The New Year has begun, but some Sun Region cases from prior years are still working their way through the courts. The following is an update on local felony cases.
Two legal terms to keep in mind are pre-trial hearing and preliminary hearing. The terms sound similar, but they mean different things. A pre-trial hearing will deal with specific issues before the trial starts. A preliminary hearing determines if there is enough evidence for a case to go to trial.
Space limits the number of cases that can be covered in a single issue. The cases are listed in chronological order based on next scheduled court appearance.
LOS ALAMITOS ROAD RAGE
Los Alamitos Police arrested Robert Barnhart, 52, of Bellflower in November as a result of a road rage incident. Barnhart is accused of following another driver in his car and striking that car with his following a collision.
The Orange County DA’s Office has charged him with 11 felony counts, including nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of making criminal threats.
The latest: Barnhart’s preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Barnhart is currently out on $150,000 bond, according to the Orange County Superior Court Web site.
SEAL BEACH SEXUAL ASSAULTS
A masseur who used to work in Seal Beach was charged last year with three counts of assault with intent to commit specified sex offenses.
Seal Beach Police Sgt. Steve Bowles described the incidents as “a series of inappropriate and unwanted physical contacts” between Jason Michael Elliot, 28, and the three women clients.
Bowles confirmed that all three incidents apparently took place at Massage Envy.
The company issued a statement that said the accused passed a Seal Beach Police background check prior to being hired. He was dismissed when the business learned about the accusations against him.
The incidents reportedly took place in 2009.
Elliot is out on $100,000 bail.
Elliot has had two preliminary hearings scheduled and cancelled in his case.
Latest: A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 13.
Elliot is currently out on $100,000 bail posted by Viking Bail Bonds.
SEAL BEACH FATAL CHILD ABUSE
A 22-month-old Seal Beach girl identified as Millicent Wilborn died on Dec. 17, 2009.
Her twin brother suffered a skull fracture, but lived.
The crime apparently occurred in the resident housing area of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station on Anchor Way. Authorities have said there is no evidence that either of the victims’ other two siblings were physically abused.
Their mother, Linda Wilborn, has been charged with assaulting a child with enough force likely to cause death. According to the DA’s office, their father was at work at time time the crime occurred. The DA’s Office described the charge against Wilborn as the “equivalent of murder” because the penalty for fatal child abuse is the same as the penalty for murder: 25 years to life.
When Wilborn was originally charged in early 2010, the DA’s office filed four felony counts against her—none of them murder. However, the Orange County Superior Court Web site now lists a fifth count against Wilborn: murder.
Wilborn is currently in custody in the Orange County Jail.
Latest: Her trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 17.
LEISURE WORLD RAPE
On July 6 or July 7, 2010, a 46-year-old woman took a cab from Sunset Beach to an apartment in Seal Beach’s Leisure World. According to the Seal Beach Police Department, she awoke the next morning with no recollection of the previous night.
On Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010, Seal Beach officers arrested Orange County cab driver Orlando Bruce Bosley, 57.
Bosley has been charged with one count of rape by duress or menace, one count of rape by use of drugs and one count of rape of an unconscious person.
Latest: A preliminary hearing was scheduled in November, but cancelled. Another preliminary hearing was scheduled in December, but cancelled. A pre-trial hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 18.
He is currently out on $100,000 bond.
ROSSMOOR HOME INVASION ROBBERY
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, an elderly Rossmoor resident used her Life Alert system to call for help. According to the Sheriff’s Department Web site, she said she had been robbed and was tied up in her home on Weatherby Road. It was 11:40 a.m. when the Sheriff’s Department learned of the crime.
Units were dispatched at 11:43 a.m.
Deputies located the front door of her home.
According to the dispatch log, she was too far from the door to hear the unit. She could not hear the questions that Life Alert operators asked her.
Deputies entered the house. They heard her screaming that she was tied to a chair.
The Sheriff’s Department investigators obtained descriptions of two suspects: a white man with a gun and a man she described as Hispanic. The second suspect wore black gloves with snowflakes on them. They left the scene in a white Mazda pick up truck.
Tyler James Compton, 23, was arrested the next day, Thursday, Dec. 8, according to the Sheriff’s Department Web site.
Compton is being held on $210,000 bail, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s Web site.
The latest: A preliminary hearing and a bail review hearing have both been scheduled for Jan. 18.
LOS ALAMITOS JFTB MURDER
A Costa Mesa man was murdered at the theater at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos on Friday, May 21, 2010. Some of his remains were found on the base and some of his remains were found in El Dorado Park in Long Beach.
His killer apparently then went to the victim’s Costa Mesa home and lured a woman the dead man knew to the apartment.
There, the suspect killed the woman and staged the crime to look like a sexual assault.
For a brief time, Costa Mesa Police considered the first victim a suspect in the second murder. It wasn’t until the following week that they learned their murder suspect was in fact a murder victim.
