A Court of Appeal in San Francisco has reversed convictions against Marvin Douglas Johnson, Jr. and Simon Thornton connected to the 2011 murder of Joe Litteral at the Bushay Campground at Lake Mendocino. The two found guilty of that murder, the attempted murder of another man and the attempted kidnapping of Johnson’s estranged wife. The two men are in prison with lengthy sentences, but the Court of Appeal said one of the jury’s many instructions was potentially misunderstood so their first degree murder convictions were reversed by the court. But they are affirmed for the attempted murder and attempted kidnapping. The decision is now being reviewed by the Mendocino County District Attorney to decide if they’ll go for a new murder trial.
The Ukiah City Council has decided to go ahead and seek receivership for the Palace Hotel. After the council meeting Wednesday night, the City Attorney David Rapport announced he’d file a petition in court. The next step is a
hearing set within about a month of the filing. That means the city and the hotel’s owner Eladia Laines have to present their case. Then it will be up to a judge to decide if the city will be able to hire a receiver. But Laines will still own the building. The city council previously voted if Laines didn’t complete a list of seven tasks by April 21st then the Public Works Director could decide to file for receivership. Manager Rapport says the delay from then til now was to evaluate what’s been done so far and to serve notice that a receivership would be sought.
Several fatal crashes this month make up almost half the car crash deaths for the year in Lake County. The CHP reports five people killed in crashes, 3
off Highway 20, last month alone. So 11 people have died this year in car accidents. There are usually about 11 or 12 the whole year in Lake County. Lake Co News reports the CHP saying there’s nothing new going on to attribute to the amount of crashes or those on Highway 20. CHP reminding as the holiday weekend gets closer, they’re beefing up patrols to reduce roadway deaths and prevent injuries. Look for more police presence starting tonight at 6 p.m. through Sunday at 11:49 p.m.
Escrow has closed for the Old Coast Hotel property. The title’s been transferred to Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center. Even though there’s a lawsuit going on, the city’s released Community Development Block Grant money to buy the old hotel. That after a judge denied a preliminary injunction a group tried to get against the project so the funds wouldn’t be released. Concerned Citizens of Fort Bragg filed for the injunction which was denied, then filed for an appeal the next day and that was denied within hours. The bidding from architects and contractors is going on now and the building will end up as a homeless and mental health services facility. Most of the services to become available this fall at various area facilities.
More changes coming for the Coastal Trail project. The Fort Bragg Planning Commission unanimously certified the Mitigated Negative Declaration and has approved permits for more parking, a new dog park and a visitor’s center. There will also be improvements to the access road in and another multi-use trail to run east and west for pedestrians and bikes. There’s also going to be new asphalt, fencing, gates, traffic signs, striping and a truck turn-around area.
No jury trial for a couple of men who admitted they were selling marijuana. The Mendocino Count DA’s office reports Abraham Norton of Berkeley and Pasqual Young of Richmond were in court and entered no contest pleas instead of going thru a trial. The 2 men busted after driving near each other in July 2013 and they were both stopped for reckless driving and speeding. Police came to find Norton and Young were traveling together from Shelter Cove to the Bay Area with more than 135 lbs. of black market processed pot. The two will be sentenced late August and early Sept. The DA himself handling the cases.
Cal Fire has a new emergency regulation in place regarding the removal of dead and dying trees. The drought is drying out the trees which creates concerns over intensifying wildfire conditions. In the regulation, they’ve added drought as a condition that constitutes emergency action. That means landowners or Professional Foresters can get permits to cut and remove dead and dying trees without red tape. The US Forest Service reports as many as 12.5 million dead trees. 4 times as many as the state’s entire tree die-off last year. The new Cal Fire regulation submitted to the Office of Administrative Law. The public comment period ends Monday at 5 p.m.
The Pear Tree Center in Ukiah is up for sale. The owner telling the Daily Journal the timing was right. Owner Len Garrison notes some of his reasons as market conditions and estate planning. The Planning Commission has approved a permit for Chipotle Mexican Grill. The newspaper reports the Planning Director talking with the shopping center owner about the sale and the restaurant building there and he said there shouldn’t be any problem. The center was built between 1976 and 1978.
The city of Fort Bragg may formally regulate vacation rentals, which are supposed to already be illegal in the city. The Advocate newspaper reports the
website Airbnb, which offers short term rentals came up at the Community Development Committee meeting last week. A committee member who also sits on the city council asking for city staff to investigate Airbnb. Those using the site usually don’t pay the Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT). But regular short-term or vacation rentals are required to. The city found there are 4 illegal vacations rentals listed on AirBnB.com. The committee looking to have the city council take up the matter and provided several recommendations for limits and requirements.
A man from Colorado charged with capital murder for a 2013 triple-slaying in Forestville has accused prosecutors of tainting the case by allowing a suspected accomplice to secretly watch a police interrogation of the man. Mark Cappello’s lawyers say prosecutors exploited the inexperience of the man’s first lawyer who was a drunken-driving specialist who asked for the case to be dismissed. The new lawyer says the case was compromised. His co-dendants have agreed to testify against Cappello for reduced punishments. The trio charged for the death of 3 people during a botched pot deal.
An American soldier returning from an overseas surprised his girlfriend, having everyone else on the airplane with him help. Army Sgt. Anthony Vance landed in Sacramento and all the passengers, one by one handed girlfriend, Misty Kennedy, one rose. Then Vance showed up and kneeled on-one-knee and proposed. The two were planning to marry this weekend as Vance is headed back out overseas.
Police in New York on the lookout for a man in a wheelchair they say robbed a bank then rolled out. They say the man went up to a teller at the Santander Bank in Queens Monday and demanded cash. He was caught on surveillance video leaving the bank, apparently getting away with $1,200. A witness told CBS they heard the wheelchair may have been a prop, but that’s not confirmed.
A reminder for those recreating in the Mendocino National Forest for the holiday. Forest officials say visitors should have a safe Fourth of July holiday, but as a reminder, because of continued hot and dry conditions, visitors are asked to be careful with fire in the National Forest. That includes campfires, gas stoves and lanterns, and to comply with current fire restrictions. Fireworks including sparklers are strictly prohibited. They say temperatures can vary at night so visitors should be prepared for changing conditions and to tell someone where you are planning to be and what routes you’ll be taking. All Mendocino National Forest offices are closed today and only some open Saturday.
The CHP investigating a crash that killed a big rig driver. The head-on crash yesterday involving other vehicles on Highway 29 between Highway 175 and Kit’s Corner near Smith Ranch Road. CHP officers closed the highway for several hours while investigating. Traffic was rerouted during that time. Witnesses say the big rig was going north on Highway 29 when the crash happened between Bayshore Marine Services and Kelseyville Auto Salvage. They say there was a car swerving into the path of the big rig, which tried to avoid the car but lost control. The rig lost its container and flipped onto its top. The driver was trapped. Two other cars damaged. Big Rig driver died on scene and another person had moderate to major injuries.