Wednesday, August 26, 2015

InTheNews: LA TIMES - Victorville man faces 366 years in 'most bizarre' child sex case

In the more than 10 years that San Bernardino County prosecutor Kathy DiDonato has prosecuted family sex and violence cases, she’d never had one like this.

The Victorville man’s crimes against the girl were meticulously planned, carried out and covered up so the girl’s mother could never find out.

After his arrest, he admitted to photographing and recording the abuse and told investigators he liked “messy sex,” DiDonato recalled Tuesday.

“I’ve done a lot of terrible cases. This was one of the worst cases I’ve prosecuted,” DiDonato told The Times. “You can’t articulate [what] was seen in this case. It’s the most bizarre sexual conduct I’ve ever seen.”

Authorities say that for two years starting in 2007, when the girl was just 5 years old, Sanchez abused the girl while the mother was away from the home.  The abuse was only discovered when the mother came home early, interrupting Sanchez, and the girl explained what had happened, DiDonato said.

The mother immediately grabbed her daughter and the girl’s sister and drove to a her parents' home, where she called police.

Click here to read the whole story.

SBSUN: Victorville man faces nearly 4 centuries in prison in sex abuse case

KTLA: Victorville Man Faces 366 Years to Life in Child Sex Case Prosecutor Calls ‘One of the Worst’

Monday, August 24, 2015

San Bernardino Restorative Youth Court is Coming!

Volunteer To Be A Judge In This Exciting Restorative Program!


×         Provides an alternative to suspension, expulsion and police citation

×         Builds on a student’s strengths and increase student competency

×         Gives students an opportunity for community service, leadership and career development through the new Student Leadership Academy

×         Creates student awareness of the impact of their actions on others in their school and community

×         Utilizes district and community resources to build student capacity rather than punishment
WHO CAN VOLUNTEER: Adults with experience in the judicial/legal system
WHY:   To be a Youth Court Judge
WHEN:   9/1/2015 at 3:30p.m.
WHERE: San Bernardino Adult Education Building
              1200 North E Street, San Bernardino, CA 92405


Friday, August 21, 2015

Statement from District Attorney Ramos regarding the formation of the Special Victims K-9 Unit

District Attorney Mike Ramos introduced Facility Dogs Dozer and Lupe today at a press conference. Both dogs will be assigned to the Special Victims K-9 Unit. (Pictured left to right: Victim Advocate Yesica Cioli, Chief of Victim Services, Flerida Alarcon, Dozer, DA Mike Ramos, Lupe, Victim Advocate Don Ross, Ellen O'Neill Stephens, Founder of Courthouse Dogs.)

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Sometimes just being in the physical courtroom itself can be stressful for kids. And then when you factor in the content of what they may have to discuss in their testimony, overall, it can be a traumatic experience. Asking a child to recall horrific details in a courtroom full of strangers, with his or her abuser staring from across the room, is a painful and sometimes embarrassing situation.

Our main goal is to greatly reduce the understandable fears that a child has about entering the courtroom. Doing so is beneficial to everybody involved because when the child is calm and feeling more confident, it is likely that we can more effectively obtain justice.

As District Attorney I am proud to announce the creation of our Special Victims K-9 Unit (SVK9U), which will ultimately help us better serve our most vulnerable victims, our children. At a press conference today, following the announcement of our new unit, we introduced our two new facility dogs, Lupe and Dozer.

Lupe and Dozer are both black Labrador Retrievers who were selected for training as facility dogs based upon their temperament and interaction with children. Both dogs went through extensive training at the nationally-accredited Assistance Dogs of the West, located in Santa Fe, New Mexico ( Lupe was born Oct. 4, 2013, and Dozer was born April 11, 2013.

In April of 2015, Don Ross and Yesica Cioli were designated the primary handlers of Lupe and Dozer. Don and Lupe will be assigned to the Central Division and Yesica Cioli and Dozer will be assigned to the Desert-Mountain Division.

Research shows that just having dogs nearby has a calming effect and lowers blood pressure. The level of cortisol which is associated with stress, is actually lowered when dogs are present, and the production of serotonin, a chemical which promotes well-being, is increased. That said, our facility dogs will not only have a calming effect for just the victims, but for everyone, including the judge, jury, clerks, prosecutors and defense counsel.

What makes this program even more unique is that it is funded with unclaimed victim restitution funds. When criminal offenders are ordered to pay compensation to victims and the funds are unclaimed, the funds are then transferred into a special account that is designated for services to victims of crime.

The Special Victims K-9 Unit is really just an extension of the great work our victim advocates already do in court, working hand in hand to serve victims. Having this added component allows us to look back at the end of the day and say that we sought justice with compassion for our most vulnerable victims.

Members of the public will be able to follow Lupe and Dozer on Social Media at the following locations:


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Only one more day until Dozer and Lupe are official!

