Shasta County News


Hundreds of prisoners could be returned to Shasta County
By Ryan Sabalow 

Thursday, August 6, 2009 

Nearly 400 state prisoners eventually could return to Shasta County after three federal judges this week ruled to release a quarter of California's inmates.

Saying overcrowding and poor health care at the state's 33 adult prisons violated inmates' constitutional rights, the judges Tuesday gave prison officials 45 days to free some 40,000 of the state's nearly 150,000 inmates.

About 8,000 additional inmates have been sent to prisons in other states, while nearly 10,000 more are in conservation camps and community correctional facilities.

About 1,500 Shasta County inmates are included in the state's prison population. Should a quarter of those inmates be released, Shasta County could see nearly 400 inmates return, according to a Record Searchlight analysis of state prison records.

Tehama County could see about 125 of its nearly 500 inmates return.

Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko said Wednesday that releasing sentenced inmates will take away accountability from the state's justice system.

"While disturbing, I'm not surprised by it," Bosenko said, noting that lawsuits alleging prison health care violations have been ongoing for several years.

In a statement, Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, said the release of this massive number of unrehabilitated inmates will impose "equally massive victimization upon society."

Nielsen, a former deputy commissioner of the California Board of Prison Terms, said Californians should be "justifiably outraged" at the judges' ruling.

But he said the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also is responsible for "17 years of stonewalling in the face of several inmate lawsuits" by CDCR officials.

Attempts to improve health care or alleviate overcrowding "vanished in the near terrestrial black hole of CDCR's entrenched bureaucracy," Nielsen said.

CDCR spokesman Seth Unger responded that the CDCR was "making a lot of progress" in solving its overcrowding woes.

"Nothing happens overnight," Unger said. "All these things take time."

Among other improvements, more readily available medical care and a push to hire more doctors and nurses have greatly helped reduce preventable deaths, he said.

The CDCR also recently won court cases that will allow bond financing to pay for new facilities, Unger said.

Unger also noted that prison officials already had been working on inmate reductions after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last month ordered the CDCR to find ways to release 27,300 inmates to trim $1.2 billion from the state's budget.

Proposed plans included home GPS monitoring for some low-risk offenders, reducing the level of parole supervision for others, deporting some imprisoned illegal immigrants and changing some property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

In their 184-page order, the judges maintained that even billions of dollars spent on prisons has not kept inmates from dying regularly from suicides or medical neglect.

Responding to lawsuits, federal courts previously found the level of care was so poor that it violated inmates' constitutional rights. Conditions remain so cramped that violence has increased and infectious diseases spread quickly, the judges said.

"The medical and mental health care available to inmates in the California prison system is woefully and constitutionally inadequate, and has been for more than a decade," the judges wrote.

The judges' ruling is likely to be appealed by prison officials and Republican leaders.

Bosenko said he and other law enforcement officials around the state had been wondering, even before the judge's order, whether any of the governor's proposed inmate shifts would place burdens on shrinking city and county police forces or whether the state would try to funnel any prisoners into already overcrowded county jails.

Earlier this year, Shasta County jailers closed a floor of their jail, cutting by a third the number of inmates.

"I don't want to accept inmates from other counties or state prison," Bosenko said.

Reporter Ryan Sabalow can be reached at 225-8344 or at .

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Case3:01-cv-01351-TEH Document2197 
Filed08/04/09 Page183 of 184 


Within 45 days, defendants shall provide the court with a population reduction plan that will in no more than two years reduce the population of the CDCR’s adult institutions to 137.5% of their combined design capacity. Should any of defendants’ proposed population reduction measures require the waiver of any provisions of state law, the state shall so advise the court, and shall explain why the requested waiver is permissible under 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(B). 

In preparing their plan, defendants shall consult with plaintiffs, intervenors, and other relevant stakeholders, including the Coleman Special Master and the Plata Receiver. Should such consultation fail to resolve any objections to the proposed population reduction plan, plaintiffs and intervenors shall file their objections no more than 20 days after defendants file their proposed plan, and defendants shall file responses to such objections no more than 10 days thereafter. Defendants shall set forth in their proposal the effective dates of the various actions they propose to undertake and their estimate of the reduction in population they expect to achieve after six, twelve, eighteen, and twenty-four months. 

The court will consider all of the written submissions and make any necessary modifications or changes to defendants’ proposed plan before issuing a population reduction plan as an order of the court. The court may before doing so request clarification on any matters and conduct any further hearings it deems necessary. However, given that this court issued a preliminary ruling on this matter almost six months ago so as to “give the parties notice of the likely nature of [this] opinion, and [] allow them to plan accordingly,” Feb. 9, 2009 Tentative Ruling at 1, the court will look with disfavor upon any effort to postpone or delay an expeditious resolution of the terms of the population reduction plan, including the submission of a proposed plan by the state and the issuance of the order adopting the final plan. 

The court will not grant any stay of the proceedings prior to the issuance of the final population reduction plan, but will entertain motions to stay implementation of that plan pending the resolution of any appeal to the Supreme Court. We will retain jurisdiction over this matter to ensure compliance with the population reduction plan and to consider any subsequent modifications made necessary by changed circumstances.


Redding man sues state over religious drug treatment program 
By Rob Rogers (Contact)
Originally published 05:13 p.m., September 29, 2008
Updated 05:13 p.m., September 29, 2008 

      A Redding man filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday, claiming his rights as an atheist were violated when he was ordered to take part in a 12-step drug treatment program that taught reliance on a higher power.

Barry A. Hazle, Jr., 40, was found to have violated terms of his parole and sent to prison for 125 days after he formally complained about the program, according to his attorneys. His legal problems began with a 2004 felony conviction on methamphetamine possession.

He was placed on parole in February 2007 and ordered to complete a 90-day live-in drug treatment program at Empire Recovery Center in Redding. Hazle said he requested a non-religious program.

When it became clear the program at Empire included religious content, he spoke to officials there about enrolling in a secular program, he said.

“It had a religious component I wasn’t comfortable with,” he said.

Empire officials told him he needed to take up his complaint with his parole officer, Mitch Crofut, Hazle said.

Hazle complained to Crofut, who told Hazle to fill out a state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation complaint form after he found no secular drug treatment program was offered locally. Hazle filled out the form, asking to be placed in a secular treatment program, Hazle said.

Three days later, “I was taken out of class and taken back to prison,” Hazle said. He had already served a year and a half in prison, a sentence that later was overturned on appeal.

Hazle said as Crofut was leading him out of class, he told Hazle he was going to make an example of him.

On the way out, Hazle said he told Crofut he’d withdraw his complaint if it meant he could avoid going back to prison. He said Crofut told him it was too late.

Crofut on Monday declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“I don’t know that I can make a comment on anything,” Crofut said.

He referred calls to the Department of Corrections’ press information officer. The spokesman there declined to comment until he had time to review the lawsuit.

Hazle is arguing his first amendment rights were violated for being required to enroll in a religious-type treatment program with no other treatment option and then sent back to prison for complaining about it. Hazle is the son of Record Searchlight City Editor Maline Hazle.

He’s suing for damages and for the court to order the Department of Corrections to make secular drug treatment programs available to parolees.

“Ultimately, we’d like to see the California Parole Board stop doing these kinds of things,” said Michael Scheibli. “I think this (the state's treatment requirement) is about as aggressive as it gets.”

The initial court ruling, which was the basis for Hazle’s original incarceration, was overturned by the California Court of Appeal in November.

When Hazle was first convicted of methamphetamine possession, he was placed on probation rather than sent to state prison, court records show. State law since passage of Proposition 36 allows drug offenders three chances to stay clean before they’re sent to prison.

Hazle had failed the court-mandated drug tests twice, according to court documents provided by his attorneys. After failing the second drug test, officers came to his house to give him a summons to appear in court. They found an unopened bottle of whiskey, Hazle said.

Officers then arrested Hazle, treating the discovery of the whiskey as his third offense, court records show. He appeared in court and was sent to state prison, documents show.

Hazle appealed the ruling and won, with the State Court of Appeal finding Shasta County Superior Court had violated due process by sending him to prison on a third offense before the second offense had been presented to the court.

Rob Rogers can be reached at 225-8217 or at .

Confidential jail call heard

Attorney: Cases compromised; official cites 'technical error'

By Ryan Sabalow 
Sunday, August 10, 2008

Photo by Nathan Morgan / Record Searchlight 
An unidentified inmate makes a phone call inside the Shasta County jail last week. In California, it’s a felony to eavesdrop without permission on inmates’ phone conversations with attorneys, doctors, psychologists or clergy.

One day in March, 26-year-old Shasta County jail inmate Michael Aaron Jayne made what he thought was a confidential call to his attorney to talk about a pending case.

She wasn't there, so he left a message on her voice mail, court documents show.

What Jayne didn't know was that jail employees would later listen to the one-way conversation. His attorney claimed the recording was used as evidence to punish him, and the recorded message was used as the basis for a request to throw out a stalking and harassment case.

His jailers' discovery came courtesy of an automated electronic phone system that records inmate conversations -- one similar to automatic-recording systems in jails around the country.

The recording systems have been causing defense attorneys to worry about their constitutionally protected right to confidential conversations with their clients.

"A defense attorney can't do their job

without the absolute trust of their client," said Cynthia Campbell, one of Jayne's Redding defense attorneys. "If their client believes that the government or law enforcement is listening in on those privileged - sacred - phone calls, then we won't be able to effectively communicate, and a valid and proper defense can't be had."

Local jail officials contend Jayne's case was merely a glitch in a system that since has been fixed. They contend they listened to the recording only because it wasn't made clear that Jayne had called an attorney's line.

"I don't want to say it was much ado about nothing," sheriff's Capt. Don Van Buskirk said. "But it was a technical error, and that's all it was."

Van Buskirk also maintains that the one-way conversation was never used to punish Jayne, and it was the only privileged call ever heard by jail employees.

In rejecting Jayne's request to have the case dismissed, a retired Shasta County Superior Court judge ruled that the recording violated Jayne's Sixth Amendment rights, but it wasn't intentional.

A fundamental right

Discussions between attorneys and their clients are among the most highly protected communications in the legal system.

In California, it's a felony for anyone to eavesdrop without permission on inmates' phone calls with attorneys, doctors, psychologists and clergy.

But in the past two years, privileged conversations between inmates and lawyers have been recorded in San Diego, Alameda, Santa Clara and Riverside counties in California, as well as Broward County, Fla.; Lansing, Mich.; and Dallas.

Jail systems have long recorded inmate calls to screen for illegal behavior or investigate crimes. But before automated systems were introduced two decades ago, deputies could switch off the tape if an inmate called a lawyer.

Newer digital systems automatically turn off the recorder if an inmate dials a number included in a database compiled by authorities, who typically rely on directories published by local bar associations to identify lawyers.

That means calls may be improperly recorded if the databases are incomplete or out of date.

At the Shasta County jail, all calls to anyone but attorneys are recorded, Van Buskirk said.

To ensure confidentiality, a defense attorney must notify jail officials in advance that they will be receiving calls from inmates. He said those calls are confidential and don't cost money to dial.

But calls to doctors, clergy and psychologists are treated no differently from any other call and recorded, Van Buskirk said.

The recordings are hardly secret, he said. A message warns inmates and those they call collect that their conversations may be recorded and monitored.

If someone doesn't want their call recorded, all they have to do is hang up, Van Buskirk said.

Similar messages are played to inmate callers around the country, but many defense attorneys believe that the warnings don't do enough to prevent abuse by jailers.

Inadvertent invasion

In Jayne's case, there was a mix-up between the jail employees and Campbell that made her number appear no different from any other outgoing call, court documents show.

Campbell contends she asked jail officials in early March to put her new phone number on the jail's confidential attorney list.

Jail officials have no record of her making the request and, when pressed, Campbell has been unclear on whom she called or spoke to, Van Buskirk said.

Regardless, retired Superior Court Judge James McEachen agreed at a hearing in July that jail officials violated Jayne's Sixth Amendment rights to have confidential conversations with his attorney.

But, he said, the intrusion was inadvertent, according to court transcripts of the hearing.

"I have no evidence that the district attorney's office received this information and have used it or exploited it," McEachen said, according to the transcripts.

Shasta County Assistant Public Defender Tim Pappas argued at the hearing that Jayne had no idea his call was being recorded, and wouldn't have left a message allegedly confessing to violating a restraining order had he known.

Like Campbell, he said he's concerned that the jail's recording system is dangerous to the fundamental right to attorney-client privilege, regardless of whether there's a message warning that jailers may listen in.

"When it comes to the Constitution, you can't take shortcuts," he said.

Such automated call-recording systems have also been causing legal troubles elsewhere.

In 2006, the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco dropped gun-possession charges against a man after a prosecutor acknowledged listening to just 35 seconds of a recorded call the defendant placed to his attorney from a jail in Oakland.

In Broward County, Fla., the sheriff's department recently settled a class-action lawsuit filed after at least two inmates found their protected calls were inadvertently uploaded during a two-week test of a new $18 million recording system in 2006.

Pappas said Jayne was considering filing civil rights complaint in federal court.

Other breaches?

Pappas argued during the hearing that calls Jayne had made to Campbell may have been recorded for almost a month. He said he was concerned prosecutors might have been privy to them before the glitch was fixed.

Officials at the jail and the district attorney's office at the hearing adamantly denied any such breaches.

The hearing included sworn testimony from several jail employees, who said that they listened to the recording of Jayne's message to Campbell during an internal discipline investigation.

Officials at the jail say Jayne, who's accused of stalking and threatening to kill his ex-wife, among other charges, violated a restraining order by calling her at least 60 times using jail phones.

Because he violated his restraining order, Jayne was moved out of the jail's main population into a section segregated for troublesome inmates, court documents show.

Jayne was described by jailers during the hearing as a habitual troublemaker and complainer.

Jail staff members said the conversation with Campbell was revealed during their research into Jayne's other calls. And Van Buskirk said the call was never used to punish him.

Jailers found plenty of other nonconfidential calls to her for that, he said.

When Jayne learned during the investigation that his call to his attorney had been recorded, he notified Campbell and filed a complaint.

After the issue came to light at a bail hearing, the jail added Campbell's number to the confidential list, Pappas said.

But in doing so, the computer system automatically deleted all recordings made from Campbell's line, leaving her with no idea how many times her calls to clients might have been overheard.

"There's no way to see who listened to it or had access to it," Pappas said. "It just got cut off."

At the hearing, Campbell testified she received as many as 20 calls from the jail during the period when her number wasn't on the list. She testified the conversations included detailed conversations about defense strategy.

Campbell said she's considering following Pappas' lead and requesting the cases in which she's defending Jayne be dropped. She said she's not willing to say whether she'll do same with any other clients.

She said she doesn't buy the argument from jailers that the intrusion was unintentional.

"They knew it was going to an attorney," she said. "They did put me on list; they just happened to listen to all the calls when I was on the list."

Reporter Ryan Sabalow can be reached at 225-8344 or at .

(08-10) 04:00 PDT Jones Valley, Shasta County -- 

The penalty for starting one of California's colossal wildfires can be severe - even if it was an accident. Just ask Matt Rupp.

The father of six was recently paroled from the state prison in Vacaville. He served two years with killers and rapists for igniting a fire near Redding by riding a mower over a field of dry grass on a scorching day in 2004.

"I didn't belong" in prison, Rupp, 48, said in his first interview since the fire. "To set a fire, you have to set a fire."

Prosecutors said Rupp ignored warnings not to mow - from neighbors and public-service spots on TV - and told one passer-by, "Go to hell."

A blade hit a rock, investigators said, and the spark became the Bear Fire. It raced over a hill and through 86 homes in Jones Valley, a remote community on the edge of Lake Shasta. No fire in 2004 burned more homes in the state.

While Rupp's neighbors recovered and rebuilt, Rupp went away. Now he's back in Shasta County, banned from living on his old property and furious at the way he's been treated. 

Pointing across his temporary home - his sister's double-wide trailer on a 10-acre windswept ranch property in the small town of Anderson - he said, "Let me lock you up in the bathroom for two years, see what you'd do."

The Vallejo native, who said he had been unable to work since a fall at a Napa construction site in 1996, said he had no way of paying the $2.25 million he owes to the victims of the fire.

"I can't even buy milk for the kids," he said. 

As California struggles through another brutal season of flames, Rupp's case illustrates a unique aspect of the fight. Wildfires are that rare disaster that can be set in motion by everyday human acts like mowing, barbecuing and driving.

Dubious acts, enormous cost

When the human acts are questionable and the cost is great, as in the Bear Fire, investigators want to send a message.

"Mr. Rupp caused a tremendous amount of hurt and pain to people by his actions," said Ben Hanna, the Shasta County prosecutor who convicted Rupp of a felony count of recklessly causing a fire that burned structures or property.

