21-year-old Covina man accused of murder in death of infant daughter

COVINA — Prosecutors Thursday charged a 21-year-old Covina man with murder and child abuse in connection with the death of his 12-week-old daughter from head injuries, officials said.
Andrew Luis Lopez appeared in Pomona Superior Court, however his arraignment was continued until Feb. 26, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
He’s charged with second-degree murder and and child abuse resulting in an infant’s death, Covina police officials said in a written statement.
Abigail Ann Lopez died at a Los Angeles hospital Jan. 18, three days after she was found not breathing at a home in the 200 block of West Dexter Street, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Police responded with paramedics to a report of a baby not breathing on Jan. 15, according to the Covina police statement.
Detectives launched an investigation, in which they obtained a search warrant for the apartment and interviewed witnesses, police said.
“It was quickly determined that (the infant) and her father were the only persons present in the apartment when the initial call was placed to the Los Angeles County Fire Department,” the statement said.
An autopsy was completed Jan. 23, Winter said.
“The cause of death is blunt head trauma,” he said. “It was ruled as a homicide.”
Several fractures were discovered in the baby’s skull, police said.
After an “extensive investigation,” police arrested Andrew Lopez Tuesday, according to the police statement.
According to Los Angeles County booking records, he was being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

BOOKING PHOTO of Andrew Lopez courtesy of the Covina Police Department

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Solo-car crash prompts closure of Cypress Street in Covina

COVINA — A solo-car crash into a utility pole Thursday caused no major injuries, but prompted a closure of Cypress Street that could last as long as 24 hours, authorities said.
The crash took place about 11:21 a.m. on Cypress Street at Cummings Road, Covina police Lt. Ric Walczak said.
No crime was initially suspected in the crash, and the driver was taken for treatment of apparently minor injuries, the lieutenant said.
But the crash badly damaged a Southern California Edison power pole, he said.
Utility workers determined the pole must be replaced, and Cypress Street will remain closed to traffic at the crash scene until the work is complete, Walczak said. The repairs could take up to 24 hours.

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AP: Former Pasadena mortician convicted of mass cremation, stealing dental gold, waives extradition to California

MISSOULA, Mont. — A former California mortician who was convicted of conducting mass cremations and extracting dental gold and body parts from corpses in the late 1980s has waived extradition to that state where he is being sought violating conditions of his lifetime parole.
The Missoulian reports 56-year-old David Wayne Sconce of Frenchtown waived extradition Wednesday during a hearing in Justice Court in Missoula.
Sconce was sentenced to five years’ probation last year on a federal charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm for stealing a gun from a neighbor and pawning it, apparently triggering the arrest warrant.
Officials in Los Angeles County say Sconce was involved in the Lamb Funeral Home case in Pasadena.
He served 2 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to 21 charges.

– From the Associated Press

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Woman charged with 8 L.A. County bank robberies; attributes robbery spree to recent slaying of sister

The sister of a recent Northern California homicide victim accused of robbing or attempting to rob eight banks — including ones in Arcadia, Temple City and Baldwin Park — was in federal custody Thursday awaiting trial, officials said.
Obiomachuckuka Njokanma, 36, of Michigan, was indicted Tuesday on eight counts of bank robbery in connection with the alleged spree, which took place between Dec. 28 and Jan. 12, according to FBI officials and court documents.
Officials said Njokanma also admitted being responsible for a Dec. 27 Modesto bank robbery for which she has not yet been charged.
Her alleged San Gabriel Valley crimes include a Jan. 4 robbery at the Foothill Federal Credit Union, 30 S. First Ave. in Arcadia; a failed Jan. 10 robbery at a Wells Fargo, 11460 Merced Ave. in Baldwin Park; and a Jan. 10 robbery at a Bank of the West, 9934 E. Las Tunas Drive in Temple City.
She was arrested Jan. 14 by by Los Angeles police, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.
According to the indictment, “Njokanma repeatedly apologized for committing the bank robberies. She explained that her sister was recently discovered murdered in Modesto, California. She admitted that the very first bank she robbed was in Modesto.”
A search of public records shows that Njokanma is a relative of Eldoris Graham, 28, of Modesto, who was found slain in her hometown Jan. 11.
Graham’s boyfriend, 36-year-old Anthony Coxum, was not cooperating with investigators and gave inconsistent statements to detectives, but was not initially arrested in connection with the killing, Modesto police officials said in a written statement.
Coxum was being held on suspicion of unrelated probation violations in Fayetteville, North Carolina, as the investigation continued, Modesto police added. He was driving Graham’s car when arrested.
Graham was reported missing by her mother on Dec. 15, and her body was found Jan. 11, officials said.
FBI investigators had been referring to the serial robber as the “60 Second Bandit” due to statements she made during the robberies indicating she wanted to get the money and be gone within 60 seconds, Eimiller said. But officials had not yet gone public with the moniker.
During the robberies, Njokanma handed tellers notes threatening to shoot them or others in the bank if they didn’t quickly hand over large-denomination bills, according to court documents. She would often wear a baseball cap or a wig.
In all, the eight robberies Njokanma is charged with allegedly netted her $20,001.
In addition to the three San Gabriel Valley crimes, robberies linked to Njokanma also include a Dec. 28 robbery at the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists-Screen Actors Guild Credit Union in Burbank; a Dec. 31 heist at a U.S. Bank in Bell; a failed Jan. 8 robbery at a Wells Fargo branch at 3800 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles; a Jan. 9 robbery at the First Financial Credit Union, 5115 Wilshire Ave. in Los Angeles; and a Jan. 12 robbery at a Citibank, 270 N. Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles.

