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January 17, 2020

Busy night for police as 20 citations issued for illegal fireworks

Morgan Hill Police Department “pulled out all the stops” in enforcing illegal fireworks violations on Independence Day, deploying undercover vehicles and dozens of officers to cite more than 20 people for possession or discharge of fireworks, according to a July 5 press release.  The need for such a special enforcement effort was identified earlier this year, when MHPD reached out to the community and asked what issues were important when reflecting on the quality of life here in Morgan Hill, the press release continues. One of the top areas of concern cited by residents in this survey was “illegal fireworks,” and how it affects the community’s safety each year during the Fourth of July holiday celebrations.The Morgan Hill City Council subsequently amended its fireworks ordinance so that fireworks related fines were tripled during the week Independence Day. Prior to enforcement, the department sent out information through multiple formats including print, email, social media, television and word of mouth, reminding people about illegal fireworks and the police department’s plan for enforcing a zero-tolerance policy, according to police.On July 4, MHPD in conjunction with Cal Fire had specific teams patrolling the city, focused on people and places where illegal fireworks were discharged from, the press release states. The teams spent the night conducting proactive enforcement and responding to calls for service regarding the discharge of fireworks.At the end of the night, officers issued 20 citations and collected a large amount of unspent illegal fireworks, police said. MHPD Sgt. Carson Thomas added that dispatchers received more than 40 calls from residents reporting illegal fireworks throughout Morgan Hill.This was an especially busy day for the department as it staffed multiple events during the 36-hour period and two significant events simultaneously: the fireworks show at the Outdoor Sports Center on Condit Road and the fireworks enforcement detail throughout the evening.“I am especially proud of the dedication of our entire team—civilian and sworn, paid and volunteer—for their sacrifice away from their families and friends so that others can enjoy a fun and safe Independence Day celebration. Their efforts are truly commendable,” said Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing.Thomas, who coordinated the special enforcement effort for MHPD, thanked residents who reported illegal fireworks in their neighborhoods, and encouraged others to continue to make such reports.“Please know that your MHPD works proactively to ensure safety through the abatement of crime and addressing quality of life concerns,” Thomas said. “The enforcement of fireworks violations enhances the quality of life for our residents and their pets, ensuring safety for all.”To report illegal fireworks or other possible municipal code violations, call MHPD at (408) 779-2101.

San Martin rape suspect back in court Feb. 21

The judge also ordered a restraining order against Bobian, prohibiting him from being within 300 yards of his accuser for at least one year.

Morgan Hill Police searching for suspect who robbed the 7-11

Morgan Hill Police is asking for the public’s help to track down a suspect who robbed the 7-11 on Main Avenue late Tuesday or early Wednesday and it may be connected to similar robberies in Campbell and San Jose.

Police ID victims of Ford Store shooting

Brian Light and Xavier Souto, both Ford Store Morgan Hill employees, were shot and killed by a gun-wielding suspect at the auto dealership June 25.

Police arrest 262 on suspicion of DUI during winter holidays

The annual winter holiday police crackdown on drunk and impaired driving resulted in 262 arrests on suspicion of drunk or impaired driving throughout Santa Clara County, according to the sheriff’s office.These arrests were made from Dec. 18 to Dec. 30, police said. This period marks the sheriff’s and other police agencies’ annual winter holiday “Avoid the 13” enforcement effort. The campaign uses grant funds to place extra officers on the road during high-traffic times, and conduct DUI checkpoints and other enforcement activities.The crackdown campaign emphasizes the preventable nature of drunk driving, as police remind motorists that planning ahead is easy, the press release continues.“Designate a sober driver or call a cab. But whatever you do, don’t drink and drive,” reads the press release.  Funding for the Avoid the 13 program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

UPDATED: Jury convicts Garcia Torres of first degree murder in Sierra...

Sierra LaMar’s family along with dozens of volunteers who have been searching for her the last five years let out a collective gasp of relief May 9 when they heard the jury found Antolin Garcia Torres guilty of the Morgan Hill teen’s murder.

