Suspect pleads not guilty in 2005 Chino stabbing death

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CHINO — When Leopoldo Servin was killed here nearly five years ago, he was stabbed 28 times and badly mutilated before being left to die in an alley.

Roger Perchez, who lived in the same Chino apartment building as Servin, had been a suspect in the January 2005 killing since it occurred — he was even once arrested but released because investigators lacked physical evidence.

Perchez, 30, hadn’t appeared in court to face charges until this week, when he pleaded not guilty to murder in Chino Superior Court.

It remains unclear how investigators tied Perchez to the killing of Servin, 24, or what may have motivated the killing.

In a news release, a city spokeswoman said a witness came forward in June 2008 and led Chino investigators to the murder weapon, which was found in a drainage pipe.

A Chino police spokeswoman did not return a call seeking comment today, and a prosecutor declined to discuss the facts of the case.

According to police reports attached to Perchez’s court file, at the time of Servin’s killing Servin and Perchez lived in the same apartment complex in the 13100 block of Ninth Street.

And a 10-page rap sheet attached to Perchez’s court file shows numerous arrests and convictions — for crimes such as burglary, battery, gang participation, possession of drugs for sale, rioting and a weapons violation.

In an interview today, the woman who contacted police after finding Servin in her alley recalled the night of Servin’s death in detail.

Less than two minutes before she discovered Servin, Mary Cantu, 65, said she heard a car in the alley beside her home in the 13450 block of Third Street.

After the car left, she said her dogs were unusually agitated and fixated on something outside.
Cantu said she looked outside her bedroom window and saw Servin leaning on a fence that separates the alley from her property.

Her initial thought was, “Oh it’s some borracho, a drunk,” she said. But Servin moved his body slightly and he was illuminated by a street light, and Cantu saw that he was covered in blood.

Cantu went outside to help Servin, and Servin was unable to speak to her.

He was pronounced dead after being transported to a local hospital.

Servin had suffered 18 stab wounds to the front of his body, 10 stab wounds to the back of his body, and numerous defensive wounds on his hands. His left eye had been gouged out, according to police reports.

He was never able to make a statement to police or paramedics prior to his death.

“It was sad the way they cut him all up and poked him,” Cantu said. “I’ve never seen that.”

Shortly after Servin’s killing, someone attached a bouquet of plastic flowers to the section of Cantu’s fence where she found Servin. The bouquet is still attached to the fence, and Servin said she sometimes cleans it.

Prior to the night of Servin’s death, Cantu’s longtime partner had quit smoking for 17 years. But the night he saw Servin, he asked a houseguest for a cigarette, Cantu said.

“That same night he started smoking, and he hasn’t stopped,” she said. “That put a lot of stress on him.”

Strip-club manager reaches plea bargain in sex solicitation case

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A local strip-club manager accused of pursuing sex with a 9-year-old girl has reached a plea bargain with authorities in Colorado that will spare him additional jail time.

Ward Ryan Welty, 36, surrendered to authorities last week in rural Fremont County, Colorado, where an extensive online police sting that resulted in his arrest originated. His local extradition case was dropped Friday.

Welty, of Rancho Cucamonga, agreed to travel to Colorado after his attorney, Roger Diamond, negotiated a plea bargain that includes only probation, Diamond said.

If convicted by a jury in Colorado of the five felonies charges against him, Welty could have faced a prison sentence of 10 years to life, Diamond said.

Welty’s father is the owner of Manta Management, which operates Tropical Lei in Upland, the Flesh Club in San Bernardino, and Hawaii Theatre in the City of Industry.

Before his arrest, Welty told news reporters he was the manager or owner of the clubs, but Diamond has said recently that Welty has no current role in the family business.

Welty was arrested in June 2008 after traveling to Colorado to allegedly meet a woman he believed was willing to involve her 9-year-old daughter in sex.

The woman who Welty allegedly traveled to meet was an undercover police detective, and Welty was taken into custody when he arrived at a predetermined meeting place.

After his arrest in Colorado, local authorities searched Welty’s apartment and found steroids they allege he was selling, and child-pornography images on his computers, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing.