The DA’s Office has charged Daniel Patrick Wozniak with the crime. The charges include “special circumstances” that make the accused eligible for the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Latest: Wozniak’s preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue on Jan. 27.
Wozniak remains in custody.
SEAL BEACH ATTEMPTED
A Seal Beach man was stabbed in his head and torso on Thursday morning, Oct. 14, 2010.
The Seal Beach Police Department arrested the victim’s son, Dalton Aguirre, 22, of Seal Beach that same day.
Aguirre has been in the Orange County Jail since his arrest. He is being represented by three attorneys with the Public Defender’s Office.
Latest: Aguirre’s preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue on Jan. 30.
He is being held without bail in the Orange County Jail.
LOS ALAMITOS MURDER AND ARSON
Joseph Elija Ettima has been accused of murdering his grandmother and setting her Los Alamitos apartment on fire with two children inside on Jan. 19, 2009. The children were Ettima’s then 8-year-old brother and his 3-year-old niece.
The 8-year-old boy got the 3-year-old girl out of the burning building. Authorities found 69-year-old Emma Louise Hardwick-Street’s body inside.
On April 15, U.S. Marshals arrested the prime suspect in the murder, Joseph Elija Ettima, now 27, in Mexico. Ettima could face 25 years to life imprisonment if he is convicted. Ettima’s jury trial began on Oct. 18, 2010.
The latest: The trial was last held in June. A mental health competency hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 15. A January trial date has been cancelled.
Ettima remains in the Orange County Jail.
CHILD SEX ABUSE
The DA’s Office has charged Denis Lyons, a Seal Beach Leisure World resident, with felony lewd conduct with a child in Costa Mesa over a two-year period in the early 1990s. Lyons has entered a not guilty plea in the case. According to the DA’s Office, an attorney representing the accuser in an un-related civil suit reported the crime to the prosecutor’s office in July 2008. The accuser filed a police report in September 2008, about 16 years after the abuse reportedly began.
Latest: Lyons’ jury trail began on Jan. 10, 2011 and has continued since that date. The trial is scheduled to continue on Feb. 21.
He was released on $200,000 bail on July 28, 2009. Two bail bond firms, Bail Hotline Bail Bonds and Penny Bail Bonds, each posted $100,000.
LOS ALAMITOS CHILD ABUSE
On July 24, witnesses saw a woman swinging an infant around and called the Los Alamitos Police Department. A police officer ordered the woman to stop. She dropped the infant, who was then 9 days old. The child survived. There is no evidence that the woman was under the influence of drugs. The child’s mother, Natasha Latise Lundy, 21, was charged with four felony counts including child endangerment and assault with a deadly weapon. Lundy turned 21 on Jan. 3, 2012.
Preliminary hearings in the case were held in August and September.
The latest: Lundy had mental competency hearings in September, November and December 2011. Another competency hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 24.
Lundy is being held without bail in the Orange County Jail.
SEAL BEACH NURSING HOME MURDER
Roy Charles Laird, 88, has been charged with one count of murder and with one enhancement of personally discharging a firearm, resulting in the death of his 86-year-old wife. The term “enhancement” means that if the jury finds a defendant is guilty of both the basic crime and the enhancement, additional time could be added to the defendant’s sentence.
That means Laird could be sentenced to 50 years to life, meaning the 88-year-old man would have to wait 50 years to be eligible for parole.
The shooting occurred on Sunday, Nov. 21, in the victim’s apartment in the Country Villa Healthcare Center just outside of Leisure World. The DA’s Office reported that the victim was in late-stage dementia.
Latest: A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for March 16.
According to press reports, Laird was released and placed in a nursing home.
According to the Orange County Superior Court Web site occourts.org, Laird is out on a conditional release. No bail has been posted.
SALON MERITAGE SHOOTINGS
Scott Evans Dekraai has been charged with eight counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in the Oct. 12, 2011 Seal Beach shootings at the Salon Meritage beauty shop. He was reportedly involved in a bitter custody dispute over his 8-year-old son with his ex-wife, who was one of the victims. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty. Dekraai has entered a plea of not guilty. So far, he has not entered an insanity defense.
He is being represented by the Orange County Public Defender’s Office. He is in custody in the Orange County Jail.
The latest: The preliminary hearing in his case has been scheduled for April 24.
Crime Log Compiled
by Charles M. Kelly
IN SEAL BEACH
MONDAY, DECEMBER 19
Panhandlers—12:50 p.m.—Seal Beach Boulevard—Two men were in front of the location, refusing to leave. The caller described them as panhandlers.
Police unit 106 checked the area and contacted two individuals who matched the description of the suspects. They were advised to discontinue their behavior and said they would comply.
Vehicle Burglary—3:15 p.m.—Seal Beach Boulevard—The crime apparently occurred between 2:10 and 3 p.m. Loss: third row seat and stereo. Point of entry: unknown.
