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Mendocino County Today: January 17, 2013

AS A LETTER WRITER reminded us this week, in any round-up of unsolved Mendocino County murders, those of Charles ‘Buzzy’ Mitchell, 66, and his son Nolan Mitchell, 34, must be included. Mitchell Sr. was bludgeoned to death outside his home on Orr Springs Road (Ukiah). Mitchell had been a candidate for a seat on the Coyote Valley Tribal Council. There was talk at the time that his 2004 murder was related to the intense tribal political infighting prevalent at the time. Nolan Mitchel was apparently unaware that his father was being beaten to death only a few yards from where Nolan was subsequently shot to death as he slept inside the home he shared with his father.

ALSO UNSOLVED is the case of Jergun Knemeyer, 57, of Willits. Knemeyer was found beaten to death in his home on Aug. 8, 1999. Miller said police believe Knemeyer, whose remains were not found until several days after he was killed, had been growing marijuana. The Sheriff's Department has assumed his death was related to his enterprise, as the following from the Sheriff's website makes clear.

Knemeyer
Knemeyer

On August 14, 1999 at 12:30pm a deputy from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to Jergun Knemyer's Willits home on Hill Top Road on a welfare check. A neighbor had reported seeing the back door to Jergun Knemeyer's home open with the interior lights being on since 3am. Upon entering the residence, the Deputy located Jergun Knemeyer deceased from injuries obviously associated with a homicide. During investigations detectives learned a family member had last spoken with Jergun Knemeyer on August 12, 1999 at 9:30pm. At this time it is unclear the motive for the homicide but growing marijuana was located at Jergun Knemeyer's home during the processing of the crime scene. Anyone with information in regards to the murder of Jergun Knemeyer is asked to contact the Sheriff's Office Tip-Line by calling 707-234-2100

Age at time of murder: 56 years old

Height: 5 feet 9 inches tall

Weight: 185 lbs.

Hair: Gray

Eyes: Hazel

MCSO Case#: 99-2653

Date of last contact: August 12, 1999

Jergun ‘Yo’ Knemeyer aka Jurgen Knemeyer

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Gillaspie
Gillaspie

ON JANUARY 13, 2013 at approximately 7:18pm a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff was dispatched to contact a parent who wanted to report a sexual abuse incident. Upon contact the parent reported they had dropped their four-year-old male child off at a friend's residence earlier in the day for babysitting. Approximately four hours later the parent returned to the residence to retrieve the child. Upon arrival the parent learned the friend had found the child alone with suspect Kyle Andrew Gillaspie, 26, of Willits, inside the residence during the parent's absence. The friend noticed the child was partially unclothed and became suspicious as a result. During a brief questioning the child disclosed information that suggested the child had been sexually abused by Gillaspie, who resided at the friend's residence. Sheriff's Detectives were contacted and immediate investigations were conducted as a result. During that time detectives conducted numerous interviews and established probable cause that showed Gillaspie had sexually abused the child. Gillaspie was arrested by detectives and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on charges of committing a lewd act on a child and penetration with a foreign object. Gillaspie is currently being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

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COMMENT OF THE DAY (Who else can make economics this much fun?): “The Fed, the US Government, and the less-completely-fucked Wall Street powers like Goldman and Barclays and Citigroup absolutely did conspire to seize AIG and then use a monstrous mixture of AIG's assets and public money to keep themselves alive. In essence, AIG was the helpless fat guy in the lifeboat who got eaten when the rest of the survivors ran out of food.” — Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone Magazine

