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Morgan Hill
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February 25, 2020

UPDATE: Police: Two children injured in downtown traffic accident

Two children were transported to the hospital after a vehicle hit them in a downtown Morgan Hill traffic accident the evening of July 4, according to police.About 9:10 p.m. July 4, Morgan Hill police were dispatched to a report of an injury collision at Monterey Road and Fourth Street, police said. While responding to the call, officers learned a white Jeep traveling northbound on Monterey Road had struck two juvenile pedestrians crossing the roadway.Upon arrival, police located the involved parties and assisted the injured pedestrians. According to a July 5 press release from MHPD, it appeared both juveniles were crossing eastbound on Monterey Road, in the crosswalk. On of the children was riding his bicycle and the other was riding a scooter. Neither was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.One of the juveniles was trapped under the vehicle when police arrived, and had to be extricated by Fire/EMS personnel, according to police. MHPD Sgt. Bill Norman said at the scene that both children suffered “critical injuries.” They were transported to Valley Medical Center.The female adult driver of the Jeep, who was not hurt in the accident, remained on the scene and cooperated with authorities, police said.At the time of the collision, there were no signs the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol, police said.The accident is under investigation by MHPD.Anyone who witnessed the collision can call MHPD Cpl. Scott Silva at (408) 779-2101or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.

DA: Odeum agrees to $120K penalty for fishy menu substitution

A high-end downtown Morgan Hill restaurant has to pay $120,000 in penalties for misbranding and false advertising, according to authorities.Odeum restaurant, located at 17500 Depot Street, is accused of secretly serving customers tilapia fish when they ordered the petrale sole listed on the menu, according to a press release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Sole is a more expensive piece of fish than tilapia.The DA’s investigation found that Odeum was making the surreptitious seafood substitutions between October 2014 and March 2016, the press release states.The DA’s Consumer Protection Unit this week reached a settlement with AS Restaurant Consulting Group LLC—doing business as Odeum Restaurant—and owner Salvatore Calisi, according to authorities. The civil judgment requires Odeum to pay a total of $120,000, a sum that consists of $30,000 restitution and $90,000 in civil penalties.“When you go out to a restaurant you should get the food you order and pay for,” prosecutor Jennifer Deng said. “The District Attorney and this county are committed to protecting the rights of consumers.”The county’s Department of Environmental Health, Consumer Protection Division, investigated the case and found the fish substitution, authorities said. The state health and safety codes prohibit restaurants from misbranding or falsely advertising the food they serve.Odeum will offer gift certificates worth $30 to all individuals who ordered petrale sole during the period in question, the DA’s press release continues. The consumer must file a claim form, which will be found in the Morgan Hill Times, Gilroy Dispatch and Mercury News newspapers. Forms can also be obtained by writing to Odeum at 17500 Depot St. #180, Morgan Hill, CA 95037. All claims must be submitted by May 31, 2017.Depending on how many claims are turned in, any leftover restitution money will be provided to the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, Consumer Protection Division, for training, education, and enforcement, according to the DA’s office.

Two injured in Morgan Hill shooting

Morgan Hill Police are looking for the suspect or suspects involved in a Thursday night shooting that left two injured, according to...

Second suspect surrenders in relation to Morgan Hill shooting

A second suspect surrendered to police in relation to a shooting that took place near Tennant Station in Morgan Hill Feb. 21, according to authorities.About 8pm Feb. 21, Morgan Hill Police were dispatched to the intersection of Tennant Avenue and Church Street, in response to multiple reports that a person had been shot.When officers arrived, they found an 18-year-old man from San Jose suffering from a gunshot wound in his upper leg, police said. The victim was transported to San Jose Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.Witnesses at the scene told police that two subjects were involved in the shooting, according to Morgan Hill Police. Officers located one of the suspects who was still in the area, and ordered him to stop. The suspect—later identified as a 17-year-old male—fled on foot, but police caught up to him and arrested him after a short pursuit.Witnesses also told police that the second suspect was seen running northbound on Church Street before officers arrived.Police were able to identify the outstanding suspect as a 17-year-old male, according to police. MHPD officers were joined by Santa Clara County deputies—plus K9 dogs and a police helicopter—in searching the surrounding neighborhood the evening of Feb. 21. Authorities also searched the suspect’s residence, but were unable to immediately locate him or the weapon used in the shooting.The second suspect later turned himself in at Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall, according to police. He was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.Police are not releasing the names of the suspects because they are juveniles.The police investigation revealed that the two suspects approached the victim at the intersection of Tennant and Church, and a verbal argument “immediately began,” police said. One of the suspects pulled out a black semiautomatic handgun and fired two rounds, one of which struck the victim in the leg.The victim was treated and released from the hospital by the following evening, police said.Anyone with information about this incident can call MHPD at (408) 779-2101.

MHPD increases DUI patrols on holiday

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up March 17, Morgan Hill Police are reminding revelers to stay sober if they’re planning on driving during the holiday.

