Friday, April 27, 2018

Man who stabs and kills wife sentenced to prison

A San Bernardino man who stabbed and killed his wife was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison today.

In Nov. 2017, a jury found 56-year-old Duane Magee (pictured left) guilty of Second Degree Murder and found true a knife allegation. The charges stem from a Sept. 2012 incident in which the defendant stabbed his wife 24 times because they were having marital problems.

According to Deputy District Attorney Melissa Monrreal, who prosecuted the case, Magee called 911 dispatch after stabbing his wife and told them he had just killed his wife because she was cheating on him.

“When asked whether the victim was dead, the defendant responded, ‘I’m hoping she’s dead,’” said Deputy DA Monrreal. 

Second gang member in murder case sentenced to life in prison

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Pomona gang member was sentenced today to 200 years to life in prison for his role in the killing of 20-year-old Nestor Miranda of Montclair.

In December, a jury found 28-year-old Sergio Vidrio (pictured left) of Pomona, guilty of one count of Murder, one count of Attempted Murder, one felony count of Shooting at an Occupied Motor Vehicle, and one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Felon with Priors. The jury also found true multiple gun allegations as well as one Street Gang Terrorism allegation.

In December, a separate jury found 29-year-old Oscar Lopez (pictured below) guilty of the same charges and allegations. Lopez was sentenced to 151 years to life on Jan. 19, 2018.

The charges stem from a 2014 incident in which both defendants pulled up alongside another vehicle and asked the occupants: “Where you guys from?” Vidrio and Lopez, who were both wearing dark-colored bandanas covering their mouths and black gloves, immediately started shooting—killing Miranda and missing the other occupant of the vehicle.

This case was prosecuted by DDA David Collins and the West Valley Gang Unit and investigated by the Montclair Police Department, Ontario Police Department, and the Pomona Police Department.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Two defendants who murdered a Phelan man convicted

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Two men who lured a 58-year-old Phelan man from his motorhome to rob him have been convicted.
This case was tried to two juries simultaneously. On Wednesday, a jury found Jacob Bock (pictured left) guilty of Murder, First Degree Residential Robbery and First Degree Burglary, Person Present and found true one gun allegation. On April 4, a separate jury found Kyle Comrie (pictured below) guilty of Murder, First Degree Residential Robbery and First Degree Burglary, Person Present.

The crime dates back to 2015, when both defendants conspired to lure 58-year-old Louis Merrigan from his motorhome with the intent of robbing him.

According to Deputy District Kevin Christensen, who prosecuted the case, one defendant approached the motorhome and lured the victim out under the ruse of needing to use his cell phone because he crashed on his ATV. 

“Hiding in the shadows was the other defendant who initiated a violent attack with a baseball bat,” said Deputy District Attorney Christensen. “A handoff occurred allowing the other defendant to participate in the beating.”

After pummeling the victim for some time, the two defendants ransacked the motorhome and stole numerous items that included the victim's .22 rifle. As they were setting out to leave the property, Bock decided that he could not leave any witnesses behind, so he returned to the victim lying on the ground and shot him one time in the head.  

Ultimately, the investigation—which was overseen by Sergeant Mike Flores of the Victor Valley Sheriff Station—led to both defendants who confessed to the crimes. 

Bock faces 81 years to life and Comrie faces 25 years to life. Both men are scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Convicted child molester sentenced to 110 years in prison

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.  – A San Bernardino man who sexually assaulted a 13-year-old victim in 2012 was sentenced Friday to 110 years in state prison for multiple counts.

On Feb. 26, a jury found 53-year-old Stanley Williams (pictured left) guilty of four felony counts of Lewd Act Upon a Child and one count of Unlawful Sexual Intercourse.

In 2012, the 13-year-old victim was living with her family at an apartment complex in San Bernardino. Later that year, the defendant—a convicted sex offender—moved into the same complex and asked the victim’s parents if the victim could come over periodically to clean his apartment in exchange for a few dollars and the family agreed.

According to Deputy District Attorney Alicia Long, who prosecuted the case, during this time, the defendant began grooming the victim.

“He started off by holding hands with the victim and telling her that he loved her,” said Deputy District Attorney Long. “His conduct escalated from there. The defendant convinced the victim that they were in a loving relationship and that he was her boyfriend.”

