Jury selection set to begin for man accused of slashing police officer

Jury selection is set to begin in West Valley Superior Court this afternoon in the case of a man accused of resisting arrest and slashing a police officer with a pocket knife at a Mervyn’s store in Upland, said Deputy District Attorney Carlo DiCesare.

Johnny Magallanez, 28, is charged with attempted murder and two other felony counts.

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.

Arraignment continued for alleged serial killer

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11:10 UPDATE

A reputed serial killer whose victims allegedly include a Claremont woman appeared in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom this morning to be arraigned on two counts of murder.

John Floyd Thomas, Jr., known as the “Westside Rapist,” did not enter a plea during the brief hearing. A new arraignment date was set for Aug. 25.

Thomas, 72, has been charged with two counts of murder in connection with two killings in Los Angeles from the 1970s.

Police investigators have said that Thomas has been linked by DNA to three additional killings from the 1970s and 1980s, and may have been responsible for as many as 25 more killings in Los Angeles County.

Police also say that Thomas, a former Chino resident, may have committed scores of unsolved rapes.

Among the killings linked to Thomas by DNA is the June 1986 rape and strangulation of 56-year-old Adrienne Askew of Claremont, who was killed in her apartment in the 600 block of West Bonita Avenue.

Police said they connected Thomas to the killings earlier this year, when a DNA sample he submitted to authorities in October was linked to the cold cases. Thomas was arrested in March at his home in south Los Angeles.

Thomas appeared in court this morning wearing an orange jail-issued jumpsuit, which indicates he is being held in protective custody, said a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

During this morning’s brief court hearing, Thomas was sitting down, with his small frame hunched over. He was inside a cage-like enclosure where in-custody defendants are held in Commissioner Kristi Lousteau’s courtroom at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.

One of Thomas’ defense attorneys, Alan Gelfand, requested that Thomas’ arraignment hearing be continued to Aug. 25.

The defense requested the continuance because police investigations into Thomas’ additional alleged killings are ongoing, and the defense wants to wait to see whether new charges are filed before proceeding with the case, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Robison, who spoke to reporters after the hearing, declined to answer additional questions on Thomas’ case, citing the ongoing investigation.

Police say Thomas would target elderly women who lived alone. He would enter their homes, rape them, then strangle them to death while covering their faces with a piece of bedding such as a sheet or pillow case.

Several aspects of Askew’s death in 1986 match police descriptions of Thomas’ killing methods.

Thomas lived in Chino from 1983 to 1989, and worked during that time as a peer counselor at a hospital in Pomona. Thomas returned to the Los Angeles area after he was hired as a state insurance-claims adjuster in 1989.

Cold-case investigators for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department say Thomas is not considered a suspect in any of their 600-plus unsolved homicide cases.

Thomas is currently charged with killing Ethel Sokoloff, 68, and Elizabeth McKeown, 67, both of Los Angeles.

Sokoloff was killed in 1972 — prosecutors allege Thomas also raped and robbed her. Thomas raped and killed McKeown in 1976, prosecutors allege.

Click here to view Tuesday’s post on Thomas’ case.

Judge denies request for stay in Webb civil case

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge has denied a request to stay the civil case brought against San Bernardino County by an unarmed man who was shot three times by a sheriff’s deputy in 2006.

Attorneys for the county requested that the case be stayed until Jan. 29, 2011 so that the deputy, Ivory Webb, will be available to testify, said Dana Alden Fox, an attorney for the county.

The request was denied Monday by U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II, Fox said.

Webb shot off-duty Airman Elio Carrion on Jan. 29, 2006 in Chino following a high-speed chase.

Webb could be charged criminally by federal authorities for his role in the shooting. For that reason Webb’s attorney has said Webb will invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify if he is called to the witness stand, Fox said.

The statute of limitations for federal criminal charges against Webb will expire on Jan. 29, 2011, Fox said.

There is currently no trial date set for Carrion’s case against the county and Webb, Fox said.

Alleged serial killer linked to Claremont slaying due in court Wednesday

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John Floyd Thomas, Jr., a suspected serial killer known as the “Westside Rapist,” will appear in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday morning to be arraigned on two counts of murder.

Thomas, 72, is charged with two 1970s killings in Los Angeles, and his been linked by DNA to three other cold cases elsewhere in Los Angeles County, including a 1986 killing in Claremont.

Police say Thomas would target elderly women who lived alone. He would enter their homes, rape them, then strangle them to death while obscuring their faces with a piece of bedding such as a sheet or pillow case.

