Tuesday Morning News Roundup
Retiree Wins $150k On Lottery Ticket
A San Bruno retiree has won $150,000 in a California Lottery Scratchers game and plans to save and invest the money, lottery officials said Monday. Arturo Castillo, 68, bought the Fantasy 5’s Scratchers ticket on Saturday at Speedy Spot, a store located at 701 Jenevein Ave. in San Bruno, according to lottery officials.
Castillo retired in June from his job in the metal fabrication industry and said in a statement that he plans to give a little of the money to his children but will put the rest in savings. He said in a statement that his family is excited about the lottery win. “They are really happy, really happy. Especially my wife,” he said. “If I die, the money is for her.”
Man Pistol-Whipped During Home Break-In
Two suspects robbed and pistol-whipped a man inside his El Cerrito home on Sunday evening, police said Monday. The robbery happened around 5 p.m. at a house in the 6700 block of Blake Street, according to police.
The two suspects kicked open the home’s front door and started stealing various items, then encountered a 21-year-old man inside the house and pistol-whipped him, police said.
Police said the suspects made off with electronic items and drove away in an older-model white pickup truck, heading east on Blake Street. Police said one of the suspects is described as a black man estimated to be in his late 20s who is about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds and was wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans at the time of the robbery.
The second suspect was believed to be a boy between 16 and 18 years old.
SJ Man Killed In Crash While Competing In National Championship Air Races
A San Jose man was killed in a solo plane crash during a race in Reno, Nevada on Monday afternoon. Lee Behel, 64, was participating in a qualifying heat for the 51st annual National Championship Air Races at the Reno-Stead Airport where the accident was reported around 3:30 p.m. Monday, according to race organizers. Behel was piloting a GP-5 named “Sweet Dreams,” race organizers said.
No other planes or pilots were involved in the crash, which is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board, according to race organizers. “Lee was a very talented pilot but, more importantly, an enthusiastic and compassionate friend and the entire Air Race family will miss him deeply,” Mike Major, chairman of the Reno Air Racing Association, said in a statement. “This is a difficult day for all of us and our thoughts and prayers are with Lee’s family and friends,” Major said. Behel was co-founder and president of the Sports Class Air Racing Association.
His resume includes 24 years with the Nevada Air National Guard where he retired as lieutenant colonel in 1996, according to the association’s website. Qualifying heats for the race will continue this morning and the event opens to the public on Wednesday. A tribute for Behel is being organized and expected to take place later this week.
Appeals Court Appears Likely To Favor Same-Sex Marriage In Three States
Three federal appeals court judges left little doubt at a hearing in San Francisco Monday that they are likely to favor same-sex marriage rights in Idaho, Nevada and Hawaii. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel took challenges to marriage bans in the three states under consideration after hearing more than two hours of arguments and will issue written decisions at a later date. Judge Stephen Reinhardt questioned Monte Stewart, a lawyer defending bans in Idaho and Nevada, about his argument that allowing gay marriage would weaken what Stewart called children’s “bonding right” to be raised by a father and a mother.
Both Reinhardt and Judge Marsha Berzon repeatedly questioned the reasoning for denying children of gay parents the same stability and benefits of having married parents. The third judge on the panel, Ronald Gould, asked fewer questions, but queried Stewart about the origin of the phrase “bonding right,” saying, “I don’t think it is in the Bill of Rights.” The question of whether the federal Constitution provides a right to same-sex marriage is likely to be decided eventually by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Three other regional federal appeals courts – the 4th Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, the 7th Circuit in Chicago and the10th Circuit in Denver – have previously struck down same-sex marriage bans in a total of five states. Those rulings are already being appealed or expected to be appealed to the high court. The 9th Circuit – the largest appeals court in the nation, with jurisdiction over nine western states – has ruled on same-sex marriage once before, in a 2012 decision by Reinhardt striking down California’s Proposition 8 ban.
But that ruling was written narrowly and applied only to California. The court said that because same-sex marriage was legal in California for several months in 2008, it was unconstitutional for Proposition 8, a voter initiative, to withdraw that right for no reason other than animosity toward homosexuals. Later, the appeals court decision was taken off the books when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Proposition 8 supporters had no standing to appeal.
