Orange County, California law enforcement authorities arrested another suspect in the Kim Pham murder case on Friday. Orange County Police Chief Carlos Rojas did not release the suspect’s name, but confirmed that the woman is being investigated for her role in the attack that left Pham unconscious on a sidewalk outside of a nightclub on January 18th.
Surveillance videos from the night show a large group of people fighting outside of a nightclub in Santa Ana, California. The melee started when two groups of friends crossed paths and started arguing. Some reports say the argument turned physical when Pham interrupted (photobombed) a picture being taken by the other group. The latest suspect is the second person arrested in connection with Pham’s fatal beating. The first, 25-year-old Vanesa Tapia Zavala, has been charged with first degree murder.
As both the LA Times and CBS report, Orange County police are having an extremely hard time getting witnesses to come forward with information about the fight. Investigators working on the case say they have only been able to identify one of the eight friends present with Pham on the night she was beaten. The friend refused to talk with police about the incident.
The other seven friends look to be intentionally remaining unknown. Information has been so hard to come by for Orange County investigators that they’ve offered an $11,000 reward for information that leads to arrests or convictions in the case. Still, Pham’s friends remain in the shadows.
According to Orange County Police Commander Tim Vu, the issue may be a cultural one. Vu, the highest ranking Vietnamese officer in the Orange County Police Department, says distrust of the government runs deep in the Orange County Vietnamese community.
"People worry that there will be retaliation," Vu said. “They don’t know the court system and are intimidated by it.”
Local government leaders are now reaching out to the community through Vietnamese-language media outlets. Officials are stressing that witnesses who come forward will be treated with respect by officials and can remain anonymous if they wish.
"Their identities will be protected if they wish," said Ken Nguyen, a Santa Ana resident acting as a liaison to the Vietnamese community. “These are the things we offered the youths, and so far, they are quiet.”
Orange County, California officials have agreed to pay almost $730,000 to a woman who claims sheriff deputies barged into her house without a warrant, slammed her face into the ground, seized her children, and took her to jail.
The resident is Nancy Butano, 35. The incident took place in 2010 when three South County deputies responded to a call from Butano’s neighbors. The neighbor told police a man had threatened them with a knife. When deputies arrived, they determined the threatening man was Butano’s boyfriend Paul Luddy.
Luddy was arrested by deputies after he stepped out of the couple’s house. He did not have a knife on him. Two of the deputies then called Butano out to talk with them. Butano declined, saying she was on a very important business call. The deputies continued to ask Butano to come to the door, but she repeatedly refused.
According to the lawsuit, the deputies then entered Butano’s home despite not having a warrant. They cursed and screamed at Butano and told her to get off the phone. Butano told the deputies she did not invite them inside and did not want them there.
One of the deputies then grabbed Butano and dragged her to the backyard of her house. There, he slammed her head against a sauna before pounding her head into the ground five times while handcuffing her.
As Butano was taken to the squad car, a neighbor asked the officers why the woman was being arrested.
“She’s a bitch…she wouldn’t go with the program,” an officer replied.
Butano was taken to jail and held there for a day before being released on $500 bond. No charges were ever filed against either Butano or her boyfriend. Her two 18-month-old toddlers were held at the Orangewood Children’s Home for six days before being released back to her.
Court officials hope the settlement teaches the Orange County Sheriff’s Department some valuable lessons about exercising more caution when entering resident’s homes. The Sheriff Department's record isn’t encouraging though. In the past four years, the department has spent $5.7 million in taxpayer money settling lawsuit claims.
A man in Orange County, New York shot and killed a suspected rapist that was on the run from police, and now, he’s been charged with second-degree murder.
According to reports, Norris Acosta-Sanchez fled from Rockland County to evade an investigation by police over a child rape. Acosta-Sanchez moved to the Orange County town of Sparrowbush where he lived in a camp set up in the woods and worked odd jobs for money.
One day, 42-year-old Sparrowbush resident and father of three David Carlson met Acosta-Sanchez and questioned why he was living there. The suspected rapist was living in the woods near Carlson’s home, and he confessed to Carlson that he was on the run from police. Carlson went to the police and let them know that Acosta-Sanchez was living there, but somehow, the suspect got word and fled once more.
The following day, Acosta-Sanchez made his way back to Sparrowbush and found himself in a confrontation with Carlson. Carlson, along with other neighbors, claimed to have been fearful after the child rapist fled because they didn’t know if he would come back.
When the two men came face to face, Carlson pulled out a gun and tried to get Acosta-Sanchez to come to a neighbor’s home so they could call the police and turn him in. At some point on the walk to the home, Carlson, for unknown reasons, shot Acosta-Sanchez four times, killing him.
