SB County’s top prosecutor seeks greater partnership with feds

RIVERSIDE — District Attorney Michael A. Ramos announced plans Wednesday to strengthen his office’s partnership with federal prosecutors.

Ramos told members of the Inland Empire Chapter of the Federal Bar Association that he plans to cross-designate one of his local prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ramos revealed the plan while discussing a host of top issues affecting public safety, such as street gangs, medical marijuana and mortgage fraud, alongside Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach and U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. during a meeting at U.S. District Court in Riverside.
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Montclair dispensary a target in crackdown

Staff and wire reports
Posted: 10/07/2011 12:37:02 PM PDT

Federal prosecutors in California are ordering dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries – including one in Montclair – to shut down in 45 days and warning their owners and landlords they face criminal charges or seizure of their assets if they do not comply.

The state’s four U.S. attorneys announced at a Sacramento news conference Friday that they have stepped up efforts to curtail both marijuana cultivation and retail sales of pot conducted under the cover of California’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner, who represents California’s Central Valley, said not all of the thousands of storefront pot dispensaries thought to be operating in the state are being targeted.
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County prosecutors union wins round in battle with Cooley

By Rick Orlov Staff Writer
Created: 10/06/2011 06:00:16 PM PDT

The union representing Los Angeles County prosecutors won a major round this week in its battle with District Attorney Steve Cooley, with a tentative settlement granting it a permanent injunction and $575,000 in penalties.

The deal calls for the county to pay $125,000 to the Association for Deputy District Attorneys and $450,000 to Deputy District Attorney Marc Debbaudt, who had alleged retaliation for his union activities.

The settlement, still subject to Board of Supervisors’ approval, also made permanent a temporary court injunction ordering Cooley to refrain from harassing or intimidating ADDA members based on their union membership.
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Decision expected soon in case of Victorville grandmother

Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/29/2011 04:46:49 PM PDT

Prosecutors in the High Desert could reach a decision as early as today about whether to charge a Victorville woman accused of leaving her 11-month grandson in a hot car while she attended a wedding reception.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Maria Davila, 56, on Sept. 3 on suspicion of child cruelty after the little boy was plucked from a car seat inside the sweltering vehicle.

The outdoor temperature that day was about 97 degrees, and the grandmother had been entrusted with watching with the little boy, say sheriff’s officials.

The decision whether to charge Davila could come today or Monday, said Supervising Deputy District Attorney Jim Hill.
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Lawyers for Old Fire suspect seek to get indictment dismissed

Defense lawyers for Old Fire suspect Rickie Lee Fowler have filed a 170-page motion seeking dismissal of the Grand Jury indictment against him.

The motion alleges prosecutors failed to present exculpatory evidence – evidence that tends to show a person should not be indicted – to a criminal Grand Jury that was assembled in August 2009 to hear witness testimony about the 2003 deadly and devastating wildfire.

The motion from lawyers Donald Jordan and Michael Belter, which was authored by Jordan, was briefly discussed Monday at Fowler’s scheduled appearance before Judge Michael Smith in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Read the actual defense motion here or here.
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New lead prosecutor in San Bernardino gang unit announced

A Fontana prosecutor has been assigned to head up the District Attorney’s gang unit in San Bernardino following Cheryl Kersey’s move to the Superior Court bench.

Cary Epstein was announced as the new lead prosecutor in the Hardcore Gang and Career Criminal Unit in an e-mail sent out Wednesday to everyone in the District Attorney’s Office by supervisor Ben Gonzales, spokeswoman Susan Mickey confirmed today.

Epstein’s exact start date was not known, “but of course is imminent,” Mickey read from Gonzales’ e-mail. Kersey is “effectively gone” from the District Attorney’s Office as she prepares for her role as a Superior Court judge, said Mickey.

Prosecuting gang crime in San Bernardino County has been a priority for law enforcement officials here since they announced a war on gangs in May 2005.

Kersey, the former lead prosecutor in the gang unit, was elected to Superior Court judicial seat No. 10 as an unopposed candidate in a statewide primary election in June, according to the Registrar of Voters.

Neither Epstein nor Kersey could be immediately reached for comment.

Check back later for more details.

Prosecutors and officers reach out to at-risk youth in Banning

Riverside County prosecutors joined their law enforcement colleagues in reaching out to about 200 at-risk youth at a presentation this morning at the Milo P. Johnson Learning Center in Banning.

The event was focused on the importance of making the right choices, and it featured presentations and discussions with prosecutors and representatives from various law enforcement agencies, according to a statement from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Event organizers wanted to make youth aware of opportunities for success when they make the right choices, they said.

“It’s very important to recognize how our efforts to prevent crime can make our county
a safer place to live,” said District Attorney Rod Pacheco. “I am proud that our law enforcement community has come together to make this event happen. If our efforts can divert one child from a life of crime then this event will have been well worth it.”

No sexual battery charges for Andy Dick

For some of you who are following the Andy Dick saga regarding his recent arrest in Murrietta, here’s the latest from the Associated Press.

