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Boonville’s Fiery Fourth

Juan Alarcon and his wife went to the brewery in Boonville to celebrate the Fourth of July at the beer bar. Mr. Alarcon works at the Boonville Brewery and drinks the beer he helps make there. As the couple pulled in to the Brewery, Mr. Alarcon noticed his silver Suzuki motorcycle was missing from its regular parking spot at the Brewery, where he often parks it overnight. Thinking his fellow employees were pulling some kind of gag, he didn’t realize it had been stolen until his wife saw the silver bike rip past out on Highway 253, headed for Ukiah up and over the hill.

Jumping into their car, the Alarcons gave chase, calling 911 en route.

By the time Deputy Craig Walker arrived at milemarker 8.47 on the flat section of the Ukiah Road, the wrecked motorcycle was burnt to a crisp and 24 acres of hillside oak woodland was on fire. A CalFire helicopter was hovering overhead, the Anderson Valley Volunteer Firefighters were surrounding the blaze, and two CHP cruisers were on the scene.

Deputy Walker later said, “When I got there the whole hillside was on fire.”

With the Alarcons in hot pursuit, they saw that the thief was driving so poorly they couldn’t tell if he lost control of the bike and wrecked it, or had intentionally laid it down. However it got on the ground, it had burst into flames and a whole hillside seemed to instantly go up in flames. As the Alarcons, who were first on-scene, drove past the thief looked at them like he wanted to kill them as dead as their motorcycle. The couple circled back to meet up with the CHP officers who shortly arrived.

The thief had fled, eluding Deputy Walker and a CHP officer who were unable to pick up his trail.

Several hours later the motorcycle bandit appeared at Duane Hammond’s doorstep looking like he’d picked up every burr and foxtail on the hill. He wanted to use Hammond’s phone to call someone at a cabin in Boonville where he’d been staying for several days.

He was overheard to say, “Dog, I got federal warrants, you gotta get me outtahere.”

Mr. Hammond made a call of his own to Deputy Walker.

Anguiano
Anguiano

Marcelino Anguiano had been staying at a cabin belonging to Billy and Wanda Owens in the hills of West Boonville. Wanda had mentioned to her husband that their guest had turned up with a silver motorcycle the day before, July 3rd, but this was hearsay, and not allowed in court.

Deputy DA Caitlyn Keane prosecuted Anguiano and private attorney Jan Cole-Wilson defended him at his prelim last week. Anguiano has been cooling his heels at the Low Gap Country Club for the past two months while the charges against him were being lined out. The most serious was recklessly starting a forest fire, for which — considering current conditions — he could well be at risk of a good fashioned lynching by an irate mob of vigilantes.

Hammond had told Walker that a guy calling himself Mark Duncan – who proved to be Marcelino Enrique Anguiano, showed up on his property out of breath and “looked like he’d been crashing through brush. He was tired and disheveled and covered from head to foot with burrs and foxtails.”

Deputy DA Keane: “Did he match Mr. Alarcon’s description of the person who was riding the stolen motorcycle?”

Deputy Walker: “He did, yes. Juan Flores Alarcon arrived and identified the suspect. He’d turned the sports jersey he was wearing inside-out, but when he was asked to reverse it, Juan Flores said, Yes, that’s him.”

Keane: “Did you speak to Bill Owens?”

Walker: “Yes, the next day. Billy and Wanda Owens came to the brewery the next day, on Sunday, July 5th, and Billy said a guy named Marcos had stayed on his property several days. He also said Marcos came to the property at about 11am on the third with a silver motorcycle. He said Wanda told him she’d seen” –

Jan Cole-Wilson: “Objection, your honor, hearsay.”

Keane for the prosecution: “This is a 115 prelim, judge…”

Cole-Wilson: “Yes, but the hearsay is second-hand.”

Judge Ann Moorman: “The officer can testify as to what Mr. Owens told him, not what was told to Mr. Owens by his wife. Objection sustained.”

Cole-Wilson: “You said Mr. Alarcon, Juan Flores, identified my client as the rider of the motorcycle?”

Walker: “Yes, that’s right.”

