Thursday Morning News Roundup
Person Who Contracted Measles Is Linkedin Employee
A Contra Costa County resident who contracted measles and may have exposed BART riders on trains last week is an employee of the San Francisco office of LinkedIn, company officials said Wednesday.
Officials with the company, a social network for professionals, said they were informed Tuesday about the measles diagnosis and are working with the San Francisco Department of Public Health in managing the situation.
“The health and well-being of our employees is our absolute top priority, and we will take whatever steps are advised to ensure their safety and the safety of the general public,” LinkedIn said in a statement.
Contra Costa Health Services officials said the person traveled between the Lafayette and Montgomery BART stations during the morning and evening commutes from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. between Feb. 4 and Friday.
The person also spent time at E&O Kitchen and Bar, a restaurant located at 314 Sutter St. in San Francisco, on Feb. 4 between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., health officials said.
Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can stay in the air for up to two hours, health officials said. BART trains circulate throughout the Bay Area, so anyone who used the transit system during that time could have potentially been exposed to the virus, health officials said.
Health officials in Contra Costa and San Francisco counties are working together on tracing the person’s movements and notifying anyone who may have been in close contact with them.
Patient And Five Doctors File Lawsuit Seeking Right To Aid In Dying
A cancer patient and five doctors sued the state in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday to seek clarification on whether physicians can aid mentally competent, terminally ill patients in dying.
The lawsuit was filed against California Attorney General Kamala Harris and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who are responsible for enforcing a 140-old state law, the Assisted Suicide Statute, that makes it a crime for anyone to assist another person in committing suicide.
The lawsuit claims that the California Constitution provides a right to individual autonomy in medical decision-making, including a right to achieve a peaceful death in the face of a terminal illness.
It asks the court either to declare that seeking a peaceful death in such circumstances is not suicide, and therefore does not conflict with the 1874 law, or to declare that the state Constitution supersedes the law.
Patient Christie White, 53, of San Francisco, said at a news conference, “I am suing the state of California to remove the legal barrier between my doctor and myself to help me achieve a peaceful and dignified death, at the time and place of my choosing.”
White has acute myeloid leukemia and had a bone marrow transplant in 2012. She said she is now in partial remission of the disease, but expects it to recur and that she would not be able to have another transplant or sustain further chemotherapy.
“I want to be in control. I may not end up taking that option (of aid in dying) but I want to have that choice,” White said.
Two of the five doctors who joined in the lawsuit are also patients who said they may be facing terminal illness in the future.
The lawsuit was filed by lawyers from the Los Angeles-based Disability Rights Legal Center.
They said the case was brought in the wake of the death of Brittany Maynard, 29, a Bay Area woman with terminal brain cancer who moved to Oregon last year so that she could legally obtain medication that would enable her to die peacefully at the time of her choice.
Maynard, who had become a public advocate of “death with dignity,” died in Portland in the company of her husband and family on Nov. 1 after taking a lethal dose of prescribed medicine.
Nicholas van Aelstyn, a San Francisco lawyer working with the legal center, said today’s lawsuit may eventually go to the California Supreme Court, but said the attorneys will urge state officials to help in moving the case through the legal system without undue delay.
Toll Authority Still Fixing Shoddy Rollout Of Electronic Toll Collection On GGB
The mismanaged rollout of an all-electronic toll collection system on the Golden Gate Bridge has prompted the Bay Area Toll Authority to withhold $330,000 in penalties against its customer service contractor, a Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman said today.
Xerox has provided mailing and call center services for toll collections at all area bridges since 2003. However, the company’s level of service dropped off sharply after all-electronic tolling was implemented on the Golden Gate Bridge in March 2013, according to a toll authority report.
The new tolling system requires drivers to either pay with the FasTrak system or pay through an invoice sent to the registered owner of the car. Late fees are incurred if that invoice goes unpaid for 21 days.
While Xerox had made improvements since the initial rollout, the introduction of a new computer system when the company’s new five-year $117 million contract started in November led to another steep rise in call wait times for customers dealing with bridge tolls.
Other problems included 16,000 late payment invoices mailed in late 2014 to customers who had not yet been mailed notices for the toll itself, MTC spokesman John Goodwin said today.
The toll authority is working to contact those customers and will not hold them responsible for late penalties relating to the error, Goodwin said.
