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.
MONTEREY PARK >> An unidentified man in a white pickup truck tried to kidnap a teenage girl as she walked to school in Monterey Park early Thursday, police said.
The failed abduction took place about 7:10 a.m. as the victim, 16, was walking in the 600 block of North Orange Avenue, Monterey Park police Sgt. Rick Munder said in a written statement.
The suspect pulled his pickup truck into a parking lot, blocking the girl’s path on the sidewalk, police said. He began engaging the girl in conversation.
“When the victim attempted to walk away, the suspect exited the vehicle and grabbed the victim from behind and attempted to force her into his vehicle,” Munder said. “The victim screamed and was released. The suspect got back into the vehicle and fled southbound on Orange Avenue. The victim was shaken but unharmed.”
Police described the suspect as a Latino man between 20 and 30 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, of thin build and unshaven. He spoke with a Spanish accent, had black hair shaved short and wore a black long-sleeve T-shirt and blue jeans.
His truck was described as a white, early- to mid-2000s-model Chevrolet Colorado or GMC Canyon with a single cab, a black bed liner, tinted windows and oversized rims with five spokes each. Investigators released a surveillance camera image of the truck in hopes of generating clues.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Monterey Park police at 626-573-31311.
PHOTO of suspect vehicle courtesy of the Monterey Park Police Department.
MONTEREY PARK >> A four-legged Monterey Park police officer will soon be patrolling with a bullet- and stab-resistant vest thanks to a donation from a charity organization dedicated to protecting police K-9s.
“Piro,” a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, has been apprehending suspects and sniffing out drugs since completing training about eight months ago, Monterey Park police Sgt. Gus Jimenez said. The dog is handled by Officer Ryan Esquibel.
Vested Interests in K9s Inc. announced Friday hat Piro had been selected to received a free vest, provided by Michigan-based manufacturer Armor Express, Jimenez said. The vest is expected to arrive next week.
Monterey Park police have to other K-9s — Robin and Veeda — which have both previously received donated vests through the Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization, the sergeant said.
Vested interests in K9s has provided more than 1,600 protective vests to police dogs in 49 states at a cost of $1.5 million, donated by private and corporate sponsors, Jimenez said.
The group estimates there are more than 30,000 law enforcement dogs in the U.S.
For more information on Vested Interest in K-9s, visit www.vik9s.org.
PHOTO of Monterey Police Officer Ryan Esquibel and K-9 Piro courtesy of the Montebello Police Department.
MONTEREY PARK >> Police Friday will once again start “ticketing” well-behaved kids with coupons for free Slurpees in Monterey Park this summer, officials said.
“Operation Chill,” a partnership between police agencies and 7-Eleven, is designed to reward good behavior and choices while fostering positive interaction between kids and police, Monterey Park police officials said in a written statement. The campaign coincides with the summer months, when schools are out and issues such as loitering, shoplifting and graffiti tend to increase.
Kids will receive the coupons, redeemable for a free Slurpee through Dec. 31, for actions such as helping others, participating in positive activities or showing good citizenship.
“These coupons are a great way for our officers to connect with kids throughout the community and provide for a positive interaction between members of the community and law enforcement,” Monterey Park police Capt. Gene Harris said.
MONTEREY PARK >> Police plan to step enforcement with the goal of improving pedestrian and bicycle safety throughout Monterey Park on Thursday, officials said.
During the extra enforcement campaign, officers will keep watch for violations by motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians that can lead to serious accidents, Monterey Park police Sgt. Brent Archibald said in a written statement.
“Special attention will be directed toward drivers speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for stop signs and signals, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or any other dangerous violation,” Archibald said. Officers will also be on the lookout for pedestrian and bicyclist violations.
The extra enforcement will be targeted at parts of the city where pedestrian an bicyclists have been involved in collisions in recent years, as well as places with high pedestrian and bicycle traffic, officials said.
Funding for the campaign is being provided by a grant form the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the California Office of Traffic Safety.
MONTEREY PARK >> Prosecutors have filed criminal charges against a 19-year-old driver who fatally struck a 76-year-old crossing guard earlier this year, authorities said Thursday.
