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November 27, 2012

Drug Counselor Charged with Pedestrian’s Murder

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 7:30 pm

TORRANCE – A Torrance woman suspected of slamming into a pedestrian and driving two miles while he was embedded in her windshield was charged today with murder and other counts, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Sherri Lynn Wilkins, 51 (dob 3-28-61), is scheduled to be arraigned today in Torrance Superior Court, Department 4. She is charged in case YA086025 with one felony count each of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury, driving with a .08 percent or higher blood alcohol causing injury, and leaving the scene of an accident, said Deputy District Attorney Lisa Houle.

Wilkins, a substance abuse counselor, allegedly hit Phillip Moreno about 11:15 p.m. Saturday as she was driving west on Torrance Boulevard near Madrid Avenue. She allegedly continued driving another two miles before witnesses surrounded her car at Crenshaw Boulevard and 182nd Street and detained her until police arrived and arrested her.

The 31-year-old Moreno later died at an area hospital.

Wilkins, who has two prior burglary convictions and is a third striker, is being held on $2.25 million bail. If convicted as charged, she faces up to life in prison.

October 29, 2012

Glendale Man Charged in Deaths of Two Good Samaritans

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:09 pm

VAN NUYS – A 19-year-old Glendale man whose vehicle toppled a light pole and a fire hydrant in August has been charged with two counts of felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence in connection with the electrocution deaths of two women who tried to help in the collision’s aftermath, the District Attorney’s Office announced today.

An arraignment hearing for Arman Samsonian (DOB 03/07/93) is set for Nov. 19 in Department 100 of the Van Nuys Courthouse. He surrendered to Los Angeles police on Thursday. Samonian was released after posting bail earlier today. He is charged in case No. LA072379.

Samsonian is accused of driving at a high rate of speed and losing control of his vehicle on Magnolia Boulevard in Valley Village on Aug. 22 at approximately 8:20 p.m. The posted speed limit is 35 mph.

The vehicle struck a light pole and a fire hydrant. The resulting pool of water came into contact with exposed electrical wires, energizing it.

Irma Yolanda Zamora, 40, of Burbank, and Stacey Lee Schreiber, 39, of Valley Village, were electrocuted in the collision’s aftermath as they tried to assist.

Samsonian faces a maximum of seven years and four months in prison if convicted.

September 14, 2012

Driver Convicted in Fatal Car Chase that Killed Little Girl

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:25 pm

SAN FERNANDO – A Panorama City man was convicted today of second-degree murder and evading police that caused a death in a 2010 police chase that ended with the death of a 6-year-old girl in Lake View Terrace, the District Attorney’s office announced.

A jury deliberated one day before convicting Aaron Esqueda Rojas, 35, of driving a red sedan that struck and killed Kayla Woods as she was playing with friends. Rojas and two other defendants were evading police when the accident occurred on June 10, 2010, in the 11900 block of Fenton Avenue, said Deputy District Attorney Louis Avila.

Rojas is facing life in prison when he returns Oct. 11 for sentencing before Superior Court Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell.

Co-defendant Juaquin Hiriarte, 27, the front-seat passenger who tossed guns from the vehicle during the police pursuit, was sentenced in July to 21 years in state prison. He earlier pleaded no contest to assault with a semi-automatic firearm, sale or transportation of a controlled substance and felon with in possession of a concealed firearm in a vehicle.

The third defendant, 52-year-old Manuel Araujo Ydiarte, who was riding in the backseat during the chase and accident, pleaded guilty in June 2011 and was sentenced to three years in state prison for possession for sale of a controlled substance, heroin.

September 4, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 8:46 pm

SANTA ANA - A drunken driver will be arraigned tomorrow for killing a woman by crashing into her motorcycle after making an unsafe turn into an intersection. Steven Todd Newcomer, 44, Santa Ana, is charged with one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence and hit and run causing death. He faces a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison if convicted. Newcomer is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department C-55, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.

At approximately 8:40 p.m. on April 12, 2012, 32-year-old Kimberly Krause was riding her motorcycle eastbound on Chapman Avenue approaching the intersection at Pioneer Lane in Garden Grove. Newcomer is accused of driving while under the influence of alcohol westbound on Chapman Avenue toward the same intersection.

