WEST COVINA >> Prosecutors filed charges of murder and robbery Tuesday against two men in connection with a fatal car crash police said took place as the suspects were fleeing the scene of a robbery.
Angel Andres Rojo, 24, of Covina and Jose Flavio Diaz, 24, of Montebello entered no pleas when they appeared at the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. An arraignment hearing was set for April 9.
They’re each accused of one count of murder and one count of second-degree robbery in connection with an alleged series of events late Saturday that resulted in the death of Manuel Ernesto Rodriguez, 26, of Rowland Heights, according to investigators and coroner’s officials. Rodriguez was a passenger in a Dodge sedan that crashed into a tree while being driven by Diaz.
“Several men, including Diaz and Rojo, were partying at a West Covina apartment complex just before robbing a woman and fleeing the scene,” according to the district attorney’s office statement. “The defendants drove away with their friend, Manuel Ernesto Rodriguez, and traveled at a high rate of speeds on city streets.”
Diaz lost control of the car along a curve where Hollenbeck Street becomes Casa Grande Drive, West Covina police officials said. The car struck a tree and overturned.
Rojo ran from the wrecked Dodge Intrepid but was quickly captured, officials said. Diaz, who suffered major injuries including a broken ankle, was taken into custody at the crash scene. Rodriguez died from his injuries at the scene.
Police determined Diaz was under the influence of alcohol and arrested him on suspicion of drunken driving, West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
As officers were responding to the crash, police received a call notifying them of the robbery, which took place at an apartment complex near Azusa and Puente avenues, West Covina police Cpl. Rudy Lopez said.
Detectives withheld details of the robbery as they continued seeking witnesses and clues, Lopez said. The woman who was allegedly robbed was not injured, and police recovered property believed to have been stolen during the robbery from the crashed Dodge.
Because officials allege Diaz and Rojo were in the process of committing a felony — robbery — when the fatal crash occurred, they are eligible to be charged with murder under a California law known as the felony murder rule, Lopez explained. The law allows that deaths resulting from the commission of felonies be charged as murder cases.
Rojo already has a 2013 conviction for assault likely to produce great bodily injury, district attorney’s officials said.
He was arrested Dec. 13 of last year and released from custody on probation Jan. 21, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Both men were being held in lieu of $1 million bail, records show. Diaz remained hospitalized due to his injuries Wednesday, While Rojo was being held at Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles.
If convicted as charged, both men could face maximum sentenced of life in prison.
Anyone with information regarding the fatal crash or the alleged robbery that preceded it was asked to contact West Covina police.
MONTEBELLO — Montebello police sought the public’s help Wednesday in tracking down three longtime fugitives accused of child molestation in three unrelated cases.
All three men, former Montebello residents, have been identified as suspect in the molestations of young girls, Montebello police Detective Sgt. Julio Calleros said.
“Cases have been filed, and warrants have been obtained,” he said. “They know they’re being sought.”
But the suspects remain at-large, even after detectives have scoured the state in search of them, the sergeant said. “We’ve reached a dead end.”
So investigators Wednesday released their images to the public in hopes of generating tips.
Police have been seeking Paul Angel Candelas, 24, since 2011, when he allegedly molested the disabled, 6-year-old daughter of an acquaintance, Calleros said.
Candelas comes from a wealthy family and may be hiding out in the Inland Empire, the sergeant said.
Jose Luis Pineda, 44, is accused of molesting a 7-year-old female relative from 2011 to 2012, when the alleged crimes were discovered, Calleros said.
“(Pineda) possibly drives a gray Nissan Altima with tinted windows,” police said in a written statement. Before his disappeared, he was believed to work nights at the El Rodeo Night Club in Pico Rivera.
Hector Huerta, 30, has been sought by police since last year in connection with the alleged sexual abuse of a now-13-year-old family member between 2007 and 2013, Calleros said.
He is known to work as a mechanic for big rigs, and also as a big rig tire repair man, according to the police statement.
He has ties to Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego and Texas, police said.
Pineda and Huerta are both believed to have ties to Mexico, police added.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Montebello Police Department at 323-887-1313. Anyone who spots one of the fugitives is encouraged to contact local police by calling 9-1-1.
PHOTOS of fugitives Paul Candelas, Jose Pineda and Hector Huerta courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.
Prosecutors Thursday filed seven felony charges related to the sale of methamphetamine against the husband of Montebello’s mayor following his arrest earlier this month, authorities said.
Ruben Guerrero, 44, was arrested two weeks ago during an early-morning raid at the home he shares with Montebello Mayor Christina Cortez in the 1500 block of Los Angeles Avenue.
