Murder charges dismissed against two Pomona residents

Prosecutors have dismissed murder charges filed against two Pomona residents accused of playing a role in the shooting death of a 24-year-old Ontario man last year.

Juan Carlos Arredondo, 26, and Delia Mora, 39, had been jailed awaiting trial for the death of Jessie Diaz, who was shot and killed Oct. 11 near the intersection of Park Avenue and Pearl Street.

But when Arredondo and Mora appeared in Pomona Superior Court Jan. 13 for a preliminary hearing, prosecutors announced they would not proceed with the case, said Arredondo and Mora’s attorneys.

Mora was released from jail the next day, and Arredondo was released Jan. 17, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department records.

“(Prosecutors) were kind of being pretty closed mouthed about” the reasons for dismissing the charges, said Charles Uhalley, Mora’s attorney. “They referred it back to (Pomona police) for additional investigation.”

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Jurors begin deliberations in murder trial for 2004 Montclair drive-by

Jurors began deliberations Friday in the murder trial of a 23-year-old Pomona man accused of committing a 2004 drive-by shooting.

Jose Laguna is accused of shooting and killing David Valez, 20, and injuring two others during the June 19, 2004 incident in the 9500 block of Helena Avenue in Montclair.

In his closing argument Friday morning in West Valley Superior Court, Laguna’s attorney, James Brown, repeatedly told the jury that his client had been misidentified by authorities as the shooter.

Brown said none of the prosecution’s eyewitnesses have identified Laguna as the shooter. The incident happened in the early morning while it was still dark. Brown called identification the “critical issue” in the case.

Prosecutors also failed to say what they believe motivated Laguna to commit the shooting, Brown said.

“There is no connection,” Brown said. “There is nothing.”

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Accessory agrees to testify against co-defendants in Fontana shooting case

An alleged accessory to a September shooting in Fontana has agreed to testify against two alleged gunmen in exchange for a favorable plea deal from prosecutors.

Prosecutors say Daniel Casas, 23, served as the driver on Sept. 2 for two alleged gang members accused of ambushing a father and son who confronted the men while they were tagging in Fontana.

If Casas testifies against the two alleged shooters — Angel Valencia, 19, and Andrew Valdivia, 19 — he will be sentenced to a year in county jail in exchange for his plea, said Deputy District Attorney Doug Shaller.

A man and his teenage son confronted Valdivia and Valencia with baseball bats while the two alleged gang members tagged a wall in their neighborhood.

Valdivia and Valencia stopped tagging and left the area, then allegedly enlisted Casas to drive them to the man and son’s home to retaliate, according to police.

The two alleged gang members shot the man once in the back and once in the neck, but he survived his injuries, Shaller said. The man’s teenage son was not hurt.

Casas agreed to the plea offer last week when he, Valdivia and Valencia were set to face a preliminary hearing in Fontana Superior Court.

Casas agreed to plead no contest to a felony accessory charge. As part of Casas’ plea deal prosecutors will dismiss two counts of attempted murder.

If Casas does not testify against Valdivia and Valencia he will be sentenced to seven years in state prison, Shaller said.

During last week’s preliminary hearing — held for Valdivia and Valencia — two Fontana police officers who worked on the case testified about the incident, Shaller said.

Casas is set to testify when the preliminary hearing resumes on Tuesday, Shaller said.

Opening arguments heard in Iraq war veteran’s manslaughter trial

Jurors heard opening statements from attorneys Thursday at the trial of an Iraq war veteran charged with voluntary manslaughter for the shooting death of his friend.

Christopher Sullivan, 26, had returned to the United States from reserve Military duty in Iraq only a week prior to the incident that resulted in the death of Cesar Valdez in the early morning hours of April 9, 2006.

During his opening statement in West Valley Superior Court, Deputy District Attorney Tom Colclough said Sullivan, a former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, put his department-issued pistol in Valdez’s mouth and pulled the trigger. Valdez, 24, died within minutes.

The two men were friends since they were classmates at Damien High School in La Verne, and they went out partying with a large group on April 8 to celebrate Sullivan’s return home from Iraq after nearly a year overseas.
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Accused R.C. ‘peeping Tom’ electrician pleads guilty, gets 270 days in jail

An electrician accused of watching women through hidden cameras he installed in homes where he was hired to work has pleaded guilty to a felony burglary charge.

David Mitchell Clark, 35, will be sentenced to 270 days in county jail and be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

According to a police report attached to Clark’s court file, the Rancho Cucamonga resident allegedly placed cameras in at least three different locations to view and record video of women.

The first camera was discovered in August in a bathroom in a home where Clark was hired to perform electrical work in the 6400 block of Cambridge Avenue in Rancho Cucamonga.

When confronted about the camera, which was attached to a power tool Clark allegedly left on the bathroom floor, Clark said he used the camera to view hard-to-see spaces — such as the inside of walls — while doing his work.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies later found a hard drive belonging to Clark in the home’s attic that contained video footage of a woman changing clothes in a bathroom.

Deputies also discovered a hidden camera in the bathroom of another home where Clark was hired to do work.

When he was arrested in October, Clark told a detective he fixed a hidden camera through his apartment wall to spy on women who lived in an adjoining unit.

