Bay Area News Roundup

Bay City News
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Drowning death sentence

A Modesto man was sentenced today to 15 years to life in state prison for the strangulation and drowning death of a 24-year-old woman in Livermore 12 years ago.

Bryan Vulgamore, 38, was convicted of second-degree murder on June 5 for the Jan. 8, 2002, death of 24-year-old Cecilia Garcia, a family friend who was found drowned in a running shower at her home in the 600 block of Mayten Drive with her nose smashed and what appeared to be strangulation marks on her neck.

Prosecutor Mark Melton said he believes Vulgamore was on a methamphetamine bender and first strangled Garcia and then pushed her face down into a shower in an attempted to remove DNA evidence.

Melton said it's unclear if Garcia died from being strangled or from drowning in the shower.

He said if she was still alive after she was strangled, she must have been unconscious because she drowned in only four inches of water, which indicates that she was incapacitated and wasn't able to get out of the shower.

Vulgamore's lawyer, Brian Hong, told jurors during the trial that there's there wasn't any physical evidence connecting Vulgamore to Garcia's death because he doesn't think there's any proof that Vulgamore strangled her.

Vulgamore wasn't arrested in connection with Garcia's death until January 2010, when Livermore police said cellphone records, witness statements and admissions by Vulgamore to police and other witnesses tied him to Garcia's death.

Garcia's sister, Monica Leonis, told Vulgamore today that he caused "misery" for Garcia's many family members and friends by killing her.

Leonis said she hopes Vulgamore "will rot in hell" and she's happy that he will be serving a long prison sentence.

Garcia's daughter, Alicia Garcia Cortez, who was 8 years old when Garcia was killed and is now 20, said, "As the years go by I will always cry for my mom. My mom was a beautiful and loving person."

Melton said, "It's hard to imagine a more callous killing" but he hopes "some healing can be made because justice has been done in this case."

Vulgamore didn't speak at his hearing today and also refused to talk to a probation officer who prepared a sentencing report in the case.


Laser pointing case

An 18-year-old Oakland man is due to be arraigned in federal court on Sept. 5 on a charge of shining a laser pointer at an airborne California Highway Patrol helicopter in June.

Christian Palomino was indicted by a U.S. grand jury Thursday on one count of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to knowingly aim a laser at an aircraft.

The indictment replaces an Aug. 11 criminal complaint containing the same charge. The grand jury action makes it unnecessary to hold a preliminary hearing on the charge.

Palomino, who is free on a $10,000 bond, will be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Donna Ryu in Oakland at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 5.

The complaint alleges that while a CHP helicopter was responding to an incident near the intersection of Bancroft and Seminary avenues in Oakland at 11:10 p.m. on June 7, the helicopter's flight officer noticed two bright green flashes coming from the ground below.

The flight officer used the helicopter camera to identify two suspects as the possible source and enlisted CHP officers in a patrol car to pursue them. The officers allegedly found a green laser pen in Palomino's pocket, according to the complaint.

Knowingly pointing a laser at an aircraft was made into a specific federal crime in 2012 in response to a growing number of such incidents, in which pilots can be distracted or temporarily blinded. The crime carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison upon conviction.

Palomino's bond carries a condition of a 6 p.m. curfew. He was released into the custody of his mother in Oakland.


Massage parlor arrest

An employee at a Moraga massage parlor was arrested Thursday on suspicion of soliciting prostitution, police said today.

Situ Li, 52, was arrested for alleged misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution at the at the Wonderful Spa in the Rheem Shopping Center at 450 Center St., police said.

Li, a San Leandro resident, was taken to the Moraga Police Department and released on a promise to appear in court.

Police said officers arrested the woman after conducting an undercover operation to investigate possible illicit activity at the spa around 5 p.m. Thursday.

Investigators continue to look into whether the business violated any permits.


Hillsborough burglary arrests

Three juveniles were arrested on suspicion of committing burglary in Hillsborough and fleeing officers on Thursday, police said.

An officer assigned to burglary suppression detail noticed a running car with a driver inside standing outside of a home on Alberta Way at 11:23 a.m., according to police.

After circling around to get a closer look at the car, the officer noticed that two other individuals had hopped into the vehicle.

