UPDATED: La Puente woman charged with murder after running over boyfriend with car during argument

VALINDA >> Prosecutors charged a La Puente woman with murder Tuesday for running over and killing her boyfriend with a car outside a Valinda motel over the weekend, officials said.
Sharon Kay Hood, 52, is accused of killing her boyfriend of six years, 51-year-old Randolph “Randy” John Morales of Fontana, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and coroner’s officials.
The alleged vehicular slaying took place about 2:25 a.m. Sunday in the parking lot of a motel in the 500 block of North Azusa Avenue, in the unincorporated county area of Valinda.
Morales had rented a room for the couple, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said in a written statement.
Hood and Morales got into an argument, and Hood abruptly left the room, officials said.
“Morales reportedly followed the defendant out of the room to her car where the two continued to quarrel, according to the statement. “At that point, Hood allegedly ran over Morales with her car.”
0512_NWS_SGT-L-CAR18701The 2015 Nissan Altima backed over Morales, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. Paramedics pronounced Morales dead at the scene.
An autopsy found he died from “blunt force injuries of the head,” and the death was ruled a homicide, Winter said.
Investigators formally arrested hood in connection with her boyfriend’s death about 10:45 a.m. Sunday, county booking records show. But sheriff’s officials initially declined to discuss the case, and the arrest was not made public until prosecutors filed charges Tuesday.
Hood entered no plea at her appearance in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Ardalani said. Her arraignment hearing was postponed until June 8, and bail was set at $2 million.
In addition to murder, prosecutors accuse Hood of the special allegation that she personally used a deadly weapon — a car — in the attack, Ardalani said.
If convicted as charged, Hood faces up to 26 years to life in state prison.
Morales left behind two devastated children: a daughter, 28, and son, 23, from a prior marriage of 26 years, his daughter Priscilla Morales said.
“He was my best friend,” she said.
“He was a people person. He got along with everybody,” she said.
Born in Los Angeles, Randy Morales grew up in the La Puente area, his daughter said. He then moved to Orange County before settling in Fontana about 5 years ago.
Randy Morales had a sarcastic and silly sense of humor, often quoting a line from “I Love Lucy” and telling loved one’s, “Don’t get too crazy,” Priscilla Morales said. “He was kind of a nerd.”
“He was my musical soulmate,” she added. Priscilla Morales said her father loved classic rock, such as Led Zeppelin, and classic blues such as Roger Johnson and Muddy Waters.
Randy Morales had an encyclopedic knowledge of music history and trivia, Priscilla Morales said. The father and daughter enjoyed attending concerts together, and spent countless hours at the old Tower Records store in West Covina.
Randy Morales has worked as a plumber, a contractor and recently graduated school for welding, his daughter said. He was working in a warehouse at the time of his death.
“He was a big Rams fan,” she added. “He was so excited they were coming back to L.A. We were talking about going to the games.”
Priscilla said
But all of the family’s plans changed Sunday morning.
“He’s not going to see me get married. I don’t have kids yet,” Priscilla Morales said through tears. “He always told me he wanted me to have a big wedding.”
Family member are still watching the investigation and waiting to learn exactly what took place in Valinda on Sunday.
“It seems weird… I have no anger. I just want to know what happened.”
Randy Morales and Hood had a “tumultuous relationship,” and Priscilla Morales described the woman as “very angry,” and “possessive.”
The couple argued often, and Hood would sometimes slap her Randy Morales, his daughter said.
On one occasion several years ago, Hood slashed all four tired of his car on the day he was supposed to begin a new job, Priscilla Morales said. He lost the job as a result.
But although she said she didn’t think the relationship was healthy, she never imagined Hood was capable of the violence of which she’s now accused.
When she was first informed of her father’s death, her first question was whether Hood was with him, and whether she was OK, Priscilla Morales said. The daughters said she was “shocked” to learn Hood was accused in the killing.
Fund to help the Morales’ family lay Morales, known to loved ones as Randy, to rest are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/23xmagx4.

PHOTOS: [TOP] – Randolph “Randy” Morales, pictured with daughter Priscilla Morales. (Courtesy) [BELOW] –  Randy “Randolph” Morales, 51, of Fontana. (Courtesy)

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La Puente man sentenced for sex crimes against young relatives

POMONA >> A 46-year-old La Puente man will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars after a judge sentenced him to 65 years to life in prison Thursday for the continuous sexual abuse of two underage family members over an eight-year period, officials said.
A Pomona Superior Court jury convicted Mark Christopher Acosta in March of 2015 of nine felony counts related to child molestation, including continuous sexual abuse of a child.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Martinez sentenced Acosta to 65 years to life in prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. He faced a maximum sentence of 120 years to life behind bars.
“Acosta sexually abused two female family members at separate times between 2001 and 2009,” according to the statement.
The first victim told an adult of the crimes in 2007, but the adult did not believe her, officials said.
The second victim came forward in 2013, prompting the first victim to also report her abuse to authorities, according to the district attorney’s office. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies arrested Acosta on Feb. 21, 2014.
Judge Martinez also ordered Acosta to register as a sex offender for life.