"His attitude," Hanna added, "showed that he was the type of person who was not going to learn from his mistakes. A prison sentence was appropriate."

Rupp's attorneys disagree, saying that although Rupp had a couple of past convictions - including for possessing stolen property - he deserved jail time only. His trial attorney, James Richardson, said the grief of fire victims carried too much weight with the judge.

"He definitely got hammered," said Jean Marinovich, his attorney during appeals. But she acknowledged that sentences in such cases "have to be harsh enough for people to pay attention."

Legal experts compare negligent fire-starters to reckless or drunken drivers who injure or kill someone - even if they don't mean to. 

Jim Fox, San Mateo County's top prosecutor, said authorities in such cases must prove that a defendant disregarded the risk of his actions, deviating from what a reasonable person would do. For example, he said, a motorist whose tailpipe drags and sends out sparks would be reckless if he noticed the problem and kept going.

Fire officials said Rupp's sentence was one of the strictest in recent memory for a fire-starter who lacked an arsonist's intent. Some defendants have served much less time by cutting plea deals. 

After one of the worst fires in California history - the 2003 Cedar Fire, which killed 15 people and burned 2,200 homes east of San Diego - a deer hunter got six months in a halfway house. Sergio Martinez said he had started a signal fire after becoming lost and disoriented in the Cleveland National Forest. He told survivors in court, "I wish I was dead instead."

Turned down plea deal

Unlike Martinez, Rupp turned down a plea bargain - a deal that would have landed him in county jail for just a few months.

Rupp took his chances at trial, where Hanna told jurors he mowed a dry field after 1 p.m. on Aug. 11, 2004, a day with temperatures above 105 degrees. The prosecutor said a neighbor drove by and warned Rupp to stop but he replied, "Go to hell." 

Rupp told The Chronicle that he was mowing because the county had ordered him to clean his property. He insisted he had stopped mowing at 10 a.m., hours before the fire started. He said he declined the plea deal because he didn't want to confess to a crime he didn't commit.

Shasta County Superior Court Judge Richard McEachen scolded Rupp at his sentencing in April 2006 and gave him four years in prison - two for the felony charge and two for a special allegation of arson. As a nonviolent offender, Rupp had to serve half his term before being paroled.

Rupp said he had wanted his trial moved out of Shasta County, where he said he was threatened - and even confronted - after the fire by people who lost homes.

"How could they pull a jury out of these people?" he asked. "They were all mad as hell at me because I burned their homes down."

Rupp now lives with his sister and her husband. His wife, Tina, and his five youngest children, who range in age from 7 to 15, live on the property where the fire started. His sixth child is an adult.

Though he has served his time, Rupp is consumed by his quest to get his conviction overturned and keeps an apple box full of documents - legal motions and letters from his attorneys, who he believes failed him. He said he was dismayed to hear on the news that a target shooter who started a fire west of Yosemite National Park probably would not face charges.

Rupp said his parole agent sent him to anger management classes, but that he's not angry.

"It causes stress in my life," he said of the case.

'Ignorance is no excuse'

In Jones Valley, there are mixed feelings about Rupp, but some fire victims still can't believe he chose to mow that day. Many wish he would apologize.

A few hours after Rupp's interview, Doug and Sue Craite pointed out the property where they once lived in a two-story house with a hillside view. All that remains is a concrete foundation and blackened posts from their redwood deck. After they moved to a new house a few miles away, young people started using the lot as a spot to hang out, paint graffiti and drink beer.

The couple can't bring themselves to sell the lot because they say they didn't choose to leave it.

"Ignorance is no excuse," Doug Craite said of Rupp. But his wife said she was surprised when the fire-starter got prison time.

"When you hear prison, you think of really horrific things, like violent crimes," Sue Craite said.

Richard Saffen, a retired carpenter, gave a tour of the house he built on the same spot where his old home burned in the Bear Fire. He said he loves it - and that his insurance took care of him - but he misses photographs, high school yearbooks, motorcycles and guns that were torched. He said many of his neighbors weren't as lucky and that Rupp got what he deserved.

"I don't know him personally. I just know he turned my life upside down," Saffen said. "Forest fires are a fact of life up here. You just don't go out and mow the weeds when it's 106 degrees."

E-mail Demian Bulwa at

Matt Rupp ignored warnings not to mow over a field of dry grass before starting the Bear Fire in 2004, prosecutors say. (Mike Kepka / The Chronicle) 

Sue Craite and daughter Rachelle Pinkerton (with her 16-month-old daughter, Avilon) stand on the foundation of their burned home in Shasta County. (Mike Kepka / The Chronicle) 

Charred, leafless trees behind Matt Rupp's Shasta County property are a reminder of a devastating fire that raced over a hill and through 86 homes in 2004. (Mike Kepka / The Chronicle) 

Richard Saffen stands in the kitchen of his new Jones Valley home; he was burned out four years ago. (Mike Kepka / The Chronicle) 

Four years after a fire destroyed much of the homes in Jones Valley, a burnt and rusted bike lies on the shell of Doug Craite's home. (Mike Kepka / The Chronicle) 


July 4, 2008

Offender sentenced for not registering

James Richard Murphy Jr.

      A Shasta County man was sentenced Thursday on a felony charge of failing to register as a sex offender and will serve a 25-years-to-life prison term under California's "three strikes" law.

James Richard Murphy Jr., 49, pleaded guilty to the charge Wednesday and was sentenced Thursday in Shasta County Superior Court, said a spokesman from the Shasta County district attorney's office.

Murphy was convicted in 1992 of molesting a 7-year-old girl. He also was convicted in 1986 and 1997 of residential burglary, the spokesman said.

Murphy was arrested in March by Anderson police on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine. He had been living in Redding at the address where he was registered until May 2007, but he failed to notify authorities about his move to Anderson.


No charges planned for Redding defense attorney in dispute

By Kimberly Ross
Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Redding defense attorney won't face a charge of domestic violence after his arrest on suspicion of the crime, both his lawyer and Shasta County Assistant District Attorney Dan Flynn said Wednesday.

Michael Sharpe was arrested May 22 on suspicion of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant.

But his arrest by Redding police inside Shasta County Superior Court led to a mistrial and a tarnished name for Sharpe, said his attorney, John Kucera.

"He's got an excellent personal and professional reputation, and they just ruined it, or tried to ruin it," Kucera said.

Flynn confirmed Wednesday that his office will not file a domestic violence charge against Sharpe."The evidence was insufficient ... to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred," Flynn said.

Redding Police Chief Leonard Moty said Wednesday that the alleged victim changed her story after showing physical injuries and making serious assault allegations that she had been kicked, punched, pushed and thrown to the floor.

"When we have domestic violence cases, we take those very seriously," Moty said. "And we want to make sure that if we err on any side, it's on the side of the victim."

Moty agrees with the district attorney's office decision not to prosecute Sharpe, he said Wednesday. He defended his officers' arrest of Sharpe as appropriate.

Kucera thinks otherwise. He criticized the Police Department for not investigating enough before arresting Sharpe, who received threatening calls from his alleged victim and injuries that included abrasions and a bite.

"She came to his house, attacked him, and he defended himself," Kucera said. "I mean, he's got bite marks."

Kucera said the Police Department should pay Sharpe's $5,000 bail bill, and he's consulting with Sharpe about whether to sue.

Moty said Kucera is "being ridiculous."

"The system allows us to make arrests when we feel it's appropriate ... and you can post bail, or wait (in jail), and that's the way the system is set up," he said.

Reporter Kimberly Ross can be reached at 225-8339 or at .


Public defenders face misdemeanors over actions at Redding bar
By Jim Schultz 
Thursday, June 5, 2008 

The Shasta County District Attorney's Office has filed misdemeanor charges against three public criminal defense attorneys who were arrested in April on suspicion of starting a drunken ruckus with police officers at a Redding bar.

Deputy public defenders Amy Margaret Babbits, 31, Michael Caleb Borges, 27, and Joseph Michael Ahart, 29, are due to be arraigned Monday, as is Ahart's brother, 24-year-old Peter Patrick Ahart of Williams.

The complaints against the four were filed Tuesday by the district attorney's office.

District Attorney Jerry Benito said that each misdemeanor count carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail. He stressed Wednesday that the three deputy public defenders are not associated with his prosecutor's office.

But typically in such cases, he said, it would be highly unlikely for the co-defendants to receive lengthy jail sentences if convicted.

Most likely, Benito said, probation, fines and minimal jail sentences would be the result.

"The goal is to treat them like any other individuals arrested for the same type of conduct,” he said. But it’s also likely that an out-of-county judge would hear the case to avoid any conflict with Shasta County’s judges because the three attorneys regularly appear before the court, Benito said.

Public Defender Neal Pereira said Wednesday that a county investigation is still pending, but that it will be done by an independent investigator and not in-house.

That report, which would be confidential, would be reviewed by him and the county counsel’s office to determine what, if any, disciplinary actions might be warranted against the three deputy public defenders, he said.

Although any discipline would also be confidential, it could range from a letter of reprimand to job termination, he added.

It’s clear that he Pereira hopes it doesn’t come to dismissal because they are valuable and hard-working employees, he said.

“They are very good,” he said. “It would be hard to replace them. We’ll see what happens.”

Benito has said that the April 26 incident started when police responded to a report of a man, later identified as Peter Ahart, allegedly urinating in the parking lot of Club 151, a nightclub on Bechelli Lane.

When police confronted Ahart, the three deputy public defenders came out of the bar and a disturbance ensued that resulted in their arrests, he said.

They were all released from jail on their own recognizance.

Babbits is being charged with two misdemeanor counts of resisting or obstructing an officer and one count of public intoxication, while Borges is being charged with three counts of resisting or obstructing an officer and one count of public intoxication, electronic Superior Court records show.

In addition, Joseph Ahart is being charged with one misdemeanor count of public intoxication and a single count of unreasonable noise, while his younger brother is being charged with a single count of public intoxication and urinating in public, an infraction.

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at .


Re-entry dies; broken prison system lives on
Our view: Overcrowding and budget cuts will put more criminals on California’s streets.

Voters rendered their nearly unequivocal verdict against the proposed state re-entry facility, and the Board of Supervisors unanimously sentenced it to death.

They didn't just kill the plan for a rehabilitation-oriented prison-lite in Redding. They dug a deep grave, tossed the idea down in it, doused the corpse in gasoline and set it on fire, then filled the hole with concrete.

However deeply buried this notion is, though, California's prison problems are bound to claw their way out of the ground and haunt the north state.

As District Attorney Jerry Benito, who opposed the re-entry facility, told the supervisors and the crowd Tuesday, the state is considering several plans to ease prison overcrowding and cut spending on corrections. Plans vary and all are controversial, but the bottom line is fewer criminals behind bars.

And if the state doesn't either release inmates from prisons that are stuffed to double their capacity or put fewer felons behind bars in the first place, a panel of federal judges is threatening to free tens of thousands of prisoners -- the most commonly reported number is 40,000.

The alternative was a law passed last year to expand prisons and jails, as well as create the re-entry centers. But just as Shasta County nixed that idea, it's finding few takers around the state. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has done an incompetent job of explaining the plan, shaping its details and working with county officials, which soured even decision-makers who once saw promise in the idea, such as Sheriff Tom Bosenko.

That rotten management seems to be standard practice in the Department of Corrections, and it's reaching a crisis point.

We won't have a re-entry facility in Shasta County, but as Californians we don't have a ghost of a chance of escaping the consequences of a broken prison system. 


January 26, 2008

500 inmates do not add up to 'prison town'

Our view: Critics of a proposed state re-entry facility say it would make Redding a “prison town” akin to Susanville. The numbers tell a different story.

At meetings this week to discuss a possible state prison re-entry facility in Shasta County, critics of the idea repeated the complaint that the correctional facility would wreck the Redding area's lifestyle and stain its reputation. Like Susanville, some say, we'd be forever marked as a "prison town."

Can we talk facts for a minute?

The lovely Lassen County city of Susanville has a population of about 18,000 -- of whom more than 11,000 are enjoying the hospitality of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at High Desert State Prison and the California Correctional Center. Well over half of the residents of Susanville are inmates, which makes "prison town" not a metaphor but a literal fact.

While we're at it, throw in about 1,000 more inmates at the relatively small Federal Correctional Institution at Herlong, in southern Lassen County, and fully one third of the human beings in the county are behind bars.

By contrast, state prison officials and Shasta County are discussing a facility with between 200 and 500 beds -- approximately the size of the current Shasta County jail.

Even if the state built the largest re-entry center envisioned, those 500 inmates would amount to about one half of one percent of Redding's population. It's doubtful most residents or visitors would even notice the facility if it were built out on Clear Creek Road near the city power plants, the current proposed site.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about the plan, and the state needs to address them.

But the notion that this re-entry facility would somehow tar Redding's image or transform its residents' lifestyle is preposterous bombast.


Expanded jail a critical need for Shasta County
Leonard F. Moty
Monday, January 14, 2008 

A concern facing communities throughout California is the severe overcrowding of prison facilities, as well as what to do with the growing number of people being released on parole. In May 2007, Assembly Bill 900, the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Services Act, was signed by the governor with the primary objective of addressing this issue by funding new beds for rehabilitation purposes and creating "secure reentry facilities."

The county has indicated it would be willing to listen and review the various options being proposed by the state; however, much research would be needed prior to considering locating a secure reentry facility within the city limits as part of this program. The specter of a reentry facility in the immediate Redding area has drawn considerable reaction from citizens and will surely intensify if there is a strong commitment to building such a facility.

Certainly, there are a number of legitimate questions about a reentry facility, and I have wrestled with the merits of the issue and what effects it might have on the city now or in the future.

Frankly, there are advantages to the local reentry facility concept. The state's "carrot" in giving jail funding preference to counties that agree to build such a facility is part of an attempt to reform a prison system plagued by high recidivism rates (70 percent) and legal mandates to reduce its population. In their final year of incarceration, prospective parolees would be placed in a reentry facility in their home community where they would be provided the necessary tools, such as training, rehabilitation and education, to become law-abiding citizens. The principle is to improve public safety by reducing recidivism.

These are all laudable objectives that would help solve some of the problems we face. But they are outweighed by my concerns that the state will not fulfill in the future what it is proposing right now. The state's track record, unfortunately, is not the best when it comes to delivering promises. What is to prevent future lawmakers, under different financial circumstances, to change the rules and turn reentry facilities into something never envisioned, such as destinations for non-local inmates (and their families) or higher-risk offenders?

What is very clear is that Shasta County must find the means for an expanded jail facility in order to eliminate the need for the early release of inmates. As many as 2,600 inmates were released in 2007 because of capacity demands, putting criminals or prospective criminals on city streets with little or no accountability. And the situation will only get worse given the overcrowding of state prisons. With judicial mandates to reduce prison overcrowding, local communities like Redding may well face the need to house more dangerous offenders. In fact, it is quite possible that the state prisons may release inmates as well as no longer accept prisoners for low-level offenses, and therefore, try to push that responsibility onto local jurisdictions. As a result, more people will be released from jail without facing consequences for their actions. For the safety of our citizens, an expanded jail is crucial.

Whether Shasta County can obtain jail-bond funding without agreeing to a reentry facility is debatable. What isn't, however, is the critical need for a new jail, and it would be my hope that the entire community would be united in supporting such a project.

Leonard F. Moty is the Redding chief of police.


Vague plans fuel wariness of state ‘re-entry facility’

Our view: The state must flesh out details before the county or the public will bite.
California’s prison system is launching a laudable venture into inmate rehabilitation, planning to build thousands of beds’ worth of “re-entry facilities” that aim to help ex-cons become law-abiding citizens upon their release.

      At least, that’s what corrections officials say they’re planning. When pressed for details, they punt. And the vagueness of the proposals — even as the state is wooing counties to sign up — feeds suspicions.

No sensible consumer would buy a new truck without knowing the miles per gallon, the payload and the length of the warranty. How can the state expect county officials to buy a new prison-like facility without a concrete sense of what it would be?

Yet the state is offering counties millions of dollars for new jails — with grants in part depending on whether counties will make room for a re-entry facility. And county requests are due by mid-March.

Meanwhile, a state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman said the agency hopes to have conceptual designs to show counties next month or in February.

That could leave as little as a couple of weeks to vet plans before deciding whether to sign up. That’s scant time for such a major decision, and the rush lends an appearance that the state is pushing Redding to make itself, as critics say, “a prison town.”

That seems like a gross overstatement. The re-entry facilities are supposed to hold a maximum of 500 inmates — nothing close to the 11,000 inmates in Susanville’s prisons. Further, a re-entry facility in Shasta County would house only offenders who would eventually be paroled to the county anyway. That’s a relatively small population, so even a 500-inmate facility is unlikely.

But what’s likely and what’s supposed to happen are a poor basis for a decision.