BANK SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS of Baldwin Park attempted robbery (above) and Temple City robbery (below) courtesy of the FBI.

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Family unhurt after car slams into Pasadena home

PASADENA — A family, including four children, escaped injury late Wednesday when a car smashed into their house, authorities said.
Rescuers responded shortly after 11 p.m. to the crash in the 100 block of East Washington Boulevard, Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson said.
The 20-year-old driver of the vehicle was hospitalized with moderate injuries following the crash, according to Pasadena Fire Department officials.
The vehicle smashed its way into the home and caused major damage, however a family of four adults and four children inside were unharmed, officials said.
The single-story home sustained structural damage, and an urban search and rescue team was called into to shore up the building.
Authorities summoned the Red Cross to help the displaced residents find temporary lodging.
Fire officials estimated the crash caused about $25,000 worth of damage to the home.
The cause of the crash was being investigated by the Pasadena Police Department.

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Body found beaten to death in Angeles National Forest identified as missing Glendale man

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Human remains found in a shallow grave in the Angeles National Forest earlier this month have been identified as those of a missing Glendale man who was beaten to death.
The body found Jan. 19 near mile marker 2.72 of Big Tujunga Canyon Road was that of Nicholas Carter, 25, of Glendale, Lt. Mike Rosson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said Wednesday.
An autopsy determined he had been beaten to death, the lieutenant added.
“We’re treating it as a homicide,” Rosson said.
Carter went missing sometime between Jan. 4 and 7, officials added.
No information regarding a suspect or motive in the slaying was available, and nothing detectives found in the man’s background indicated a reason someone would want him dead, Rosson said.
“He looks like a pretty normal person who had a job,” the lieutenant said.
Detective unearthed Carter’s remains after returning to the site of a Jan. 8 excavation.
A hiker had discovered what appeared to be a shallow grave with streaks of blood nearby, Rosson said.
Inside the grave, only a bag of animal remains was found, sheriff’s officials said.
But detective returned to the area Jan. 19 after tests indicated animal remains were not the only thing in the area.
“Once we confirmed that the blood in the area was human, we felt we needed to go back there,” Rosson said.
Carter’s remains were found several hundred yards from the site of the initial shallow grave.
It appeared he had been dragged past the site of the first grave, leaving a blood trail, though the animal remains were not believed to be related to the slaying, Rosson said.

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Attempted murder suspect arrested after chase, crash in La Mirada

LA MIRADA — A Brea police pursuit of an attempted murder suspect worked its way through four cities Wednesday before coming to an end with a crash in La Mirada, officials said.
Vincent Amadeus Fernandez, 21, of Fullerton was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, burglary and evading police following the pursuit, which began about 9:30 a.m., Brea police Sgt. Jim Griffin said.
The incident began about 9:30 a.m. when police received a report of domestic violence from the 800 block of Sungrove Place, in the area of Lambert Road and State College Boulevard, the sergeant said.
Fernandez had forced his way into a former girlfriend’s home, where he struck her, brandished a knife and choked her, Griffin said. He made statements during the alleged attack that he wanted to kill the woman.
The woman was not seriously hurt, Griffin said.
An officer responding to the call spotted Fernandez driving away, Griffin said. The officer tried to pull over Fernandez’s pickup truck, but he fled instead.
Fernandez led officers on a chase through Brea, Fullerton and Yorba Linda, police said. At one point, he struck a parked car and continued fleeing.
After about 10 minutes, Fernandez crashed his northbound truck into a sedan at Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Adelfa Drive in La Mirada, officials said.
Neither driver suffered significant injuries, Los Angeles County Department Capt. Greg Lombardo said.
Fernandez was booked on suspicion of attempted murder, burglary and felony evading, police said.

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Two recent Arcadia church vandalisms prompt hate crime investigation

