UPDATED: Whittier burglary suspected arrested in Santa Fe Springs; no charges filed

UPDATE: No burglary charges were filed against Michael Sanchez prior to his court appearance Monday due to insufficient evidence, according to Los Angeles County booking records. He was held in custody until Wednesday, however, before being released with “time served” in connection with an unrelated case out of Antelope Valley Superior Court, records show.

SANTA FE SPRINGS — Deputies arrested a man they had been seeking in connection with a burglary investigation Thursday with help from a tipster, officials said.
Michael Anthony Sanchez, 22, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of burglary stemming from two break-ins in an unincorporated county area near Whittier, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Authorities released Sanchez’s photo and asked the public’s help in tracking him down Sept. 17. He was described as a homeless man who had recently been spotted in the Creek Park area of La Mirada, though he was also believed to have ties to Pico Rivera and the Antelope Valley.
Acting on a tip from the public, deputies from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station found and arrested Sanchez about 7:30 a.m. Thursday in Santa Fe Springs, sheriff’s officials said.
According to county booking records, Sanchez was being in held in lieu of $20,000 bail at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Downey Superior Court.

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La Mirada man dies in South Whittier motorcycle crash

SOUTH WHITTIER — Authorities Wednesday identified a 37-year-old La Mirada man who died in a motorcycle crash on Telegraph Road early Tuesday.
Camron Gasser died at the scene of Tuesday’s 7 a.m. crash at Telegraph Road and Gunn Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
He was westbound on Telegraph Road when his Harley-Davidson collided with a sedan making a left turn from eastbound Telegraph Road onto Gunn Avenue, California Highway Patrol Officer Al Perez said.
The driver of the sedan, a 27-year-old La Habra man, was not hurt, he said.
The cause of the crash remained under investigation and witnesses were being sought, however no arrests or citations were initially made in connection with the fatal collision.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Santa Fe Springs office of the CHP at 562-858-0503.

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Corona man sentenced for slaying of 17-month-old girl

NORWALK — A judge sentenced a Corona man to 25 years to life in prison Wednesday for killing his girflriend’s 17-month-old daughter while baby-sitting her in La Mirada, authorities said.
A Norwalk Superior Court Jury convicted Mark Edward Vaughn, 22, of murder and assault on a child causing death Jan. 25, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials.
He was charged with the death of Jayden Brianne Turner, who suffered injuries while in Vaughn’s care at his girlfriend’s home in the 15200 block of Valeda Drive on Jan. 20, 2011. The child died four days later at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center.
He returned to court Wednesday for sentencing, where Norwalk Superior Court Judge Thomas McKnew handed down the sentence of 25 years to life in state prison, court officials said.
Vaughn told investigators the child fell off a chair and hit her head, however officials said detectives became suspicious after noting the baby fell onto a carpeted floor from a chair less than two feet above the ground, which was inconsistent with the injuries suffered by the toddler.

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Man seriously wounded in La Mirada shooting

LA MIRADA — One man was critically wounded, one suspect was in custody and two more were being sought following a shooting inside a La Mirada apartment early Friday, authorities said.
The shooting took place about 7:30 a.m. in the 13600 block of Santa Gertrudes Avenue, across the street from the La Mirada Golf Course, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s and fire officials.
The wounded man, estimated to be in his 20s or 30s, was shot multiple times in the upper torso and taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center in critical condition, fire Capt. Steve Augustine said.
The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately available, however a car that left the scene with three people inside was believed to have been involved, sheriff’s Lt. Frank Rivera said.
Deputies found the car abandoned in a neighborhood a little over a mile away near Imperial Highway and Valley View Avenue in unincorporated South Whittier, officials said.
One man found walking in the area was detained and arrested after he was identified as one of the people who had been inside the abandoned car, Rivera said. Deputies continued seeking two other suspects believed to have fled from the vehicle.
The shooting was being investigated as possibly gang-related, he added. The investigation was ongoing, and the name of the suspect in custody was not available.

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UPDATE: Whittier-area doctor not guilty of molesting patients