Andy Dick won’t face sex battery charge
LOS ANGELES (AP)– Prosecutors say they won’t charge Andy Dick with sexual battery stemming from his arrest last month.
The “NewsRadio” actor with a reputation for crude public behavior is still scheduled to face a judge later this week on misdemeanor drug possession and battery charges.
But he escaped felony charges after prosecutors reviewed video of the incident, Riverside County District Attorney spokesman Ryan Hightower said.
A teenage girl accused the 42-year-old actor of pulling down her top at a restaurant in Murrieta, a city about 80 miles east of Los Angeles in mid-July. Dick was arrested by officers responding to reports of an intoxicated male.
Dick is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Statements from Kelly Bullwinkle’s mother and defendant Damien Matthew Guerrero

These are the full statements presented in open court Friday by Kelly Bullwinkle’s mother Diana Bullwinkle and by lawyer Brent F. Romney, on behalf of defendant Damien Guerrero. The defendant was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison for the shooting death of 18-year-old Kelly Bullwinkle in 2003 in San Timoteo Canyon.

Readers often get to only see the key points or summary of someone’s statement in a newspaper article. But Kelly’s death touched so many people inside and outside of the county, that the people involved should get the chance to tell their whole statement.

For full coverage of the sentencing, see the story in The Sun:

People of the State of California v. Damien Matthew Guerrero

Impact Statement: Diana D. Bullwinkle, victim’s mother

I want the Parole Board to know that Damien Guerrero is an unremorseful, deceiving murderer. He has taken the life of my little girl, Kelly Bullwinkle, with a bullet to the back of her head. He then buried her in a shallow grave, changed to clean clothes and conspired to park Kelly’s car at a mall. Afterward, he was able to see a movie and eat dinner as if nothing unusual had happened.

We have had to endure five years of court room moments and keep our silence while the defendant, entitled to his fair trial, was continually asked by the judge if time waived for his trial was “ok, for you, Mr. Guerrero?” Where were Kelly’s rights, judge and jury? In fact, in these past five years, Damien hasn’t been the only one with restrictions on his life. I too have had to put my life on hold. I have attended continuous court hearings that have resulted in delay after delay for one reason or another. I attended these hearings as Kelly’s representative and voice because as the victim, she has no voice other than her loved ones. I have planned my life and work around these hearings. In addition, there will be an on going process of finally claiming her personal possessions from authorities and coping with the aftermath of what that entails.

What kind of a coward claims a joke with a gun pointed to the back of a frightened little girl’s head? He was able to pick Kelly up and throw her in a shallow grave but, couldn’t pick her up and put her in a car to take her to the hospital a few miles down the road. He claims not to remember anything but he remembered to change his clothes and worked up an appetite trying to bury her with dirt and by placing a couch over her to further conceal his crime. He carried on with his daily life for four weeks, going to school, working, eating, sleeping, laughing, conspiring, etc… During that time we searched endlessly for Kelly, uncertain of what had happened and fearing the worst. It was the longest most fearful four weeks in my life.

After finding Kelly, he even had the audacity to masquerade as a mourner at Kelly’s visitation and memorial. In keeping with his deceiving nature, he hugged me both times offering false comfort.

I had eighteen wonderful years with Kelly for which I am thankful, but I want more. My daughter Kelly was a beautiful, giving, responsible young girl coming into her own. She was attending college, working a job, caring for our blind diabetic dog, Blaze, and caring for her horse, Banner. Kelly was a talented equestrian rider, musician, writer, athlete and loving daughter and friend to all she met. Considering all she had already accomplished in her short life, imagine what she could have accomplished had she had the full life she deserved. Now, all we can do is imagine what might have been. Damien helped end that promising life and with it, the hopes and dreams we had for her.

I ask the Parole Board to hear Kelly’s voice through our voices since she can no longer speak for herself. Please make sure this beast – (I cannot call Damien an animal because animals do not kill for fun like he and his co-conspirator did) – is never released back into society. He is a sociopath and is capable of doing this to another family by destroying their dreams and lives. No parent should ever out live their children. No parent should have to sit in a courtroom with the murderer of their child claiming innocence. No parent should fear their children’s “friends.”

This criminal has destroyed many lives and taken so much away from the world and especially from me. My loss is so immense that there are no words to describe the void in my heart. The defendant has taken laughter, dreams, hopes and plans for a future generation from my family. Without Kelly there is no future generation for our family.

Kelly was our bright shining light here on earth and now she is the brightest star in the heavens.

This murderer took the physical Kelly from me. He robbed society of a beautiful human being that was a contributor to society… not a taker. But, Damien, YOU CAN NEVER!… NEVER!… take our memories of Kelly, of her love and most of all… YOU CAN NEVER take her spirit from us.

