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Fog City News in Brief

By Lara Moscrip

May 23, 2007

Santa Clara County Sheriff comments on De Anza rape case

Comments from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office have been stated after the district attorney dropped the high-profile De Anza baseball rape case on Monday.

"The case is not closed at this point," Santa Clara County Sheriff's Sgt. Ed Wise said Tuesday regarding the recently dropped De Anza rape case.

On Monday, Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr issued a brief statement declaring the case was lacking evidence for prosecution.

The district attorney's office has been tight lipped about the case so far, releasing on Monday a two-paragraph statement.

"We're happy," attorney John Cahners said, who advised De Anza baseball player Steve Rebagliati. Rebagliati's home on South Buena Vista Avenue in unincorporated Santa Clara County was the scene of a team party where the alleged March 3-4 rape of a 17-year-old girl occurred.

Cahners said he feels the right decision was reached. As far as silence from the district attorney, Cahners feels Carr doesn't have to answer to the media who "weren't there" and "didn't conduct interviews with witnesses."

After the case was turned over to the district attorney it came back to the sheriff who was asked to continue investigations. DNA was taken from 11 partygoers during the investigation.

"He's had this cloud over his head for months," Cahners said regarding sophomore Rebagliati, who is relieved the case was dropped.

"The legal process has clearly taken its course," De Anza spokeswoman Marissa Spatafore said. "We really are taking the opportunity to turn this into a learning experience for students, quite frankly."

Eight De Anza baseball players were suspended from play by Coach Scott Hertler for team policy infractions following the allegations.

Concerned U.S. Coast Guard reports changes in humpback's wound condition

The U.S. Coast Guard said marine biologists are concerned about the health of the mother humpback whale and her calf that have spent the past 11 days in the Sacramento River and Delta area.

Dr. Frances Gulland, principal veterinarian of the Marine Mammal Center, reported changes in the whales' wounds and skin condition after observing them at Rio Vista on Tuesday, the Coast Guard said.

In a statement released by the Coast Guard, Gulland said, "The wounds appear to have worsened over time and their skin has changed from smooth and shiny to irregular and pitted."

The whales' wounds are presumed to be from a run-in with a vessel, the Coast Guard said.

The whales were still swimming near the Rio Vista Bridge Tuesday afternoon as pipe banging efforts on board vessels were made to herd them closer toward the Pacific Ocean.

The Coast Guard said fresh water from the river can impede the healing process for the whales but assessing their health is difficult because they mask their injuries to protect themselves from predators.

A sample of skin and blubber was taken from the female adult whale Monday and sent to a research lab at Oregon State University, the University of Tennessee and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, the Coast Guard said.

The samples will be tested to determine the whale's general health, her nutritional status and help identify her population stock, the Coast Guard said.

Coroner called to San Jose home following fire

A coroner was called to a fire that began at a home at 24764 Soquel San Jose Road at around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday that so far claimed the life of a person, according to a Cal Fire dispatcher.

Arson and bomb specialists were also been called to investigate the blaze after witnesses reported seeing heavy black smoke and hearing an explosion.

Fire officials pulled one body from the wreckage and used search dogs to locate an additional person who may also have perished, the dispatcher said.

The fire, which involved two structures, was contained at 1:30 p.m., according to the dispatcher.

San Jose gay couple announce discrimination settlement

A gay couple from San Jose Tuesday announced the settlement of a federal discrimination lawsuit against two commercial Web sites for people hoping to adopt children.

The lawsuit against the Web sites Adoption.com and ParentProfiles.com was filed in federal court in San Francisco by Michael and Rich Butler in 2004.

The couple claimed that ParentProfiles.com violated a California anti-discrimination law by refusing to post profiles of same-sex couples. The site is used by birth mothers searching for adoptive parents; prospective parents pay a fee to post their profiles.

Under the settlement filed Monday, the two companies, both based in Arizona and operated by Dale and Nathan Gwilliam, agreed to make any services available in California equally available to all residents of the state.

Michael Butler said, "This case was about ensuring that these businesses stop discriminating against same-sex couples in California by excluding them from offering loving, stable homes to children."

Michael Butler, a stay-at-home dad, and Richard Butler, a patent attorney, adopted a now 3-year-old daughter from other sources while their lawsuit was pending.