As Krause legally passed through the intersection on a green light, Newcomer is accused of making a left turn in front of the victim without yielding to oncoming traffic. The defendant is accused of crashing into the victim and throwing her from her motorcycle. Newcomer is accused of briefly stopping at the scene before fleeing into a nearby residential complex to a friend’s home. He is accused of failing to call 911 to seek help for the victim.

Officers from the Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD), who investigated this case, responded to the scene and located Krause lying at the corner of the intersection. She was transported to the University of California, Irvine Medical Center and pronounced dead at 9:01 p.m. due to multiple blunt force traumatic injuries.

Approximately 10 minutes after the crash, Newcomer is accused of being located by GGPD walking inside the residential complex near the crime scene. He is accused of displaying objective signs of alcohol intoxication including bloodshot eyes and emitting a strong odor of alcohol. At midnight, over three hours after the crash, the defendant is accused of having a blood alcohol level of .14 percent.

August 23, 2012

Man Sent to Prison for Death of 72-Year-Old Pedestrian

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 5:14 pm

NORWALK – A 28-year-old man was sentenced today to seven years in state prison for the death of a 72-year-old pedestrian who was struck and killed at a La Mirada intersection a year ago.

Deputy District Attorney Marlon Duke Powers said Geoffrey Matthew Rocha was sentenced by Norwalk Superior Court Commissioner Michael Schurr. Powers said sentence, which included an order to make restitution, was imposed after a statement from the victim’s widow was read to the court.

Rocha, of La Mirada, pleaded no contest on July 26 to vehicular manslaughter and admitted the allegation of fleeing the scene of the Sept. 20, 2011, traffic death.

Authorities said Rocha’s car stuck Ray Quintanilla, also of La Mirada, as the victim was taking his daily morning walk. The impact was so great, the victim’s arm was severed and carried away by the fleeing car. It was found about a mile from Santa Gertrudes Avenue and Lawnhill Drive in La Mirada, where Quintanilla was struck.

Rocha later surrendered to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies in Norwalk. He has remained in custody since his arrest last year.

August 21, 2012

Council Aide Charged with Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: — fayarfa @ 12:18 pm

VAN NUYS — An aide to Councilman Richard Alarcon who allegedly struck and killed a transient crossing a street in North Hollywood in March was charged today with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, the District Attorney’s Office announced.

Manuel Figueras, 50, was allegedly driving a city-owned 2003 Toyota Prius when he struck and killed 55-year-old Gary Woodford, who was crossing Vineland Avenue at Erwin Street. The accident occurred about 7:35 p.m. on March 14.

Initially, the District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and declined to file a felony charge, referring the case to the City Attorney’s Office for misdemeanor consideration. But the City Attorney’s Office declared a conflict of interest and referred the case back to the District Attorney’s Office.

Figueras is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 17 at Van Nuys Superior Court, Department 101. He is charged in case 2VY00021. Prosecutors will ask bail be set at $25,000.

If convicted, he faces up to one year on county jail.

April 11, 2012

Arcadia Man Charged with Manslaughter in Death of Actor’s Son

Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:25 am

POMONA – An Arcardia man was charged today with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated in the death of the 21-year-old son of actor and motorcycle racing champion Bruce Penhall.

Tatsuhiko Sakamoto, 37 (dob 6-26-74), also was charged in case KA097497 with DUI causing injury, driving with a .08 percent blood alcohol causing injury and a special allegation of causing great bodily injury. He is being held on $200,000 bail.

Sakamoto allegedly struck and killed Connor Penhall, of Corona, who was doing construction work on a closed section of the westbound side of the San Bernardino 10 Freeway. Sakamoto allegedly drove through traffic cones closing the freeway at Francisquito Avenue about midnight Thursday. Penhall was pronounced dead at the scene, said the California Highway Patrol.

Sakamoto is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at Pomona Superior Court, Department N.

The case has been assigned to Deputy District Attorney Christopher Stogel to prosecute.

If convicted, Sakamoto faces up to 10 years in state prison.

