Officials seek missing Azusa woman

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AZUSA >> Police are asking the public to keep an eye out for a 38-year-old Azusa woman with medical issues who was discovered missing from her group home early Friday.
Teresa Fuller went missing from a group home at 926 E. Citrus Edge Street sometime between 10 p.m. Thursday and 2:35 a.m. Friday, Azusa police Sgt. Terry Smith said in a written statement.
She’s known to frequent the 99 Cents Only Store on Citrus Avenue just south of Alosta Avenue, as well as McDonald’s Restaurant on Alosta Avenue, just east of Citrus Avenue, he said.
“Teresa does not have any debit or credit cards, money or a cell phone, but she may have a bus pass,” Smith said.
Fuller requires medication, which she did not take with her, police said.
She’s described as white, 5 feet 3 inches tall, 190 pounds, with dark hair and dark eyes. She was last seen wearing blue pants, a white long-sleeve polo shirt and black sandals.
Anyone who sees Fuller is asked to call 911.

PHOTO courtesy of the Azusa Police Department

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Baby goat found wandering in Azusa

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AZUSA >> Police are seeking the owner of a baby goat found wandering the streets of Azusa Thursday evening.
A business owner found the apparently 1.8-pound kid, which police were calling, “Billie,” wandering in the area of Foothill Boulevard and Coney Avenue and brought it to the police station shortly before 7 p.m., officials said.
The baby barnyard animal was happy to keep police dispatchers company as police searched for the owner.
One dispatcher happened to be married to a veterinarian, who planned to take charge of the wayward juvenile in the meantime.
The owner of the goat can reach Azusa police at 626-812-3200.

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Charges dismissed against man and woman accused in fatal stabbing of Upland man in South El Monte

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SOUTH EL MONTE >> A judge dismissed charges this week against a man and woman previously accused of murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of an Upland man in South El Monte last year.
Randall Chinchilla, 35, and Andrea Montoya, 37, both of El Monte, were arrested and charged in June in the fatal March 28, 2015, stabbing of 49-year-old Dennis Baltierra.
But during a preliminary hearing Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court 0513_NWS_SGT-L-DISMISSED2Judge Mike Camacho of the Pomona courthouse dismissed the case against the man and woman, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
At a preliminary hearing, a judge listens to a summary of the case to determine whether sufficient evidence exists to order a defendant to stand trial.
Chinchilla and Montoya were both released from custody Tuesday after spending 11 months behind bars with bail set at $2 million each, county booking records show.
Authorities alleged Chinchilla and Montoya stabbed Baltierra to death when they got into an argument while all three were hanging out at the home of a mutual friend about 11:30 p.m. on March 28 in the 11200 block of Broadmead Street in South El Monte.
Baltierra exited the home and collapsed in the yard with a stab wound to his neck, sheriff’s officials said. He succumbed to his injuries at a hospital a short time later.
Detectives identified Chinchilla and Montoya as suspects and arrested them on June 12.
Anyone with information on the fatal stabbing is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

PHOTOS: [TOP] Photo from stabbing scene in the 11200 block of Broadmead Street in South El Monte the day after the homicide on March 29, 2016. (By Brian Day) [BELOW] Dennis Baltierra, 49, of Upland. (Courtesy)

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Suspect charged with murder in South El Monte workplace shooting


SOUTH EL MONTE >> Prosecutor have filed a murder charge against South El Monte man accused of fatally shooting another man accused of gunning down another man outside an El Monte business Monday, officials said.
Prosecutors charged Leonel Xotoy, 31, with murder on Wednesday in the Pomona branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
He’s also accused of the special allegation that he personally used a gun in the crime, Lt. Steve Jauch of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
Xotoy entered no plea at Wednesday’s court appearance, Robison said. An arraignment hearing was scheduled for June 1.
The defendant allegedly targeted and killed Higinio Jimenez Gonzalez, 22, of South El Monte at his workplace about 8:30 a.m. Monday, officials said.
Xotoy rode a bike to the business, Baby Blue Fashion Inc., 9643 Aplaca Street, and asked for the victim by name.
“When the victim came outside, the suspect produced a revolver and shot him multiple times,” Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Coworkers of Gonzalez tackled the gunman and held him down until deputies arrived and took him into custody, Jauch said.
“Deputies placed handcuffs on the man and recovered a firearm laying nearby that the suspect had used to shoot the victim,” Navarro Suarez said.
Jauch declined to discuss the motive in the deadly shooting, or the specific relationship between Xotoy and Gonzalez, citing the ongoing investigation and prosecution.
“I can’t share what we were told in the (suspect) interview,” Jauch said.
“They had prior contacts,” he said, but added, “there’s no indication that they were friends.”
“It was not a random act of violence. Certainly, our victim was the intended target,” the lieutenant said.
Officials have disclosed that Xotoy had three children with a woman who worked with Gonzalez. Jauch described the relationship as “on again, off again.”
Xotoy was being held without bail, records show.
Funds to benefit Gonzalez family are being collected online at www.gofundme.com/23dsbt8q.