Kelly Laurel Bullwinkle’s Mother,

Diana D. Bullwinkle


Letter to Judge Michael A. Smith from defendant Damien Matthew Guerrero

Dear Judge Smith:

I am blessed with having parents who love me and who raised me under very favorable circumstances. They continue to love me unconditionally, and for this I am very grateful. I realize, however, that I have betrayed their trust in me. I very clearly have let them down because of my conduct in this case. Although I know they continue to love me, I am sure it will take a very long time before their heartache subsides. Their heartache, I am sure, is a combination of their sadness for the terrible loss of Kelly’s life, the utter despair and loneliness her mother and loved ones continue to feel to this day, and for the path my life has taken since that evening. I deeply and humbly want to tell my parents how sorry I am for the suffering I have caused them. I can only hope that my conduct while incarcerated, will demonstrate the sincerity of the words I express through this letter at this time.

I have wanted to tell Kelly how so very sorry I am for what happened to her that night. It is obviously much too late for me to do anything in this regard, and I understand how shallow and insincere my words must sound at this time. However, if Kelly in some spiritual way does hear my words, I hope she will someday be able to forgive me for my conduct. I will live with the memory of my actions for the rest of my life, and though there are many who feel I have no remorse for what happened, they are, respectfully, simply wrong. I understand why they may feel this way, but with great respect for their feelings, I re-affirm how very, very sorry I am for my involvement in Kelly’s death. I only hope that these loved ones and friends of Kelly will someday believe I am sincere in my expressions of remorse for my actions. I realize that evidence of my sincerity will be revealed by the way I conduct my life in the future. I commit to Kelly and to her loved ones and friends I will, show through my actions, that I really am so very sorry for what I did to this so very beautiful and special young woman.

I specifically want to express my deepest feelings of sorrow to Kelly’s mother . The loss she feels because of my actions must go so deep that I can only imagine the suffering she has experienced. I accept full responsibility for what happened that evening. If there were any way I could go back in time and undo what I participated in doing, I would obviously do so. It was never my intent to cause such suffering for anyone, particularly for those who treated me with so much kindness. Even though she has every right to lash out and condemn me publicly, she has refrained from doing so. I believe she has done so, in part, out of respect for my parents and family. Certainly she understands, as only a loving parent could, that my conduct also served to “victimize” my parents and loved ones. I do not fully understand how, or why, she has acted with such grace and kindness throughout this long ordeal; I certainly do not deserve to be treated in such a way. However, I fully realize the significance of how she has conducted herself, and how it has made it easier for my family to get through this most difficult process. To Kelly’s mother, I want to publicly say not only how very, very sorry I am, but also how thankful I am that she has been able and willing to think of the heartache of others even at this most difficult time in her own life.

Finally, I very respectfully ask that Kelly, Kelly’s mother, and each of Kelly’s loved ones and friends will someday find it in their heart to forgive me. This does not mean that God will forgive me, nor does it mean that society forgives me. I must earn this redemption from God and from society through my future conduct. By finding it in their own hearts to forgive me, however, they will then be able to move forward with their own lives and find additional happiness. Certainly, Kelly would want that.

Judge Smith, I would like to express these thoughts and feelings directly to Kelly’s mother and her loved ones. I have wanted to do so for a very long time. I have been constrained from doing so, however, at the insistence of my attorneys. It is my hope that by expressing my feelings publicly to you, I will be able to convey to Kelly’s mother and loved ones in a very gentle way the depth and sincerity of my feelings. I know that words come easy. My conduct in the future will reveal and show that my feelings are sufficiently sincere and strong that they will impact how I live the rest of my life.

Thank you for allowing me to express these thoughts and feelings.

Very respectfully,

Damien Matthew Guerrero

Bloomington teen admits role in pitbull attack

A Bloomington teenager has pleaded no contest to charges that he sicced his pit bull on an 8-year-old boy in front of the teenager’s home in January.
Paul Hicklin III pleaded no contest to one count of assault with a deadly weapon likely causing great bodily injury, as part of a plea bargain, during proceedings Thursday in Fontana Superior Court, according to court records.
The court advised Hicklin that the plea will constitute a strike, records indicate. In California, defendants convicted of three felonies, or strikes, could face up to life in state prison.
Hicklin is scheduled to return to court Sept. 25 for sentencing.
Deputy District Attorney Adam Pierce could not be reached for comment.
The Jan. 30 attack reportedly caused severe injuries to the victim’s face.
Dakoda Mitchell, 8, and his older brother, Dallas, 9, went to Hicklin’s Via De Anza home to see if a regular playmate of theirs was home, Fontana Police said in earlier reports.
“The teen apparently did not want them to be there because the dog was deliberately let out,” Fontana Sgt. Jeff Decker said earlier.
Dallas used a skateboard or scooter to get the 60-pound pit bull off his brother, police said. Dakoda suffered severe injuries to his face that required a large number of stitches.
“The suspect told the victim that he was going to have the dog attack them if they did not leave his yard,” investigators said in a written statement released in February. “As the juvenile was walking away, the suspect verbally commanded the dog to attack the juvenile and let the dog out of the house.”
Animal-control officers told police Hicklin tossed the dog into the backyard of a nearby vacant home in an attempt to hide it after the attack. Officers fired a bean bag round and used a Taser on the pit bull to corral it, but the dog charged officers and was shot twice and killed.