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Hit-and-run driver sought after running over, badly injuring La Puente teen in Hacienda Heights


HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> Authorities and loved ones are reaching out to the public for help in finding a hit-and-run driver who struck and dragged 18-year-old college student in Hacienda Heights last weekend, then fled the scene.
Isabel Gonzalez of La Puente remained hospitalized Thursday with major injuries suffered after she was struck by a car about 11 p.m. Sunday along Gale Avenue, at Riderwood Lane, according to California Highway Patrol officials and family members. She has undergone four surgeries since the incident.
“This was a hit and run of a beautiful young lady that was crossing the street and was ran over, dragged, and was just left there,” Gonzalez’s aunt Lucy Solis said. “Isabel suffered major injuries and remains hospitalized at (Los Angeles County-)USC Medical Center.”
California Highway Patrol investigators, who are handling the investigation, were left with few leads to follow, Officer Al Perez said.
Perez said he could not confirm initial reports that the involved car was described as a silver 2013- or 2014-model Honda or Toyota.
Gonzalez was walking south across Gale Avenue when she was struck by a car in the westbound, right-hand lane, Perez said.
Gonzales was struck after she had just finished a shift at an area Olive Garden restaurant and was heading home along with her boyfriend, who also works at the restaurant, Solis said. The boyfriend was walking ahead of Gonzalez when she was struck.
Solis said her niece suffered injuries including a shattered pelvis, a fractures skull, broken ribs and internal bleeding.
Gonzalez’s leg was severely injured, and it was unclear whether she would walk again, thee aunt said. But she had not suffered brain damage.
Doctors removed a breathing tube Tuesday, and Gonzalez has been breathing on her own since, Solis said. The injured woman has drifted in and out of consciousness, though she remains heavily sedated. And family members were encouraged when Gonzales recently took a sip of water.
Gonzalez is a student at California State University, Los Angeles, where she is studying to be a translator on a scholarship, Solis said.
Officials and family members asked anyone with information to contact the CHP’s Santa Fe Springs area office at 562-868-0503 during business hours. After hours, tips may be submitted to the CHP at 800-835-5247.
Funds to help the family cover medical expenses are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/Isabel_Gonzalez.

PHOTOS: [LEFT] Isabel Gonzalez, 18, of La Puente, was struck and injured by a hit and run driver on Gale Avenue, east of 7th Avenue, in Hacienda Heights late Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. Photo undated. (Courtesy) [RIGHT] Isabel Gonzalez, 18, of La Puente, was struck and injured by a hit and run driver on Gale Avenue, east of 7th Avenue, in Hacienda Heights late Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. She’s pictured here at a hospital on Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. (Courtesy)

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La Puente mayor hosts community, law enforcement at annual prayer breakfast


LA PUENTE >> Elected officials, sheriff’s deputies, police officers, clergy and community members met Friday morning to discuss issues affecting the La Puente area and seek divine guidance during the Third Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. Representatives of State Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis took part in the gathering, where issues ranging protecting the homeless during El Nino to crime statistics were discussed, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. La Puente Mayor Dan Holloway praised the partnership between the city and the sheriff’s department, which provides its law enforcement services. He pointed out that La Puente made the Safewise Top 50 Safest Cities in California list last year. City Manager David Carmany spoke of successes in policing, as well as relationship building among residents, elected officials and businesses. Officers from neighboring police agencies, as well as Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Police Chief John Babbitt. Pastor Kelly Dupee of Faith Community Church in West Covina offered an invocation. The gathering concluded with a prayer by Rev. Matthew Cumberland of the St. Joseph Parish in La Puente. Free breakfast was provided at the event, sponsored by C&F Foods Inc.

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La Puente, sheriff’s officials plan prayer breakfast Thursday

LA PUENTE >> La Puente and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials are inviting the public to join them Thursday for pancakes and prayer at the city’s third annual Sheriff and Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
The free event begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Villa Carino restaurant, 1066 N. Hacienda Blvd., Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. It is being presented by the City of La Puente and Mayor Dan Holloway.
Other elected officials will also take part, along with Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and local clergy.
A free Mexican breakfast will be provided at the meeting, sponsored by C&F Foods Inc., Cacheiro said.
For more information, contact La Puente Special Assignment Deputy Viviana Marez at 626-330-3322, ext. 3303.