Welty eventually pleaded guilty to three charges at West Valley Superior Court — relating to sex solicitation, the steroids, and the pornography images — and was sentenced to 270 days in jail. He has completed his jail time, Diamond said.

But while Welty was serving his jail time locally, he missed court appearances in his active Colorado case and was considered a fugitive.

He initially fought extradition efforts from authorities in Colorado — citing his local conviction and Colorado’s double-jeopardy laws — but agreed to appear in Colorado after negotiating the plea bargain that spares him additional jail time, Diamond said.

Welty surrendered Oct. 21 in Caon City, Colorado — located about 100 miles south of Denver — and was jailed pending his sentencing hearing on Dec. 16, Diamond said.

“He should be released and put on probation, and then he’ll have his probation transferred to California,” Diamond said.

Diamond said that Welty’s probation in California does not prohibit him for working at the family’s strip clubs. He said he didn’t know what Welty’s future plans are.

Brothers allegedly shoot at undercover detectives following Ontario drug robbery

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ARRESTED (L-R): Jose Luis Rodriguez and Francisco Rodriguez

Two brothers have been charged with attempted murder and other felonies for allegedly taking $100,000 worth of marijuana during an undercover police sting in Ontario last week, then shooting at detectives as they tried to flee.

Jose Luis Rodriguez, 28, and Francisco Rodriguez, 30, both of Los Angeles, allegedly intervened to steal the drugs during a drug transaction monitored by undercover West Covina police detectives on Oct. 20.

When the brothers fled the scene of the botched drug deal, one of them shot a handgun at two undercover detectives who chased them onto the 10 Freeway, according to police reports attached to the men’s court file.

The bullets missed their intended targets and the detectives were unharmed.

The Rodriguez brothers pleaded not guilty Monday in West Valley Superior Court to two counts of attempted murder of a police officer, carjacking, and second-degree robbery.

Both men remained jailed Thursday in lieu of $1 million bail at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

At about noon the day of the incident, three undercover West Covina drug detectives in three separate undercover cars arrived near the predetermined site of the drug transaction — a Denny’s parking lot on Milliken Avenue just north of the 10 Freeway.

The detectives had supplied two informants with 200 pounds of marijuana that was to be sold at $500 a pound, according to police reports.

Four other cars arrived in the parking lot — a car containing the informants, two cars associated with the potential drug buyers, and a fourth car that belonged to the Rodriguez brothers, according to police reports.

The brothers may have been tipped off about the transaction by one of the potential buyers, according to police reports.

The drugs were transferred by an informant into one of the vehicles belonging to the buyers, and the informant was instructed to drop off the buyers’ vehicle at a nearby gas station, according to police reports.

But before the informant could drop off the car, the Rodriguez brothers cut him off and forced him out of the vehicle at gunpoint, according to police reports.

During the alleged robbery, one of the West Covina detectives drove to the area, pointed a rifle at the two alleged robbers, and ordered them to the ground, according to police reports.

Rather than drop to the ground, the Rodriguez brothers fled the area — with one man in the car containing the drugs, and the other in the brothers’ initial vehicle. They entered the westbound 10 Freeway, traveling at up to 100 mph, according to police reports.

Two West Covina detectives chased them onto the freeway, and they were allegedly shot at several times by Jose Rodriguez, according to police reports.

Jose Rodriguez pulled to the side of the freeway near Central Avenue and surrendered to police.

His brother, Francisco Rodriguez, was located by police and arrested at a Costco store on Central Avenue in Montclair.


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Trial ordered in robberies, clergyman shooting

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Five defendants (L-R): Pomona residents Timothy Jacquemain, 18, Jacob Bushow, 19, and Andrew Swindle, 23, Chino resident Anthony Coleman, 21, Perris resident Willis Bagley, 38.

RIVERSIDE — Five local men accused of committing a series of armed robberies and shooting a Riverside County clergyman must stand trial for attempted murder and other charges, a judge ruled this week.

The defendants include Pomona residents Timothy Jacquemain, 18, Jacob Bushow, 19, and Andrew Swindle, 23, as well as Anthony Coleman, 21, of Chino, and Willis Bagley, 38, of Perris.

