IRVINE

Alec Scott Abraham sped through a red light, mowing down a family in a Chevy Cruz, killing a 2 year-old girl and her grandmother, while seriously injuring the girl’s mother and 7 year-old brother last month. Abraham fled the scene of the accident. Detectives believe he stole a bystander’s mobile device and phoned a friend for help.

Abraham had been cited multiple times over the last year for speeding, and owned a highly modified Ford Mustang which was involved in the accident. Irvine Police Detective Jonathan Cherney says the department was able to track Abraham down by “pining” his phone. He was arrested in a park in Costa Mesa.

During the arrest, Abraham told the police that he would receive a mere 5 year sentence for his crime. Prosecutors could use that statement as an admission in trial. However, it isn’t likely the judge will follow Abraham’s sentencing guidelines if he is convicted.

As a result, Detective Cherney requested the defendants bail be raised from $100,000 to $1 million. Since details have emerged about Abraham’s driving record, and prosecutors have better developed the evidence they intend to use in the case against him, Prosecutors have replaced two voluntary manslaughter counts with two counts of murder. Abraham could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Essentially, it is very important that the suspect made that statement when he was arrested. Although he is implicated in the crime since his vehicle was involved in the accident, that doesn’t always provide the prosecution with a slam-dunk case. A defense often used in hit and run accidents is that the registered owner of the vehicle was not the actual driver at the time of the accident. In this case, witnesses claimed to have seen the suspect at the crime scene.

Also, his statement that he would only get 5 years for the accident can be used as an admission by the prosecution since he has essentially said, yes I might have done the crime, but I’ll only get 5 years. Furthermore, this sort of statement is often presented to juries in a way that paints the defendant as callous and disinterested in the wellbeing of the parties who were injured in the crash.

Some might ask, “Was he drunk or DUI when the crash occurred?” He could have been, but the District Attorney will have a hard time proving that since the defendant wasn’t captured until the following day when his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) had already subsided. The only way they could add that charge to the case is if he were to confess to being drunk at the time of the accident, and have witnesses corroborate that fact. With that said, it is very VERY unlikely that his defense attorney is going to present any of that information because it is simply against his client’s interest.

After being alerted to a fire inside an apartment on the 1900 block of Sherrington Place, police discovered roughly 25 marijuana plants. The plants were part of a cultivation project, however, one that police determined to be legal.

The Newport Beach Fire Department determined that a faulty electrical cord that may have been part of the growing operation was the source of the blaze. The Newport Beach Police were notified by firefighters after they had extinguished the fire and discovered the plants.

It’s rather surprising that NBPD did not pursue charges related to the cultivation. Newport Beach, known for its politically conservative city council, charged over 550 drug abuse violations in 2014 – second only to DUI charges.

Newport Beach Drug Case

24 year-old Richard Sandoval has been charged with 8 felonies related to his violent attempts at persuading his 18 year-old girlfriend to become his prostitute at a hotel in Garden Grove. Along with burning her leg with a blow torch, Sandoval threatened to kill the woman if she refused to engage sexual acts in exchange for money, according to the OC Weekly.

At some point during the event, Garden Grove Police were contacted and dispatched to the hotel room where Sandoval had taken up post. Inside the room Garden Grove Officers found scales, plastic bags, a large amount of cocaine, and the blow torch he had used to burn his victims leg.

Sandoval faces harsher punishment today than if he was charged with this crime only a few years ago. In 2012, Californians voted on Prop 35 and passed it with an overwhelming 81%, according to the Huffington Post. The proposition increases sentences for human traffickers to 12 year maximums, along with $1.5 million fines. Furthermore, those who traffic children could be sentenced to life in prison.

Victims of human trafficking can also benefit from Proposition 35. Because many alleged prostitutes are victims of human trafficking, they can provide very compelling testimony against alleged pimps and other human traffickers. Sometimes, District Attorneys will drop charges in exchange for information that can be used to convict suspected human traffickers.

