BALDWIN PARK >> A Baldwin Park man received a prison sentence of 16 years to life Friday for stabbing another man to death during a fight in late last year, authorities said.
Steven Barron, 55, pleaded “no contest” to a count of second-degree murder for the Dec. 9, 2016, slaying of 43-year-old Gilbert Ochoa of Baldwin Park, according to Los Angeles County District attorney’s officials. He also admitted the special allegation that he used a knife in the crime during Friday’s appearance in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The fatal confrontation unfolded shortly after midnight in a residential garage in the 4000 block of Harland Avenue.
Barron, who was renting a room at the home, became involved in an argument with Ochoa as Ochoa was having a conversation with Barron’s landlord, Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said at the time. Ochoa lived nearby.
“The fight led to a number of physical confrontations started by Barron,” district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
“During one of the confrontations, Barron armed himself with a knife and Ochoa armed himself with an aluminum pole,”she said.
Barron suffered a broken arm during the fight, officials said.
He stabbed Ochoa in the chest with a large kitchen knife, sheriff’s officials said.
“Barron gained control of the pole and hit the victim over the head,” Ardalani said.
Police detained Barron for questioning and ultimately arrested him on suspicion of murder several hours later.
Friday’s sentencing was the result of a negotiated plea arrangement, Ardalani said.
If he had been convicted at trial of first-degree murder, Barron could have faced up to 26 years to life in state prison.
A judge sentenced a 28-year-old men to spend the rest of his life in a prison cell for fatally stabbing his then-14-year-old girlfriend’s grandparents to death as they slept in their bed in their Rosemead home nearly seven years ago.
A jury convicted Rodolfo Lopez late last year of two counts of first-degree murder, along with the special allegation of multiple murders for the Aug. 10, 2010, double-stabbing in the 4200 block of Arica Avenue, in which the elderly victims were stabbed more than 150 times, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and proscutors.
Jack Bezner, 71, and his wife Susan Bezner, 64, died in the attack, officials said.
Their granddaughter, then-14-year-old Sophia Cristo, lived with them. She carried out the attack with Lopez, then-21, after the grandparents discovered Cristo had been involved in a check forgery scam and threatened to notify authorities, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani.
During Lopez’s appearance Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Judge Craig Richman sentenced the killer to life in prison without the possibility of parole, court officials said.
Jurors convicted Cristo in March of 2015 of the murders of her grandparents.
The jury also found true the special circumstances of lying in wait and multiple murders, as well as the special allegation that she personally used a knife to stab her grandmother. Susan Bezner was stabbed 112 times during the grisly attack.
Though the couple was attacked as they slept in their bed, evidence indicated they fought for their lives before ultimately succumbing to their wounds, prosecutors said.
Investigators found and arrested Lopez and Cristo two days after the murders as they were driving the Bezners’ stolen SUV through Horison City, Texas.
Though the special allegation of multiple murders made Lopez eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors did not seek capital punishment in the case.
Cristo was ineligible for capital punishment due to her age at the time of the slayings.
Cristo also faces life in prison without the possibility of parole when she returns to court for sentencing on July 18.
ARCADIA >> A group of masked men forced their way into an Arcadia home, tied up the residents and ransacked the house before fleeing with valuables late Thursday, police said.
The crime unfolded about 11 p.m. in the 1000 block of Singing Wood Drive, Arcadia police Lt. John Bonomo said.
“On arrival, contact was made with the resident of the home who stated three, possibly four, masked men entered the home and tied them up,” according to the sergeant. One of the robbers carried a gun.
The me then ransacked the home and fled with valuables, he said.
“One of the bound victims was able to free themselves after the suspects fled and called for help,” Bonomo said.
One of the victims suffered a minor injury during the incident, but did not require medical treatment, he said. The nature of the injury was unclear, as was the number of victims and their ages.
No further description of the robbers was available.
