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Articles Posted in Violent Crime

The man responsible for the death of a young 10-year-old boy in Miramar Ranch, San Diego has been ordered to stand trial on the felony charges of involuntary manslaughter, criminal storage of a firearm, and child endangerment. According to prosecution, the owner of the gun, 56-year-old Todd Francis, had the gun stored in a negligent manner and had the gun loaded prior to the accidental shooting. Francis is currently out on bail as he awaits his conviction, which could be years of prison time. The young boy, Eric Klyaz, was playing with Francis’ daughter in the garage of Francis’ home when the incident occurred, around 4:15 p.m. on June 4th of this year. Repairing a nearby garage door at the time of the accident, Mark Jones testified that he heard the shot along with the screams of a young girl. At this time he ran over to find Eric lying on the garage floor with a gunshot wound on his chest and surrounded by boxes, furniture, and other items. Jones stated, “There was a gun. It was sitting on a sofa on top of what looked like some laundry.” He also told authorities who arrived at the scene that the hammer on the gun was pulled back. San Diego police Officer present at the scene, Vito Messineo, testified that he spoke to both the young girl and to Francis later on. According to Messineo, Francis told him the gun had been hidden and he was sure it was not loaded, stating, “If that kid dies, I don’t want to live anymore.” At the San Diego Superior Court hearing, the young girl attended with her mother and a dog used to comfort young witnesses, however declined to take the oath due to her traumatized and despondent nature. Francis’ criminal defense attorney aggressively argued that the evidence provided was exceedingly inadequate to support the claims against her client. Despite her argument and no testimony from the young girl, Judge Peter Deddeh later resolved that enough evidence was presented during the preliminary hearing to send the case to trial.

In the beginning of the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Mathew Dix presented several facts regarding the case that both the prosecution and the defense agree with, one of these being that a deputy medical examiner had determined that Eric was shot at intermediate range and it is unlikely he had shot himself. Francis’ wife, Susan, testified at the hearing as well, along with her teenage son who was at the house at the time of the accident. Susan told the court that she had asked her teenage son to watch his younger sister that afternoon while she ran errands. She was gone for a short time when her son called urging her to come home. Her teenage son testified to the court that he was upstairs in the family’s town home when police contacted him. He told them he didn’t know that his little sister had been playing with her friend Eric and that it was common for the children in their neighborhood to play together in their open garages. Assigned as the detective on the case, Brett Burkett spoke with Francis’ daughter while he was testing the children’s hands for gunshot residue, in an attempt to determine who fired the gun. Burkett said the young girl told him she may have but she was unsure, and found gunshot residue on her hands. At a later time, the young girl told a social worker that she and Eric were both playing with and looking at the gun when it fired off and that she did not put any bullets into it. All together, this case is an unfortunate and devastating situation that could very well have been prevented.


After what seems like a concurring of legal issues, most recent the arrest of Aaron Hernandez, linked to the National Football League over recent years, there is a rising sense among NFL followers that teams should be holding their players to a higher standard of overall character. These Infamous cases include former NFL tight end for the New England Patriots, Aaron Hernandez, currently sitting in a Massachusetts prison on charges of murder. Another is the recent arrest of two Denver Broncos executives, director of pro personnel Tom Heckert and director of player personnel Matt Russell, who were booked for driving under the influence of alcohol this last month. There has been a disturbing pattern of irresponsible behavior that imperatively needs to be cleaned up. According to a database from the San Diego Union-Tribune, there have been 40 instances of NFL player arrests since the start of 2013. Unfortunately, the past and current commonality NFL teams share is the prioritizing of talent over all around character in the formation of their rosters. It seems that the NFL franchises, as a whole, need to shift this priority and begin weeding out players with turbulent or violent pasts in order to fix the fast growing image problem they are facing.

It is difficult, however, to create an acceptable standard for players across the board when the individuals responsible, per their job description, to enforce this standard are failing to live up to their own standards. These individuals should be expected to lead with their granted authority and set the example they wish to see duplicated by their players. As a former competitive athlete myself, I can state from first-hand experience that a lack of respect in the player to coach relationship is absolutely not ideal for a successful team dynamic. The monumental amount of young football players across the country who look up to their favorite NFL players as role models should be ample reason enough to advance immediate changes in the type of athlete and overall person the NFL grants the fortune of daunting that fame laden jersey.

