Drunken driver sentenced to almost eight years in deadly crash in San Bernardino

A drunken driver who pleaded guilty last month to charges stemming from a collision with an Omnitrans bus which killed his girlfriend was sentenced Friday to state prison.

John Barrios Gonzales, 24, was sentenced to seven years and eight months in prison under the terms of a plea bargain he reached with prosecutors on Aug. 18 in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Gonzales had pleaded guilty to two counts of drunk driving causing bodily injury, with additional allegations on one of the counts, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Two other counts — one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and another DUI count — were dismissed under the plea bargain, court records indicate.

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Testimony underway in trial for man suspected of killing estranged wife’s lover

Witness testimony is underway in a trial for Joe Anthony Sanchez, who is suspected of fatally stabbing a man he found in his estranged wife’s bed in August 2007.

Lawyer’s opening remarks and testimony from initial witnesses kicked off the trial Monday before Judge Arthur Harrison in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Sanchez, 29, faces charges in the death of 28-year-old Jose Alonso Madrigal and the attempted murder of his wife, Charity Sanchez, when he encountered the pair in August 2007 at the San Bernardino home the married couple had shared.

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Man accused of Upland murder testifies, denies responsibility for shooting

A man accused of shooting one man to death and nearly killing another in Upland last year testified Tuesday that he is being wrongly accused of murder.

Michael Terrell Moore said the actual shooter, an acquaintance he knew by the nickname “Yogi,” was standing only a few feet away from him when “Yogi” fired several rounds from a handgun at a passing car.

Steve Reina, the driver, was shot in the back of the head but survived despite losing an eye. Daniel Gonzalez, 19, was killed after being shot in the back.

On the afternoon of March 10, 2007, Moore and eight to 10 other young men were standing at the intersection of Diamond Court and Vallejo Way in the Diamond Court Apartments in Upland.

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Man accused of trying to kill his wife rejects plea deal

Oscar Gonzalez rejected a plea deal this morning in West Valley Superior Court, and as a result his attempted murder trial will proceed.

Gonzalez, 46, was originally charged in February 2006 with kidnapping and attempted murder for allegedly attacking his wife.

He was convicted by a jury of kidnapping, a felony, in November 2007. But the jury failed to reach a verdict on the attempted murder charge and a mistrial was declared. The district attorney’s office refiled the attempted murder case.

Gonzalez’s trial for attempted murder is expected to begin Monday in Judge Michael Libutti’s courtroom.

Gonzalez was custody during this morning’s hearing, wearing green jail clothing indicating that he is in protective custody.

Libutti told Gonzalez during the hearing that this morning would be he last opportunity to accept the plea offer, and he asked him directly whether he wanted to accept or reject the offer.

“I reject,” Gonzalez said through a court interpreter.

After Gonzalez rejected the offer, Deputy District Attorney Michelle Daly told Libutti she expected the prosecution’s portion of the case to take six to seven days.

Gonzalez’s defense attorney, Robert Von Schlichting, told the judge he expected to take a maximum of three days for his defense.

Click here to view the online case report from the records Web site for San Bernardino County Superior Court.

Former Yucca Valley airport manager used embezzled funds to buy property

Prosecutors say a former Yucca Valley airport manager, who pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges, must cooperate with them about real estate purchases to get the full benefit of his plea bargain.

Richard Paul Demel, who once managed the High Desert airport, pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft in a $1.3 million embezzlement case Monday in Joshua Tree Superior Court.

Under the terms of his plea bargain, the 51-year-old Demel will spend four years in state prison, get fined $323,491 and be required to pay the missing money back as restitution when he is sentenced Dec. 4, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

But before sentencing, Demel must cooperate with prosecutors to ensure there is marketable title on various properties he purchased with the money, explained Deputy District Attorney Lewis Cope, in a telephone conversation Monday.

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Prosecutors seek more discovery in former assistant assessor’s case

Former Assistant Assessor Adam Aleman appeared briefly in Superior Court Tuesday for a status hearing on his case stemming from what authorities say were his attempts to mislead a grand jury investigation.

The 25-year-old Aleman stood beside his lawyer Grover Porter as the court continued proceedings to November in San Bernardino Superior Court. Prosecutors are still awaiting more discovery, or evidence in the case, Judge John Martin told the court.

Accompanied to court by fiancee Kelly Kuntz, Aleman is scheduled to return to court Nov. 19.

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Former desert airport official pleads guilty to embezzlement

A former Yucca Valley airport official accused of embezzling $1.3 million in state funds pleaded guilty to seven felony counts Monday.

Richard Paul Demel, 51, will spend four years in state prison, get fined $323,491 and be required to pay the missing money back as restitution when he is sentenced Dec. 4, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Demel, of Bermuda Dunes and Yucca Valley, applied for a grant from the state Office of Emergency Services to fix damages at the airport caused by thunderstorms in August 2003, prosecutors said.

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Opening statements get underway in third Mynisha Crenshaw trial


Lawyers delivered their opening remarks as testimony got underway Monday for two suspected gang members in the third criminal trial stemming from the 2005 deadly shooting of 11-year-old Mynisha Crenshaw.

The two men on trial, Michael Barnett Jr. and Sinque Morrison, were part of a large group of gang members who sought out rival gang members when shots were fired into a San Bernardino apartment where Mynisha was eating dinner with her family, Deputy District Attorney Ron Webster explained to the jury in Victorville Superior Court.

Mynisha was struck once in the chest, while her then 14-year-old sister was shot in the right arm – severing the bone in two. The girls were unintended victims.

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Opening statements Monday in Victorville for third Mynisha trial

Opening statements begin Monday morning in Victorville Superior Court for the third trial in the 2005 deadly shooting of 11-year-old Mynisha Crenshaw in San Bernardino.

Prosecutors confirmed last week that testimony was set to begin in the trial for defendants Sinque Morrison and Michael Barnett Jr. before Judge John Tomberlin.

Morrison and Barnett are the last two, of 12 total defendants charged in the case, who are awaiting resolutions. This will be the second trial for Barnett and the third for Morrison.

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Cops: Biker gang masquerades as Christian ministry

Here’s a story from the Associated Press about Christian biker group Set Free Soldiers. We don’t generally post court stories that are based outside of the Inland Empire, but Set Free is popular in Southern California and some of its members and associates are likely in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

Sept. 25, 2008

Associated Press Writer

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP)– In more than 25 years at the helm of his biker-inspired Christian ministry, Phillip Aguilar has counseled Hells Angels, married Mongols and provided a place to crash for just about every hog-riding gangster and drug addict he’s ever met.

But police say after years of bringing God to outlaws, Aguilar’s chopper-riding Christians may have morphed into just the kind of gang they claim to save people from.

Aguilar and four other members of the Set Free Soldiers pleaded not guilty at their arraignments Thursday on weapons and gang felonies after a bar brawl that ended with two Hells Angels stabbed. One member of Aguilar’s group is charged with attempted murder.

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