Sex offender killed in state prison


ARCADIA – A serial child molester convicted of assaulting a 5-year-old girl inside an Arcadia bookstore in 2008 and sent to prison in September for 30 years was beaten to death by his cellmate, prison officials said Wednesday.

Jaime Elizondo, 30, of San Gabriel was killed by cellmate Steven Cisneros, said Lt. Charlie Hahn, spokesman for the High Desert State Prison. Elizondo was convicted of exposing himself to the victim inside a Borders bookstore at an Arcadia mall in 2008. The assault was captured on the store’s video system.

A witness confronted Elizondo and later found his photo on a Web site listing registered sex offenders and gave police the information.
Here’s our original post on the story with a photo of the molestation.

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Suspected Altadena child molester pleads guilty

Mark Walter Sonnenburg of Altadena will be sentenced on April 19, officials said. He was picked up by LAPD in 2008.

Here’s the story:
A former teacher pleaded no contest today to charges he molested two 9-year-old girls in 1988, including one who attended the school where he worked.

Mark Walter Sonnenburg, 55, pleaded no contest to two counts of lewd act with a child, according to Deputy District Attorney Ann Marie Wise.

He is due back in Los Angeles Superior Court on April 19, when the victims are expected to speak and Sonnenburg is scheduled to be taken into custody to begin serving a six-month jail term, the prosecutor said.

Sonnenburg will serve the jail time before he returns to court for sentencing.

Along with the jail term, Sonnenburg is expected to be ordered to serve five years’ probation, register as a sex offender for life, undergo sex offender counseling and not be alone with minor children, according to Wise.

He will be barred from teaching, the prosecutor said.

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Tuesday’s column — Law enforcement, Northcott and La Eme

Sure, there’s an election today and change is in the air.

But some things will never change.

I get a sense of that every time I pick up an old newspaper story or leaf through old photos on the Internet.

Take the tale of Gordon Stewart Northcott, a serial killer who preyed on young boys in Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley during the 1920s.

Northcott and his mother participated in the murders of four kids at their ranch in Wineville. Ultimately, the state hanged Northcott in 1930.

He had been convicted of killing Lewis and Nelson Winslow of Pomona and an unidentified Latino youth, whose body was dumped on the grounds of a

La Puente farm just off of Valley Boulevard.

Northcott’s mother, Sarah Louise Northcott, served a 12-year prison sentence for her role in killing Walter Collins of Los Angeles.

In the aftermath of the case, California politicians in 1939 backed a tough new law targeting “sexual psychopaths.”

As written, the law allowed the state to lock up anybody who was predisposed to committing a sex crime against a child – whether or not that person was convicted of a crime.

Doubtless those who backed the law thought they were promoting change. And, the act has been significantly watered down for legitimate concerns about civil rights.

Seventy years down the road, we have a new name for psychopaths – predators. Beyond that very little has changed. And there are still no easyanswers for eradicating child molesters and serial killers.

If you check out the state’s Megan’s Law Web site, you’ll see right away there are plenty out there.

The same can be said of gangs.

On Monday I received a copy of “The Black Hand: The bloody rise and redemption of `Boxer’ Enriquez, a Mexican mob killer.”

The first chapter describes the rise of La Eme from humble beginnings at the Duell Vocational Institute in Tracy through recent times as the controlling force in California prisons and on many of our streets.

In case you didn’t know, the San Gabriel Valley is La Eme’s backyard. Many of the exploits detailed in the book took place in Montebello, Alhambra and

El Monte.

Among the incidents described are the 1998 Maxon Road killings that left an El Monte mother and three of her young children dead following a brutal Eme hit at their home.

In a September interview with Glenn Beck, Enriquez said he saw the killings as the turning point in his relationship with his carnales in the gang.

You might think that the political shot-callers in Sacramento would have a similar reaction. At the very least, you’d think they’d call for cleaning up the state prison system.

They haven’t.

There is no war on the terror that rules our streets. It’s not likely to happen, no matter how much change comes to Washington or our country in the next several months.

That’s about all you can count on come Wednesday morning.

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Closing arguments presented in Azusa molestation case

The state’s case against Virgil Cleon Harper went to a Jury Wednesday after both sides presented closing arguments.

Harper, a substitute teacher in Azusa, is accused of nine counts of sexual molestation involving youngsters in his classroom.

Our reporter Bethania Palma attended Wednesday’s court session and interviewed Harper. These excerpts are from her story:


Deputy District Attorney Miji Vellakkatel<NO1>cq <NO>told the jury there was solid evidence Harper touched the 9-and-10-year-old boys and girls in a sexual manner.
“The truth lies in the evidence,” he said. “He touched a total of 17 body parts that are sexual in nature.
The fourth graders had stated Harper touched genital areas, rear ends, breasts and thighs, Vellakkatel said.
Defense attorney Victor Salerno said the accusations were false and added they resulted from peer pressure and a “snowball effect.”


Harper said he had been a teacher and substitute teacher for years in various settings, including high schools and colleges. At one point he taught at Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.
He also worked as an adjunct professor at APU and served on the city’s architectural barriers commission.
Harper said he began teaching at grade schools about a year ago so he could get more hours.
He said if cleared of charges, he would not teach children again “unless there are cameras or another adult present.”

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