Montebello man sentenced for crimes against ex-girlfriend, who jumped from moving car on El Monte freeway to escape him

PASADENA >> A Montebello man received a sentenced of more than 8 years in prison this week for allegedly threatening, kidnapping and assaulting his ex-girlfriend at an El Monte motel before she jumped from a moving car on the 60 Freeway to escape him, authorities said.
Benny Torres, 30, pleaded “no contest” Tuesday to two counts of making criminal threats, two counts of cruelty to a child, one count of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of domestic violence in connection with the series of crimes that unfolded in October of 2014, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Pasadena Superior Court Judge Darrel Mavis immediately sentenced Torres to 8 years and 4 months in state prison, and ordered him to stay away from the victim for 10 years, Ardalani said.
Following his arrest, Torres was charged with 14 criminal counts. A judge dismissed the kidnapping charge and a burglary charge following Torres’ preliminary hearing Ardalani said.
Under Tuesday’s negotiated plea arrangement, which was made with the approval of the victim, additional counts including rape and false imprisonment, were dismissed, Ardalani said.
Torres first threatened his girlfriend, a Monterey park woman in her 20s who he had dated for several months, on Oct. 3 2014, during a domestic violence incident, Ardalani said. “The defendant strangled his ex-girlfriend and warned her that he would kill her in front of her two children.”
Just over three weeks later on Oct. 27, Torres called the victim and ordered to pick him up and bring him to an El Monte motel, according to prosecutors and Monterey Park police officials.
“In fear for her life, the victim did what Torres asked,” Ardalani said.
Once at the motel, Torres refused to allow the victim to leave, threatened to kill her again and struck her in the head with a handgun.
Police alleged Torres assaulted the woman both physically and sexually while keeping her captive overnight. The following day, he took her car keys and ordered her to get into the passenger seat of her car as he drove. The terrified woman saw a chance to escape as Torres drove down the 60 Freeway in El Monte, near the 605 Freeway.
“During the car ride, the victim believed Torres would ultimately kill her,” Ardalni said. “As a result, she jumped out of the moving vehicle.”
The victim sought help and was treated for injuries suffered in the attack and escape, officials said.
Monterey Park police Lt. Bill Cuevas said at the time that the woman, “bravely, by her own actions, basically saved her own life.”
The multi-agency West San Gabriel Valley Anti-Crime Task Force found and arrested Torres without a struggle on Nov. 4, 2014, at a relative’s home in East Los Angeles.

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UPDATED: Six people hospitalized in El Monte crash

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EL MONTE >> A multi-vehicle crash in El Monte Thursday believed to have been triggered by a driver suffering a medical problem Thursday sent six people to a hospital, authorities said.
The crash was first reported shortly after 3 p.m. on Peck Road near Ramona Boulevard, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Chris Reade said.
A total of eight patients from four vehicles were ultimately examined by firefighters, officials said. Some had to be freed from the wreckage by rescuers.
EMCRASH3Six patients were taken to hospitals, fire officials said. Two more declined to be hospitalized by paramedics.
None of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening, El Monte police Lt. Ben Lowey said.
A man was driving a pickup truck west on Ramona Boulevard when he apparently suffered a medical problem, the lieutenant said.
The pickup truck struck another pickup truck stopped at the light, he said. The struck vehicle lurched forward, struking a third vehicle.
The pickup truck which first triggered the crash then continued, striking another vehicle before flipping over, Lowry said.
No arrests or citations were made at the scene. The investigation was ongoing.

PHOTOS – courtesy

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Circumstances of man’s death in El Monte remain unclear


EL MONTE >> The cause of death of a man whose body was discovered in the parking lot of an El Monte auto dealership Saturday remained unclear Sunday, officials said.
The 49-year-old man’s identity was not released pending notification of his family, Lt. Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said. He was believed to be a transient known to frequent the area.
A worker at an auto dealership in the 9900 block of Garvey Avenue first reported finding the man unresponsive about 10:35 a.m. Saturday, Corral said. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.
The body showed signs of facial trauma, however the source of the injuries remained under investigation. The man may have been injured simply by falling, Corral said. Officials noted an odor of alcohol emanating from the body.
But investigators were yet to rule out the possibility of foul play, Corral said. An autopsy was pending, Corral said.
Detectives from the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau are assisting El Monte police in the investigation. Anyone with information was asked 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.

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Man found dead in El Monte


EL MONTE >> Detectives are investigating the death of a man whose body was discovered Saturday in a commercial neighborhood in El Monte, officials said.
The death was first reported about 11:05 a.m. in the 9900 block of Garvey Avenue, according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau. The sheriff’s Homicide Bureau is assisting El Monte police in the investigating.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene, Rouzan said. No further details were released.
It was not initially clear whether the death involved foul play.

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Brother and sister killed in El Monte house fire identified

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EL MONTE >> Coroner’s officials have identified two siblings killed in a fire at their El Monte home a month ago.
Margarita Dennis, 73, died a hospital following the fire, which was first reported shortly after 10 p.m. Nov. 5 at a home in the 12300 block of Felipe Street, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
Her brother, 61-year-old David Gutierrez, died at the scene, coroner’s officials said.
Their officials identifications were delayed due to the condition of the remains, as well as efforts to notify family members.
An autopsy determined Dennis died from smoke inhalation and burns, and the death was ruled accidental, coroner’s officials said. Gutierrez’s cause of death was yet to be determined pending the results of forensic tests.
The siblings lived at the home with another brother, who escaped the fire unharmed, officials said.
The house was destroyed by the fire, which firefighters extinguished 21 minutes after being summoned to the scene.
Handling detectives at the Sheriff’s Arson-Explosives Bureau could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The cause of the fire was unavailable.