Found Property—4:12 p.m.—Pacific Coast Highway—A customer saw someone throw a wallet out of a car window.
The caller, relaying information from the customer, could not provide any more information about the suspect. The caller had the wallet. Report taken.
Theft—7:33 p.m.—Seal Beach Boulevard—A police volunteer initially reported a possible robbery at the location. However, an employee of the business denied there was a robbery. There was, however, a theft. Two individuals apparently ripped phones from the display. Witnesses provided police with descriptions of the suspects and their vehicle. Report taken.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20
Reckless Driver—9:28 p.m.—405 Freeway and Seal Beach Boulevard—The caller reported being tailgated by a reckless male driver who was driving with no lights on. The troublesome driver was last seen exiting the 405 Freeway on Seal Beach Boulevard. The caller disconnected.
Suspicious Person or Circumstances—9:53 p.m.—Pacific Coast Highway and 12th Street—The caller said a man (no further description) looked at the caller and took off running. The man then left in a small, white Toyota. He was last seen on 12th Street.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21
Patrol Check—12:46 p.m.—Fir Avenue—The caller said two black pick-ups were drag racing 15 minutes earlier. The caller said this was an on-going problem.
Possible Transient—8:21 p.m.—Regatta Way—A man who was described as a transient was leaning against a front door.
The man was arrested for four warrants, all apparently related to misdemeanor charges.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22
Vehicle Burglary—6:57 a.m.—Teaberry Circle—The crime apparently occurred between 8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 21, and 6:45 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 22. Point of entry: smashed driver’s side window. Loss: tools. Report taken.
Stray Animal—10:45 a.m.—Almond Avenue—The caller reported a stray white schnauzer with a collar, last seen going eastbound into the Highlands area. Referred to Long Beach Animal Care Services.
Attempted Burglary Reported—6:47 p.m.—Montecito Road—According to the caller, the attempted crime occurred at about 11 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 20. Someone came into the caller’s apartment while the caller’s roommate was sleeping. The roommate woke up and startled the suspect, who fled. Report taken.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23
Fraud Report—10:27 a.m.—Main Street—The caller reported receiving a fraudulent check for an item the caller was selling on eBay. However, police unit 107 determined that no crime had occurred. The caller received a check in the wrong amount for the item. The caller still had possession of the property. No loss. The caller contacted the potential buyer about the check. Police unit 107 counseled the caller on civil issues related to using eBay.
Fraud Report—3:09 p.m.—First Street—Someone used the caller’s credit card information. Loss: $1,691.04 in purchases from various stores in New York City.
Disturbance—3:29 p.m.—11th Street—The caller said trash diggers were in a verbal fight over the trash. The fight was between a man and a woman. Police unit 107 contacted the male half in the alley at 11th Street. The man was interviewed in the field.
Welfare Check—4:16 p.m.—Ocean Avenue—The caller said a man who was in the water, next to the jetty, was yelling. The caller couldn’t hear what the man in the water was trying to say because he was too far away. The caller was on the Seal Beach Pier. Message delivered to Seal Beach and Long Beach Lifeguards. Long Beach Lifeguards said they would send a boat. According to the log, Lifeguards called back to say the man in the water did not need emergency services.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25
Bike Stop—4:01 a.m.—Fir Avenue and Heather Street—Police unit 242 performed a bike stop and interviewed the bicyclist in the field.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 26
Suspicious Person in Vehicle—5:18 a.m.—Kenilworth Drive and Wallingsford Road—The caller requested patrol checks for a man who kept parking and getting out of a vehicle at various spots on Kenilworth. The vehicle was described as a dark, possibly blue, Mustang. The man was described as Hispanic, possibly wearing jeans.
Petty Theft Report—3:09 p.m.—Davenport Road—Property was apparently taken from the caller’s car.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27
Disturbance—11:03 p.m.— Kensington Road—The caller requested a patrol check for teens throwing toilet paper at the house.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28
Pedestrian Check—10:54 p.m.—Foster Road and Kerth Drive.
Suspicious Person in Vehicle—9:21 a.m.—Brimhall Drive and Silver Fox Road—The caller requested a patrol check for two men sitting in a truck. The caller said they were unknown to the area. The truck was described as white. The caller provided no further information—and hung up.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29
Disturbance—8:08 p.m.—Blume Drive—The caller reported five juveniles climbing onto the roof of the community building.
Suspicious Person or Circumstances—12:04 a.m.—Someone rang the caller’s doorbell and left a Christmas tree on his porch. The caller didn’t desire any action, but requested a patrol check for suspicioius activity.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30
Suspicious Person or Circumstances—1:01 a.m.—Wembley Road.
Suspicious Person in Vehicle—10:56 a.m.—Ruth Elaine Drive and Donnis Road.