Mendocino County Today: November 27, 2013

by AVA News Service, November 27, 2013

AlBeltramiWE'VE POSTED the obligatory county press release “honoring” Beltrami with its usual rote “will be missed” (Hamburg), and “he will be greatly missed.” (CEO Angelo). Hamburg served as a supervisor for one-term while Beltrami was CAO back in the 1970s. He is sure to be missed by family and friends, but he had zero effect on the muddling ways of local government. Always a firm ally of the County's more retro political and social forces, Beltrami, an ordinary go-with-the-flow public bureaucrat, retired in 1989. It was no surprise that he then became point man for the Ukiah-based Employers Council, a collection of rightwing blowhards committed solely to adding to their little outback fortunes. The County's pro forma “honor” bestowed posthumously on Beltrami is fact free. The closest it gets to a fact was this sentence: “Mr. Beltrami returned as interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from 2006-2007 to manage a challenging transition in county government.” The only thing “challenging” about that period was that the Board of Supes went through four interim CEOs (including Beltrami) after the undistinguished CEO Jim Andersen quit Mendo to take a much higher paying Assistant CEO job in Sonoma County. Beltrami was one of the four, all grossly overpaid, all pretty much clock punchers, and all presiding over the County's ill-managed, bloated pre-crash bureaucracy, which has now been slashed by almost a third. (Funny that County residents haven't noticed that local government is a lot smaller.) The only accomplishment Beltrami could claim partial credit for while Interim CEO was figuring out how to get that big Supervisors pay raise that grasping former supervisors Smith and Colfax spent so much public time agitating for. (Beltrami rigged the advisory Supes pay panel so it wasn't covered by the Brown Act, and packed it with people certain to approve it.) Besides Hamburg, not one current senior staffer or board member had any experience with Beltrami during his long tenure as County CAO from 1964 to 1989, but we suppose crocodile tears are mandatory in the context, and we're all giants in Lilliput.

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CHRIS ROBERTS writing in the SF Weekly: “A few years ago, we ran into trouble with Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman (who is the only man we've ever seen enjoying a music festival — at Wavy Gravy's Hog Farm, no less — with a pistol clipped to his belt). Allman, who achieved fame — and then infamy, with the United States Justice Department — for charging growers to license their marijuana plants with zip-ties, was quoted in an SF Weekly story as saying that the only two industries in Mendocino County are “government and weed.” The sheriff denied saying ever saying such a thing. But evidently, the statement is a true fact — according to another police officer, over half of Mendocino County's jobs stem from the “less-than-legal” cannabis industry. That revelation comes courtesy of Rich Russell, who heads up the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force…”

TO A COP, everyone's a crook or a latent crook, which is a fairly safe generalization about our fine, fat conniving population, but who can even begin to put any kind of number on any part of the pot biz in Mendocino County? Allman's remark, if he made it, seems about right, especially if government includes all the people drawing Social Security and other forms of government benefits. There are certainly lots of Mendo people in the pot business, and there are certainly lots of people in government including school employment. No denying that. But half in the dope biz? Sounds high. (sic)

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HERE’S WHAT’S ACTUALLY GOING ON. The Federal Reserve can only pretend to have any option besides force-feeding “money” into Wall Street as if it were a Strasbourg Goose with Crohn’s disease. What passes through the goose is a vile toxic substance called malinvestment, which turns the energies of society into activities that produce nothing of value, like hedge fund employee bonuses, NSA operations, Tesla car promotion, Frank Gehry condo towers, drone strikes against Afghani wedding parties, Obama photo ops, inflated auction prices of oil paintings, and Barney’s new Jay-Z holiday fashion collection. (— James Kunstler)

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JIM TAT KONG and Cindy Bao Feng Chen were found dead in the van they apparently drove up here from the Bay Area. They and their van was found near the old bark dump gate off Highway 20 near Fort Bragg back on October 17th. They had been shot in the head. There may be an organized crime component, Asian Division, but so far all the Mendo Sheriff's Department will say is “The case is progressing well, but at this time we cannot release any further information so as to not jeopardize ongoing investigations.” Investigations. Plural. Which seems to mean, if we're reading the tea leaves correctly, federal agencies are also involved.