The state’s new-found focus on rehabilitation holds out the promise of cutting both recidivism and the cost of California’s immense prison system. But vague promises won’t be enough for county decision-makers or the public.


With or without help from state, jail is essential

Our view: It’s essential to the integrity of the justice system that the supervisors commit to helping the Sheriff’s Department move forward — even if limited money from the state means a new jail must be built in phases.

In hindsight, betting that the state would pay the whole cost of a badly needed new Shasta County jail was as naive as laying down 20 bucks on a sidewalk game of three-card monte.

Trying to fix a growing problem with early jail releases, the Sheriff's Department has put its hopes on a statewide cell-building blitz designed to ease severe overcrowding in California's prisons. The federal courts are threatening to free tens of thousands inmates if the state doesn't fix the problem, which gives the state some incentive to get moving.

But nothing comes free. The state paid for most of the new library but demanded a matching share of local money. The state will likely pay for a new courthouse but insisted that the city or county "donate" the land.

Similarly, the state has money to help counties build jails, but it will be rationed out stingily. The county will receive, at best, enough money for a few dozen new jail beds, while Sheriff Tom Bosenko had hoped to double the current capacity of 381. And the county will probably need to scrounge up money for a share of the construction cost.

If the county must pitch in a few million dollars, it's worth the money. When courtordered jail sentences become a sham, and especially when the crooks know it, it erodes the integrity of the justice system.

However, with little or no state funding, the county would be wise to build the new jail in phases. Simply doubling capacity would be cost-prohibitive, not just for construction but in hiring an expensive new corps of guards. Moving slowly has advantages, as long as plans make room for future expansion.

But it's essential that the supervisors commit to helping the Sheriff's Department move forward.

The jail is expected to free 2,800 inmates before their terms are up this year -- and the number of offenders catching a break will keep expanding until the jail does.

[For comments go to link at header.]

Woman commits suicide at Shasta County Jail
By Record Searchlight staff
Originally published 02:18 p.m., August 14, 2007
Updated 02:18 p.m., August 14, 2007 

An unidentified woman was found unconscious and hanging from a bed sheet in her jail cell at the Shasta County Jail early this morning.

A jail correctional officer discovered the woman during a routine cell check at about 1:11 a.m. today, Redding police Sgt. John Ostrowski said.

Jail staff, including correctional officers, sheriff’s deputies and medical staff, immediately gave the woman CPR and called a Mercy Medical Center life support unit to the scene, Ostrowski said.

Efforts to resuscitate the inmate failed and she died just before 1:30 a.m., he said.

Ostrowski said the woman’s name is being withheld until her family is notified.

A multi-agency investigation was conducted and investigators think the woman committed suicide, he said.

The woman was alone in her jail cell and was found hanging from a bed sheet, which was used as a ligature. Investigators also found several suicide notes and letters in her cell, Ostrowski said.

More information was not immediately available.

 No Room for Inmates Sunday, June 10, 2007

Shasta's crowded jail is just the tip of inmate iceberg  June 17, 2007


Sex offender policy targeted
Tehama officials don't want county to be dumping ground for parolees
By Debra Moore (Contact)
Wednesday, April 18, 2007 

By the numbers

Here's a look at how many registered sex offenders live in north state counties:

Shasta County: 506

Redding: 318

Anderson: 66

Cottonwood: 35

Tehama County: 175

Red Bluff: 90

Corning: 39

Los Molinos: 10

Butte County: 464

Oroville: 176

Chico: 126

Glenn County: 55

Orland: 32

Sex offender facts

• 63,000 sex offenders are required to register in California on the Megan's Law Web site.

• 22,000 sex offenders are not included on the Megan's Law Web site but known to law enforcement.

• 9,451 registered sex offenders are on adult parole.

• 2,454 parolees are designated as high risk.

• 90 percent of child victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member.

• Most sexual assaults are committed by someone of the same race as the victim.

Because the father worked away from home for stretches of time, the parents were concerned about their daughter's safety. The teen was no longer allowed to be home alone and the family had to substantially alter its routine.

Warner was concerned because the teen's family and the sex offender lived on a dead-end road in rural southern Tehama County, a 15- to 20-minute response time for law enforcement.

"This is the first time that I had to deal with this," Warner said. "I couldn't believe that the state would parole a sex offender next to a home where a 14-year-old girl lived."

He wrote a letter to James Tilton, secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, that outlined his concerns. He asked that the placement be reconsidered.

Within a month he had his reply -- an unsatisfactory one, Warner said.

Sharon C. Jackson, the state's regional parole administrator, said the case had been reviewed and she was satisfied that adequate precautions were being taken to assure the safety of those nearby.

"In considering this placement decision, as required by California state law, the Division of Adult Parole Operations considered many factors," she wrote. "Our staff placed the greatest weight on the protection of potential victims and the safety of the community."

She said parole agents and local law enforcement were closely monitoring the parolee and that numerous special conditions had been placed on his parole.

Jackson also responded to another of Warner's objections, that the parolee had not been released into his last county of residence, as required by state law.

Citing penal code, Jackson said the offender was released to Tehama County because that is where his parents reside.

"His potential for successful reintegration in society is enhanced through the support being offered by family members," she wrote.

The situation in Warner's district is one that is at issue across the state and the nation. It was recently reported that five sex offenders are living under a bridge in Miami because there is nowhere else for them to go. A parole agent checks on them daily.

Restrictions that keep offenders 2,500 feet from anywhere children might be have made it difficult for cities to house their registered sex offenders. Warner worries that rural areas may become dumping grounds.

He, Sheriff Clay Parker and County Counsel William Murphy attended a statewide summit in March to discuss the issue. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed 350 state and local leaders who gathered for the California Summit for Safe Communities: Investigating Collaborative Solutions for Housing High Risk Sex Offenders and Sexually Violent Predators.

The day's discussions focused on notification and release protocols, residential facilities, and local and state collaboration.

The state is required to give local law enforcement 60 days' notice before a high-risk sex offender is released into a community. A high-risk sex offender is a convicted sex offender who has been deemed by the state to pose a higher risk to commit a new sex offense in the community.

Both Warner and Parker want to see the notification period increased to 180 days and communicated that request during the summit.

Once the sheriff receives notification, he begins his own process of alerting neighbors and the community.

"We have been aggressive in alerting our residents," Parker said. "We have implemented an e-mail alert system that is now being duplicated by other counties."

Parker said that Megan's Law, enacted in 1996, allows the public to search a database for sex offenders. Individuals can go to the Megan's Law Web site and enter a city or Zip code and view a listing of all the registered sex offenders in that area.

Tehama County residents can go to the sheriff's office Web site and request an e-mail alert when an offender moves into their area.

"This prevents the public from having to log on and look on a regular basis," Parker said. "They will be automatically alerted."

There are 175 registered sex offenders in Tehama County, with more than half living in Red Bluff. A review of the Megan's Law site reveals that many are grouped in local apartment buildings and hotels.

Parker said he prefers it that way because it is easier to do compliance checks and to provide services such as for drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues.

While grouping sex offenders has met with some success locally, it was an issue at the summit. Representatives of the California Apartment Association said their members often are caught in the middle. If they admit sex offenders, they say, they run the risk of losing their regular residents, and if they deny access to sex offenders, they face potential lawsuits.

Warner said the message he took from the conference is "We've got to find a place for them to live."

In addressing the summit, Schwarzenegger said it would take a collaborative effort of state and local leaders to find a solution. The information collected during the summit will be condensed into a report and sent to all participants.

Parker and Warner hope the summit is the beginning of a long-term solution.

In the meantime, Warner is still working on behalf of his constituent.

"We always talk about protecting the victim, but I want to make sure that we protect (potential) future victims," he said.

Reporter Debra Moore can be reached at 529-5110 or at .

Posted by Tim on April 18, 2007 at 7:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The system doesn't care. How much longer can this go on? Sometimes people in the system try their best and work with what they have, but ultimately there's not a lot of precautions taken. Trying to determine where an offender can live, who is living next door then or might in the future, is probably not easy to deal with, since no one wants (or should have) a sex offender living next to them. The fact is, if they have to register, they are a potential threat and the system knows this. The facts are, and studies and the system's experience with these people, is that it's extremely rare for a sex offender to be rehabilitated. So, the simple question is, why are they released in the first place, ever?

When the society come to tolerate it to not keep them locked up indefinitely? What possible good does it do to let them out? If it's about costs of keeping them locked up, it's probably more to watch them and deal with it all, but we should have less (or none) penalties for things like drug arrests if there's not enough room to keep sex offenders/violent criminals locked away for good. Also, I'd be willing to foot a higher tax bill to ensure they stay locked up, and who wouldn't? So, the next question is, why do they allow them to live in areas with any kids, or any sex offender in an area with any women or any potential victim? How is it possible we allow this? There's got to be a better solution. How are the people making these laws not being held accountable? Why are we tolerating this for so long?

Posted by ATimeOrTwo on April 18, 2007 at 8:37 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I went to the Website for Meagans Law and found out that at the end of my street, there are 3 or more sex offenders living in a newly built halfway house. There are kids ALL over my street, 3 living just next door to me. Its crazy that they allow stuff like this. And to live with another sex offender? That seems like an incentive to me.

Posted by Tim on April 18, 2007 at 8:54 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Check downtown Redding, it looks like a galaxy of stars. I am glad to say that, at least according to that map of registered one's, there's none within a mile of my neighborhood. Of course, that's assuming there's not one that just failed to register their true address, and those are just the one's that were caught, tried and released,m so there's always the danger regardless and people should protect their children, family (and themselves) accordingly fully aware of the unknown danger anyway. A lot of the offenses do happen away from their area so they aren't caught. But, obviously Megan's Law was formed because of the one's that do take advantage of a situation where they live close or work for a company that has their employee's go into potential victim's homes, etc. I just can't fathom how we all tolerate this. Not many people seem to agree with the current system's handling of these people, and for good reason, yet we're not really getting anywhere better in a hurry about the laws either.

Posted by Teeny24 on April 18, 2007 at 9:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Where are these people supposed to go? I can't stand sex offenders anymore than the next person but even they need a place to live.

However, I think in the end, this country needs deal with these kinds of crimes differantly. Slapping them on the hand and letting them go obviously hasn't worked!

Posted by wildwoman on April 18, 2007 at 9:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How about a pine box six feet under.I think that this is the perfect home for every child molester out there.

Posted by opinionscount on April 18, 2007 at 9:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If a person is a convicted child molester then they need to be placed away from children. It should be a parole violation if they live close to children and then they can go back to prison. I'd rather spend my tax dollars to keep my children safe from them than to see them free.

Posted by wildwoman on April 18, 2007 at 9:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Why would you want to waste tax dollars on on someone that cannot be fixed.Rehab doesn't work, castration doesn't work.These are people that are sick;Rope 25 cents a foot,pine box, what about 50 bucks and problem solved.No need to worry about that one coming after any children,and our tax dollars can be spent on something else.(Like maybe our kids educational needs)

Posted by Tim on April 18, 2007 at 9:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Teeny24, everyone's aware they have to live somewhere, they do exist, and they were once people. But, that's the problem and suggestion, of what to do with them where it's not just a matter and debate about where they live. Either some type of community needs to be established to keep them separated from the citizens where they can't be harmed (this is what prison is for), or they need to be kept in the prison they were in. The fact is, if it's a threat, they shouldn't be let out. Prison is intended to not just punish people, but keep people safe from those people. I'm not assuming you disagree with me, or that you do, but I just see there's a problem that needs to be dealt with much better than it is now.

What's the point of the system if it's just there to punish by locking them up for some predetermined time, when they'll likely repeat and definitely pose a danger in the time they are out. So, where are they supposed to go? No one has a good answer for that, but I think people should have a right to refuse them in their area. Obviously everyone would refuse them, so they can start their own colony/town somewhere for all I care (and be monitored/tracked). It literally doesn't make sense to have the citizens put in this situation, it's not of sound logic. They really just need to be kept locked up for life (and I'm not talking about some 18 or 19 year old that had sex with a 16 year old and it was consensual, but real, true dangerous offenders that rape and molest people of any age).

If these people were facing, literally, life in prison, it also might deter some of these crimes (probably not, but it's possible). The only downside I see with the harsher penalties like that which I'm suggesting, is that some of the offenders might move from rape to rape and murder, for fear of being caught and seeing they have nothing to lose (unlike only a few months or years with today's system). I wish the world was a different place, but we can only work with that we have. At least the offenders in the system now, serious offenders, should never be let out. If it's about taxes and costs and overcrowded jails and prisons, then let the non violent offenders free first to free up some room and costs. Or just put the serious offenders to death. Maybe I should move to Texas, they have the right idea.

Posted by Tim on April 18, 2007 at 9:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

wildwoman, I completely agree with the death penalty for such offenders. But my suggestion of a tax hike, if needed to keep them in prison, is something I'd agree to, if it kept them in prison. People are less likely to agree to the death penalty, it's less popular of an idea, so if given the choice between things staying the same or a hike in taxes, I'd pay more to ensure they remain locked up. If enough people would agree to impose the death penalty, then that's all good, too!

Posted by wildwoman on April 18, 2007 at 10:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I just wish it could come to the death penalty for these type of offenders. I would even pull the lever to watch them hang for free.I can actually see other people volunteering to build the pine boxes and dig a holes.The only good use I see for them is becoming fertilizer.

Posted by Mom2B on April 18, 2007 at 10:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

There is really no good place for a dangerous sex offender. They can always find another victim. They system can't even keep track of them. Remember that 6 year old little boy that was missing for a week and found dead? The sex offender was ordered to move from his current address because he was too close to a place where children congregated. He moved in with his parents and lured this boy away from his grandmother's house. Not only was the sex offender to blame, but the father and mother took part in it as well. We live in a sad world. If the authorities won't take precautions against repeat offenders, we have to. We have to know where they are and who they are. I moved from downtown Redding a few months ago and I never left my doors unlocked because of the number of sex offenders that lived within 3 blocks of me. I would never go for a walk or jog without my dogs. I am thankful that I moved. I now live a pebbles throw from an elementary school, so I feel a little better that there is no registered sex offenders living around me. We have to protect our children and ourselves. I carry pepper spray. Life isn't the same as it was when we were growing up. I would never let me child walk home alone from school or to/from anywhere. We all have to remember that no one is safe, so the best think to do is be prepared for the worse and hope for the best.

Posted by Tim on April 18, 2007 at 10:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Exactly, being an aware, safe and cautious parent (and person if you're a woman) is the key to avoiding these incidents, for the most part at least. Still, it would be nice and appropriate if the system handled the known offenders (more) properly.

Posted by Mom2B on April 18, 2007 at 11:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I say find an unihabited island and ship them all there if they must be released.

Posted by BottomLine on April 18, 2007 at 11:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This really ticks me off... So the offender is suppose to be released in the same county as they were incriminated... that makes most people all warm and fuzzy... NOT ME... Our family was tormented by one of these criminals and he gets to be released in Shasta County in three years... oh that makes me sleep better... I know I get to run into the ******** soon. How fun is that... It's not and it's very scary. My daughter is going to have to live in the same county as the jerk...

I worry about who he may live near... I worry deeply. He beats his woman and preenes the young lady in the house.

Coming soon to a neighborhood near you in three years...

Posted by BottomLine on April 18, 2007 at 11:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

OH and they were going to slap him on the wrist and say "bad boy" until we got up in court and stated what he had done... that wasn't easy. I do appreciate the judge on the case, he knew the family this guy belonged to was prominent in Redding and decided to give the criminal the most he could give on a "first offence" (that we know of) six years.

Posted by gamerjohn on April 18, 2007 at 12:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Moving sex offenders to someplace else is how so many of them got dumped up here. The new law that the State voted in meant that all the perverts in the Bay Area would have to move to more rural places. That's our neck of the woods.

Granted that the listing doesn't tell you really what happened in the cases. It could have been a 17 year old boy with a 15 year old girl friend and now they are grandparents, but he was convisted of statutory rape in 1970. It could be a gay guy with another gay guy, but they were arrested for being gay guys. For safety sake, you have to presume that it was a kidnap/rape by a stranger and act with caution.

Posted by 2boiz4me on April 18, 2007 at 12:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

One important thing to remember: while Megan's Law site shows all sex offenders in a given area, not ALL of those registered offenders have committed crimes against children. That may be why there are some placed in an area where children are. There are other situations that require offenders to be registered aside from crimes against children.

Posted by wildwoman on April 18, 2007 at 12:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Also remember that on Megan's Law they tell you exactly what crimes they have committed, and if they are in violation.

Posted by Steven on April 18, 2007 at 12:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Since this is a very volatile topic, the first thing we need to understand is that we can't keep going like this. While it's easy to say that we should just kill all the sex offenders, the short answer is that's not going to happen soon unless we have a vigilante in the midst. Barring that, I have a solid, constitutional answer to what to do with registered sex offenders: Ban them to a Sex Offender Colony.