Soon after, Carlson was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. He was released soon after on $50,000 bail and he’s now awaiting his day in court, set for January 14.
The incident sparked a lot of debate. Many believe that Carlson was doing what he had to when faced with a dangerous fugitive, but others like lawyer Bernard Brady say it’s not that simple.
“New York is not a ‘stand your ground state.’ There is a duty to retreat, especially if you’re armed and the other person isn’t,” said Brady. “You can’t walk away from a dead guy when there’s a shooting involved.”
Despite the looming court date and proceedings, Carlson says he is doing well, although he refuses to comment on the case.
"I'm holding up pretty well," Carlson said. "I have to, for my kids."
A 15 year old Florida boy who couldn’t bear to see his mother abused any longer shot and killed his father on New Years Day. The man was shot after he came home drunk early in the morning and began beating his wife.
"This is a domestic (incident) between father and son," said Orange County, Florida Sheriff's Office Lt. Paul Hopkins. "During this incident, there were four people in the home."
The dead father was identified as 35 year old Christopher Albano. According to police, there were two younger children in the house at the time of the shooting.
Prior to the shooting, Albano’s wife called 911 and said her husband was beating her. When police arrived at the home, they found the man dead. After confessing to the shooting, the distressed 15 year old was seen sitting on a curb outside the family’s house while police investigated the event.
Orange County law enforcement officials have not yet said whether the teen will face any charges for the shooting.
"We have our homicide investigators on the scene, along with our CSI to collect any evidence and speak to the witnesses and canvas the area to see if anybody heard anything,” Lt. Hopkins said.
A classmate of the teenager told Florida news station WESH that the boy is a well-behaved student who typically avoids any trouble.
"He's not a bad kid. He's never getting into fights at school or anything. He's just a normal kid,” the fellow student said.
Albano had several run ins with the law in his past, including a 1999 charge of resisting arrest and a 2004 charge of drunken disorderly conduct.
A California neighborhood known for its colorful display of interlocking Christmas lights strung from house to house was told by Orange County officials that they would have to take the lights down.
Some 15 to 20 homeowners in Wagon Wheel received letters that the lights, many of which are strung overhead, are a violation of county code.
Calling the decorations an "unpermitted encroachment,” officials say they pose a fire hazard and might block access to emergency vehicles.
"Like, really?" Christy Gruner told the Los Angeles Times. "It's just lights, people."
Jean Pasco of the Orange County council told the Daily Mail they aren’t worried about the house displays, but rather the lights along the street.
“The light that hang over the street could be a hazard. Residents know that they're not supposed to hang lights over a public road. At some point they are dangling dangerously low,” said Pasco.
If a storm knocked the lights down, reported the Daily Mail, someone could be electrocuted.
The county says it will help the residents get a permit for the street lights, but it will be an arduous process.
"It would be unrealistic to have 34 different homeowners come and apply for a permit," said Nadia Haidar, a county spokeswoman. "It would be more ideal if the homeowners' association came to the table and offered themselves as the single permittee."
But the homeowner’s associations hasn’t been involved in the matter and isn’t expected to meet again until next year.
A former Marine suspected of killing six people, including four homeless men, died awaiting trial Thursday after he ingested Ajax in his Orange County, Calif., jail cell.
Itzcoatl “Izzy” Ocampo, 25, apparently collected the cleaning project while he was in custody, according to his attorney, Michael Molfetta.
Ocampo was found shaking and vomiting in his cell Wednesday. He was taken Western Medical Center Santa Ana, where he was pronounced dead Thursday, Orange County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock told NBC Los Angeles.
Molfetta said his client had mental health issues and the death raises questions about Orange County deputies supervising the accused serial killer.
"If you spend three minutes with Ocampo, you are acutely aware of the fact that he has some mental issues. They were severe and they were obvious and they definitely were not contrived," Molfetta said. "With that being said, this was a guy who should have garnered the highest level of scrutiny ... and it wasn't done."
Halloack did not comment on Ocampo’s supervision, but did say deputies in general are required to pass each inmate’s cell once every hour.
The mother of victim Lloyd “Jimmy” Middaugh, told NBC News on Friday that she’s relieved that Ocampo is dead.
"A trial wouldn't have brought our loved ones back," said Marie Middaugh. "I'm sorry things happened the way it did for his family because I know they're grieving, too, but I'm just glad that really it's all over."