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PVSculptureSOMEONE, OR SEVERAL SOMEONES, has stolen Mendocino County's premier piece of public art, the oft vandalized, 12-foot Potter Valley cowboy wood sculpture. Skillfully rendered by Noel Hale, an artist and retired mathematician who carved the statue in 1988 to memorialize a well-known Potter Valley cowboy. The cowboy had been placed at the rodeo grounds where vandals shot it and decapitated Cowboy. Hale had it moved to his home in central PV where it blew over in Potter's recent big winds, and someone carted it off.

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CHEAP SHOT FROM SEIU in a recent leaflet featuring unflattering photos of County CEO Carmel Angelo and her assistant, Kyle Knopp, both of whom are large, very large. It's like some overpaid someone at SEIU read a Cliff Notes version of Alinsky's “Rules for Radicals” and several generations later, all the new generation of so-called labor organizers can remember is that they are supposed to pick a target and demonize them, but without knowing how that fits into a larger strategy. By attacking Angelo, who has the solid support of the Board, they are reinforcing the existing united front between the Board and County Admin. SEIU hasn't defined victory, but based on their childish tactics (more like antics) the masterminds running the SEIU think they are 'winning' in Mendo, although SEIU was in a position to declare victory with a rollback on the health insurance increase and a cash payment just before Christmas, but has chosen instead to deliver a lump of coal to its members this holiday season. “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” — Sun Tzu

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THE INDEFATIGABLE LAUREL KRAUSE, Fort Bragg's most active activist, was on her way south down Highway One, headed for SF International and Geneva, Switzerland, where the UN's Human Right's Committee would be taking up the Kent State Massacre of 1970 in which Laurel's sister Allison was shot and killed. The UN was taking up the Kent State murders on the 17th and 18th of October, and there Laurel was three days prior, six thousand dollars in plane tickets and hotel rooms in her purse, at the Albion Bridge construction snafu, stuck in a long line of traffic. Checking her handheld gizmo for the latest info, Laurel learned the conference had been put over until March of 2014 when she will again set forth for Geneva and, hopefully, a measure of justice for her murdered sister.

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WHOSE BODY? Stephen Pease, 57, restaurant owner from Roseville, last seen in Fort Bragg early this month? Erik Lamberg, 51, of LA last seen in Laytonville May 27? A body found in the sea off Gualala on Sunday may be one or the other of the missing men. Forensic investigations may tell us who by Wednesday. “There was nothing obvious on the body,” Captain Van Patten of the Mendocino County Sheriff's office said Tuesday. Recreational divers found the corpse in the ocean below cliffs just after noon Sunday, Van Patten said.

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UNIDENTIFIED BODY RECOVERED: Pacific Ocean near milemarker 3.89 S. Highway 1, Gualala — On November 23, 2013, at about 12:30pm, recreational divers were swimming in the Pacific Ocean near the shore in the area of milepost marker 3.89 South Highway 1, Gualala, when they located the floating body of a deceased person. The divers called the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. The Sonoma County Sheriff Helicopter (Henry 1), members of the South Coast Volunteer Fire Department, a California Highway Patrol Officer, and a California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden also responded to assist with the recovery of the decedent. The warden donned a wetsuit and swam out to the decedent and pulled him to the shore. Due to the height and steepness of the cliff it was not possible to carry the decedent up to the roadway. A Sonoma County Deputy Sheriff and a South Coast Firefighter were suspended under the helicopter and lowered to the decedent. They were able to place the decedent's remains in a litter and they were moved to an open field near the roadway with the helicopter. The male decedent appears to have been in the water for more than a few days and no identification was located. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is investigating the identity of the decedent at this time. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office wishes to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Highway Patrol, and South Coast Fire Department. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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Luna