Nobody wants sex offenders to live in their neighborhoods, or even their cities. I’m a parent, and I would fight tooth and nail to prevent sex offenders from living anywhere that children may live.

Unfortunately, these sex offenders have rights. If they are not in prison, they will probably get the ACLU to sue the city and we will have to spend thousands of dollars defending the restrictions.

The ONLY thing, therefore, is to create an amendment to the US Constitution, creating sex offender colonies to restrict where these convicted sex offenders live in the first place. How to do this?

The first thing that needs to be done is to create an outline of such an amendment. I looked at the process for how an amendment is created. Here is the process:

Under Article V, there are two ways to propose amendments to the Constitution and two ways to ratify them.

To propose an amendment

1. Two-thirds of both houses of Congress vote to propose an amendment, or
2. Two-thirds of the state legislatures ask Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments.

To ratify an amendment

1. Three-fourths of the state legislatures approve it, or
2. Ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states approve it.

I would submit that the state legislature route would probably be more effective, but the congressional method can be tried first. It can effectively be used as a litmus test for voting, i.e., if someone doesn’t want to vote for proposing the amendment in congress, their 2008 opponent can have a field day in saying that the incumbent protects sex offenders at the expense of children’s safety, etc.

Such an amendment would solve many problems. First of all, the registry would not exist in its current form. Parents don’t have to worry where the monsters live, as they all would, by law, have to live in the colony. This also eliminates the need for GPS, as the sex offenders would be restricted to the colony in the first place. No worries about convicted child molesters stalking your children’s school or favorite park, or trolling on the Internet.

<<continued in next post>>

Posted by Steven on April 18, 2007 at 12:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

<<continued from previous post>>

Next, registrants would constitutionally have to be subjected to non-court ordered search of their premises within the zone. In addition, all their mail and phone calls would constitutionally be authorized to be monitored for illicit activities. Internet usage would also be strictly regulated, with all file storage for every computer actually done at the server-level. In addition, emails would be assigned by the administration, no Instant messaging or accessing MySpace or other children sites allowed, and all keystrokes and sites visited will be recorded 100%. All costs for such usage would be borne out by the offender, incidentally.

All registrants would be required to work, with their paychecks being handled by the administrators. Deductions for medical, rent, all services, and everything else would be done automatically, and any credit the registrant have be used for discretionary income ONLY from the colony store. Also, EVERY registrant will be required to go through treatment appropriate to his crime, and be certified as cured; otherwise, he can be subject to a felony charge and returned to prison.

Now, please keep in mind one thing: The sex offender colony is NOT…repeat…NOT a replacement for tough, appropriately long, non-paroleable sentencing guidelines in the first place! THAT IS PARAMOUNT. The colony would exist because society cannot handle the large amounts of offenders in their neighborhoods, with the inherent terror parents have with the knowledge that offenders are around their children. Therefore, the colony is SPECIFICALLY for offenders to spend their entire registration periods in a constitutionally-approved manner, eliminating the need for registries as they exist now.

Keep in mind, many offenders also are able to leave the registry for certain crimes after a specified amount of time has passed. Therefore, once a registrant’s time period has expired, he can petition the administration to be relieved of the duty to register and live in the SORERA zone. A panel of professionals, law enforcement individuals, and the offender’s victim representatives, will go over the request. If they feel the offender is ready to join society, then he can leave the zone and live anywhere he wants, although he will have to permanently register with law enforcement wherever he goes for the rest of his life. Bear in mind, also, that any registrant who has to register for life will NEVER get the opportunity to leave the zone. Only the most benign of the registrants will ever be allowed to leave.

Incidentally, I am working in conjunction with some of Nancy Grace’s fans and hopefully, she will introduce such an amendment this summer, and hopefully by 2010 we will have established sex offender colonies where EVERYONE who is required to register as a sex offener must live. No registries for me, get the monsters OUTTA here!

Contact me at if you want to be part of this just cause.

Posted by Momofthree on April 18, 2007 at 12:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I am in total agreement with wildwoman. Pine boxes for all of them. Think about it. They are adults, they prey on children because children are smaller, they can be easily tricked and influenced. They threaten them that if they tell someone, they will kill their families and so the poor little kids are the only ones who suffer. These creeps dont suffer. They shouldnt be allowed anywhere near a child. I like the idea of a sex offender colony where they will have to live. That way we can keep our eyes on them. (Or take them all out in one swoop!) There is absolutely nothing worse than a child molester. NOTHING!!! They are the lowest of the low and should have all of their rights taken away so they can be treated like the garbage dumpster scum that they are.

Posted by wildwoman on April 18, 2007 at 1:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have told my children exactly that Momofthree, "that if anyone touches you wrong and they tell you that they will hurt or kill anyone of us, don't believe them.You tell me and I will take care of it,and remember no one can hurt Mommy." Do you really think that I would drag it through court.Thank god my children are well informed and protected,truthfully I wouldn't want to have to become a monster myself.

Posted by Lee on April 18, 2007 at 1:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The 8th Amendment states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

It seems to me this Colony would come under “unusual punishment” in that only sex offenders are targeted. What is next? Should we make another “colony” for meth addicts so that their meth labs no longer endanger us? Maybe we should take a lesson from England, who made a whole country their “penal colony.” We may love what Australia is like now, but back in the early 19th Century it was a very hard place to survive.

Another thought: the more we place restrictions on liberties now, the easier it is to do it again to other “undesirables.” Who are the next “undesirables,” ones that follow “this” religion or “that” religion, ones that are “fat” or “skinny?” I do not have an answer to this problem, but restricting Constitution given liberties is NOT the answer.

Posted by wildwoman on April 18, 2007 at 1:41 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Child molesters,people who are making meth are CRIMINALS they do not deserve any rights.NONE.It's ok for some sick-o to inflict cruel and unusual torture to our children,and then they are protected by the 8th Amendment.That's the first thing that needs amending.

Posted by r_swanson on April 18, 2007 at 1:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Look. If people are so worried about sex offenders reoffending (because they almost always do), why are we reintegrating them into society?

If we know they'll be a hazard to others in the community, why unleash them? Most of them can't be fixed and will just reoffend over and over. They don't need to be out on the streets. Period.

Posted by Mom2B on April 18, 2007 at 3:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What about the leper colonies? I think there are still a couple in existence. Was that cruel and unusual? It wouldn't be cruel and unusual. They would have their own society with stores, jobs, parks and everything. They just wouldn't be able to be a part of regular society and be able to attack others. It's a way to keep society safe. It's no more cruel and unusual than sending them to prison.

Posted by Mom2B on April 18, 2007 at 3:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We are all in agreement with that, I'm sure. However, we are not the ones who determine who gets released. If it was up to me, the only criminals that would be released are the non-violent criminals...Burglars, car theives, corporate thieves, scam artists, etc. Violent criminals should remain locked up. Violent criminals, however, should not be released...Sex offenders, murderers, child pornography and kiddie sex organizers, etc. Our penal system needs a lot of work, that's for sure.

Posted by Steven on April 18, 2007 at 3:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

First, let's be clear: the 8th amendment does NOT preclude long, harsh sentences for most levels of child molestation. Virtually all sentencing regarding child molestation is now at a level that is horribly LOW. Legislatures are finally getting up to speed creating the appropriate sentencing guidelines for child molestation and sex offenses. But that does NOT mean that sex offenders whove ALREADY been sentenced, served their time, and are free as you and me are any less dangerous than those whom are not being sentenced.

The bottom line is this: NO parent wants sex offenders living in their neighborhoods or near where children congregate. The problem we have now is that registered sex offenders, both on parole and clear of the correctional system, cannot be constantly shuttled based on new laws being created on a daily basis. Offenders have been fighting back to restrictions, indeed claiming some of the arguments that Lee had opined in his post. In addition, the first, fourth, and fifth amendments, as well as the ex post facto clause, have been bandied out as defenses by the attorneys of sex offenders.

There is NO compromise to this solution. Either the offenders are either integrated into society, or they aren't. Since the vast majority of citizens do NOT believe most molesters can be reintegrated back into the community, the ONLY solution is to create a place where they are segregated from society. However, under the current system of an "arms race" mentality between communities, counties, and even states, there are literally HUNDREDS of ordinances and lawsuits.

But simply saying that "we need to put them in pine boxes six feet underground" is not going to do a thing. Nor would other vigilante type statements that only come from emotions, and NOT true community-based policy, help the situation of segregating offenders from children.

That is why I proposed a Constitutional Amendment, and I believe ONLY a constitutional amendment is the ONLY legal remedy we can engender for our communities.

In short, it takes a constitutional-level amendment to preclude the residency restrictions, gps restrictions, and Internet restriction challenges being made at this time on a piecemeal basis. Once the amendment is in place, it CANNOT be challenged in court. Even the ACLU couldn't do a thing about it. Indeed, Missouri is actually changing THEIR constitution because it currently doesn't allow sex offenders convicted before a certain date to appear on the registry; the new constitutional amendment to the state would allow for that inclusion. So there IS precedence for constitutional challenge and regulation to sex offender issues.

In short, it takes a constitutional-level amendment to preclude the residency restrictions, gps restrictions, and Internet restriction challenges being made at this time on a piecemeal basis. Once the amendment is in place, it CANNOT be challenged in court. Even the ACLU couldn't do a thing about it.

Posted by wildwoman on April 18, 2007 at 4:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I still stand my ground,Death sentence. I guess that's why the prison system keeps the child molesters out of there population(society),this is where they need to be integrated. But I guess that because we are so civilized, that we have to build them their own society ,so that they can live out the rest of their lives and ours safely. Of course this is after he/she has destroyed an child's life.Death sentence please how do we go about making that into law.

Posted by Steven on April 18, 2007 at 5:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The only way we can make a death sentence part of the sentence for a child molester is if they have killed the child. But I'll be honest: those cases are few and far between. And if that's the case, I'd prefer to see death sentences handed out to MURDERERS first, no matter what age the victim. Unfortunately, only .02% of all murderers are executed. Until we see a much greater rate of murderers being executed can we thing about injecting the death penalty into non-murdering charges.

But even if you kill, say, 20 of all sex offenders, that still leaves over half a million out in society who have already served their time. You just can't go back and kill THEM after the fact. THAT'S why the sex offender colony needs to be seriously considered. AS emotionlly satisfying as it sounds to execute all pedophiles, realistically it won't do a damn bit of good to PREVENT other molestations, and THAT'S the real goal of any policy.

Posted by Tim on April 18, 2007 at 6:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Gee Lee, you're right, if we're going to send sex offenders to prison, what's next? Huh? Sendign fat and skinny people to prison, or people we find "undesriable"?

Or MAYBE, just maybe, this is being suggested because it's appropriate and it's a way to allow them to be protected, while keeping the innocent citizen of our nation protected. You wouldn't happen to be one of the local sex offenders, would you? If not, explain yourself.

Posted by Tim on April 18, 2007 at 6:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Steven this self contained colony, how do you suggest we prevent escapes? Remember, this idea will never fly with the society we live in, or we'd have GPS ships in all their brains already. Anyway, I'm serious, you can see my thoughts from earlier today.

Posted by Tim on April 18, 2007 at 6:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Pardon the typos.

Posted by Steven on April 18, 2007 at 7:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Tim, I appreciate the question. The bottom line is that any offender who is not in the zone automatically becomes a federal fugitive, with a sentence of at LEAST ten years, non-paroleable, if it's his first felony, and at LEAST twenty years if it's his second. His third, he goes down for life. (A registrant may only have a misdemeanor, but still be required to live in the zone).

Since all registrants will be in zones, then law enforcement won't have the necessity of monitoring their residency in communities. Therefore, there will be the ability to put out a LOT more resources to track down the colony escapee.

Now to respond to your question regarding how the colony would "never fly". My contention is that it will not only fly, it will SOAR. Keep in mind that virtually every restriction against sex offenders usually pass at the rate of 80-90% wherever they are proposed. Even California, a so-called liberal blue state, passed at over 77% of the vote restrictions so harsh that it restricts offenders from living in 84% of the populated area of the state, and it mandates EVERY felony sex offender to wear GPS for life. Of course, they never did figure out how in tarnation they were going to PAY for all this monitoring.

And that's the beauty of the sex offender colony. It passes on the costs from municipalities to the offenders themselves (colonies would by law have to be self-sustaining), it would suppress ACLU court challenges (and independent challenges) as the constitutional amendment would, indeed be CONSTITUTIONAL (duh!), and if would wipe out virtually every offense that could be committed by a registered sex offender.

Now, even laws such as this would have to still undergo other constitutionality challenges. My contention is that these laws are consistent with other laws around the country, such as residency restrictions, buffer zones, and now, Internet restrictions. The colony itself is the LOGICAL and CONSTITUTIONALLY LEGAL outcome of such laws.

Incidentally, while I'm NOT concerned about this part, sex offenders THEMSELVES would consider the colonies to be good things. They could live in communities free of potential harassment and also know that they would not automatically be suspect if a child went missing in their area. They could also work without having to worry if they were going to be voted out via residency restriction. In short, it's a win-win situation.


Registered Sex Offenders segregated from our children (no worry about having to consult an internet registry every week or so).

Registered Sex Offenders pay for their own existence in the zone (no ongoing cost to taxpayers).

No need for GPS for sex offenders in the zone (saves law enforcement resources)

No need to worry about internet predation (Internet strictly restricted and costly; no file storage)

IN short, this is probably the only idea that would pass muster with the American public short of 100% execution.

Posted by wildwoman on April 18, 2007 at 8:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Steve is this just your solution to the problem or is this actually being debated somewhere else besides on this forum.Personally I really don't see this flying myself either. I don't want to see any of our green earth being wasted on pedophiles, either. No room on this planet for them,but that is through my eyes.

Posted by Steven on April 18, 2007 at 9:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

wildwoman, I share your sentiments, emotionally. But I'm someone who is more interested in RESULTS, not in fantasies or emotional outputs. And the harsh reality is that we aren't going to be able to kill pedophiles or send them to the moon. We ARE going to start sending them to prison longer, in some cases for decades, when in the past they got out after a year or two, for starters. However, there are hundreds of thousands of registered sex offenders whom are OUT of prison now. While we can certainly make sentencing laws that would pretty much put them in jail for decades for their next sex crime, the residency restrictions, Internet restrictions, and other civil actions are going to be more and more in vogue. However, such actions only increase the litigation that will be conducted by the ACLU types and even private lawyers hired by convicted child rapists.

Therefore, the sex offender colonies not only will fly, it will be constitutionally bulletproof, and we will have final determination on the sex offender issue.

Posted by redding_resident on April 18, 2007 at 9:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That "slippery slope" argument doesn't connect sexual freaks to fat/skinny people. I wonder what the real motive is for someone to defend this group of people.

Posted by Tim on April 18, 2007 at 10:14 p.m. (Suggest removal)

redding_resident, exactly. That comment from Lee was just off the wall, I can't tell if that person was being a jerk, joking, or if they were just trying to point out that it wouldn't be possible due to those reasons and didn't work it properly, but it seemed pretty sinister to me.

Steve, if the world were thinkers like us posting here, we'd not be in the predicament we are now to be the point where we're discussing a colony. I said this in my first post earlier today, I'd be for whatever it takes to keep these people locked up or removed from the innocent society, but as much as we hope, it might not be much more feasible than aiming for that island idea.

I'd hope people would be for it, because as I also said earlier today, I don't think the death penalty would fly, but I honestly don't think people would see this as being much different and would be paranoid of "how far would it go" (see Lee's comment for a perfect example). Regardless, anything is worth trying and fighting for, so if this were ever up for any debate, input, etc., I'd be there standing next to you. I've considered getting into law just to do my part to help fix these problems and still might.

Posted by wildwoman on April 19, 2007 at 7:20 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Well lets put it this way,you figure that when I was growing up we really didn't know (as children)that these type of people were out there.I would say over what the past 20 yrs this has become a reality where everyone is aware. How much longer do you think parents are going to allow this to go on,before it does become a vigilante type scenario. If our law makers don't start protecting our kids parents are going to take into there own hands to make sure that these type of individuals cannot hurt our children. Right now the laws don't protect our kids.Life in prison and integrated into their society in which they wouldn't last long, even our prisoners won't tolerate them,that is why they are not with the population in prison, to protect them.Child molesters do not have a place anywhere,not even on their own island,colony,NO WHERE! It would just be easier to put them to death,then we wouldn't have to put up that individual ever again. It wouldn't stop pedophilia it will never stop,but at least there would be consequences.