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Verner
Verner

ON JANUARY 11, 2013 at 1735 hours a Mendocino County Deputy Sheriff was dispatched to the Mendocino Coast District Hospital to investigate a potential domestic violence incident. Upon arrival the Deputy contacted the potential victim and witness to the incident that reportedly happened approximately two hours earlier at a residence located on Nameless Lane in Fort Bragg. During the interviews the Deputy learned suspect Lemuel Lee Verner and the victim were involved in a romantic dating relationship. The Deputy learned the victim had sustained substantial injuries during the incident that required medical treatment. Based upon the information collected the deputy established probable cause to believe Verner had caused the victim's injuries. Deputies responded to the couple's residence in an attempt to locate Verner and arrest him for domestic violence battery and for inflicting serious injury upon the victim. When the deputies arrived at the residence they were unable to locate Verner and a Stop & Arrest BOLO (Be On the Look Out) was issued as a result. On January 12, 2013 at approximately 8am deputies returned to the residence again in an attempt to locate Verner to no avail. On January 12, 2013 at 12:05pm deputies received information that Verner was at the residence and the deputies began to respond with the assistance of officers from the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Upon the deputies’ arrival it was discovered Verner had left the residence in a white 2012 Ford Focus. The Deputies and CHP officers began a search of the area and located Verner driving on Ward Avenue. A Deputy attempted a traffic stop of the vehicle but Verner sped northbound onto North Highway 1 in an attempt to elude the deputy. Deputies and CHP officers pursued Verner who at times reached speeds between 80-100mph while driving recklessly. At approximately Mile Post Marker 85 on North Highway 1 the pursuit was relinquished solely to the control of the CHP officers. During the pursuit CHP officers were able to deploy a spike strip, which ultimately disabled Verner's vehicle near Mile Post Marker 101.5 near the town of Leggett. Once the vehicle was disabled Verner fled on foot and CHP officers gave chase. Shortly thereafter the CHP Officers captured Verner and turned him over to deputies who arrested him on charges of domestic violence battery and evading a police officer. Verner was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked and held in lieu of $750,000 bail.

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KING: I HAVE A DREAM. OBAMA: I HAVE A DRONE.

By Norman Solomon

A simple twist of fate has set President Obama’s second Inaugural Address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.

Obama made no mention of King during the Inauguration four years ago — but since then, in word and deed, the president has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said “I have a dream.”

After his speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, King went on to take great risks as a passionate advocate for peace.

After his Inaugural speech in January 2009, Obama has pursued policies that epitomize King’s grim warning in 1967: “When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.”

But Obama has not ignored King’s anti-war legacy. On the contrary, the president has gone out of his way to distort and belittle it.

In his eleventh month as president — while escalating the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, a process that tripled the American troop levels there — Obama traveled to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. In his speech, he cast aspersions on the peace advocacy of another Nobel Peace laureate: Martin Luther King Jr.

The president struck a respectful tone as he whetted the rhetorical knife before twisting. “I know there's nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naive — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King,” he said, just before swiftly implying that those two advocates of nonviolent direct action were, in fact, passive and naive. “I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people,” Obama added.

Moments later, he was straining to justify American warfare: past, present, future. “To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason,” Obama said. “I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.”

Then came the jingo pitch: “Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.”

Crowing about the moral virtues of making war while accepting a peace prize might seem a bit odd, but Obama’s rhetoric was in sync with a key dictum from Orwell: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

Laboring to denigrate King’s anti-war past while boasting about Uncle Sam’s past (albeit acknowledging “mistakes,” a classic retrospective euphemism for carnage from the vantage point of perpetrators), Obama marshaled his oratory to foreshadow and justify the killing yet to come under his authority.

Two weeks before the start of Obama’s second term, the British daily The Guardian noted that “U.S. use of drones has soared during Obama’s time in office, with the White House authorizing attacks in at least four countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It is estimated that the CIA and the U.S. military have undertaken more than 300 drone strikes and killed about 2,500 people.”

The newspaper reported that a former member of Obama’s “counter-terrorism group” during the 2008 campaign, Michael Boyle, says the White House is now understating the number of civilian deaths due to the drone strikes, with loosened standards for when and where to attack: “The consequences can be seen in the targeting of mosques or funeral processions that kill non-combatants and tear at the social fabric of the regions where they occur. No one really knows the number of deaths caused by drones in these distant, sometimes ungoverned, lands.”

Although Obama criticized the Bush-era “war on terror” several years ago, Boyle points out, President Obama “has been just as ruthless and indifferent to the rule of law as his predecessor.”

Boyle’s assessment — consistent with the conclusions of many other policy analysts — found the Obama administration’s use of drones is “encouraging a new arms race that will empower current and future rivals and lay the foundations for an international system that is increasingly violent.”

In recent weeks, more than 50,000 Americans have signed a petition to Ban Weaponized Drones from the World. The petition says that “weaponized drones are no more acceptable than land mines, cluster bombs or chemical weapons.” It calls for President Obama “to abandon the use of weaponized drones, and to abandon his ‘kill list’ program regardless of the technology employed.”