The high court action had the effect of reinstating a trial judge’s ruling allowing gay marriages in California. The current cases could provide the platform for the 9th Circuit to rule more broadly on whether it believes there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage and if so, on what ground.
The possible basis for such a ruling could be either that the Constitution contains a separate right to same-sex marriage, or that such a right is derived from the equal protection guarantee of freedom from gender and sexual orientation discrimination. Currently 19 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.
Prosecutor Says Suspects Plotted To Kill Rival
A prosecutor told jurors on Monday that three men should be convicted of conspiracy and premeditated attempted murder for allegedly trying to murder a man from a rival group in East Oakland three years ago. But a defense attorney said that if there was a conspiracy in the case it was committed by police officers and prosecutors who are trying to cover up the actions of officers who fatally shot two young men who allegedly were involved in the plot.
In his opening statement in the highly-charged trial, prosecutor John Brouhard describing the three defendants as “a group of would-be killers” and said the alleged plot was discovered by investigators from the Oakland Police Department, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Secret Service. Brouhard said authorities were wiretapping the suspects and became concerned when they heard phone conversations indicating that they were planning to murder a man from a rival group because the man had shot and wounded several of their friends.
Brouhard said that on May 17, 2011, the suspects located the target at 35th and Broookdale avenues in East Oakland and several gunmen tried to kill him but the target escaped unharmed. However, two women were wounded by gunfire, he said. Brouhard said the group’s alleged leader, Patrick Shields, 31, arranged another attempt to kill the target at a residence in the 3000 block of Curran Avenue at about 10:30 p.m. the following night and co-defendants Wynn Brewer, 32, and Cyrico Robinson, 27, also participated in the plot.
However, Oakland police officers, who were commanded by Capt. Ersie Joyner, moved in to try to stop the murder before it occurred, Brouhard said. Brouhard said officers surrounded a car occupied by Brewer, John Sloan, 23, and Davon Jackson, 30, also known as Antoine Jackson, in the 3000 block of Curran Avenue but the suspects refused police commands to surrender. Brouhard said Brewer ran from the car with a gun in his hand and hid in a nearby yard and Sloan ran from the car with a gun in his hand.
Joyner shot and killed Sloan because he raised his gun toward him, Brouhard said. He said Jackson refused police commands to raise his hands while he was seated in the car and an officer shot and killed him as Jackson reached down because the officer thought Jackson was reaching for a weapon. However, Jackson was unarmed. Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Oakland police in 2012 on behalf of the families of Sloan and Jackson.
Shields’ attorney, William DuBois, told jurors that he believes Sloan was shot by Officer Ceasar Garcia, not by Joyner, and that Garcia opened fire without warning Sloan even though Sloan was running away from him and didn’t pose a threat to him. DuBois said he also believes that Jackson shouldn’t have been shot because he was unarmed and wasn’t a threat.
He said he believes the charges were filed against Shields, Robinson and Brewer “to cover up egregious misconduct” by Oakland police, noting that the charges weren’t filed until 13 months after the alleged murder plot.
Jailers’ Union Chief Blames New Violent Culture Among Inmates For Attacks On Off-Duty Deputies
The head of the Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers’ Association said Monday that recent attacks by former inmates against off-duty jailers reflects a new, violent culture in county jails due to California’s realignment policy. Sgt. Lance Scimeca, president of the union representing sheriff’s deputies assigned to the county’s two jails, said that the latest attack happened Friday, when three suspects jumped an off-duty corrections deputy outside a restaurant in San Jose and beat him, rendering him unconscious.
San Jose police reported that at about 4 a.m. Friday, a man was talking to an employee behind a restaurant in the 1900 block of Aborn Road where three people approached, exchanged words with the victim and assaulted him, according to police spokesman Officer Albert Morales.
Scimeca confirmed that the man was a corrections deputy who was not on duty and had street clothes on when the former jail inmates recognized him.