Among his victims, police believe, was 56-year-old Adrienne Askew, who was killed in June 1986 in her apartment in the 600 block of West Bonita Avenue.

Police suspect Thomas committed an additional 25 unsolved murders in Los Angeles County in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as scores of unsolved rapes.

Thomas lived in Chino from 1983 to 1989, and during that time worked at a hospital in Pomona as a peer counselor.

Cold-case investigators for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department are not investigating Thomas as a suspect and any unsolved homicide cases in the county, and have not linked him by DNA to any unsolved killings, said Sgt. Frank Montanez, head of the department’s cold-case unit.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office may announce new murder charges against Thomas at Wednesday morning’s hearing, according to an April news release from the Los Angeles Police Department.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office said this afternoon that she didn’t know whether additional charges would be filed Wednesday against Thomas.

Click here for a photo gallery from the April 30 news conference announcing Thomas’s arrest.

Here’s the initial story the paper published about Thomas’ link to the Claremont slaying:

Claremont woman’s death linked to man arrested in suspected serial killings

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA) – Thursday, April 30, 2009

Author: Lori Consalvo and Will Bigham, Staff Writers

An alleged serial killer suspected of raping and strangling as many as 30 older women over two decades in Southern California has been linked by DNA to a 1986 slaying in Claremont.

John Floyd Thomas Jr., a 72-year-old insurance claims adjuster, has been charged with murdering two elderly Los Angeles women in the 1970s and was linked by DNA to at least three other killings in the 1970s and 1980s, authorities said.

The former Chino resident was arrested March 31 at his home in South Los Angeles.

In addition to dozens of killings, police suspect Thomas may have committed scores of unsolved sexual assaults possibly dating back as far as the mid-1950s, said Deputy Chief Charlie Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department.

“We have not yet reached the depth” of what Thomas is capable of, Beck said at a news conference on Thursday afternoon.

One of the cases Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators have linked to Thomas using DNA evidence is the June 1986 strangling death of Adrienne Askew, Claremont police Capt. Gary Jenkins said.

Askew, 56, was attacked in her apartment in the 600 block of West Bonita Avenue, according to news reports of the incident.

Detectives were also investigating Thomas as a possible suspect in at least one other attack in Claremont from the 1980s, police said.

Thomas remained jailed Thursday without the possibility of bail and is next due in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 20 for an arraignment hearing.

In the first wave of killings in Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, a man police dubbed “The Westside Rapist” entered the homes of elderly women who lived alone, raped them and choked them until they passed out or died, according to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the case.

The 17 people killed were found with pillows or blankets over their faces.

Aspects of Askew’s death, as described in 1986 news reports, appear consistent with police descriptions of Thomas ‘ alleged killing methods.

The wife of the man who discovered Askew’s body said Askew was found face down on her bed, fully clothed, with a piece of bedding over her head, such as a sheet or pillowcase, the Claremont Courier reported in its July 9, 1986, edition.

A coroner’s report listed Askew’s death as homicide caused by strangulation.

Askew’s killing occurred the same year that two other elderly Claremont women were raped in their apartments, the Courier reported.

On March 4, 1986, an 83-year-old woman who lived in the same apartment complex as Askew was raped and robbed. In early April, a 78-year-old woman was raped in her apartment – only a few blocks north of Askew’s complex.

Following Askew’s death, police and sheriff’s deputies also investigated the possibility that her killing may have been linked to the disappearance and death three years earlier of her mother, Isabel Askew.

The mother and daughter shared an apartment at the time of Isabel Askew’s 1983 disappearance.

Eleven days after Isabel Askew went missing, her body was found in an Ontario grape vineyard a few hundred yards north of Ontario International Airport, the Courier reported.

Sheriff’s officials on Thursday declined to identify the Claremont cases they believe may be linked to Thomas , citing an ongoing investigation.

At Thomas ‘ May 20 arraignment hearing, the District Attorney’s Office will announce possible charges for the additional killings linked to Thomas by DNA, according to a Los Angeles Police Department news release.

If convicted of the two counts of murder, Thomas could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors may seek the death penalty if Thomas is convicted of any killings after 1978 when the death penalty was reinstated in California, Beck said.

Thomas ‘ defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Raoul Hutchens, did not return a call seeking comment Thursday afternoon.

The prosecutor handling his case, Deputy District Attorney Darci A. Lanphere, was not available for comment Thursday, a district attorney’s spokeswoman said.

