Prelim in Sammantha Salas case set for Tuesday afternoon in Alhambra

The two men accused of gunning down Sammantha Salas in an unincorporated portion of Monrovia will appear in court this afternoon where evidence will be presented in the case.

I’ll update as information becomes available.
Here’s a link to coverage of the gang-related shooting that plagues Monrovia in late 2007 and early 2008.
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Bail remain $2 million for preacher accused in slaying of porn actress Felicia Tang

PASADENA – The bail amount for a Monrovia man charged with torturing and murdering his girlfriend will remain at $2 million, a superior court judge determined Tuesday.

Brian Lee Randone is charged with beating and suffocating Felicia Lee at their Monrovia home. He faces life in prison if convicted.

The 45-year-old Randone was jailed last week on $2 million bail.

The defense asked for Randone’s bail amount to be lowered to $500,000 while prosecutors asked for an increase to $3 million. Pasadena Superior Court Judge Terry Smerling decided to stick with the $2 million amount. Randone appeared in court Tuesday and declared he was not guilty in the slaying.

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Murdered Asian porn queen and preacher boyfriend profiled by CBS’ 48 hours

CBS’ 48 Hours put together a complete profile of Felicia Tang and Brian Randone on its crime blog. Much of it cites reporting done by Thomas Himes over the past few days. 

There are some interesting photos taken from Randone’s MySpace and Facebook accounts though. Here’s the money shots:


Randone apparently also believed in apocalyptic bible prophecies: “I really believe with all my heart that Jesus is coming again soon. I’ve studied a lot of prophecy and many are being fulfilled literally right before our eyes. He is coming.” 
Felicia Lee first published in 2002, displaying nudes and movie stills. Also, Lee sometimes blogged in the “news” section of the site. “Felicia Tang” blog posts stood out in ironic contrast to the Christian-themed writing by the man accused of her murder: 
March, 2004: “I was going back and forth to casting calls with Playboy. They were casting for girls for their DVD with Red Man and Method Man’s Mansion Party. I got my part so we shot this in the Playboy Mansion…I brought some pictures for you guys to view. It was great during the day I was in the pool scene with three other models. The typical …girls laying out by pool and then decide to get naked and bounce and play in the water…giggling away. […] By the end I was delirious….these shoots really take a long time..with lots of waiting around.” 

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Director John Waters writes about Manson girl Leslie Van Houten

John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray) details his relationship with Monrovia prom princess turned Manson Family murderer Leslie Van Houten in a five-part series that’s been running this week on Huffington Post.

It’s a fascinating read, but quite lengthy.
Here’s links to the first four parts
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Two arrested in Salas “ambush attack”

Rayshawn and Nick Blackwell of Monrovia were brought into a Pasadena courtroom this morning to face charges in the Jan. 26 slaying of Sammantha Salas in an unincorporated portion of southern Monrovia.

The case brought scrutiny to a race war between black and Hispanic gangs that heated up neighborhoods in Monrovia, Duarte and unincorporated Arcadia for several months between the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008.
The shootings created a peace activism movement in the area as well. Most importantly, Sammantha’s death led her mother to establish a scholarship fund in her daughter’s name. Here’s the story as it stands:

PASADENA _ Two men suspected in the January 2008 slaying of 16-year-old Sammantha Salas in Monrovia are scheduled for arraignment on charges of murder and attempted murder in superior court this morning, officials said.

Rayshawn Blackwell and Nickleis Blackwell, who are both in custody will be charged with the Jan 26, 2008 slaying of Salas and the attempted murder of her unidentified friend.

The shooting came during a turf battle between black and hispanic gangs in the Monrovia area. Salas mother’ Jeanette Chavez, said she was notified of the arrests last evening.

“I’m really excited to hear about this,” Chavez said. “I was able to sleep. And this morning I got up early.”

Chavez admitted following the case through the legal system won’t be easy.

“That’s going to be a challenge,” she said.”

It’s unclear if a reward offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Salas’e killers’ played a factor in the arrests of the Blackwells. The two match a pair of composite drawings cuirculated in the case late last year. On Thursday, detectives identified a third teen who was at the scene of the Salas shooting. He apparently fled when shots rang out and was difficult to locate until recently. The teen was not identified.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s homicide Lt. Dan Rosenberg said the teen was not a gang member.

The detective described the slaying as an “ambush-type attack.”

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Arrests in Monrovia crime spree

Authorities have charged two men in connection with last year’s slaying of 19-year-old Brandon Lee, officials said Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, police announced they have arrested a suspect in the Jan. 13, 2008, shooting of 64-year-old Sanders Rollins.

The slayings were part of a string of gang-related shootings in the Monrovia/Duarte area that left four people dead in late 2007 and early 2008.

On Tuesday, authorities announced that Monrovia resident Uriel Garcia, 24, has been arrested and charged with murder in the death of Lee, who was fatally wounded by gunfire as he emerged from a friend’s car on Almond Avenue in January 2008.

A second man, Valentin Valenzuela, 20, was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of Lee, said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

Carlos Torres Jr., 16, has been charged with murder in the Rollins slaying, Gibbons said. Rollins was shot in the back outside his Sherman Avenue home as he walked to the front door.

A second suspect has been identified but had not been arrested Tuesday, Gibbons said. Garcia, Valenzuela and Torres are all due in court for arraignment March 11, according to Gibbons.

THe shooter or shooters of 16-year-old Sammantha Salas outside a Monrovia apartment building last Jan. 26 remain at large. A reward has been offered and extended in the case.

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Monrovia flare up

Nate McIntire chronicles Monday’s shooting on Sherman by interviewing witnesses, cops and Monrovia PIO Dick Singer.

Singer’s comments are perhaps most telling. He says nothing about the fear induced by ongoing racial tensions in the neighborhood and instead points the finger at Crip gang members who suppossedly live in the home where Sanders “Pete” Rollins was shot to death last year.

Here’s a link to Nate’s story. Below, Dick Singer’s interesting quote:

“That house has always been a hotbed of gang activity, anyway,” he said. “Crips live there.”

I guess that justifies the shooting…


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Gang violence flares up in Monrovia — again

It was a year ago this week that a racial tensions in Monrovia flared up and resulted in a gang war that left four people dead and several wounded.

Things got heated when Sanders “Pete” Rollins was shot and killed in front of his home on Sherman. It only got worse when teens Sammantha Salas and Brandon Lee were also shot and killed in what appeared to be retaliatory attacks.

Last night, neighbors got a terrible reminder of that violence when Rollins’ former home was shot up again.

Here’s a letter (not edited)  I received from a neighbor, who is scared and concerned that the violence is about to get worse:


Continue reading “Gang violence flares up in Monrovia — again” »

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County gang violence reduction plan targets Monrovia/Duarte

A pilot program targeting gangs in various county neighborhoods had been initially scheduled to beta test in the Firestone and Pacoima neighborhoods.

The plan was expanded this afternoon by the County Board of Supervisors to include Monrovia and Duarte, authorities said.

The plan utilizes a variety of techniques to track gang members, potential gang members and their families as a way to reduce violence. Here’s a copy of a report presented to the board by CEO Bill Fujioka.

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