In an effort to fix the problems, the toll authority has contracted with Oakland-based firm Ted Jacob Engineering Group to provide metrics and technical assistance for improving the call center.
The Jacobs contract was amended for that work until June 30 using $250,000 in penalties withheld from Xerox’s $1.7 million November invoice at the toll authority’s meeting today.
One Person Killed In Officer-Involved Shooting
One person was killed in an officer-involved shooting in San Jose Wednesday evening. .
Officers were called to the 1300 block of Sherman Street evening just after 5 p.m. on a report of a male with a knife who had entered a home that did not belong to him, Sgt. Heather Randol said.
Two officers confronted a male armed with a knife outside a home and ordered him to drop his weapon, but the suspect allegedly charged at the officers and ignored orders to drop his weapon, prompting them to open fire, Randol said Wednesday evening.
The suspect was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead around 6:20 p.m., according to police.
Homicide detectives and the district attorney’s office are investigating.
Driver Of Mobile Home That Caught On Fire Suffers Third-Degree Burns
The driver of a mobile home that caught on fire in East Oakland Wednesday afternoon suffered burns to 80 percent of his body, a fire battalion chief said.
Firefighters responded to a report of a fire at Hegenberger Road before Hamilton Avenue shortly before 12:30 p.m., Oakland fire Battalion Chief Erik Logan said.
A man was driving a mobile home east on Hegenberger Road when the vehicle caught on fire, Logan said.
The mobile home was fully involved in flames, according to Logan.
The one-alarm fire was under control around 12:45 p.m., a fire dispatcher said.
The driver suffered third-degree burns and was initially taken to Highland Hospital, then transported to St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco for treatment, Logan said.
No other injuries were reported.
Logan did not know the make and model of the mobile home, but said it was an older model from the 1990s and was 36 feet long.
The vehicle was considered a total loss and the fire caused an estimated $30,000 in damage, according to Logan.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Teen Held On $6.5m Bail For Kidnapping, Rape Charges
A 17-year-old boy is being held on more than $6 million bail and faces a possible sentence of life in prison for charges of allegedly kidnapping and raping a pizza delivery driver last weekend, Contra Costa County prosecutors said Wednesday.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Bruce Flynn said his office is charging Antioch resident Darrion Miles Jr. as an adult because of the serious nature of the crime.
“This is a woman who was essentially doing her job as a pizza delivery person,” Flynn said. “This is a woman who was raped, she was kidnapped, she was sodomized. She was held at what she believed was gunpoint.”
Miles is accused of forcing the driver into her car at gunpoint in the 2800 block of Bluebell Circle at about 11:20 a.m. Sunday.
Police said Miles and the woman then drove to an undisclosed location, where he raped her. After he let her go, she immediately called police, Flynn said.
Miles was arrested later that day.
Flynn said prosecutors and police are not yet sure whether Miles had a real gun or a replica gun. Either way, Flynn said the victim believed the gun was real.
Miles’ father has publicly contested the allegations, but Flynn dismissed his rebuttal as a father “wanting to believe his son and defending his son.”
“We’ll prove the timeline in court,” Flynn said.
Flynn said Miles was wearing an ankle monitor that will pinpoint his whereabouts but he declined to say why Miles was wearing the monitor.
Miles is being held in a juvenile detention facility on $6,475,000 bail.
He is charged with kidnapping for the purposes of committing sexual assault, kidnapping for the purposes of committing a robbery, forcible rape, forcible sodomy, forcible oral copulation, forcible digital penetration, robbery in the second degree and terrorist threats.
Miles appeared in court Wednesday afternoon but did not enter a plea to the charges. He will return to court on Feb. 18.
After Backlash, Supervisors Propose Bringing Pay Raise In Line With County Employees
After facing vehement opposition and a petition attempt to rescind a 33 percent pay raise, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday on a proposal that would bring their next pay raise in line with other county workers.
The board voted 4-1, with Supervisor Mary Piepho voting against, for a proposal to give themselves a 7 percent pay increase, which equals roughly 1 percent for every year since their its raise in 2007. The increase is in line with that received by employees represented by county labor unions.
They also approved a proposal to change the benchmark by which their salary is tethered to state judicial salaries. Currently, supervisors make 70 percent of state judges’ salaries. Under the new proposal, it would be closer to 56 or 57 percent.
Finally, the board approved a proposal to establish a citizens’ commission, comprised of representatives from the grand jury and business, labor, non-profit, and taxpayers associations, that would make a recommendation for how the board would set its salary going forward.