The victims in all 30 cases under review were older white women, mostly of lower incomes and often widows living alone, said Los Angeles police Capt. Denis Cremins. All had been sexually assaulted and most were strangled.

Despite some 20 survivors, detectives didn’t connect the cases. There were conflicting descriptions from victims, a lack of communication between agencies and an absence of DNA technology, according to the Times.

Thomas had been twice convicted of sexual assault and detectives in October collected a DNA sample from him at his home as part of efforts to build an offender database. He offered no resistance when the swab was collected, Cremins said.

Soon after his arrest on March 31, Thomas resigned from his job with the State Compensation Insurance Fund in Glendale, where he had worked since 1989.

He was charged April 2 with the murder of Ethel Sokoloff, 68, in 1972, and Elizabeth McKeown, 67, in 1976, both in Los Angeles.

Investigators said Thomas ‘ DNA also was connected to the scene of a 1975 Los Angeles murder, a 1976 Inglewood murder, and the 1986 Claremont killing.

Thomas was born in Los Angeles. His mother died when he was 12 and he was raised by an aunt and godmother, attended public schools and joined the Air Force in 1956. He was considered sloppy and late and was dishonorably discharged, the Times said, citing military records.

In 1957, he was convicted of burglary and attempted rape in Los Angeles and sentenced to six years in prison. After his release, parole violations sent him back behind bars until 1966.

A few years later, a series of attacks on elderly women began by the so-called “Westside Rapist,” who roamed from Hollywood to Inglewood.

During that time, Thomas was a social worker, a hospital employee and a salesman.

The attacks stopped in 1978 – the year he went back to prison for the rape of a Pasadena woman.

After his 1983 release, he moved to Chino and took a job as a hospital peer counselor in Pomona. That year, a series of attacks on elderly women began that included at least one slaying in Claremont.

Investigators say the wave of attacks stopped in 1989 – the year Thomas began working in Glendale.

“As far as why he stopped, we don’t know for sure if he stopped,” Los Angeles police Detective Rick Jackson said. “Who knows? It could be age-related. We just don’t know enough about him at this time.”

Staff writer Joe Blackstock and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Timeline

December 2003: Detectives are notified that a male DNA profile was deduced from Ethel Sokoloff evidence.

Oct. 22, 2008: The LAPD collects a DNA sample from John Floyd Thomas Jr.

March 27, 2009: DNA from Thomas reportedly matches the profile from evidence analyzed in the slaying of Sokoloff.

March 31: Detectives are notified by the Department of Justice that five unsolved murders are forensically linked. The DNA profile reportedly matches the profile belonging to Thomas . Thomas is taken into custody and is booked on suspicion of murder.

April 2: The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office files two counts of murder with special circumstances on the LAPD cases.

Bail set at $500,000 for woman arrested in courtroom melee

Bail has been set at $500,000 for a woman who was arrested Thursday for accosting a prosecutor following a guilty verdict in her brother’s murder case.

Rose Bernal, 25, was booked Thursday on suspicion of assault on a public official and battery on a police officer. Her brother, Rafael Quiroz, was convicted by a jury moments earlier of second-degree murder in West Valley Superior Court.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has set Bernal’s bail at $500,000. She is being held at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, and she is due in court Monday for an arraignment hearing, according to information on the department’s online inmate locator.

Melee, 2 arrests follow guilty verdict in Ontario murder trial

UPDATED AT 4:54 P.M.

UPDATED AT 3:53 P.M.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A courtroom melee followed the reading of a guilty verdict in a murder case today in West Valley Superior Court, with two siblings of the defendant taken into custody after they grappled with sheriff’s deputies.

Rafael Quiroz, 21, was found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder shortly before noon. Prosecutors accused Quiroz, of Temple City, of shooting and killing his married girlfriend’s husband in Ontario in 2006, when Quiroz was 18.

As the case’s prosecutor walked to leave the courtroom following the reading of the verdict, Quiroz’s sister rose from her seat in the audience, approached the prosecutor and appeared to block his path.

“You’re a piece of [expletive],” Rose Bernal told Deputy District Attorney Mike Dowd. “How can you do that to an 18-year-old kid?”

After Bernal, 25, confronted Dowd, several sheriff’s deputies and some of Bernal’s family members rushed to the area.

A major commotion followed. Deputies tried to restrain Bernal, and she appeared to resist their efforts.

