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NEWS
January 17, 2001
Deepa Bharath SANTA ANA -- A packed gallery and members of the media Tuesday anxiously awaited the much-talked-about testimony of accused murderer Eric Bechler. But all they got was some serious number-crunching as forensic accountant Scott Weitzman explained the assets, the cash flow and transactions of Bechler and his wife, Pegye, in great detail. Bechler is accused of murdering his 38-year-old wife to get his hands on her $2.5-million life insurance policy.
NEWS
March 25, 2004
Lolita Harper Technical lingo, semantics and meticulous lines of questioning unveiled more ambiguity on Wednesday about the digital videotape that captured an alleged rape, as a witness for the prosecution lent credibility to both sides. David Dustin, the owner of South Coast Studios, was hired by the prosecution to inspect a digital videotape that shows the three defendants -- Gregory Haidl, 18, Keith Spann and Kyle Nachreiner, both 19 -- performing various sexual acts on a 16-year-old girl.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | May 7, 2008
A judge has ruled the jury will be allowed to hear testimony that an Irvine woman was grieving over her husband’s death and may not have been aware of her actions when she lost control of her car and killed a Costa Mesa woman riding her bike two years ago. Blood tests showed three prescription drugs in 53-year-old Janene Johns’ system when her Lexus swerved off the road, plowed over a fire hydrant, a parking meter, and into Candace Tift,...
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | May 6, 2008
A judge has ruled the jury will be allowed to hear testimony that an Irvine woman was grieving over her husband’s death and may not have been aware of her actions when she lost control of her car and struck and killed a Costa Mesa woman riding her bike. Janene Johns, 53, was medicated with Ambien, a drug used to treat insomnia; Xanax, a sedative used to treat anxiety from depression; and a cough medication called Mucinex when her Lexus swerved off the road and hit Eastbluff Elementary School teacher Candace Tift as she rode her bike and walked her dog in August 2006, prosecutors said.
NEWS
August 23, 2000
Alex Coolman SANTA ANA -- The prosecution in the trial of the man accused of killing two children at a Costa Mesa day care center in 1999 ended its case Tuesday by providing jurors with graphic details of the injuries that ultimately claimed the youngsters' lives. The day's testimony focused primarily on filling in the details of the wreckage Steve Allen Abrams caused when he drove onto the crowded playground of the Southcoast Early Childhood Learning Center on May 3, 1999.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | May 14, 2008
On Aug. 17, 2006, Janene Johns stood in her kitchen with a huge knife in her hand. She told her daughter, Lauren, that she was going to kill herself and that the police would blame her. Unable to call the police because Janene, in a fit of paranoia, had unplugged the phones earlier, Lauren turned to her siblings. She reached her brother’s girlfriend and had her call police, who came to the house and eventually resolved the situation. Tears in her eyes, voice cracking, Lauren Johns testified Wednesday in her mother’s vehicular manslaughter trial that the kitchen incident was a part of increasingly bizarre behavior her mother exhibited in the weeks following her husband’s memorial.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | March 2, 2010
Citing a mishandling of evidence by police, an Orange County Superior Court judge this week threw out all gun and drug charges against a man whose home was searched after a Newport Beach bar melee in August 2008. Brian David Heslington, 37, of Costa Mesa, was cleared Monday by Judge Richard M. King after prosecutors declined to give the defense a sealed portion of the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant of Heslington’s home in August 2008. Newport Beach police searched Heslington’s home on Aug. 6, 2008, more than a week after police alleged that he and Hells Angels members brawled with members of rival biker gang the Set Free Soldiers at Blackie’s by the Sea, a bar on the Balboa Peninsula.
NEWS
August 9, 2003
Deirdre Newman Dennis Rodman has been vindicated of all the charges against him in a sexual assault civil lawsuit. On Friday, a jury voted 10-2 that Jo Len McGowen was not assaulted. McGowen had claimed that Rodman drugged, raped and imprisoned her at his house in Newport Beach after meeting her at Josh Slocum's restaurant. Marcus Mancini, McGowen's attorney, said he would consider appealing the case. Mancini said he was hindered in his ability to cross-examine the witnesses, including Rodman.
LOCAL
By Brianna Bailey | September 27, 2007
Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor spent hours on the stand Thursday as an ACLU attorney sought to show he engaged in “political prosecution” when the mayor ordered officers to escort a 26-year-old man from a City Council meeting last year after he criticized the mayor’s plan to train police in immigration enforcement. During his testimony, Mansoor acknowledged he is an honorary member of the Minutemen Project, a pro-immigration-reform group. “People give me honors.
