A HUSBAND AND WIFE are dead, and their 16-year-old son is still missing, after all three were swept out to sea Saturday afternoon in a tragically failed attempt to rescue the family dog. The accident happened between noon and 1pm at Big Lagoon some 32 miles north of Eureka around 12:40pm on Saturday. The family has not been identified. The dog swam back to shore none the worse for the macabre event.
CALTRANS has announced it's giving MTA (Mendocino Transit Authority) $174,708 to help “continue the Ukiah Valley Evening Bus Service,” which Caltrans describes as “a highly successful route which runs on 30-minute headways until 6pm weekdays. We want to make it easier for people to get to work,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “People who rely on transit will have more opportunities, and that's the point of a good transit system.”
IF THE IDEA is customer service, then why give MTA, a Ukiah-based public agency run by an incompetent named Bruce Richard, $174,708? MTA is already subsidized to the tune of about $12 per passenger to provide a “service” of almost zero utility to the people of Mendocino County because it runs at inconvenient times to anyone who has to get somewhere on time, like a job. Can you commute to Ukiah from anywhere in Mendocino County outside of Ukiah? No. Has Richard resolved Dirt Gate, the fiasco that saw tons of contaminated soil moved from MTA's headquarters on South State to the Ukiah Fairgrounds on North State only to be pronounced hazardous and moved again, at even greater expense, to distant landfills? All this earth moving cost MTA a lot of bus fares and remains unresolved.
WHAT MENDOCINO COUNTY really needs in the way of public transportation is a fleet of small buses or vans that depart every area of the County about 6:30am for Ukiah and returns from Ukiah at 5:30pm for the return trip to the vast Mendo outback.
ALL THE EARTH MOVING, incidentally, began when Richard and his palsy-walsy board of directors — the usual Mendo good government menaces like Richard Shoemaker and Jim Mastin, etc. — decided to build themselves a new MTA complex including bus barns and, naturally, a suite of offices for the agency's hard hitting leadership.
SODDEN THOUGHT DEPARTMENT. America would work better if every Monday morning everyone's job performance was critiqued like the previous week's football games. An NFL football player's work is evaluated from every conceivable angle by millions of people who give him zero benefit of the doubt. He either performs or looks for other work. What do you suppose video replays of, say, Bruce Richard at MTA, Paul Tichinin at the Mendocino County Office of Education, State Senator Wes Chesbro, the editors at the Press Democrat would show? Absolutely nothing! Nothing, I tell you! Present evidence of their job performances? Their work product. I rest my case. On tape, we'd see them taking long lunches with comparably dick-off local eminences. Back at the office they might answer a couple of phone calls (not job related). They'd have arrived at their work sites around 10am in taxpayer-provided automobiles. Their lunch hour starts at 11 and ends between 2 and 3, and then it's time to call it a work day. But a long a lunch and two phone calls for a hundred grand a year? That's what the replays would show us — that, and them gazing at their fancy computer screens, diligently cruising the web for, well, that's simply too awful to contemplate.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: “The reason I gave up cannabis in my early 20s is pretty much precisely this. I went from the point of really enjoying a joint in my teens to the point where it was my solace when I was down (which seemed to be more and more), to the point where smoking one would make me anxious, confused, extremely depressed; and with irrational feelings of dread and insecurity that were beginning to border on clinical paranoia. I spent some time trying to find different ‘brands’ but in the end I had an epiphany and stopped altogether.” (anon, on-line comment)
A READER WRITES: “Just read the latest on the coastal dope bust. Sounds like they were primarily brokers. I wonder if they'll roll on their suppliers? Nine years in the Kansas pen might give a rich ganja guy (or girl) pause. Of course, if they can get a change of venue to Mendocino, they'll all walk after two weeks in rehab.”
BIG CASES COMING UP In Mendocino County Court. By Tiffany Revelle — Court dates are scheduled in the next two weeks for nine defendants facing murder and attempted murder charges in six separate cases that are proceeding through the Mendocino County Superior Court.