Luna

ON NOVEMBER 25 at 1:30pm Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a suspicious situation in the 73000 block of Highway 162 in Covelo, California. While responding Deputies were notified a suspect had been rummaging inside of a parked vehicle when confronted by the vehicle's owner. The suspect, Steven Charles Luna, 33, of Covelo, then fled on foot while in possession of a yellow coin purse taken from inside the vehicle. Luna was detained a short distance away by Round Valley Tribal Police Officers. When Deputies arrived on scene they asked Luna for consent to search his person for weapons or drugs and he provided consent. During a search of his clothing two plastic baggies of suspected methamphetamine, weighing approximately 1.5 grams total, and a glass pipe used to smoke methamphetamine was found. Luna was booked into the Mendocino County Jail for possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and was to be held in lieu of $10,000.000 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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Justin, Van Slagle

Justin, Van Slagle

ON NOVEMBER 18, 2013 at about 9:10am Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a reported fight between two brothers at a residence located in the 23000 block of Primrose Avenue in Willits, California (Brooktrails subdivision). It was reported that one of the involved brothers had armed himself with a knife. Upon arrival the Deputies learned the altercation was the result of an argument between Justin Slagle, 40, of Willits, and Van Slagle, 35, of Willits. The argument specially focused on Justin being disrespectful to the pair’s mother. During the argument Justin armed himself with a knife, chased after Van and attempted to hit him with a metal detector. Justin was arrested for brandishing a weapon, assault with a deadly weapon and was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in lieu of $30,000.00 bail. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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POPE FRANCIS has warned of widespread social unrest, predicting that the inequality in the global economic system is bound to “explode in conflict.” In the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff, Francis attacked the “tyranny of capitalism,” warning that the injustice embedded in the structures of society would inevitably lead to “disintegration and death.” The 76-year-old pontiff called for an overhaul of the financial system in Western economies, which promotes “inordinate consumption” and “unbridled consumerism.” Francis has previously expressed his disdain for Western capitalism, calling for a more ethical banking system and curbs on financial speculation “As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems,” he wrote.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, builds on views the pontiff has aired since his election in March. “When a society — whether local, national or global — is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. Without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode.”

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MENTAL HEALTH FORUMS

• Mendocino County Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Forum for Adults and Older Adults Thursday, December 12, 2013 — The Mendocino County Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Forum for Adults and Older Adults will be Thursday, December 12, 2013 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. in Ukiah. The meeting will occur at Mendocino County Public Health Bldg., Conference Room 1, 1120 S. Dora St., Ukiah, CA 95482. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting to provide suggestions, ideas and feedback on the MHSA programs. Meeting agendas are published at: http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/hhsa/mhsa.htm . For further information, contact: Robin Meloche, MHSA Coordinator at 707-472-2332.

• Mendocino County Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Forum for Children and Families & Transitional Age Youth (TAY) Thursday, December 12, 2013 — The Mendocino County Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Forum for Children and Families & Transitional Age Youth (TAY) will be Thursday, December 12, 2013 from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Ukiah, at the Mendocino County Public Health Bldg., Conference Room 1, 1120 S. Dora St., Ukiah, CA. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the meeting to provide suggestions, ideas and feedback on the MHSA programs. Meeting agendas are published at: http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/hhsa/mhsa.htm For further information call: Robin Meloche, MHSA coordinator, at 707-472-2332. (County HHSA press release.)

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CRAZY VATOS DOS

by Bruce McEwen

Sanchez

Sanchez

Fort Bragg gangster Ivan Sanchez survived an effort to indict him on the attempted murder of his girlfriend last week. The indictment failed — not due to any impression of innocence Sanchez made on the judge, and not because of any defense talent on the part of his public defender, Louis Finch. Sanchez eluded the murder charge because his victim was too scared to testify against him.