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Irwindale police unveil ‘safe zone’ for e-commerce transactions, child exchanges

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IRWINDALE >> Police in Irwindale established a new “safe zone” Thursday to provide those engaging in online commerce, as well as child custody exchanges, a secure and monitored place to conduct their business in front of the police station.
The “E-Commerce and Child Exchange Safe Zone” allows residents to meet with buyers or purchasers to complete online transaction, as well as take care of sometimes-contentious child custody exchanges between separated parents at the station, 5050 N. Irwindale Ave., Irwindale police Sgt. George Zendejas said.
“Transactions that start online but must be completed in person have become more common in recent years and most times the parties are strangers,” police said in a written statement. “E-commerce sales were estimated at $341.7 billion in 2015, up 14.6 percent from the year before.”
0513_NWS_SGT-L-SAFEZONE2“The E-Commerce Safe Zone will consist of two designated parking stalls in front of the Irwindale Police Station,” according to the statement. “The parking stalls will be designated by signage and a painted green curb, where parties can finalize their e-commerce transactions with less concern of being robbed, scammed, seriously injured, and or killed.”
If the other party involved in an online transaction is unwilling to meet at the police station, Zendejas said that may be a “red flag” that the transaction may be less than legitimate.
The special parking spaces, which are under 24-hour video surveillance monitored live by police dispatchers, will also serve as a secure, neutral place for separated parents to relinquish custody of their children for visitations.
The cost of the program amounted to $35, Zendejas said.

PHOTO courtesy of the Irwindale Police Department.

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Video: Alhambra resident confronts package thief


ALHAMBRA >> Police are seeking a woman who stole packages from the porch of an Alhambra home Tuesday before being confronted by the homeowner, armed with a cell phone camera, officials said.
The crime took place about 4:40 p.m. at a home in the southeast portion of the city, near Valley Boulevard and New Avenue, according to Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson.
A man arrived home to see a woman snatching two packages that had just been delivered from his front porch, Johnson said in a written statement.
•Video: Homeowner confronts package thief in Alhambra
“The homeowner exited his car and started recording the suspect with his cell phone,” he said.
0513_NWS_PSN-L-THEFTAs depicted on the cell phone video, which was distributed by police in hoped of identifying the suspect, the woman tried to talk her way out of the situation.
“If I was you, I’d put those down,” the man tells the woman.
“Why?” She responded. “My mom lives here.”
“Because those are my stuff. I live here. This is my house,” the homeowner said.
But the woman continued arguing with the man, trying to persuade him the house was not his.
“You don’t live here. My mom lives here,” she said in an incredulous tone.
The homeowner was not persuaded. When he told the woman he was calling the police, she promptly dropped the packages and walked away.
Anyone who recognized the woman depicted in the video is asked to contact Alhambra police at 626-308-4875. Tips may be submitted anonymously.

VIDEO/PHOTO courtesy of the Alhambra Police Department

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UPDATED: Man gets 18 years for Pasadena auto body shop arson

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PASADENA >> A homeless man received an 18-year prison sentence Wednesday after admitting to arson and other charges for torching a Pasadena auto body shop in 2014, officials said.
Jesse Cole Nicholas, 31,pleaded guilty to eight felony counts and one misdemeanor in the Pasadena branch of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said. The charges included arson of a structure, arson of a vehicle, auto theft, two counts of burglary and four counts of vandalism and petty theft.
“He was… given two strikes and ordered to pay over $550,000 in restitution,” Derderian said.
The case stems from a Sept. 27, 2014, arson fire that destroyed a building and two cars at Alliance Auto Body, 826 S. Arroyo Parkway, causing more than $375,000 worth of damage, officials said.
In addition to the charges, Nicholas also admitted to the special allegations of using an accelerant in the structure arson, and that the damage exceeded $200,000, Robison said.
The fire, which broke out about 7:20 a.m., was immediately deemed suspicious by fire investigators.
Derderian said the fire scorched a rear building used for detailing and prep work and destroyed two cars parked inside.
Surveillance camera footage depicted a man jumping a fence and breaking into the business just before the flames erupted, officials said at the time.
Nicholas stole a car and drove away, but returned several hours later and broke into several cars before lighting one on fire, Derderian said.
Nicholas, described as a “career criminal,” was believed to be high on drugs during the unusual crime.
He was on felony probation under the terms of AB 109 at the time of the arson, records show.
Police and fire investigators found and arrested Nicholas on outstanding warrants two days after the fire at Central Park.
He was being held on the previous charges when he was positively identified through DNA evidence as the arsonist in mid-October, Derderian said.
A restitution hearing was scheduled for June 1.