Police: 2017 ends with string of armed robberies in Gilroy

On Dec. 30 at 4:26pm, officers from the Gilroy Police Department responded to a report of an armed robbery at Pizza Hut, on the 1100 block of First Street in Gilroy. As an employee was putting money into the business safe, a man entered the business and brandished a handgun. The suspect demanded money and the employee immediately ran to the back of the business out of fear, according to police. The suspect fled the business without the money or any property.Later that evening, a Gilroy Police officer contacted a subject matching a description of the alleged Pizza Hut robber inside a blue 2007 Volkswagen Jetta, parked near the Garlic City Club Casino on the 8600 block of San Ysidro Avenue, police said. A high-risk stop was initiated. The subject, later identified as Izaak Diaz, 24, of Gilroy, failed to comply with commands and he fled in his vehicle.Diaz led police on a high-speed pursuit through parts of Gilroy and into Hollister, according to authorities. He continued the pursuit back to U.S. 101 through Gilroy. Spike strips were successfully deployed, deflating all four tires. Diaz continued on the flattened tires until an officer brought the vehicle to a stop using a Pursuit Intervention Technique with his patrol car, on U.S. 101 near the San Martin exit. Diaz was taken into custody with the assistance of a Morgan Hill Police Department K9.Diaz was medically cleared at a local area hospital and transported to the Santa Clara County Jail, police said. Diaz was booked for attempted robbery and felony evading.This is one of several armed robberies that took place in the last week in Gilroy. The following is a summary of some recent cases, according to authorities:• On Dec. 24 at 6:52pm, officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Best Western Park Inn hotel, on the 300 block of Leavesley Road. A man armed with a handgun entered the business and demanded money from the desk clerk. The suspect fled the business with an undisclosed amount of money.This suspect was described as a white male adult, approximately 20 years old, six feet tall and medium build and green eyes, police said. The suspect wore a black hooded jacket, green baseball cap.• On Dec. 26 at 9:35pm, officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Wienerschnitzel, on the 700 block of First Street. A man entered the business and demanded money from the cashier, while displaying a handgun. The suspect fled the business with an undisclosed amount of money.The suspect was described as a light-skin Hispanic male, 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 150-160 pounds, with red facial hair. The suspect wore a grey jacket, blue jeans, grey beanie cap and tan colored boots, according to police.• On Dec. 28, at 9:13pm, officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Little Caesars Pizza, located on the 1300 block of First Street. A man entered the business and demanded money from the cashier, while displaying a handgun. The suspect fled the business with an undisclosed amount of money.The suspect was described as a Hispanic male, 5 feet, 4 inches tall and a thin build. The suspect wore a teal hooded sweater, blue jeans, grey beanie cap and white shoes.Gilroy Police Detectives are investigating these cases. Anyone with information can call the Gilroy Police Department at (408) 846-0350. Information can be left anonymously.

