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Fog City News Briefs

By Lara Moscrip

June 5, 2007

CHP recommends charge of reckless driviing for Senator Carole Migden

The California Highway Patrol recommended on Monday that state Sen. Carole Migden be charged with reckless driving causing bodily injury in connection with a vehicle accident last month in Solano County.

CHP Sgt. Les Bishop said the CHP has determined Migden, D-San Francisco, made an unsafe turning movement causing her 2007 Toyota Highlander to strike a center guardrail on Interstate Highway 80 on May 18.

Bishop said the CHP also has determined Migden was at fault when her car later struck two other vehicles at Beck Avenue and state Highway 12. Bishop said Migden was driving at an unsafe speed for road conditions.

A Vallejo woman in a 2005 Honda, 31-year-old Ellen Butawan, was injured in that accident. Butawan, 31, of Vallejo, reportedly is married to a CHP officer. Bishop said last week he could not comment on that report.

In both accidents, Migden was inattentive due to distraction by cell phone use, Bishop said. The CHP is recommending the Solano County District Attorney's Office file the charges against Migden, Bishop said. He said the reckless driving with bodily injury charge could be a misdemeanor or felony.

Bishop said Migden was given a field sobriety test after the injury accident and there was no indication she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Bishop said the CHP will request the Department of Motor Vehicles conduct a "driver re-evaluation" of Migden. The re-evaluations are done to ensure a driver's safety, Bishop said.

In a written statement Monday afternoon Migden responded, "I am very sorry about the accident which I caused, I am not driving, I am in the process of undergoing a medical evaluation, and I will in no way shirk my responsibility for what happened."

The Solano County District Attorney's Office did not return a call Monday afternoon regarding how long it would take to make a filing decision.

Two men, one boy arrested and identified in connection with Hercules armed robbery

Hercules police identified two men and a 15-year-old boy who are suspected of breaking into a woman's home Monday morning, stealing weapons at gunpoint, fleeing police and then retreating to a suspect's house, causing the neighborhood to be evacuated and the trio drawn out of the home with the help of hostage negotiators.

Police say that the Contra Costa County SWAT Team and Crisis Negotiation Team helped resolve the situation Monday afternoon at 19-year-old Frank Stephenson's house at 2042 Lupine Road in Hercules.

By late afternoon residents were permitted to return to their homes and by that time police had also arrested 20-year-old Charles Howell of Oakland and a 15-year-old Concord boy.

According to police, the incident started around 11:48 a.m. when the three suspects reportedly broke into a home on Goldenrod Drive, held a woman at gunpoint and forced her to open a safe containing her husband's gun collection. The three then allegedly took more than 30 firearms and boxes of ammunition before fleeing in a black Mercedes Benz, according to Hercules Police Chief Fred Deltorchio.

Police pursued the suspects until they ran into a mailbox on Manzanita Place and fled the vehicle on foot.

Police set up a perimeter and searched the area with a canine and helicopter and were eventually able to determine that the suspects were in a house located at 2042 Lupine Road, according to Deltorchio. Authorities were concerned because officers saw that there were other people inside the house and police feared that the others could be being held hostage. According to Deltorchio, no one was taken hostage.

Homes surrounding 2042 Lupine Road were evacuated, along with a school and an adjacent daycare center. Students at Lupine Hills Elementary School at 1919 Lupine Road in Hercules were evacuated from their school around 1:30 p.m. Monday following a police-ordered lockdown at around noon, according to West Contra Costa Unified School District spokesman Paul Ehara.

Students were transported from the school to the Hercules Swim Center at 2001 Refugio Valley Road, across the street from the Hercules Middle/High School, according to Ehara. Parents picked up their children from that location.

According to police, Stephenson and Howell were charged with burglary, armed robbery and evading police. Stephenson was also charged with violating his parole. They were booked into the Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez. The boy was charged with burglary and armed robbery and was booked into juvenile hall.

San Francisco police arrest pedestrian shooter

San Francisco police arrested a Vallejo man whom they believe shot a pedestrian Monday afternoon and caused a traffic accident while fleeing from police, according to Sgt. Steve Mannina.

The victim of Monday's noontime shooting at a busy South of Market intersection is expected to survive his injuries, according to San Francisco police. He is resting in stable condition, Mannina said.

The victim, described as an Asian man in his mid-30s, was walking in a crosswalk at Townsend and Third streets when a man pulled up in a silver car, said San Francisco police Sgt. Steve Mannina.

"Words were exchanged and the person in the car shot the victim," Mannina said.

The suspect sped off and police immediately received numerous calls to 911 describing the vehicle, Mannina said.

Minutes later, police spotted the car less than a mile away at Mission and New Montgomery streets, in the city's Financial District, Mannina said.

When officers tried to pull over the car, the driver bailed out of the vehicle and ran three blocks before police took him into custody at the corner of Jesse and Annie streets, Mannina said.

Police arrested 37-year-old Kevin Lipscomb and he was arrested and charged on suspicion of attempted murder, being a felon in possession of a firearm, felony evading police, misdemeanor hit and run, reckless driving and resisting arrest.