He set fire to her hair, and threatened her with a firearm. Those are the injuries that Alejandro Flores levied upon his girlfriend on June 29th. The victim, who remained unnamed in police reports, reported that the two began arguing over a relative child and the child’s use of a pacifier.

Flores allegedly pushed the woman into a wall, hit her on top of her head, grabbed her by the neck, and she fell to the ground. Flores then allegedly dragged her into the kitchen and held her over a lit stove burner, causing her hair to catch fire. Following extinguishing her hair, Flores threatened the woman with a non-service weapon and physical violence if she reported the domestic violence to the police or if she left the home.

Flores also is accused of turning up the volume on the TV as the woman screamed for help, in an effort to prevent neighbors from hearing her.

This wasn’t the first time Flores had abused the woman. An incident more than 6 months prior left the woman with a broken nose after Flores hit her in the face. Although the two were not in a romantic relationship at the time of the abuse, because they lived together, this type of violence is considered domestic violence.

Flores has been charged with three counts of domestic battery, and faces several other felonies, including dissuading a witness by force.

Along with being relieved from his position as a Sheriff’s Deputy, Flores is facing a maximum of more than 25 years in prison.

After asking to see an iPad inside of a display at the Target store in Irvine Spectrum, three suspected thieves fled out of an emergency exit to a waiting car.

The getaway driver, Victory Rogers, was identified after investigators used surveillance footage of her vehicle from the store’s security camera. The four suspects were outside a Best Buy store in Moreno Valley at the time of the arrest.

According to police, the four were connected to 12 other thefts – a spree that may have begun in Washington state and touched Oregon, San Diego, and as far north as Stockton, California.

Rogers, 25 of Southwestern Burien, Washington, was the oldest of the suspects was joined by two men in their early 20s and a minor. Police did not identify the juvenile suspect.

It is likely that, at least, Rogers will be charged federally with violation of US Code 2314 Transportation of Stolen Goods (across state lines). Also likely are conspiracy charges, and, depending on the total value of the goods that were stolen, Federal Grand Larceny.

Tamar Judge’s son, Ryan Vieth, was booked into the Orange County Jail system June 28th according to Radar Online. This isn’t the first domestic violence charge Vieth has been charged and convicted of Domestic Violence. Vieth and his wife, the presumed victim Sarah Rodriguez, are parents to a 5-month-old daughter.

The woman who made the 911 call told the operator that she had been hit and thought that her finger was broken.

Vieth was part of a restraining order in 2011 after his ex-girlfriend, Daniella Kelley, brought a complaint against him.

A Second Blow for Judge

Just days ago, Judge’s 16-year-old daughter chose to live her father, Simon Barney, full-time. Leaving the confines of her mother’s home, Sidney, elected to go with her dad. Judge was permitted visitation, however, only every other weekend and once mid week. The family, who has been subject to multiple attacks online by several media outlets, has been under stress due to what Judge refers to as those outlets trying to, “…ruin people’s lives with untrue accusations.” and that she would “…cry myself to sleep at night.”

Domestic Violence is a serious issue in Orange County. What’s more, children who are witnesses to domestic violence are likely to repeat that behavior in their adult lives. One can’t help but wonder if Judge’s son witnessed domestic violence at some point in his childhood.

UC Irvine published a study in 2012 that showed women in Orange County suffer comparatively high rates of domestic violence, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and teen pregnancy. The study surveyed women, of which 26.3 percent stated they had been the victim of some type of physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

UC Irvine has published other studies on domestic violence in Orange County identifying white unemployed women as the group suffering the highest rate of violence per person. The study linked the economic impact of these tragic occurrences as being, not only harmful to the victims of these crimes, but to the county as a whole.