A member of the man’s family was in the restaurant at the time of the assault, Scimeca said.
The one-time inmates struck and knocked out the deputy, who also suffered a chipped tooth. He went to a hospital for treatment and was released, according to Scimeca.
On Aug. 22, an off-duty corrections deputy was coming out of the House of Genji restaurant at 1335 N. First St. in San Jose with his wife and three children when a former inmate physically attacked him, the union official said.
After a struggle, the deputy subdued the ex-inmate and held him on the ground until San Jose police arrived to make the arrest, he said.
In June, an inmate stalked a deputy at his home and told him “now I know where you live” as the deputy got out of a car in his driveway, Scimeca said.
The labor leader attributed the incidents to the 2011 Public Safety Realignment Act, which in order to reduce overcrowding in state prisons, mandated that people convicted of less serious, non-violent, non-sexual felonies serve their sentences in jails of the counties where they committed their crimes instead of state institutions.
The problem is many of the felons sentenced to county jail had previously served time in state prisons, where they adopted “a mentality of attacking people,” Scimeca said.
These violent inmates are also staying in county jail for “much longer” terms than other jail inmates and encounter corrections deputies for longer periods, making the deputies “much more recognizable” on the outside, he said.
The county is considering allowing corrections staff, who do not carry firearms while off duty, the option of carrying them for protection outside of work, Scimeca said.
Martinez: Elementary School Teacher Appears In Court As Prosecutors Mull Possible Re-Trial
Contra Costa County prosecutors are still mulling whether to re-try a Concord elementary school teacher charged with lewd and lascivious acts with former students.
Joseph Martin, a 46-year-old Martinez resident and former Woodside Elementary School teacher, appeared in a Martinez courtroom Monday at a hearing to schedule a new trial.
Dressed in a yellow county jail jumpsuit and speaking to his attorney, Patrick Clancy, from behind a courtroom partition Monday, Joseph Martin remains in custody on $10 million bail.
Several of Martin’s family members attended the hearing Monday.
Martin’s afternoon court appearance came nearly a month after a judge declared a mistrial when a jury deadlocked on the majority of the charges against Martin, who was accused of inappropriately touching 14 male former students.
The longtime teacher was arrested in June 2013 and charged with 150 counts of lewd and lascivious acts against children. Prosecutors later dropped 34 charges and a jury last month found Martin not guilty of 21 charges in connection with three of the purported victims.
The jury couldn’t reach an agreement on more than 90 similar charges tied to 11 more victims, prompting the mistrial. Clancy said he will ask a judge to lower Martin’s bail amount from the current $10 million to $100,000 at a hearing in two weeks.
He said prosecutors are speaking with the victims’ families before deciding whether to re-try the case.
During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts portrayed Martin as a pedophile who used his position as a teacher to get closer to certain male students. The jury also heard testimony from the purported victims, most who are now in high school who recalled from the witness stand how Martin would touch them underneath their shirts, sometimes had them sit on his lap, gave them gifts and told them he loved them.
But during his own testimony, Martin insisted that he never touched his students inappropriately and that his statements of love were purely platonic.
Clancy argued that Martin was a dedicated teacher and the victim of “mass hysteria” and exaggerations by gossipy colleagues and parents that spiraled out of control. The attorney said the Martinez resident, a father of two, is unlikely to return to teaching upon his release.
Person Of Interest Named In 1976 ‘Gypsy Hill Murders’
A person of interest in the murders of five women in San Mateo County nearly 40 years ago was identified on Monday by the FBI. Rodney Halbower, 66, who is serving time in Oregon on an attempted murder charge, was named by the FBI Monday as a person of interest in the “Gypsy Hill” murders that took the lives of five women and teen girls between January and April in 1976.
In March, investigators announced that they had connected the case to a sixth woman, whose body was found in Reno during the same time period. The FBI was then seeking a possible witness in the case – a white man who was in his late 20s to early 30s and living in San Mateo County at the time of the murders driving a car with Nevada license plates.