Supervisors had voted last year to raise their pay from $97,483 to $129,227. The 7 percent raise would increase their salaries to $104,424.
Tuesday’s vote is merely the first step in a lengthy process to approve the raise. The board’s legal counsel must first draft the ordinances, after which they will come to the board for a first reading, scheduled for March 3.
Only after the second reading will the board vote to officially approve the ordinances.
Ultimately, the board will vote to accept or reject any or all of the three proposals. The next Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for March 3.
City Council Starts Investigation Into Police Tactics Against Protesters
The Berkeley City Council amended a proposed moratorium on police use of tear gas, projectiles and over-the-shoulder baton strikes to only ban the practices against “non-violent” protesters before passing it unanimously Tuesday night.
The moratorium will last until the outcome of a review of massive protests last December against police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York.
During demonstrations on Dec. 6, police deployed tear gas on crowds early on as some protesters smashed the windows of a Trader Joe’s store on University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
Over several hours that night, there were numerous reports of vandalized windows, injuries to police and protesters, and continued use of tear gas and batons. Protesters alleged that police used force indiscriminately on crowds of peaceful protesters.
City Councilman Jesse Arreguin said prior to Tuesday’s meeting that he thinks the Police Department violated its crowd control policies that night. The City Council directed the Police Review Commission to look into whether the crowd control policies were broken and recommend possible changes to the policies.
Arreguin questioned the use of tear gas by police in any circumstances, pointing out that most countries ban it in warfare.
In another move inspired by the recent protests, the council directed the city manager’s office to come up with a plan for implementing body-worn cameras for police officers and dashboard cams for police vehicles.
The Obama Administration has encouraged body-worn cameras as a means of improving police accountability, and Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed them during a visit to Oakland last month.
The city of Oakland has said its data shows use of force incidents have gone down since the police department began using body-worn cameras, but their usefulness came under question last month when an Emeryville police officer who shot a suspect in Oakland last week forgot to turn his body camera on.
Berkeley’s City Council also issued a statement of support for the broader goals of the Black Lives Matter movement, including improving police accountability, curbing the militarization of local police departments, taking steps to end racial profiling and encouraging community-based alternatives to incarceration.
City Attorney Files Suit Against Alleged Illegal Gambling Operation
Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker has filed red light abatement and civil nuisance actions to shut down what she alleges is an illegal gambling operation in the city’s Fruitvale district.
Parker alleges in a lawsuit filed last month that Lucky Strike Electronics at 2701 Fruitvale Ave. has essentially operated as a small casino with patrons paying the “house” to use computers for illegal gambling purposes.
Parker said in a statement, “Small businesses are driving the resurgence of Oakland’s economy, however, gambling businesses like Luck Strike Electronics only deprive working families of resources and harm the quality of life in our neighborhoods.”
City officials allege Lucky Strike is one of a number of so-called “internet sweepstakes cafes” that have cropped up in Oakland and throughout the country in recent years.
They said customers supposedly pay to use computers for business, communication or other purposes, but in reality the computers are used as slot machines or to play other games of chance.
City Attorney officials said the businesses function like casinos, with customers paying the house up front to gamble, and then receiving their “winnings” from a cashier when they are done.
In 2014, the Oakland City Council passed an ordinance specifically prohibiting “sweepstakes” programs that serve as covers for illegal gambling and the other crimes that often are associated with it, including check and credit card fraud, loan sharking, robbery and money laundering.
City officials said Oakland has shut down other gambling locations, including another business that Lucky Strike operated, by issuing administrative citations and working with landlords to remove the nuisance activity.
But they said the owners of the property at 2701 Fruitvale Ave. didn’t respond to the City’s citation.
On January 16, three days after the City Attorney’s Code Enforcement Unit filed the lawsuit, the Oakland Police Department raided Lucky Strikes Electronics and seized computers and other equipment used for the gambling operation, according to the City Attorney’s office.
Officials said gambling activity at the site stopped after the equipment was seized.
The lawsuit, which names the property owner and the business owner as defendants, seeks a court order preventing further nuisance activity at the Lucky Strikes location.
It also asks for civil penalties of $25,000 from each defendant plus $1,000 for each day that nuisance activity continued at the property after the initial occurrence of illegal gambling.