The officer attempted to stop the vehicle for a traffic violation, but the car took off at a high speed, police said.

The car was stopped after a short chase that ended on the Bunker Hill off ramp from southbound Interstate Highway 280.

A search of the vehicle revealed a prescription bottle belonging to a Hillsborough resident. Officers returned to the home and found that the interior had been ransacked and burglarized.

Jewelry, cash, and laptop computers were recovered from the vehicle. Police believe that all items stolen by the suspects were recovered.

The suspects arrested were a 16-year-old from Hayward, and two Redwood City residents who are 15 and 17 years old.

Police are investigating whether or not this group is associated with other burglaries that have taken place in the area.


Gilroy police chase

Police in Gilroy arrested a 58-year-old man who led police on a car chase Wednesday after members of his family claimed he violated a temporary restraining order they filed against him, a spokesman said.

Ronny Lee Humphrey, of Los Banos, was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of stalking, assault with a deadly weapon, felony evading and three violations of the temporary restraining order, according to
police Sgt. Pedro Espinoza.

At 12:26 p.m. Wednesday, Gilroy police were called about an alleged violation of a temporary restraining order in the 7800 block of Princeville Street, Espinoza reported.

Officers had been aware that Humphrey was a suspect in an earlier stalking case and that the department had investigated six restraining order violation cases, all from his family members, naming him over the past 30 days, police said.

When officers got to the residence where the report was made, Humphrey drove away in a vehicle and refused to stop when ordered by police in their patrol cars, according to Espinoza.

Humphrey then led officers on a car chase through unincorporated county areas and Morgan Hill, police said.

The California Highway Patrol came to assist in the pursuit, during which Humphrey called the Sheriff's Office to report he was armed, Espinoza said.

Humphrey then drove back to Gilroy and officers, to protect public safety and prevent him from returning to harm those protected by the restraining orders, used their cars to disable his vehicle, police said.

The suspect then accelerated his car toward two officers in an apparent attempt to evade arrest, but officers blocked all escape routes and finally arrested Humphrey, according to officers.

No one was injured in the incident and no weapons were found in Humphrey's vehicle, police said.


SAMTRANS Executive Director

For the first time in 15 years, the San Mateo County Transit District will be looking for a new executive director.

Michael Scanlon, 67, the district's executive director since 1999, is retiring, according to a district release.

Scanlon was also the chief executive officer of SamTrans and the executive director of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Authority.

Scanlon has 47 years of experience in the public transportation industry and was instrumental in the growth of Caltrain into a modernized regional rail system, according to the district.

He maintained SamTrans' and Caltrain's financial stability through two economic downturns and focused on the public's changing needs and expectations toward public transportation, the district said.


The veil of cloud cover we have had overhead for much of the day Friday will continue through the overnight hours with the addition of patchy fog along the coast. Lows will be in the upper 50s on the coast, lower 60s inland. Saturday, any early morning clouds will depart for plenty of sunshine by the afternoon as we begin the holiday weekend. Highs in the upper 60s to low 70s along the coast, mid to upper 70s in the Bay, mid to upper 80s inland.

Concord 89
Oakland 75
Redwood City 80
San Francisco 70
San Jose 82
Santa Rosa 87

Tonight: Cloudy w/ Fog
Lows: Upper 50s
Tomorrow: Morning clouds to afternoon sunshine
Highs: Upper 60s to lower 70s

East Bay
Tonight: Cloudy
Lows: Upper 50s
Tomorrow: Mainly sunny
Highs: Mid to Upper 70s

East Bay Valleys
Tonight: Partly Cloudy
Lows: Lower 60s
Tomorrow: Sunny
Highs: Mid 80s to Lower 90s

North Bay Valleys
Tonight: Partly Cloudy
Lows: Upper 50s
Tomorrow: Mainly Sunny
Highs: Low to Upper 80s

Tonight: Mostly Cloudy
Lows: Upper 50s
Tomorrow: Partly Cloudy
Highs: Mid 70s to Lower 80s

South Bay
Tonight: Partly Cloudy
Lows: Upper 50s
Tomorrow: Mainly Sunny
Highs: Lower 80s to Lower 90s.

Morning clouds to afternoon sunshine
Highs in the 60s & 70s Coast/70s Bay/80s Inland

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