RICHARD M. PERVIER & JOSHUA R. STREDWICK, both of Ukiah, were arrested in connection with a September stabbing at Denny's in Ukiah that left three Willits residents injured. The Ukiah Police Department on Sept. 1 arrested Stredwick, 32, on suspicion of attempted murder in the incident, and Pervier, also 32, remained at large until last week. Pervier is due in court at 1:30pm Tuesday to confirm or reschedule a 1:30pm preliminary hearing set for Dec. 4. The preliminary hearing is the district attorney's chance to make a case to the judge that there is enough evidence to try the defendants for the crimes. Stredwick is due in court at 8:30am Friday for arraignment -- where he will be informed of the charges against him -- and for a status conference. The charges stem from a Sept. 1 incident, when it was reported at 4:13am that three people had been stabbed at Denny's on Pomeroy Avenue. Officers responded and learned that two men, later identified as Stredwick and Pervier, entered the restaurant and walked up to a seated customer in the back, where one of the men reportedly began punching the man in the face repeatedly without provocation, the Ukiah Police Department stated previously. When the seated man's companions came to his aid, the second man allegedly pulled out a knife and repeatedly stabbed two of the victims. Stredwick and Pervier reportedly ran from the restaurant, and the three Willits residents were treated for their injuries at Ukiah Valley Medical Center, according to the UPD.
ALSO ON FRIDAY, WILLIAM H. CROCKER, an accused co-conspirator in a fatal shooting last summer at the Bushay Campground at Lake Mendocino, is due in court at 8:30am for a motion hearing. Crocker and Arone Schnebly, one of four men accused in the shooting, allegedly held guns on the group of people at a campsite in the July 20, 2011 incident when they got out of a car driven by Marvin D. Johnson, intending to rob the group of marijuana and cash, witnesses testified previously. According to witnesses, Crocker twice fired the pistol he wielded, killing Joseph E. Litteral, 40, of Willits, and injuring Brandon Haggett, 21, also of Willits. Johnson testified in June that Haggett came at Crocker when he and Schnebly held guns on the group, and that the fourth man, Simon Thornton, backed Crocker on Schnebly's orders. According to Johnson's testimony, Thornton swung his bat first on the back of Haggett's head and then on Litteral's arm, breaking it, when Litteral came to Haggett's aid. Johnson said he heard Crocker fire the pistol twice, and that Schnebly never fired the shotgun. Litteral and Haggett were both hit in the chest. A jury in June convicted Johnson and Thornton of first-degree murder and attempted murder on the premise that they aided and abetted in the crimes. The charges included a special allegation that the key perpetrators in the shooting were armed with guns. Johnson was sentenced to spend 25 years to life in prison; Thornton was sentenced to 34 years to life in prison.
JAIME A. ZAMBRANO, MARCOS VASQUEZ & JORGE ALVARADO, accused in the September stabbing of a Ukiah teen, are due in court at 9 a.m. Friday for a preliminary hearing. The UPD stated previously that the Sept. 20 incident, which left the 16-year-old boy severely injured, was gang-related. The incident reportedly started around 5:50pm, when several callers from the Vinewood Park area reported seeing a large fight and finding the teen stabbed in the 1600 block of Lockwood Drive, according to the UPD. The 16-year-old victim was air-lifted to a hospital out of the area, where he was reportedly in the hospital's intensive care unit for nearly a week before stabilizing. Witnesses reported seeing people chasing each other at the scene, some carrying weapons, and seeing a vehicle hit a curb as the driver tried to run a man down, according to the UPD. The teen victim was also reportedly seen trying to run into a house before he was overtaken by a group of people who allegedly threw him to the ground and attacked him. Another car picked up several people involved and drove away, and the teen was found lying in the entry way of the house he was trying to enter, stabbed and pleading for help, according to the UPD.