District Attorney Mike Ramos will be announcing the formation of the Special Victims K-9 Unit followed by the official Swearing-In Ceremony of our two new facility dogs, Dozer and Lupe, on Aug. 21.
The event will take place at 9:30 AM at 303 West 3rd Street, San Bernardino 92415.
The purpose of the Special Victims K-9 Unit facility dogs will be to promote the mission of the office by providing companionship to child victims and witnesses during interviews and courtroom proceedings. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

District Attorney releases Public Service Announcement: “Don’t Leave a Baby in the Hot Car”

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – District Attorney Mike Ramos released a public service announcement today to remind the public that when children are left in hot cars, they can succumb to heatstroke and ultimately death within minutes.
“The public service announcement we released today is a reminder to parents and caregivers of young children about the dangers of leaving young children unattended in a parked car,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said. “Please do not leave a child in a hot car, even for a few minutes. Doing so can be fatal.”
Ramos added, even when outside temperature are in the low 80’s, the temperature inside the parked vehicle can turn deadly within minutes—even with the windows partially open.
According to the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences, there have been 637 deaths in the United States as a result of adults leaving a young child in a vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has provided the following tips and precautions for parents and caregivers on how to prevent heatstroke incidents from occurring:

·         Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;

·         Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away;

·         Ask the childcare provider to call if the child doesn’t show up for care as expected;

·         Do things that serve as a reminder that a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, or writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver’s view to indicate a child is in the car seat; and

·         Teach children that a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.

·         In addition, NHTSA urges community members who see a child alone in a hot vehicle to immediately call 911 or the local emergency number.

·         A child in distress due to heat should be removed from the vehicle as quickly as possible and rapidly cooled.
“Unfortunately, we had a recent case in the High Desert region in which a couple left their child in a parked vehicle for over an hour,” Ramos said. “We prosecuted both parents, and fortunately, the child didn’t suffer any major injuries. Today’s message is not about prosecution, but rather prevention. No child should ever be left in an unattended vehicle.”

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Swearing-In Ceremony for Two New Facility Dogs to Be Held Aug. 21

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – District Attorney Mike Ramos will be announcing the formation of the Special Victims K-9 Unit followed by the official Swearing-In Ceremony of our two new facility dogs, Dozer and Lupe, on Aug. 21.

The event will take place at 9:30 AM at 303 West 3rd Street, San Bernardino 92415.

The purpose of the Special Victims K-9 Unit facility dogs will be to promote the mission of the office by providing companionship to child victims and witnesses during interviews and courtroom proceedings. 

Lupe and her handler, Victim Advocate Don Ross, will be assigned to the Central Division.

Dozer and his handler, Victim Advocate Yesica Cioli, will be assigned to the Desert-Mountain Division in Victorville.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guilty verdict in 1986 cold case murder trial


SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – After five hours of deliberation, a San Bernardino county jury has found a 59-year-old Riverside man guilty of first degree murder for the 1986 cold case murder of Nancy Klinger.

Larry Hite, who was arrested and charged in November of 2009, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 18 in Dept. S-18 at the San Bernardino Justice Center. He faces 25 years to life in state prison.

This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum, who is assigned to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Cold Case Unit. The Cold Case Unit consists of two prosecutors and two detectives.

       Larry Hite (Booking Photo)

Statement of Facts
It was Aug. 29, 1986, and 28-year-old Nancy Klinger left her three children with a babysitter so she could meet up with Larry Hite—a man she had met while tending bar in Riverside.

According to Deputy District Attorney Yoakum, Hite had told Klinger that he worked as an undercover investigator for the Sheriff’s Department.

“He said he was going to bust a black market baby ring and she could assist him by posing as his wife undercover,” Yoakum said. “He promised her she would get paid for the job. He had also identified himself as an undercover officer to others, even showing a badge.”

Hite was never employed by the Sheriff’s Department of any law enforcement agency.

That night, after dropping her children off, Klinger never returned.

Her skeletal remains were found nearly two years later in a dirt field in a remote area of East Highland.

According to Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum, when investigators recovered the victim’s body in 1988, they were unable to determine a definitive cause of death due to decomposition.

During the initial investigation, detectives focused on Hite as a potential suspect but were unable to link him to Klinger’s death. Hite eventually relocated to Arizona, where he was convicted for assaulting two other women. Following his release from an Arizona prison, Hite relocated to Riverside.

