Man convicted in Montclair killing sentenced to more than a century in prison

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A Pomona man convicted of murdering one man and shooting at two others was sentenced to more than a century in state prison today in West Valley Superior Court.

Rigoberto Polanco, 25, was released from prison only three days before he opened fire on a group of men in Montclair in August 2007, killing 20-year-old Gilbert Devery of Rancho Cucamonga, prosecutors said.

Following a failed bid for a new trial this morning, Polanco was sentenced by Judge Raymond L. Haight III to 107 years and 8 months to life in prison.

Polanco maintained his innocence in statements to the court today.

“I’m not a murderer, and I’m not here to be judged by anybody else,” Polanco said.

Polanco was in the area of Camarena Avenue north of Kingsley street in Montclair on Aug. 23, 2007 when he came across and began talking to three men, authorities said.

Polanco said he was affiliated with a Pomona street gang, and one of the three men in the group — not Devery — told Polanco he was associated with a gang from El Monte, said Deputy District Attorney Tom Colclough.

A shoving match ensued, and the men eventually separated. About three hours later, Polanco returned to the area with a handgun.

When he came across the group near Kingsley and Marion Avenue, he opened fire and the three men ran away.

Devery died from a single gunshot wound to the back, and another man injured a foot jumping over a fence while fleeing, Colclough said.

Polanco was identified by witnesses and arrested five days later.

After three days of deliberations, a jury found Polanco guilty on July 2, 2008 of one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and other charges.

This morning, Polanco’s defense attorney, David Goldstein, told Haight that Polanco deserved a new trial because of mistakes made by Polanco’s trial attorney, David Gunn.

“His trial was not consistent with due process,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein told Haight at the end of today’s hearing that will file a notice of appeal for Polanco’s case.

After Haight denied Polanco’s motion for a new trial, three of Devery’s family members read statements to the court mourning their relative’s loss and blasting Polanco.

“You never showed any remorse for what you did,” said Cynthia Flores, Devery’s aunt. “You just sat there in court with that stupid smirk.”

“You’re just scum,” she added.

Devery’s cousin, Paul Aguilar, called on Polanco to take responsibility for the killing. “That you maintain your innocence is a joke,” Aguilar said.

In the courthouse parking lot after the sentencing hearing, Aguilar was punched several times by one of Polanco’s relatives, said San Bernardino County sheriff’s Sgt. Peter Bamberger.

The alleged assailant fled before sheriff’s deputies arrived to the area. Deputies investigating the incident are working to determine the man’s identity and locate him, Bamberger said.

Polanco served three stints in state prison before the Montclair incident — for assaulting a prison guard, auto theft and receiving stolen property, Colclough said.

“He’s been in the system since a juvenile,” Colclough said.

Jury reaches guilty verdict in Upland police slashing case

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A jury took little more than two hours to reach a guilty verdict today for a man charged with attempted murder for slashing an Upland police officer with a knife at a Mervyn’s store in 2007.

Authorities say Johnny Joe Magallanez, 28, attacked the officer and cut his arm with a four-inch blade when the officer tried to arrest him on suspicion of burglary.

Magallanez had stacked boxes of merchandise near the exit of the Mountain Avenue store, and employees believed he was preparing to steal it.

Seven stitches were needed to close the wound suffered by Upland police officer Gabriel Garcia, said Deputy District Attorney Carlo DiCesare.

In an interview shortly after the December 2007 incident, DiCesare said Magallanez tried to cut Garcia’s neck and face.

“Fortunately, it didn’t work,” DiCesare said.

Magallanez, of the Northern California city of Corning, will face a sentence of 20 years to life in prison for the 2007 attack at 233 S. Mountain Ave. in Upland, DiCesare said.

In addition to the attempted-murder charge, a West Valley Superior Court jury found Magallanez guilty of resisting arrest.

“We agree with the jury’s verdict, and I think they’ve sent a message that violence against police officers is not going to be tolerated in the community,” DiCesare said.

Magallanez’s defense attorney, Margis Matulionis, has not returned a call seeking comment this afternoon.

DiCesare said that Matulionis told jurors during his closing argument Wednesday that Magallanez did not try to kill the officer during the incident.