Cole-Wilson: “Based on what?”

Walker: “I can’t speak for Mr. Alarcon.”

Cole-Wilson: “Mr. Alarcon said his wife saw the motorcycle go by on Highway 253 while they were sitting at the brewery?”

Walker: “Yes, that’s right.”

Cole-Wilson: “How fast was the motorcycle going?”

Walker: “I don’t know the speed.”

Cole-Wilson: “Was the rider wearing a helmet?”

Walker: “Yes, a blue and silver helmet.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did the helmet have a face shield?”

Walker: “It did, yes.”

Cole-Wilson: “So logically, Mr. Alarcon couldn’t have seen the rider’s face, isn’t that correct?”

Keane: “Objection. Calls for speculation on the part of the witness.”

Moorman: “Sustained.”

Cole-Wilson: “Isn’t it true that while Mr. Alarcon was pursuing the motorcycle, he never got in front or even up beside it?”

Walker: “I don’t know.”

Cole-Wilson: “In fact, by the time he got up to it, it had already crashed, hadn’t it?”

Walker: “Yes, that’s what he said.”

Cole-Wilson: “He told you he saw the person get off and take off running?”

Walker: “Yes.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did they — Mr. Alarcon or his wife — see the person remove the helmet?”

Walker: “I’m not sure.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did they tell you what number was on the sports jersey?”

Walker: “No, not that I recall.”

Cole-Wilson: “What about hair color, or whether his hair was short or long, did they tell you any of that?”

Walker: “No, I don’t believe so.”

Cole-Wilson: “So they gave you a brief description?”

Walker: “I don’t know how to define ‘brief’; He [Juan Flores] gave me what he was able.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did he tell you which direction the person ran?”

Walker: “Yes. He was last seen running south.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did he pursue this person?”

Walker: “No, he did not.”

Cole-Wilson had a photo of the motorcycle, burnt to a cinder. She showed it to the witness and asked if he recognized it.

Walker: “I do. That is the remains of the motorcycle that crashed, at the time of its removal, and that is the gent from Starr Automotive standing there in the background.”

Cole-Wilson: “So this is what Mr. Alarcon, Juan Flores, had to review in order to recognize and identify his motorcycle?

Walker: “I wouldn’t say that. It’s completely burnt in the picture but he had followed it all the way and saw it burst into flames when it crashed.”

Cole-Wilson: “Do you know how engaged in fire the motorcycle was when he saw it?”

Walker: “I don’t.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did, umm… Did Duane Hammond indicate the time my client showed up at his door?”

Walker: “I believe he said it was 8:30.”

Cole-Wilson: “So, several hours later… How far is it from the crash site?”

Walker: “As the crow flies, I’m gonna estimate approximately a half-mile. But it’s pretty rough terrain.”

Cole-Wilson: “And, according to Mr. Alarcon, the motorcycle caught fire immediately?”

Walker: “Correct.”

Cole-Wilson: “Nothing further.”

Prosecutor Keane: “Did Mr. Hammond tell you what the man said, the man who showed up at his doorstep?”

Walker: “Yes, he said he came there with a friend to go swimming, and that they’d had a fight, and that he’d been wandering around ever since. Something like that.”

Keane: “Did you find any injuries on the defendant?”

Walker: “I didn’t, but another deputy did. There were scrapes on his left leg and side.”

Keane: “And he’d turned his jersey inside-out?”

Walker: “Yes.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did you photograph it?”

Walker: “No. I took it into evidence.”

Cole-Wilson: “Who took this photo of my client’s injuries?”

Walker: “Deputy Lockhart.”

Cole-Wilson: “These scrapes and abrasions – well, wouldn’t you assume these injuries would have to be much worse for somebody who had crashed a motorcycle?”

Walker: “Not necessarily. It all depends.”

Judge Moorman: “What did Mr. Alarcon say about the crash?”

Walker: “He said the rider either laid it down intentionally or crashed it; he didn’t seem to be a very experienced rider.”