Several deputies took their Tasers out of their holsters and threatened to use them on Bernal and other family members in the area.

Bernal was moved by deputies to the center of the courtroom — between the attorneys’ table, the jury box and the judge’s bench — and taken to her knees and handcuffed.

Deputies ordered the roughly 10 people who remained in the courtroom to leave. As family members stood outside the courtroom moments later, deputies came out of the courtroom and arrested Quiroz’s brother.

A deputy told family members the boy was being taken into custody for shoving a sheriff’s deputy during the melee that followed the guilty verdict.

“What am I going to do?” wailed Quiroz’s mother, 40-year-old April Quiroz, after her son was taken back into the courtroom in handcuffs.

Deputies told family members to leave the courthouse, and they left.

Outside the courthouse, there was a brief confrontation between deputies and one of Quiroz’s sisters, who demanded information on the arrest of her siblings.

Deputies ordered the sister, family members and other supporters of Quiroz to leave the courthouse area, and they walking to the adjacent parking lot.

In an interview this afternoon, Dowd said that Bernal bumped him, cursed at him repeatedly, and formed a fist with her right hand as if she was going to punch him.

Dowd said he told Bernal repeatedly to back off, and she responded by asking him what “he was going to do about it.” Dowd said he was prepared to defend himself if Bernal threw a punch.

“If she was going to take a swing at me, you better believe it,” Dowd said. “I’m not going to get pummeled by anybody.”

Dowd said he left the courtroom when he saw sheriff’s deputies approaching Bernal. He said he thought that leaving would be the best way to help de-escalate the situation.

“And apparently it got even worse after I left,” Dowd said.

Dowd said that in his 14 years as a prosecutor in Rancho Cucamonga, he has not heard of an incident where a prosecutor or defense attorney was accosted in court.

“It’s a first time for me,” Dowd said. “I’ve never been accosted in court before. I’ve put someone on Death Row and been shown much more respect than what this family has shown.”

Bernal was booked at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga on suspicion of assault on a public official and battery on a police officer, said Jodi Miller, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Miller said that during the courtroom tussle, a sheriff’s deputy injured an arm and another was “slugged in the head by Rose Bernal because she was being combative.”

Quiroz’s brother, 17, was booked on suspicion of taking a person from lawful custody, Miller said.

A sheriff’s sergeant told Miller that the boy tried to pull Bernal away as deputies tried to restrain her, Miller said.

Quiroz’s defense attorney, Ted Thompson, said following the incident that he “was sorry to see that happen.”

Thompson said that he and Quiroz’s family were “obviously sad and disappointed” over the verdict. He said he would file a notice of appeal on Quiroz’s behalf.

A second-degree murder conviction carries a prison sentence of 15 years to life. Quiroz is scheduled to be sentenced June 15. He will be eligible for parole in 2021.

Quiroz’s pending sentence is far more lenient than the sentence of 50 years to life that he would have faced if convicted of first-degree murder along with allegations that he used a gun.

Quiroz’s girlfriend and co-defendant — 24-year-old Ingrid Esteves of San Bernardino — was found guilty by a jury Wednesday of first-degree murder, which carries a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

Esteves is scheduled to be sentenced June 11.

Prosecutors said Quiroz and Esteves began dating about a month prior to the shooting death on Aug. 2, 2006 of Esteves’ husband, 26-year-old Angel Esteves.

According to the prosecution’s theory of the case, Esteves lured her husband to the area of D Street and Parkside Drive — ostesibly seeking a ride home — and when Angel Esteves arrived, Quiroz opened fire with a handgun.

Continue reading below for a story on the case from today’s newspaper.


View Angel Esteves murder in a larger map

Jury finds wife guilty in love-triangle murder case

Will Bigham, Staff Writer

Created: 05/13/2009 08:35:20 PM PDT

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – A jury found a San Bernardino woman guilty of murder on Wednesday in the shooting death of her husband in 2006.

Ingrid Esteves, 24, faces a prison sentence of 25 years to life for her role in the death of her husband, 26-year-old Angel Esteves, who prosecutors said was shot to death by Esteves’ boyfriend in Ontario.

A separate jury was seated to hear the case of Ingrid Esteves’ boyfriend and co-defendant – 21-year-old Rafael Quiroz – and they began deliberations at about noon Wednesday after attorneys gave closing arguments.

Quiroz’s jury, which consists of eight men and four women, deliberated until about 4 p.m. Wednesday before leaving the courthouse for the day. They were set to continue deliberating this morning, a court clerk said.

