|Duo Convicted in 1999 Cold Case Slaying of Two Sailors
Two 36-year-old men were convicted of homicide in a cold case from 1993 in which two young sailors, Eugene "Cliff" Ellis, 20, and Keith Combs, 23, were gunned down and left for dead in an Otay Mesa field.
Leopoldo Chavez and Edward Elias were found guilty of first-degree murder last month with gun allegations and special circumstances of committing murder during a robbery as well as multiple murders.
"After nearly two decades, a measure of justice has been served to the family and friends of the two victims in this case," DA Bonnie Dumanis said. "Deputy District Attorney Andrea Freshwater and her team, of our Cold Case Homicide division, did an excellent job presenting the evidence to the jury."
Ellis and Combs had spent the night at a bonfire with friends, many of whom were also in the Navy. Early the next morning, their bodies were found at the bonfire site and Ellis' new truck was missing. Four days later, Chavez was found driving the truck in Tijuana. Recently, both Chavez and Elias were linked to the crime scene through DNA evidence.
Both men, who are facing life without the possibility of parole, will be sentenced in May.
Walmart to Pay $2.1 Million in Consumer Protection Case
Retail giant, Walmart, was ordered to pay $2.1 million for overcharging customers and for violating a previous 2008 judgment.
The retailer was previously ordered to pay $1.4 million in 2008 and implement measures to ensure shoppers would be charged the advertised price at the time of checkout. Under the order, stores in California were required to provide overcharged items for free or reimburse consumers $3 from the lowest advertised price.
"Our consumer unit worked closely with the City Attorney and the California Attorney General to hold Walmart accountable and protect the consumer," DA Dumanis said. "Law enforcement has a duty to make sure businesses follow the law, compete fairly in the marketplace and charge the prices they advertise."
Prosecutors allege that Walmart failed to comply with he requirements of the 2008 judgment because they failed to deduct $3 from the price of an item when there was an overcharge and they continued to charge more than the advertised price on some items.
Walmart agreed to resolve these allegations without admitting any violation, but by paying an additional $2.1 million and extending the "Get it Free" program for another year.
|Carslbad School Shooter Found Guilty and Sane |
Photo by North County Times
Brendan O'Rourke, who fired indiscriminate shots into a crowded Carslbad Elementary schoolyard wounding two girls and terrifying the entire campus and surrounding community was found guilty of seven counts of attempted murder and five counts of assault with a firearm.
The same jury who found O'Rourke guilty of attempted murder and assault also found him sane at the time of the shooting during the sanity phase of the trial.
"The community was deeply shaken by this school shooting and this verdict means the defendant will be held accountable for his crimes," DA Dumanis said. "Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan, Pat Espinoza and their dedicated team did an outstanding job presenting the evidence to the jurors during both phases of the trial."
O'Rourke faces up to 103 years-to-life in state prison and will be sentenced this month.
Bill Denying Spousal Support to Felons Goes Forward
Legislation that would prevent victims from being forced to pay spousal support to ex-husbands or wives who are convicted of a violent sexual crime against them is moving forward in the California Legislature.
Assembly Bill 1522, sponsored by the District Attorney's Office and introduced by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) was inspired by the case of a San Diego-area woman, Crystal harris, who was ordered to pay her former husband monthly spousal support during his criminal trial.
"The District Attorney's Office is working to change the law so that no victim will be required to pay spousal support to the perpetrator of a violent sexual crime," DA Dumanis said. "I'm proud to partner with Assemblywoman Atkins to make sure this can't happen again to victims of violent crime.
The bill was unanimously passed by the Assembly and now moves on to the Senate.
DA Spotlight: DDA Sylvia Tenorio, Extraditions Expert
Deputy DA Sylvia Tenorio
Deputy District Attorney Sylvia Tenorio, who worked with the U.S. Department of Justice prior to joining the District Attorney's Office in 2000, is one of the go-to experts when criminals flee San Diego County.
She has handled numerous extraditions around the U.S. and from countries including Mexico, Belgium and the Philippines. A particularly proud moment was being involved in extraditing a defendant who brutally raped and murdered an 84-year-old Carlsbad woman before fleeing to Mexico.
This was one of the first DNA cases submitted to the Mexican government for consideration of a formal extradition request, Tenorio said. The defendant, Alejandro Avalos Fernandez, was later found and arrested in the huge metropolis of Mexico City and ultimately extradited back to San Diego to face his brutal crime.
"Although many equally important extraditions preceded and followed this case, this was very significant legally and emotionally," she said. "we overcame a lot of obstacles."
In the last four years, 15 defendants have been extradited from Mexico and more than 100 from around the U.S. Bringing back a suspect who has fled the country, can take months and requires inch-thick paperwork submissions to multiple agencies here and abroad.
"The biggest misconception is that Mexico doesn't extradite, nationals," Tenorio said. "But, they do."The cases involve a lot of work, but the results are rewarding."
When Tenorio is not hunting down criminals on the run, she volunteers with the Barrio Logan College Institute, which helps first-generation college students through tutoring and mentoring.
DA Spotlight is a new feature that will highlight DA employees.
Antero Cruz, 24, was sentenced to 26 years-to-life in state prison for killing 14-year-old Ahlyja Pinson in an abandoned house in Golden Hill on New Year's Eve 2007 prison.
Jennifer Trayers, 43, was sentenced to 16-years-to-life in state prison for stabbing her Navy doctor-husband three months after learning he was having an affair.
Justin Stephen Foulds, 39, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison for driving under the influence when his truck slammed into the rear of a sport utility vehicle on state Route 125 in La Mesa, killing 73-year-old Celia Torres and her grandson, 16-year-old David Gonzalez.