Count on lofty rhetoric from the Inaugural podium. The spirit of Dr. King will be elsewhere.

(Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. He co-chairs the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign organized by Progressive Democrats of America. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” He writes the Political Culture 2013 column.)

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ON TUESDAY ABOUT 9AM, Fort Bragg Police learned a young black bear was wandering around the neighborhood near Coast Hospital, not far from the Noyo River and the forests beyond. The bear climbed a tree, climbed down the tree, looked around and casually walked east into the woods and disappeared.

A READER WRITES: “Reported this morning by visitor to River Garden Apartments. Yesterday morning a Black Bear was observed. The hungry bear being near the Emergency Room of the Mendocino Coast Hospital . The bear continues to be hungry and remains in the River Garden Apartments area and is active in the Noyo River Drainage Complex Indigenous Territorial area. Not long ago “Black Tail,” the local mountain lion was observed near the garbage containers of River Garden Apartments complex. Persons should be made aware that bears may be scavenging so extra care is warranted. It is advised when taking garbage out to local trash containers humans should be on alert. Residents at River Garden Apartments should be made aware that children are now in high risk if they take trash out at night when bears and other predators are active in the area. Homeless persons and wild mushroom collectors are in serious competitive survival jeopardy. Hungry territorially displaced bears will attack and will kill. http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/wildlife/facts/mammals/bear/black_bear_problem_faq.htm Dr. Durand Evan t.f.m.

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Rabano
Rabano

On JANUARY 11, 2013, at about 3:20pm, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a residence located in Ukiah, California regarding a domestic dispute that occurred approximately two days prior. Deputies contacted an anonymous person at the residence who reported that suspect Carlos Rabano Sr., 41, of Covelo, had been involved in a domestic dispute with his spouse at their residence located in Covelo. According to the anonymous person Rabano “ruffed” the victim up. It was also determined that Rabano had been following the victim around Ukiah during the past two days. Upon further investigation deputies determined that Rabano and his spouse had been involved in a domestic dispute at their residence in Covelo on January 9. During the incident Rabano became angry with the victim at which time they started to argue. During the argument Rabano kicked the victim in the shin a number of times. When the victim attempted to leave the residence with the couple's 10-year-old son, Rabano grabbed the victim by the hair and “dragged her around.” The victim was able to break free and flee the residence without any further incident or injury. The victim did not require any medical attention as a result of the incident. Deputies responded to the residence in Covelo and arrested Rabano without incident. Rabano was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on charges of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/co-habitant. Rabano was later released from the Mendocino County Jail after posting $50,000 bail.

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ON THE ROAD WITH CRAIG STEHR: Good morning AVAistas, Awoke at 5:30am in the Berkeley men's shelter, ate breakfast/did a chore/went to Trinity Methodist church's dining room to assist at the Berkeley Catholic Worker FREE breakfast where I'm an “alternate,” after rotating out of the group, following 22 years of involvement. After serving, I went to Berkeley Primary Care for my acupuncture treatment (quit smoking recently, am now receiving acupuncture treatment for general health-well being), then walked to the Berkeley Public Library to check email messages. Later on, will go to the Graduate Theological Union Library and read spiritual writings of fully enlightened/Self realized jnana bhakti yogis such as Ramana Maharshi, Swami Krishnananda, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and so on. At 5pm I go to Eudemonia (computer games/internet) to recheck email. I might drop by a couple of bookstores to browse, and then it's back to the men's shelter before 6:30pm, hot shower, dinner at 7pm,wakeup at 5:30am. I have DELETED Facebook, closed my Yahoo and two other email accounts, and made it clear to everybody whom I know worldwide that I am basically available, since I am doing nothing socio-politically at this time, and furthermore, tell all that I am no longer identifying with the body-mind complex, since I am in fact the immortal Atman. Please feel free to keep our relationship aflame, Craig Louis Stehr 11:37AM, Wednesday January 16th, 2013 Anno Domini, Berkeley, California USA”

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SPEAKING at a grand photo op featuring rehearsed children saying things like, “I don't want to be machine-gunned,” President Obama announced Wednesday a series of gun-control measures that include background checks on all gun buyers, a renewed ban on “military-style” assault weapons and a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines. Obama's announcement came as The National Rifle Association was meeting in Las Vegas to fondle guns and announce to the media they were gearing up for the “fight of the century” to keep gun laws unchanged. Obama said he expected his proposals would be stoutly resisted by the gun lobby and their representatives in Congress. The President's proposals include:

• Require criminal background checks for all gun sales. (a.k.a. closing the “gun show loophole.”)

• Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.

• Restore the 10 round limit on ammunition magazines.

• Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor piercing bullets.

• Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.

• End the freeze on gun violence research.

• Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.

• Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.

• Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

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WHEN LOVE HAS FLED, BETTER LET IT FLEE

By Bruce McEwen

McCullough
McCullough

John A. McCullough is looking at 22-plus years in prison for the kidnapping and battery of his former girl friend, a pretty young woman maybe 20-years-old. I won't name her in this report at the request of the Men­docino County DA’s Victim Witness Office. At the beginning of the proceedings last Friday, Mr. McCullough tried to bid his way out by offering to plead out to some of the lesser charges, such as domestic abuse and making criminal threats, but the prosecutor, Deputy DA Shannon Cox wasn’t buying.

Pretty young woman, handsome young man, but a handsome young man with a criminal history. Looking at him, you wonder why he didn't just stay home with a bottle of Jack Daniels, sing himself some blues and look around town for a new love. But he didn't, and now John A. McCullough, at age 31, is in big trouble.

“The kidnapping charge in itself carries a 22 year sen­tence, and the People are not willing to drop it,” prosecutor Cox told Judge John Behnke in response to Public Defender Linda Thompson’s offer to negotiate.

It often happens that kidnapping charges are filed somewhat extravagantly, especially when the parties are known to each other. But in cases where somebody is forced from one location to another, or ordered at gun­point to get into the car, well, it can cost a fool for love 22 years of his young life.

In this case, the victim testified that she was indeed abducted at gunpoint, then she had her face repeatedly slammed into the dashboard, and was finally choked to give up her cellphone to the man she once loved.

Judge Behnke was inclined to believe the girl — at least for the limited purposes of the preliminary hearing. It may be shown at trial that the defendant is innocent, but a Prelim — or PX (preliminary examination) as the lawyers call it – is a crucial step in determining the strength of the evidence, after which the judge usually rules that the case can proceed to trial.

John McCullough now faces as much as 25-to-life in prison, and Deputy DA Cox feels confident she can prove all the charges to a jury, even though Ms. Thomp­son suggested in her cross-examination of the witnesses that there was perhaps a shadow of doubt, and any per­son looking at serious prison time who has Linda T as his attorney, well, no one's ever confused her with Clarence Darrow.

The incident in Willits happened last November 21st.

“I was walking home from work,” the victim said.

“Where did you work?” DDA Cox asked.

“At The House of Pizza.”

“What time of night was this?”

“Ten, maybe 10:30.”

“And you were walking home from work?”

“Yes, but I was going to go out later.”

“With Mr. McCullough?”

“No. With my girlfriends.”

The victim said she was living with her parents in Willits after a failed relationship with the defendant. McCullough had turned abusive, she said, and she'd gotten a restraining order against him. But apparently McCullough had unilaterally waived his stay-away order and had kept on keeping on. The estranged couple had also been exchanging text messages, meaning that McCullough, you could say, was able to keep contact alive because his contactee was answering back. But worst of all, McCullough had been driving by his ex's home yelling insults and threats at the girl's parents.

“He would drive by the house and yell names at my Dad, cussing and saying he was going to kill us all.”

The victim testified that she'd relented to communi­cating with McCullough to keep him away from her par­ents.

“So you agreed to have contact with him?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“He said he would leave me and my family alone if I would talk to him.”

“Was it positive contact?”

“Yes,”

“Were the text messages positive?”

“Not really. He used blackmail on me, saying he would tell the whole town we were back together.”

“He was texting you while you were working?”

“Yes.”

“And you got off work at or around 10 or 10:30; and you were walking home when you got a call from John?”

“Yes.”

“What did he say?”

“First he asked where I was; but then he said, ‘never mind, I can see you.’”

“So you stayed on the phone with him while you were walking?”

“Yes.”

“When did you see him?”

“When I went by a parked car he told me to get in.”

“Did you?”

“No. I said ‘no’ and kept walking.”

“What did he do?”

“He followed me. He rolled down the window and said ‘get in.’”

“Did you get in?”

“No. I kept walking. Then he pulled out a gun and told me to get in.”