Investigators did not reveal Monday what they think Halbower’s connection to the murders is. The first Peninsula victim was 18-year-old Veronica “Ronnie” Cascio, who was last seen Jan. 7, 1976, walking from her home to a bus stop at Bradford Way and Fairway Drive in Pacifica.
Her body was found the next day at the Sharp Park Golf Course. Then on Jan. 24, 14-year-old Tanya Blackwell disappeared. She had left her home on Heathcliff Drive in Pacifica, reportedly to walk to a 7-Eleven store at King Drive in South San Francisco. Her body was located months later, on June 6, off Gypsy Hill Road in Pacifica.
Next to disappear was 17-year-old Paula Baxter, who was last seen leaving the parking lot of Capuchino High School in San Bruno on Feb. 4. Early the next morning, her car, a bronze 1972 Chevy Vega station wagon, was found parked on a nearby residential street, and the day after that Baxter’s body was discovered hidden in brush behind the Latter Day Saints Church on Ludeman Lane.
The next Peninsula victim was Carol Lee Booth, also known as “Beedy,” a 26-year-old woman who was last seen walking from the bus stop on El Camino Real at Arroyo Street in South San Francisco toward her home. Booth disappeared on March 15, but her body wasn’t recovered until May 4.
She was known to use a common shortcut across an open area between Kaiser Hospital and Mission Road near the former El Camino Real Driving Range, and her body was found hidden in some vegetation in that area. The fifth Peninsula victim was 19-year-old Denise Lampe, who left Serramonte Mall in Daly City on April 1 and returned to her vehicle, never to be seen alive again.
Her body was found that evening inside her vehicle, a 1964-1/2 Mustang, which was parked in the same location at the mall, between a Macy’s store and the Denny’s restaurant. Sandwiched between two of the San Mateo County murders was the killing of 19-year-old University of Nevada-Reno student Michelle Mitchell. At about 8:10 p.m. on Feb. 24, 1976, Mitchell’s vehicle broke down at the intersection of Ninth Street and Evans Avenue in Reno.
Someone assisted her in pushing the vehicle, a yellow early 1970s Volkswagen Bug, into a parking lot across from the university’s agricultural building on Evans Street. Her body was found later that night in the garage of a nearby home.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the FBI’s tip line at (415) 553-7400, then press 0 and advise that the call is in regards to the Gypsy Hill cases. All calls are confidential.
Burmese Python Found Under Car Outside School In Pescadero
Authorities are investigating how a 7-foot-long Burmese python ended up under a car parked outside of a school in Pescadero on Friday afternoon, San Mateo County sheriff’s officials said Monday. A deputy on patrol at Pescadero Elementary and Middle School at 620 North St. noticed a large snake under a parked car at 3:13 p.m. Friday.
The snake was 7 feet long, 4.5 inches wide and weighs about 40 pounds, sheriff’s officials said. Investigators said they do not know where the snake came from or who it belongs to. The animal was turned over to the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA.
City Still Rebuilding Four Years After Pipeline Explosion
A day before the four-year anniversary of a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Mayor Jim Ruane said Monday morning that he expects to have repairs in the community mostly completed by next year. The Sept. 9, 2010, explosion of a PG&E gas line killed eight people, injured 66, destroyed 38 homes and severely damaged 17 others in the city’s Crestmoor neighborhood.
In the last four years, the city has been working on rebuilding the neighborhood’s infrastructure and over the next 18 months expects to complete work rebuilding streets, sidewalks, sewer systems and parks. The city has already completed $15 million in infrastructure repairs, Ruane said.
All necessary underground work was recently completed, and the remaining work will mostly deal with replacing aboveground infrastructure, including new street paving, sidewalks and streetlights, Ruane said. The neighborhood park will also be rebuilt and expanded, and the mouth of Crestmoor Canyon, which burned in the massive fires following the explosion, will be reforested, Ruane said.
Meanwhile, 24 homes have been rebuilt and the previous residents have moved back in. Over the next year 10 new homes are expected to be under construction for new residents, and all 17 damaged homes have been repaired and are reoccupied, Ruane said.