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NEWS
By Jill Cowan | December 14, 2012
Clinging to keepsakes and memories more than two years after their children were killed, the parents of two murdered Orange Coast College students say the pain of reliving the details of their deaths in court can't match their desire for justice. On Thursday, the families of Juri "Julie" Kibuishi, 23, and Samuel Herr, 26, sat in Orange County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing to determine whether prosecutors could move forward with charges of accessory after the fact against Rachel Buffett, 25, the then-fiancée of alleged killer Daniel Patrick Wozniak.
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NEWS
By Lauren Williams | July 13, 2012
A fired Newport Beach police officer sued the city and Police Department on Thursday, alleging that superiors retaliated against him after he testified in a colleague's civil trial. Former Officer John Hougan's filing with the Orange County Superior Court alleges that he faced three unnecessary internal investigations, was demoted from sergeant to officer, and then was fired after testifying in 2009 on behalf of a sergeant who alleged mistreatment after rumors circulated that he was gay. Hougan, who is seeking a judgment of more than $25,000, could not be located for comment.
NEWS
By Lauren Williams | March 13, 2012
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District paid about $10,000 for legal representation to attend former Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard's criminal trial and report back information about the proceedings, school officials said. Instead of paying the regular rate of $195 an hour, the district was charged a paralegal rate, $115 an hour, by the law firm Parker & Covert LLP, according to district spokeswoman Laura Boss. The district was charged for 89 hours, bringing the bill to $10,235. Money to pay the fee came from the district's legal fund, Boss said.
NEWS
By Lauren Williams | October 6, 2011
NEWPORT BEACH - A 14-year-old cheerleader clung to life with the faintest pulse after a man accused of drunk driving plowed into the car she was riding in over Memorial Day weekend, a witness testified Thursday in the Harbor Justice Center. A passerby checked on an unconscious Ashton Sweet after the crash but felt no pulse, said Irvine police Officer Tim McDonald. Sweet's body was limp in the woman's arms. McDonald assisted and laid Sweet onto the curb. He said he felt a faint pulse and shallow breathing before paramedics arrived and attended to her. Days later, Sweet died in a hospital after her family chose to take her off life support and donate her organs.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | March 3, 2010
Citing a mishandling of evidence by police, an Orange County Superior Court judge this week threw out all gun and drug charges against a man whose home was searched after a Newport Beach bar melee in August 2008. Brian David Heslington, 37, of Costa Mesa, was cleared Monday by Judge Richard M. King after prosecutors declined to give the defense a sealed portion of the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant of Heslington’s home in August 2008. Newport Beach police searched Heslington’s home on Aug. 6, 2008, more than a week after police alleged that he and Hells Angels members brawled with members of rival biker gang the Set Free Soldiers at Blackie’s by the Sea, a bar on the Balboa Peninsula.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | February 5, 2010
In the moments after a shotgun blast wounded a 15-year-old girl in the chest in a Costa Mesa neighborhood in 2008, it was chaos, police said in court Friday. As the assailant ran back to an awaiting getaway car, witnesses said that a crowd, which had gathered outside during the attack, scattered. One Costa Mesa officer testified that he arrived on scene and found one of the victim’s friends kneeling by the teenage girl’s side. The officer said that he covered her wounds with a towel to soak up the blood.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | January 28, 2010
A Costa Mesa man is guilty of killing a local nanny with his car as she was crossing a Newport Beach street in 2008. A jury of seven men and five women Wednesday found Martin Burt Kuehl, 42, guilty of vehicular manslaughter for fatally hitting 32-year-old Martha Ovalle in August 2008 as she crossed Westcliff Drive near Dover Drive. He faces up to nine years in prison based on his conviction and prior criminal record, prosecutors said. As the court clerk read the verdict, Kuehl became visibly emotional.
LOCAL
By Joseph Serna | December 15, 2009
Not only was Newport Beach billionaire and Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli’s guilty plea with the government thrown out, but so was the entire case against him, and others charged in the case may have a similar fate, transcripts released from last week’s court hearing show. Samueli had pleaded guilty to lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission about his role in the company backdating stock options for its employees. While he awaited sentencing in the case, he was given limited immunity by U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney and testified in Broadcom Chief Financial Officer William Ruehle’s trial.
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