BART celebrates 50th birthday

Bay Area Rapid Transit Board President Lynette Sweet celebrated the transit agency's 50th birthday Monday by taking a jab at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for proposing to cut funding for public transit.

Sweet issued a press release saying "today is a very special birthday for BART" because on June 4, 1957, the state Legislature and Gov. Goodwin Knight officially created BART.

Sweet said, "The Bay Area owes those in the state legislature 50 years ago and then-Gov. Goodwin Knight a debt of gratitude for having the wisdom and foresight to create what would later be named as one of The Top Ten Public Works Projects of the 20th Century and the number one transit system in America."

Taking a dig at Schwarzenegger without mentioning his name, Sweet said, "On our 50th birthday, we are hopeful the current Legislature restores the deep cuts in transit funding that the current governor has proposed."

On May 14, Schwarzenegger issued a proposed budget that would divert $1.3 billion from the California public transit fund to cover other state expenses.

The proposal would provide $72 million for the Bay Area's nearly two dozen transit agencies, including BART, for the next fiscal year, but that amount is $146 million less than had been expected.

BART officials say that if their transit agency didn't exist, there would be 15.2 million additional pounds of pollutants spewing into air every day and the commute through the Caldecott Tunnel would increase from 24 minutes to 3 hours and 15 minutes and the commute across the Bay Bridge would jump from 40 minutes to 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Retired Berkeley Police Department member arrested for suspected vehicular manslaughter

A woman who was fatally struck by a vehicle in Berkeley was identified Monday afternoon as an 82-year-old resident of the city, Berkeley Police Department officials said. Police have arrested a former member of the Berkeley Police Department in connection to the woman's death.

Betty Kietzman was hit at 1875 Solano Ave. at about 10:50 p.m. Sunday, Berkeley police Lt. Wesley Hester said.

"It's just a real sad thing," Hester said Monday.

Witnesses reported Kietzman was crossing the street near the intersection of Solano Avenue and Fresno Street when a motorist struck her.

Kietzman was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The driver, Guillermo Robles, 56, is a retired member of the Berkeley Police Department. He was detained, given field sobriety tests and arrested for suspected vehicular manslaughter and investigation of drunken driving.

He was transported to Santa Rita Jail, where he posted bail and was released Monday afternoon, Hester said.

Jurors begin deliberations in case involving murder of San Leandro police officer

After hearing contrasting recommendations from a defense lawyer and Alameda County's head prosecutor, jurors on Monday began deliberating the fate of a Newark man who was convicted of murdering San Leandro police officer Nels "Dan" Niemi two years ago.

In his closing argument in the penalty phase of the trial of 24-year-old Irving Ramirez, Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff said Ramirez deserves the death penalty for what Orloff described as "the viciousness and brutality" he displayed in murdering San Leandro police officer Nels "Dan" Niemi two years ago.

Orloff said Ramirez displayed "a selfish motive" in choosing to shoot Niemi seven times rather than face being arrested when the officer came to the intersection of Doolittle Drive and Belvedere Avenue in San Leandro about 11 p.m. on July 25, 2005, to respond to a disturbing the peace call.

Orloff said Niemi, 42, who is survived by his wife and two children, found Ramirez and four other men hanging out on the street and drinking liquor but shot Niemi because he didn't want to be arrested for violating the terms of his probation for a prior drug conviction by carrying two guns and drugs that night.

Orloff said Ramirez shot Niemi once in the head and then six more shots after the officer was on the ground.

The county's top prosecutor told jurors, "Your job is to do justice and justice in this case is telling this defendant that what he did deserves the most severe sanction our law calls for," which is the death penalty.

But Deborah Levy, one of two lawyers who represent Niemi, asked jurors to "show mercy" toward him and spare his life.

"American justice isn't an eye for an eye," she said.
Jurors began their deliberations after their lunch break Monday.

Milpitas soldier killed in action in Iraq

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Monday that Milpitas resident Doonewey White, a U.S. Army specialist, was killed in action on May 29 in Baghdad, Iraq.

According to the Defense Department, White was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near the vehicle he was in during combat operations.
White, 26, was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division based in Fort Hood, Texas.

Watsonville man facing vehicular manslaugther charges following his arrest on suspicion of striking San Francisco pedestrian

A 48-year-old Watsonville man remains in jail on Monday on suspicion of striking and killing a pedestrian in San Francisco's Sunset District Sunday afternoon, a jail official said.

Rigoberto Antonio Rodas Perez is facing charges of vehicular manslaughter, speeding and failing to yield to a pedestrian, San Francisco police Sgt. Steve Mannina said Monday.

The female pedestrian has not been identified pending notification of her family, the San Francisco medical examiner's office reported Monday.

The woman was crossing 19th Avenue at Noriega Street around 4:30 p.m. when she was struck by Perez's speeding vehicle, according to police. Perez stopped and submitted to a blood test, but has not been charged with driving under the influence, Mannina said.

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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