On the ninth anniversary of Pittsburg Police Officer Larry Lasater's death in the line of duty Thursday, his family members braced themselves for a legal battle by one of his accused murders to have his sentenced reduced by the California Supreme Court.
Lasater’s mother, Phyllis Loya, said it’s become tradition to bring flowers to her son’s gravesite and gather with loved ones on April 25 at Oakmont Memorial Park in Lafayette.
“We remember him every day, but this is the day we come out here to honor him,” Loya said.
Lasater never met his son, but the child knows all about the sacrifice his father made. Lasater was shot and killed while chasing two bank robbery suspects who fled a Pittsburg supermarket in April 2005.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Pittsburg Police Chief Brian Addington said. “I remember the last time I saw Larry just a few days before he was killed, walking down the hallway of the Pittsburg Police Department. He was laughing. He said, ‘Hi.’”
Now, Lasater’s picture is a permanent fixture in the hallway of the police department.
One of Lasater’s killers, Alexander Hamilton, is on death row. The other, Andrew Moffett, is waiting to see if the California Supreme Court will reduce his sentence of life without parole.
Moffett was 17 at the time of the crime. He had his first appeal denied and he was re-sentenced to life without parole in July 2011. Yet, the California Supreme Court agreed to consider a second appeal to determine whether or not sentencing juveniles to life without parole is unconstitutional.
The third ruling is expected to be handed down in the summer of 2014.
“It just opens up old wounds that shouldn’t have to be opened up,” Addington said.
Loya was in the courtroom for both Moffett’s sentencing and appeal. She said she won’t stop fighting to keep justice from changing, but she’s also not worried about what the third ruling will be.
“I leave that up to God, because I know that God will always give me the strength to fight. And I will fight until my dying breathe for justice for my son,” she said.
Police on Thursday announced the arrest of two suspects in the Oakland slaying of beloved dog walker last July, citing the case as an instance where a resident went beyond being vigilant and dangerously took the law into her own hands.
The criminal complaint filed against the two men says Stephon Lee was the gunman and Mario Floyd was the getaway driver in the fatal shooting.
Both are charged with the murder of well-known Oakland dog walker Judy Salamon.
"It's unfortunate that someone's life has to come to that point where they could take a life that easily," said Bob Hodgson, Salamon's next-door neighbor.
Salamon was shot and killed July 24, 2013, on Fern Street next to a cemetery. Police announced Thursday afternoon they had arrested the 22-year-old Lee and the 23-year-old Floyd.
"We're very proud of the work that the citizens of this community as well as the investigators of the Oakland Police Dept. have done on this case," said Oakland Police Capt. Sharon Williams.
Oakland Police Sgt. Mike Gantt was the lead investigator on the case. He called Salamon a brave woman who tried to document the two suspects committing some kind of crime.
"I don't know if it was a burglary or robbery, but it was something illegal that caught her attention," said Gantt.
Salamon shot cell phone video of the pair, but that wasn’t all.
"These suspects then entered their suspect vehicle and drove away. Miss Salamon ultimately followed them back over to Fern Street, where she was shot and killed and her phone taken," explained Gantt.
Police said Salamon should have just gotten the video to police or called 911. In fact, court documents show that when the suspects demanded Salamon's phone, she argued with them before being shot.
"We want you to be vigilant, but we don't want you to be a vigilante," said Gantt.
At the police news conference, Salamon's friend Jan Heatherington told KTVU how she had been heavily involved in getting private security to patrol their neighborhood.
"It's very sad to hear that she might done a little bit more than she should have done. And she wasn't keeping herself as safe as she should have," said Heatherington.
The complaint shows that Lee has previous convictions for armed robbery and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
"The suspects are known to the Oakland Police Department, I can tell you that," said Gantt. "And we're familiar with them and the activity that they take part in in the city of Oakland. "
When asked if the men were known gang members, Gantt replied: "I'm not going to say documented gang members, but we have neighborhood gangs in East Oakland. I would say they are part of a neighborhood gang."
In Salamon's neighborhood, good friend Joel Denney was relieved to hear of the arrests. But he said he was not free of concern.