February 28, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 4:08 am

SANTA ANA - An unlicensed, uninsured, teen driver was convicted and sentenced today for killing his friend by crashing into a tree on Ortega Highway. Francisco Jesus Ochoa, 19, Lake Elsinore, pleaded guilty to one felony count each of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and possession of a controlled substance, one misdemeanor count of driving a motor vehicle without a valid license, and an infraction for failing to maintain liability insurance. He was sentenced to one year in jail and three years of formal probation.

Early in the morning on Nov. 18, 2011, Ochoa was driving a Ford pick-up truck without a valid license or insurance westbound on Ortega Highway with friend Margarita Gutierrez in the front passenger seat. The defendant was swerving and weaving across the two-lane highway for several miles, crossing back and forth onto the wrong side of the road and onto the dirt shoulders on either side.

At approximately 6:45 a.m., Ochoa veered off the road, failed to slow, and crashed directly into a tree. He killed Gutierrez, who was crushed in her seat and pronounced dead at the scene.

At the time of the crash, the defendant was in possession of six Vicodin pills, for which he did not have a prescription. Ochoa was transported to the hospital to be treated for a broken leg.

During the sentencing today, a victim impact statement was read on behalf of Gutierrez’s college-student daughter, Mayra Estrella. Estrella wrote in part, “It’s difficult to put into words the pain, sadness and anguish I’ve been feeling ever since the accident. When she was killed, many dreams were killed along with her. We wanted to get matching pedicures when I came back from my Winter break. We wanted to travel together and see the world. [My brother and I] are never going to be able to walk into our old apartment and see my mother sitting in her usual spot on the couch, watching the usual television shows and greeting us with that crooked smile she always had. We’ll never forget our beautiful, wonderful mother.”

February 14, 2012


Filed under: California Defense Attorney — Tags: , — fayarfa @ 1:48 am

*Two other passengers were injured in the crash

FULLERTON - A speeding driver was convicted yesterday of killing one friend after slicing his car in half by crashing into a tree. Andrew Stueber, 26, was found guilty by a jury Feb. 8, 2012, of one felony count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. He faces a maximum sentence of six years in state prison. A sentencing date will be set on May 18, 2012, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-13, North Justice Center, Fullerton.

At approximately 2:10 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2009, Stueber was driving in a Ford Mustang after a night of drinking with friends at Goodys Tavern in San Clemente. He was the designated driver. He was speeding on Avenida Vista Montana at over 55 mph in a 35 mph zone with friends Edmund Vandecasteele, 22, Robert Nichols, 22, and Kyle Nance, 21, as passengers in the car.

Stueber lost control of his car while driving at a high rate of speed and crossed over onto the wrong side of the road. He then crashed into a tree, severing his car in half.

Stueber was transported to the hospital to be treated for head trauma. Approximately two hours after the crash, he had a blood alcohol level of .09 percent.

Vandecasteele, who had been riding in the front passenger seat, was pronounced dead at the scene due to multiple traumatic injuries. Nichols and Nance, who had been riding in the back seat, were transported to the hospital to be treated for cuts and bruises.

At the time of the crash, the defendant and the victims were all Marines stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

February 7, 2012

Jury Convicts Driver of Murder in New Year 2011 Crash

Filed under: Los Angeles Criminal attorney — Tags: , , — fayarfa @ 3:02 am

LOS ANGELES – A Culver City man was convicted of two counts of murder today in the deaths a year ago of a husband and wife who were killed when the defendant allegedly ran a red light and crashed into their car.

Deputy District Attorney Kennes Ma said the jury deliberated about 40 minutes before convicting 28-year-old Alberto Molina of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of felony hit and run. Sentencing was scheduled for March 15. Molina faces a 30-year-to-life term in prison.

Demetria Dorsey, 50, and her 54-year-old husband, Kelvin, were killed around 11:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2010. Authorities said Mrs. Dorsey was driving a blue Infinity near Florence Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard.

Molina’s car, authorities said, ran a red light and slammed into the Infinity, flipping it on its roof. Molina got out of his car and attempted to get away, but was arrested by Los Angeles police.

Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus ordered Molina held without bail. He had been in custody in lieu of bail pending the verdict.

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