Ruane also reiterated his criticism of a record $1.4 billion fine and penalty levied against PG&E by the California Public Utilities Commission last week for the San Bruno explosion. He said the $950 million in fines to be directed to the state’s general fund should be used instead for gas pipeline safety.
PG&E announced its own appeal last week, arguing like the city that the fine should go toward safety improvements rather than the state’s general fund, but also to ensure that the $2.7 billion in improvements the company says it has already made are taken into account.
But Ruane has argued that PG&E should not get credit for improvements he said should have been made decades ago, tracing the failure of the pipeline that he said overlooked recommendations by company engineers, sacrificing safety for shareholder profits.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigation found the explosion was caused by a defective seam weld in a pipeline segment that was incorrectly listed in PG&E records as seamless. Ruane also has called for the creation of a Pipeline Safety Trust as a watchdog for PG&E’s 40,000 miles of underground gas pipelines, a step that San Bruno officials said the CPUC saw the value in but found that it was not PG&E’s responsibility to finance.
WCPD Officer Pleads No Contest To Beating Woman With Bat In Richmond
A Walnut Creek police officer pleaded no contest in a Martinez courtroom on Monday afternoon to charges that he donned a mask and beat a woman with a baseball bat in Richmond last month. Gregory Thompson, a 54-year-old Martinez resident and 30-year Walnut Creek police veteran, entered the no contest pleas in Contra Costa County Superior Court to charges of felony assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, felony vandalism and being armed in the commission of the crimes.
Dressed in a suit and tie, Thompson appeared out of custody next to his attorney in court Monday, weeks after bailing out of county jail in Richmond following his Aug. 16 arrest. Deputy District Attorney Barry Grove said prosecutors will ask for a one-year county jail sentence for Thompson but that he could face up to five years in state prison. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 10.
Grove said Thompson went to his father’s vacant home on Clinton Avenue in Richmond in the early morning hours of Aug. 16, knowing that the house had been burglarized recently, according to Grove.
When he saw an unknown woman walking near the home, he believed she was an intruder, donned a ski mask and “he took the law into his own hands and beat her with a baseball bat,” Grove said.
The woman’s car had run out of gas and she was walking in the area when Thompson attacked, prosecutors said. Richmond police received several reports around 2 a.m. on Aug. 16 of a woman screaming and a man with a bat in the 4000 block of Clinton Avenue.
As officers arrived on the scene, witnesses pointed out Thompson, who was sitting nearby in his parked car. He wasn’t wearing his police uniform or in a patrol car at the time, police said. Officers approached the suspect and noticed a mask lying on the car’s floorboard. A search of the car turned up a baseball bat, two guns and zip ties, police said.
The victim, who had been hiding in the bushes until police arrived, was taken to a hospital for injuries suffered in the beating and is expected to recover. Police last month were attempting to locate a second woman who was apparently wounded when she stepped in to try to stop the attack. An off-duty firefighter also witnessed part of the attack, according to Grove.
Thompson, who identified himself as a police officer, was arrested, taken to county jail and released on bail the following day. Walnut Creek police have said Thompson was put on paid administrative leave soon after his arrest and that the department is conducting its own investigation.
He was working most recently as a patrol officer, according to Walnut Creek police Capt. Mark Perlite. Walnut Creek police officials were not immediately available Monday afternoon to comment on Thompson’s employment status.
Oikos Shooting Suspect Indicted By Grand Jury
In a procedural move, a man suspected of killing seven people in a shooting rampage at Oakland’s Oikos University in 2012 has been indicted on seven counts of murder and three counts of premeditated attempted murder, prosecutors said Monday.
However, doctors who examined 45-year-old One Goh recently have determined that he is still mentally incompetent to stand trial, according to Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Stacie Pettigrew. Goh didn’t attend his brief hearing on his case Monday afternoon in Alameda County Superior Court because he’s still being treated at Napa State Hospital, where he was sent in January 2013 after a judge ruled that he’s not competent to stand trial and suspended the legal proceedings against him.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Goh, a Korean national, two days after a shooting incident on April 2, 2012, at Oikos, a Christian vocational school, that left seven people dead and three others wounded. Oakland police said Goh fled the campus after the shooting in a car belonging to one of the victims but was arrested in Alameda a short time later after he confessed to a Safeway security guard that he had just shot several people.