“Did he point the gun at you?”

“Not really. He just had it in his hand when he told me to get in the car.”

“What did you do?”

“I went around to the passenger side and got in the car.”

“Why?”

“I was scared he was going to kill me.”

“Where did you go after you got in the car?”

“He went around the block and back toward Brown’s Corner.”

“Did you want to be in the car?”

“No.”

“You were going north on 101?”

“He turned onto the Fort Bragg Road and pulled over by the Willits KOA. Then he grabbed me by my hair and tried to get my phone.”

“Did you give it to him?”

“Yes, finally.”

“Why?”

“I was tired of getting my head bashed into the dash, so I gave it to him.”

“Were you arguing with him?”

“Yes. He was calling me a whore. He was mad because I had walked out on him and got an abortion. He said if it was his father or his brother, I’d be dead already.”

It would seem young Johnny wasn’t living up to the McCullough family’s lofty standards of intolerance. But the girl didn’t immediately give up her phone, and the motorized assault resumed.

“He started driving toward Fort Bragg again and he tried to get my phone out of my shirt. He pulled over again and started choking me, and saying maybe he should just get it over with, so I gave it to him.”

“What did he do with it?”

“He tried to take the battery out but couldn’t get it out, and he told me to take it out so nobody could contact me or track me.”

“This was on the way to Fort Bragg?”

“Yes.”

“How far did you go in that direction?”

“Maybe as far as James Creek.”

“Did you have any conversation with him?”

“Yes. I told him I loved him and wanted to turn around and go home with him.”

“Why did you tell him that – was it true?”

“No, but I didn’t want him to kill me.”

“So he turned back toward Willits?”

“Yes.”

“And the conversation resumed?”

“Yes. I told him I hadn’t had an abortion; I said it was a miscarriage. Then he got on the phone to his brother who said he’d seen me with someone. He started calling me a whore again and I said I needed to use the restroom and he pulled into Flyers.” (Flyers is a Willits service station.)

“You got out and went into the restroom?”

“Yes.”

“Then did you go back to the car?”

“Yes, but not immediately. I was trying to get the cashier’s attention.”

“Did you?”

“No.”

“Why, because he came back in and took me out to the car.”

“Did you get back in?”

“Yes. And then we went toward Ukiah.”

“Did he live in Ukiah?”

“Yes.”

Now you were on the way to Ukiah. Were you still having a conversation with John?”

“Yes. I told him I loved him and wanted to go home with him but I needed to go to my parents’ house and get some things first, so we turned around near the weigh station. I told him I was going to pick up some clothes and go with him. So when we hit the road by the fire sta­tion I got out and started walking to my trailer. Then he suddenly said ‘you’re going to send me to jail’ and came after me.”

“Did you see the gun again?”

“No.”

“So you got up the hill and ran into the house?”

“Yes, and my Dad came out and I could hear him — John – screaming, ‘I’m going to kill you! Your family can’t protect you forever.’”

“Did someone call the police?”

“Yes, my Mom.”

“Did Officer Androtti come to your house?”

“Yes.”

“Nothing further.”

Public Defender Thompson began her cross-examina­tion of the girl.

“You indicate in your declaration for a restraining order that you were in a relationship with Mr. McCullough for eight or nine months, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“And you said that he was abusive and you didn’t want to be with him?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

The victim didn’t understand the question.

“How was he abusive; in what way?”

“He would slam me against the wall, pull my hair out throwing me around the room, and scream at me that I was a whore.”

Okaaaay…” Ms. Thompson drawled this word with arch enunciation. It's one of her signature gimmicks, and she basks for prolonged moments in the effect she imagines it has worked on everyone involved before resuming her questions.

“But you were pregnant at the time with Mr. McCullough’s child, weren’t you?”

“Yes.”

“And did you have an abortion?”

“Yes.”

“And did he know?”

“No.”

The Public Defender pounced. “Aha!”

It was another of the Thompson’s crafty theatrics, this exclamation.

“Now, as for this alleged abuse – did you ever report it?”

“No.”

“So you went to live with your parents?”

“Yes.”

“And you indicate that John sent abusive messages to your father?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think your father still has these messages on his phone?”

“I’m sure of it.”

“And you got this restraining order in November before the incident of the 21st?”

“Yes.”

“Did your parents do that for you?”