The defense attorney claimed the officer was cut by his own flashlight, DiCesare said.

During the two-day trial, DiCesare said he called three police officers and one Mervyn’s employee to the witness stand. The defense did not put on any witnesses, DiCesare said.

Garcia is not available for comment today, Upland police Sgt. Cliff Mathews said this afternoon.

“The Upland police department is pleased with the verdict,” Mathews said. “Justice has been served.”

Magallanez has prior felony convictions for burglary, possession a stolen vehicle, and unlawfully possessing a firearm, DiCesare said.

He is set to be sentenced on July 9.

Staff Writer Rod Leveque contributed to this report.

Suspect in Montclair killings committed to mental-health hospital

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A Montclair man who allegedly murdered his parents in February has been committed to a mental-health facility following a judge’s ruling that the man is mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Adrian Marvin Bonadie, 33, was committed by Judge Raymond Van Stockum on May 14 to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, where he will stay for no more than three years and be involuntary medicated.

Bonadie is accused of shooting and killing Earl Bonadie, 63, and Angela Bonadie, 62, on Feb. 6 in the family’s home in the 4800 block of Moreno Street.

Criminal proceedings against Bonadie were suspended on April 28 when Van Stockum ruled that Bonadie was incompetent, and the case will remain suspended until a judge determines that Bonadie is competent.

During a May 14 hearing in West Valley Superior Court, Van Stockum ordered the hospital to provide an update on Bonadie’s condition by Aug. 17, and provide further updates every six months, according to court records.

In addition to murder charges, Bonadie faces three counts of attempted murder for shooting at three female police officers who went to his home to investigate the incident.

Bonadie’s sister told police following the killings that her brother was schizophrenic, and his behavior had become increasingly unusual.

Family members made arrangements to remove weapons from their home prior to the incident, but failed to follow through before the killings took place.

Bonadie told police after his arrest that he believed his family was practicing witchcraft, according to police reports in the case’s public court file.


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Defendant in double-murder gang case takes plea deal

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — An alleged gang member accused of shooting and killing two men in a gang feud has agreed to a plea bargain that carries a nearly 30-year prison sentence.

Victor Marez, 26, was set to stand trial on two counts of murder in West Valley Superior Court on Friday when he opted to plead guilty to two counts of voluntary manslaughter as part of a plea agreement, said Deputy District Attorney Mike Dowd.

Prosecutors believe Marez, allegedly a member of the County Line Mafia, was responsible for shooting and killing two men in his gang as they sat in a minivan on Jan. 20, 2005 in the 4200 block of Los Serranos Boulevard in Chino Hills.

One of the murdered men, 18-year-old Henry Valle, had inadvertently burglarized the Pomona home of a shot-caller for the Mexican Mafia who had ties to Pomona’s 12th Street gang.

Following the burglary, the influential gangster “green-lighted” attacks on members of the County Line Mafia, prosecutors believe.

Rather than face retribution from the 12th Street gang, Marez lured Valle to Chino Hills and killed him, prosecutors said.

The other victim, 18-year-old Narisco Perez, apparently did not participate in the burglary, and may have been killed because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, authorities believe.

Dowd said that the prison sentence Marez will receive — for 29 years and 4 months — is a good resolution to a case that would have been difficult to successfully prosecute at trial.

“Based on the circumstances this is a good disposition,” Dowd said. “This wasn’t an easy case. It was very circumstantial. Getting him 30 years, or close to 30 years, was a pretty good disposition for this case.”

There was no DNA or fingerprint evidence linking Marez to the crime, nor was there direct evidence or eyewitnesses testimony that tied Marez to the killing, Dowd said.

The prosecution’s case would have hinged on three areas of evidence, Dowd said.

Six to eight weeks after the killing, Marez was found in possession of a gun that was proved to be the murder weapon through forensic tests, Dowd said.

But gang members typically pass off guns to one another frequently, so Marez’s possession of the gun doesn’t prove that he fired the gun, Dowd said.

Records from cell phone towers indicate that Marez was near the shooting site when the crime took place, Dowd said.