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Carjacking suspect arrested in East Valinda after pursuit

1230_NWS_SGT-L-CARJACKER1EAST VALINDA >> Deputies arrested a carjacking suspect after he led them on a chase, which ended in a crash in East Valinda Wednesday, authorities said.
The incident began shortly before 2 p.m. when deputies spotted a suspect wanted in connection with a carjacking driving in the unincorporated county area of East Valinda, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials. The SUV has been reported carjacked in Hawthorne, Lt. David Infante said.
“The suspect was considered armed and dangerous,” the lieutenant said.
Aided by a helicopter, deputies chased the SUV along surface streets for about 15 minutes before the driver crashed into a tree along McLaren Street, between Jellick Avenue and Trafalgate Avenue in East Valinda, and continued to flee on foot, officials said.
1230_NWS_SGT-L-CARJACKER2Deputies captured the suspect as he was pounding on or trying to kick in the door of a nearby home, Infante said. The home may have been that of a relative of the suspect.
The name of the suspect was not available Wednesday afternoon pending booking.

PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

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Deputies, businesses, charity brighten holidays in La Puente


LA PUENTE >> Sheriff’s deputies from the La Puente Special Assignment Team joined businesses and a nonprofit organization to hand out more than 650 bags of food, along with toys, to needy families throughout La Puente Wednesday.
For the fourth year, deputies from the Sheriff’s Industry Station, which patrols La Puente, demonstrated their Community Oriented Policing mission by delivering holiday goodies, said Lt. Pete Cacheiro, who effectively serves as La Puente’s Chief of Police.
“It keeps getting bigger,” Cacheiro said.
1224_NWS_SGT-L-LPGIVE2Sprouts Farmers Market, La Bodega Market, Casique USA Authentic Mexican Cheese and Chino-based charity Isaiah’s Rock provided bags filled with food, while Roly’s Trucking donated toys to delight La Puente’s younger residents.
The team of helpers delivered the gift packages throughout the city, including at Apartments along Orange Avenue, Hurley Elementary School, and numerous local churches, Cacheiro said.
La Puente City Councilman Charlie Klinakis thanked the organizations and businesses that have formed relationships with the sheriff’s department to make the annual giveaway possible.
“They do a lot of good for the community,” he said, noting that they take part in other charitable endeavors as well.
Klinakis said he enjoys seeing the smiles the project brings to local residents young and old.
“I’ve just got nothing but praise for our Special Assignment Team,” Klinakis said. 1224_NWS_SGT-L-LPGIVE3“They go over and above what they need to to help the people in our community, and it’s appreciated.”

PHOTOS: Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies from the La Puente Special Assignment Team help distribute food and toys to families throughout La Puente on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015. (Courtesy)

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Driver wounded in La Puente road rage shooting

LA PUENTE >> A man suffered a gunshot wound to his leg in a car-to-car shooting believed to have been motivated by road rage early Tuesday, authorities said.
A 21-year-old man was driving about 5:20 a.m. when the shooting took place along Amar Road at Del Valle Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Infante said.
The driver of another car — described only as a white vehicle with tinted windows — apparently became enraged over a traffic-related dispute, the lieutenant said.
“The victim heard multiple gunshots and felt a burning sensation,” the lieutenant said. He pulled over and discovered he had been shot in the upper leg.
A detailed suspect description was not available, as the victim ducked down once the shooting started, Infante said.
The wounded man was taken to a hospital with a wound not considered to be life-threatening, he said.

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Officials: Death of man outside La Puente grocery store appears natural

LA PUENTE >> Foul play is not suspected in the death of a man whose body was discovered inside a car parked in front of a La Puente grocery store Saturday afternoon, officials said.
Employees noticed the body shortly before 5 p.m. in a car in the parking lot of Food 4 Less, along Hacienda Boulevard, just north of Francisquito Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Rico Sandoval said.
It appeared the man, who was estimated to be in his 50s, had died hours earlier, he said.
The investigation was ongoing, Sandoval said, but deputies found no signs of trauma on the body, and all initial signs pointed to a natural death.

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Man kidnapped, carjacked outside Hacienda Heights 7-Eleven store

HACIENDA HEIGHTS >> A gunman carjacked and kidnapped another man at gunpoint in the parking lot of a Hacienda Heights convenience store Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The crime occurred about 3:40 p.m. outside a 7-Eleven store at Gale and Stimson avenues, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. David Infante said.
A 25-year-old man was sitting in his brown, 2005 Chevy Silverado, Infante said. “The suspect produced a handgun and demanded a ride.”
The suspect entered the pickup truck and ordered the victim to drive, the lieutenant said. The gunman directed the victim to drive to the 800 block of North Hacienda Boulevard in La Puente, where he ordered the victim to get out. The carjacker then fled northbound in the victim’s truck.
A detailed suspect description was not available. Officials withheld the truck’s license plate number as they continued their investigation late Thursday.

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