Man Is Ordered To Stand Trial On Charge He Murdered His Wife
A judge on Wednesday ordered a locksmith to stand trial on a murder charge for his wife’s death at the couple’s home in Oakland’s Montclair district last July after he told police that she died in an accidental fall.
At the end of a two-day preliminary hearing for 54-year-old Joseph Bontempo, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Gloria Rhynes said prosecutors proved that the death of his wife, 57-year-old Laurie Wolfe, at their home in the 6700 block of Saroni Drive last July 6 “was not an accident” and that a crime occurred.
Rhynes said “everyone” who talked to Bontempo after Wolfe was found dead at the bottom of a stairway, including paramedics, police officers and neighbors, “didn’t think he was truthful” about what happened.
Bontempo and Wolfe were partners for 20 years and were married for 12 years before her death.
Oakland police Officer Leo Sanchez testified at the hearing that Bontempo made a medical call to a 911 dispatcher at about 6:30 p.m. on July 6, uttering an expletive and saying, “My wife fell down the stairs.”
Sanchez said Bontempo told police that he had warned Wolfe not to go down the stairs in her socks because he had oiled the stairs earlier in the day. But Sanchez said when he examined the stairs shortly after Wolfe was found dead he noticed a layer of dust on them and didn’t think they looked freshly-oiled and slippery.
Prosecutor Laura Passaglia said veteran pathologist Dr. Thomas Rogers, who has 46 years of experience and has conducted 15,000 autopsies, ruled that Wolfe’s death wasn’t an accident and instead was caused by blunt force trauma and injuries to her central nervous system.
Passaglia said Wolfe had seven lacerations to the back of her head and bruises to her back as well as defensive wounds on her hands.
Passaglia said the quantity and pattern of Wolfe’s blood that was found on the bottom five steps of the stairway indicates that she died as the result of an intentional assault, not a fall, because it would have required a large amount of force to generate that much blood.
The prosecutor said what she described as Bontempo’s “odd and suspicious behavior” should also be taken into account, such as changing his story about how long it had been since he last saw Wolfe before he found her dead.
Rhynes agreed that a motive hasn’t been established but said it isn’t legally necessary for the prosecution to prove one.
However, Rhynes said a factor might have been the fact that Wolfe had a $5 million estate and didn’t have a will, although she admitted she doesn’t know if that’s why Wolfe was killed.
Bontempo, who’s been held in custody without bail, is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 27 to have a trial date set.
Suspect Shot By Santa Clara Police Shows Up At SF General Hospital
A burglary suspect shot by Santa Clara police in Sunnyvale on Monday was identified and arrested after he went to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound, according to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.
Danny Rodriguez-Garcia, 30, was arrested in connection with the officer-involved shooting, which occurred at about 6:35 p.m. Monday near the intersection of East El Camino Real and South Wolfe Road, department officials said.
Santa Clara police officers tried to pull over a white Mercedes-Benz in connection with an auto burglary case in their jurisdiction, but the suspect drove the Mercedes toward one of the officers, prompting him to fire several rounds at the vehicle, Sunnyvale officials said.
The suspect drove away and was not immediately found. The officer, identified as Officer Peter Stephens, a five-year Santa Clara police veteran, was not injured.
At about 7 p.m., someone walked into San Francisco General Hospital with a gunshot wound but declined to tell investigators where the shooting may have taken place, San Francisco police said.
Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety investigators had notified Bay Area hospitals of their incident and requested information about any possible gunshot injury cases. SFGH officials notified the Sunnyvale investigators, who went to the hospital.
Officer Stephens identified Rodriguez-Garcia as the suspect in the Mercedes. He was treated and released from the hospital and was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on an officer, department officials said.
Wife Of SRJC Cop Convicted Of Theft Is Convicted Of Being An Accessory
A Sonoma County Superior Court jury Wednesday afternoon convicted a Santa Rosa woman of helping her husband steal parking machine money at the Santa Rosa Junior College over a 7-year period.
Karen Holzworth, 51, faces a maximum term of 3 1/2 years in prison for being an accessory, a felony, and misdemeanor receiving stolen property when she is sentenced March 26, Deputy District Attorney Amy Ariyoshi said.
Holzworth could be sentenced to probation, however, because she does not have a prior record and her daughter is attending college, Ariyoshi said.