Sheriff’s officials have said Cortez is not a suspect in the investigation.
“Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives arrested suspect Guerrero on Oct. 17, 2013, after he allegedly sold methamphetamine more than once during the previous weeks to an undercover sheriff’s detective, Capt. Mike Parker of the Sheriff’s Headquarter’s Bureau said in a written statement.
Guerrero sold drugs three times to an undercover investigator during the investigation, Los Angles County District Attorney’s officials said.
“The sales took place in a parking lot across the street from Montebello Intermediate School in the City of Montebello and were audio and video recorded by sheriff’s investigators,” Parker added.
He was charged Thursday in Los Angles Superior Court with three counts of felony sales of a controlled substance, three counts of transportation for sales of narcotics and one count of selling narcotics within 1,000 feet of a school.
Montebello Intermediate School is about a block away from the home of Guerrero and Cortez.
At the Oct. 25 city council meeting, Cortez thanked her supporters and said she had no plans of stepping down.
Guerrero was ordered back to court for an arraignment hearing Nov. 7, officials said. At the hearing, prosecutors were expected to ask that Guerrero’s bail be increased to $120,000.
He has remained free on $60,000 bail since the day of his arrest, according to county booking records.
PICO RIVERA — Deputies arrested wanted suspected gang member and recovered a gun following a pursuit that led from Pico Rivera to Montebello late Tuesday, authorities said.
Rojelio Jimenez, 21, was accused of evading a police, being a convicted felon in possession of a gun, reckless driving following the incident, which began about 11:20 p.m. when a deputy spotted Jimenez driving recklessly in the area of Whittier Boulevard and Paramount Avenue, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Smith said. Jimenez was also being held on two outstanding felony arrest warrants.
A deputy tried to pull over Jimenez for driving erratically, but he refused to pull over and instead lead deputies on a chase north and west into Montebello, Smith said.
He abandoned his car and continued fleeing on foot on Madison Avenue near Poplar Avenue, officials said. He was found hiding in a nearby yard and surrendered once a sheriff’s K-9 started barking at him.
A magazine loaded with ammunition was found in Jimenez’s car, and a handgun was found discarded nearby, Smith said. “There was a live round in the chamber.”
According to county booking records, Jimenez was being held without bail pending a scheduled arraignment Friday in Downey Superior Court.
MONTEBELLO — A coroner’s examination of the body of a man who died in police custody after struggling with officers and getting shocked with a Taser in May was unable to determine exactly how he died, attributing the death to a combination of drug intoxication, “agitated behavior” and being restrained by police, according to a coroner’s report released this week.
Guillermo Pablo Cedano, 44, of Montebello died at a hospital following a May 17 confrontation with Montebello police officers outside his home in the 1000 block of Carob Way, according to Los Angeles County coroner’s and sheriff’s officials.
Upon completion of the coroner’s examination, Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Lawrence Nguyen determined, “The cause of death is multiple drug intoxication combined with agitated behavior and multimodal restraint,” according to the autopsy report. The specific manner in which police restrained Cedano was not specified.
But the autopsy and subsequent toxicology tests failed to determine the mode of death, such as accidental or homicide.
“The manner of death is undetermined,” Nguyen wrote in his report.
Cedano suffered from an enlarged left ventricle in his heart, though the condition was not found to be directly related to his death, according to the autopsy report. Coroner’s investigators also noted the discovery of a “mild” brain bleed and two fractured ribs.
According to the coroner’s report, Cedano himself called 9-1-1 shortly after midnight and reported “someone was outside of his home to hurt him,” coroner’s investigator Kelly Yagerliner wrote. Police arrived and encountered Cedano outside of his home.
“He turned around to fight and police Tased him twice,” Yagerliner wrote. “The decedent pulled a probe out and charged at police. A physical altercation occurred and he was subdued.”
Neighbors reported hearing police tell Cedano repeatedly to show them his hands.
One of the involved police officers suffered a broken arm in the struggle with Cedano, according to deputy Aura Sierra of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau.
Cedano was then found to be unresponsive and was taken by ambulance to Beverly Hospital in Montebello, where he was pronounced dead, according to sheriff’s and coroner’s officials.
Toxicology tests found the presence of methamphetamine, amphetamine and phentermine in Cedano’s system.
“According to the decedent’s wife, she had left the house with the children because she was concerned about his behavior and paranoia,” Yagerliner wrote in the autopsy report. “He had a history of rock cocaine addiction but had been clean for the past ten years. He recently lost weight and was reportedly taking diet pills, but she said he seemed to be back on drugs.”