"There's two off the streets and this place is still crazy. And no one really knows how to deal with this kind of situation," said Denney. We have such an entrenched predatory and bullying culture."
Because the killing happened during a robbery, this is a capital case. That means the suspects could face the death penalty.
Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo took the stand in a Santa Rosa courtroom Thursday to testify in his own defense during his peeping case, at one point admitting he had been caught with his "pants down."
The 33-year-old appeared nervous at times as he was questioned by prosecutor Cory Hunt during cross examination.
In one exchange, Hunt fired questions at Carrillo.
"Do you admit you crossed boundaries? Do you admit you went into Jane Doe's backyard? Do you admit you stuck your hand through her window?" asked Hunt.
Carrillo answered yes to all three questions. Hunt then asked, "Do you admit you looked into her house?"
Carrillo answered no.
Carrillo testified that on July 13th at 3:30 a.m., after having a few drinks, he knocked on his neighbors front door dressed in just his socks and boxer briefs.
After he got no response, Carrillo said he went through a side gate, walked to the back patio, and saw the glow of the kitchen light on. Seconds later, he said he decided to walk back to the front of the residence.
Hunt then asked, "You thought Jane Doe wanted to have sex with you?"
"I was hoping for it," answered Carrillo. "I was on top of the world. I had a big ego, self-centered. Everything I did was to benefit me."
Hunt followed up with, "What did Jane Doe do to make you think she wanted you come over at 3:30 in the morning in your underwear?"
Carrillo answered, "Nothing."
The unidentified neighbor, known in court as Jane Doe, testified on Tuesday. She said she called 911 after hearing a scratching sound and rustling of the blinds at her home.
Carrillo said after looking at her back patio he walked back to the front of the apartment knocked again on the front door. He said he heard a man's voice from the inside ask who it was. Carrillo said it was then he started to leave.
Moments later, police arrived and arrested him.
Toward the end of his testimony, the supervisor gave a final embarrassed admission.
"I realized I had been caught with my pants down," said Carrillo. "I realized I did something hurtful."
The jury was handed the case late Thursday afternoon. The jury deliberated for 40 minutes and then left the courthouse. Deliberations set to resume 9:00 a.m. Friday.
If convicted Carrillo could be sentenced up to six months in jail.
A Martinez family was shocked to get the news that their two young children tested positive for pertussis, commonly called whooping cough, despite having been vaccinated and receiving booster shots.
The 9-year old boy goes to Morello Elementary in Martinez. The principal sent an email to parents warning them of the student's case that was reported to the Contra Costa County Health Department.
His parents reached out to KTVU, saying they wanted to let others know they did their due diligence vaccinating their children, ages 9 and 3. They also wanted to warn other parents the vaccine might not be enough to protect their kids.
"We all had DTaP, we all had the boosters, and we all still got whooping cough." the mother told KTVU from her home. She wanted to keep the family's identity secret. "They had a low grade fever and this just seemed like another cold," she said.
After repeated visits to the doctor's office, she asked for a pertussis test. "I said just swab them so we can eliminate it." The test came back positive.
In the 1990's the vaccine for pertussis changed in an effort to eliminate some of the side effects in children. Research shows it also seems to have eliminated some of the vaccine's effectiveness.
Doctors working on vaccines at Kaiser Permanente's Research Division in Oakland said findings of a study of DTaP effectiveness over time "...suggest that whooping cough control measures may need to be reconsidered. Prevention of future outbreaks may be best achieved by developing new pertussis-containing vaccines or reformulating current vaccines to provide long-lasting immunity."
The family in Martinez is in the last stages of the disease. Their children finished their courses of medicine, so they are no longer contagious, though the coughing persists. So do the sleepless nights.
"There's no one to blame." She told KTVU. "What needs to be done is get another vaccination ready so that nobody has to go through this, ever."
Alameda Police announced that a 10-year-old boy who had gone missing earlier Thursday evening has been found and reunited with his family.
Investigators said Steven Hendrieth was last seen at Haight School on Santa Clara Avenue shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
Police issued a statement at about 7:15 p.m. that said the boy was located.