PHOTO: Pasadena firefighters work at the scene of an arson fire that caused about $375,000 damage to a building and two vehicles parked at Alliance Auto Shop, 826 S. Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena, on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014. (Courtesy, Pasadena Fire Department)

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Glendale woman sentenced for DUI crash that killed Whittier man in Pico Rivera

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PICO RIVERA >> A Glendale woman who triggered a fatal crash when she drove through a red light in Pico Rivera while drunk has begun serving a six-year prison term for the crime, officials said Wednesday.
Christine Vahe Mesdjian, 28, pleaded “no contest” to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated during a pretrial hearing on Thursday in the Norwalk branch of Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
“She was immediately sentenced to six years in state prison,” Ardalani said.
An additional count of felony DUI was dismissed in connection with the Feb. 15, 2015, three-vehicle crash that claimed the life of David Andrew Jaramillo, 59, of Whittier.
Mesdjian initially told investigators she fell asleep at the wheel prior to the crash, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective Jose Marquez said. But skid marks created in the street prior to the collision contradicted her story, he said.
Mesdjian was driving a Toyota pickup truck north along Paramount Boulevard about 8 p.m. when she blew through a red light and hit the passenger side of a Toyota Scion heading east on Slauson Avenue, according to Marquez.
The force of the collision pushed the Scion into a Toyota Camry heading west on Slauson Avenue.
Jaramillo, who was driving the Scion, died at the scene.
Mesdjian and three people inside the camera were treated for injuries as well, officials said.
Deputies did not arrest Mesdjian the night of the crash, but ultimately turned over the findings of their investigation to prosecutors, who obtained an arrest warrant for Mesdjian in late June of 2015. She turned herself in to authorities June 30.

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Ex-fugitive from San Bernardino in viral Rowland Heights crash video back in custody


ROWLAND HEIGHTS >> A former fugitive from San Bernardino charged with a laundry list of criminal charges in connection with a bizarre Rowland Heights car crash depicted in a viral YouTube video is behind bars, officials confirmed Wednesday.
Jasmine Lacey, 23, is charged with driving under the influence of drugs, hit-and-run with a runaway car, auto theft, taking a car without the owner’s consent and driving without a valid license in connection with the Sept. 1 crash along Harbor Boulevard, between Vantage Point Drive and Pathfinder Road, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said.
VIDEO: Bizarre Rowland Heights crash caught on camera
California Highway Patrol officers soon found and arrested an allegedly highly intoxicated Lacey on foot in the area, CHP officials said.
She was released from custody without charges four days later, however, pending the result of blood analysis.
But charged were filed against Lacey in February, but she failed to show up for a scheduled Feb. 10 arraignment hearing in the Los Angeles Superior Court’s West Covina branch, Ardalani said. A bench warrant was issued for her arrest.
Lacey was re-arrested April 18, according to county booking records. The circumstances of her re-capture were unclear Wednesday.
She pleaded has since not guilty to all charges.
But the legal process is again on hold as officials look into Lacey’s psychiatric health, Ardalani said.
“On May 5, a doubt was declared as to the defendant’s mental competency,” she said.
According to court records, Lacey is next scheduled to appear in the Mental Health Courthouse in Los Angeles May 19 for a mental competency hearing. She is then scheduled for a hearing in the West Covina courthouse the following day.
The unusual incident, which resulted in no significant injuries, was captured on video by the dashcam of another car. The footage was posted to YouTube by user “UlikeUC Here”, where it has since garnered more than 5 million views.
She was at the wheel of a stolen car when the suddenly slammed on the brakes, bringing the car to a halt, the video shows.
Lacey then inexplicably exits the car and begins walking down the center median as the driverless car rolled downhill and into opposing traffic lanes. An SUV was struck by the car before it ultimately struck a tree and stopped.
Lacey was being held in lieu of $30,000 bail, records show.

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

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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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