Last week, we brought you the preliminary examination of Mr. Sanchez on a separate charge of assault with a deadly weapon on a rival gangster, Richie Olstad.

The term “gangster,” as applied to the people like Sanchez hardly conjures images of Al Capone, but it's the word Fort Bragg's low rent punks think applies to them.

During the prelim we learned that Sanchez has made a career out of assault, intimidation, threats and attacks on behalf of the Crazy Vatos Controlas, the southsiders-Sueño street gang in Fort Bragg. This week, we learned that Sanchez’s girlfriend has been used as a practice dummy for the tough guy to hone his assault skills on, those skills consisting of kicking, punching, slashing, stabbing unresisting persons.

The girlfriend was understandably afraid to confront lover man on the witness stand, and it took all day to find her and bring her to court. But the girlfriend's best friend and her little sister both testified against Sanchez, painting a picture of the savage abuse endured by the girlfriend.

The girlfriend's best friend testified that [the girlfriend] came to her house at about 7:30 the evening of August 26th. She was covered with blood, her face was swollen and bruised, and she was crying uncontrollably.

“She was a complete wreck,” the girlfriend's friend said.

“Did you ask her what happened?” Deputy DA Shannon Cox asked.

“I sort of knew what happened. ‘Did he do this to you?,’ I asked her, and she said yes. He had upset or hurt her many times before. This time she said he beat and kicked her and attacked her with a knife.”

“Who did she say did this to her?”

“Her boyfriend.”

“Did she tell you her boyfriend’s name?”

“No, she never would. But they’ve been together since she was 15 and everybody knows who he is.”

“Objection,” said defense counsel Lewis Finch of the Office of the Alternate Public Defender. “She has no personal knowledge that ‘everybody’ knows of the relationship.”

“Sustained,” said Judge John Behnke.

Ms. Cox asked, “How long did she say this attack lasted?”

“Over two hours,” the girlfriend's friend said. “She said she blacked out from being kicked in the head. I begged her to let me take her to the hospital, but she didn’t want to go. And when I finally convinced her to go, she didn’t want to tell the hospital staff what had happened to her.”

“Did you tell the staff what she had told you?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Then what happened?”

“The police came. They tried to talk to her, but she was pretty rude; she didn’t want to talk to them.”

“What did you do then?”

“We left the hospital after 1am and she stayed with me for a few days.”

“How was she doing?”

“Objection,” Finch said. “Relevance.”

“There’s an allegation of great bodily injury as an element of the charge,” Behnke noted, “which makes the victim’s well being relevant. The objection is overruled.”

“She was a wreck. Her face was swollen and bruised, her stitches had to be cleaned and the bandages changed every day. She cried all the time.”

“Nothing further,” Cox said.

Judge Behnke asked, “Cross exam, Mr. Finch?”

“Yes, briefly, your honor. How long have you known [the girlfriend]?”

“Since 2012.”

“Do you know how many guys she’s slept with since then?”

The public defender's gallantry on full display, and there being no objection to this insulting and wholly irrelevant question, the witness calmly considered it before she said, “Just Ivan.”

“She told you that?”

“Why, yes. She did.”

“And you see her every day…?”

“No, not every day.”

“Do you talk to her every day?”

“Yeah, we do talk every day.”

“And yet she did not tell you the name of the person who hurt her?”

“No. She didn’t have to.”

“Just a second,” Judge Behnke said. “Did she tell you it was Ivan?”

“No.”

Finch said, “When Officer Awad questioned you at the hospital, he said the boyfriend was trying to stab her, correct?”

“[The girlfriend] said he came at her with a knife and when she grabbed the blade, that’s how she injured her hand.”

“The officer told you that, correct?”

“I don’t remember the officer saying that.”

“But you did not witness the assault yourself, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Nothing further.”

Prosecutor Cox called Officer Christopher Awad of the Fort Bragg Police Department, a rookie with a year and a half on the force. He said he was dispatched to Chestnut Street on a report of a male dragging a bloody female in the street. When he got there he found a man named Tyler Baker who stated that Ivan Sanchez was the male dragging the bloody female.

