Friday, October 30, 2015

Appellate Services Unit captures 24-year fugitive

It’s not often that a member of our Appellate Services Unit gets to capture a nearly 24-year fugitive from justice and have him be held accountable for his crimes. Thanks to the efforts of DDA Grace B. Parsons, Investigator Tim Day, and West Valley Division DDA David Collins, however, a convicted child molester was recently apprehended, sentenced to six years in prison, and ordered once again to register as a sex offender.

According to the facts to which the defendant stipulated when entering his plea, back in October of 1990, a 14-year-old female reported that her sister’s husband had sexually assaulted her approximately twice per week for the past two years, threatening to harm her and her sister if she told. 

When arrested, the defendant gave the name of Jose DeJesus Ibarra. He initially denied the allegations, claiming he only touched the victim on her rear end by accident. Upon further questioning, however, and after being played a tape recording of Ibarra talking to the victim on the telephone, which tape made clear Ibarra had indeed been molesting the victim, Ibarra admitted to fondling the victim on numerous occasions. Ibarra maintained the victim “wanted it.”

Jose DeJesus Ibarra was eventually charged, and in November 1990, he pleaded guilty to one count of committing a lewd act upon a child under the age of 14. In December 1990, Ibarra was placed on five years of supervised probation under several terms and conditions, to include he serve a 365-day jail term (with 66 days of credit). He was also ordered to register as a sex offender. 

In July and August of 1991, however, Ibarra failed to appear at the probation office after he was released from jail. Records show that in September of 1991, Probation visited Ibarra’s last known address and found his house vacant and padlocked, with a “for sale” sign on the lawn. Ibarra was violated on probation, and was not to be seen or heard from again—until nearly 24 years later, when he filed a motion to vacate his plea in May of 2015. 

In responding to the motion to vacate, DDA Parsons uncovered through state and federal records the fact that Ibarra’s true name was not Jose DeJesus Ibarra, as he had been prosecuted under, but was instead Calixto Topete Ibarra. 

DDA Parsons also discovered that Ibarra had violated his probation in 1991, and that an arrest warrant had been issued. After confirming with the Sheriff’s Department that the arrest warrant was still active, DDA Parsons asked for an investigator to be assigned to the case in order to locate Ibarra and have him apprehended. Investigator Tim Day of our Rancho Cucamonga office was assigned. Day used some good old fashioned police work to locate Ibarra, who was found living in Ontario with a new wife and several children. Day then arranged for the Ontario Police Department to arrest Ibarra. 

After receiving DDA Parsons’s opposition to Ibarra’s motion to vacate his plea, Ibarra’s counsel decided to withdraw Ibarra’s motion and asked to instead proceed on the probation violation. Ibarra was held on a no bail warrant, and now faced a three-, six-, or eight-year sentence. 

West Valley Division DDA David Collins was assigned to handle the Probation Violation hearing. Stressing the violent nature of Ibarra’s crimes, the two-year length of time Ibarra had molested his former wife’s young sister, and his failure to register as a sex offender for 24 years, DDA Collins asked the judge to sentence Ibarra to eight years in prison, while Ibarra’s attorney asked for the three years. Ibarra was sentenced to six years in state prison and his true name was also corrected on the record. He was again ordered to register as a sex offender.

Defendant in Redlands motel murder found guilty of 2nd degree murder

A 27-year-old Rialto man was convicted Friday for the brutal 2012 murder of a woman at a Redlands motel.

A jury found Kameron Hamilton (pictured left) guilty of second degree murder. The jury also found true an allegation that Hamilton used a knife in the commission of the offense.

The day of the murder, the defendant purchased a large butcher knife at the 99 Cent Only store in Redlands. Hamilton then arranged a date with the victim, who had been working as a prostitute out of a local motel.

After arranging the date, Hamilton put his two three-year-old children down for a nap and drove to the motel. Once there, he went to the victim’s room, where they agreed upon a price.

“At some point during the date, there was a dispute and the defendant demanded his money back,” said Deputy District Attorney Melissa Rodriguez, who prosecuted the case.  “During the dispute, the knife was produced and was eventually used on the victim.”
Despite having been stabbed, the victim was able to make it out the door, but she was pulled back into the room by the defendant, where he continued to stab her.

During trial, the defendant claimed it was actually the victim who produced the knife. He claimed the victim cut him one time on the arm and that he wrestled the knife away from her and stabbed her multiple times.
The victim was stabbed a total of 59 times, with multiple stab wounds in the back and skull. Hamilton faces 16 years to life when sentenced Dec. 2 at the San Bernardino Justice Center.

