Wednesday, October 30, 2019


Congratulations are in order for Deputy District Attorney Jack Juan of our Central Division in People v. Pierre (FSB18003148). 
In 2018, the Defendant went on a brazen crime spree, committing four robberies and two sexual assaults, in two locations over the span of about two hours.  The first two robberies occurred at an Ontario "Check n' Go," where he pretended to be a customer but then pulled out a firearm and robbed two employees at gunpoint for over $1500.00. 
Two hours later, he entered a massage parlor in Colton, where he again pretended to be a customer, but then pulled out a firearm and robbed two masseuses at gun point of hundreds of dollars.  He then sexually assaulted them one after the other at gun point.  The masseuses did not speak much English and mostly spoke Mandarin. 
At trial, the Defendant took the stand and admitted that he robbed these four women, however, denied that the gun was real and said the sex was "consensual" because the two women at the massage parlor were prostitutes who had offered him "two free dates."  If that didn't offend the jury enough, the Defendant further testified "there was no real difference between what happened in Ontario and what happened in Colton" and "the gun had nothing to do with whether this was consensual sex." 
Deputy District Attorney Jack Juan delivered a spectacular closing argument that convinced the jury to return guilty verdicts and true allegations in under one hour!  This career criminal and sexual predator is looking at "one-strike" sex offense sentencing and is facing approximately 63 years determinate plus 75 years to life.  He will have a long time to reflect on his words.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Family Violence Unit Victory

Let's extend a round of applause to Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Carrillo of the Family Violence Unit in our Central Division for her recent guilty verdicts in People v. Jorge Palomo.
Angered by 20 years of his sister-in-law, Ana Ramirez, living with the family and interfering in his relationship with his wife and children, Defendant Palomo had enough.
During the evening hours, Defendant Palomo patched the air vents in his home, set out two open propane tanks, severed the gas line to the stove and placed various weapons inside the home; including an axe, survival knife, spear/metal bar, and a sledgehammer. 
While Palomo's wife, Sonia Palomo, and sons were in a bedroom and his sister-in-law, Ana Ramirez, was reading on the couch, Defendant Palomo struck Ana 4 times with a double-headed axe.  The cuts to her neck were so deep they severed her carotid artery and jugular vein, and struck bone in the jaw and spine. 
Defendant Palomo then entered the bedroom where his wife, Sonia, and sons were, still holding the axe and a melee ensued wherein he attacked them with various weapons as they attempted to fight him off. 
Ultimately, Palomo cut one of his son's in the chest with the axe and also stabbed his wife in the chest with a knife.  The family was able to escape the room, only to find Ana dead on the couch and the home filled with the smell of gas.  Defendant Palomo had padlocked the doors closed.  Sonia and her sons had to break out the windows to the home to breathe and used the metal bar to pry open the door. 
Defendant Palomo was detained on scene and gave a statement where he admitted to killing Ana, however, denied any plan to kill his kids or wife. 
The defendant took the stand and testified that he just couldn't take his sister-in-law anymore, that he had been trying to evict her for years and she refused to leave.  Defendant Palomo maintained that he never intended to kill his wife and sons and suggested they attacked him when he entered the room and told them what he'd done to Ana. 
Defendant Palomo was found guilty of the murder of Ana Ramirez by using an axe, and guilty of attempt voluntary manslaughter of Sonia Palomo by using a knife.  The defendant faces 25 or 27 years-to-life in prison and will be sentenced on 11/8/19. 
A big THANK YOU also to Victim Advocate Jessica Cioli who worked tirelessly to ensure the family was supported and prepared throughout the process, and was essential in providing the moral support necessary to help the victims make it through several long and emotional days of testifying at trial. 
THANK YOU for your hard work in getting justice for these victims, Jennifer!