Posted by Steven on April 19, 2007 at 9:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wildwoman, again: I AGREE with your emotional argument that sex offenders should all be put to death immediately. I WISH that the laws were such that this occurred. But the reality's not going to happen. When only .02% of all first-degree MURDERERS are executed, and 99.98% of all first-degree murderers are NOT executed, how in tarnation can we even THINK of applying the death penalty to NON-murder cases? Again, this is a RATIONAL question that cannot be answered truthfully. I am probably in the minority, but I believe that murder is much worse than child molestation.

Of COURSE, if I saw a molester attacking child, I'd probably kill him on the spot if I had the ability to do so. But I'd do the same to anyone attacking my adult brother, my parent, or my friend. That's a natural, "heat of the moment" response that would hold up in court.

My whole argument for sex offender colonies and creating an amendment is because it is MUCH better than what we have now. As you said, vigilantism is probably going to be the result of current policy, and unless we get the offenders away from the parents and the children in the FIRST place, and do it in a CONSTITUTIONAL manner, we will actually CREATE a much bigger problem, and then we will lose control of the offenders.

Frankly, anything less that my proposal is more dangerous to the children, and that will ALWAYS be my bottom line. Preventing attacks is MUCH more preferable to execution of offenders, but most people, emotionally, feel it's the other way around. They do NOT go hand in hand, unfortunately.

Shasta County jail inmate sues over dangerous' care
By Jim Schultz (Contact)
Saturday, January 13, 2007 

A 36-year-old inmate at the Shasta County jail has filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court claiming that he received "negligent" and "dangerous" health care at the West Street facility.

In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento on Dec. 18, Everett Joseph Jewett of Happy Valley claims that he hurt his back while in jail, but does not specify how the injury occurred.

Jewett's complaint says he was lying on his back in pain on the top bunk in his cell when Dr. Dennis Hawley, who was called to the cell with other jail personnel, tried to remove him from it.

"When I told him I could not move, he grabbed me in a headlock' and proceeded to try jerking me off the bunk," Jewett wrote in his lawsuit. "I was then put on the floor (of a medical holding cell) for two days unable to move, (and) my meals were slid into the room next to my head. After two days, I was transported to the (hospital) emergency room."

Named as defendants in Jewett's lawsuit are Tennessee-based Prison Health Services Inc., which provides the health care at the jail, on-site program supervisor Sharon Denney, Hawley and the jail.

Assistant Shasta County Counsel Mike Ralston said Thursday that he was unaware that the lawsuit had been filed and that county officials have not been served with a copy of it.

"I am not in a position to comment on it because I haven't seen it," he said.

Ralston said it's likely that the lawsuit, once received, would be handled by Prison Health Services attorneys.

Still, he was skeptical of the allegations after portions of the suit were read to him.

"I would be real surprised if he was lying on the floor (for two days) having food shoved at him," he said, adding that Jewett may have exaggerated the doctor's actions.

According to a Nov. 1 jail incident report included with the suit, Hawley grabbed Jewett by the arm as the inmate was lying in his bunk in an effort to try to pull him closer to the edge, but to no avail.

"Dr. Hawley pushed Jewett's knees down to get his legs flat on the bunk and forced Jewett to sit up in his bunk," the report says. "Jewett immediately started to complain (that) his back hurt."

"Inmate Jewett eventually stood up on his table and was helped down by officers" who also assisted him into a wheelchair, the report says, adding that he was then escorted via elevator to a medical holding cell.

According to the report, Jewett became angry with Hawley during an elevator ride, repeatedly calling him an obscenity.

"In the elevator, inmate Hawley stated his legs were numb" and that Jewett became agitated after the doctor said that being numb was not a medical condition, the incident report says.

Hawley, who no longer works at the jail, could not be reached Thursday or Friday for comment.

Jewett's complaint seeks an independent investigation into health care at the jail and "a monetary sum to be determined at a later time."

Capt. Don Van Buskirk, who oversees the jail's administration, said Thursday that he had not seen Jewett's lawsuit and could not speak to its issues.

But, he said, the jail has a well qualified medical staff that's responsible to provide health care for the inmates.

Jewett remains in jail on a variety of drug charges, including possession of a controlled substance and transportation or selling of controlled substances, according to Shasta County Superior Court records.

Records also note that Jewett was sentenced in June 2003 to more than four years in prison after being convicted of assaulting a peace officer, flight from an officer, obstruction and making threats.

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at .

Murder suspect commits suicide in jail
By Jim Schultz (Contact)
Originally published 10:13 a.m., December 28, 2006
Updated 10:13 a.m., December 28, 2006 

A Jones Valley man accused of murder apparently committed suicide Wednesday night in his Shasta County jail cell by strangling himself with a bed sheet.

James Loren Hesson, 37, was found dead at about 7:10 p.m. by a guard conducting routine cell checks, Redding police and Shasta County sheriff's deputies said.

Although correctional officers, deputies and the jail nursing staff administered first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Hesson, he couldn't be resuscitated.

Sgt. Scott Mayberry of the Redding Police Department said this morning that Hesson apparently wrapped a sheet with a knot in it and tightly twisted it like a tourniquet around his neck, strangling himself.

Although he did not leave behind a suicide note, he did leave a note asking jailers to notify his mother, said sheriffs Lt. Mike Ashmun.

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

Redding defense attorney Michael Khoronov said this morning that he was notified of his client's death Wednesday night, but could not comment further.

Shasta County Deputy District Attorney Stew Jankowitz, the prosecutor in the case, also declined to comment, noting that the death is still being investigated.

Ashmun said that Hesson, a Bella Vista native and bricklayer who had been in jail since late April, had not shown any signs that he might try to harm himself. Jailers last had checked on him only 30 minutes earlier, he said.

There were no warning signs that popped up, said Ashmun, adding that Hesson had never caused problems at the jail. He's been pretty much a model inmate, he said.

But Mayberry and Ashmun said that some fellow inmates indicated Hesson may have despondent over personal issues and his upcoming murder trial.

Hesson was immediately arrested after the April 30 shooting death of 46-year-old Donald Lee Zahner of Redding during an alleged dispute over a weed trimmer.

Investigators said Hesson shot Zahner once in the abdomen with a 12-gauge shotgun at the Bear Mountain RV Park after Zahner argued with 19-year-old Aaron Daniel Kuska outside the resort's store.

Zahner died at the scene.

Hesson had been scheduled to be tried for murder on Jan. 23, but the case recently was postponed to collect further evidence and he was scheduled to return to Shasta County Superior Court on Wednesday to receive a new trial date.

Hesson's apparent suicide is the second this year at the jail and the fifth since 2000. The last inmate who killed himself was 51-year-old Robert Alfred Ybarra of Redding, who hanged himself with a bed sheet in his cell in June. In that case the sheet had been attached to a vent in the cell. Ybarra was in jail on suspicion of domestic violence and making terrorist threats.

Before that, in August 2003, an inmate in jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon also hanged himself with bedding in his cell.

But perhaps the most high-profile suicide at the jail was in November 2002 when double-murder suspect Benjamin Matthew Williams killed himself by slashing his neck, arms and legs with a the metal strip from a jail-issued razor wrapped around two parts of a pen. He bled to death.

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at .

Several sex offenders arrested in FBI-led sweep
By Lauren Brooks, Record Searchlight
October 13, 2006

Twenty-three people were arrested in a massive, FBI-sponsored sweep of more than 200 sex offenders in Shasta and Tehama counties, an FBI spokeswoman in Sacramento said Thursday.

The sweep included Siskiyou County, but no arrests were made there. Wednesday's arrests led to two federal investigations of offenders who allegedly had child pornography on their computers, spokeswoman Karen Ernst said. 

The multiagency operation was part of a nationwide initiative by the U.S. Department of Justice called Project Safe Childhood. 

The Tehama County Sheriff's Department reported that 16 sex offenders -- men and women -- were arrested during the compliance checks. The alleged violations included failing to register as a sex offender or violating parole, a sheriff's spokeswoman said. 

Seven people from Shasta County were arrested on suspicion of being out of compliance with registration requirements, Shasta County sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Foster said. 

One of the arrests initiated a federal investigation into possession of child pornography. Foster said it was a sex-related offense similar to the one for which the person previously had been arrested, but declined to be more specific. 

"It rises to the level of a federal investigation," Foster said. 

Several people received citations for warrants or on suspicion of possessing drug paraphernalia, he said. 

The Sheriff's Department performed a large-scale compliance check six months ago and plans to do one every six months, Foster said. 

"They need to know that we're going to check on them," he said. 

Wednesday's check was an eight-hour operation in which officers searched offenders' homes for drugs and checked computers for child pornography. Most of the people arrested were sex offenders, but some were parolees visiting friends who were sex offenders, he said. 

Although 34 compliance checks were made for sex offenders in Siskiyou County, no arrests were made. They were all in compliance, Siskiyou County sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Graven- kamp said. One woman was cited for being in possession of a controlled substance, she said. 

Agencies participating in the operation included the Shasta, Siskiyou and Tehama sheriff's departments; the Redding, Anderson, Corning, Red Bluff, Weed and Yreka police departments; the Shasta and Tehama county district attorney's offices, the Shasta and Tehama county probation and parole offices, the California Department of Justice, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the FBI; the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and the U.S. Marshal's Service. 

Reporter Lauren Brooks can be reached at 225-8215 or at

Woman assaulted at jail
Sexual attack reported in a holding cell

Sgt. Ben Estill stands outside an observation cell 
Thursday at the Shasta County jail. A 37-year-old 
Redding woman reported being sexually assaulted 
by a male inmate in a similar cell Wednesday.
By Ryan Sabalow, Record Searchlight
September 15, 2006

A woman was sexually assaulted by a male inmate Wednesday afternoon in the Shasta County jail after she "inadvertently" was placed in a cell with two men, said Shasta County sheriff's Capt. Dave Compomizzo. 

The woman, who had been arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public, was placed in the observation cell by a female correctional officer around 2 p.m. and left alone with the men for 15 minutes, officials said. 

Correctional officers discovered the woman during a routine check of the cell, Compomizzo said. She immediately told officers that she had been assaulted, he said.

The woman was described as a 37-year-old transient from Redding. Her arrest was the second time that day that she had been picked up on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol, Compomizzo said. 

Compomizzo said he would not release the name of the jail employee who placed the woman in the cell because of an ongoing administrative investigation. 

He said the correctional officer has not been placed on administrative leave, and that Sheriff Tom Bosenko will have final say on any disciplinary action that might follow the investigation. 

Compomizzo said jail policy prohibits women from being placed with men. 

"This is strictly an anomaly," Compomizzo said. "It appears on the face of the investigation that it had been inadvertently done." 

Compomizzo also declined to release the names of the two men who were in the cell with the woman. 

He listed their ages as 19 and 59 and said both men, one of whom is transient, are from the Redding area. 

He would not say which man is accused of assaulting the woman. 

Compomizzo said the inmate has not been arrested in the assault, pending a joint criminal investigation by the sheriff and the Redding Police Department. 

The men also were being held on suspicion of being drunk in public, he said. 

The case will be forwarded to the Shasta County district attorney's office to determine what charges, if any, will be filed, he said. 

Observation cells are bare rooms with rubber floors. The only fixture is a toilet. 

The jail's chief administrator, Capt. Don Van Buskirk, said that when inmates are brought into the jail, they're first processed in a booking area. 

An inmate who appears to be under the influence will be moved to an observation cell before either being released or moved into the general population, Van Buskirk said. 

Inmates in observation cells wear civilian clothing and are not handcuffed, he said. A blanket and mattress are provided, he said. 

While in the cell, inmates are visually checked by correctional officers twice every half hour, Van Buskirk said. 

The officers are required to keep a log of the inspections. The log is taped to the front of the cells. 

Van Buskirk said the law prevents male correctional officers from interacting directly with female inmates. 

However, female correctional officers can interact with male and female inmates, he said. 

Reporter Ryan Sabalow can be reached at 225-8344 or at


Woman sexually assaulted after being placed in a cell with a male inmate 
By Ryan Sabalow, Record Searchlight
September 14, 2006 

A woman was sexually assaulted Wednesday afternoon in the Shasta County Jail by a male inmate after she was inadvertently placed in a cell with her assailant and another male inmate, Shasta County Sheriff’s Capt. Dave Compomizzo said today. 

The woman, whom Compomizzo described as a transient from Redding, was left in an observation cell for 15 minutes with the two men before jail staff discovered the error, Compomizzo said. 

Compomizzo would not release the name of the jail employee who placed the woman in the cell because of an ongoing administrative investigation. 

A criminal investigation into the alleged sexual assault is being conducted jointly by the Redding Police Department. 

Reporter Ryan Sabalow can be reached at 225-8344 or at

Threat to kill judge refuted
Millville man's attorney says he was not serious

By Jim Schultz, Record Searchlight
September 1, 2006

A Millville man was ordered Thursday to stand trial for allegedly threatening to kill Superior Court Judge-elect Cara Beatty. 

But it's a trial that may hinge on semantics and intent. 

John Arles Manz, 44, who had an hourlong preliminary hearing, is scheduled to stand trial Oct. 24. 

If convicted, he faces three years in state prison, said Shasta County Deputy District Attorney Ben Hanna, who is prosecuting the case. 

Manz was arrested earlier this month after he allegedly voiced a threat against Beatty, a court commissioner, to a child support worker. 

Deputy Public Defender Amy Babbits, however, argued Thursday that Manz was simply frustrated over a family law ruling Beatty made affecting the custody of his child and was blowing off steam. 

She said Manz, who apparently feared losing custody of his daughter, had no specific intention to harm Beatty and that the case has been "blown out of proportion." 

She also noted that police took more than two days to follow up. 

"If it was that much of a threat, it would have been acted upon immediately," she said. 

Hanna disagreed with Babbits' contention that it was an idle threat, saying it was clear that Beatty was the target of Manz's frustration and that he had access to firearms and the ability to carry out the threat. 

Retired Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge J. Augustus Accurso, who was called in to preside over the hearing because Shasta County's judges have recused themselves from the case, said he was satisfied that the prosecution had established sufficient cause to warrant a trial. 

But, he said, it will be up to a jury to decide whether Manz was serious about harming Beatty. 

Genna Faith, a child support specialist with the county's Child Support Services, testified Thursday that Manz voiced frustration to her about Beatty on Aug. 11 during an interview at the agency's Park Marina Drive headquarters. 

Manz had learned the day before, she said, that Beatty had issued an order limiting visitation with his daughter. 

"He seemed to be getting more and more frustrated with the situation," Faith said, adding that Manz mentioned Beatty in a negative light about 20 times during their two-hour conversation.

Under questioning by Hanna, Faith said that Manz told her he would "want to" kill Beatty if she took away his daughter and would also "want to kill anyone who would get between him and his child." 

Redding police officer Mark Oliva, who also took the stand Thursday, said he spoke with Faith on Aug. 14 about the alleged death threat. 

But Faith told him that Manz would more than just want to harm Beatty, he said. 

"If I lose my daughter, I will kill her, meaning Judge Beatty," Oliva said he was told by Faith. 

Sgt. Joel Northrup, the court security supervisor for the Shasta County marshal's office, said he also spoke with Faith and recalled that she told him Manz was going to kill Beatty.

He said he informed Beatty of the alleged threat, and that she was concerned. 

Manz remains in Shasta County jail in lieu of $265,000 bail. 

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at


Child molester to serve nine years 
By Record Searchlight Staff
August 19, 2006

A Redding man is due to be sentenced to nine years in state prison on Aug. 31 after pleading guilty earlier this week to molesting a 12-year-old girl, a Shasta County prosecutor said Friday. 

Michael Dean Steffey, 28, molested the girl, who is now 13, last month, said Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. 

Under a plea bargain struck earlier this week, Steffey admitted to the charges against him and will be sentenced to a nine-year prison term, she said. 


Michael Lee Johnson

Murder trial delayed over alleged racial slur
Public defender denies defendant's claim; judge appoints new attorney

By Jim Schultz, Record Searchlight
July 25, 2006

The upcoming murder trial of two men accused of killing a Mountain Gate man in 1997 was postponed Monday after one of the suspects accused his public defender of using a racial slur. 

Shasta County Senior Public Defender Max Ruffcorn adamantly denied the charge. 

"Of course not," he said after court. "I didn't call him any names, let alone a racial slur." 

Michael Lee Johnson, who was convicted last year of raping and sexually molesting a young Redding girl and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison, was scheduled to begin standing trial today along with co-defendant Derek Martinez in connection with the death of 24-year-old Christopher Joseph Kohn of Mountain Gate. 

Johnson, however, asked Superior Court Judge James Ruggiero on Monday to grant him a new lawyer, and claimed that Ruffcorn, who also represented him during his child molestation trial, made a racial slur directed toward him. 

Johnson is black. Ruggiero, who met for about 30 minutes with Ruffcorn and Johnson during a closed-door hearing, did not publicly address Johnson's racial slur claim. 

