Two arrested in Salas “ambush attack”

Rayshawn and Nick Blackwell of Monrovia were brought into a Pasadena courtroom this morning to face charges in the Jan. 26 slaying of Sammantha Salas in an unincorporated portion of southern Monrovia.

The case brought scrutiny to a race war between black and Hispanic gangs that heated up neighborhoods in Monrovia, Duarte and unincorporated Arcadia for several months between the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008.
The shootings created a peace activism movement in the area as well. Most importantly, Sammantha’s death led her mother to establish a scholarship fund in her daughter’s name. Here’s the story as it stands:

PASADENA _ Two men suspected in the January 2008 slaying of 16-year-old Sammantha Salas in Monrovia are scheduled for arraignment on charges of murder and attempted murder in superior court this morning, officials said.

Rayshawn Blackwell and Nickleis Blackwell, who are both in custody will be charged with the Jan 26, 2008 slaying of Salas and the attempted murder of her unidentified friend.

The shooting came during a turf battle between black and hispanic gangs in the Monrovia area. Salas mother’ Jeanette Chavez, said she was notified of the arrests last evening.

“I’m really excited to hear about this,” Chavez said. “I was able to sleep. And this morning I got up early.”

Chavez admitted following the case through the legal system won’t be easy.

“That’s going to be a challenge,” she said.”

It’s unclear if a reward offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Salas’e killers’ played a factor in the arrests of the Blackwells. The two match a pair of composite drawings cuirculated in the case late last year. On Thursday, detectives identified a third teen who was at the scene of the Salas shooting. He apparently fled when shots rang out and was difficult to locate until recently. The teen was not identified.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s homicide Lt. Dan Rosenberg said the teen was not a gang member.

The detective described the slaying as an “ambush-type attack.”

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Trial for grocery store magnate underway in federal court

From the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES–A grocery store magnate ordered the killing of rivals, bribed public officials and hired illegal immigrants to bolster and protect his business, a prosecutor in a racketeering trial said Wednesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Searight told jurors during his opening statement that George Torres ran his Numero Uno supermarkets like a criminal enterprise, skimming from store profits and taking revenge on those who crossed him.

Torres and his brother Manuel Torres were part of a group “that used violence, including murder, force, bribery and alien harboring to protect and further their business,” Searight said.

The evidence against the brothers includes wiretapped conversations and testimony from former employees and gang members, the prosecutor said.

George Torres, 52, has pleaded not guilty to more than 50 counts, including racketeering, mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

Manuel Torres, 55, has pleaded not guilty to three counts, including racketeering and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens.

If convicted of all counts, they could each face life in prison. The government also is seeking the forfeiture of tens of millions of dollars.

George Torres has been portrayed by prosecutors as a greedy, calculating businessman who used street justice to help his cause
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Teen jailed in reporter’s death

From the Associated Press:

NEW YORK — A law enforcement source says a teenager arrested for stabbing a veteran New York City radio reporter told police the victim offered him $60 for rough sex.
Police officials say sixteen-year-old John Katehis (KAY’tis) confessed to killing George Weber shortly after being taken into custody late Tuesday in Middletown, N.Y.
A law enforcement official, speaking on condition anonymity because charges are still being drawn up, says Wednesday the suspect claims the victim offered the cash for violent sex.
Katehis describes himself as a sadomasochist on his MySpace page, which features photos of a knife collection.
Charges against the Queens teen were pending. The name of his attorney was not immediately available.
Weber’s body was found Sunday. His ankles were bound and he was stabbed about 50 times.
Weber worked at WABC in New York for 12 years as the on-air reporter. He also had worked at stations in California, Denver and Pennsylvania.


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Teen accidentally shot by father

This comes from our counterparts at the San Bernardino County Sun:

POMONA – A 14-year-old boy was accidently shot in the head by his father Monday night and remained in critical condition Tuesday afternoon, Pomona police Sgt. Rick Baker said.

The father had returned home from a gun range and was cleaning or putting away his weapons when a gun accidentally discharged at about 6:30 p.m., striking the boy in the head, Baker said.

“It’s a pretty tragic circumstance the family is dealing with right now,” Baker said.

Baker said the boy was taken by helicopter Monday for emergency surgery at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

Baker said police are not releasing the names of the boy or the father at this time. The family lives in the 1600 block of American Avenue, Baker said.

Baker said police did not arrest the father, and will continue to collect information on the incident to present to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for review.

