Pair arrested, arraigned in woman’s death at Deep Creek

After a six-month investigation, sheriff’s detectives have arrested a man and woman from Apple Valley in the shooting death of 19-year-old Raquel Rayas at Deep Creek.

Sheriff’s detectives say the two suspects, Joseph Villa and Angela Lucia Sanchez, knew the victim. But detectives did not release any motive that the pair may have had in Rayas’ death, said Cindy Bachman, a sheriff’s spokeswoman.

Villa, 23, and Sanchez, 38, pleaded not guilty to murder charges at their arraignments Wednesday in Victorville Superior Court, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.
Continue reading

Mental competency trial begins for man in High Desert bunker killings

VICTORVILLE — A pair of mental health experts may have concluded that a West Covina man accused of the execution-style slayings of a young High Desert couple at an abandoned military bunker is mentally competent to go trial for the killings, say lawyers.
But the decision about Collin Lee McGlaughlin’s present mental competence won’t be up to the experts.

A jury began hearing witness testimony Wednesday as a trial began in Victorville Superior Court to determine whether McGlaughlin is compentent to go trial for the 2008 deaths of Christopher Cody Thompson, 18, of Apple Valley and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Bodhisattva Sherzer-Potter of Helendale.

The jury will decide whether McGlaughlin is mentally competent now, not his state of mind when the crimes occurred.

But before any witnesses testified Wednesday, lawyers for both sides delivered their opening remarks. McGlaughlin is presumed competent, and it’s up to the defense to prove otherwise.
Continue reading

AV teacher changes plea in lewd acts with teen

By Mike Cruz
Posted: 01/31/2010 04:50:28 PM PST

An Apple Valley middle school teacher pleaded no contest Friday to committing a lewd and lascivious act with a former student.

Brenton James Unferth, who taught physical education at Sitting Bull Middle School, changed his plea under the terms of a plea bargain reached with prosecutors at an appearance in Victorville Superior Court, according to court records.

Unferth returns to court Mar. 12 for sentencing. The defendant’s possible sentence was not immediately available.

Continue reading

Man to enter plea in wheelchair-bound woman’s death

A man suspected of killing a 52-year-old wheelchair-bound woman in October is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on murder and robbery charges.

Anthony George Gooden, 29, is set to enter a plea on the charges at an arraignment in Victorville Superior Court, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.

At his last court appearance Dec. 17, Gooden waived his arraignment, according to court records.

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputies say Gooden planned to rob Brenda Robinson on Oct. 8 at her Apple Valley home in the 21300 block of Nisqually Road. Gooden and a second man went to the home, and Gooden shot her before the pair fled.

Continue reading

Phony firefighter held in Apple Valley molestations

A man who posed as a firefighter was ordered held on charges of sexually assaulting children who participated in a phony fire explorer program that he created in Apple Valley.

Judge James M. Dorr heard testimony from law enforcement officers at a hearing Monday in Victorville Superior Court and ruled that sufficient evidence existed to hold Robert William Tell for trial on the charges, according to court records.

Tell, 39, returns to court Jan. 6 to enter a plea on the charges.

Continue reading

Apple Valley murder suspects extradited today

By Stacia Glenn on November 5, 2008 1:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Two Apple Valley men wanted for fatally shooting a man outside a liquor store last month were extradited back to the area today.

San Bernardino County sheriff’s detectives flew to Reno, Nev. to transport Steven Thurman, 20, and Jesse Cole, 18.

The men, charged with the Oct. 15 murder of 44-year-old Donald Earl Johnson outside Grand Liquor & Market in the 15000 block of Rancherias Road, were booked into Central Detention Center in San Bernardino.

Investigators ask that any witnesses to the shooting call Det. Dave Johnson or Sgt. Tom Bradford to (909) 387-3589. Anonymous tipster can call (800) 78-CRIME.

stacia.glenn@inlandnewspapers.com

Apple Valley truck driver gets jail time in crash killing siblings

Here’s a tidbit from City News Service about an Apple Valley truck driver who was charged with the deaths of three siblings stemming from a traffic collision in May 2007 on the 5 Freeway in Mission Viejo. Jorge Miguel Ramos faced three counts of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. Today, he pleaded no contest to the charges.