But Glen Lavy, a lawyer from the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund who represented the two companies, called the settlement "very unfortunate for California residents."

Lavy said that in order to comply with the settlement, ParentProfiles.com will no longer post any profiles from California couples.

He said, "California residents will no longer have the services of the ParentProfiles.com Web site."

Lavy said Adoption.com does not post profiles and will continue to offer the same services as before.

The settlement came after U.S. District Phyllis Hamilton ruled in March that California law applies to the company and that the Butlers could take the case to a trial.

Man admits to being "the Gilligan Robber" following arrest
for allegedly stabbing his wife

A man arrested Monday for the stabbing death of his wife admitted to detectives that he was the serial bank robber dubbed "the Gilligan Robber," Redwood City police Detective Jeff Price said on Tuesday.

Following his Monday night arrest by San Mateo County sheriff's deputies, 51-year-old Redwood City resident Robert Lomas "confessed to being the bank robber known as Gilligan," Price confirmed.

The Gilligan Robber earned his nickname by committing 12 bank heists in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties since 2002, each time wearing a floppy, fisherman-style hat. The most recent robbery took place at a Redwood City Wells Fargo bank on May 11, Price said.

Robert Lomas will be formally charged in San Mateo County Superior Court today for the stabbing murder of his wife Linda Lomas, San Mateo County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lt. Lisa Williams said Tuesday morning.

Linda Lomas, 50, was found stabbed to death late Monday morning inside the couple's home, an in-law unit they rented behind a home in the 2800 block of Huntington Ave., in the unincorporated North Fair Oaks area of Redwood City, Williams said.

Robert Lomas was arrested Monday night without incident-and without a hat, Williams confirmed-near the Redwood Junction railroad tracks, a few blocks away from his home. Agents from the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Office, the California Department of Justice, California State Parole, and county narcotics task force and probation officers assisted in the search.

Investigators are still trying to determine the identity of a man who made an anonymous 911 call at 10 a.m. Monday morning indicating that police would find a body inside the residence, according to Williams.

Alameda Board of Supes pass ordinance holding adults responsible
for underage drinking

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an ordinance that holds adults responsible for underage drinking parties on property they own, lease or otherwise control.

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker sponsored the legislation after three people were shot - two fatally - during a Jan. 19 party attended by more than 100 people in San Lorenzo.

The so-called social host ordinance "brings awareness to the important issue of underage drinking and promotes personal responsibility for parents, friends and teenagers themselves," Lai-Bitker said.

Although state law prohibits the purchase, possession and consumption of alcohol by minors in public or commercial settings, it doesn't prohibit youth consumption of alcohol on private property.

The ordinance aims to close that hole by allowing for civil fines of $750 for the first offense, $1,500 for second offenses and $2,500 for third offenses against individuals in control of private party where underage drinking is occurring.

The only way for law enforcement in areas without such ordinances to fight underage drinking on private land now is to charge the adults furnishing the alcohol with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Similar ordinances have been passed by more than 10 other cities and counties in California, including Marin County in October and Berkeley in March.

Alameda County's ordinance only applies to unincorporated areas. It will become law in a month.

Tuesday's vote was only a formality. The Board of Supervisors gave initial approval to the measure at its first reading last week.

U.S. Highway 101 reopens after big-rig cleanup

All lanes were cleared on U.S. Highway 101 in Redwood City Tuesday afternoon after a big-rig collision prompted a nearly five-hour cleanup operation and sent two people to local hospitals.

The collision occurred at around 1 p.m. Tuesday near the Woodside Expressway when a cardboard-loaded southbound big-rig struck the center divide and jackknifed, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The truck slid across the highway, struck and then jumped the center divide, causing chunks of concrete to fly at northbound motorists before it caught fire, according to CHP Officer Scott Cakebread.

A northbound vehicle being driven by a woman and her child sustained the most damage from the flying concrete pieces, the CHP reported. Both were taken to local hospitals. Their conditions remain unreported Tuesday afternoon.

The truck driver and a passenger were not injured, according to the CHP. A Toyota also hit by the concrete was damaged but the driver was not injured.