Anyone with information can reach Arcadia police at 626-574-5151. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
NORWALK >> A former international fugitive admitted on Thursday breaking into the home of his then-neighbor in Norwalk stabbing the 50-year-old disabled woman to death in 2012, authorities said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, was captured in Guatemala two years after the Aug. 10, 2012, slaying of Denise Battey in the 11900 block of Allard Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
After nearly three more years awaiting trial, Difron pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree murder, along with the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a burglary, as well as the special allegation that he personally used a knife in the murder, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
Prosecutors initially accused Diofron of the additional special circumstance of murder during the commission of a rape. Under Thursday’s negotiated plea arrangement, the allegation of sexual assault was dismissed.
“(Diofron) broke into his neighbor’s home and fatally stabbed the 50-year-old woman,” Santiago said in a written statement. “Following the killing, the defendant fled to Guatemala where he remained for several years. (He) was located in December 2014 and extradited to Los Angeles County four months later.”
Diofron is expected to be receive a life term in prison without the possibility of parole when he returns to the Norwalk branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on July 19, Santiago said.
Diofron was living next-door to his victim while staying in the U.S. on a work visa, Detective Ray Lugo of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said shortly after his capture.
He attacked Denise Battey as she watered her garden during the early-morning hours, like she did every morning, according to investigators and her twin sister, Annese Battey.
Difron then dragged Denise Battey inside her home, where he stabbed her to death, officials said.
He then fled to his native Guatemala.
But detectives received a tip in late 2014 that the killer had been spotted near Guatemala City, Lugo said. Sheriff’s detectives, aided by Guatemalan police and the FBI, arrested Diofron without a struggle on Dec. 4, 2014. He was extradited back to the Los Angeles County to face justice four months later.
The victim was defenseless from her attacker, having just undergone back surgery and suffering from severe sciatica in her one of her legs.
Denise Battery worked for the U.S. Social Security Administration and tutored students on college preparation in her spare time, Annese Battery said. She was a fan of classic cinema and was known for handing out her homegrown tomatoes in her neighborhood.
Denise Battey dreamed of one day having a small home or condominium on the back, her sister said.
Luis Fernando Diofron, also known as Luis Fernando Diofron Lemus, 25, [LEFT] pleaded guilty on Thursday, June 29, 2017 to the murder of neighbor Denise Battery, 50, of Norwalk [RIGHT] on Aug. 10, 2012. Difron was captured in his antive Guatemala two years after the murder. (Courtesy)
EL MONTE >> An El Monte man who works as a shuttle bus driver for a day care center for the disabled is accused of molesting a 30-year-old woman who he was transporting, police said Thursday.
Antelmo Medina, 58, is charged with sexual battery in connection with the alleged crime, which took place Tuesday, according to El Monte police and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
Medina drives a shuttle bus for “The Dream House,” a state-licensed dependent adult day care facility on Garvey Avenue, El Monte police Sgt. Richard Luna said in a written statement. His responsibilities included driving guests to and form their homes in a minivan.
“The alleged crime occurred while Medina transported the victim to her residence,” Luna said.
Medina also served as a physical fitness coach at the facility, where he has worked for the past eight months.
Prosecutors charged Medina on Wednesday with one misdemeanor count of sexual battery, district attorney’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
Medina was initially booked on suspicion of a felony-level crime and held in lieu of $1.125 million bail, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
After he was charged with a misdemeanor count of sexual battery, Medina’s bail was reduced by the court to $50,000, Santiago said. His arraignment was continued to Friday.
Anyone with information is urged ton contact the El Monte Police Department Detective Bureau at 626-580-2172. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
BOOKING photo of Antelmo Medina courtesy of the El Monte Police Department
EL MONTE >> Coroner’s officials have released the identity of a 20-year-old man who died in a shooting that also left a teenage boy wounded in El Monte on Tuesday night.
Esteban Bustamante of South El Monte died following the 11 p.m. attack at Garvey and Durfee avenues, Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner Investigator Rudy Molano said.
He was riding as a rear passenger in a car, as was the teenage victim who survived his wounds, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. A woman driving the victims’ car, as well as a second woman riding as a front passenger, escaped injury.