The prosecution’s key witness was a County Line Mafia member who told police he was present during the burglary, and personally witnessed Marez talk about plans to kill the people responsible for the burglary.

Dowd said the informant, who is in state prison, would have been called to testify at trial, but would have likely been a reluctant witness.

Marez is set to be sentenced on July 23. After being credited for time spent in jail awaiting trial, Marez will have about 22 or 23 years remaining to serve in state prison, Dowd said.

Staff Writer Rod Leveque contributed to this report.

Here’s Rod Leveque’s initial story on Marez’s case:

Gang feud suspected in C.H. teen deaths

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA) – Sunday, April 23, 2006

Author: Rod Leveque Staff Writer

CHINO HILLS – Two young men shot dead inside a minivan more than a year ago were probably killed in a gang feud that started when one of them unwittingly burglarized the house of a Mexican Mafia gang leader, according to authorities.

Henry Valle and Narciso Perez, both 18, were shot in the head at close range while parked along a normally quiet street in Chino Hills. The case baffled detectives for months, but authorities now have a suspect behind bars and believe they have finally brought closure to the long-unsolved investigation.

“In these matters – gang related murders – nobody talks to us,” said Sgt. T.A. Peters of the San Bernardino County Sheriff homicide detail. “It was very difficult to find witnesses who would cooperate.”

Victor Marez , 23, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder in connection with the Jan. 30, 2005 killings.

Marez , who was arrested last month, is scheduled to appear Thursday in West Valley Superior Court in Rancho Cucamonga.

Investigators say they believe Marez is a member of the County Line Mafia, a small, low-level and mostly Hispanic Pomona street gang. Both of the victims were also members of the same gang, detectives said.

The police theory of how Marez came to kill two of his homeboys offers an intriguing glimpse into the world of gang politics and street justice.

According to sheriff’s investigative reports, Valle, who went by the nickname “Scrappy,” went to a house on Freda Street in Pomona in early 2004 to fight another young man who he believed lived there.

During the confrontation, Valle crawled through a window of the house and took about 2 ounces of methamphetamine and a television from inside.

What Valle didn’t know is that the house belonged to an influential gangster who is a shot-caller for the Mexican Mafia and has ties to Pomona’s 12th Street gang, according to the reports.

Both are large, deeply-rooted, violent and influential Hispanic gangs.

The gang leader soon discovered who burglarized his home and sought retribution. He gave a “green light” for 12th Street to kill Valle or other members of the County Line Mafia, police believe.

Rather than face the wrath of 12th Street, Marez , and possibly other members of the County Line Mafia, decided to take out Valle themselves, police said.

“(12th Street) told them if they didn’t clean up their own house they would do it for them,” Peters said. “They wanted it to be dealt with.”

Detectives believe Marez lured Valle to the 4200 block of Los Serranos Boulevard in Chino Hills.

They believe Valle and Perez were sitting in the front seat of a 1995 Honda Odyssey eating food from Jack in the Box and drinking beer when Marez shot each of them in the head at close range with a .38 caliber pistol.

Investigators say they don’t believe Perez had any connection to the burglary. They think he was killed only because he happened to be with Valle.

“He was a completely innocent person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Peters said.

Detectives arrested Marez on March 10 this year. He had a .38 caliber gun on him that ballistics test later showed to be the murder weapon.

His cell phone had a photo of the gun as its wallpaper with a caption reading “My true love,” according to police reports.

Cell phone records also show that Marez was using his phone near the crime scene on the night of the killings, according to the police reports.

Marez ‘s attorney, Christian Cruz, did not return several calls seeking comment.

Detectives are still investigating the case. Anyone with information is asked to call Peters at (909) 387-3571.

Detective: Chino Hills murder suspect ‘on the run’

CHINO HILLS — An 18-year-old man wanted for murder for allegedly running someone over with his car here Saturday morning is “on the run” from authorities, a sheriff’s detective said today.

Witnesses told sheriff’s deputies that Daniel Jose Guebara deliberately ran over Raymond Jimenez, 19, at about 1:45 a.m. in the 15200 block of Carmelita Avenue, said San Bernardino County sheriff’s detective Scott Landen.

Landen said Guebara has been unreachable since the incident.