The story is summarized here the Orange County Register: www.ocregister.com/articles/women-354321-county-health.html

For more information on the Orange County Women’s Health Project visit: ocwomenshealth.org

Earlier this week the United States Supreme Court upheld a ruling allowing the use of Midazolam, a drug that causes deep unconsciousness in those sentenced to death by lethal injection. Subsequent to Midazolam, a second and third injection are administered to cause paralysis and cardiac arrest respectively.

Midazolam was the common agent in at least three botched executions over the past several years.

Three death row inmates petitioned the court, claiming that executions in which this drug is administered violate the 8th Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment because it cannot reliably cause a deep, coma-like unconsciousness.

The ruling fell 5-4, with Justice Sotomayor penning the dissent. However, the most controversial dissent was led by Justice Breyer, in which he asks for further briefing on “whether the death penalty violates the constitution.” Justice Scalia sarcastically lashed back, welcoming readers to “Groundhog Day,” and reminding them that the justices, because of their high status, are unaware of the happenings in “Americans’ everyday lives.”

This is the first time that a Justice has openly questioned the constitutionality of the death penalty. Others, like late Justice Blackmun and Justice Stevens, made what seemed to be moral cases against the death penalty late in their careers.

In March, Utah governor Gary Herbert, signed back into law the firing squad as a method of execution. The last time a firing squad was used to execute a prisoner was in 2010 when Ronnie Lee Gardner chose to be put to death that way, consistent with his own weapon of choice. That execution consisted of five volunteer officers, each armed with a rifle. Of the five guns, only one is loaded with live ammunition, while the others with blanks.

Although three of the nine inmates now on Utah’s death row have elected to die by firing squad, the new law stipulates that the firing squad’s availability is contingent on the availability of the lethal injection drugs.

Dog walkers in Laguna Beach will have another duty to perform aside from walking the canines and picking their poop. Soon they could become the neighborhood’s eyes and ears when it comes to spotting suspicious people.

The Laguna Beach Police Department decided to launch the local version of the Dog Walker Watch program after it has proven quite useful in other U.S. cities.

The program should start in the summer. This is commonly the time of the year when burglaries are the most prevalent.

The police in this city already began training dog owners in how and when to alert authorities regarding fishy behavior in their neighborhood.

The program is somewhat similar to the better known “Neighborhood Watch,” except that it uses dog walkers to spot anything out of place in the neighborhood. The idea is that they already frequent their routes and neighborhoods and would immediately know if something seemed off.

Laguna Beach Police Department’s Community Service Officer Natasha Hernandez said this program is excellent for a city where 22 percent of households have a dog. In a town with a population numbering close to 23,000 people, there are 7,549 registered canines.

In addition to its residents, Laguna Beach is also visited by around 600,000 people every year, especially in the summer. Laguna Beach is known to be an artists’ community, and hosts several large art exhibits each year. In addition, Laguna boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the state and attracts a number of tourists from other parts of the country as well. Its isolation from the hustle and bustle of Orange County, and quaint downtown area full of boutique shops and fine dining restaurants are prime reasons people are attracted to the areas. Unfortunately, not all are there to soak in the atmosphere.

Burglars to Fear the Most from Dog Walker Watch Program

Although the program, in theory, should be useful in suppressing all kinds of crimes, it is the burglars that will have the most to fear from your friendly dog walker on patrol.

The town of Laguna Beach has seen its housebreaking rate drop to less than 100 cases per year. This year there have been 46 reported break-ins, while last year saw 98, and 89 the year before that.

Laguna Beach Police Captain Jason Kravetz contributed the drop in burglary crimes to residents being better educated about ‘how not to be a victim’. Kravetz said the decrease in such crimes is also due to people looking out for each other more and reporting suspicious people.

Hernandez has so far trained about 20 dog walkers in Laguna Beach. She could recently been seen in Laguna Beach Dog Park on Laguna Canyon Road, distributing brochures to park patrons about the program. What’s more, she has already contacted local pet shops and posted fliers in the area. The next step is to inform the city’s registered dog owners about the program and its benefits.