Members of the Cold Case Unit reopened the case in 2009 and began examining the evidence and conducting follow-up interviews with Larry Hite. Eventually, they were able to gain a confession from Hite and link him to the murder of Nancy Klinger. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

District Attorney releases summer safety Public Service Announcement: Dogs Die in Hot Cars

District Attorney Mike Ramos released a public service announcement today to remind the public that when dogs are left in hot cars, they can succumb to heatstroke and ultimately death within minutes.
“The short video we released today is a humorous approach to a very serious topic,” District Attorney Mike Ramos said. “That shouldn’t change the overall message, though. While this particular PSA focuses on dogs, the same can be said for all animals and even children, which we see far too often. Please do not leave any animal or child alone in a hot car.”
On a warm day, temperatures inside of a vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels. For example, on a day where the temperature is 80 degrees outside, the temperature inside a vehicle with the windows opened slightly can reach nearly 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After approximately 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees.
“Cars literally turn into ovens in a matter of moments, regardless of whether the windows are rolled down or not,” said Claudia Swing, coordinator for the San Bernardino County Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACT). “What many pet owners don’t know is that dogs can’t release their body heat like people do who naturally sweat to help their bodies cool down. They regulate their body temperature by panting, so a small closed space such as a car doesn’t provide enough fresh air for their bodies to remain at a safe level."
Swing added that animals can sustain brain damage or even die in as little as fifteen minutes. Staying cool is extra tough for dogs because they can only reduce their internal temperature by panting and sweating through their paw pads. If you see an animal in distress in a parked car, please contact nearby security or your local law enforcement agency immediately. Be prepared to provide a vehicle description and license plate number.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Montclair man sentenced to 145 years to life in state prison for lewd acts with a child

Jorge Gutierrez Jr. (Booking Photo)
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  Jorge Gutierrez Jr., 24, of Montclair, was sentenced Tuesday to 145 years to life in state prison for molesting two young brothers over a period of five years.
Judge Stanford E. Reichert imposed the maximum possible sentence on Gutierrez, who was convicted by a jury last month of four counts of sodomy with a child aged 10 or under and three counts of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14. 
The boys were molested at their Montclair home while Gutierrez lived with the family and when he came home on leave from the Air Force. Gutierrez was in the Air Force Reserves when he was arrested in March 2013. 
The brothers, now ages 13 and 15, were between the ages of 7 and 10 when they were molested. At the sentencing hearing, the victims, their elder brother, and both their parents made victim impact statements.
“I’m happy that this is all going to be over with,” said the younger victim. “I’m excited to finally move on with my life and be a normal teenager. I used to have really bad nightmares. I used to dream Jorge got out of jail and came to hurt me again. I hope I never have those nightmares, but even if I do I know he can’t get out and he will never hurt me again.”
Said the older victim: “I hope what he did to us, eats him alive. I’ve never felt so much hate towards a person but I remind myself that Jorge Gutierrez is not a person and he is the devil. I have to admit I felt bad for him at first but seeing how he had no emotions during trial and how hard he has tried to convince everyone that he is innocent made my sorrow turn into anger.”
Their 19-year-old brother, who had originally befriended the defendant, told the court, “I cannot even imagine the pain he has done to my brothers both physically and emotionally and it aches my heart every time I try. They were only kids when this all happened, and even now they may put on this big kid front, but they are still babies and it only makes things hurt that much more. What he did to us was worse than what a murderer can do.”
The victims’ mother told the court, “Jorge Gutierrez disguised himself very well; he convinced me all he wanted was a family to love him and accept him. He wasn’t looking for a family to love, he was looking for a family to victimize. I will forever feel guilty for leaving my kids in the hands of this devil, for being so na├»ve and thinking with my heart and not my head.”
“I ask with all my heart that Jorge Gutierrez is sentenced to the maximum penalty possible and that my family and I can begin to heal knowing that we did the right thing by allowing justice to be served,” said the victims’ father. “I ask that Jorge Gutierrez may never have an opportunity to hurt anyone else ever again, that Jorge Gutierrez pays the price for what he did to my children.”
Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss, who prosecuted the case, played for the court a jail call where the defendant called the victims “stupid little (expletives)” and another where he described a scheme to avoid paying court-ordered restitution to the victims.  She characterized the defendant as a sociopath who exhibited absolutely no remorse or concern for his victims.
The defendant did not address the court. He told the probation officer who wrote the presentence report, “My life is over.” He said there is not much else to say, and denied committing the offenses.

Friday, June 19, 2015

San Bernardino County Animal Cruelty Task Force wins national award

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office won a 2015 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for its program titled “Animal Cruelty Task Force” in the category of Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

The NACo Achievement Award Program, now in its 44th years, recognizes groundbreaking programs and innovative county government programs across the nation.

The San Bernardino County Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACT) is a unique multi-disciplinary collaboration, designed to promote community awareness, education, investigation and prosecution of animal fighting and abuse in San Bernardino County.

Created by the District Attorney’s Office in 2012, ACT is comprised of over 40 agencies from counties all throughout Southern California.

According to District Attorney Mike Ramos, in recent months, ACT has started focusing more on the link between animal violence and human violence.

“We’re starting to see a strong connection between domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and animal abuse,” District Attorney Ramos said. “A batterer’s first victim is usually an animal followed by a child or partner.”

Ramos added that this overlap in crime—also known as the LINK—shows the overwhelming need for collaborative efforts between various partners, including social services, law enforcement and the community.

The award is scheduled to be presented at NACo’s 2015 Annual Conference and Exposition July 10–13 in Mecklenburg County, N.C.