More Evidence Of State Cheating Must Block Death Penalty In Seal Beach Salon Case: Lawyer

OC Weekly photo
Judge Goethals gets another stack of fascinating, true-crime reading
Claiming there's ample new evidence that Orange County's law-enforcement community can't be trusted to behave honestly, a defense lawyer for the killer in the 2011 Seal Beach salon massacre is urging a judge to reconsider an August ruling that conceded government cheating, but still left prosecutors' death-penalty demand an option.

Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders told Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals in a Nov. 7 motion that he has uncovered additional efforts by the Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) and sheriff's deputies to sabotage the defense of Scott Dekraai by hiding evidence and offering dishonest testimony.

Prosecutors insist errors were innocent mistakes and promise retraining, but Sanders says there has been "a systematic and ongoing process of concealing evidence favorable to the defense," practices that have caused him to divert focus on the "litigation at hand" to chase seemingly endless examples of unethical law-enforcement conduct tied to the case.

More »

Jaquinn Ramone Bell Had Long Rap Sheet Before Halloween's Triple Fatal Hit-and-Run

Courtesy of SAPD
Jaquinn Ramone Bell drove the vehicle that killed the girls, according to police.
UPDATE, NOV. 3, 1:59 P.M.: Jaquinn Ramone Bell, the 31-year-old accused of running down three 13-year-old girls trick-or-treating in Santa Ana on Halloween night, has a "lengthy criminal record" and had his drivers licenses suspended earlier in October, according to media reports.

The driver who struck the girls "probably knew they hit something," judging from the damage to the vehicle, according to Santa Ana Police Chief Carlos Rojas, who also explained it was difficult to track down Bell as he had many past addresses, his last known one being in Orange.

Among the two adults with Bell when he was arrested about 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Motel 6, 7450 Katella Ave., Stanton, was his mother, Rojas noted. She, another adult and two children were later released.

More »

Uh-oh, Remember That Silverado Canyon Fire? Red Cross Opens Flood Evacuation Center

Categories: Breaking News

Photo by Charles Lam/OC Weekly
Smoke rises from the Silverado Canyon fire on Sept. 12.

UPDATE, OCT. 31, 6:257 P.M.: The American Red Cross announced it will open an evacuation center for Silverado Canyon residents at 7 tonight at Santiago Community College, 8045 E. Chapman Ave., Orange.

More »

Mortgage Scam Suspect Arrested Boarding LAX Flight To Afghanistan

Knowing federal officials in Santa Ana were contemplating criminal charges against her for posing as an attorney and operating a mortgage scam, 30-year-old Najia Jalan decided this month to buy a one-way ticket from LAX through Dubai to Afghanistan on Emirates Airline.

But as the backpack-toting Jalan boarded the Oct. 18 flight, two special agents with the U.S. Department of Treasury's Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) arrested her on mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.

Less than 48 hours earlier, Jalan--who has used the names Poh Yee Neo, Sarah Adams and Korina Taylor--met with Assistant United States Attorney Ivy A. Wang and federal agents inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse and learned the government contemplated her arrest, according to court records.

More »

Second Earthquake in Four Days Rattles Brea

Categories: Breaking News

There was a magnitude 2.6 earthquake that shook Brea this morning that would not be worth mentioning were it not for this: There was a 3.0 shaker that hit Brea Thursday. Indeed, the earlier event seemed so minor at the time I did not bother posting on it. The shallow temblor (depth: 0.6 miles) was reported at 3:55 p.m. Thursday, and the epicenter was one mile from Brea, two miles from La Habra and four miles from Placentia, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

More »

St. Joe Nurses Demand Better Ebola Prep

Illustration by Mikael Haggstrom/public domain
Got Ebola?

Registered nurses will come calling on the CEO of St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange at noon to demand improved Ebola preparedness standards for patients, RNs and other caregivers.

More »

Orange County Homicide Prosecutor Wins U.S. Supreme Court Case

Greedy Smith: Having half of the $5 million estate he shared with wife wasn't enough
The twisting, turning, seemingly never-ending case of Marvin Smith--the philandering, multimillionaire, Cypress businessman who savagely murdered his wife in 2005 in the couple's bedroom and staged the bloody crime scene to look like a burglary gone wrong--ended today with the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the conviction.

The move by the nation's highest court was an energetic slap at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld a federal district judge's ruling that Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Michael F. Murray tactically cheated Jennifer Keller, Smith's defense lawyer, during an emotional 2009 trial.

At issue was whether Murray, one of the region's most aggressive and accomplished homicide prosecutors, thwarted the defense by announcing late in the trial that jurors could convict Smith of murder by either believing he personally bludgeoned his 66-year-old wife, Minnie, or orchestrated the murder.

More »

Police Shot Woman Holding Cell Phone And Federal Judge Blocks Her Civil Rights Lawsuit

An Orange County woman shot as many as six times in June 2012 by police, who claimed they thought the cell phone she held was a handgun, has lost her civil rights lawsuit inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana.

U.S. District Court Judge Josephine L. Staton this week formally granted the pre-trial, summary judgment request by lawyers representing the City of Orange, Orange Police Department as well as officers Brian Chambers, Charles Lange and Trent Hardeman.

In the wee hours of June 23, 2012, Olivia Ann Reil--distraught from a argument with her boyfriend who hadn't told her he loved her during the year they'd dated--was collecting personal items from inside a parked Toyota pickup truck near the intersection of Sycamore and Spruce when she noticed bright lights behind her vehicle.

People she could not see because of the lights demanded that she drop her weapon--commands she didn't understand because she held a cell phone.

More »

Prosecutors Suspiciously Drop Charges In Another Case Based On Informant Work

Prosecutors pursued tainted murder solicitation case against Govey (pictured)
For two years, prosecutors, police and sheriff's deputies stalled turning over potential exculpatory evidence to defense lawyers representing Joseph Govey--a 49-year-old Orange County man wanted dead by white supremacist gangsters and facing seven felony charges that, if convicted on all counts, could have meant spending the rest of his life in one of California's notorious prisons.

But Senior Deputy District Attorney Beth Costello walked into Judge Thomas M. Goethals' Santa Ana courtroom on Sept. 22 and startled Govey, a convicted felon, as well as his attorney, Renee Garcia.

Costello dismissed three of the most serious charges: solicitation of murder, attempted murder and street terrorism.

The veteran prosecutor's eyebrow-raising move wasn't motivated by the sudden onset of a bleeding heart sensibility. Most assuredly, the decision came reluctantly and with calculation. The Orange County district attorney's office (OCDA) had, after all, consumed grand jury time to win a 2012 indictment against Govey.

More »

Mammoth Mountain to Acquire Snow Summit and Bear Mountain Ski Resorts for $38 Million

UPDATE: Mammoth is picking up the two Big Bear area resorts for $38 million, reports the Los Angeles Times, which notes the move "comes in the midst of a historic drought." Mammoth CEO Rusty Gregory explains to the Times, "My father used to say in business you want to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. This does look like a questionable time to buy a ski resort operation."
Hopefully the ownership change won't mean less of this.

The Dick Kun ownership era at the Snow Summit and Bear Mountain ski resorts in the San Bernardino Mountains is over as the owners of Mammoth Mountain are set to acquire the properties, it was announced this morning.

More »