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UPDATED: Man’s body found in back of SUV parked in El Monte

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EL MONTE >> Homicide detectives are investigating the suspicious death of a man whose body was found in the back seat of a sport utility vehicle parked at an intersection Friday afternoon.
The death was first reported around 2 p.m. in a residential neighborhood at Ferris Road at Cogswell Road, according to Deputy Ryan Rouzan of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau. The sheriff’s department is assisting El Monte police with the investigation.
Capture2Sheriff’s Homicide Detective Philip Guzman said a gardener working in the neighborhood first discovered an unresponsive man in the back seat of a Cadillac SUV parked along the north curb of Ferris Road.
Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene.
Guzman said the investigation remained in its early stages, and it has yet to be determined if the man was a victim of foul play.
“It looks like the person may have suffered some trauma,” he said.
Blood was found on the man’s upper body, but the source of the blood or whether it was related to the cause of death remained unknown, Guzman said.
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner will determine how the man died. An autopsy is pending. Authorities have not identified the dead man.
Capture3The Cadillac SRX was registered to an owner in Los Angeles, officials said. Detectives had not made contact with the registered owner yet.
Guzman said the SUV had been parked on Ferris Road since at least Thursday morning and possibly earlier. But it was unclear if the body had been inside the entire time.
Neighborhood resident Cassandra Davidson, 25, said she walks by daily as she heads to and from work.
The SUV was parked in the same spot when she passed by about noon Wednesday, she said. Davidson said she recalled a foul odor while passing by the SUV, but wasn’t sure if it emanated from the vehicle itself or from a storm drain next to it.
She said the grisly discovery left her nervous, as she often walks the neighborhood alone after late shifts at her job.
Neighbors said they did not see or hear anything unusual before the gardener discovered the body.
A distraught man waiting at the scene for information did not wish to comment.
Investigators planned to have the SUV with the body still inside towed to the coroner’s office.
Anyone with information is asked 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.

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PHOTOS by Sarah Reingewirtz

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Bomb squad detonates safe found in El Monte library parking lot


EL MONTE >> A bomb squad blew up a safe found abandoned in a library parking lot in El Monte Thursday evening, ultimately finding it to be empty, authorities said.
The incident began about 6:50 p.m. when police received reports of a suspicious object found in the rear parking lot of Norwood Library, 4550 N. Peck Road, El Monte police Lt. Ben Lowry said.
Officers found a reinforced metal safe, about 2-and-a-half feet tall, sitting in the parking lot, the lieutenant said.
Out of an “abundance of caution,” Lowry said officials evacuated about six nearby homes and summoned a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department bomb squad to the scene.
A bank at 9:47 p.m. signaled the bomb squad’s detonation of the safe, Lowey said. “The container was empty.”
Police were still looking into where the safe came from, and whether it had been previously stolen before it was found empty and abandoned.

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UPDATED: Suspect arrested following 4-hour standoff at El Monte business


EL MONTE >> Police officers, including one on four legs, captured an auto theft suspect who holed up inside an El Monte business for four hours Wednesday, officials said.
The incident began shortly before noon when a LoJack vehicle ant-theft signal led police to a stolen car in the 9200 block of Telstar Avenue, El Monte police Sgt. Ernie Cramer said.
As officers approached, the driver quickly pulled into the parking lot of a social services office and ran from the car, the sergeant said. He ran into a nearby large building housing a furniture store and a badminton club.
Officer evacuated the building, where the suspect was believed to be hiding, Cramer said. There was no indication he was armed.
Police began a search of the large building, ultimately finding the suspect hiding inside about 4 p.m., Cramer said.
He refused to surrender, so officers sent in a police dog, which bit the man and helped take him into custody, Cramer said.
Police took the suspect, a man in his 20s, to a hospital for treatment prior to the booking process, he said.

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One dead, one critically injured in El Monte house fire


EL MONTE >> A house fire in El Monte left one person dead and another critically injured late Thursday, authorities said.
The fire ignited just after 10 p.m. at a single-story house in the 12300 block of Felipe Street, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Kyle Sanford said.
Firefighters found the home “fully involved” with flames on arrival, he said.
Two people were pulled from the burning home, officials said.
Paramedics pronounced one patient dead at the scene, Sanford said. No description of the victim was available.
A second victim, described as an elderly woman, was pulled from the home in “full arrest,” Sanford said. Paramedics rushed her to a hospital for treatment.
Firefighter encountered a third person at the home, though that person did not appear to be injured, Sanford said.
Officials declared the fire extinguished 23 minutes after it was first reported.

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Alleged serial car thief arrested after chase from Arcadia to Temple City, crash

ARCADIA >> An El Monte man already sought on an auto theft warrant led police on chase in a stolen car from Arcadia to Temple City, where he was arrested following a crash early Sunday, authorities said.
Bryan Paul Sanchez, 20, was behind the wheel of a Toyota Sienna van when police tried to pull him over for a traffic violation about 3:30 a.m. at Sunset Boulevard and Duarte Road, Arcadia police Lt. Colleen Flores said. Sanchez sped away, and the chase was on.
“The pursuit entered the city of Temple City where the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a (Southern California) Edison telephone pole,”police said in a written statement.
Sanchez continued fleeing on foot following the crash about two miles to the south at Temple City Boulevard, just south of Olive Street, police said. But he was quickly apprehended in the area.
The car he had been driving was reported stolen the previous night in South El Monte, Flores said.
Officers also found drugs and a suspected stolen credit card in Sanchez’s possession, Flores said.
He was booked on suspicion of auto theft, evading police, receiving stolen property, drug possession, hit-and-run and his outstanding arrest warrant.
Sanchez, who was already wanted on a warrant for auto theft with a history of the same, was being held without bail, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.

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