Victor Valley Footprinters Association recognizes Lead DDA Kathy DiDonato with Top Prosecutor Award

Lead DDA Kathy DiDonato (pictured left) receives
Victor Valley Footprinters Association Award
(photo courtesy of Miki Marhoefer)
Lead Deputy District Attorney Kathleen DiDonato is assigned to the Family Violence Unit in the Victorville Office.  She has been a prosecutor for over 14 years.  As the Lead Attorney, she handles the most serious cases in this unit, including the Major Crimes Against Children cases.  Ms. DiDonato lives in the high desert.  She is married and has one son, who is in college.

Recently, Ms. DiDonato has completed three back-to-back jury trials that were all very significant cases.  People v. Ellery Thomas was a case where the defendant was convicted of sexually assaulting his biological daughter over a five-month period.  The defendant was convicted and received 64 years, 8 months in prison.  The next trial was People v. Arthur Holmes.  This defendant was charged with second degree murder and child abuse causing death.  The defendant was the part-time boyfriend of the victim’s mother. 
The victim, a 9-month-old baby boy, died of shaken baby syndrome.  Despite the fact that this was a challenging case to prove who caused the injuries, Ms. DiDonato was able to obtain this conviction.  The defendant is awaiting sentencing and is expected to receive 25 years to life.    Ms. DiDonato also did the People v. Luis Sanchez trial.  This case received considerable media coverage.  The defendant was convicted of 29 counts of sexually assaulting his step-daughter, who was only 6 years old at the time that the molestation began.  The defendant received 366 years, 8 month to life for these crimes. 

Kathleen DiDonato shows incredible dedication to pursuing justice for our most vulnerable victims.  She is sensitive to the needs of the victims and has an excellent demeanor when working with small children.  She makes every effort to protect her victims and minimize the trauma while testifying.  She has a passion for these cases and she works diligently with law enforcement to make the strongest cases possible.  She has developed an expertise and frequently teaches on this topic at the Sheriff’s Academy, college classes, and domestic violence shelters.  Ms. DiDonato is an outstanding recipient of this award and she has certainly earned it! 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

In the News: Man gets 40 to life in baby's murder

By Staff reports (Victorville Daily Press)
Posted Oct. 9, 2015 at 4:34 PM   

VICTORVILLE — A 40-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 40 years to life in state prison for murdering his girlfriend’s 9-month-old baby in Hesperia eight years ago.

Judge Eric M. Nakata sentenced Arthur Lee Holmes for the murder of 9-month-old William Lacey after jurors found Holmes guilty in August of one count of second degree murder and one count of assault on a child causing death.

Deputy District Attorney Kathy DiDonato, who prosecuted the case, said the child died from blunt force head trauma with a skull fracture, bleeding of the brain and retinal hemorrhages.

“The pathologist testified that the injuries to the victim were consistent with injuries seen during car crashes where the victim is not in a safety seat properly,” DiDonato said in a statement released by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office. “These types of injuries are consistent with shaken baby impact.”

William’s grandfather, Charles Hill, read a victim impact statement in court.

“He was such a good baby,” Hill said in an excerpt of the statement provided by the DA. “He was just starting to walk around the coffee table, laughing and having a good time. William and his sister would have such a good time playing peek-a-boo. I guess that’s gone now that he was taken away from us.”

According to previous Daily Press reports, Holmes was arrested Dec. 14, 2007 after authorities responded to a report of an unconscious baby in the 17400 block of Sequoia Avenue in Hesperia. San Bernardino County Sheriff's officials found William with a fractured skull and swollen brain.

William was pronounced dead at Loma Linda University Medical Center, officials said.

Investigators learned from the baby's mother, Kristina Blair, that Holmes and William were left alone together for about 20 to 30 minutes while Blair took a shower. Blair later found William breathing strangely and called 911, Sheriff's Sgt. Thomas Hutchins earlier testified.

Authorities said Holmes told multiple stories to investigators, including that he had no idea how Williams got hurt, that a computer fell on the baby's head, and finally that the infant hit his head on the kitchen counter when Holmes attempted to comfort him after the computer fell. Holmes also told investigators he kept the story from Blair because he was scared of losing her, according to Hutchins.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

DA Mike Ramos Responds to New York Times Editorial Board for Attack on Prosecutors Across America

On Sept. 29 and 30, 2015, The New York Times published two editorials suggesting there are “lots” of “dishonest prosecutors.” As a 30-year prosecutor and the current President-elect of the National District Attorneys Association, District Attorney Ramos felt compelled to speak out on behalf of his fellow prosecutors who work tirelessly to secure justice for victims.

New York Times Articles
The Prison Problem:
Dishonest Prosecutors, Lots of Them: