Jury finds man mentally competent in “bunker killings” case

The man charged in the killing of a High Desert couple at an abandoned military bunker in 2008 has been found to be mentally competent to stand trial.

Jurors returned the verdict Wednesday in the trial for Collin Lee McGlaughlin of West Covina after receiving the case for deliberation a day earlier, in Victorville Superior Court, according to court records.

McGlaughlin, 21, returns to court Jan.27. He’s accused of shooting to death Christopher Cody Thompson, 18, and his 16-year-old girlfriend Bodhi Sherzer-Potter, following a party at the bunker near Helendale.
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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.
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Mental competency trial starts for defendant in slayings of High Desert couple

VICTORVILLE – A jury will begin hearing evidence Wednesday in the mental competency trial for a West Covina man accused of the execution-style killings of a young man and woman in 2008 at an abandoned military bunker near Helendale.

Lawyers in the trial for Collin McGlaughlin spent Monday arguing pretrial motions, deciding whether some evidence could be used at trial and selecting a jury. Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. followed by testimony Wednesday in Victorville Superior Court.

The issue before jurors is whether McGlaughlin has the necessary mental competency to go to trial again later where he will face murder charges – and the possible death penalty – in the shooting deaths of Christopher Cody Thompson, 18, of Apple Valley and his 16-year-old girlfriend, Bodhisattva “Bodhi” Sherzer-Potter of Helendale.
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No charges will be filed against grandmother for leaving child in car

Prosecutors have decided not to file charges against a Victorville grandmother and her friend, who were arrested last month after her 11-month-old grandson was found inside a hot car they drove to a wedding reception.

The decision not to file criminal charges against Maria Davila, 56, came Friday from prosecutors at the District Attorney’s Office in Victorville.

“There was insufficient evidence to support the filing of charges,” said Chris Lee, a District Attorney’s spokesman. He could not say anything further about the case.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Davila and her friend, Margarita Simbana, 51, of Los Angeles, 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.

Davila and Simbana were attending a reception at the Social House in the 12100 block of Cottonwood Avenue. Deputies say the child’s parents were also at the reception.

Lawyer James Terrell accompanied Davila and the child’s mother, Alma Medina, on Wednesday while she said the incident was a miscommunication and that Davila did not know the child was placed in the car, according to a report in a High Desert newspaper.

Terrell did not return a phone call nor email requesting comment.

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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Victorville hotel employee surrenders in alleged fraud case

By Stacia Glenn
Posted: 02/02/2010 04:08:58 PM PST

An employee at a Victorville hotel turned herself in today after learning that sheriff’s deputies were investigating her for allegedly fraudulently obtaining $848,000 through Orbitz.com.

Ashka Patel, 26, of Apple Valley, surrendered at the Victorville courthouse about 1:30 p.m. She is being held on $300,000 bail on suspicion of theft by fraud.

Representatives from Orbitz.com, which is a popular Web site offering airfare, rental cars and hotel stays, contacted the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in mid-November to alert them of the fraud.

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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.

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Two soldiers ordered held in Barstow woman’s death

Two U.S. Army soldiers were ordered held over for trial Monday in the death of 29-year-old Sandi Lee Duncan, a former soldier.

Melvin Lee Satcher and Phillip Ryan Franke appeared for a preliminary hearing in Victorville Superior Court, where a judge determined that sufficient evidence existed to hold over the two men for trial on murder charges in Duncan’s death.

Satcher, 23, and Franke, 22, return to court Feb. 3 to enter a formal plea on the charges, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.

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Couple found guilty in death of Lytle Creek man

By Mike Cruz
Posted: 01/24/2010 06:02:17 PM PST

A jury has found a couple guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a Lytle Creek man almost three years ago.

Jurors found John Rene Loza and Jeanne Lynne Loza guilty of killing 54-year-old John Edward Rintalan just before noon Thursday in Victorville Superior Court, according to court records.

John Loza, 61, and Jeanne Loza, 49, are scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 19.

Rintalan had allowed the couple to live in the guest house on his Lytle Creek property. Rintalan’s live-in girlfriend reported him missing in March 2007 and his body was found three weeks later near Highway 2 and Desert Front Road near Wrightwood.

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Victorville teacher sentenced for sex with teenager

A Victorville school teacher has been sentenced to three years probation and a year in county jail for having an unlawful sexual relationship with a co-worker’s teenaged daughter last year.

Raymond Chow, 29, was sentenced under the terms of a plea bargain reached with prosecutors on Dec. 8 in Victorville Superior Court. Chow pleaded guilty to one felony count of having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.

The defendant was sentenced to supervised probation and 365 days in county jail before Judge Larry Allen on Jan. 12, according to court records. Chow received credit for 102 days already served.

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