Court orders unsealing of documents in Sierra LaMar case

A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge ruled that the grand jury transcript in the indictment of Antolin Garcia Torres shall be unsealed at a June 27 hearing at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. The decision, if upheld following a possible appeal, will for the first time allow the disclosure of the details of at least some of the evidence that investigators say links Garcia Torres, 22 of Morgan Hill, to the kidnapping and murder of Sierra LaMar. The judge’s ruling was stayed until July 11 in order to give Garcia Torres and his defense team a chance to appeal and keep the records sealed, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney David Boyd. Garcia Torres has been held without bail Santa Clara County Jail for more than two years awaiting trial on charges that he kidnapped and murdered Sierra, who disappeared from her north Morgan Hill home when she was 15 years old March 16, 2012. The criminal grand jury indicted Garcia Torres on the charges in February, and he pleaded not guilty in a superior court hearing a few days later. In May, the D.A.’s office announced prosecutors will seek the death penalty for the suspect. The motion to unseal the nearly 2,000-page transcript was filed by the San Joe Mercury News shortly after the grand jury indicted Garcia Torres. The newspaper enlisted retired political science professor Edward J. Bronson of San Jose State University to conduct an analysis of past publicity of the case since the day Sierra disappeared. The purpose of this analysis was to demonstrate that releasing information from the grand jury files would not negatively impact the defendant’s right to a fair trial, as Garcia Torres’ attorneys have argued. A previous court ruling in the case has upheld the defendant’s desire to keep the grand jury files secret until now. Boyd declined to comment further on the June 27 ruling, and he did not argue against or in support of unsealing the grand jury documents. Garcia Torres’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether or not they plan to appeal the decision. So far, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s investigators have released little information about the evidence they have which allegedly connects Garcia Torres to Sierra and her disappearance. Investigators have said in the initial days of the search, they found Sierra’s cell phone and bag containing some of her belongings in different areas on the side of the roads near her home. Sheriff Laurie Smith also told reporters after Garcia Torres’ arrest that they found the suspect’s DNA on Sierra’s belongings, and Sierra’s DNA in Garcia Torres’ red Volkswagen. Investigators have not specified what kind of DNA they found. Authorities think Sierra, a sophomore at Sobrato High School at the time, disappeared while walking to her school bus stop near the intersection of Palm and Dougherty avenues March 16, 2012. Although neither her remains nor any evidence of her whereabouts have been located, investigators think she is dead. Volunteers continue to search for Sierra every Saturday morning. The volunteer searchers meet at 9 a.m. Saturdays at the former site of Central High School, at 17960 Monterey Road. 

Sierra LaMar trial: Investigators, arborist testify

Testimony in the trial for Sierra LaMar’s suspected killer continued this week, with more witnesses from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office taking the stand to answer questions about the investigation that led to the arrest of Antolin Garcia Torres.On Feb. 14, sheriff’s deputies and sergeants spent hours in court at the San Jose Hall of Justice offering details of their surveillance of Garcia Torres in the days after Sierra disappeared March 16, 2012. Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney showed numerous video clips from a security camera outside Garcia Torres’ neighborhood, Maple Leaf RV Park in south Morgan Hill, from March 16 to March 18, 2012.The videos showed Garcia Torres coming and going in his red Volkswagen Jetta, as well as arrivals and exits of his mother’s Toyota RAV4.Garcia Torres went on a ski trip with a friend all day March 18, a Saturday, defense attorney Al Lopez said.Other law enforcement officers testified about the GPS tracking device they attached to Garcia Torres’ vehicle shortly after he became a suspect in Sierra’s disappearance. Multiple agencies, including the FBI, assisted in the surveillance, which did not lead to the discovery of Sierra’s body.Sierra disappeared at the age of 15 while she was walking from her home in north Morgan Hill to her school bus stop at the intersection of Palm and Dougherty avenues. Garcia Torres is accused of kidnapping her that morning, and later killing her. He is also accused of three unrelated kidnapping attempts in 2009, in which investigators say he attacked three women in the parking lots of two Morgan Hill Safeway stores.Sierra was a sophomore at Sobrato High School when she disappeared. Her disappearance prompted hundreds of volunteers from throughout the Bay Area to spend thousands of hours searching private and public properties for her remains, which have not been found.Some of the frequent volunteer searches, including Al Perez of San Jose, have loyally attended the trial for Garcia Torres since it began Jan. 30. Perez said outside the courtroom Feb. 14 that he searched with fellow volunteers on properties not only in Santa Clara County, but also from Los Banos to Watsonville.He said he joined the search parties “for the parents” of Sierra. He and other volunteers also gained a welcome byproduct.“We got to know each other like a big family,” he said.Much of the testimony Feb. 15 centered around a handwritten message in one of Sierra’s school notebooks, recovered by investigators several days after she disappeared, according to various news reports. The message read, “I hate my life no one ever sees this I will be in San Francisco by 3/16/12.”Investigators have alleged this message was a prank by Sierra’s fellow students, who might have found the notebook after she disappeared. A handwriting expert for the DA’s office testified Feb. 15 that the handwriting is not Sierra’s, according to news reports.Other testimony Feb. 15 included an arborist who said Garcia Torres worked for him for a brief period before Sierra went missing, according to news reports. He said he gave the defendant the piece of rope later found in his trunk by police, so that he could practice tying knots.Investigators have suggested the rope contained 58 hairs, including some of Sierra’s hair, based on DNA analysis.The trial for Garcia Torres is expected to last at least until June. If convicted, he faces the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Two defendants testify in Cody Flores murder trial

One of two defendants on trial for killing Morgan Hill resident Cody Flores admitted he stabbed the young man to death out of fear for his own safety when he testified last week. The other defendant said he didn’t have anything to do with the deadly assault, and had been hanging out with Flores—who he described as a friend—on mostly good terms earlier that evening.