Thursday, October 17, 2019

Start of Morongo Unified Restorative Youth Court Program

The District Attorney's Office, in collaboration with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and Morongo Unified School District, is proud to announce the start of the Morongo Unified Restorative Youth Court Program for the 2019-2020 school year. 
The Morongo Unified Restorative Youth Court is a diversionary program specifically designed for students between the ages of 12-17 who have committed a qualifying misdemeanor or infraction or have violated a school rule.  Participation by all parties including the respondent is voluntary.  In Youth court, students will have an opportunity to act as court clerks, bailiffs, advocates for the community or the respondent or to be jurors. 
The purpose of Youth Court is to provide a forum for students to admit and explain their involvement in the crime or suspension referral, be judged by a jury of their peers, and to make amends to the community.  A jury of student volunteers will listen to the facts of the case, deliberate and create a disposition tailored to the respondent and to the facts of the case.  The jury will be able to sentence the respondent to jury duties, community service, counseling, anger management, written apologies, tutoring, attendance checks, and any other alternative in accordance with restorative justice goals.
Once the respondent has successfully completed the terms of his/her disposition, no criminal charges will be filed, and no school disciplinary action will occur. 
The Youth Court committee wishes to acknowledge and thank Ms. Mikki Cichocki, Program Specialist for San Bernardino City Unified School District for her assistance. 
If you have any additional questions, please contact Deputy Michael Sellers at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office at 760-366-4175 or Dr. Garrett Gruwell, Coordinator of Child Welfare and Attendance at Morongo Unified School District at 760-367-9191 x4360. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Cold Case Victory

Check out the article below regarding Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum's most recent cold case guilty verdict in People v. Virginia Backlund. 

Third defendant convicted of murder in 2011 slaying of Rancho Cucamonga woman

By BRIAN ROKOS | | The Press-Enterprise

PUBLISHED: September 29, 2019 at 3:55 pm | UPDATED: September 29, 2019 at 3:56 pm

A Beaumont resident has become the third person convicted of murder in the 2011 death of a Rancho Cucamonga woman whose body was found in a shallow grave in Yucaipa.
A San Bernardino County Superior Court jury on Monday, Sept. 23, found Virginia Marie Backlund, 29, guilty of murder and torture of a friend, Christine Jo “CJ” Kunstmann, 44. Backlund is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 20. A special circumstance of torture committed during a murder means she will be sentenced to life without parole.

Two others, Michael Angelo Perez, 42, and Deserae Lenore James, 28, were convicted of the same charges in 2018 and were sentenced to life without parole.

Kunstmann’s body was found July 15, 2011, under an oak tree off Edgar Canyon Road, about 200 yards northwest of Mile High Ranch Road on Yucaipa’s eastern edge. She had last been seen that May. Many people who knew Kunstmann immediately suspected Backlund, Perez and James.

But prosecutors believed they did not have enough evidence to charge them for almost four years. The trio were finally arrested in January 2015.
“It was almost the perfect murder. We had no DNA or cause of death,” Deputy District Attorney Denise Yoakum said in an interview after Backlund’s conviction.
But prosecutors learned from those who knew the quartet that Kunstmann was being abused by those friends, and prosecutors compared the statements that the suspects gave to law enforcement for inconsistencies that could be used in trials, Yoakum said.

The four had known each other for years. Kunstmann suffered seizures and some of her friends described her as slow, Yoakum said.
“She was basically their taxi service. She would drive them to stores and babysit. She was desperate to belong to this group of friends,” Yoakum said, and they took advantage of her.

But then the friends turned against Kunstmann when they believed she was intentionally trying to crash her car in order to hurt them and their children, Yoakum said.
Before killing Kunstmann, they tortured her for three days in an apartment and kept her in a bathtub because of her weak bladder, Yoakum said.

Before burying her, they wiped down her body and her car with rubbing alcohol and bleached the bathtub, Yoakum said.
“It must have been a very painful and slow death for CJ,” she said.

Backlund’s attorney, Alan Spears, said he argued to the jury that Perez orchestrated the murder and manipulated Backlund and James, who Spears said is Perez’s girlfriend.
“It appears the jury did not believe the clinical psychologist’s testimony regarding battered women’s syndrome, but I do think the jury worked very hard in deliberating the case,” Spears said in an interview.

Thank you for your hard work, Denise!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Kudos to DDA Kathy Didonato

Defendant Walter Gonzalez Maravilla
Kudos to FVU lead Deputy District Attorney Kathy DiDonato for her great win in the case of People v. Walter Gonzalez Maravilla.  The Defendant was dating several women, including the victim, when the relationship to the victim came to an end.  The Defendant met the victim at a park.  While in the parking lot, the Defendant began brutally beating the victim in front of numerous witnesses, none of whom intervened.  The Defendant pulled the victim out of her car and beat her until she suffered a seizure.  He then moved the victim to a position under his own vehicle tires.  He drove over the victim, killing her.  The Defendant then conducted a three point turn and ran over the victim again.  The Defendant told police it was either going to be "me or her, and decided today it was going to be her." 

The jury did not take long to find the Defendant guilty, and were legitimately concerned about the Defendant ever being released.