An Alameda County grand jury indicted Goh on Aug. 22, Pettigrew said. The procedural move means that his case can go directly to trial without a preliminary hearing if he’s later found to be competent to stand trial. However, Goh won’t be arraigned on the charges in the indictment until such time as he’s found to be mentally competent.
Pettigrew said the charges Goh faces now are identical to those that he faced before except that he now only faces two special circumstance allegations that could possibly result in the death penalty if he stands trial and is convicted. He previously faced 10 special circumstance allegations.
The two remaining special circumstance allegations are committing a murder during a kidnapping and committing multiple murders. The goal for Goh’s treatment at the Napa State Hospital is for him to progress toward recovering his mental competence so he eventually can stand trial.
Goh’s attorney, David Klaus, said after his hearing Monday that Goh still suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and a major depressive disorder. Klaus said the two concerns that must be addressed before Goh can stand trial is if he understands the proceedings against him and if he can rationally assist his lawyer in his defense.
Killed in the shooting at Oikos were students Lydia Sim, 21, Sonam Choedon, 33, Grace Kim, 23, Doris Chibuko, 40, Judith Seymour, 53, and Tshering Bhutia, 38, as well as Katleen Ping, 24, who worked at the school. Goh is a former student who had left Oikos University voluntarily. Prosecutors have said he appears to have wanted a refund of his tuition and may have been targeting an administrator who was not present on the day of the shooting.
Goh’s next court hearing is scheduled for April 27, 2015 for another progress report on his mental competency.
Boy Mauled By Mountain Lion Released In Good Condition
A 6-year-old boy seriously hurt when a mountain lion bit him on the head and neck and dragged him into some brush Sunday near Cupertino was released from a hospital Monday in good condition, authorities said.
The boy was discharged Monday morning from Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, a day after he was admitted in serious condition to the center’s pediatric trauma unit. He quickly improved to fair and then good condition, hospital spokeswoman Joy Alexiou said.
The boy was hiking about 10 feet in front of his family at the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail in the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District when the mountain lion jumped and attacked him from a hidden position, according to Lt. Patrick Foy of the law enforcement division of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The lion bit down firmly on the boy’s neck and head and started to drag him away into some brush, Foy said.
Two men ran toward the lion while shouting aggressively and the cat let the boy go and ran away, according to Foy.
The boy’s family members carried him back down the trail to their vehicles, where they phoned for help and he was eventually transported to the hospital with serious puncture wounds and scratches that were not life-threatening, Foy said. The lion ended up following the group back toward their vehicles after the attack, according to searchers who found its tracks, Foy said.
The district’s park rangers closed the area of the park where the attack happened until further notice and state and federal wildlife officials started searching for the lion, according to Foy.
The lion will be killed in the interest of public safety, tested for rabies and examined for forensic evidence, he said. The search for the large cat continued Monday morning, Foy said.
The clothing the child was wearing at the time of the attack was recovered for an examination in a forensic laboratory in Sacramento so scientists can extract and isolate DNA to identify the animal responsible for the attack, Foy said.
While mountain lions are present all over California, attacks against humans are rare, with only 13 recorded since 1986, according to state wildlife officials.
Rebecca Dmytryk, president of the Moss Landing-based Wildlife Emergency Services organization that offers medical treatment to injured wild animals, said hikers in lion territory should always go with a partner, wear protective gear, carry a rescue whistle, air horn or a large “scary” stick and keep children at their side and not allow them to run free.
Man Killed In Double Shooting In Bayview Friday Identified
A man killed in a double shooting in San Francisco’s Bayview District on Friday night has been identified by the medical examiner’s office as 19-year-old Latrell Shaw.
