struck by a 2003 Honda Accord around 10:25 a.m. at the intersection of Fountaingrove Parkway and Rincon Ridge Drive in Santa Rosa, Sgt. Rich Celli said.

Molinari suffered injuries to his upper body and legs and one of his dogs also was struck during the collision, Celli said.

He was treated for his injuries at a hospital.

The driver of the car fled, but officers found the vehicle's front license plate at the scene, Celli said.

Police found the Honda and the driver, Reyna Gutierrez, 42, of Healdsburg, about 15 minutes later in a cul-de-sac a half-mile from the collision, Celli said.

Gutierrez was arrested and taken to police headquarters for questioning.

The investigation determined Molinari was walking two dogs on the northeast side of Fountaingrove Parkway and had the green light but did not yield to the red hand signal and began crossing the roadway, Celli said.

Molinari told police the light changed to red while he was crossing the road toward the west side of the street, Celli said.

Molinari and one of his dogs were struck in the crosswalk in the eastbound lanes of Fountaingrove Parkway, Celli said.

The vehicle then fled east, Celli said. Gutierrez was booked into the Sonoma County jail for hit-and-run causing injury, Celli said.

Santa Rosa: Jurors Discount Testimony of Prosecution's Key Witness in Finding Herczog Insane

The jury that found Houston Herczog was insane when he killed his father discounted the testimony of the prosecution's key witness, psychiatrist Dr. James Missett, who believed the slaying happened during a drug-induced rage.

"The jury didn't give a lot of weight to his testimony. There were no favorable opinions of his testimony," juror Jim Dobbins, 55, of Santa Rosa said. 

Three psychiatrists who testified for the defense said Herczog, 22, was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia when he brutally stabbed his 63-year-old father Mark Herczog and crushed his skull with a guitar amplifier in their Santa Rosa home around 1:15 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2011.

The jury convicted Herczog on May 6 of first-degree murder and Tuesday afternoon the panel found he was insane at the time.

Some jurors smiled and at least one wiped tears from her eyes when the panel's verdict was read. Herczog stood and blew kisses to family members in the audience as the jurors left the courtroom.

The prosecution argued during sanity phase of the trial that Herczog might have been suffering from schizophrenia, but was sane when he killed his father and might even have been exaggerating his symptoms to avoid criminal responsibility.

Herczog will be sent to a mental health hospital until it is demonstrated he is fully restored to sanity, a decision that will be made by a judge, Deputy District Attorney Robert Waner said.

A hearing on the placement issue is scheduled for June 4.

Herczog faced life in prison if the jury found he was sane at the time of the murder.

"This was a good jury. We trusted them to make a first-degree murder decision and we trusted them to make a decision on whether he was sane or insane," Waner said.

"The jury made the decision based on the evidence. There's nothing to say about it," Waner said.

In his closing argument Waner told the jury Herczog became enraged and killed his father when he confronted him about stealing his mother's Adderall pills hours before the slaying.

Psychiatrists who testified for the defense said Herczog heard voices telling him his father was an evil spirit and he believed he had to sever his father's head to get the evil spirit out.

"Common sense says this was a psychotic killing, not a normal killing," Deputy Public Defender Karen Silver told the jury in her closing statement.

"I'm ecstatic. This was always a sanity trial for me," Silver said after the jury's decision Tuesday.

The defense had the burden of proving Herczog's was insane because he was incapable of knowing the nature of his acts and that they were legally and morally wrong.

"The defense showed me more evidence that he didn't know the nature of his acts than the evidence that he did know," juror Lew Spengler, 66, of Petaluma said.

"A lot of it came down to he was not a bad kid and then suddenly he has this downward spiral," Dobbins said. Herczog's mother Marilyn Meshak Herczog said she is happy with the verdict.

"My son is clearly sick. I'm so glad he going to get help," she said. 

Rohnert Park: Boy Knocked Under Dump Truck Escapes with Scratches

A 6-year-old boy escaped death when he was knocked down and landed underneath by a 10-wheel dump truck in a Rohnert Park intersection Monday afternoon, a police sergeant said.

The boy was riding his bicycle in the crosswalk at Rohnert Park Expressway at State Farm Drive with his mother close behind around 5 p.m., Sgt. Aaron Johnson said.

Witnesses said as the boy got in front of the Peterbilt truck the light turned green for the truck driver, Johnson said.

The truck driver could not see the boy and began making a left turn.

Witnesses said the truck's front bumper hit the boy and he and his bike were sucked under the dump truck and began tumbling beneath it, Johnson said.

The truck turned left as the boy thrashed beneath it, and based on the path of the truck's rear tires, the boy ended up tumbling out from under the right fuel tank area and landed clear of the rear tires, Johnson said.

A witness flagged down the truck driver who had no idea what happened, and there is no indication the truck driver, who stopped at the scene, was distracted or using a cellphone, Johnson said.

The boy suffered superficial scratches on his arms and was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.

His helmet was split in two and a large section of it was smashed by the truck's rear tires.

The Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety's traffic unit is investigating the incident, but the preliminary investigation indicates the boy and his mother should not have been in the crosswalk, Johnson said.

The boy should have been walking the bicycle across the street, Johnson said.

"The lesson learned is don't cross on a red light and walk your bike in the crosswalk," Johnson said Tuesday morning.

"Regardless of who is at fault, this little fellow and his mother are okay and that is what is important both for her, him and the driver of the truck," Johnson said.

Johnson said the boy's mother was too distraught at the scene Monday afternoon and would be interviewed Tuesday afternoon. 

Richmond: 5-Year-Old Girl Killed in Crash Identified

A young girl killed in a rollover crash in Richmond on Monday morning has been identified by the Contra Costa County coroner's office as 5-year-old Xaniah Jackson, of San Pablo.

Xaniah was ejected from an SUV that flipped in a crash at the intersection of Richmond Parkway and Hilltop Drive around 8:10 a.m., according to police.

The girl was not strapped into a car seat or wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, Detective Nicole Abetkov said.

Emergency responders arrived to find her in the roadway, suffering from major head injuries.

She was taken to a hospital where she died a short time later, Abetkov said.

It was a gut-wrenching scene, even for the seasoned police and fire personnel who responded, Abetkov said.

"To see a 5-year-old child lying in the roadway basically dying ... it's devastating," she said.

"That 5-year-old should have been in a car seat."

A 7-year-old, a teenager and two adult passengers who were also in the car suffered only minor to moderate injuries in the crash, according to police.

None were wearing seat belts, the detective said.

"We could have had multiple people ejected and multiple people severely injured," Abetkov said.

The driver, a 30-year-old San Pablo woman, was the only occupant of the SUV who was buckled up, she said.

Abetkov said the investigation into the crash is ongoing, and that speed may have played a role in the collision.

Investigators are expected to meet with the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office in the coming weeks to look into the possibility of filing charges against the driver, she said.

No arrests had been made in the case as of Tuesday morning.

The detective said the SUV's driver and passengers are all family members but declined to say how they are related.

Bay Area Tuesday Morning Weather Forecast

Sunny skies are likely in the Bay Area this morning. Highs are expected to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with westerly winds up to 30 mph.

Partly cloudy skies are likely this evening. Lows are likely to be near 50, with westerly winds up to 45 mph.

Partly cloudy skies are expected Thursday morning. Highs are expected to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with winds up to 20 mph.

 

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