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Motive released in Gas Co. slayings

From the Associated Press:

ANAHEIM — Investigators say the suspected killer of two Southern California Gas Co. employees last week blamed the victims for forcing him to resign from the utility’s Anaheim office.
Phong Thuc Tran is believed to be the killer of 37-year-old Hung Duy Dao, whose body was found in his car outside the utility’s Anaheim office, and 43-year-old Charles Santisteban, a supervisor killed in his Pomona driveway the next day.
Tran was found in his SUV with a self-inflicted gunshot wound outside the Anaheim police station.
He died on Saturday at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange.
Anaheim Sgt. Tim Schmidt says the 36-year-old Tran “had hatred for the victims” because he felt they conspired to force his 2007 resignation.

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Grand jury to hear evidence in San Marino mystery

I just posted this story online. Essentially, LA County has opened a grand jury look into the 1985 disappearance of John and Linda Sohus and the 1994 discovery of bones in a San Marino backyard.

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has convened a grand jury investigation into the 1985 disappearance and possible murder of a San Marino couple, officials said Tuesday.

Clark Rockefeller, 48, facing trial in Boston in connection with the abduction of his daughter last July, has been named a person of interest in the disappearance of John and Linda Sohus 24 years ago.

The case became a homicide investigation in May 1994. It was then that bones, believed to be those of John Sohus, turned up in the back yard of the home the couple shared with Rockefeller, then known as Christopher Chichester.

Attorney Jeffrey Denner, who is representing Rockefeller, did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.

DA spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said she could neither confirm nor deny that a grand jury had been impaneled in the case. “Those proceedings are secret,” Gibbons said.

At least two handwriting experts have been asked to submit materials for the inquiry, which is being handled by Deputy District Attorney Catherine Brough of the Major Crimes Division, said a source close to the investigation, who asked not to be identified.

One of those experts, Sheila Lowe, said Tuesday she has been asked to submit materials, including a handwriting analysis chart she prepared for this newspaper.

“I have given lots of opinions before and never been called to testify before a grand jury,” Lowe said. “It was quite a surprise.”

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Extortion in the SGV

Channel Four’s Doug Kriegel will have a story at 6 p.m. tonight on KNBC detailing a series of extortion threats to various asian businesses in the San Gabriel Valley.

Kriegel said he was tipped to the story thanks to a Chinese-speaking member of the KNBC staff who reads the Chinese Daily News. Today’s piece is a follow up to one he ran with on Friday.

“These are Chinese death and extortion threats,” Kreigel said.  “Threats from the Taiwanese Mafia.”



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Octomom update dujour

From Gloria Allred:

Attorney Gloria Allred and Angels in Waiting (AIW) will hold a news conference Wednesday March 25, 2009, at 1:00 p.m. at 6300 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1500, L.A. to reveal the true facts about why Angels in Waiting is no longer providing supportive nursing care to Nadya Suleman’s octuplets and other children.

Neither AIW nor Ms. Allred will be available for comments today March 24.

The Dr. Phil show will be releasing a press statement today.

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Temple City murder case jury selected

I received this update in the Netter case from an interested observer who asked to remain anonymous:

The jury has been selected in the DeAndre Netter murder trial.

I received a message from Mrs. Yvonne Netter who is in protective custody asking that the community pray for her and DeAndre’s surviving twin brother DeJohn.

I hope you can give us updates on the trial. Many of us would like to attend but we fear retaliation from the Guerra and Lopez family.

As you may remember Chris Lopez’ brother Matt Lopez coaches football at Temple City High School and this year he was also the JV Soccer Coach so we are afraid to be seen in the courtroom. Any updates are on the trial are greatly appreciated.

FYI: We will update the case this week

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5 Tom-one 10-15 with 2

Dallas Police officers won’t have to worry about translating codes anymore. The PD has as decided to drop English as a second language as part of a more realistic method of communication. Here’s a portion of the story from the Dallas Morning News:

Today, the Dallas Police Department moves to a new plain-language system that’s supposed to make communications more universal and less complicated. No more of those distinctive radio codes or signals.

The department says it’s following a nationwide trend, but some call it the end of an era.

Others say the switch is no big deal. Many Dallas police dispatches already include plain language because it’s simple.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Dallas Police Senior Cpl. Herb Ebsen said. “It’s just common sense. If we start speaking in codes, you have a real chance for a problem or misinterpretation.”

I always thought the codes were to keep crooks from figuring out what the cops were talking about…

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