Santa Rosa Junior College Police Officer Jeffrey Holzworth, 53, pleaded guilty in April to one count of grand theft and 11 counts of receiving stolen property. He was sentenced on May 29 to four years in prison.
The prosecution said Jeffrey Holzworth is believed to have stolen $286,000 from the parking machines between 2005 and 2012. Karen Holzworth deposited the coins and low-denomination bills in bank accounts and helped her husband avoid punishment, according to the prosecution.
She testified Tuesday she didn’t suspect her husband of any wrongdoing even when she found a bag of money at their home in 2012. When asked by her attorney George Boisseau why she wasn’t suspicious she replied, “Because he’s a police officer.”
Ariyoshi’s evidence included a recording of four conversations between the Holzworths while Jeffrey was in the county jail that showed Karen was aware of the thefts and participated in depositing the money.
Jeffrey Holzworth, a 28-year employee at the junior college, was arrested on Nov. 28, 2012 after another SRJC employee reported an ongoing embezzlement by a police officer.
Karen Holzworth was arrested on Jan. 30, 2013.
After the verdict, jurors said the phone conversations and the money transactions evidence against Karen Holzworth was “overwhelming.”
Man Groped In Department Store Bathroom
A man was groped while urinating in a department store restroom in Palo Alto Wednesday morning, according to police.
The incident was reported at noon, roughly 15 minutes after it occurred in the men’s room of Macy’s at 180 El Camino Real, but responding officers were unable to locate the suspect.
Police said he entered the restroom and grabbed a man’s buttocks over the pants while the victim was using the urinal.
The suspect also peeped over the top of the urinal partition at the victim, but fled the scene after the victim objected to his behavior and was last seen exiting the store, according to police.
The suspect is described as a Hispanic man in his 30s with a medium build. He was last seen wearing a red sweatshirt and brown carpenter style pants
Police said they are investigating the possibility that this incident might be related to one that occurred on Monday, when a woman was photographed while using the bathroom at Cubberly Community Center.
Suspicious Package Investigation Closes Oak Avenue
A suspicious package detonated in Redwood City Wednesday evening was later determined not to be an explosive device, according to police.
The 400 block of Oak Avenue was closed around 5 p.m. after a passerby reported a suspicious device on a sidewalk near a fence, according to police.
The item was a “small electronic gadget with batteries taped to it,” according to Lt. Sean Hart.
Around 30 residents were displaced for around two hours and others were asked to shelter in place while the county bomb squad investigated and detonated the item, Lt. Greg Farley said.
The street was reopened and residents allowed to return to their homes shortly before 7 p.m., police said.
Investigators have since determined that the device was not in fact an explosive.
Police Search For Milpitas Man In Fatal Hit And Run With Garbage Truck
Police are searching for a Milpitas man in connection with a hit and run collision with a garbage truck that killed a 14-year-old girl last week.
Alex Alcazar, 23, has been identified as the registered owner of a silver, two-door 1992 Cadillac El Dorado involved in the Feb. 4 collision with a garbage truck at North Milpitas Boulevard and Jacklin Road, police said today.
The driver of the Cadillac drove away from the scene, but police officers followed a trail of debris for about a quarter of a mile and located the car stopped at a curb in the 800 block of Coyote Street, police said.
There they found 14-year-old Cynthia Ramirez Becerra, a San Jose resident, on the ground beside the Cadillac with severe visible injuries.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Neither of the two people in the garbage truck was injured in the crash, both remained behind and cooperated with police and there was no evidence of drug or alcohol use by the truck’s driver, Hinkley said.
Milpitas police continue to follow leads on what happened during and after the crash.
Youth Celebrate Boys And Girls Clubs’ New Western Addition Clubhouse
Residents in San Francisco’s Western Addition neighborhood celebrated the grand opening of a new Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco clubhouse Wednesday that they say will serve as a much-needed safe haven for kids in their community.
The new clubhouse serves as a beacon of hope at a time when youth living in hundreds of public housing units nearby continue to be exposed to gun violence.
Just last month, four young men were fatally shot in a stolen car on Page Street near Laguna and Octavia streets.
The site of the quadruple homicide is roughly five blocks from the new clubhouse.
San Francisco resident and longtime Boys and Girls Clubs member, Ronnika Singletary, 18, attended today’s ribbon cutting ceremony at the new clubhouse alongside city leaders such as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Supervisors President London Breed, San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr and City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
Singletary said the new clubhouse would serve as a much-needed safe space for youth in a community that is not always safe.