Officers responded shortly after 9:30 p.m. to a report of a shooting in the first block of Nichols Way and found Shaw suffering from gunshot wounds to his torso. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
A 27-year-old man also arrived at the hospital and suffered a gunshot wound to his lower body in the shooting. He is expected to survive his injuries, according to police.
No information about a suspect or suspects in the shooting was immediately available Monday, police said.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Police Department’s anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411 with “SFPD” in the message.
Man Attempts Suicide After Allegedly Killing Other Man
A man believed to have shot and killed another man before shooting himself in a Richmond backyard Monday afternoon was taken to a hospital in grave condition, a police captain said.
Officers responded to the 1300 block of Mariposa Street shortly after noon on reports of gunshots, Richmond police Capt. Bisa French said.
Two men were found in a home’s backyard unresponsive and suffering gunshot wounds. One man was pronounced dead at the scene while the other was taken to a hospital clinging to life, French said.
The man who survived the shooting is believed to have shot the other man and then himself, French said.
Man Dies In Car That Caught Fire After Crash Into Tree
A male motorist died after being trapped inside a burning car that crashed early Monday morning near state Highway 17 south of Scotts Valley, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The driver, who has not yet been identified, was in his 1997 Mercury heading north on La Madrona Drive at 1:55 a.m. and veered off of the road while trying to make a left turn onto Silverwood Drive, CHP officials said. The front end of the Mercury crashed into a tree and triggered a fire, with the driver unable to exit the car, according to the CHP.
Emergency personnel pronounced him dead at the scene, CHP officials said.
DA’s Office Pulls Prosecutor, DNA Expert Off Murder Case After Sexual Affair
A prosecutor and a DNA expert working on a 1989 cold case murder in San Jose have been reassigned after the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office learned they were having an affair, but prosecutors said Monday they do not think it will affect the case.
Deputy District Attorney Ted Kajani was removed from the district attorney’s office’s Cold Case Unit and criminalist Amanda Cardenas from investigating cold cases for the county’s criminalistics lab because they had a “physical and emotional” relationship, Assistant District Attorney David Angel said.
Kajani, who headed the Cold Case Unit, came forward to reveal the affair to District Attorney Jeff Rosen and Chief Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky about two weeks ago, Angel said.
On Friday, Rosen’s office reassigned Kajani and Cardenas and appointed Deputy District Attorney Steven Dal Porto to take over the murder case the pair was working on.
Kajani and Cardenas took part in the prosecution of the 1989 murder in San Jose of 38-year-old Cathy Zimmer, who was found strangled and her body wrapped in a quilt in the back of her car parked at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
Cathy’s estranged husband David Zimmer, now 66, and David’s brother, Robert, 70, were both arrested and charged in the 25-year-old murder earlier this year, with prosecutors relying on DNA evidence on Cathy’s clothing they said implicated Robert in her death.
Kajani used Cardenas, who tested DNA samples in the Zimmer and other cold cases at the county’s Laboratory of Criminalistics, as a DNA expert witness once in the preliminary hearing in May and later before the grand jury that heard the case, according to Angel.
“Our first concern was the integrity of the case,” Angel said. Kajani will now work in the district attorney’s office section that decides what charges to bring for new cases submitted by law enforcement, while Cardenas will work on DNA evidence outside of cold cases, Angel said.
But the district attorney’s office does not feel that the revelation will hurt its case against the Zimmers, who are being tried together and whose trial starts next month, Angel said.
David Zimmer’s attorney Michael Cardoza said that while he is not sure how news of the affair would affect his client’s case, “it definitely calls into question how the DNA was extracted” from the zipper and button of Cathy Zimmer’s pants and the fact that there is no more DNA evidence left on the clothes to test.
Cardoza said part of Kajani’s case against David Zimmer, which he said does not include DNA, is that David was having a relationship with another woman at the time of the murder. Because of the fact that the prosecutor has also been having an affair, Cardoza said Kajani “hoisted himself on his own petard.”
Cardoza said part of the responsibility lies with Rosen, who was elected in 2010 while running a campaign of reforming the district attorney’s office and that Kajani had been one of a group of favored and respected prosecutors called “Rosen’s Chosen.”