Jin Yang of Monterey Park is charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter and driving without a license in connection with the Jan. 27 collision at Garfield Avenue and Elmgate Street that claimed the life of Abel Castellanos of Monterey Park, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. He was scheduled to appear in Alhambra Superior Court to enter a plea July 22.
Yang was driving a Ford Mustang south on Garfield Avenue at about 50 mph when he lost control of the car, California Highway Patrol Officer Doris Peniche said. The posted speed limit is 40 mph.
Yang slammed on his brakes and veered to the right to avoid a Toyota Celica making a left turn from northbound Garfield Avenue onto westbound Elmgate Street, Peniche said. The Mustang went out of control and careened into the southwest corner of the intersection, where Castellanos was sitting in his folding chair in between escorting schoolchildren across the street.
The impact instantly killed Castellanos, officials said.
Yang’s mother, who was riding as a passenger, was treated for injuries described as moderate following the crash.
The misdemeanor charge manslaughter charge against Yang alleges that the death resulted from an unlawful or dangerous act, “but without gross negligence.”
The charge carries a maximum potential sentence of one year in county jail.
Yang could not be reached for comment Friday. It was not clear whether he was being represented by an attorney.
One of Castellanos’ sons, Ronnie Castellanos, said Friday that he had not heard of the charges and had no further comment.
Castellanos lived in Monterey Park with his family for more than five decades. After retiring from the linen business, he had worked as a crossing guard in Monterey Park for 10 years.
EAST LOS ANGELES >> An allegedly drunken driver crashed his car, ejecting one of three passengers, during a police pursuit that began minutes earlier in Monterey Park early Saturday.
Monterey Park police tried to pull over a car driving with no headlights about 1:35 a.m. as it headed south on Atlantic Boulevard near First Street, Montebello police Sgt. Art Rousseau said.
“The vehicle failed to yield and ramped onto the westbound 60 (Freeway),” he said.
The car crashed as the driver attempted to transition onto the 710 Freeway in East Los Angeles, Rousseau said.
One passenger was thrown from the wreck and was hospitalized in unknown condition, the sergeant said. Two other passengers were treated for apparently minor injuries.
The driver, whose name was not available Saturday afternoon, also suffered injuries believed to be minor in the crash, Rousseau said. He was expected to be booked on suspicion of driving under the influence.
PASADENA >> A jury deadlocked Friday in the trial of a Monterey Park man charged with two counts of murder for the strangulation and beating death of his wife, who was three months pregnant, officials said.
The Pasadena Superior Court jury announced they were unable to reach verdicts in the case of Hongxin Liu, 45, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. Judge Darrell Mavis declared a mistrial
Liu is charged with two counts of murder, along with the special allegation of multiple murder, in connection with the Feb. 5, 2012, death of his wife and her fetus at the couple’s apartment in the 1000 block of South Ynez Avenue.
An autopsy determined 39-year-old Chenyan Bao died of asphyxia as a result of neck compression. The coroner’s investigation also found that Bao had been beaten.
Prosecutors plan to retry the case, and a pretrial hearing was scheduled July 6, Ardalani said.
MONTEREY PARK >> Police sought a 79-year-old Chinese-speaking man with dementia who went missing in Monterey Park Thursday, before he was found safe later in the day, officials said.
Chaowu Li was last seen about 7:30 a.m. Thursday in the 800 block of East Emerson Avenue, Monterey Park police officials said in a written statement.
He was found safe Thursday afternoon, police said.
MONTEREY PARK >> Coroner’s officials have released the name of a 33-year-old Maywood man who died in a fiery two-car crash last week.
Sergio Ramos Horta died at the scene of the crash, which occurred about 5:40 a.m. on Feb. 16 on the eastbound 60 Freeway, just west of Atlantic Boulevard, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Kristy McCracken said.
His identification was delayed due to the burned condition of his body, coroner’s officials said.
Few details regarding the circumstances of the crash have been released.
California Highway Patrol officials responded to numerous 9-1-1 calls reporting a crash between a 2003 Infiniti and a 1982 Toyota, “with both vehicles fully engulfed in flames,” CHP officials said in a written statement.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by the CHP’s East Los Angeles office.