“We have no idea where he’s at,” Landen said.

Guebara has lived in Chino, and his most recent address is in Rancho Cucamonga, Landen said.

Guebara and an older Hispanic man visited a house party the morning of the incident and confronted someone at the party about a prior altercation involving broken windows, Landen said.

The older Hispanic man began firing a gun, and partygoers fled from the area, Landen said.

The fist vehicle to strike Jimenez was a van belonging to Jimenez’s friends who were fleeing from the shooting. They told police they struck Jimenez accidentally, Landen said.

After the van struck Jimenez, Guebara deliberately ran Jimenez over in his dark-colored Toyota Camry, Landen said.

Prosecution delivers opening statement in police slashing trial

The prosecution delivered its opening statement Tuesday afternoon in the trial of a man accused of resisting arrest and slashing an Upland police officer with a pocket knife.

Johnny Joe Magallanez, 28, is accused of attacking the officer in December 2007 after the officer tried to arrest him on suspicion of burglary at Mervyn’s at 233 S. Mountain Ave.

According to online court records, Deputy District Attorney Carlo DiCesare delivered a 10-minute opening statement Tuesday afternoon in West Valley Superior Court.

Magallanez’s defense attorney, Margis Matulionis, declined to give an opening statement. He will have an opportunity to give an opening statement at the start of the defense portion of the trial.

Here’s the initial story on his arrest:

Attempted-murder count filed

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA) – Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Author: Rod Leveque, Staff Writer

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Prosecutors filed charges of attempted murder of a peace officer, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest Tuesday against a man accused of slashing a police officer on the arm at an Upland department store.

Johnny Magallanez , 27, is scheduled to be arraigned today in West Valley Superior Court.

Police say Magallanez , a parolee from the Northern California town of Corning, slashed the officer with a folding pocket knife Friday night at Mervyn’s at 233 S. Mountain Ave.

The officer’s injuries were not life-threatening. He was treated and released that night.

“The indication is that he tried to go for the officer’s neck and face,” Deputy District Attorney Carlo DiCesare said. “Fortunately, it didn’t work.”

Authorities allege Magallanez had piled up merchandise near a door inside the store when the officer approached.

The officer, believing Magallanez was preparing to steal the items, took the man outside to arrest him on suspicion of burglary. A fight ensued, and Magallanez pulled the weapon and stabbed at the officer as the two grappled, authorities said.

The officer subdued Magallanez without using any of his own weapons, police said.

DiCesare said the officer did not know Magallanez had a knife until the struggle ended and he saw his own blood.

Magallanez is being held without bail at West Valley Detention Center.

Court records indicate he was on parole stemming from a felony gun charge in Glenn County. He was sentenced to three years in prison in December 2005.

Meanwhile, prosecutors declined to file charges against Tina Magallanez , a woman who was arrested Friday alongside Johnny Magallanez . The relationship between the pair is unclear.

DA’s office names chief deputy district attorney

Clark Hansen III has been promoted to the position of chief deputy district attorney, San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos announced today.

Hansen has served as a supervising deputy district attorney at multiple offices since 1990, and was hired by the district attorney’s office in 1983, according to a news release.

Hansen replaces Chief Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Gonzales, who is retiring, according to the news release.

Police identify man who stabbed self at Claremont checkpoint

Police today identified Charles Holton of North Hollywood as the man who repeatedly slashed his own neck at a DUI checkpoint in Claremont on Friday.

Holton, 53, remains hospitalized at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, but he is now alert and talking, said Claremont police Lt. Mike Ciszek.

Police diverted Holton to the secondary screening area of the checkpoint at Foothill Boulevard and Dartmouth Avenue after they learned he did not have a driver’s license.

After further checking his records, police found that Holton had an active warrant related to drunken driving, Ciszek said.

When police returned to Holton’s car, Holton had taken out a folding pocket knife and began stabbing himself. Police used Tasers to get him to stop, Ciszek said.

Holton told police that he works in the Inland Empire and was driving through Claremont on his way home from work Friday, Ciszek said.

Defendant seeks to withdraw guilty plea in Chino Hills murder case

CHINO — A Chino Hills man who pleaded guilty last month to stabbing his girlfriend to death is now seeking to withdraw his plea.