But he relieved Ruffcorn and the public defender's office from representing Johnson in the upcoming murder trial, saying there was a "complete breakdown" in the attorney-client relationship.

Ruggiero appointed Redding attorney Jim Pearce to represent Johnson and also set an Oct. 17 trial date for the two co-defendants. 

Martinez, 30, is being represented by Redding attorney Aaron Williams. Shasta County Senior Deputy District Attorney Brent Ledford is the prosecutor. 

Johnson, 33, who has long complained about Ruffcorn's representation, was removed from court during his September 2005 sentencing after he shouted comments about Judge Richard McEachen and the 11-year-old victim who testified against him. The girl was between 5 and 7 years old when Johnson abused her. 

Johnson's outburst prompted McEachen to sentence him in absentia. Johnson's conviction is being appealed. 

Martinez, a Redding resident, and Johnson, a former Redding resident, were arrested in July 2004 after Martinez's ex-wife provided information that enabled investigators to link the pair to Kohn's death. She saw a flier about the murder that had been distributed by the murder victim's family.

Kohn's badly beaten body was found Jan. 30, 1997, inside his Wonderland Boulevard apartment. 

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at


Officers union fights quotas'
Good performance is more than ticket statistics, police say

By Scott Mobley, Record Searchlight
July 23, 2006

Quotas for arrests and tickets, illegal in California, remain the stuff of urban legend. 

But quotas are a real issue in Redding -- especially for the police officers writing the tickets and wielding the handcuffs. 

The Redding Peace Officers Association, or RPOA, has accused the Redding Police Department of imposing a de-facto quota system on rank-and-file cops. 

Police Chief Leonard Moty denies the department has ever set quotas, explicit or implicit. But he insists on the administration's right to hold officers to performance standards. 

"For someone to write zero tickets month after month, that's not acceptable," Moty said. "Writing tickets is part of your job. There are violations out there that you see." 

But the department recognizes that ticket and arrest statistics can't be a sole job performance indicator, Moty said. 

RPD and the union are discussing a compromise that would make performance evaluations more holistic. 

So, for example, an officer who makes relatively few arrests but does lots of community policing or writes effective police reports would still get credit for good work, Moty said. 

The quota issue has festered between the RPOA and the administration for years. 

Three officers sued Redding in late 2002 on behalf of the union. The suit accused the city of setting arrest and citation quotas and threatening to discipline officers who failed to meet them. 

The RPD administration had demanded that officers meet "shift averages" for arrests and citations. Any officer failing to meet these averages faced a markdown on his or her performance evaluation that could limit promotion opportunities or even lead to dismissal, the suit said. 

The city denied the suit had merit or standing. But the two sides eventually settled, agreeing on a "side letter" that's become part of the employment contract between the police union and the city. 

For its part, the city in the side letter acknowledged that it could not promote, demote, dock pay or dismiss any officer solely on arrest and ticket citation numbers. 

And the union agreed that the city could set performance standards at least loosely based, in part, on arrest and ticket statistics. Officers whose arrest and citation numbers were less than half the number made by other police on the same shift during six months out of the year would be judged "below average" in that part of their evaluation for that year. 

The union recently has accused the city of not holding up its end of the deal. 

"RPOA believes the city shouldn't criticize officers if they're in the performance range," said Steve Allen, labor representative for the union. "But the administration is criticizing officers in that range and putting them on the performance-needs-improvement track." 

Moty denies the city has failed its obligations under the agreement. The administration hasn't handed out a single "below average" evaluation under the side letter provisions, he said. 

"We think the agreement's working out just fine," Moty said. "It's probably more of an issue for them than it is for us." 

Reporter Scott Mobley can be reached at 225-8220 or at,2232,REDD_17533_4809848,00.html

Inmate found dead in apparent suicide
Redding man was jailed on suspicion of domestic violence

By Jim Schultz, Record Searchlight
June 29, 2006

A Shasta County jail inmate apparently committed suicide Wednesday by hanging himself with a bed sheet in his cell, an investigator with the Redding Police Department said. 

The dead man was identified by the Shasta County coroner's office as 51-year-old Robert Alfred Ybarra of Redding. 

Ybarra, who had been booked into jail about 2:30 a.m. on suspicion of domestic violence and making terror threats, was found hanging in his cell around 10 a.m., police said, adding that Ybarra left a suicide note. 

An autopsy is scheduled for today. 

Sgt. Scott Mayberry of the Redding Police Department said Ybarra was apparently able to hang himself by attaching the bed sheet to an air vent in the cell. 

Mayberry said the investigation has not turned up any evidence that points to anything other than suicide. 

Capt. Don Van Buskirk of the Shasta County Sheriff's Department said jail personnel checked on Ybarra less than an hour before he was discovered hanging in his cell. "There was nothing to lead us to believe that anything like this would occur," he said. 

Van Buskirk, who said all inmates undergo mental and medical health screening when they are processed into jail, expressed confidence that jail procedures were correctly followed. 

The investigation is being conducted by Redding police, the Sheriff's Department and the Shasta County district attorney's office. The Redding Police Department is the lead agency. 

Ybarra's death forced a temporary lockdown of the jail, but court proceedings and other business were not disrupted, Van Buskirk said. 

Ybarra's apparent suicide is the fourth at the Redding jail since 2000. The last was in August 2003, when an inmate, in jail for assault with a deadly weapon, also hanged himself in his cell with bedding. 

In November 2002, murder suspect Benjamin Matthew Williams committed suicide by slashing his neck, arms and legs with a makeshift razor. 

According to electronic Shasta County Superior Court records, Ybarra had a criminal history dating to 1987, including arrests on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, corporal injury to a spouse, making threats, drunken driving and vandalism. 

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at


Brad Garrison / Record Searchlight

SEARCHING THE SCENE: Shasta County Sheriff's investigation technician Samantha Cheney gathers evidence Monday near the fence that Christopher Lara of Shasta Lake allegedly was climbing when a sergeant shocked him with a TASER stun gun.

TASER jolt nearly kills man
Parolee ran from deputy trying to search him

By Ryan Sabalow, Record Searchlight
June 13, 2006

SHASTA LAKE -- A Shasta Lake man stopped breathing Monday after a Shasta County Sheriff's sergeant shot him in the head and shoulder with a TASER stun gun, Sgt. Janet Breshears said. 

Christopher Lara, 46, was resuscitated en route to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, where he remained in fair condition Monday afternoon. 

Breshears said Lara -- who was wanted in Siskiyou County on a $25,000 felony warrant for a parole violation -- led deputies on a chase that ended in a backyard. There, he was shot with the stun gun through a chain-link fence. 

Breshears said deputies were called to Virginia Avenue after residents there reported a suspicious person standing near a motorcycle, yelling incoherently with no one else around. 

When deputies arrived, Lara told deputy Ray Hughes he had crashed his motorcycle, Breshears said. 

Lara appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Breshears said, and Hughes began a search. 

"(Lara) was acting very irrational," Breshears said. "The guy was talking wild. Once (Hughes) started doing a search, he took off." 

Lara was confronted by Sgt. Sheila Ashmun on Marilyn Avenue. 

"She said 'Stop, stop, stop,'" said Rebekah Schaeffer, the 71-year-old owner of the home where Lara was taken down in the backyard. "He wouldn't stop. She said, Stop or I will TASER you.' She gave him fair warning." 

After Lara was shot through a backyard fence he had climbed, an ambulance was called when deputies saw he was having trouble breathing, Breshears said. 

He stopped breathing in the ambulance, Breshears said, and paramedics had to resuscitate him. 

After he was revived, Lara became confrontational a few blocks from the shooting, and deputies were called to help subdue him, Breshears said. 

A TASER uses a compressed nitrogen gas canister to propel two electrode-tipped barbs -- actually straightened No. 8 fishhooks -- at a velocity of 170 feet per second, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians Web site. 

The device is accurate to about 25 feet and is capable of delivering up to 50,000 volts in rapid pulses during a five-second period, according to the site. 

According to the TASER International Inc. Web site, the weapon should be fired at the torso, and it's best to "avoid intentionally aiming a TASER device at the head or face." 

Breshears said Ashmun, a 15-year veteran with the sheriff's department, didn't intentionally shoot Lara in the head. 

"Anything can happen -- (the target) can move in the last second," she said. "She was shooting through a fence, so it's hard to say why (the barbs) ended up one in the shoulder and one in the head. We're trained to go for the body mass." 

The stun guns have drawn criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union, which issued a report last year alleging that law enforcement personnel weren't adequately trained on the use of the potentially dangerous device. 

Since 1999, at least 148 people in the United States and Canada have died after police shocked them with TASERs, according to the ACLU. 

More than half of those deaths occurred in the past year, the ACLU reported in October. Of those, 15 occurred in Northern and Central California. 

Mark Schlosberg, of the ACLU of Northern California, said the criticism stems from officers being trained to use the device based solely on the manufacturer's recommendations, which "downplay the safety hazards." 

"I think people should be concerned of the lack of regulations," Schlosberg said. 

An after-hours call to TASER International's communications department was not returned Monday night. 

Reporter Ryan Sabalow can be reached at 225-8344 or at .,2232,REDD_17533_4639475,00.html

Leaders seeking ways to keep ex-cons honest
By Christina Lucarotti-Stubler, Record Searchlight
April 21, 2006

Local law enforcement and community leaders will examine the criminal justice system during anevent focused on figuring out how to keep past offenders from returning to jail. 

"We can't just lock everybody up and throw away the key," said Larry Schaller, acting Shasta County sheriff. 

He said he hopes the Stakeholders Forum on Community Justice, set for next month, will result in a plan for moving offenders back into the community and reducing recidivism. 

About 5 percent to 8 percent of the population is responsible for 85 percent of crimes, Schaller said. 

Much of the forum will focus on connecting the justice system with the more than 40 local agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide services to past offenders, parolees and those on probation. 

One vision is to create an environment within a minimum security facility that would allow programs to serve inmates while they are still in jail, said Bill Price Jr., chief executive officer of Restoration Enterprises Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides job training for parolees. 

As a result, offenders would leave jail with the skills they need to find jobs and avoid getting in trouble again, Price said.

"None of this means being soft on these guys," Price said, stressing that the goal is to teach offenders to be "highly accountable." 

The forum will include presentations from Superior Court judges William Gallagher, James Ruggiero and Andy Anderson, Redding Police Chief Leonard Moty and Division Director of Parole Jim L'Etoile. 

The Stakeholders Forum will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 3 at the Holiday Inn on Hilltop Drive in Redding. Registration is $30, and space is limited. 

The Shasta County Sheriff's Department has partnered with the Restoration Enterprises, California State Parole, Bethel Business Network, Good News Rescue Mission, Youth Violence Prevention Council, Shasta County Probation Department and the Shasta County District Attorney's Victim Witness Assistance program. 

For more information or to register, call Restoration Enterprises Inc. at 245-0500. 
Reporter Christina Lucarotti-Stubler can be reached at 225-8215 or at,2232,REDD_17533_4608342,00.html

Deputy files harassment claim
Carelli says captain frequently made derogatory comments about heritage

By Tim Hearden, Record Searchlight
April 9, 2006

A former sheriff's deputy has filed a legal claim against Shasta County alleging that a captain relentlessly belittled his Italian heritage while the two worked in the main jail. 

John Carelli, whose 16-year tenure with the Sheriff's Department ended in December, asserts that Capt. Don Van Buskirk insulted him repeatedly in August and September and brushed aside his requests that the barbs stop. 

At one point, Van Buskirk told Carelli that "dago wops can't be offended" and that "it's not like you're black or Mexican," according to the claim that was submitted to the county in February. 

"The act was frequent and repeated. Management was involved with the harassment," Carelli's claim concluded. As a result, he wrote, "I suffered great emotional distress, humiliation in front of my co-workers and a feeling of low self worth. I was denied the opportunity to stand in for shift watch commander, which I had done on numerous other occasions." 

Carelli, 37, said this week that he has hired an attorney, but he would not identify the lawyer or comment further. Van Buskirk, who oversees jail operations, refused to comment on the allegations.

Acting sheriff Larry Schaller said he was not aware of any accusations against Van Buskirk until the tort claim was filed. "Normally, those matters would be brought to a supervisor" or other internal authority, he said. 

The state Department of Fair Employment and Housing has received no complaints from Carelli or anyone else about Van Buskirk's behavior, Chief Counsel Paul Ramsey said Friday. 

Neither Carelli nor county officials would say whether his departure in December was of his own choosing. The county has yet to respond to Carelli's claim, which does not specify monetary damages. A legal claim is required before filing a lawsuit. 

"As you know, we get tort claims, they are investigated and a decision is made on how to respond," Assistant County Counsel Mike Ralston said. "That's being looked into." 

In his claim, Carelli lists five occasions when Van Buskirk reportedly insulted him, and names witnesses to each occasion. He alleges that on Sept. 2, Van Buskirk punched him in the arm while he was working and later hit him in the nose with a rubber band from 15 feet away. 

When Carelli told Van Buskirk that he could have hit him in the eye, Van Buskirk said, "No way, your Italian nose is too big and nowhere near your eye," the claim asserts. 

On Sept. 14, Carelli had just returned from a prisoner transport when Van Buskirk walked in, saw his gun belt, laughed and said, "We don't let Italians out with guns on transports," the claim alleges. 

The next day, Carelli told Van Buskirk an inmate wouldn't stop banging on a cell door and the captain said, "What, you didn't give him an offer he can't refuse? Ya know, a Mafia thing?" the claim alleges. When Carelli said he was offended, Van Buskirk laughed and said, "Ah, come on, you know it's true," according to the claim. 

On another occasion, Van Buskirk made reference to sheriff's Sgt. Mark Lillibridge's Italian heritage, Carelli's claim asserts. Lillibridge, the department's boating safety officer, said he was ordered "during this investigation" not to make a statement. 

Reporter Tim Hearden can be reached at 225-8224 or at,2232,REDD_17533_4581916,00.html

Delay not possible for murderer's retrial
Penalty phase trial for Richard Grant reset for April 11

By Kimberly Ross, Record Searchlight
March 30, 2006

No delay is possible in the retrial of a former Ono man originally sentenced to death, said a Shasta County judge who on Wednesday reset the defendant's penalty-phase trial for the last day allowed by a federal court. 

Nor will Richard Edward Grant give up his rights to the remaining federal appeals in his May 28, 1982, murder conviction to avoid another death sentence, said his attorney, Shasta County Public Defender James Dippery. 

"There are some issues that may be successful for him on appeal, and because of that, it's not in his best interests to give them up," Dippery said after Wednesday's hearing. 

Prosecutors will continue preparing for the penalty-phase trial, Deputy District Attorney Stew Jankowitz said. Grant was convicted almost 24 years ago in the murder of Edward Lee Halbert, 41, of Centralia, Wash., and of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Frank DeVar Forman, 40, of Ono. 

Grant was sentenced to death. 

But the U.S. District Court in Sacramento overturned Grant's sentence Jan. 10 and ordered a new penalty-phase trial to begin within three months. 

Shasta County Judge William Gallagher told attorneys Wednesday that the time frame can't be extended. 

"The district court's orders have certainly ... further complicated what I'm sure is difficult to resurrect," Gallagher said of the case's aged evidence. 

If a penalty-phase trial is not begun by April 11, the last day possible under the court's ruling, Grant will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole. 

Jankowitz said that during the penalty retrial he plans to put on evidence of Grant's decades-old crimes, as well as evidence of his behavior while imprisoned. 

"We have nothing to lose," Jankowitz said outside the courtroom. "If we try it and win, he gets the death penalty. If we try it and lose, he gets life without parole." 

Jankowitz expected the trial would take four to six weeks, including time to pick a jury. 

In court, Dippery promptly turned down Jankowitz's offer to consider scrapping the trial if Grant would waive his right to all future federal appeals in his case. 

He said the district attorney's choice to bring a trial will pose "a tremendous amount of economic cost" for the county, for what he considers little gain. 

"Mr. Grant is going to spend much of his life in prison, one way or another," Dippery said of the 56-year- old. (Court records say Grant was born in August 1949, although some entries list 1950.) 

Jankowitz said the district attorney's office can't ignore the decision of a 1982 jury, which agreed Grant's crimes deserved the highest penalty. Nor should the office let finances prevent it from seeking the punishment it still deems appropriate for Grant, he said. 

"Every murder case costs a lot of money," Jankowitz said. "We have to take that into consideration, but we can't just decide not to file cases because it's going to cost the county money." 

Reporter Kimberly Ross can be reached at 225-8339 or,2232,REDD_17533_4558311,00.html

Judge denies motion for new trial a second time
By Jim Schultz, Record Searchlight
March 21, 2006

A Shasta County Superior Court judge denied Monday a second motion for a new trial for a Redding man convicted of second-degree murder in the 2002 shooting death of his father. 