When asked by the detective why he installed the cameras, Clark replied, according to the report: “Because they were hot. It was an opportunity that I should have never considered, but I did it, and it’s going to ruin my life.”

As part of a plea deal reached Tuesday in West Valley Superior Court, prosecutors agreed to dismiss an additional burglary count and two misdemeanor “peeping Tom” counts filed in October against Clark.

Because Clark has been in custody since his arrest, he will be credited for the time he’s already served and will likely spend roughly 200 additional days in jail, said Deputy District Attorney Jason Anderson.

The conviction will also count as a strike under California’s three-strikes law.

Charges filed in Claremont robbery, beating

Prosecutors have filed criminal charges against two men accused of beating a 61-year-old Claremont resident nearly to death last week in the course of a robbery.

Robert LaMonte Jones, 20, and Messigh Liketin Perry-Garner, 16, were both charged Monday with attempted murder and first-degree residential robbery.

The two Pomona men appeared in Pomona Superior Court Monday for an arraignment hearing, but they did not enter pleas. The hearing was postponed to Feb. 10.

The morning of Jan. 20, Jones and Perry-Garner broke into a home in the 700 block of West 10th Street, according to a Claremont police news release.

During the course of the robbery, the homeowner, Vincent J. Gottuso, returned home.

Gottuso confronted the two men, and was repeatedly beaten in the head with his own shotgun, according to information from police and prosecutors.

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Testimony heard in Pomona barbershop killing case

A judge ruled Tuesday that three people must stand trial on murder charges for the shooting death of an Ontario resident last year at a Pomona barbershop.

Larry Hammett, 46, was shot and killed in the course of a robbery attempt July 27 at Groom Time All Star Barbers, 924 E. Holt Ave., according to testimony Tuesday at a preliminary hearing in Pomona Superior Court.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Charles Horan ruled that Omari Ali, 20, Keyon Rasheed Hill, 19, and Breeana Finley, 19, must stand trial on murder charges.

Demond White, a friend of Hammett’s and a frequent visitor to Groom Time, testified that he visited the shop that morning to get a haircut and visit Hammett.

White testified that he and Hammett smoked marijuana in the alley before the start of the day’s business at Groom Time.

Hammett told White that he expected a visitor that day to make a large marijuana purchase, White testified. White testified that he saw Hammett bagging the marijuana in the barbershop’s private office.

Less than an hour later, Ali and Hill visited the barbershop to meet with Hammett, presumably for the marijuana transaction, in the shop’s private office, White testified.

Sounds of a struggle soon followed, White testified.

“Ninety seconds later I heard Larry screaming, ‘Folks, folks, folks, folks, folks,’” White testified.

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Upland teacher Megaw appears in court in student-molestation case


An Upland teacher accused of molesting six of his students appeared in West Valley Superior Court Wednesday for a routine, largely uneventful hearing.

James Andrew Megaw, 42, is accused of inappropriately touching three boys and three girls in his Valencia Elementary School class of second- and third-graders.

Megaw, known professionally as Andy Megaw, is the former head of Upland’s teachers union.

He has resigned from his position at the school and pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges. He is free on a $600,000 bond.

On Thursday, Megaw, his attorney and the prosecutor all appeared in court for a status hearing on the case. They set a future status hearing date of Feb. 19.

After the hearing, Leonard Levine, Megaw’s attorney, said he is waiting for additional information on the case from prosecutors.

Levine said he expects to receive the information within a week, and expects a preliminary hearing to be held for the case in March.

Click here
to read past stories on Megaw’s case.

Landscaper gets 6 years for raping Montclair girl, 15

A 54-year-old landscaper accused of raping a mentally impaired 15-year-old Montclair girl accepted a plea bargain from prosecutors Thursday that includes a six-year prison sentence.

In testimony during a preliminary hearing last week in West Valley Superior Court, the 15-year-old girl said Isaac Berbel Calderon coerced her into his truck in October, then raped her a local motel.

Testimony was set to continue Thursday morning in Calderon’s case, but Calderon decided instead to accept the plea offer from prosecutors.

Calderon, of Chino, pleaded no contest to a single count of committing a lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 years old.

The four felony counts originally filed against Calderon were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

If he had been convicted on those counts, he could have faced a prison sentence of up to 27 years.

The girl testified last week that Calderon called out to her as she walked home Oct. 7 from her school bus stop near Kingsley Street and Pradera Avenue in Montclair.

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3 Fonana teens to face preliminary hearing today in shooting case

Two teenage taggers and their 23-year-old accomplice are set to face a preliminary hearing in Fontana Superior Court at 1:30 this afternoon for allegedly trying to kill two people who interrupted a tagging session.

The three Fontana men each charged with two counts of attempted murder are Angel Valencia, 19; Andrew Valdivia, 19; and Daniel Casas, 23.

A 41-year-old Fontana man and his 18-year-old son carried baseball bats during a September confrontation with Valencia and Valdivia, who were allegedly tagging a wall in the Southridge neighborhood of south Fontana, police said.

Valencia and Valdivia dispersed when confronted, but allegedly sought to retaliate. They enlisted Casas as their driver and drove by the man and son’s home, firing handgun rounds as the man and son stood in the front yard, police said.

The son wasn’t hit, but the dad was — suffering wounds to his neck and back. He survived his injuries.

Read past stories on the case here and here.