Originally charged on four counts of murder in January 2012, Ocampa was put on suicide watch in March 2012 after reportedly banging his head on a metal toilet in jail. He told his attorney he was trying to stop the voices in his head as well as his headaches, according to the Orange County Register.
Orange County, Calif., may soon have an online Dangerous Dog Map that will pinpoint the exact location where the county’s estimated 150 vicious and potentially dangerous dogs reside.
“Anyone who has a vicious dog should probably have their head examined in the first place. Why would you even want a vicious dog?” asked Supervisor Todd Spitzer during a meeting in September, according to Mercury News. “But assuming you do, the public has a right to know you have it.”
Orange County code defines a “potentially dangerous dog” as one that attacks or attempts to attack a person on two separate occasions within a three-year period.
A “vicious” dog is defined as one that has killed or seriously maimed a person, Orange County Animal Care Director Ryan Drabek said.
Dog-bite reports in OC have risen slightly from 2,281 in 2011 to 2,384 in 2012.
“We would like residents to know where those dogs are just as a public safety precaution,” Drabek told NBC.
The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the item on Dec. 17.
The cities that contract with Orange County for animal services include: Anaheim, Brea, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park and Yorba Linda. Some unincorporated areas would also appear on the map.
A Dangerous Dog Map was introduced in Knox County, Tenn., in May of 2013.
In May of 2013, Knox County, Tenn., introduced its Welcome to the Dangerous Dog Map, designed to track court-declared dangerous dogs in Knox County neighborhoods.
Identifying neighborhoods with dangerous dogs just got a whole lot easier thanks to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office’s new interactive map, Knox News reported.
It works like an online sex-offender registry. The map shows not only where the dogs live, but also what they did and what they look like.
According to Knox County ordinance 6-71, a dangerous dog means any dog that has been designated as such by the county general session’s court. All information is public once the owner has been cited to court and the case has been adjudicated.
A transgender teen in Huntington Beach, Calif., was named homecoming queen of Marina High School Friday night.
Cassidy Lynn Campbell, 16, told The Los Angeles Times she always felt like a girl. Born male, she began taking estrogen injections and hormone blockers when she entered high school.
"If I win it would mean that the school recognizes me as the gender I always felt I was," Campbell said before the election. "But with all the attention, I realized it's bigger than me. I'm doing this for the kids who can't be themselves."
"She was stunned. She kind of broke down on the podium," school district spokesman Tom Delapp said of her win. "She was shocked. She cried a lot."
Her classmates chanted her name and friends ran down to hug her, Delapp told The Times.
“If this could help one child or more, hundreds or thousands or millions, then it was more than worth it,” she said.
Her principal told KCAL-9 News he is proud of the school and its student body.
"I was so proud to win, not just for me but for everyone out there," Cassidy said. "I think it really shows the progression of the times."
An Orange County sheriff’s deputy could serve jail time for allegedly pepper-spraying a teenager’s pizza after pulling him over for a traffic violation.
The 19-year-old John Doe went home with the pizza in September 2012 not knowing the deputy had sprayed it and shared it with his friends, making them all sick, according to the LA Times.
Doe notified the sheriff’s department after growing suspicious about the encounter with the deputy, according to NBC Southern California.
Juan Tavera, the 30-year-old accused deputy, has served in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for about six years and is currently on paid leave.
Tavera faces one charge of misdemeanor assault and battery by a public officer and could be sentenced to one year in prison if convicted.
An arraignment for Tavera is set to take place in Newport Beach on Monday.
Former substitute teacher and daycare worker, Robert Ornelas, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with child molestation.
The 62-year-old Southern California man had been a longtime substitute in the Santa Ana Unified School District and often oversaw his mother’s unlicensed day care center in the 1980s and 1990s. Police believed Ornelas met his victims through the day care.
In April 2013, police said Ornelas made an incriminating statement regarding the molestation of a 12-year-old-girl that occurred in the 1990s. After police launched an investigation, Ornelas’ brother Ross came forward after accidentally finding his sibling’s child pornography collection, including pictures of Ornelas with children from the Philippines.
“I didn't sleep for a couple nights,and I'm still shocked over it,” Ross Ornelas said.
Investigators said a female victim and relative who was molested at age 5 came forward, along with two others. Orange County Sheriffs fear there are many more children and that the act was a regular thing for up to 20 years.
Police said Ornelas assaulted the 5-year-old girl for six years before she had the courage to stop him.
"He is accused of molesting the victim while she was visiting his home including masturbation and oral copulation,” an Orange County District Attorney’s office statement read.
The trial is set for June 28 with bail set at $100,000.
Ornelas could face up to 10 years in prison.