In his rejection of the motion, Judge Richard McEachen said it was his opinion that 23-year-old Zachariah Farrell's murder conviction was fully supported by the evidence. 

"There was substantial evidence to support the jury's verdict," McEachen said, adding he also believed Farrell received a fair trial. 

Farrell, who is due to be sentenced Monday, faces a minimum 40-year prison sentence. 

Rejecting a first-degree murder conviction in January, a Shasta County jury convicted Farrell of second-degree murder in the Nov. 4, 2002, shotgun death of his father, Bernard Farrell of Whitmore. 

Deputy Public Defender Jim Dippery, who unsuccessfully had sought a new trial for his client earlier this month, said Monday he thinks jurors returned that second-degree conviction because they did not think the 47-year-old victim was armed at the time of the deadly shooting.

His client, who claimed self-defense, said he shot his father with a 12-gauge shotgun after he was certain his father was going to shoot him with a .22-caliber rifle. 

But Dippery said he inadvertently overlooked key evidence during trial -- damage to Bernard Farrell's rifle -- that he says supports his client's self-defense argument. 

Dippery also accused Senior Deputy District Attorney Brent Ledford of prosecutorial misconduct, a charge Ledford adamantly denied. 

Ledford argued Monday that Dippery's request for a new trial lacked merit. He also contended that Dippery's claim that he overlooked the gun evidence was not an error of such magnitude that it would have affected the outcome of the trial.

Ledford said that he did not argue at trial that the shooting victim was unarmed but did dispute Farrell's claims that his father fired the rifle, noting no shell casings were found. 

During his trial, Farrell said his father, a former Whitmore Elementary School District trustee, was physically abusive to him and other family members. He said he went to his father's home -- armed with a shotgun -- after his father grew increasingly agitated over his estranged wife. 

Farrell said he went to his father's home to calm him and did not intend to do him harm. 

Ledford, however, claimed the younger Farrell hated his father and planned to kill him. 

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at,2232,REDD_17533_4508325,00.html

Attorney says new details in murder case merit look
By Jim Schultz, Record Searchlight
March 2, 2006

With family emotions rubbed raw by tragedy, sentencing for a young Redding man convicted of second- degree murder in the shooting death of his father was delayed Wednesday so his public defender can file a second motion seeking a new trial. 

Zachariah Farrell, 23, was to be sentenced Wednesday to a minimum of 40 years in prison after being convicted in January of murdering Bernard Farrell, 47, at his Whitmore house in 2002. 

Wednesday morning, Shasta County Superior Court Judge Richard McEachen denied a motion by Deputy Public Defender James H. Dippery Jr. seeking a new trial or a reduction in Farrell's conviction to manslaughter. 

The judge said he had no authority to reduce the conviction and that the jury's verdict was sufficiently supported by the evidence. Dippery's claim of prosecutorial misconduct was unfounded, McEachen said. 

But Wednesday afternoon, McEachen agreed to postpone sentencing until March 20 to accommodate the filing of the second motion for a new trial. 

Dippery said the second motion is prompted by new information in the case, but he declined to discuss the details of the motion. The new motion is due to be filed Monday. 

Shasta County Senior Deputy District Attorney Brent Ledford, who opposed the continuance, called Dippery's second request for a new trial "ludicrous" and indicated during the proceeding that it was to be based on the grounds of ineffective defense counsel. 

Ledford did not elaborate and attorneys declined to disclose after court what additional information is behind the bid for a new trial. 

But there were hints in the courtroom that the defense request may revolve around the condition of a rifle that Zachariah Farrell alleges his father fired only moments before his son shot him with a shotgun. The attorneys examined the rifle before court was recessed. 

Farrell said during trial that his father, Bernard, was physically abusive to him and other family members and also had threatened to shoot him if he came to the Whitmore residence. The young man admitted that he went to his father's house on Nov. 4, 2002, armed with a shotgun. 

But he wanted only to try to calm his father, who has been described as being bipolar, Zachariah Farrell testified. He said Bernard Farrell was agitated over his estranged wife. 

Zachariah Farrell has said that he shot his father, a former Whitmore Elementary School District trustee, with a 12-gauge shotgun after he was certain that the older man was going to shoot him with the rifle.

Ledford has claimed, however, that Farrell executed a deliberate plan to shoot his father, whom he said the young man hated. 

The fatal shooting has divided members of the Farrell family. On Wednesday, Ledford asked McEachen to order some family members to have no contact with Bernard Farrell's sister and mother. 

McEachen, who said he could not legally impose such an order, denied the request. Dippery assured him that family members, many of whom are solidly behind the younger Farrell and believe he acted in self-defense, would not cause difficulties. 

Nevertheless, a sheriff's detective involved in the case called for court security personnel to escort factions of the family from the courthouse following Wednesday's proceeding. 

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at,2232,REDD_17533_4505288,00.html

Richard Grant 

Sentence of death is tossed
Ex-Shasta County man could get new penalty

By Jim Schultz, Record Searchlight
March 1, 2006

A federal court has thrown out the death penalty sentence of a former Shasta County man who has been on California’s death row for 24 years. 

Although 56-year-old Richard Edward Grant’s murder conviction stands, the U.S. District Court in Sacramento has overturned his death penalty sentence, setting the stage for him to be returned to Shasta County from San Quentin State Prison for possible retrial on the penalty phase of his 1982 conviction. 

In its ruling, the federal court determined that Redding defense attorney Frank O’Connor "ineffectively" represented Grant during the trial’s penalty phase, failing to present "mitigation evidence of Grant’s mental illness and social history, including an abusive upbringing." 

"Defense counsel’s handling of the penalty phase was off the charts," the order reads, adding that he "called two witnesses in mitigation, each of whom gave the briefest possible testimony which in toto was as harmful as helpful." 

O’Connor, who is in trial in Trinity County, could not be reached Tuesday for comment. 

The ruling notes that O’Connor said he did not offer evidence of Grant’s childhood and upbringing because it might have permitted the prosecution to offer evidence that Grant, as an 18- or 19-year-old, allegedly sodomized his younger brothers. 

"But counsel never made a motion to exclude this evidence, and it appears from the record that such a motion could well have succeeded," the court’s ruling says. 

Shasta County Assistant District Attorney Dan Flynn said earlier this week that the district attorney’s office will review the case and decide whether to retry Grant on the penalty phase to try to attain a death penalty sentence. 

Or it could opt to have a Shasta County Superior Court judge sentence Grant to life in prison without parole. 

Grant is expected to be returned to Shasta County within a few weeks. 

Shasta County District Attorney Jerry Benito, whose office obtained a copy of the court’s Jan. 10 ruling in February, said Tuesday that it’s clear to him that Grant deserves the death penalty. 

But it may be next to impossible to gather the necessary files and 24-year-old evidence, and to find witnesses who testified at the first trial, he said. 

Nevertheless, his office has been gathering old court documents, many of which have faded over time, and speaking to those involved with the case, he said. 

"We will have an extremely difficult time to recreate this case," he said, adding that defense attorneys will have similar difficulties. 

Grant, who lived in the Ono area, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Edward Lee Halbert, 41, of Centralia, Wash., and of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Frank DeVar Forman, 40, of Ono.

The men’s decomposed bodies were found in 1981 on Grant’s Trinity Alps Preserve property between Ono and Platina. Both had been shot in the head. Forman also was shot in the abdomen.

Grant told a friend that he was waiting for Foreman’s skull to deteriorate to use as a candleholder, she testified. 

According to news clippings of the murder and subsequent trial, Grant told sheriff’s officials that he killed Halbert because of Halbert’s "obsession to kill cops and Jews" and that he killed Forman because the man had shot into an occupied trailer house. 

During the trial, Forman’s ex-wife testified that her former husband once swung an ax at her and a neighbor. She said she had told authorities that if Grant did kill Forman, it was probably in self-defense. 

Grant also was convicted of first-degree murder in the October 1980 shooting of a San Bernardino County man, Bobby Floyd, 41, of Highland. He was sentenced to 27 years-to-life in that case and then returned to Shasta County for trial. 

When Grant was arrested in Shasta County in 1981 he was wanted for the San Bernardino murder and in Honolulu, where he was charged with rape, sodomy, assault and kidnapping. 

In addition, a federal warrant had been issued against him for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. 

As an inmate at Shasta County jail, Grant was accused of stabbing or slashing at least four inmates. 

Grant originally was scheduled for execution in 1988. 

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at


Public defender requests another trial for Farrell
By Jim Schultz, Record Searchlight
February 28, 2006

Alleging prosecutorial misconduct and an improper jury instruction, the public defender for a Redding man convicted of murdering his father is asking for a new trial for his client. 

The prosecution, however, contends that the defense grounds for a new trial for Zachariah Farrell are baseless. 

Farrell, 23, was convicted last month of second-degree murder in the 2002 shotgun shooting of his father, Bernard Farrell, 47, of Whitmore. He is scheduled for sentencing on Wednesday and faces a minimum of 40 years in prison. 

But Shasta County Deputy Public Defender James H. Dippery Jr. is hoping Superior Court Judge Richard McEachen will grant his new trial motion or even acquit Farrell, arguing that his client's due process rights were violated. 

In his motion, Dippery claims that Shasta County Senior District Attorney Brent Ledford "committed a particularly egregious act of misconduct" during closing arguments when he "mock-fired" the murder weapon at jurors and twice said "bang." 

"That this was intentional misconduct designed to influence the jury, as the trier of fact, cannot be argued against," Dippery wrote. "The prosecutor's egregious conduct so infected the trial with such a level of unfairness as to make defendant's conviction a denial of due process." 

In addition, Dippery said in his motion that the jury received improper instructions regarding the right of a homeowner to exercise self-defense or defense of property.

"There was no evidence at trial that supported the giving of the instruction," Dippery wrote, adding that the evidence shows that his client never attempted to enter his father's home before the shooting. 

He said the jury instruction contravened his client's claim that he shot his father in self-defense. 

In his written opposition to Dippery's motion, Ledford said he acted properly, adding that his shotgun demonstration illustrated facts and inferences regarding the case, and that no legal grounds exist to grant the motion for a new trial. 

"Even if misconduct was committed, it cannot be said that a miscarriage of justice has resulted or that it is probable that the outcome of the case would have been favorable for the defendant absent such error," he wrote. 

Ledford said that Dippery's claims the jury received an improper instruction also were without merit. 

"It should be noted that after meeting and conferring on all proposed jury instructions, defense counsel failed to make any objections on the record regarding any of the now complained about instructions," he wrote. 

Farrell, who was 19 and absent without leave from the U.S. Marine Corps at the time of the slaying, was convicted last month of murdering his father, a former Whitmore Elementary School District trustee, on Nov. 4, 2002. 

Farrell, who said his father could be physically abusive and had threatened to shoot him if he came to the residence, admitted he went there with a shotgun. 

But, he said, he did so only in an attempt to calm him after his father had grown extremely agitated over his estranged wife. 

Farrell has said he shot his father with a 12-gauge shotgun after he was certain his father was going to shoot him with a rifle. 

Ledford has claimed, however, that Farrell executed a deliberate plan to shoot his father, who he said the young man hated. 

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at,2232,REDD_17533_3940048,00.html

County settles death claim
Family of man who died in custody will get $390,000

By Tim Hearden, Record Searchlight
July 20, 2005

Shasta County has reached a $390,000 settlement with the family of a 23-year-old Redding man who died last year while in the custody of a sheriff's deputy. 

The amount is far less than the $1.4 million first sought by Songka Philapandeth, whose son, Khamhane Philapandeth, was asphyxiated during a struggle with former deputy Gregory Dean and security guards at Win-River Casino. 

The family settled for the lower amount to avoid a jury trial and be assured of a lump-sum payment rather than installments paid over years, said Chris Mathews, a Los Angeles-based attorney representing the family. 

How they voted
Supervisors David Kehoe, Mark Cibula, Trish Clarke, Glenn Hawes and Linda Hartman voted unanimously Tuesday to: 

• Approve a $54,180 contract renewal with the Economic Development Corp. for business expansion, retention and recruitment. 

• Find that the Blue Jay Lane at Anderson Creek bridge replacement project will have no significant environmental impacts. 

• Appoint members to a committee studying financing options for the California Horse Park. 

"For a rural Northern California venue, we felt that this was an appropriate settlement," Mathews said Tuesday afternoon. "Obviously, nothing can compensate, but given the potential recovery in that venue and the ethnicity of the family and the ethnicity of a jury in that venue, overall it appears to have been the appropriate thing to have done since the family is looking for closure. 

"From a religious standpoint, closure is extremely important in the Southeast Asian culture," Mathews said. The family is Laotian-American. 

The county announced the settlement after the Board of Supervisors approved it Tuesday in closed session. Assistant County Counsel Mike Ralston said the deal "does not indicate any liability or guilt ... on behalf of the county.

"This is one of those settlements that we entered into taking all of the facts of this situation into account, including the attendant costs of potential litigation and the vagaries of a potential trial down the line with a jury," Ralston said. 

The agreement will sap $250,000 from the county's general fund, while the rest will come from an insurance fund set up by the California State Association of Counties, County Administrative Officer Doug Latimer said. 

A burglary suspect, Khamhane Philapandeth died May 18, 2004, after being thrown to the ground and held to the floor, sprayed with pepper spray, and having his legs bent up against his back for several minutes, according to Shasta County Grand Jury transcripts. 

The struggle was captured on Win-River's security cameras. 

Dean, 36, was dismissed from his job and was indicted on felony charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault by a public officer. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

He has a trial-readiness conference Friday with his involuntary manslaughter trial due to begin Tuesday. If convicted, Dean could receive penalties ranging from probation to four years and eight months in state prison, District Attorney Jerry Benito has said. 

Last fall, Songka Philapandeth filed a claim for $1,385,000 on her own behalf and $26,997 on behalf of the Estate of Khamhane Philapandeth. The claim included repayment for such costs as medical and funeral expenses, attorney's fees and the financial support her son would have provided her. 

The family also is in settlement negotiations with the Redding Rancheria, which operates Win-River. Mathews would not disclose the amount the family is seeking. Tribal attorney Tracy Edwards did not return calls Tuesday afternoon seeking comment. 

Songka Philapandeth could not be reached Tuesday for comment. 

Mathews said ethnic minorities typically have the best chance at "a fair trial" in places like Oakland, San Francisco, Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles. 

"Obviously, had this been downtown Los Angeles and you had a black victim, you could anticipate a black jury," he said. "This is not the case here." 

Also, he said, local governments can structure verdicts in such a way that the plaintiff would receive a minimal amount each year. 

"This at least was a lump-sum, up-front payment," he said. 

Reporter Tim Hearden can be reached at 225-8224 or at .

Lucrative suit for local law firm 

Ace San Jose lawyer James McManis and his firm, McManis, Faulkner and Morgan, walked away with more than either of their two clients when Santa Clara County quietly settled their whistle-blower lawsuit over jail health care for a hefty $1.75 million. 

According to an agreement reached in November and approved by a federal judge in January, the county agreed to pay McManis and his firm $750,000 -- 43 percent of the total settlement. Mary Ann Save, a nurse and former county jail health care analyst, and Dr. Moneesha Pinto, a former jail health director, were to receive $500,000 each. 

McManis and his firm, you'll recall, have been under scrutiny by the state bar over their billing practices since six former clients complained they were over-billed. 

Save, Pinto and McManis have declined to comment because of a confidentiality clause in the settlement agreement. But there's no indication the clients have a problem with McManis' share. And legal experts say it's not out of line -- attorneys typically take such cases for a 30 to 
40 percent share of the settlement. 

``Forty-three percent is a little on the high side but it's not outrageous,'' said Golden Gate University law professor Peter Keane. 

Legal ethicist Diane L. Karpman of Karpman & Associates in Los Angeles agreed, noting that whistle-blower cases are difficult and a riskier investment of the attorney's time.

Also interesting about the settlement is that it was reached two months after the county hired McManis and his firm to help its fight to build a music theater at the county fairgrounds over San Jose's wishes. But because county officials were aware they were being sued by McManis' firm in an unrelated case, legal experts see no harm. 

``You can't represent both sides in the same case, but that's not what's happening here,'' Keane said. ``They would just have to disclose it and get the permission of the county. I don't think it rises to any impropriety.'',2232,REDD_17533_3717122,00.html

Arsonist's parole scrutinized
Man convicted in church fire is accused of violating terms

By Jim Schultz, Record Searchlight
April 21, 2005

A 27-year-old Shingletown man who helped set the fire that incinerated the historic St. Rose Church in French Gulch seven years ago may have violated the terms of his probation and could face a five-year prison sentence. 

Steven Earle Deppe, whose probation is due to expire May 9, is scheduled to appear today in Shasta County Superior Court for arraignment on a petition to revoke his probation. 