Among the major donors to the clubhouse was the Fischer family, made famous for founding the Gap clothing company.
The clubhouse consists of not only a swimming pool and large gymnasium, but also a recreation room with ping-pong tables and foosball, a recording studio, a design-build space and numerous areas for youth to receive homework help.
Home Care Operator Convicted Of Wage Theft, Tax Evasion
A residential care homeowner was convicted Wednesday of wage theft and tax evasion charges after she failed to pay her workers a minimum wage and required them to work long hours with no overtime or proper rest periods, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.
Deputy District Attorney William Murphy said Florida Yambao, 62, paid her workers anywhere from $50 to $70 per day and required them to work 16-hour days with no overtime.
The 14 workers employed in six facilities spread throughout Antioch and Brentwood worked five to seven days a week and were not given regular meals or rest periods, Murphy said.
Yambao pleaded guilty to one felony count of grand theft for wages stolen from her employees, one felony count of failing to file tax returns, and a misdemeanor violation related to Workers Compensation Insurance, according to the district attorney’s office.
She will have to pay $453,000 in restitution and faces 60 days in county jail and three years of felony probation.
As part of the plea deal, nearly $72,000 seized from Yambao during the execution of a search warrant in June was distributed directly to her former employees.
The government will determine a restitution amount for the tax evasion charges after audits are completed, prosecutors said.
Murphy said many of the workers in Yambao’s employ were recent immigrants.
Girl Injured When Struck By Car
A 13-year-old girl suffered injuries that are not life threatening when she was struck by a vehicle Wednesday afternoon, Novato police said.
The girl was hit at the intersection of Center Road and Kristy Court around 2 p.m. The vehicle was traveling east on Center Road and the girl was running south across Center Road, police said.
The driver immediately stopped and gave the girl first aid, police said. The driver cooperated with the investigation and alcohol or drugs do not appear to be a factor for either party involved in the crash.
The girl was taken by ambulance to a hospital.
Man Convicted Of Killing His Wife, Dumping Her Body In Remote Area In 2011
A jury convicted a 26-year-old man Tuesday of first-degree murder in the 2011 slaying of his wife, whose body was found dumped in a wooded area near East San Jose in 2011, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Jurors found defendant Marcus Casillas guilty in the homicide of Valerie Calderson Casillas, 29, who was reported missing Oct. 2, 2011 after she was seen getting into her husband’s car, Deputy District Attorney Matt Braker said.
On Oct. 5, 2011, a road worker came upon her body, which had eight gunshot wounds, lying in a 15-foot ravine in a hilly stretch of unincorporated county land near Sierra Road and Skyview Drive.
Casillas’ two-week jury trial ended Tuesday. He will be sentenced in Superior Court in San Jose on March 6 by Judge Ron Del Pozzo and faces a term of 50 years to life in prison.
Braker said he argued that Casillas’ motive to kill his wife was domestic violence. The couple had been living apart while still married and the defendant had been convicted of felony domestic violence against her in 2009.
Only a day after her disappearance, on Oct. 3, 2011, Casillas was arrested on a probation violation. He remained in custody until San Jose police built a case identifying him as the prime suspect in the homicide and arrested him on Dec. 22 of that year
Even without tying the gun to the defendant, Braker said he had the “motive, the means and opportunity” to kill his wife.
The prosecution showed that he owned a gun previously and his motive was influenced by a desire to commit domestic violence after his spouse had left him to live with a relative, Braker said.
At about 3 a.m. the day she disappeared, Valerie Casillas was seen getting into her husband’s car, a Pontiac Grand Prix, near Waverly Avenue and Orlando Drive, according to Braker.
Valerie Casillas’ sister testified that Valerie suffered from domestic violence inflicted by her husband, he said.
Caregivers Urge Gov. Brown To Implement Overtime Pay
In-Home Supportive Services providers and union representatives gathered in Oakland Wednesday morning to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to allow overtime pay for caregivers working more than 40 hours in a week.
Brown signed Senate Bill 855 into law last June, authorizing overtime pay for IHSS workers. Funding to pay for overtime expenses was included in the state’s budget, but in January a federal court in Washington, D.C., threw out a change in labor regulations that would have made overtime pay for in-home caregivers possible nationwide.