According to prosecutors, the men held up five diners on Sept. 15 — in Industry, Rowland Heights, Pomona, Norco and Corona — and attempted to commit a robbery a church in Home Gardens.

Antonio Garduno, pastor of Our Lady of Tepeyac, was shot during the robbery but survived his injuries.

Following two days of testimony, Riverside Superior Court Judge Roger A. Luebs ruled Wednesday that there was sufficient evidence for a trial in the case.

The five defendants, who remained jailed today, are scheduled to next appear in court Nov. 12.


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Judge orders trial for Ontario robbery, killing

Two men accused of participating in a robbery and fatal shooting last year must stand trial on murder and other charges, a judge ruled today at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing.

Matthew James McClane, 27, and Larry Darnell Shyne, 30, are accused of participating in the December robbery and killing of 41-year-old Kimberly Michelle Sum at an Ontario hotel.

A third man implicated in the incident, 22-year-old Donald Ray Walker, has accepted a plea bargain from prosecutors for a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony against McClane and Shyne.

Following three days of testimony in West Valley Superior court — from Walker, police officers and others — Judge Stephan G. Saleson ruled that McClane and Shyne must stand trial.

The two men are due back in court Nov. 4.

Man testifies against co-conspirators in killing of Ontario prostitute

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA — Wearing green jail clothing for inmates in protective custody, one of three men connected to a prostitute’s killing took the witness stand today to testify against his alleged co-conspirators.

Though he’s been “toe-tagged” — or marked for death by his gang — for cooperating with authorities, in two days on the witness stand Donald Ray Walker detailed the December robbery that ended in the shooting death of Kimberly Michelle Sum, 41.

Matthew James McClane, 27, and Larry Darnell Shyne, 30, both face murder charges and life prison sentences for Sum’s killing at an Ontario hotel.

Their preliminary hearing, which began Thursday, is set to resume Wednesday afternoon in West Valley Superior Court. Both men remained jailed today in lieu of $1.5 million bail.

Walker, who confessed when he was arrested in March, accepted a plea bargain from prosecutors last week for 17 years in state prison. As part of the plea bargain, Walker, 22, must testify against McClane and Shyne.

Shyne, Sum’s former pimp, is accused of orchestrating the robbery to benefit financially, and to frighten Sum into returning to him for protection.

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Shyne, of Pomona, enlisted Walker, his cousin from South Los Angeles, and McClane, an alleged gang associate of Walker’s, to assist him in the robbery, Walker testified today.

The evening of Dec. 20, Shyne picked up Walker and McClane in his burgundy Cadillac, and the group traveled together to the Hotel Indigo, a newly opened boutique hotel just northwest of Haven Avenue and the 10 Freeway.

While Shyne waited in the car, Walker and McClane went to Sum’s hotel room to rob her. Walker testified that he was surprised to see that McClane brought a pistol with him.

After less than two minutes in Sum’s room, McClane shot and killed Sum. Walker testified that McClane told him the shooting was accidental.

When Shyne learned of the shooting, “he was upset,” Walker testified. “Nobody expected that to happen.”

Walker testified that he and McClane were unable to find money or any valuables in Sum’s room.

Using surveillance footage from the hotel, Ontario police were able to identify Walker and McClane as the two men pictured, according to police reports.

During initial interviews with police after his March 12 arrest, Walker denied any involvement in the shooting.

But during the interrogation, Walker learned that his girlfriend had been arrested after police found marijuana during a search of her home, Walker testified.

A detective told Walker that the woman would be released if he told the truth about the incident, and Walker then opted to tell the truth, Walker testified.

Walker said he accepted the plea bargain from prosecutors last week because he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison for murder.

“I thought I’d do my time for the robbery,” Walker said. “I didn’t know about this other stuff. It’s overwhelming.”

Walker’s testimony against his co-defendants was videotaped in court today and last week.

The recording was made to preserve his testimony, said Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Youngberg.

In their cross examination of Walker, defense attorneys for Shyne and McClane repeatedly questioned Walker’s motive for testifying his alleged co-conspirators.

Shyne’s defense attorney, David Call, asked Walker whether he was testifying to secure a prison sentence of “only 17 years” rather than life.