Esteves’ jury, which included 10 women and two men, deliberated only about three hours before reaching a guilty verdict.

Prosecutors said Esteves lured her husband to the area of D Street and Parkside Drive to be shot on Aug. 2, 2006, by Quiroz, a Temple City resident.

When the verdict was read shortly after noon, Esteves didn’t visibly react. Her defense attorney, Maryanne Murphy, declined to comment after the hearing.

The prosecuting attorney, Deputy District Attorney Mike Dowd, said he was pleased by the verdict.

“It’s half-done,” said Dowd, referring to the jury still deliberating Quiroz’s guilt. “I think justice has been half-served so far. We’ll see what the other jury has to say.”

During his closing argument in Quiroz’s case on Wednesday morning, Dowd told jurors that Quiroz, who began dating Esteves about a month before the fatal shooting, was an “all-too-willing participant” in Esteves’ plan to kill her husband.

Quiroz, then 18, joined in Esteves’ plan because he was “either crazy enough, stupid enough or just plain in love,” Dowd said.

On Aug. 1, 2006, Quiroz traveled with Esteves and Esteves’ mother and young son to a motel in El Monte, where he obtained a gun from a friend, Dowd said.

The man’s name is unknown to authorities, but Esteves’ mother, Olga Munoz, said in her testimony last week the man was nicknamed “Angel of Death.”

The group drove to Ontario and parked in the area of D and Parkside, where Esteves called Angel Esteves from her cell phone and asked him to pick her up, Dowd said.

When Angel Esteves arrived, he was ambushed by Quiroz, Dowd said. Angel Esteves suffered a gunshot to the head and a gunshot to the back, and died about four hours after the incident.

In his closing argument, Quiroz’s attorney, Ted Thompson, emphasized the high burden of proof required of prosecutors in criminal cases, where the guilt of a defendant must be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Thompson told the jurors that Dowd did not meet that standard during five days of testimony in Quiroz’s murder trial.

Thompson urged jurors to disregard statements made by Munoz implicating Quiroz because he said Munoz’s testimony was untruthful.

“She’s not entitled to any credibility whatsoever,” he said.

Thompson minimized the importance of the gunshot-residue findings and other evidence presented by Dowd during the trial.

Esteves is set to be sentenced June 11.

The judge who heard the case, Arthur Harrison, is bound by statute to sentence Esteves to 25 years to life in prison, Dowd said.

Esteves will be credited with the time she spent in custody awaiting trial and will be eligible for parole in 2031, Dowd said.

No verdict yet for boyfriend in love-triangle murder trial

Jurors deliberating the guilt of Rafael Quiroz of Temple City, who faces murder charges for allegedly killing his married girlfriend’s husband, left the courthouse between 4 and 4:30 p.m. today without reaching a verdict.

They are set to return to West Valley Superior Court Thursday morning to continue deliberations, a court clerk said.

Here is my post on the case from earlier today:

A jury found a San Bernardino woman guilty of murder today for the shooting death of her husband in Ontario in 2006.

Ingrid Esteves, 24, faces a prison sentence of 25 years to life for her role in the death of her husband, 26-year-old Angel Esteves, who prosecutors say was shot to death by Esteves’ boyfriend on Aug. 2, 2006.

A separate jury was seated to hear the case of Ingrid Esteves’ boyfriend and co-defendant — 21-year-old Rafael Quiroz — and they began deliberations at about noon today after attorneys gave closing arguments in West Valley Superior Court.

Jurors deliberated only about three hours before reaching a guilty verdict for Esteves, who prosecutors say lured her husband to the area of D Street and Parkside Drive to be shot by Quiroz, of Temple City.

Jury: Wife guilty of murdering husband

A jury found a San Bernardino woman guilty of murder today for the shooting death of her husband in Ontario in 2006.

Ingrid Esteves, 24, faces a prison sentence of 25 years to life for her role in the death of her husband, 26-year-old Angel Esteves, who prosecutors say was shot to death by Esteves’ boyfriend on Aug. 2, 2006.

A separate jury was seated to hear the case of Ingrid Esteves’ boyfriend and co-defendant — 21-year-old Rafael Quiroz — and they began deliberations at about noon today after attorneys gave closing arguments in West Valley Superior Court.

Jurors deliberated only about three hours before reaching a guilty verdict for Esteves, who prosecutors say lured her husband to the area of D Street and Parkside Drive to be shot by Quiroz, of Temple City.