Captain Ryan Smith, a CalFire investigator and law enforcement officer, was called to the stand. He told the court that approximately 24 acres of woodland had been burned as a result of the motorcycle catching fire. He also said he’d been provided with a helmet, blue and silver, found by a volunteer firefighter from Anderson Valley. Mr. Alarcon identified it as the one worn by the guy who stole his bike.

Keane: “Did you ask the defendant if it was his?”

Capt. Smith: “Yes, and he denied it.”

Keane: “Did you ask if he’d been riding a motorcycle?”

Smith: “I did, and he used an expletive. He said I don’t have to tell you bleepin’ shit.”

Keane: “Anything else?”

Smith: “He asked me for a bottle of water, which I gave him.”

Keane: “Did Mr. Alarcon identify the motorcycle as his?”

Smith: “Yes he did.”

Keane: “Nothing further.”

Cole-Wilson: “Mr. Alarcon and his wife saw the motorcycle go by on Highway 253?”

Smith: “Correct.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did he tell you how fast it was going?”

Smith: “No he didn’t.”

Cole-Wilson: “How far away were they sitting?”

Smith: “Approximately 100 feet.”

Cole-Wilson: “And they said there was a full face guard on the helmet?”

Smith: “Yes, that’s what they said.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did they tell you how close they got — during the chase?”

Smith: “No. But they said it was obviously an inexperienced rider, swerving all over the road.”

Cole-Wilson: “And after the crash they went on by?”

Smith: “They were afraid of getting attacked, yes.”

Cole-Wilson: “Was the motorcycle burned when he identified it?

Smith: “Yes.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did he tell you how he ID’d it in that condition?”

Smith: “No, he did not.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did he tell you how he ID’d it when it went by on Highway 253?”

Smith: “No.”

Cole-Wilson: “You were there when he ID’d my client?”

Smith: “Yes.”

Cole-Wilson: “Did he tell you how he knew?”

Smith: “By the sports-type jersey. Once the suspect reversed the shirt, Juan Flores said, ‘That’s him’.”

Moorman: “Did you recover the license plate from the burnt motorcycle?”

Smith: “I don’t know.”

Moorman: “You may step down, Captain Smith. Ms. Keane, I have a problem with the reckless fire-starting charge.”

Keane: “Your honor, we have direct evidence that the fire started as a result of the motorcycle crash!”

Moorman: “Yup, you do. And I do believe that was the cause of the fire. But the elements of the charge states that someone who sets the fire does so recklessly and ignores the risks involved. And here I have a person who wrecks a motorcycle and it results in a fire being set.”

Keane: “But your honor, he didn’t try to stop the spread of the fire. It’s reasonable to assume if he didn’t know how to drive a motorcycle, he would crash it, and then when he did crash it he fled and let the fire spread.”

Cole-Wilson: “The crime of reckless fire-setting – from all I’ve read – involves some kind of reckless disregard for incendiary materials, things like fireworks, and the stretch in this case is just too much!”

Keane: “We have an inherently dangerous situation where someone steals a motorcycle — somebody who can’t even competently drive it — and then wrecks it and 24 acres of woodland burns as a result. And he flees the scene!”

Moorman: “It seems to me – and I’m gonna hold him to answer on stealing the motorcycle and the third count, giving a false name to an officer – but he caused the fire, he didn’t set it. I don’t have enough to show it was intentional, so I have to assume it was accidental. True, he wasn’t a very good rider — but is riding poorly a risk of fire a reasonable person would foresee? It’s a novel theory, Ms. Keane, but I’m not gonna hold the defendant on it. Let’s bring this back in three weeks for arraignment on the other counts, the 10851 (unlawful taking or driving a vehicle) and the false ID.”

3 Comments

  1. Jim Updegraff September 4, 2015

    What were the federal warrants this low life made reference to? If the feds are looking for him why not just turn him over to the feds. Good riddance to bad garbage.

  2. Bruce McEwen Post author | September 5, 2015

    That information won’t be made public until the time of his sentencing. And then the feds will have to wait until he serves whatever time the Superior Court sentences him to. Then they will turn him over.

  3. Jim Updegraff September 5, 2015

    Bruce, thanx for the info.

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