During a protest at the state offices on Clay Street Wednesday morning, demonstrators criticized Brown for adhering to the federal court’s opinion, calling it an out of state legal challenge.
“Gov. Brown must not leave any California worker behind,” said Service Employees International Union United Long Term Care Workers’ Northern California director David Werlin.
“It’s time California moves forward and ends the second-class status for caregivers by fulfilling (Brown’s) promise for equality and protection of all workers,” Werlin said.
Reporters asked Brown for comment during a news conference last Friday on why his administration decided to stop implementing the program change.
“Because the federal court said it wasn’t appropriate under the federal law,” Brown said.
No Impact On Wildlife, Shoreline Found In Shell Oil Spill
An oil leak into the Bay from the Shell refinery in Martinez on Tuesday appears to have had no impact on the shoreline or wildlife, U.S. Coast Guard officials said Wednesday.
Shell employees reported around 4 p.m. on Tuesday that roughly two barrels, or around 84 gallons, had leaked from a crude oil line at the Shell Martinez wharf, coast guard officials said today.
Shell officials said the leak appeared to have been the result of a test being conducted on the line, and was contained within 30 minutes.
Repairs were made to the line and company employees deployed absorbent boom and skimmer boats to contain and recover the oil, Shell officials said.
Assessments made today show no impact to the shoreline or wildlife, or the nearby Martinez Marina or marsh, officials said today.
The Coast Guard is responding to the leak in a unified command with Shell and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
City Converting 18,000 Streetlamps To Energy-Saving Led Lights
San Jose has started what officials said Wednesday is the largest streetlight conversion project in the country, retrofitting 18,000 lights using 1970s technology with LED lights that will cut energy costs by more than half.
Mayor Sam Liccardo and Councilmen Ash Kalra and Johnny Khamis were among the speakers at a brief ceremony Wednesday in South San Jose where one of the so-called “Smart Streetlights” was turned on at Copco Lane and Lean Avenue across from Minor Park.
“We are celebrating a greener, brighter, smarter San Jose,” Liccardo said.
Hans Larson, director of the city Department of Transportation, said city employees tested different LED light tones, ranging from yellow to blue, with people in Kalra’s District 2 in the Edenvale section of San Jose to find out what the standard for the city should be.
“What was selected – I love this – it matched the glow of the moon, and that’s what we have in San Jose,” Hansen said. “So not only do we have the smartest lights in the world but perhaps the most romantic ones, too.”
The light-emitting diode bulbs are brighter, can be dimmed and monitored remotely and will use to up 60 percent less electricity than the low-pressure and high-pressure sodium lights they will replace, according to transportation department spokesman Steven Brewster.
Approximately 18,000 of the city’s 63,000 street lights will be converted to LED by June, the first phase in a plan to retrofit more than 23,000 of the lamps by 2016, Brewster said.
So far, 6,000 of the sodium lamps throughout the city have already been converted to LED, he said.
The lights will save the city millions in future energy costs, reduce carbon emissions and have life spans of 50,000 hours, compared to 20,000 hours for sodium-based lamps, Brewster said.
City Funds Domestic Violence Counselors For Public Housing Residents
Domestic violence counseling is now being made directly available to at-risk residents of San Francisco’s public housing units.
In a partnership between the San Francisco Housing Authority and the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, two newly recruited domestic violence counselors have been hired to help out in public housing communities.
According to an announcement released Wednesday by the housing authority, two domestic violence counselors will be stationed at the San Francisco Housing Authority’s headquarters at 1815 Egbert Ave. in the city’s Bayview District, Monday through Friday during regular business hours.
Counselors, staffed by the non-profit organization La Casa de las Madres, will be available to help individuals who have experienced domestic violence or those in need of referrals for their family members or friends.
La Casa de las Madres’ program director Lindsay Sweetnam said that while La Casa de las Madres has been doing safe housing work in San Francisco public housing for years, this grant will allow counselors to work on-site alongside the housing authority.
Sweetnam said she anticipates that the partnership will broaden community awareness of the services available to victims of domestic violence.
She said the partnership in the Bayview District is important because it “provides us access to people who might not reach us otherwise.”
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Skies will be sunny today with highs in the upper 60s. Winds will be from the north at 5 to 15 mph.
Skies will be clear tonight with lows in the lower 50s. Winds will be from the north at 5 to 10 mph.
Skies will be sunny Friday with highs in the upper 60s and north winds of 5 to 10 mph.