The District Attorney’s office announced in court Friday that it intends to seek the death penalty against the men accused of murdering a 33-year-old Beaumont man following a carjacking in Yucca Valley. Jose Gomez, 20, and Bryan Valle, 19, both of Earlimart, are accused of stealing a car in Wasco May 9, 2013, driving it to Yucca Valley, where it’s believed they attempted to carjack a car driven Obette Lacap, a pharmaceutical rep from Beaumont. Police say the suspects shot Lacap through the car’s window, killing him. Witnesses said Valle and Gomez got back into their stolen car and fled westbound on Highway 62 to Interstate 10, pursued by CHP and Sheriff deputies, at speeds of 100 miles or more, to San Bernardino. The car crashed into a light pole after exiting the freeway. The Sheriff’s department said when Valle and Gomez got out of the car, they started shooting at law enforcement, who returned fire, killing Bryan Valle, and injuring Gomez. Jose Gomez was in a San Bernardino court room Friday morning for a preliminary hearing when Assistant Deputy Attorney Cary Epstein stated the state would be seeking the death penalty. Jose Gomez is on trial for two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, carjacking, three counts of robbery, shooting at an inhabited vehicle, and one count of receiving stolen property. Gomez is being held at the West Valley Detention Center with his bail set at $1 million.
The April meeting of the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council centered on homelessness. Reporter Dan Stork says that it ranged far beyond that, taking in traffic safety, solar energy, road conditions, and more…
Homelessness was the topic of the featured informational presentation at the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council meeting on Monday night. Rae Packard, who has an educational background and experience in social work, sketched the national and regional dimensions of homelessness. She listed factors that lead to homelessness – poverty, domestic violence, drug addiction, mental illness – and emphasized that children comprise a disproportionately large part of the homeless population. She estimates that there are 800 homeless people in the Morongo Basin. Packard urged participation in the meetings of Morongo Basin Haven. See mbhaven.org for details. MAC Chairman Mike Lipsitz talked up the Homeowners Solar Expo scheduled for April 26 at the JT Community Center. He noted that the financial terms for the Home Energy Renovation Opportunity loan program may be better than published reports suggest. CHP and Sheriff Department representatives acknowledged that April has been a horrible month so far for local traffic safety, and urged increased awareness while driving. Sheriff’s Lt. Wilke said he could not comment on the status of particular officer-involved crashes, but assured attendees that he and the Department take it very seriously.
Community reports ranged widely. Among them: Spruce-up efforts in Pioneertown; the dangers of soft roadsides in Wonder Valley; an effort to revitalize the senior nutrition program in Morongo Valley; the fate of Coyote Hole. The MAC meetings can be viewed in full on YouTube.
The California Highway Patrol has released the identities of those involved in a four-vehicle crash in Yucca Valley Saturday night. At 8:59 p.m., Alan Boggs, 67, of Joshua Tree, was driving his 2014 Ford Mustang westbound on Highway 62 when he drove through a red light at Yucca Mesa Road and struck Margaret Roeber, 63, who was making a left turn onto eastbound Highway 62 from Yucca Mesa Road. Boggs’ Mustang continued on and struck a 2001 Ford Focus, driven by Jennifer Lynne Ellison, 48, of Yucca Valley—who was stopped at the highway’s eastbound traffic light, waiting to make a left turn on to Yucca Mesa Road—and then struck a 2009 Ford Focus driven by Heidi Nelson, 37, of Joshua Tree, who was in the number one eastbound lane and slowing for the red light. Boggs’ Mustang then flipped over onto its roof. Alan Boggs was taken to Desert Hospital with major injuries. Margaret Roeber went to Hi-Desert Medical Center with minor injuries.
The Yucca Valley Town Council meets in regular session tonight. Managing Editor Tami Roleff says they may name a new in-house Town manager…..
Among the items on the consent agenda for tonight’s meeting of the Yucca Valley Town Council, the Council will be asked to approve a secondhand dealer’s license for Independence Guns and Ammo at 7211 Joshua Lane. It will also be asked to approve requests for approval for street sweeping services and emergency storm clean-up services. Under department reports, the Council will be asked to approve the establishment of an irrevocable trust to prefund Other Post-Employment Benefit health care costs and appoint a plan administrator. The Council will also review partnership funding requests for the 2014-2016 proposed budgets. Also on the agenda, the Council will be asked to change speed limits on some streets in the Town. The Council will then go into closed session to conference with legal counsel over anticipated litigation; conference with labor negotiators, and appoint an employee to the position of Town Manager.
