Thursday, March 23, 2017

Breaking the Cycle: District Attorney’s Office Works at National Level to Combat Domestic Violence

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  – Working in conjunction with the Women Prosecutors Section of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office assisted in developing a Best Practices Guide aimed at combatting domestic violence.
According to Assistant District Attorney Mary Ashley—who is currently vice-chair of the Women Prosecutors Section (WPS) alongside Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey—the newly-released National Domestic Violence Prosecution Best Practices Guide is aimed at informing and recommending practices that are effective and consistent throughout the nation. 
“On this surface this guide is about best practices, but deep down, it’s about reducing violence against women,” said Ashley. “It’s about combatting the issues of sexual assault and human trafficking and all crimes against children—and it’s about empowering victims to break the cycle of abuse. These are problems that plague our county as well as victims across the state and nation.”
Ashley added, in 2016, there were over 3,100 domestic-violence related cases filed in San Bernardino County. During that same time frame, 271 defendants were sentenced to state prison for a total of 1,296 years and 1,744 defendants were sentenced to County Prison and County jail for a total of 696 years.
The primary goal of drafting and releasing this resource is to increase victim safety, offender accountability, and community accountability by challenging prosecutors to aggressively prosecute domestic violence cases when the evidence supports prosecution and promoting multidisciplinary, multi-agency collaborations and co-located service models, such as family justice centers and similar multi-agency approaches and coordinated community responses. 
Among the key items covered include:
·         Strategies for the successful prosecution of cases even when victims are unable or unwilling to participate in prosecution. 

·         Ways prosecutors can play a valuable role in advocating for community-oriented interventions to help support survivors and their children in breaking the vicious, generational cycle of family violence.

To view the entire document, visit:
“As a representative of the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, it is an extraordinary opportunity to be at the table on these vital issues whether it be through training, seeking additional government resources and funding for our county, advocating for victims’ rights, and sharing best practices,” said Ashley.
The goal of the WPS is to promote mentorship and leadership for women across the country in prosecutor’s offices and building a culture of women leaders in the criminal justice system. The WPS creates opportunities to address issues such as Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse at a national level and create partnerships and materials to assist prosecutors in handling these cases. 

Hesperia mother faces life in prison after being found guilty of child homicide charges

Jaimi Roberts (Booking Photo)
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.– A Hesperia mother who attacked her 2-year-old child faces life in prison after being found guilty Wednesday of child homicide charges.

Jaimi Roberts, 24, was found guilty of assault on a child causing death, and a separate charge of involuntary manslaughter, in connection with the April 24, 2014 death of her son, Grant Dunn Jr. She faces 25 years to life when she is sentenced May 12 by Judge Eric Nakata in Superior Court in Victorville.

“We are very pleased that little Grant Jr.’s killer is being held responsible,” Deputy District Attorney David Foy, who prosecuted the 10-day trial, said. “The defendant deserves every day of her prison sentence.”

Paramedics went to the Hesperia home of Roberts, then 21, in the afternoon after the child had gone unconscious. Roberts and her boyfriend had described to San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies how the child had been throwing up since the day before, but had gotten progressively sicker the next day, and finally stopped breathing and lost consciousness.

Roberts told deputies she had “play-wrestled” with him MMA style on the evening of April 22, 2014, and had elbowed him in the abdomen, but he seemed fine afterward.

The child was hospitalized but died later that afternoon.
According to Foy, an autopsy showed he died from a severe blow to the abdomen, consistent with a punch or elbow, causing the lower intestine to rupture and spilling waste into the abdominal cavity, resulting in peritonitis and then sepsis that spread through his bloodstream and shut down vital organs.

The next day, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s homicide detectives questioned Roberts again. After an hour of denying inflicting any hard elbow strikes during the “wrestling,” she finally admitted she elbowed the boy hard twice in the abdomen, and demonstrated on video.

Roberts also admitted doing Internet searches for the terms “abdominal trauma,” “broken rib” and “appendix injury” an hour before 911 was called. She also admitted inflicting a severe bite wound on the child’s shoulder on the day of the “wrestling.”

During the trial, the victim’s father testified that after he broke up with Roberts, he witnessed her punching the child in the stomach and physically attacked her to break up the assault on his son. That incident was not reported to police.

Roberts testified at trial that she falsely confessed, and never actually elbowed the child to the stomach. She told the jury he never showed signs of serious illness until just before he lost consciousness on April 24, 2014. She denied the prior child abuse as claimed by the boy’s father.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Victim Advocate Alma Arenas honored by the International Footprint Association for her commitment to victims of crime ‬

Alma Arenas is a Victim Advocate at the Victorville District Attorney’s Office. She is mainly assigned to assist the victims and families of Homicides, Gang cases, High Profile cases, and Cold Cases. In assisting these victims and families, Alma keeps them updated after each court date and patiently explains the criminal prosecution process. She also provides support to these victims and families when they attend the proceedings.