MONTEBELLO — Coroner’s officials on Wednesday identified the teen fatally struck by a train earlier this week as a 16-year-old Montebello resident.
Investigator McKracken from the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said Tikkri Osario died of traumatic injuries and the death was ruled as an accident.
Montebello Police Lt. Kelly Gordon said a train conductor called police about a deceased person by the railroad tracks south of Olympic Boulevard, east of Maple Avenue at 8:21 p.m. Monday. It was a male that was struck, she added.
Gordon didn’t have details about the collision. She said the Union Pacific Railroad police is handling the investigation.
- Ruby Gonzales
This comes from a Department of Coroner press release issued Wednesday morning:
The Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner is seeking the public’s help with the identification of an unidentified male.
On July 31, 2013 at approximately 11:00 A.M., human skeletal remains were found along the Rio Hondo Riverbed bike path near Lincoln Avenue and San Gabriel Boulevard in Montebello, CA. The remains were determined to be a White or Hispanic male with an age range between 35 and 55 years of age. He has a partial denture at the back of his lower right jaw. No wallet or other identifying papers were found with him or in the surrounding area.
There’s two sketches included with the press release. This is the one that’s most telling.
Know who it is? Call the LA County Coroner at 323-343-0714.
Coroner’s officials Wednesday released composite sketches of a man whose skeletal remains were found in a Rio Hondo riverbed in Montebello in late July in hopes of determining his identity.
A bicyclist first reported finding bones about 11 a.m. July 29 in the riverbed adjacent to the 900 block of East Lincoln Avenue, according to Montebello police officials and Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators, who are assisting Montebello police with the investigation.
The skeletal remains were determined to be human, and authorities launched a death investigation, according to Lt. David Coleman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
After two months of investigation, the man’s name remained a mystery, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said in a written statement.
“The remains were determined to be a white or Hispanic male with an age range between 35 and 55 years of age,” Harvey said. “He has a partial denture at the back of his lower right jaw. No wallet or other identifying papers were found with him or in the surrounding area.”
The skeletal remains had been scattered in the riverbed, apparently by animals, Coleman said.
Information regarding the man’s cause of death or the length of time he may have been dead was not available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact coroner’s Investigator Daniel Machian at 323-343-0754. The Coroner’s Investigations Division can be reached 24 hours a day at 323-343-0714.
MONTEBELLO – Police sounded the all clear Friday after investigating a telephoned bomb threat at the Shops at Montebello, authorities said.
The incident began just after 11 a.m., when Montebello police received a call on the station’s non-emergency line and made a bomb threat against the Shops at Montebello, Montebello police Lt. Mike Flores said.
The caller stated that there were “four explosives set to go off at 5 p.m.,” the lieutenant said.
With help from Monterey Park police and Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, Montebello police searched the mall, which remained open.
“We searched the entire premises. We were unable to locate any suspicious packages,” Flores said.
Officials deemed the mall safe about 1:45 p.m.
It was not clear if the threat was related to three similar ones made to Temple City schools over the past three days, Flores added. But the possibility was under investigation.
INDUSTRY — A Montebello man died late Friday after he was struck by two vehicles while trying to cross the 60 Freeway after the car he was riding in broke down, authorities said.
Roger Reyna, 30, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, California Highway Patrol Officer Francisco Villalobos said.
The collision was first reported about 8:40 p.m. in the westbound lanes of the 60 Freeway, just east of Crossroads Parkway in Industry, CHP Officer Patrick Kimball said.
Prior to being struck, Reyna was a passenger in a car being driven by his mother that had broken down on the eastbound side of the freeway, Villalobos said. He exited the vehicle to seek help, and attempted to cross the freeway.
“He crossed all lanes of the eastbound 60 and was crossing the westbound lanes when he was struck by a vehicle in the No. 6 lane,” Villalobos said. “He was subsequently struck by a second vehicle in the No. 6 lane.”
A 27-year-old La Puente man who was driving the 2004 Chevrolet Avalanche that first struck Reyna, as well as a 50-year-old Corona man who was driving the 19988 Acura TL that struck the man afterward remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, Villalobos said. No arrests or citations were made as the incident remained under investigation.
CHP logs indicated a caller reported seeing a man walking along the side of the road at 8:38 p.m. One minute later, it was reported that the man was seen near the center divider.
A CHP officer arrived on-scene at 8:40 p.m., but the man — later identified as Reyna — has already been fatally struck, logs show.
Officials issued a Sig Alert for the three right-hand lanes of the westbound 60 Freeway for more than an hour as they investigated the scene.
- Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales