Killer of Redlands teen denied parole

A man who raped and killed a Redlands High student in 1977 was denied parole during a hearing at a state prison in Blythe.

A parole board determined that John Wilton Zenc was “unsuitable” for release on parole during proceedings Wednesday at Ironwood State Prison, confirmed Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Dawson.

Zenc, now 54, was convicted of raping and killing 15-year-old Paula Hernandez, as she walked home from school in March 1977.
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Parole hearing Wednesday for man convicted of killing Redlands girl

A man who raped and killed a female Redlands High student in 1977 is seeking parole at a hearing Wednesday in Blythe.

Family members of 15-year-old Paula Hernandez are doing whatever they can to keep the teen’s killer, John Wilton Zenc, behind bars. They will be attending the hearing at Ironwood State Prison, where Zenc is currently housed.

“I don’t want this to happen to another family,” said Ruth Lopez, Paula’s sister. Zenc, now 54, has hired an attorney in his bid to get paroled, Lopez said.
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DUI driver convicted in Redlands fatal crash

SAN BERNARDINO – Sara Cisneros had gotten off early at her job at San Manuel Indian Casino in August 2009 for a family celebration, and she was headed home to Redlands.

But on Cisneros’ way home, a Ford F-150 pickup crossed into her traffic lanes on Orange Street, at the wash, and collided head-on into her Nissan Sentra. A 48-year-old Redlands resident and mother, she died at the scene.

The driver of the pickup, Ryan Christopher Wheatley, of Highland, was subsequently arrested on suspicion of drunken driving. Two years later, a jury found Wheatley was responsible for Cisneros’ death.
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Two co-defendants in ‘Devil’s Professor’ drug trafficking case entered not guilty pleas

Two co-defendants in the “Devil’s Professor” methamphetamine trafficking case entered not-guilty pleas Tuesday to conspiracy charges.

Chelsea Marie Johnson, 34, and Eric Cortez, 31, both of Redlands, entered the pleas and denied all allegations at a formal arraignment before Judge Harold T. Wilson in San Bernardino Superior Court.

Both defendants face charges in connection with a methamphetamine trafficking ring allegedly run by Cal State San Bernardino professor Steve Kinzey.

Johnson and Cortez were ordered held on the charges after a preliminary hearing on Sept. 27. Judge Douglas Gericke ruled then that sufficient evidence was presented to hold over the defendants for trial.

Also on Tuesday, lawyer Sean O’Connor, who represents Johnson, sought a hearing to argue for a reduction in his client’s bail. She is currently being held on $150,000 bail, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
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Two ordered held, third pleads guilty in Kinzey meth case

SAN BERNARDINO – A Redlands man and woman were ordered held on conspiracy charges at a hearing earlier this week in connection with a methemphetamine trafficking ring that was allegedly run by Cal State professor Steve Kinzey.

Co-defendants in the case, Chelsea Marie Johnson and Eric Cortez, appeared for a preliminary hearing on Tuesday before Judge Douglas N. Gericke in San Bernardino Superior Court, according to court records.

After listening to testimony from three witnesses, Gericke ruled that sufficient evidence existed to hold over the pair for trial, court records state.
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Hearing set in “Devil’s Professor” meth ring

SAN BERNARDINO – Details about a methamphetamine trafficking ring allegedly run by Steve Kinzey, a CSUSB professor and chapter president of Devils Diciples motorcycle club, may come to light Tuesday at a court hearing.

Judge Kenneth Barr ordered co-defendants Chelsea Marie Johnson, Eric Cortez and Wendi Lee Witherell to return Tuesday to San Bernardino Superior Court for a preliminary hearing.

At such a hearing, a judge will listen to witness testimony – usually from law enforcement officers – to determine if sufficient evidence exists to hold over the defendants for trial on the charges.
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Preliminary hearing delayed for former deputy

A preliminary hearing for former San Bernardino County sheriff’s Deputy Nathan Gastineau was postponed this morning until November so attorneys can have more time to review evidence.

Gastineau, 30, of Redlands, is charged with three counts of committing lewd acts with a minor and three counts of unlawful sexual intercourse. He is accused of having sex with a teen police Explorer.

His Redlands-based attorney, Andrew Haynal, asked San Bernardino Superior Court Judge John Martin for a continuance because he just received additional discovery or evidence in the case.

Gastineau is scheduled to return to court Nov. 1 to determine if the case is ready for a preliminary hearing Nov. 3.

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Bail denied for Redlands landlady charged in teen’s slaying

By Stacia Glenn
Posted: 02/02/2010 05:39:28 PM PST

A Redlands landlady accused of beating her teenage tenant to death in 1994 has been denied bail and will remain jailed in San Diego County.

Seferina Marquez Ponce, 52, is charged in the fatal beating of 18-year-old Sarah Reyes, who was last seen Oct. 3, 1994. Her remains were discovered in an avocado grove in rural San Diego County in 2008.

Reyes left behind an 11-month-old son.

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Two held in fatal beating of Redlands homeless man

By Mike Cruz
Posted: 01/31/2010 08:57:57 PM PST

Two transients were ordered held Friday to face murder charges in the deadly beating of a homeless man in Redlands last March.

After listening to witness testimony, Judge Douglas Gericke ruled there was sufficient evidence to hold over Kenneth Eugene Harris and Thomas Ruthvin Murray to face charges in the death of Vincent Richardson.

The ruling came during a preliminary hearing for Harris and Murray in San Bernardino Superior Court. The two defendants return to court Friday to enter a formal plea on the charges.

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Report released about harassment allegations against DA

By Joe Nelson
Posted: 01/27/2010 03:21:06 PM PST

The county today released a redacted 183-page report from its human resources investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and workplace retaliation against District Attorney Michael A. Ramos by one of his employees.

The report, which includes 166 pages of backup documentation and exhibits, is the culmination of a 6-month investigation by a Santa Monica law firm commissioned by the county for $140,000. In essence, it vindicates Ramos.

Cheryl Ristow, 50, of Redlands, an investigative technician for the district attorney’s bureau of investigation, filed the complaint in August, alleging she was disciplined harshly and rebuffed by Ramos following an article in a local paper that detailed their alleged affair, which Ristow said occurred between September 2003 to February 2005.

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