Facing legal issues involving drinking, drugs, and violence has quickly diminished the credibility of the league. And while a DUI does not carry the same weight as committing a murder, assaulting a woman, or passing out in a car full of guns and drugs, all of which have been executed by NFL players, all legal offenses still need be looked at and dealt with in a serious manner. With the eyes of a whole nation watching, the vitality of putting a stop to the array of these occurrences has never been more pressing.

Early morning on Monday, July 19, 2011, San Diego was shocked by the murder of a veteran police detective, Donna Williams 52, and her teenage daughter, Briana Williams 18. Both women were stabbed to death early Monday morning in their Rancho Penasquitos home. Residents in the area said they were startled by screams, at 1 a.m. Monday morning. Witnesses said screams were originating from the Williams home which pierced the silence. One witness who heard the screams of pain was so startled that she was scared to look outside to see what was happening.

Donna Williams, was a veteran Police Detective who had been working for the San Diego Police Department for over 30 years. She also worked as a child abuse investigator and recently on a high profile case of the 2002 murder of Danielle Van Dam. Co-workers and friends of Donna Williams stated that she was a very caring person with a warm welcoming heart.

Briana Williams know as Bree just graduated from Mt. Carmel High School and planned to continue her education at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco this fall. She also played softball for the San Diego Renegades a traveling softball team, and was a very talented athlete. Don Portugal her couch described her as a caring, hard working and talented athlete.

Eric Anthony Pomatto, a 27 year old Escondido man, plead guilty of attempted murder on Monday at the Vista Court House. His sentencing, which will take place in July is expected to be 34 years to life. The crime was committed last year, during a car chase which resulted in Mr. Pomatto firing upon Police Officers out of the windows of the stolen vehicle. The chase began around 6:15 and started in the southeastern portion of Escondido and ended in the Westfeild Shopping Center Parking lot.

For more information describing the series of events of Mr. Pomatto’s crimes visit here.

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Eighteen year old Jugo Elmer Garcia, an illegal immigrant, was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of armed robbery, rape and carjacking on East Valley Parkway in Escondido.

The first part of Mr. Garcia’s crime spree started at 1690 East Valley Parkway where he assaulted and robbed a lone store clerk in a small strip mall. Mr. Garcia held her at gun point and raped her and then proceeded to take several items from the store along with the store clerk’s vehicle, a 2000 Ford Expedition. The Police call came in at 5:07 p.m confirmed by Lt. Mark Wrisley.

Mr. Garcia returned several hours later to a nearby location where he tried to commit another series of crimes. He attempted to rob another woman, however, she was able to quickly run to a near-by gas station and call 911.

images.jpgActor, Shelley Malil, appeared Wednesday in a Vista courtroom for trial on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary. Many of you may remember Shelley Malil and his role in the hit 2005 comedy, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, but he has also appeared in a Super Bowl beer commercial as well as numerous television programs. In August 2008, he allegedly assaulted Kendra Beebe allegedly fueled by rage and jealously. Mr. Malil pleaded not guilty to all three charges-attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and burglary-against him.

Mr. Malil faces a potential life sentence in prison because the prosecution, Deputy District Attorney Watanabe, says that the attack was planned out (premeditated) by Mr. Malil. Evidence supprotingg the prosecutions’ theory is the alleged bringinga knife from his apartment to Ms. Beebe’s home and then breaking in and assaulting her. Mr. Malil allegedly ‘surprised’ Ms. Beebe on her back patio while she was having a drink with one of her friends. It was at this time when Mr. Malil started his attack stabbing Ms. Bebee several times.

Ms. Beebe’s friend stated that he was able to wrestle the knife away from Mr. Malil but then left to go get help. But while he was gone, Mr. Malil allegedly grabbed another knife, according to prosecution attorney Watanabe, and continued the violent stabbing of Ms. Beebe. Finally, the attack ended when her next door neighbor responded to an array of screams. It is alleged that Ms. Kendra Beebe suffered at least 23 stab wounds several of which were life threatening, one of which was within an eight of an inch of her carotid artery.

A 28 year old man, who legally changed his name from Jon Koppenhaver to War Machine was sentenced on Tuesday after pleading guilty to felony assault charges. War Machine, a former mixed martial arts fighter, assaulted a female bar tender as well as punching a bouncer in two separate bar attacks. The assaults happened in February and March where he punched a bouncer and assaulted the female bar tender at a club in Point Loma. War Machine didn’t actually strike the female bar tender but by pushing bottles off the bar toward her. At the time of both attacks War Machine was on probation for a misdemeanor assault conviction from 2008.