“You said ‘only 17 years’ like that’s short,” Walker responded.

Under questioning from Youngberg, Walker said he didn’t want to return from protective custody in West Valley Detention Center to a “general population” section of the Rancho Cucamonga jail where he might come into contact with members of his gang.

“That’s because you have a toe tag on you?” Youngberg asked.

“Correct,” Walker responded.

Shyne and McClane have not been offered plea bargains, Youngberg said.


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Witnesses detail stabbing death at Pomona mental-health facility

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POMONA — In the days before she stabbed and killed a fellow resident at a mental-health facility here, Nicole Ann Stewart urged facility workers to take her to a hospital because her medication wasn’t working and she feared she would hurt someone.

That was the testimony this morning of Stewart’s boyfriend, one of three witnesses called at a preliminary hearing in Pomona Superior Court.

The boyfriend, John Weedon, testified that employees at the Hamilton Villa “paid no attention” to Stewart’s complaints about her mental state.

And on July 23, she stabbed and killed Robin Ridgeway — reportedly because Stewart believed Ridgeway and Weedon were having an affair, according to witnesses who testified today.

Owners or managers of the facility could not be reached for comment. A woman who answered the phone at the facility this afternoon said the owner was not available.

At the conclusion of the hour-long hearing, Judge Charles Horan ruled that there was sufficient evidence for Stewart, 34, to stand trial on murder charges.

Weedon, a resident of Hamilton Villa, testified that Stewart accused him about three days before the stabbing of having an affair with Ridgeway, 49.

Weedon denied he had a romantic relationship with Ridgeway. “There’s no way I would do that,” he testified.

At about 4 p.m. on the day of the incident, Ridgeway was standing in an outdoor area of the facility speaking with another resident and a psychologist who works with patients at the facility, located at 948 S. Hamilton Blvd.

The psychologist, Joseph Pruitt, testified that he was sitting only 18 inches away from Ridgeway when she was attacked by Stewart.

Pruitt said that he saw Stewart stab Ridgeway in the back with a blade that was at least a foot long. After wounding the woman, Stewart said, “Take that,” Pruitt said.

“Robin stepped back and said, ‘I’ve been shot,’” Pruitt testified.

After the stabbing, Pruitt and another employee took Ridgeway indoors, where she collapsed, and other patients ran from Stewart, who walked back and forth clutching the knife, according to witnesses.

Stewart said, “Don’t mess with my husband,” according to Weedon, who was nearby when the attack occurred.

The three witnesses who testified today said they had never seen the knife Stewart used to attack Ridgeway. They said the knife, which was described as a hunting knife or kitchen knife, did not belong to the facility.

Deputy District Attorney Stephen Dones said after the hearing that Stewart told police after her arrest where she got the knife. Dones declined to disclose what Stewart said.

Stewart hears voices and often assumes different personalities, including that of her brother, Weedon testified.

He said Stewart would have “crazy spells,” and he would hold her down for 10 minutes until the spells would pass.

Stewart is next scheduled to appear in court Nov. 9 for an arraignment hearing. She remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.

Stewart’s attorney, Rodolfo Aguirre, declined to comment after the hearing.


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Man implicated in Ontario killing released at sentencing

RANCHO CUCAMONGA — A man involved in a 2002 killing in Ontario was released from custody last week at the conclusion of a sentencing hearing in West Valley Superior Court.

Cesar Guzman, 47, was sentenced on Oct. 19 to six years in state prison as part of a plea bargain reached with prosecutors for his role in the Oct. 30, 2002 shooting death of Craig Corle, 38.

Guzman was released at the end of last week’s hearing because the time he spent in custody, with behavior credits included, equaled six years.

At a 2007 preliminary hearing, Guzman testified that he and an accomplice, Kent Craig, hired a hitman to beat up Corle for failing to repay Guzman $100 and failing to return speakers he borrowed from Corle.

Without consulting Guzman, Craig reportedly altered the plan and told the hitman — a teenage drug dealer from San Bernardino — to kill Corle.

Guzman pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter for his role in Corle’s death. Craig was convicted of murder by jury last year and sentenced to 26 years to life in prison.

