Hacienda Heights woman charged with manslaughter for pedestrian’s death in La Habra

Prosecutors have filed felony charges against a 21-year-old Hacienda Heights woman accused of speeding through a red light and striking two pedestrians in a La Habra crosswalk before leading police on a high-speed chase.
Caroline Sujin Kim is charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, hit and run causing permanent injury or death and evading police while driving recklessly in connection with the Oct. 25, 2013 incident, Orange County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
A scheduled arraignment last week was postponed to March 26 at the Orange County Superior Court’s North Justice Center in Fullerton, District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Roxi Sotomayor said. Kim, who had remained free pending the trial process on $100,000 bail, is yet to enter a plea in the case.
Officials allege Kim drove a Cadillac sedan at high speed down Whittier Boulevard shortly before 9 p.m. on Oct. 25.
“She is accused of illegally driving through a red light at the intersection at Rigsby Street and crashing her car into two pedestrians,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
Sandra Ceballos, 38, of La Habra suffered major injuries, district attorney’s officials said.
“The force of the collision (threw Ceballos) onto the hood and roof of the vehicle before falling into the roadway,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “She was pronounced dead approximately one hour later due to the injuries she sustained in the crash”
A second woman crossing the street with Ceballos, described as 43 years old, was also struck by the Cadillac and suffered minor injuries, La Habra police officials said.
After hitting the victims, Kim is accused of failing to stop and render aid,” the district attorney’s office statement said. “She is accused of fleeing the scene.”
A witness soon called police in Whittier to report spotting and following the hit-and-run driver, Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean said at the time.
When officers tried to pull over Kim on Colima Road, she sped off, leading police on a chase at speeds as high as 90 mph.
Kim ran through several more red lights before ultimately crashing into a parked car at Countrywood Avenue and Pepper Brook Way in her hometown of Hacienda Heights, police and prosecutors said. Officers then took her into custody.
If convicted as charged, Kim could face up to 13 years and 8 months in state prison.

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Teens accused of trashing, burglarizing La Habra Heights home while owner was away

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A group of 16 teenagers is accused of trashing and burglarizing a La Habra Heights mansion while the owner was away.
Detectives recovered stolen items including artwork, electronics, Versace suits and a mounted Snow Leopard valued at $250,000 during their investigation into the alleged illegal escapades, which took place overnight Nov. 23 and 24 in the 1700 block of Chota Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The total damage and loss associated with the break-in and party is estimated to be more than $1 million.
“It was pretty well-thrashed,” Capt. Tim Murakami of the sheriff’s Industry Station said.
The home is listed for sale and the owner was out of the country when someone apparently noticed his absence and decided to host a party on the large property.
“They call it a ghost party or mansion party, where the suspects go online, look for properties that are high-end, for sale and appear to be abandoned,” the captain said.
“A suspect hosted the party, charged a fee and about 100-plus kids or so attended the party,” Murakami said. The illicit party began in the rear yard as a pool party, but quickly devolved into theft and vandalism.
“At some point during the party, somebody forced entry into the house, which caused kind of a frenzy, where a good amount of the kids went into the house and started stealing,” Murakami said. “And at some point in time, they started damaging property, too.”
The young man who first organized the party had not been arrested Wednesday, though officials said his identity was known to investigators.
“There’s still more property to recover. There’s still more people we’re looking for, Murakami said.
The young suspects aided in their own arrests through social media use, Capt. Tim Murakami of the sheriff’s Industry Station said.
Not only was the party publicized via social media, Murakami said, “They were actually bragging about the party (online), showing themselves within the residence, showing themselves carrying some of the stolen property.”
Detectives spent two weeks identifying everyone they could before heading out Wednesday morning, armed with arrest warrants and search warrants.
The three adult suspects arrested Wednesday were identified as Nicholas Koontz, 18, of La Habra Heights, Kevin Larios, 18, of La Habra and Andres Uribe, 18, of La Habra, sheriff’s department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said. They were booked on suspicion of charges including burglary, trespassing and grand theft.
The other teenage suspect were booked on suspicion of crimes ranging from simple trespassing to burglary, investigators added. They live in the Whittier and La Habra areas, officials added. Ten of the juvenile suspects were boys, while the other three were girls.
Sheriff Lee Baca said it was unsettling that so many young people, “felt that they could do whatever they wanted inside someone else’s home.”
“It begs the question of why,” Sheriff Lee Baca said. “Why can’t people have a good time, if they’re going to have one, and at the same time respect property.”
The matter of how the homeowner was to be compensated for the damage to his home would be determined by the courts, Baca said.
“I certainly believe these young people should be held accountable for what they’ve done,” Baca said. “They need to learn a lesson that you can’t do this sort of thing.”
Lt. Arthur Scott said the parents of the involved youths were distraught over the situation and cooperated with investigators.
“The parents were more than understanding,” he said. “They were embarrassed.”