In 2013, the victim’s mother discovered inappropriate Facebook messages between Williams and the victim. The victim’s mother confronted the defendant and called the police. Williams was arrested by officers with the San Bernardino Police Department and later charged.

While the case was pending, the defendant went through numerous attorneys, sending letters to the victim and attempting to arrange for others to dissuade her from testifying.  

For the past five years the victim’s family appeared at nearly every court date waiting for justice for their daughter,” said Deputy District Attorney Long. “At trial, the victim showed great strength and courage in her testimony. Thanks to her resilience on the stand, this predator will never be able to hurt another child.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ontario man sentenced following prostitution sting conviction

A 42-year-old man was convicted Tuesday of attempting to pay for sexual acts during an undercover prostitution sting.

Defendant Poshen Wu was convicted of one misdemeanor count of Soliciting, Engaging or Agreeing to Engage in Prostitution by Providing Compensation.

During trial, it was noted that the defendant was searching on and decided to contact a prostitute for the “full experience.”

On the initial phone call he gave his name as "John" and arranged for the “full experience" at $100 for 30 minutes.

According to Deputy District Attorney Allison Fung, who prosecuted the case, once the defendant arrived at the correct hotel room, he wasted no time and leaped into the undercover deputy’s arms in an attempt to start the “full experience” by kissing her as soon as he walked into the room.

Wu was sentenced to 30 days in County Jail and 3 years of probation.

At last week’s California Hazardous Materials Investigators Association (CHMIA) annual conference Senior Investigator Steve Rivera (pictured above far left) was elected to the CHMIA Board as a regional director.
Steve has become well known in the field of environmental crimes. He has made a name for himself as a tenacious investigator and is well respected amongst his peers. His duties as a board member will include representation of the inland region which includes San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and Imperial County. He will be responsible for bringing and facilitating related trainings to our region.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Defendant convicted of fatally shooting two men at a Fontana park

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Fontana man was convicted Friday of shooting and murdering two men at a park in Fontana.

A jury found 22-year-old Roberto Colon (pictured left) guilty of two counts of murder. Victor Hernandez, 22, of Pomona, and Robert Ruiz, 22, of Upland, were both killed in the 2016 incident.

Colon faces 100 years to life in state prison when sentenced May 11, 2018 in Dept. R-4, Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court. 

In Dec. 2016, Colon found out that his girlfriend was contacted by an ex-boyfriend on social media, so he decided to confront the ex-boyfriend about the messages. The ex-boyfriend and the defendant didn’t know each other but they both sold drugs. Colon decided to set up a drug deal as a ruse to have a face-to-face meeting with the ex-boyfriend. 

According to Deputy District Attorney Cassandra Helmuth, who prosecuted the case, the defendants contacted the ex-boyfriend on the social media app, Snapchat, using an assumed identity and asked to purchase some cocaine. The ex-boyfriend agreed to sell the defendant one ounce of cocaine for $1,000.  

The following evening, the defendant went to the pre-arranged location with only $40 and a loaded gun, but the ex-boyfriend had arranged to have his friend, Victor Hernandez, sell the drugs. When Hernandez arrived, along with his friend, Robert Ruiz, Colon got into the backseat of their car.

“Four minutes later, the defendant pulled out his weapon and shot Ruiz in the back of the head and then turned to the driver and fired his weapon,” Deputy District Attorney Helmuth said. “Hernandez ducked down so the first shot missed. But the defendant fired again and hit the victim in the back of the head.”
This case was investigated by the Fontana Police Department.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Supervising DA Investigator Carlos Flores Recognized by Ontario Reign

Supervising District Attorney Investigator Carlos Flores was recognized by the Ontario Reign Friday as a Hero of the Night for his dedicated work in the area of fighting Human Trafficking. Carlos was a founding member of the San Bernardino County Human Trafficking Task Force.

Defendant who sexually abused 2 Chino children convicted of multiple counts, faces 140 years in state prison

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – A Perris man who sexually abused two small children over several years was convicted Thursday.

Alberto Chavez, 29, was convicted of 1 Felony count of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child – Sodomy, 2 felony counts of Sexual Intercourse or Sodomy with Child 10 years old or Younger, 3 felony counts of Oral Copulation or Sexual Penetration with Child 10 Years Old or Younger, and 2 felony counts of Lewd Act Upon a Child.