Crews were forced to temporarily close all southbound lanes at around 4:30 p.m. as they removed the charred wreckage of the big-rig from the roadway.

San Francisco bakery stabbing suspect to appear in court

District Attorney Kamala Harris announced Tuesday that a parolee who was recently released from San Quentin prison will appear in court today to be arraigned on four felony counts in connection with the stabbing of a 14-year-old girl at a San Francisco bakery on Saturday.

Scott Thomas, 26, of Van Nuys, will face two counts of attempted murder, one count of child endangerment and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. Thomas has also been charged with allegations of weapon use, a knife, and great bodily injury.

Police arrested Thomas Saturday thanks to a person who witnessed the stabbing at Creighton's Bakery at 673 Portola Drive and then followed the suspect when he fled. The suspect eventually ran behind the Laguna Honda Hospital, where the witness pointed him out to police, San Francisco police Sgt. Steve Mannina said.

Another person who was in the bakery during the stabbing that occurred just after 4 p.m. tried to intervene between the suspect and the girl. That person also was stabbed, Mannina said. Both people were taken to San Francisco General Hospital.

Police don't know what motivated the attack.

"It's frustrating to see those who have committed a crime released
from prison, placed on parole and cycle back into the criminal justice system," Harris said.

Senator Migden allegedly struck a guardrail before rear-ending car

State Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, grazed a guardrail west of state Highway 37 before she rear-ended a Honda sedan in Fairfield Friday morning, California Highway Patrol officer M.A. Williford said Tuesday.

Both Migden and witnesses confirmed Migden grazed the guardrail located approximately one mile west of state Highway 37, according to Williford. Williford said officers are searching the guardrail Tuesday for paint evidence.

The CHP is interviewing as many as six witnesses to the collisions, some of whom "had concerns with the senator's driving," Williford said.

Migden was on her way to an appointment in Marin County. She failed to notice traffic stopping for a red light as she traveled east on state Highway 12 at Beck Avenue, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Migden's 2007 Toyota Highlander then collided with the back of a Honda sedan driven by 31-year-old Ellen Butawan, of Vallejo. As a precaution, Butawan was transported to North Bay Hospital.

Migden has not been issued a citation for the collision, which occurred at around 10:40 a.m. and caused Butawan to suffer minor injuries.

Migden reportedly was distracted by her ringing cell phone just prior to the collision, according to a statement released by Migden's office.

A 2003 GMC Savanna van in front of Butawan's Honda was slightly damaged in the collision, Williford reported. The driver was uninjured.

A routine Breathalyzer test was performed on Migden and she was later allowed to drive her damaged car back to her home once the hood of her SUV was repaired at the Fairfield CHP, according to Williford.

Suspect who shot Oakland officer still at large

A 26-year-old man suspected of shooting an Oakland police officer after a traffic stop early Saturday morning is still at large, police said on Tuesday.

Police spokesman Roland Holmgren identified the suspect as Jesse William Mendez of San Lorenzo. Mendez has a felony conviction for selling narcotics and misdemeanor convictions for theft, forgery and traffic violations.

Mendez's cousin was fatally shot several hours after the traffic stop. Police Officer Robert Roche shot the cousin -- 22-year-old Jeremiah Dye -- with a rifle, killing him instantly, when he allegedly refused to come out of a crawl space underneath a house and appeared to be reaching for a gun, Holmgren said.

No gun was found, according to Holmgren.

Holmgren said Dye, a San Leandro resident, was on probation for a robbery conviction.

According to Holmgren, Officer Kevin McDonald was in East Oakland about 12:20 a.m. Saturday when he saw a 1980 Chevrolet Camaro driven by Mendez ignore a stop sign at Parker Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard. McDonald pulled Mendez over.

McDonald told investigators that as he walked to the car, Mendez fired at least four shots at him without warning.

Authorities said one bullet hit McDonald in his protective vest and another in his hand before the Camaro drove off. The officer was able to radio other officers and provide descriptions of Mendez and Dye and the license plate of the car.

McDonald later was treated and released from a hospital and is now on leave recovering from his injuries, Holmgren said.

The Camaro was found abandoned a few blocks away and police began searching the area.

Officers located Dye hiding in a crawl space under a house in the 2600 block of Parker about 4:30 a.m.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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