Judge David Danielsen initially refused the plea agreement because he felt that War Machine’s poor attitude would make him unable to comply with terms of probation and would just allow him to get out of jail custody quicker. However, at Tuesday’s hearing War Machine presented a three page letter explaining his willingness to comply with terms of probation and his wish to stay out of prison. He further stated that he wants to turn his life around and he has already messed his life up enough. He told the judge Danielson that he recently got married and plans to open a gym with one of his friends once he gets out of jail. Judge Danielsen agreed to give him one shot at probation sentencing with terms and conditions including one year in jail and to stay away from alcohol for three years as well as getting treatment, therapy and or counseling for his anger issues.

More and more these days, person’s in the public eye including athletes and actors are finding themselves in the criminal justice system for their juvenile or misguided actions that could have been easily prevented by utilizing some restraint and or good judgment. I have represented both athletes and actors and they are just like the rest of us who from time to time do not make the best decisions even though, a lot of the time, the public puts them through a higher standard!

Murder conviction without a body? Yes! Joaquin Murrieta Martinez,age 32, was found guilty in the murder and dismemberment of Janina Hardoy, age 24, in her Oceanside home. Mr. Martinez a known gang member testified that he did not kill Ms.Hardoy but he did contribute to the dismemberment of her hands and feet, after she was dead.

Gavil.jpgJanina Hardoy moved to Oceanside in late 2004 after living in Northern California. A few months later in early February 2005 she was murdered. Only her dismembered hands and feet were found. The location of her body is still unknown even after a four day search. Law enforcement has speculated that the body is somewhere in the Santee Landfill. Police investigators are still unsure about the cause of death as they have been unable to examine the body.

Deputy District Attorney Geoff Allard told the jury that Martinez had killed Janina Hardoy during February 2005 because she had threatened to tell the police that Mr. Martinez and fellow gang members had robbed a series of banks from Bonsall, San Marcos, Carlsbad and Encinitas. Martinez and others were arrested and sentenced to prison for these robberies. Mr. Allard also stated that her body was most likely dumped in a garbage bin behind an Escondido doughnut shop, and then later picked up by trash truck and dumped into the landfill.

Eric Anthony Pomatto, the man who lead police officers on a lengthy and reckless pursuit after evading police on Friday March, 19th, was arrested and charged with 27 serious felonies including felony evading and 11 counts of attempted of murder.

Mr. Pomatto’s car was first observed outside his ex-girlfriends father’s house and was reported to the police as a suspicious vehicle because the vehicle had been there for more than five hours. As officers approached Mr. Pornatto in the vehicle he drove off and lead them on a long and reckless pursuit accumulating in the multitude of felony charges.

Mr. Pomatto plead not guilty alongside his deputy public defender during a brief arraignment appearance at the Vista Courthouse. He faces up to 158 years and four months in prison if convicted of every charge. These charges range from attempted murder, which Deputy District Attorney Patrick Espinoza stated that, “Pomatto had an intent to kill officers”. Also including felony evading, shooting from a car at walking bystanders, shooting at an occupied vehicle, being a felon in possession of deadly firearms as well as assault on a peace officer. Mr. Pomatto is being held in custody without bail pending the trial court proceedings.

Car.jpgIn Escondido, North County San Diego, around 6p.m. Friday, police officers pursued a vehicle in a long and violent car chase. Initially, the officer observed the car driving suspiciously so he ran the license plate number and found the vehicle was reported stolen Honda Accord out of Chula Vista. The driver then sped off in the car and the chase ensued. Shortly after the pursuit started, the driver of the stolen vehicle fired several rounds through the sunroof of the car at a police helicopter that was providing aerial support to the to police units on the ground. The driver of the stolen Honda Accord also fired several shots at police units. The driver while evading arrest used a variety of weapons including a handgun and shotgun to fire at pursing officers.

In addition, the driver fired several rounds at the police K9 unit. One shot pierced the windshield passing just over the officers right shoulder and going through the seat almost hitting his dog partner in the back. Lucky neither the officer nor his partner were injured in the firing however other rounds fired disabled the vehicle, blowing out the front two tires. The pursuit continued at speeds ranging from 5 to 130 miles per hour.

At one time during the chase, an officer on foot unsuccessfully tried to deploy a spike strip but was fired at several times. The officer was not hit but the bullets hit other vehicles. Once again no one was injured by the reckless and dangerous firing done by the driver of the stolen vehicle. As the driver approached Westfield’s North County Mall parking lot, he exited the vehicle and laid down on the ground before officers had the opportunity to approach him. Lt. Craig Carter, said “I don’t know why he stopped, he obviously knew we were there.” The pursuit stopped here as the man was taken into custody.

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