Deppe was in court Wednesday, but the matter was postponed until today to allow his attorney to be present.

Katherine Tannenbaum, an attorney in the Eric Berg law firm in Redding, said Wednesday that the allegations against Deppe are "totally unfounded," but declined to discuss specifics. 

In May 2000, Deppe was sentenced to one year in jail, followed by one year of community service, after pleading no contest to arson and a related charge for his part in the Nov. 19, 1998, fire that destroyed the nearly 98-year-old church. 

At the time, it was alleged the fire was inspired by so-called black-metal music. 

Deppe and two co-defendants, Mark Forrest Sanders of Redding and Dessie Ceceal Zalesny of Shingletown, both now 24, reportedly copied church fires in Norway that had been set by black-metal musicians, whose music also has been described as "vampyric" or "Gothic" metal. 

The fire leveled the much-photographed French Gulch landmark, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

According to electronic court records, it's alleged that Deppe violated the terms of his probation by failing to fully pay court-ordered restitution of about $135,000 and that he also failed to complete 2,080 hours of community service that were part of his sentence. 

It's also alleged that Deppe failed to provide proof of earnings to his probation officer and failed to maintain gainful employment, the court records show. 

In lieu of a prison sentence, Deppe could have his probation extended. 

In June 2002, Sanders and Zalesny pleaded no contest to arson-related charges. 

Sanders was sentenced to prison for nine years, while Zalesny was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to perform 90 days of community service. 

Shasta County Deputy District Attorney Stew Jankowitz explained in 2000 that the difference in sentences was based on the young men's participation in the fire. 

Zalesny, he said, drove the men to the church, but did not get out of the car while the fire was set. 

Sanders, however, planned the fire and drew Deppe and Zalesny into his plan, Jankowitz has said. 

Reporter Jim Schultz can be reached at 225-8223 or at .


Jail physician’s assistant accused of sexual contact with inmate 
By Maline Hazle, Record Searchlight
February 9, 2005 

Six misdemeanor counts of inappropriate sexual contact with a female inmate have been filed against a physician’s assistant who worked at the Shasta County Jail, District Attorney Jerry Benito said today. 

Charges were filed today against Robert Miller, 61, who works for California Forensic Medical Group. The sheriff’s department contracts with that firm to provide medical services to inmates at the jail. 

Benito said six separate consensual incidents involving one female inmate occurred in December and January. 

The inmate, whose name is being withheld, mentioned the incidents to her attorney’s investigator, who reported them to the sheriff’s office, Benito said. 

Benito said the case involved rubbing and touching of breasts or sexual organs. 

Miller faces six months in jail and a $1,000 fine on each of the counts, though Benito said it is unlikely that his sentence would be that severe if he is convicted. 

Miller is being asked to surrender at the jail for booking and arraignment scheduling, Benito said. 

Copyright 2005, Redding. All Rights Reserved.

Wildfire burns through mountain community near Redding 

By Jim Wasserman
12:17 a.m. August 16, 2004

REDDING – More than 1,200 firefighters continued to battle a wind-fueled wildfire that roared through an old mining town near Redding, destroying more than 20 homes and forcing its 300 residents to evacuate. 

The blaze broke out early Saturday afternoon and quickly grew to more than 7,700 acres by Sunday night, sweeping through the mountain community of French Gulch about 19 miles west of Redding, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Fueled by winds up to 12 mph, the fire threatened another 150 homes and 10 commercial buildings. Firefighters closed a portion of state Highway 299. 

The firefighters, including about 400 state prison inmates, struggled to contain the fire with 168 fire engines and 33 bulldozers, officials said. Firefighters saved several buildings, including a church, post office, hotel and elementary school. Two commercial buildings, including the historic International Order of Odd Fellows Hall, were destroyed, however. 

By Sunday night, the fire was just 10 percent contained, and fire officials predicted that it would not be fully contained until Friday. The fire was moving north toward an area with few homes. 

"It's rugged, rugged country," said Brian Morris, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "It's dry country. We've had some winds today. They have not been very bad, but they have hindered our efforts at control." 

The fire's cause was still under investigation. There were no injuries reported among the firefighters and residents, Morris said. Many evacuees were staying at an American Red Cross shelter at Shasta College in Redding. 

Wes Lusk, 66, a French Gulch resident for four years, drove back from Bend, Ore. Sunday morning when he heard about the blaze. 

"The message I got was, 'I think your house burned down.' That's a heck of a thing to hear when you're 300 miles away," Lusk said Sunday. He was relieved to learn that his house hadn't been damaged. "It's a heck of a big load off you." 

Other residents were frustrated because they didn't know the fate of their homes. "There's nothing confirmed or denied. That's the worst part of it," said 43-year-old Dana Lord. 

Firefighters were pulled from the so-called Bear Fire that began Wednesday when a lawnmower struck a rock in dry grass, setting off a blaze that cut through the pine and oak-covered hills south of Shasta Lake, about 140 miles northwest of Sacramento. 

By Sunday, that fire had blackened nearly 11,000 acres and destroyed 80 homes, 30 outbuildings and 10 vehicles. It was 95 percent contained. Full containment was expected by Monday evening, said Roy Del Carlo, a CDF spokesman.

Most residents who were evacuated from the Bear Fire were being allowed to return to their homes. Officials estimated that the cost of fighting that fire will top $1.8 million. 

On Sunday, more than 3,600 firefighters were battling seven significant fires totaling 34,000 acres throughout California, including four in Shasta County, one in Tuolumne County, one in Tulare County and one Santa Clara County, said CDF spokeswoman Karen Terrill. 

More than 1,700 firefighters were working to contain about 3,000 acres burning near Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, where 80 homes and 20 commercial buildings were threatened. The fire was about 30 percent contained Sunday evening, Terrill said. 



Sheriff's deputy out of a job
No reason given; he was involved in casino death

By Maline Hazle, Record Searchlight
June 10, 2004

A 35-year-old deputy who was involved in a deadly struggle at Win-River Casino is no longer employed by the Shasta County Sheriff's department, a department captain said Wednesday. 

The deputy, Gregory Dean, had been on unpaid administrative leave since the day after the May 18 incident, which was recorded on casino security cameras. 

Sheriff's Capt. Willie Cox would not say whether Dean was fired or resigned. 

"I can say that he is not an employee anymore," said Cox, adding that he does not know when Dean's employment ended. 

Sheriff Jim Pope did not return a call seeking comment. Undersheriff Larry Schaller, who handles departmental discipline, is on vacation this week, his secretary said. 

Dean, who worked at the Tehama County Jail before he was hired by Shasta County about four years ago, could not be reached for comment. 

Representatives of the Shasta County Sheriff's Association could not be reached for comment. 

Khamhane Philapandeth, 23, was pronounced dead at Mercy Medical Center in Redding after battling with Dean and at least four Win-River Casino security guards. 

Philapandeth had willingly accompanied the guards to the office after they broke up a parking lot fight between him and three men who reportedly found him sitting in their car, sheriff's deputies said at the time. 

When Dean tried to handcuff Philapandeth, he resisted and a second fight ensued, ending after Dean doused him with pepper spray, deputies said. Philapandeth stopped breathing and Win-River medical technicians unsuccessfully administered CPR. 

After viewing the Win-River tapes of both fights, Schaller said the department was committed to "a very aggressive resolution of the investigation." 

The department denied the Record Searchlight's request for a copy of the surveillance tapes. 

Shasta County District Attorney Jerry Benito said Wednesday that he has reviewed reports, photos and videotapes of the incident and is awaiting final autopsy reports before concluding his probe. 

An autopsy performedthree weeks ago was inconclusive, and the Shasta County coroner's office is waiting for toxicology and other test results. 

Philapandeth's family has hired Redding attorney Darryl Wagner, who also is investigating the young man's death. 

Wagner said Wednesday that it "would be premature for me to comment," on Dean's termination from the sheriff's department. 

Redding Rancheria Tribal Chair Tracy Edwards said Wednesday that the rancheria's gaming commission, which is the tribe, is conducting a separate investigation of the incident. That investigation has not been completed, she said. 

Reporter Maline Hazle can be reached at 225-8266 or at


Officers cleared in man’s death
By Maline Hazle, Record Searchlight
June 3, 2004

Shasta County Sheriff’s deputies used only reasonable force in subduing an obese mentally ill man who died after fighting their attempts to arrest him and the death was excusable, Shasta County District Attorney Gerald Benito said today. 
Curtis Dring, 56, died after struggling with two deputies and a Union Pacific Railroad inspector during a trackside incident on April 18. 

The Shasta County Coroner’s office ruled that the death was a homicide, which means that he died at the hands of another. 
But Union Pacific inspector Randy Anderson, Deputy Bille Cobb and Sgt. Mark Von Rader had no intent to kill the 350-pound Dring when they fought to control him, Benito said. 

"For a prosecutable criminal homicide, there must be criminal intent or criminal negligence before charges can be filed," Benito said in his written opinion. "In the present case, neither exists." 

The fight began as the deputies began to handcuff Dring, who had agreed to be taken into custody for mental health treatment. During the five-minute scuffle, Dring was hit on the legs with a baton. 

The autopsy found that the most likely cause of death was a heart attack brought on by the sudden and violent struggle. Dring suffered from an enlarged and diseased heart, coronary artery disease and extreme obesity, the autopsy said. 

Copyright 2004, Redding. All Rights Reserved.


Brandon autopsy made public by sheriff-coroner
By Maline Hazle, Record Searchlight
May 12, 2004

A Shasta County sheriff-coroner's "death review" Tuesday found that Timothy Brandon, shot to death by Redding police two months ago, "died at the hands of another." 

The ruling closed the coroner's case on Brandon, 40. It also allowed autopsy and coroner's reports in the case to be released to the public. 

Those reports contain new details about Brandon's wounds and just how intoxicated he was at the time he died. 

Police were sent to Brandon's house in south Redding after friends and relatives reported that he was suicidal. As officers surrounded his house, Brandon came outside, went back inside, and returned with a loaded gun that he refused to drop. 

The scenario was recorded,in part, in a series of photographs by Record Searchlight photographer John Stubler. Public scrutiny of the shooting intensified after many of the photos were published on the newspaper's Web site. 

When he announced April 16 that Brandon's shooting was legally justified, Shasta County District Attorney Jerry Benito said that at the time he died, Brandon's blood-alcohol level was .38, almost five times the legal driving limit of .08. 

But Brandon's vitreous ethyl alcohol, a test of jelly-like substances in his eye, measured even higher -- .44, according to a toxicology test included in the autopsy. 

Brandon had no other drugs in his body, the toxicology test says. 

The autopsy described Brandon as a healthy man who did not suffer from any apparent diseases or abnormalities. 

Shasta County forensic pathologist Susan Comfort performed the autopsy on March 22 and ruled then that Brandon had died of multiple gunshot wounds. 

Three Redding police officers -- who shot at Brandon after he ignored their orders to drop his gun -- fired eight rounds during the incident. Four or five of those rounds hit Brandon, the autopsy showed. It was not clear whether one of two leg wounds was caused by a bullet that already had passed through his body or ricocheted off of another surface, Comfort reported. 

In performing her examination, Comfort did not determine the order in which the wounds occurred. 

At least two of the five wounds appear to have been potentially fatal. 

The first perforated Brandon's liver, gallbladder, colon, right kidney, bile ducts, a major vein, and an artery feeding his liver, the autopsy said. That shot hit Brandon from the front, the report says. 

Another potentially lethal shot perforated his spinal cord and vena cava, one of two major veins feeding the right side of his heart, causing hemorrhaging. The shot entered Brandon in the middle of his back, the autopsy showed. 

A third shot, which entered from the left back near Brandon's shoulder, fractured his shoulder blade and three ribs, the report says. 

There were also two leg wounds, one in the left thigh and a calf wound that fractured Brandon's leg, the autopsy said. The shot that caused the calf wound entered from the front and exited his body, which means it could have re-entered Brandon's thigh at a time when his leg was bent. 

The Record Searchlight had attempted to obtain copies of the coroner's report through a state Public Records Act Request filed with the coroner's office April 12. The office had refused to release the review until the conclusion of the death review, which under a policy adopted by the sheriff's office in 1994, was not open to the public.

Newspaper attorneys last week questioned the legality of the sheriff's policy, which is similar to policies also in place in Orange and Riverside counties. 

Tuesday's meeting was attended by Sheriff Jim Pope, Comfort, a Shasta County deputy coroner, Benito and another representative of his office, four officers from the Redding Police Department and six Shasta County grand jurors, sheriff's Capt. Harry Bishop, who is chief deputy coroner, said in an addendum to the coroner's report. 

Reporter Maline Hazle can be reached at 225-8266 or at


Officers: Man lashed out 

Deputies fought back using batons; autopsy set for today 

Christina Lucarotti
Record Searchlight

April 20, 2004 — 2:07 a.m.
SHASTA LAKE — Few new details were released Monday about a Shasta Lake man who died Sunday after a struggle with two Shasta County sheriff's officers and a Union Pacific Railroad Police officer. 

But an autopsy scheduled for today could shed light on the death of 56-year-old Curtis C. Dring Jr., officials said. 

The incident began about 10:25 a.m. when Union Pacific Special Agent Randy Anderson first approached Dring, who was walking along railroad tracks north of Shasta Dam Boulevard near North Street, the Sheriff's Department said. 

About 10 minutes later, Anderson called for help and Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Von Rader and sheriff's deputy Suzanne "Billy" Cobb arrived, officials said. 

Law enforcement officials have not said why Anderson approached Dring or why he needed assistance, but officers believed Dring was a danger to himself, the Sheriff's Department said. 

Dring, who is described as 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 350 pounds, was going to be handcuffed and taken to Shasta Psychiatric Hospital for evaluation when a fight began between him and the peace officers. 

He threw at least one punch, hitting Von Rader during the struggle, said Capt. William Cox. 

"They defended themselves, trying to overcome his force so they could take him into custody," Cox said, adding that batons were used. "We have to wait for the autopsy to determine (to) what extent." 

Dring died at Redding Medical Center, and Von Rader and Cobb have been placed on administrative leave, Cox said. 

Betty Garrett, 75, lives near the railroad tracks and said she saw Dring walking a dog earlier that morning. 

"A lot of people walk their dogs there, so there was nothing different about it," Garrett said. 

She said she had never seen Dring before Sunday. 

Garrett did not witness the struggle but she did see an ambulance and additional patrol cars arrive, she said. 

The results of the autopsy will be critical in figuring out what happened, Shasta County District Attorney Jerry Benito said. 

"Generally, officers are allowed to use reasonable force and the amount of reasonable force depends on the facts and circumstances they're faced with," Benito said. 

The Sheriff's Department, Redding police and district attorney's office are investigating the incident. 

Reporter Christina Lucarotti can be reached at 225-8215 or at

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 


Man dies in struggle with officers 

Christina Lucarotti
Record Searchlight

April 19, 2004 — 2:07 a.m.
SHASTA LAKE — An unidentified man died Sunday after resisting Shasta County sheriff's deputies and hitting at least one officer, officials said. 

The man's name has not been released pending notification of his family, the Shasta County coroner's office said Sunday. 

About 10:25 a.m., a Union Pacific Railroad police officer stopped the man, who was walking along railroad tracks north of Shasta Dam Boulevard near North Street in Shasta Lake. 

About 10 minutes later, the Union Pacific police officer asked for help from the Sheriff's Department. 

After speaking with the man, officers believed he was a danger to himself and decided to take him to Shasta Psychiatric Hospital for an evaluation, the Sheriff's Department said in a press release. 

In the process of trying to handcuff him, the man became combative and hit at least one officer, the press release said. 

At some point, he stopped struggling and an officer saw he needed medical attention. 

The man was taken to Redding Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. 

The Sheriff's Department said the man did not have any identification. 

A multiagency critical incident team is investigating. 

No firearms, tazers or beanbag rounds were used against the man, the Sheriff's Department press release said. 

The names of the officers involved were not released. 

An autopsy has been scheduled for Wednesday.

Reporter Christina Lucarotti can be reached at 225-8215 or at

Posted on Tue, Mar. 09, 2004 

News in brief from Northern California

Associated Press

REDDING, Calif. - The Shasta County district attorney's office has begun to change the way it handles the prosecution of sexual assault crimes, by appointing single prosecutor to handle the cases.

In the past, sexual assault victims were questioned by different prosecutors before their cases went to trial, District Attorney Jerry Benito said Monday.

Now, crime victims will not be required to repeatedly recount their experience, and will also be able to establish a more effective relationship with the prosecutor, Benito said.

"The victim needs to develop trust and confidence," he said.

Prosecutors think the new program will improve the likelihood of success in the courtroom as well.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Howard Welch has been selected for the position. The office is planning to select a single prosecutor to handle complex identity theft cases, too.

 Three Strikes Legal - Index