A jury late last week acquitted a Whittier physician accused of inappropriately touching female patients during medical exams, authorities said.
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said Steve Vouis, 67, was acquitted Friday on three counts of sexual battery by fraud.
Vouis was originally charged with six molestation counts involving five victims, however three of the charges were dismissed by the judge after the jury failed to a reach a verdict, deadlocking heavily toward acquittal, said his attorney, Jennifer Keller.
“He’s pleased and relieved, but his life has been really ruined by this,” Keller said.
“His practice that he spent the last 30 yeas building is destroyed,” the attorney said. ““He’ll never get his good name back. It’s not possible for it to have a truly happy ending, but we’re truly grateful that the right thing happened in court.”
Authorities said the alleged molestations occurred between 2007 and 2009 at his offices in Whittier and La Mirada. Three women testified at Vouis’ preliminary hearing that the doctor inappropriately touched them during breast or gynecological examinations.
Devoted colleagues and patients supported Vouis throughout the legal process, Keller said.
She said she did not know if he would again be able to open a practice, adding that, “There’s many patients who hope he will.”
Keller declined to comment on why she believed the five women made allegations against Vouis in the first place.
Evidence presented at trial showed two of them had already filed civil suits against the doctor, she said.
Another one of the accusers has been receiving benefits from the county due to her alleged status as a crime victim, Keller said. But the woman did not make her accusation until more than three years after the alleged incident, after other victims had accused Vouis of misconduct during examinations.
But despite being cleared in the eyes of the law, the doctor’s life is forever changed, Keller said.
“This has taken an enormous toll on him,” she said. “It’s a really sad situation, because he is an innocent man.”
Vouis’ trial began March 21 in Norwalk Superior Court.
Whittier police arrested Vouis March 17, 2010, after learning of allegations. He pleaded not guilty the at an arraignment the following day and was released on $125,000 bail pending trial.

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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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Jury begins deliberating in case of man accused of La Mirada baby’s murder

NORWALK — The fate of a man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 17-month-old daughter while baby-sitting her in La Mirada was placed in the hands of a Norwalk Superior Court jury Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Mark Vaughn, 22, of Corona is charged with murder and child abuse causing death in connection with the Jan. 24, 2011 death of Jayden Brianne Turner.
After attorneys finished their closing arguments Thursday, the jury began deliberating at 1:30 p.m., court officials said.
The child suffered head injuries while he was watching her in the 15200 block of Valeda Drive in La Mirada. She died at a hospital four days later.
Vaughn told investigators the baby fell from a chair and hit her head, but an autopsy concluded in late March of 2011 that Turner’s death was a homicide.

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La Mirada mayor arrested on suspicion of drunken driving

LA MIRADA — Deputies arrested La Mirada Mayor Gabriel Garcia late Thursday on suspicion of drunken driving.
The misdemeanor arrest came after Garcia crashed his car into a parked vehicle in the 14700 block of Tacuba Drive, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Arnold said.
The accident was “pretty minor,”and Garcia was not injured.
“He was cooperative,” the sergeant said.
“I’m deeply saddened about this,” Garcia said Friday afternoon. “I apologize to my family, colleagues and the community.”
Garcia, 49, became the first Latino to hold the mayoral title in the city’s 53-year history.
After deputies noticed the mayor appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, “he did submit to a chemical analysis,” the sergeant said.
The results of the breath test was not available Friday afternoon.
Garcia admitted to drinking wine at dinner before driving home.
“I was driving and collided with a parked vehicle,” he said. “That’s the story; I’m responsible for my actions.”
After being booked into jail, Garcia was released about 5:30 a.m. Friday with a citation pending a court appearance, according to officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
He was first elected to the City Council in 2009.
Prior to that, he served from 1993-2005 on the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District’s board of education.
Garcia is married with two children and is director of parks and community services for the city of Corona.

- Brian Day and Sandra Molina

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Man on trial for murder in death of toddler in La Mirada

NORWALK — A jury heard opening statements Wednesday in the trial of a man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 17-month-old daughter while baby-sitting the toddler in La Mirada, officials said.
Mark Edward Vaughn, 22, of Corona was charged with murder and assault on a child causing death after the Jan. 20, 2011, death of Jayden Brianne Turner.
He was watching the child at his girlfriend’s home in the 15200 block of Valeda Drive in La Mirada when the baby suffered a head injury, Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators said.
The child was taken to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, where she later died.
Vaughn claimed the toddler from fell a chair and hit her head, according to Lt. John Corina of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. But investigators said the chair was only two feet above ground level and over a carpeted floor.
An autopsy performed by Orange County coroner’s officials ruled the death to be a homicide March 28, 2011.
Deputies from a sheriff’s surveillance and apprehension team arrested Vaughn April 3, 2011, and prosecutors filed charges later in the month, according to officials and county booking records.
Vaughn was being held in lieu of $1 million bail, records show.

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Deputies investigate “unspecified threat” at La Mirada High School

LA MIRADA — Deputies beefed up patrols at La Mirada High School Friday in response to an “unspecified threat” against the school.
Deputies officials learned of the threat some time within the past 72 hours, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“At this point of the investigation, there is no specific information that the threat is credible, or to identify the source or wording of the alleged threat,” according to Capt. Patrick Maxwell. “It appears to be spoken concerns only.”
Deputies planned to keep a heightened presence at the high school throughout Friday — the last day of classes before Winter Break.

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