Finch objected, saying this was inadmissible hearsay.

Judge Behnke corrected Finch by pointing out that under Proposition 115 the testimony of the officer repeating what a witness told him was admissible. Most laypersons know this fact of courtroom procedure, since it was voted into law by ordinary taxpayers to save on the expense of lengthy prelims.

Cox asked, “What did Tyler Baker say?”

Finch: “Objection.”

Behnke: “Overruled.”

Awad: “He said he saw Ivan Sanchez dragging a bloody female in the street.”

Cox: “Was Mr. Baker able to identify Ivan Sanchez?”

Awad: “Yes.”

Cox: “Are you familiar with Ivan Sanchez?”

Awad: “Yes. I’ve had numerous contacts with him in the course of my work.”

Cox: “Were you able to make contact with him in this case?”

Awad: “Yes, briefly, at first. I contacted him at his front door. He had something in his hand so I drew my weapon and ordered him out, at which point he stated ‘Fuck you’ and slammed the door. We were later able to speak with him through a window.”

“Did you explain why you wanted to contact him?”

“I did. He said nothing like that [the assault on his girlfriend] had happened.”

“How long after this did you respond to the Coast Hospital?”

“About an hour.”

“What did you find there?”

“[The girlfriend] was beat up pretty bad, but she was uncooperative with me, didn’t want to speak with me at all, in fact. She stated she had gotten hit but wouldn’t say by who.”

“Did you see [the girlfriend's friend]?”

“Yes.”

Ms. Cox showed Officer Awad some photographs of the girlfriend's friend. The officer confirmed that he had taken them. They were photos of a pretty young woman’s red, swollen face, and her gashed hand.

Cox: “Did [the girlfriend's friend] tell you who did this?”

Awad: “All she could tell me was that it was [the girlfriend]’s boyfriend. But I had talked to them [the girlfriend and her friend] together on other cases and they had told me then that they were boyfriend and girlfriend.”

Finch: “Objection. The testimony is vague; and how do we know any of this is in fact true.”

Behnke: “Your objection is overruled.”

Cox: “Did the doctor tell you anything about the injuries?”

Finch: “Objection. Calls for an expert opinion. The officer is not a medical expert.”

Behnke: “The officer doesn’t have to be an expert to relate what an emergency room physician told him. Overruled.”

Awad: “He said the victim had a concussion with multiple and extensive injuries consistent with being struck with a blunt object such as a fist or shoe. She also had lacerations on her hand and a laceration on her chest.”

Cox: “You also made contact with Jose Soria?”

Awad: “Yes. He said he saw a female running down the street and a male chasing her.”

Cox: “Did you make contact with Tyler Baker again?”

Awad: “Yes. He stated that when he first saw Ivan Sanchez and the female they were exchanging words, yelling, then he dragged her from the street and fled around a church. He said at first he was 85% sure it was Ivan Sanchez, but after he thought about it he was 100% sure. He was too far away to hear what they were saying, but they were yelling at each other.”

Cox: “Did you eventually serve Ivan Sanchez with a search warrant?”

Awad: “”Yes, on August 28th. There were other family members at the residence, his mother and his brother Mario, who was restraining a very aggressive pit bull. We found blood stains on a mattress that appeared to have been flipped over, along with a pair of shoes with similar stains and some cell phones.”

Finch: “I’m gonna have to object. The testimony calls for a scientific opinion.”

Behnke: “A lay person knows what blood looks like. Overruled.”

Cox: “Were samples of the suspected blood stains sent to the Department of Justice for analysis?”

Awad: “Yes. But we haven’t received the results at this time.”

Cox: “You found some shoes with stains?”

Finch: Objection, leading; that’s telling the witness what to say.”

Behnke: “No, it’s not. It’s restating the evidence. Overruled.”

Finch: “Okay, I’m gonna object as to relevance.”