Sentencing scheduled for Bloomington murder

FONTANA — A Nov. 23 sentencing date has been set for a man convicted of second-degree murder last week for a fatal shooting in Bloomington.

Brian Gary Cullens, 47, faces a base sentence of 15 years to life in state prison for the 2003 killing of Donald Marshall, 41, though his sentence will likely be significantly longer because he used a gun and he has several prior felony convictions, including a strike conviction.

Cullens and Marshall, who had known each other since childhood, were reportedly feuding at the time of the shooting because Cullens allegedly had a relationship with Marshall’s wife while Marshall was incarcerated.

The day he was killed, Marshall went to Cullens’ home to reportedly fight Cullens. When Marshall confronted Cullens, Cullens shot and killed him, according to a witness.

A jury found Cullens guilty of second-degree murder on Oct. 19 after two days of deliberating in Fontana Superior Court. Sentencing was scheduled Friday at the end of a court hearing on Cullens’ prior convictions.


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Account established to benefit Ontario man whose conviction was overturned

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ONTARIO – An Upland schoolteacher has established a bank account to benefit a man recently released from prison after a federal judge overturned his attempted-murder conviction.

Though Rafael Madrigal calls freedom after nine years “unbelievable,” his family has been hurting financially since the death of his father in January.

Only two days after he returned to his Ontario home this month, Madrigal, a married father of three, was notified that his family must vacate their home of 15 years by Nov. 8 because they failed to keep up with mortgage payments and ownership of the property changed hands.

After learning of Madrigal’s financial hardships, a middle school teacher who once taught Madrigal’s oldest son set out to establish a bank account for people to donate to Madrigal’s family.

Wanda Fonda, a history teacher at Grace Yokley Middle School in Ontario, established the account last week and deposited the first $100.

“If everybody just donates just a little bit to help them out it could help them stay in their home,” said Fonda, 57. “And this happened through no fault of his own.”

Madrigal, 34, was convicted of attempted murder based on eyewitness testimony that he was involved in a July 2000 drive-by shooting in East Los Angeles.

In overturning the conviction, a federal judge faulted Madrigal’s trial attorney for failing to sufficiently prove Madrigal’s seemingly ironclad alibi: he was at work at a Rancho Cucamonga factory at the time of the shooting.

Madrigal is free on bail pending the resolution of his case. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office hasn’t announced yet whether it will seek to retry Madrigal.

While Madrigal was in custody, his wife and three children lived at his parents’ home in Ontario.

With the recent death of Madrigal’s father, who Madrigal called the “breadwinner” and “heart and soul of the family,” the family was unable to keep up with mortgage payments.

Madrigal’s wife was recently laid off from her job at a school in El Monte, and Madrigal said his efforts to find work have been fruitless.

“I’ve been looking, but I’m pretty sure you know how the job thing is going right now,” he said.

Madrigal said he explained his family’s circumstances – including his recent release from prison and the death of his father – to the company now in possession of his home.

It apparently failed to win him any sympathy, and Madrigal is now eyeing rental properties in Ontario, where his children attended public schools for nearly his entire period of incarceration.

“Their whole thing was they’re running a business,” Madrigal said.

The Daily Bulletin has received about a half-dozen phone calls from people who said they wanted to help Madrigal’s family after reading an account of Madrigal’s case.

“There’s still a lot of good people in this world,” Madrigal said.

Madrigal said he was “speechless for the first five minutes” when he met Fonda last week.

“I saw her two days ago in the bank when she was going through the whole process,” Madrigal said in an interview Friday. “I couldn’t thank her enough.”

“Even the smallest of help would be worth millions,” Madrigal said.

How to donate to Rafael Madrigal

A bank account in Madrigal’s name has been opened at the south Ontario branch of Chase Bank. The account number is 9424851594.

Donations can be made at any Chase branch, or by sending a check made out to “Wanda Fonda FBO (for benefit of) Rafael Madrigal” to the bank’s south Ontario branch.

The check should be mailed to Chase Bank, attn: Erica Luna, 2633 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario 91761.

Information: Luna at (909) 773-1723, ext. 3, or contact Fonda at (909) 635-8801.