Jurors begin deliberations in Ontario love-triangle murder trial

Jurors began deliberating this afternoon in the murder trial of a cheating wife and her boyfriend accused of killing the woman’s husband in 2006.

In closing arguments today, a prosecutor accused Ingrid Esteves, 24, of planning the the shooting death of her husband, 26-year-old Angel Esteves, and recruiting her boyfriend to carry out the killing.

“She set this up,” said Deputy District Attorney Mike Dowd. “She’s the one that wanted him dead, and got him dead.”

Ingrid Esteves’ defense attorney, Maryanne Murphy, told jurors that the San Bernardino woman did not help plan or participate in the killing.

Murphy pinned the murder on Esteves’ boyfriend and co-defendant — 21-year-old Rafael Quiroz — who she implied was motivated to carry out the Ontario killing to impress a friend with gang ties.

There were two separate juries seated to hear Esteves and Quiroz’s case — one for each defendant.

The jury seated to hear Quiroz’s case is set to hear closing arguments from Dowd and from Quiroz’s defense attorney Wednesday morning in West Valley Superior Court.

Esteves’ jury began deliberating at about 2 p.m. today, and continued until leaving the courthouse shortly after 4 p.m. They are set to continue deliberating Wednesday morning, a court clerk said.

In his closing argument, Dowd laid out a timeline for jurors of Esteves’ actions leading up to the shooting, and highlighted her inconsistent statements to police after the incident.

About four months before her husband was killed, Ingrid Esteves told co-workers she wanted her husband dead. Two months later, she asked a friend for help obtaining a gun, Dowd told jurors.

About a month before Angel Esteves’ death, Ingrid Esteves started dating Rafael Quiroz of Temple City, then 18, who Dowd called “a sucker” and a “perfect patsy” willing to do as his new girlfriend asked.

Esteves, Quiroz, Esteves’ mother and Esteves’ son traveled together from Fontana to a motel in El Monte on Aug. 1, 2006 where they met Quiroz’s friend, who had access to a gun, Dowd told jurors.

The group drove to Ontario and parked near the intersection of D Street and Parkside Drive.
Esteves called her husband and asked him to pick her up at the intersection, Dowd said. When he arrived shortly after midnight, Quiroz shot and killed him, and the group fled the scene, Dowd said.

In her closing argument, Murphy highlighted elements of Esteves’ behavior during the incident that she said demonstrate the woman’s innocence.

After Quiroz dropped her off at her San Bernardino home, Esteves called police to report the shooting. Murphy told jurors a guilty person wouldn’t call to police to report a murder she assisted in carrying out.

Murphy also said Esteves would not bring her mother and son with her if she planned to kill Angel Esteves.

Prosecutors offer plea bargains to Rancho couple accused of inheritance theft

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26593-Yvonne Reyes-thumb-250x312.jpgProsecutors and defense attorneys are working to resolve the grand theft case of a married couple accused of stealing $750,000 in inheritance money from three orphaned children in their care.

The defense attorney for Richard Reyes, 50, said today that prosecutors have made a plea offer of 4 years in state prison for his client.

Reyes’ wife and co-defendant, 48-year-old Yvonne Reyes, has been offered a sentence of 1-2 years, said James Reiss, Richard Reyes’ defense attorney.

The Rancho Cucamonga couple, who are currently jailed in lieu of $1.4 million bail, are accused of stealing the inheritance money over an 18-month period starting in September 2006.

The children in their care were orphaned in 2006 when their father, Monrovia fire Capt. Fernando Rodriguez, 41, shot and killed his estranged wife, 33-year-old Katherine Rodriguez, then shot himself.

The Reyeses were granted temporary guardianship of the children after the murder-suicide.

Deputy District Attorney Glenn Yabuno, the case’s prosecutor, said that as part of a plea bargain in the Reyeses’ case, prosecutors would insist the couple repay the full sum allegedly stolen from the children.

Reiss said if the case is resolved, the money will be repaid through fundraising, family contributions, and potential litigation against attorneys who represented the children in their guardianship case.

Reiss said there are civil claims being initiated by the children against the attorneys for failing to obtain a bond to insure the children’s inheritance against theft.

The Reyeses appeared in West Valley Superior Court this morning for a routine hearing, where little happened besides attorneys agreeing on a future court date. The Reyeses are next due in court June 8.

A bail-reduction request from Yvonne Reyes’ attorney was set to be considered today, but that issue was continued to June 8.