Behnke: “That objection is also overruled.”

Cox: “When you served the search warrant, did you have an arrest warrant by any chance?”

Awad: “Yes, we did.”

Cox: “And, after his arrest, did you examine the defendant for any injuries?”

Awad: “Yes.”

Cox: “Did he have any injuries or marks on him?”

Awad: “No injuries. But he had a tattoo on his chest.”

Cox: “What was the tattoo?”

Awad: “It said, [the girlfriend’s name].”

Cox: “Nothing further.”

Behnke: “Cross, Mr. Finch?”

Finch: “No one identified the shoes you found as his — Ivan Sanchez’s — is that correct?”

Awad: “I believe so, yes.”

Finch: “And Tyler Baker said he thought it was Ivan Sanchez?”

Awad: “He stated he knew it was Ivan Sanchez.”

Finch: “That was changed after a bit, wasn’t it?”

Awad: “Yes, but I didn’t coerce him into changing 85% sure to 100% sure.”

Finch: “But you suggested it, didn’t you?

Awad: “No, I don’t recall doing that.”

Finch: “But you mentioned 100%?”

Awad: “I don’t recall it.”

Finch: “He wasn’t close enough to hear what was being yelled, correct?”

Awad: “Yes, that’s what he stated.”

Finch: “Did he [Baker] see him [Sanchez] strike her — did you ask if he saw him actually strike her in any way?”

Awad: “I don’t believe I asked that, no.”

Finch: “So what Baker saw was grabbing and pulling?”

Awad: “I’d say that was fair, yes. I believe he stated he saw him pulling her out of the road.”

The victim-witness, Sanchez’s girlfriend, still hadn’t been found, so a recess was called. It took better than three hours to locate her and bring her to court, but it would take a hundred years to get her to talk.

A few phonemes, those basic bits of language, not quite a full syllable, was about the best she could manage. For answers in the affirmative she uttered something that sounded like “pffft.” For negative responses, we heard something like, “nuh.”

These primitive sounds nevertheless got us to understand that the witness lived in Fort Bragg, worked at Safeway and was friends with the girlfriend's friend.

“I’m having trouble hearing you,” Judge Behnke finally interrupted. “You may not wish to be here, but you were served with a subpoena and you have to answer the questions you are asked.”

The girlfriend seemed to understand.

Cox said, “You know where [the girlfriend's friend] lives. Did you go to her house on August 26th the day you were injured?”

After a long pause, [the girlfriend] answered: “Yeah.”

“What was injured?”

“I was cut.”

“Were you bleeding?”

“Yes.”

“Where?”

“My hand.”

“Were there any injuries to your face?”

Silence.

“Did you have any injuries to your face?”

After a worried glance at the judge: “Yeah.”

“Were you in any pain?”

“No.”

“Were you crying?”

“No.”

“Did [the girlfriend's friend] take you to the hospital?”

“Yeah. I had a catscan.”

“Did they give you any medications to take?”

“Yeah.”

“Did the doctors do anything to your hand?”

“Yeah, they stitched it up.”

“Do you remember telling [the girlfriend's friend] what happened to you?”

“No! I don’t remember.”

“Do you remember the police officers coming to the hospital?”

“Yeah.”

“Was [the girlfriend's friend] still there?”

“Yeah.”

“Did Officer Awad ask you what happened?”

“Yeah.”

“Where were you before you went to [the girlfriend's friend]’s house?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you know where Ivan Sanchez lives?”

“Yeah.”

“Were you there?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Do you remember how your injuries happened?”

“No, I don’t remember.”

“Had you been with Ivan Sanchez that day?”

Silence.

“Had you seen Ivan Sanchez that day at all?”

“I don’t remember.”

“You stated you had been bleeding — why was that?”

“I had an open cut.”

“How did that happen?”

“I don’t recall.”

“Were you there when [the girlfriend's friend] told Officer Awad that it was done by your boyfriend?”

“Objection. Leading the witness.”

“Trying to refresh her memory is not leading. Overruled.”

“Do you remember telling [the girlfriend's friend] that he attacked you with a knife?”

“No! I didn’t say that!”

“Do you remember telling [the girlfriend's friend] that he kicked you in the head?”

“No. I didn’t say that.”

Behnke asked for clarification, “You didn’t say it, or it didn’t happen — which is it?”

“It didn’t happen.”

“Did you black out?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Did you want to cooperate with the police?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Did your sister talk to you about this incident?”

“No.”

“Did you tell your sister it was Ivan who did it?”

“No!”

“Did you come here today because you were ordered?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you want to come?”

“No.”

“Remember being in the street all bloody?”

“No.”

“Remember Ivan Sanchez?”

“No.”

“Were you with him that day?”

“Objection.”

“Overruled.”

“I don’t remember.”

“Cross exam, Mr. Finch?”

“We have no questions,” Finch smiled.

Judge Behnke frowned as Deputy DA Cox escorted her witness out and brought in the victim’s sister only 19, but considerably braver than her older sibling. She said Ivan Sanchez was definitely her sister’s boyfriend, and she became aware that her sister had been injured when Officer Awad called her and told her what had happened.

“First he asked me who her boyfriend was,” the sister said.

“Did you ask Ivan about what happened?”

“Yes. At first he wouldn’t tell me much, but later said he had only pushed her. He wanted to know if she was okay.”

“Had he been with her that night?”

“Yes, he was with her. They had been—”

“Objection.”

“Overruled.”

“Did you ask if he’d fought with her?”

“Same objection.”

“Same ruling; overruled.”

“He said she’d beat herself up.”

“Did you later have a conversation with your sister?”

“Yes.”

“She wanted to talk with you about it?”

“Not in full detail, but she said he beat her up and held a knife to her throat. She got away and held on to some lady who ran away and she fell on the ground.”

She said it was Ivan Sanchez?”

“Yes.”

“Cross?”

“Briefly. You had three separate conversations with your sister about this?”

“Yes.”

“Where was the first?”

“In my room at my house.”

“How long did you talk?”

“About an hour.”

“And the second conversation?”

“That was the day [the girlfriend's friend] came with her, three or four days after.”

“[The girlfriend's friend] was there?”

“No, not in my room; she wasn’t present at any of the conversations I had with [the girlfriend].”

“Nothing further.”

Prosecution was ready to rest, but Deputy DA Cox realized the attempted murder would never stand without the victim’s testimony, so she told the court the People would be reducing the charge to assault with a deadly weapon resulting in great bodily injury, even though the unconsciousness claimed by the victim was ambiguous and her stitches not extensive. The statute, Cox said, meant the injuries only had to be more than mild or causing more than moderate harm. She also pointed out that this depressing episode occurred while the defendant was out on bail in another assault case.

Finch tried to argue that the injuries were not serious, the sutures not extensive, but the judge granted the holding order on the assault with a deadly weapon, and the special allegation that the injuries were great.

The girlfriend knows her boyfriend can order her death from a prison cell through the gang network. That’s why prisoners in the SHU at Pelican Bay are never let out of solitary confinement even if they go on hunger strikes. Judge Behnke seemed to know as much himself, although there wasn't much more he could do to save the girlfriend from herself.

One Response to Mendocino County Today: November 27, 2013

  1. june Reply

    November 27, 2013 at 10:25 am

    thank you for these enlightening courtroom episodes. when i was living in fort bragg, the laundromat on oak st. was where i got my education about lowlife behavior and realized the whole town is infected with fear, ignorance and violence.

    are these crazy pathetic people also parents?

    i’m a 69 year old white grandma and the ’emerald triangle’ s decent into anarchy is too painful to watch.
    my landlady told me she was afraid of ‘retribution’ from the neighbors if she or i complained about the constantly barking dog – i moved on, i don’t do intimidation.

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