Recently, Alma assisted on a particularly challenging High-Profile Homicide case, the People vs. Christopher Lee. During the course of the of the case, Alma kept the family of the victim, Erin Corwin, updated after each court date and explained the process. And when time came for the trial, Alma traveled daily to San Bernardino, where the trial was held. Not only did she provide support to the family on an incredibly emotional case, but she also skillfully helped the grieving family avoid the probing questions of the media that consistently flooded the courtroom & court hallways. This was also a particularly lengthy trial; testimony lasted for about a month.

During that month, Alma also managed to continue to keep the families on her other cases updated as well. This meant daily running back to the Central DA’s Office during the lunch recess’ to make as many quick phone calls as possible. Her dedication was admirable.

Not only does Alma serve the victims and families she works with well, she is also a major asset to her fellow Advocates in the Victorville Victim Services Unit. It doesn’t matter if they need her to cover one of their cases, help brainstorm ideas on solving challenging situations, or cover the Victim Services reception desk. Alma is always there with a good attitude and willingness to help.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Charges filed against Ontario egg ranch

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.– The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office charged Hohberg's Poultry Ranches in Ontario today with 39 counts of violating the state’s Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.

In 2008, California voters passed the act, also known as Proposition 2, with 63.5 percent support which requires that an egg-laying hen must be able to fully spread her wings without touching another animal or side of the enclosure.

In addition to the Proposition 2 violations, Hohberg's Poultry Ranches was charged with 16 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty under Penal Code 597(b).

According to Deputy District Attorney Debbie Ploghaus, who oversees the Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit, the animal cruelty charges stem from a Jan. 2016 report to Inland Valley Humane Society that chickens at the location were being kept in “inhumane” and “deplorable” conditions.

As a result of an investigation conducted by Inland Valley Humane Society and Ontario Police Department a warrant was served and executed at Hohberg's Poultry Ranches on Feb. 20, 2016.

During the execution of the search warrant, investigators from the District Attorney’s Animal Cruelty Prosecution Unit, Ontario Police Department, The Humane Society of the United States, and Inland Valley Humane Society found birds in overcrowded cages in which the birds were not able to fully spread their wings.

“Upon serving the search warrant, we found approximately 28,800 hens in unsanitary conditions that clearly violated the Farm Animal Cruelty Act,” said Ploghaus. “In some instances, we found dead hens decaying in the same cages beside living hens laying eggs for human consumption.”

Robert Hohberg, the 70-year-old owner of Hohberg's Poultry Ranches, is scheduled to appear in court March 7, 2017. If convicted as charged, he faces up to a maximum of 180 days in County Jail for each cage size violation and a year for each animal cruelty count.

“While we are obviously concerned about the health of our citizens, at the end of the day, we also have a lawful obligation to ensure that animals in our county are being treated humanely,” said District Attorney Mike Ramos. “The overcrowded conditions these animals were forced to live in were cruel. It was a horrible existence.”

Monday, January 23, 2017

2016 Human Trafficking Stats

The Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit will attack the problem of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation head-on by prosecuting the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.
The District Attorney's Office is also a part of the countywide Human Trafficking Task Force which is comprised of investigators and detectives from our office and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Child molester sentenced to 40 years to life in state prison

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  A judge imposed the maximum possible term of 40 years to life in prison Tuesday on a Barstow child molester who was found guilty of sodomy and other sex crimes.

“I hope that the maximum sentence will make him really think about what he did to me so that one day he will admit to it,” the victim, now 11, told Judge John Tomberlin at the sentencing hearing for Charles Caldon. “And I hope that other people will hear my story and it will give them the courage to stand up and tell someone about what is happening to them so that they can find themselves standing where I am today.”

Caldon, 69, was found guilty by a jury on Nov. 16 of sodomy with a child under age 11, and oral copulation and sexual penetration with a child under age 11. The crimes for which he was convicted occurred in 2013 and 2014, but the victim testified at trial that the defendant had begun molesting her earlier, when she turned 5.

“This was a terrible series of crimes in which the defendant took advantage of a position of trust to sexually abuse this young girl,” said Deputy District Attorney David Foy, who prosecuted the case.

The victim disclosed the sexual abuse in 2014 to her parents, who called San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies to investigate, and later arrested the defendant. Sexual images of children were found on a computer in the Defendant’s home that was recovered during a search by sheriff’s deputies.

The victim told the judge that she appreciated the fact that many of her mom and many other family members believed her account of the sexual abuse. She also thanked sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors for believing her, as well.

“I want to thank everyone who has supported me and believed me during this incredibly difficult time so that no little girl should ever have to go through,” she said. “And while what happened to me will always be a part of me, I will not let it define me.”