He faces a maximum of 140 years in state prison at his sentencing June 1, 2018, in Dept. R-14, Rancho Cucamonga Superior Court.

According to Deputy District Attorney Brieann Durose, who prosecuted the case, the abuse took place over the course of an eight-year span in Chino and Perris.

The Amendment

Victim Advocates and staff from the Desert-Mountain Division attended a screening last week of "The Amendment" in honor of Victims' Rights Week. "The Amendment" is the true story of Brooks Douglass who survived, along with his sister, an unthinkable attack in his youth that claimed the lives of his parents.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Crimes Against Children Prosecutor Maryanne Choi honored for her work

Deputy District Attorney Maryanne Choi was recognized last week at the 20th Annual “Shine a Light” on Child Abuse Awards Breakfast for her dedication and commitment as a Crimes Against Children prosecutor. The annual event, hosted by Children’s Network, is held in April as a kick-off for Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month.

Deputy District Attorney Maryanne Choi is assigned to the West Valley Division Family Violence Unit, where she specializes in the prosecution of felony crimes against children. She has been prosecuting Crimes Against Children cases for the past 9 years and has been a Deputy District Attorney since 2001.

As a Crimes Against Children Unit prosecutor she handles both physical abuse and sexual abuse cases. These are some of the hardest cases for a prosecutor to handle. There are some very horrific crimes. Most often the perpetrator of the crime is a family member or friend. The children in these cases are particularly vulnerable and need the help of a caring and dedicated prosecutor to navigate what can be an extremely daunting process. 

Deputy District Attorney Choi does an excellent of job of building rapport with the survivors of abuse so that they feel comfortable in what can seem like a hostile environment.

“Maryanne does an outstanding job of not only obtaining justice for child victims, but also protecting them from being further traumatized by the criminal justice process,” said Supervising Deputy District Attorney Bobbie Mann, who oversees the Family Violence Unit. “Prosecuting these emotionally difficult cases for so long takes a truly special and dedicated person. Maryanne is that person.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mother of murder victim gives victim impact statement at killer’s sentencing

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Prior to the sentencing of an Adelanto man who killed Bennett Warner after slamming his vehicle into him and pinning him against another vehicle, the victim’s mother, Vickie Turman, was present in court. The following victim impact statement was made to the court (excerpted):

Let me start with, I don’t think a parent should outlive any of their children. In 2017, you took my only son. He was 40 years old. My son Bennett… had a heart of gold. If he liked you, he would do anything for you. When he would call me, when I answered the phone, he would say, “Hello Mother.” I will never hear him say those words again. My son liked everyone he met and tried to help everyone he met. When I first heard my son was killed, I wanted to hate you, but I can’t. To hate someone takes a lot of work. I don’t think you are worth it. My wish is that for the rest of your life, however long that may be, that you have to think about what you did to my son. I wonder if now, or if ever, you will feel remorse for what you did… I feel bad for your family, because in a sense they too have lost a son. The big difference is they can talk to you on the phone or visit you in prison. When I talk to my son or visit, he is in a box. No matter what he did, or what you think he did, my son did not deserve what you did to him. You killed part of my very soul when you killed him. Rest in peace my precious son, Bennett. I love you.

In May 2017, 40-year-old Bennett Warner was riding his bicycle when he was struck by 23-year-old Raymundo Alberto Rodriguez-Cordova. Video surveillance and testimony presented at trial determined Rodriguez-Cordova accelerated his vehicle, and intentionally rammed Warner with his pick-up truck, pinning him into a parked vehicle.

In Nov. 2017, a jury found Rodriguez-Cordova guilty of murder. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Friday. This case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Casey Cunningham with the assistance of Victim Advocate Denise Hanes and Desert-Mountain Division support staff.

Monday, April 9, 2018

District Attorney Ramos announces formation of Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit


SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – District Attorney Michael Ramos joined a crowd of 200-plus victims of crime, law and justice members and community leaders today in the Board Chambers at the San Bernardino County Government Center to commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. After paying tribute to crime victims, District Attorney Ramos announced the creation of the Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit.

About Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit

Public safety is of paramount importance to me as your District Attorney. Prosecuting criminals to the fullest extent of the law is what we do every day to obtain justice for victims, punish offenders, and deter others from committing crimes. However, public safety is also achieved if we can prevent a crime from occurring in the first place. The District Attorney’s Office is in a unique position to provide leadership in the community through crime prevention programs, intervention programs for appropriate low-level offenders, and community support programs.

We currently have many such programs in place, including Let’s End Truancy to encourage children to stay in school, Camp Good Grief to help support children of homicide/suicide victims, the Parent Project to teach parenting skills to parents of at-risk youth, the Gang Reduction and Intervention Partnership (GRIP) to immunize our elementary school students against gangs and drugs, Girls Court to give girls in the juvenile justice system the skills to get their lives back on track, RISE (Rehabilitation, Intervention, Support & Education) diversion program for first-time low level misdemeanor offenders, the Mock Trial Program to improve our high school students’ communication skills and understanding of our justice system, Veteran’s Court to address the special needs of our veterans who are in the criminal justice system, Mental Health Court to provide appropriate treatment for mentally ill non-violent offenders, and Drug Court to help rehabilitate non-violent drug addicts and thereby reduce drug-driven crimes.

As District Attorney, I recognize the importance of these programs to our public safety mission, and the need for a more coordinated county-wide approach to crime prevention and intervention, which leverages the resources of all our county law and justice agencies and the community. We will continue to ensure that we in the District Attorney’s Office are doing everything possible to not only prosecute crime, but to prevent crime. To help us accomplish these goals, I am proud to announce the creation of the Crime Prevention and Intervention Unit.

The Unit will consist of a team of seven prosecutors and support staff dedicated to reducing crime through prevention and intervention efforts, and working collaboratively with our criminal justice partners. The Unit will take a four-pronged approach to crime prevention:

Prevent our children from dropping out of school and falling prey to the criminal lifestyle, by significantly expanding our Let’s End Truancy Unit. Expand prosecutor participation in at-risk youth programs sponsored by our county law and justice partners. Studies show that 82% of incarcerated adults are high school dropouts, and raising graduation rates by 10% will reduce violent crime in our communities by 20%.

Divert low-level first-time misdemeanor offenders out of the criminal justice system and into short-term rehabilitation programs to quickly get them back on track and avoid serious negative impact to their futures. Studies show a higher success rate from this type of early positive intervention.

Support intensive court-assisted long-term rehabilitation and intervention programs, in coordination with our law enforcement and county behavioral health partners, for drug-addicted and mentally ill non-violent offenders. We must leverage our county and community resources to stop the revolving door of repeated drug-driven and mental illness-driven crimes.

Provide increased leadership and expertise to county and community partnerships that work to accomplish crime prevention goals including the San Bernardino County Gangs and Drugs Task Force, San Bernardino County Re-Entry Collaborative, San Bernardino County Treatment Court Steering Committee, San Bernardino County Behavioral Health & Criminal Justice Consensus Committee, and San Bernardino County Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council.

Together the District Attorney’s Office will continue our leadership role in the criminal justice system and help prevent crimes from occurring in our community.

Monday, April 2, 2018

District Attorney's Office Co-hosts DUI Court in School Project

Supervising Deputy DA Jill Gregory and Deputy DA Don Pezza participated in a DUI Court in School Project last week at Don Lugo High School in Chino.

The DUI Court in School Project, which is a collaboration between the District Attorney’s Office and the Department of Public Health, is designed to provide a lesson to young people about the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol while experiencing the judicial process of a DUI criminal sentencing based on an actual case. 

“The program had a profound impact on the student audience because they heard and saw the facts and video from a real life DUI case involving a young adult defendant and severely-injured teenage victims,” said Pezza. “They watched as the young student defendant was sentenced to five years state prison by a judge and then handcuffed by a bailiff and led offstage."

The DUI Court in School Project is an innovative strategy for helping to prevent underage drinking and driving and to save lives. This project brings to the school campus auditorium a DUI criminal sentencing proceeding based on an actual case to help students understand the legal consequences and personal loss to the victims and their families when a DUI is committed. This message takes place before prom and graduation and hopefully it will resonate with the students and their parents.

"After the sentencing, a MADD victim representative talked about the impact drunk driving has made on her life and the entire auditorium was completely silent as they listened to her,” said Gregory, who played the role of judge. “The program allows the students to see some of the real-world consequences of a decision to drink and drive.”