BILLY MORIAH NORBURY, 34, is due in court at 1:30pm Friday for sentencing after a jury in October convicted him of shooting and killing his Redwood Valley neighbor, Jamal Andrews, 30. The jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and a special allegation that he used a 30-30 Winchester rifle to kill Andrews on the night of Jan. 24. The same jury a week later found that Norbury was legally sane when he pulled the trigger, despite his attorney's entering a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea on his behalf. Andrews' live-in girlfriend, Amanda Mills, testified during the three-week trial that Norbury had twice visited the couple's home unannounced and after dark before the night of the shooting, the first time demanding that Andrews come outside, and apologizing the second time. Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster argued in court that Norbury killed Andrews because he mistakenly believed his estranged wife was having an affair with Andrews. During the sanity phase of the trial, psychologist Dr. John Podboy testified for the defense that he had diagnosed Norbury with paranoid schizophrenia, and psychiatrist Dr. Donald Apostle testified for the prosecution that Norbury's mental disorder was a “paranoid, persecutory delusionary system” that didn't rise to the level of legal insanity. Norbury's friends and family testified in court for the defense that they had witnessed the defendant's delusions and hallucinations in the months before the shooting. Eyster reminded the jury in his closing arguments to focus on the defendant's state of mind the day of the shooting and immediately afterward. Norbury faces 50 years to life in prison for the killing. Eyster said previously that if Norbury had been found not guilty by reason of insanity, he could have instead served his sentence at a mental health facility, where he could at some point have qualified for an outpatient program and lived in the community.
CHRISTOPHER A. SHINN, the son of ringleader Noah Shinn, is due in court Dec. 3 to be sentenced for his part in fatal 2010 attempted marijuana robbery. The elder Shinn was sentenced in June to spend 20 years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Noah Shinn was charged in connection with the shooting of a young Sacramento man during the home invasion robbery at a rural Laytonville residence. Deputy District Attorney Ray Killion successfully argued during a 2011 preliminary hearing that even though the homeowner fired the fatal shot in self-defense that killed masked robber Timothy Burger, Noah Shinn was legally responsible for Burger's death. Noah Shinn was accused of planning the marijuana robbery, and organizing two young men, along with Shinn's son, to act in unison to perpetrate the actual robbery. The senior Shinn remained outside while the trio forced their way into the Laytonville home. Christopher Shinn and Tyrone Bell allegedly entered the house with Burger, two of them carrying handguns. According to prior testimony from Christopher Shinn, his father planned the attempted heist, driving them to the home next door and making them wait in a shed for hours until he came back with gloves, guns and pepper spray. He said his father's plan was for Christopher Shinn to go in first and spray the home's occupants. Burger was to “wave the gun” and tell people to get face-down on the floor, and Bell was to ensure compliance with the pellet gun, Bell testified previously. Once the homeowners were subdued, the plan was for someone to get Noah Shinn and to take marijuana from the house and a shed out back, according to Christopher Shinn's testimony. Shinn's son Christopher and Tyrone Bell are the surviving accomplices in the home invasion. Christopher Shinn, his father, and Bell were charged with murder under the Provocative Act Doctrine, but the two younger men accepted plea bargains in May 2011 to lesser crimes in exchange for their testimony for the prosecution's case. Christopher Shinn admitted to attempted first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary with a firearm and using tear gas. He faces a maximum sentence of nine years and eight months. Bell has pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary with a special allegation that he was armed. He faces a maximum sentence of seven years.
KENNETH L. WILKINSON, 22, stands accused of torturing and killing his 84-year-old grandfather in March, and is due in court at 9am Dec. 7 for a pretrial conference. Wilkinson could face life in prison without parole if he is convicted of killing his 84-year-old grandfather, Richard Mel Wilkinson, and a special circumstance that he tortured the elder Wilkinson by dragging him behind a pickup truck for nearly six miles on the night of March 17, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office. Wilkinson would be automatically eligible for the life-without-parole sentence if the special circumstance of torture is found true, the District Attorney's Office stated previously. Wilkinson's attorney, Mendocino County Deputy Public Defender Farris C. Purviance III, said the case required extensive preparation and asked the court in June for a February trial. The trial was set for Nov. 5, with a provision that Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke may grant a continuance if Purviance showed good cause. Purviance didn't elaborate in court on why he wanted the continuance, but had said previously that the question of how and when the elder Wilkinson died would be an issue in court. Early results from a March autopsy show that the 84-year-old man died of “multiple blunt force trauma,” pending toxicology analysis, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff/Coroner's Office. Authorities were called just after 11 p.m. the night of the incident to an East Hill Road home after family members reported that some kind of assault had taken place and that the elder Wilkinson was missing. Deputies searched the area and found the elder Wilkinson dead, apparently dumped down a steep, brushy hillside off of the winding, dirt-and-rock Mariposa Creek Road. (Courtesy, The Ukiah Daily Journal)