Santiago Mauricio Morales-Garcia, 25, told a judge on Friday that when he struck the plea agreement, he believed he agreed to a prison sentence of 15 years, rather than the actual sentence of 15 years to life, said Deputy District Attorney Steve Mitchell.

“He said he was told it was just 15 years,” Mitchell said.

Morales-Garcia is charged with killing his girlfriend, 43-year-old Minerva Calzada, on Aug. 24, 2008 in the couple’s kitchen in the 4500 block of Bird Farm Road.

After he stabbed Calzada to death, Morales-Garcia stabbed himself several times in an attempt to kill himself, he told police following his arrest.

When Morales-Garcia appeared in Chino Superior Court on April 17 for a preliminary hearing, he agreed to plead guilty to murder as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

He was set to be sentenced on Friday, but sentencing was delayed pending a judge’s ruling on Morales-Garcia’s request to withdraw his guilty plea.

Mitchell said he opposes Morales-Garcia’s bid to withdraw his plea.

“My position is that he was adequately advised of his constitutional rights when the pled guilty, and he should be sentenced to 15 years to life,” Mitchell said.

At Friday’s hearing, the court appointed a new attorney to represent Morales-Garcia in his effort to withdraw his plea. A judge is scheduled to rule June 10 on Morales-Garcia’s motion, Mitchell said.

Neither Morales-Garcia’s new attorney or his original attorney has returned calls seeking comment today.

(4:42 UPDATE: Morales-Garcia’s new attorney, William Morales, called back a few minutes ago and declined to comment on the case.)

Calzada’s daughter told police that Morales-Garcia and Calzada were among a group of people who visited an El Monte nightclub the day of the killing.

The daughter, who lived with the couple, told police that the couple did not appear to be arguing or fighting at the nightclub. The couple left the nightclub before the daughter did, the daughter told police.

At about 7 p.m., some of the couple’s neighbors began hearing loud noises and screams coming from the couple’s home, they told police.

After his arrest, Morales-Garcia told police that Calzada first stabbed him with a knife in the couple’s kitchen.

He said he retaliated by punching her several times. Calzada fell to the ground, and Morales-Garcia kicked her in the head and stabbed her repeatedly, he told police.

Morales-Garcia then turned the knife on himself, suffering a total of 27 stab wounds during the incident, according to a police report.

Calzada’s daughter discovered the couple lying on the kitchen floor when she returned home from the nightclub at about 8 p.m., she told police.

Chino hit-and-run defendant pleads no contest

CHINO — An 18-year-old Pomona man has pleaded no contest to three charges filed by prosecutors following a fatal hit-and-run accident here last month.

Alfredo Antonio Ramirez, 18, will face a sentence of up to two years in state prison for the April 14 incident that resulted in the death of Richard Bohannan of Chino, said Deputy District Attorney Steve Mitchell.

Bohannan, a 42-year-old father of two, was hit by Ramirez’s vehicle in the 11800 block of Pipeline Avenue as he walked to his mailbox, police said.

California Highway Patrol officers located Ramirez with the help of Bohannan’s niece, who drove the streets the day after Bohannan’s death searching for the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle.

She found a 1991 Toyota Celica in Pomona belonging to Ramirez that had body damage consistent with the crash. Ramirez surrendered to police after he learned he was a suspect.

Ramirez appeared in Chino Superior Court on Friday and reached a plea deal with Judge Gerard Brown, Mitchell said.

Ramirez pleaded no contest to three charges — a felony count of hit-and-run resulting in injury or death, a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter, and an infraction for driving without car insurance, according to online court records.

In exchange for his no contest pleas, Brown told Ramirez that any potential jail or prison sentence would have a “lid” of two years, meaning his sentence won’t exceed two years, Mitchell said.

Ramirez, who remains jailed in West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, is scheduled to be sentenced July 22 in Chino Superior Court.

The county probation department will draft a report with a sentencing recommendation prior to the hearing, Mitchell said.

“My personal opinion is (Ramirez) should go to prison,” Mitchell said.

Ramirez’s defense attorney, Ramiro Lluis, has not returned a call seeking comment today.