 

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Parolee sought by La Habra police arrested near Whittier with aid of SWAT team

A sheriff’s SWAT arrested an wanted parolee and suspected drug dealer sought by La Habra police after searching two nearby homes in an unincorporated county area near Whittier Wednesday, authorities said.
Dean Wills, 45, of La Mirada, who had absconded from parole supervision, was being sought on a warrant for sales of narcotics, La Habra police spokeswoman Cindy Knapp said.
La Habra police were backed up by deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau when the went in search of Wills Wednesday morning.
“Wills, a parolee-at-large, was known to have a history of violence and evading police,” La Habra police officials said in a written statement.
Officials first went to a home in the 15800 block of Ocean Avenue in the unincorporated Whittier about 11 a.m. After a couple tense hours, during which officials treated the situation as a possible barricaded suspect, the SWAT team determined the suspect was not at the home.
But the hunt continued, and police and deputies soon picked up on the trail of the suspect shortly after 3 p.m. at a house less than a mile away on Stamy Road, just north of Leffingwell Road, in unincorporated Whittier, Knapp said.
“Wills was arrested at the second location without incident,” according to the police statement. Further details of his arrest were not available.
Due to his status as a parolee, Wills was being held without bail, officials said. Information regarding his initial court appearance was not available late Wednesday.

- Ruby Gonzales and Brian Day

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La Habra woman killed in hit-and-run identified

LA HABRA — Coroner’s officials Sunday released the name of a La Habra woman who was struck and killed in a hit-and-run while crossing Whittier Boulevard Friday.
Sandra Ceballos, 38, died at at hospital shortly she was struck by a Cadillac sedan as she was crossing Whittier Boulevard at RIgsby Street about 9 p.m. Friday, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Cheyl MacWillie said.
Another woman in her 30s who was with Ceballos was also struck by the car and hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, La Habra police Sgt. Clint Angle said.
Caroline Kim, 20, of Hacienda Heights was arrested by Whittier police after leading officers on a pursuit that ended when she crashed into a parked car at Countrywood Avenue and Pepper Brook Way in Hacienda Heights, according to Whittier police Lt. Steve Dean. She was expected to be booked on suspicion of hit-and-run, evading police and vehiclular manslaughter once released from a hospital, where she was being treated for injuries suffered in the crash.

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La Habra woman killed, Hacienda Heights woman arrested in Whittier Blvd. hit-and-run

Police arrested a Hacienda Heights woman after she struck two women who were crossing Whittier Boulevard in La Habra with her car — fatally injuring one of them — before leading officers on a chase that ended in a crash, authorities said.
Caroline Kim, 20, was expected to be booked on suspicion of hit-and-run, evading police and vehicular manslaughter once released from the hospital, where she remained under observation Saturday, La Habra police Sgt. Clint Angle said.
Orange County coroner’s did not release the dead woman’s name, however police initially described her as a 38-year-old La Habra resident, Angle said.
She was crossing Whittier Boulevard at Rigsby Street just before 9 p.m. with another woman when both pedestrians were struck by a Cadillac sedan, Angle said.
“They were crossing northbound,” the sergeant said. “The suspect was westbound on Whittier Boulevard.”
The 38-year-old woman suffered major injuries and was taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, where she died from her injuries a short time later, Angle said.
The other woman struck by the car suffered injuries to both of her feet, officials added.
An acquaintance of the women who witnessed the crash sprained his ankle while rushing to assist but was not struck but he Cadillac, Angle said. The man was also taken to a hospital by paramedics.
The car that struck the women fled the scene.
But Whittier police soon received a call from a motorist who was following the alleged hit-and-run driver.
Whittier Police Lt. Steve Dean said officers picked up the vehicle on Colima Road, but she refused to pull over. The car reached speeds as high as 90 mph.
The chase ended on Countrywood Avenue and Pepper Brook Way in Hacienda Heights when the Cadillac hit a parked car, and officers took Kim into custody, Dean said.
The driver told officers she was fine and didn’t want to be transported to a hospital, the lieutenant said. But paramedics took the woman to a hospital as a precaution.
The circumstances of the initial hit-and-run remained under investigation by La Habra police traffic investigators.

- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales

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Clerk disarms teenage would-be robber in La Habra; suspect arrested

LA HABRA — A robber with a knife and his accomplice hit a drive-thru dairy Tuesday but fled empty-handed after a store clerk disarmed the culprit.
One of the suspects was later turned over to police by his mother, La Habra Police Lt. Jeff Swaim said. Officers detained a second suspect.
The botched robbery in the 2300 block of West Whittier Boulevard was reported to police at 6:23 p.m.
Swaim said two suspects entered the business and approached an employee. One of the robbers carried a knife.
He said the clerk disarmed the knife-wielding robber but the lieutenant didn’t have details on how the employee got the upper hand on the suspect.
The robbers ran.
Officers were later at a nearby apartment complex when they were contacted by a woman who thought they might be looking for her son. Swaim said. The 15-year-old boy was arrested.

- Ruby Gonzales

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Brea man fatally struck by SUV in La Habra identified

LA HABRA — Officials Wednesday released the name of a 53-year-old Brea man fatally struck by an SUV while crossing Imperial Highway.
Claude Caler was jaywalking across the highway between Beach Boulevard and Idaho Street about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when he was struck by an eastbound SUV, La Habra police officials said in a written statement.
He was taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center following the collision, where he succumbed to his injuries a short time later, La Habra police Sgt. Brian Miller said.
The crash remained under investigation, however no crime was initially suspected and driver of the SUV cooperated with investigators, police said.

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UPDATED: Off-duty La Habra police officer shot with own gun following Castaic car crash

CASTAIC — An off-duty La Habra was shot and wounded with his own gun early Saturday after becoming involved in a fight with another driver on the 5 Freeway in Castaic, authorities said.
The off-duty officer was found along the freeway near Templin Highway with a gunshot wound about 5:15 a.m. , Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Thomas Richards said. The officer was taken to a hospital in unknown condition.
“Detectives have learned that the off-duty La Habra police officer was involved in a traffic collision,” Sgt. Diane Hecht of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement. “Then he and the suspect (driver) became engaged in a physical altercation at which time the suspect shot the officer.”
The suspect used the officer’s own gun in the shooting, Hecht added. “The handgun has not been recovered.”
No description of the shooter or the shooter’s vehicle was released Saturday, the sergeant said.
La Habra police officials deferred comment to the sheriff’s department. Detectives from the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau were spearheading the investigation.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously via L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
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Photos of La Habra bank robber released

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LA HABRA — The FBI has released surveillance camera images of a man who robbed a La Habra bank branch Wednesday.
The robber was armed with a small handgun when he entered the Bank of the West, 1330 S. Beach Blvd., about 11:25 a.m., La Habra police officials said in a written statement.
“The suspect displayed a gun and a note demanding cash,” according to FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
0906_NWS_WDN-L-ROBBERPHOTOS2The note, which was printed in red ink, stated that the bank was being robbed and ordered the teller to hand over $50- and $100-dollar bills, Eimiller said.
The robber took the note with him when he fled, officials said. He he was last seen running east from the bank with an undisclosed amount of money.
The gunman was described as white, fair-skinned and between 45 and 50 years old, according to the FBI. He 0906_NWS_WDN-L-ROBBERPHOTOS3stood 5 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing about 160 pounds. He wore a white driving cap, aviator sunglasses, a striped dress shirt, a multi-colored tie and khaki pants.

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Bank robbed in La Habra

LA HABRA — A man wearing a golf hat and aviator sunglasses robbed a bank of an undisclosed amount Wednesday,
La Habra police September 4, 2013, at approximately 11:25 a.m., La
Habra Police Department personnel were dispatched to the Bank of the West,
located at 1330 S. Beach Blvd., regarding an armed robbery that had just occurred.
A male white, described to be in his late 50s or 60s, entered the bank. He was
wearing a golf hat, aviator sunglasses, a striped dress shirt, tie, and tan pants and
was armed with a small handgun. He approached a teller with a note demanding
money. The teller complied and the suspect was last seen running eastbound from
the location through the parking lot.
No customers or employees were injured during the robbery.

- Ruby Gonzales

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