ARCADIA — An Arcadia church was vandalized and set on fire for the second time in the past two weeks in what police are investigating as possible hate crimes.
The break-ins and vandalisms took place about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Holy Angels Church, 330 Campus Drive, and sometime overnight between Jan. 19 and 20 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 400 West Duarte Road, Arcadia police officials said in a written statement.
“What we’re trying to do is get the word out to the religious community,” Arcadia police Sgt. Tom Le Veque said.
Due to the similarity in the crimes, as well as the proximity and timing between them, detectives suspected the incidents may be related and asked the community to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, the sergeant said.
“Although neither crime involved entry into the church sanctuaries, both events involved religious artifacts or items and we are treating these as religious-based hate crimes,” according to the police statement. Both crimes occurred in portions of the churches used for administrative offices.
In the most recent crime, an unknown vandal or vandals broke in through an office window and smashed two religious statues and a DVD player, Le Veque said.
They also kicked in the interior office door and rummaged through several rooms in the building, police said.
Investigators were not aware of anything missing from the Holy Angels Church Wednesday, Le Veque added.
Officials found smoke inside the church when they arrived and also discovered a small fire of papers and carpet against an interior hallway inside the building, officials said.
Police encountered a similar scene when responded to a report of a break-in at the Church of the Good Shepherd on the morning of Jan. 20, Le Veque said.
Officials found a door to an administrative building forced open and the interior ransacked, police said.
Clergy robes were thrown on the ground, a fire extinguisher had been discharged within the building and a religious portrait hanging on the wall had been set on fire, investigators said. A guitar and other sound equipment was stolen from the church.
No suspect description was available Wednesday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Arcadia police at 626-574-5150. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

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UPDATED: New arrests, details announced in Pasadena shotgun slaying that stemmed from alleged marijuana robbery

PASADENA — Police announced new arrests and charges Wednesday in the fatal shotgun shooting of a 21-year-old Pasadena man during a marijuana robbery earlier this month.
A total of five people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 15 shooting death of Zane Goldstein, which occurred after the victim and his brother met the suspects for a small-scale marijuana deal, Pasadena police officials said in a written statement.
Police Wednesday revealed that the fatal shooting stemmed from a planned marijuana sale.
“The shooting of the victim was precipitated by Zane Goldstein and his (24-year-old) brother arranging to meet one of the suspects to sell a nominal amount of marijuana,” according to Pasadena police Lt. Tracey Ibarra.
“During the contact, the suspects attempted to rob the victims and a shooting ultimately occurred,” Ibarra said.
The exact amount of marijuana involved in the transaction was not available, however Ibarra described it as “less than an ounce.”
The Goldstein brothers had just driven away from an alleyway behind a Holliston Avenue apartment complex where they had met the suspects when they were followed by a car, police said.
The fatal shooting then took place around the corner at Chester Avenue and Maple Street.
Raymond Conchas, 23, of Covina, John Michael Piepoli, 19, and Ruby Conchas, 20, joined two other suspects already in custody earlier this week, according to police officials and custody records.
Peter Parra, 35, of Pasadena, and Kevin Jessie Cabrera, 25, of North Hollywood were arrested last week and charged Friday in connection with the shooting, officials said. Raymond Conchas was also charged with the killing, though he was not yet in custody at the time.
Raymond Conchas turned himself in to police Monday afternoon, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records. He had been sought, along with 20-year-old Stephanie Jacquez, since murder and other charges were filed against him Friday and his photograph released to the public.
Jacquez turned herself in alongside Raymond Conchas, police said. She was ultimately released without charges.
Ruby Conchas, who was previously arrested and released without charges pending further investigation, was re-arrested Tuesday and charged with being an accessory after the fact to the slaying, Ibarra said.
Investigators early Tuesday arrested a fifth suspect in the case, identified as 19-year-old John Piepoli II, according to police and booking records.
Following Tuesday’s arrests, no additional suspects were being sought.
“We have everybody in custody,” Ibarra said.
A felony complaint filed against the five defendants outlines a conspiracy that began the day before Zane Goldstein was shot to death.
Raymond Conchas told Piepoli and another man who is not charged in the case Jan. 14 that he wanted to rob Goldstein, according to the complaint. He then ordered the two men to arrange a marijuana deal with Goldstein.
The uncharged man gave Goldstein Raymond Conchas’ cell phone number on Jan. 15, and Conchas contacted Goldstein via text message to arrange a meeting place for the deal, according to court documents.
Cabrera is accused of meeting the Goldstein brothers and luring them into a rear alleyway off Holliston Avenue.
Parra pointed a loaded shotgun at Zane Goldstein, according to the felony complaint.
Parra and Conchas then pursued the Goldstein brothers a short distance to the area of Maple Avenue and Chester Street, officials allege.
According to the complaint, “Parra shot the victim once in the head.”
Ruby Conchas pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of being an accessory after the fact, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said. She was due back in court Feb. 7.
In court documents, prosecutors allege she knowingly harbored, concealed and aided Raymond Conchas to help him avoid justice in the killing.
Parra, Cabrera, Raymond Conchas and John Piepoli all face charges of murder, with the special allegation of murder during the commission of a robbery, robbery, conspiracy, according to police and district attorney’s officials.
Parra, Cabrera and Raymond Conchas are also accused of gun enhancements, and the special allegation that the crime was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
The special allegations make the four male suspects eligible for the death penalty, however prosecutors will not make a determination on whether to seek the death penalty until later in the legal process.
Parra, Cabrera and Conchas were scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 7 in Pasadena Superior Court, Robison said.
Piepoli was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday afternoon, however officials expected is arraignment to be continued to Feb. 7 to coincide with the other defendants.
A decision was pending Wednesday on whether charges would be filed against a 17-year-old Pasadena boy arrested the day after the shooting.

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