NEWPORT BEACH (CNS) – A trucker whose big rig slammed into the back of a minivan stopped in freeway traffic, killing three young siblings from Ladera Ranch, pleaded no contest today to three counts of vehicular manslaughter.
Jorge Miguel Romero, 38, of Apple Valley, entered his plea after preparation of a “pre-plea” report by the Probation Department that recommended he receive no more than a year in jail, said Farrah Emami of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Here’s a story from the Orange County Register, which was following the case:

Aug. 30, 2007
D.A. files charges in fatal crash

Author: ERIKA I. RITCHIE
The Orange County Register

The driver of a big-rig that slammed into the back of a family’s minivan in May, killing three young Ladera Ranch siblings, was charged Wednesday by the Orange County district attorney, but the children’s parents said he was not the sole cause of the crash.
“We strongly feel there are more responsible parties than just the driver,” said Lori Coble on Wednesday in response to charges filed against Jorge Miguel Romero by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Romero, 37, of Apple Valley is being charged with three misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter involving criminal negligence. He faces a maximum sentence of three years if convicted. Romero is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 13 at Harbor Justice Center in Laguna Niguel and is expected to turn himself in then.
Felony manslaughter charges would have carried a heavier sentence.
Felony vehicular manslaughter may be charged where there is “gross negligence,” which involves more than ordinary carelessness, inattention or mistaken judgment. The charge can lead to state prison.
“The evidence that requires gross negligence would have to show something so much different that what a prudent person would do,” said Susan Kang Schroeder, spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office. “We had stopped traffic, inattention, and he was traveling at 60 to 70 miles per hour – normal speed on a freeway but unsafe for those specific conditions. There is no charge that will bring the Coble children back. No charge justifies what they’re going through. We’re bound by the law and what the law requires.”
“We trust what the D.A. is doing,” Lori Coble said.
The Coble children – Kyle, 5, Emma, 4, and Katie, 2, – died after a big rig slammed into the back of the family’s Chrysler minivan May 4 on I-5 in Mission Viejo. The minivan was stopped in the slow lane of traffic. Lori Coble, 30, who was driving the minivan, and her mother, Cynthia Maestri, 60, were injured.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Romero came up behind the van at approximately 60 mph to 70 mph, was inattentive and hit his brakes too late to stop before striking the minivan. He allegedly failed to maintain a proper distance from the traffic stopped ahead of him.
Coble attorney Jeoffrey Robinson said the charges by the district attorney were appropriate.
“This is a case of simple negligence resulting in the death of three people,” Robinson said. “If it were gross negligence or wanton disregard, the district attorney would have filed a felony. The facts show that the driver was guilty of some inattention, that in this case proved tragic. It is well known even reasonable drivers engage in inattention. When you couple an inattentive big-rig driver with an unsafe road condition, you have a recipe for disaster.”
Drivers have complained about the three-mile stretch between Crown Valley Parkway and La Paz Road where the accident occurred, saying traffic often backs up near the Oso Parkway exit.
Chris and Lori Coble say nothing will bring their children back but that they hope to help prevent such an accident from happening to another family.
“Our hope is that he never drives a truck again, and we hope get the accident-prone Oso exit fixed whatever way possible,” Chris Coble said.
Court records show Romero had been cited in 2002 and 2006 for speeding in a tractor-trailer. He was also ticketed for driving without his lights on in 2006 and in 1997 for driving with a suspended license.
Bill Furlow, spokesman for K.W. Express, a Carson-based company that owned the truck Romero was driving, said Romero, who started driving for the trucking company in July 2006, was suspended from the company immediately after the crash. Romero could not be reached for comment.
949-454-7307 or eritchie@ocregister.com