Positive Response from Local Dog Walkers

The idea has met with universal approval from local dog walkers. One of them, Diane Farrell, from South Laguna welcomed the fact the police sees her as someone could help instead of someone who they have to chase off the beach if she doesn’t have her golden retriever Max on a leash.

Another professional dog walker, Paige Strayer has already received training by Hernandez. Strayer runs Dog-Ma Companion Care which has between 75 and 100 clients at any time.

The Dog Walker Watch program is the brainchild of Matt Peskin and it started in Pennsylvania last year. Peskin came to the idea seeing hundreds of dog walkers walking around with their canines every day of the week, day and night, with most of them focused more on their cell phones than on anything happening around them.

He said there are 75 million dog watchers in the United States, and if only a small percentage of them are trained to become more aware of their surroundings, they could be the perfect eyes and ears for the community.

There are currently 1,300 cities where the program is active.

One local attorney now probably wishes he thought twice before he agreed to befriend a local drug kingpin. On Monday United States District Court Judge James V. Selna sentenced Richard Brizendine to spend 3 months in prison and serve 2 years probation for laundering money.

This was the result of a plea deal that Brizendine agreed to, which required him to admit that he was laundering money for John Melvin Walker, aka “Pops,” a convicted drug lord.

Walker was convicted in 2013 for drug trafficking and tax evasion in connection to running no less than 9 marijuana storefronts. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amounts of $2.4 million to the Internal Revenue Service, and $1.8 million to the California State Board of Equalization.

At the time, Judge Selna (who also presided over Brizendine’s case) said he had to sentence the “whole John Walker” and that the sentence addresses both the “good John Walker” and the “bad John Walker”. This was in response to pleas from Walker’s friends, who pointed out that there were two of him – the man leading an organized drug empire, and the man supporting his family and friends.

In a media release, prosecutors explained Walker will, as a part of the plea agreement, forfeit $25 million in illegally obtained income to the government. This includes over half million dollars in cash, a mansion in San Clemente, several mobile homes located in Mammoth Lakes, interest in two strip clubs and various rentals in Long Beach.

Walker, the prosecution proved at the time, owned and operated at least nine marijuana storefronts in Orange County and Los Angeles. Among them were: Costa Mesa, Dana Pint, Garden Grove, San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana.

Before conviction Walker lived in a mansion in San Clemente, which, according to documents, had six bedrooms, four bathrooms, Jacuzzi, large pool and casita in the backyard.

Walker also had two previous drug trafficking convictions and he pleaded guilty in April, 2013 for conspiring to distribute over a ton of weed and maintaining drug-involved premises, as well as tax evasion.

He was among 14 individuals indicted in fall 2012 by the federal grand jury. Most of them pleaded guilty.

Brizendine Admitted Laundering Money for Walker

Brizendine admitted to depositing money for Walker into several bank and business accounts for companies connected with him. In order to avoid federal filing requirements, the lawyer would limit individual deposits to $10,000.

He admitted to depositing almost $390,000 of Walker’s drug profits.

Kenneth Miller, the attorney representing Brizendine, argued against prison time and instead asked for probation or home confinement. He told Judge Selna that Brizendine will no longer be allowed to practice law and that he was already in debt.

Miller also reasoned that Walker’s business – selling medical marijuana – is legal under state law, although Brizendine admitted to going too far in laundering the money.

Michael Brown, Assistant U.S. Attorney who prosecuted Richard Brizendine, pointed out that the lawyer should have been well aware that his actions were illegal.

Brown told the judge, “Somebody who is in my profession who couldn’t foresee that committing this crime would lead to a loss of his license; I think that is a problem.”

Judge Selna agreed Brizendine had “done good things in life”, but was still of the opinion that some time was necessary in order to send a clear message to anyone thinking of doing the same.

He said that if a person engages in such conduct, they will go to prison.