“No. I did it myself.”

“Were you aware whether or not Mr. McCullough had ever been served with that order?”

“No.”

“But you started getting texts from him, isn’t that cor­rect?”

“Yes.”

“And didn’t you get word from him that he wanted to be friends with you without all the drama?”

“Yes.”

“And two days before you were exchanging texts, weren’t you?”

“Yes, I was playing his head games.”

“On your cell phone Mr. McCullough is listed as “Snuffins” — isn’t that correct?”

“Yes.

From Mr. McCullough to Snuffins. What’s become of male dignity in contemporary romance?

“He wanted to go out but I told him I was going out to the bar with the girls.”

“So you were getting calls from John while you were walking home after work?”

“Yes, but he called first while I was still at work.”

“Then the second call came while you were walk­ing?”

“Yes.”

“Now, when you first had an idea he was in a car nearby – where was it, the car?”

“The other side of Brown’s Corner.”

“And isn’t it true that you had to cross the street to go by the car?”

“No, I had to walk around the car.”

“So he told you to get in the car on the phone?”

“Yes, but I said no and then he followed me and rolled the window down so I could see him.”

“How did you see the gun?”

“It was in his hand.”

“Did he hold it up so you could see it?”

“Yes.”

“Well, can you describe it?”

“It was a small black gun.”

“And he said ‘Get in’ – anything else?”

“Just cuss words. And there was meanness in his voice.”

“After you got in the car did you see the gun?”

“No.”

“So after you got in he turned and went down High­way 20 toward Fort Bragg. Had he already assaulted you physically at that point?”

“No. He was talking about his cousin who said he saw me with someone and he was calling me a whore.

“And you were continuing to tell him that you had had a miscarriage and not an abortion?”

“Yes.”

“When the car pulled over at the Willits KOA, did you try to get out?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“He grabbed my hair.”

“He grabbed your hair and pulled you back?”

“Yes.”

“And that was the first physical assault?”

“Yes.”

“Was he driving when he slammed you into the dash­board?”

“No.”

At this point Ms. Thompson blurted one of her gotcha guffaws. It turned out that when the cops finally apprehended defendant McCullough, he had confessed that he slammed the woman he said he loved into the dash at the same time he hit the brakes.

“I wanted her to feel it,” he is alleged to have said on tape to Willits Police Officer Jeffery Androtti and the DA’s investigator, Detective Kevin Bailey.

“Did you ever go to the hospital?” Thompson asked the victim.

“A couple of days later,” she said.

“And isn’t it true that you later asked someone to hurt him, to hurt Mr. McCullough?”

“No.”

“Did you want him dead?”

“Wouldn’t you want someone dead if they were try­ing to kill you?”

“Are you saying you didn’t ask someone to hurt him?”

“No, I didn’t.”

Nothing further.

Officer Andretti was called and testified that when John McCullough was first questioned he dismissed everything as “bullshit,” but later in the interrogation changed his story. He had heard the cops were looking for him and had turned himself in, hoping to plea to a domestic violence rap and avoid the complications possession of the gun caused him. He was, after all, a convicted felon with a long rap sheet and not supposed to have a gun. On this point he was, as DDA Cox put it, “minimizing his culpability.”

Androtti: “He said he’d used blackmail to get her in the car, saying if she didn’t get in she’d lose everything.”

Cox: “Did he admit he drove off with her?”

Androtti: “He did.”

Cox: “Did he admit she wanted out?”

Androtti: “Yes, he did.”

Cox: “Did he talk about taking her phone?”

Andretti: “He did. He said he wanted the battery out so they couldn’t be tracked by law enforcement.”

Judge Behnke: “What was it he said about grabbing her hair?”

Andretti: “May I look at my report?”

Judge: “You may, but don’t read from it directly; just use it to refresh your memory.”

Androtti (after a moment): “He grabbed her hair at the back of her head at the same time he hit the breaks and slammed her face into the dashboard. ‘I wanted her to feel it,’ he said.”

Predictably, Judge Behnke found that there was sufficient evidence to hold McCullough on all five counts: kidnapping, physical assault, criminal threats, felon in possession of a firearm, violation of a restraining order, and a number of special allegations.

By the time Valentine’s Day rolls around, Mr. McCullough might be looking for a new sweetheart at the state prison, where the concept of violent love is well understood. ¥¥

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