Sierra LaMar trial set to begin with jury selection May 23

The trial for the Morgan Hill man accused of kidnapping and murdering Sierra LaMar was delayed again, as attorneys continue to squabble over the sharing of evidence processed by the county crime lab during the investigation of the 2012 case.The latest delay, which pushes the trial date to May 23, stems from the defense’s insistence on reviewing the state's DNA evidence that includes the genetic makeup of people other than the defendant.However, prosecutors from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office maintain that it is the defendant’s attorneys who have been dragging their feet in handing over their list of witnesses and other evidence they plan to present during the upcoming trial.Antolin Garcia Torres, 24, appeared in court April 25 at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice in San Jose. Garcia Torres’ attorneys said they were not prepared to go to trial as scheduled at that hearing. The judge set a hearing for May 9 to discuss a previous motion by the defendant to gather more evidence from the District Attorney’s Office, according to court documents.The judge also set a trial date of May 23 at the Hall of Justice. If the DA and defendant are prepared to proceed to the trial, jury selection would likely begin at that time.Despite the finger pointing on the shortage of and delays in sharing evidence, an April 22 order by Judge Deborah A. Ryan worked out in the defendant’s favor. This mandate ordered the DA’s office to provide the defense with “a two to four centimeter portion of evidence,” described as a hair “collected from a white rope seized from Mr. Garcia Torres’ red Jetta.”The segment of the hair, described as 29 centimeters in total length, was ordered to be shared with the defense attorneys’ chosen third-party laboratory that specializes in “mitochondrial testing.” The hair has already been tested by the county crime lab, according to the order.Garcia Torres is charged with murder and a special circumstance of kidnapping in relation to the disappearance of Sierra. The 15-year-old sophomore at Sobrato High School was last seen March 16, 2012. She vanished while walking to the school bus stop near her north Morgan Hill home near Palm and Dougherty avenues, according to police.The DA’s office is seeking the death penalty for Garcia Torres.Earlier this month, Garcia Torres’ attorneys filed a motion to compel the DA’s Office to provide more of the DNA evidence collected by authorities during the investigation. Specifically, defense attorney Alfonso Lopez is seeking “DNA profiles of individuals who are not defendants,” whose genetic material was found on Sierra’s belongings during the investigation.The defense filed the “motion to compel” March 11. This motion also notes that investigators found the DNA of 11 individuals, other than Garcia Torres, on items related to the investigation.“Without adequate defense consultation based on a thorough investigation of all the crucial DNA evidence, defense counsel would be rendered ineffective in their cross-examination of the government experts,” reads the March 11 motion.“The DNA evidence in this case is not reliable as it is subject to human error based on incorrect assumptions which must be independently investigated by the defense,” the motion continues.The state’s case against Garcia Torres rests partly on DNA evidence. Investigators allegedly found Sierra’s DNA in Garcia Torres’ vehicle after he was arrested, and found Garcia Torres’ DNA on Sierra’s clothing which was found in a field near Sierra’s home in the days after the teen disappeared.Deputy DA Dana Veazey has expressed his own frustration with defense attorneys’ alleged delays in revealing the evidence they plan to present in the upcoming trial. In a March 23 motion, Boyd noted that the defendant’s attorneys have not provided evidence first requested in February 2015.  Specifically, the DA is seeking a list of witnesses the defense intends to call to the stand; any audio, video or photograph evidence; expert reports; results of any mental examinations, scientific tests and experiments.“The People have provided over 500 compact discs and over 20,000 pages of material relating to four separate criminal events,” the motion states. “The People’s case rests on eyewitness testimony, forensic DNA, fingerprint and trace evidence, computer searches and cell phone data.”The other cases referenced in the motion are three attempted carjackings that occurred in 2009 in the parking lots of two Morgan Hill Safeway grocery stores. These incidents are unrelated to Sierra’s disappearance, but Garcia Torres is accused of attempting to assault three women by following them to their vehicles in the parking lots late at night.Investigators have not recovered Sierra’s remains or found any evidence that indicates the location of her body.Volunteers have continued to search for Sierra’s remains since she went missing. Roger Nelson, one of those volunteers who has persisted with the effort for more than four years, attended the April 25 hearing.“I know that everyone has been hoping for a long time that the trial would begin and, ultimately, that justice for Sierra LaMar would be served, and it would result in Sierra being returned to her family,” Nelson said.

Richard Luciano Martinez Dies in Motorcycle Crash

Richard “Ricky” Luciano Martinez, 53, of Gilroy, died Saturday when his Harley Davidson motorcycle crashed into a car making a turn on Leavesley Road, according to a California Highway Patrol report.

Police: Two stabbed in chaotic downtown Morgan Hill fight

A Sacramento man who was in town for the Mushroom Mardi Gras festival was accidentally stabbed by his friend when two groups clashed in a fight outside a downtown Morgan Hill bar Sunday night, according to police.