The victims were stopped at a red light, facing north on Durfee Avenue, when a gray compact car driven by the killer pulled up alongside their car, Deputy Trina Schrader of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“A verbal interaction occurred between the occupants of both vehicles,” Schrader said. “During the course of the verbal interaction, a male Hispanic exited the driver side of the suspect’s vehicle, approached the victim’s vehicle and shot multiple rounds into the rear passenger compartment.”
The shooter then got back into his car and sped away.
The woman at the wheel of the victim’s car drove the wounded man and boy to Greater El Monte Community Hospital in South El Monte, Schrader said.
Bustamante died within minutes of arriving there, coroner’s Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
No further information, including a detailed suspect description, have been released.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau, which is assisting El Monte police in the investigation, at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
A man led deputies on a chase from West Whittier to South El Monte in a carjacked car before being captured by a sheriff’s SWAT team on Sunday morning, officials said.
Robert Larry Gutierrez, 34, was jailed following the pursuit, which began about 7:30 a.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva said. His hometown was not available.
Deputies patrolling over the unincorporated county area of West Whittier in a helicopter detected a signal from a LoJack vehicle tracker in the area of Washington and Norwalk boulevards, the lieutenant said. The vehicle had been reported carjacked in South Gate earlier in the morning.
“It looked like he was going to pull over initially, but then he took off,” Villanueva said.
Gutierrez led deputies on a 6-mile chase that ended when he abandoned his car along Peck Road at the 60 Freeway in South El Monte and fled into a nearby brush area, according to Villanueva.
Deputies summoned a sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau SWAT Team to track down the suspect in the dense vegetation. A sheriff’s helicopter landed on the freeway in order to rush deputies to the scene.
The SWAT deputies, aided by a K-9, soon found Gutierrez hiding in the brush and took him into custody.
He was being booked on suspicion of driving a car without the owner’s consent, felony evading and possession of cocaine, Villanueva said. The earlier carjacking was being investigated by the South Gate Police Department.
The westbound lanes of the 60 Freeway were closed down for nearly half-an-hour as deputies searched for and apprehended the suspect.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
SAN GABRIEL >> A man shot and killed his mother before turning the gun on himself in a San Gabriel apartment on Saturday night, authorities said.
The suspected murder-suicide was first reported at 10:08 p.m. inside an apartment in a large apartment complex on a residential cul-de-sac in the 1300 block of Stevens Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials, who are assisting San Gabriel police in the investigation.
Police responded to the home after receiving a report of “shots fired,” Deputy Kimberly Alexander of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Officers found a man and woman suffering from gunshot wounds inside the apartment, officials said. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Homicide detectives determined the man, described as 49 years old, fatally shot his mother before shooting himself, according to Alexander.
The identities of the woman and son were not available.
No further details were available early Sunday.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
MONROVIA >> Police are seeking two women who they say sprayed a security guard with pepper spray in order to steal purses from a Monrovia discount department store late Friday.
The robbery unfolded just after 8 p.m. at Marshall’s, 564 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia police Lt. Rob Wilken said.
A security guard noticed two women leaving the store with handbags they hadn’t paid for and confronted them about the theft, he said.
One of the women pulled out a can of pepper spray and sprayed the security guard, according to the lieutenant.
The women then fled, with the stolen purses, in a red Dodge Charger, he said. They were last seen headed west on Huntington Drive.
A detailed description of the suspects was not available. The security guard was treated by paramedics for pepper spray exposure, but did not require to be taken to a hospital.
Anyone with information can reach Monrovia police at 626-256-8000. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PICO RIVERA >> A man died after being struck by a Union Pacific freight train in Pico Rivera late Friday, authorities said.
The incident took place just after 11:40 p.m. on a set of tracks near Durfee Avenue and Stephens Street, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and coroner officials.
The man’s identity was not released Saturday pending notification of his family, coroner’s Lt. David Smith said. He was described as being in his 50s.
An autopsy was pending. No further details were available.