The new senior housing project in Yucca Valley had a minor setback Sunday. According to County Fire Captain Mark Murphy, the pre-fab units were being stored on wood cribbing, about 3 and a half feet off the ground, near the basketball courts behind the Yucca Valley Community Center. Murphy said the wood cribbing, which is like stacked “Lincoln Logs” was leaning, and one of the apartment units fractured and collapsed about 3:15 p.m. due to the poor support structure of the cribbing. Murphy said because several of the other units were leaning and were in danger of falling, the contractor had to bring a crane back to the site and restack the cribbing and the pre-fab units.
The Twentynine Palms Planning Commission will hold a special hearing on a request for several variances at a residence on Chia Avenue. That will be followed by the 38th study session on the review and revision of the City’s Developement Code. Sections up for review tonight include Second Dwelling Units, Community Care Facilities, and Recycling and Solid Waste Disposal. The meeting starts at 6pm tonight at City Hall on Adobe Road.
Yesterday we reported on an off-road tour with Community ORV Watch leading representatives from the Sheriff’s Department, BLM, the Marine Base, the National Park Service and County Supervisor James Ramos office. Z107.7 assignment reporter Mike Lipsitz picks up the story where he left off … at Sunfair Dry Lake.
For private property owners frustrated by encroachment from off-road enthusiasts’ putting the brakes on the problem is rarely simple. The patchwork of regulations that govern motorized recreation varies from area to area and even between BLM lands in Wonder Valley and Johnson Valley. Where boundaries aren’t signed, riders can easily stray from designated trails onto private property. Enforcement may be the responsibility of the County Sheriff’s Department, Park Rangers, or BLM officers. And the reality is that law enforcement may respond to a call from many miles away, leaving apprehensions unlikely. Phil Klasky of Community ORV Watch put it like this, “They need to educate themselves as to the law of the land out here and respect our rural communities. A lot of it comes down to common sense and respect.”
Desert Blood Services will conduct two community blood drives tomorrow. Residents may donate blood at High Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree from 10 to 2, or at the Yucca Valley Community Center from noon to 4. Donors will receive incentives. In addition, Desert Blood Services now offers donors free cholesterol screening with every blood donation. All prospective donors should be free of infections or illness, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not be at risk for AIDS or hepatitis. To make an appointment to donate blood, call 877-827-4376.
The Board of Education has a wide-ranging agenda at its next meeting. Reporter Dan Stork previews what will go on, from Japanese dancing to labor agreements and course outline reviews…
Following a 6:30 closed session on pupil and employee bargaining issues, the regular 7 pm open session of the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education will be split into two parts. For starters, there will be a presentation by the Joshua Tree Elementary School Japanese Dance Group, and recognition of students who received perfect scores on one section of the California standardized tests. After that, there will be a public hearing on, and the likely approval of, the Tentative Agreement reached with the Morongo Teachers Association on a new contract. The dates in May for Day of the Teacher and Week of the Classified Employee will be approved, and changes in the pay schedules for classified hourly and substitute employees are also up for approval. The Board will set its meeting calendar for next year, and will consider participation in a Joint Powers Authority for legal services. One Board policy, on school-sponsored student trips, is up for review, as are course outlines in several math and science areas. The meeting will be held at Joshua Tree Elementary School.
Yucca Mesa Elementary School will present a night of whimsical fun and wonder April 17 when it stages a modern version of Alice in Wonderland. Its production, “Alice at Wonderland,” is the school’s first major production. The public is invited to this free event, although donations to the school’s performing arts program will be accepted. The play will be held in the school’s multi-purpose room, Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. Yucca Mesa Elementary School is located at 3380 Avalon Avenue in Yucca Valley.
The Twentynine Palms High School Baseball team is surging strong this season. ROP Broadcast student and baseball player Alex Chavez gives us a mid-season update……
The Twentynine Palms High School baseball team is in the middle of their 2013-2014 season. According to assistant coach Brian Sosa, they are fighting for second or third place in league. I asked, “How is the season going?” Coach Sosa said that they started off slow but are getting better every day. Then he says that they will be improving by working hard everyday. He said that they have a great group of young men that never quit! That’s why Coach Stanford and him love these kids!
Yesterday the Twentynine Palms High School Wildcats boys’ tennis team competed against the Shadow Hills High School Knights in Indio. The Knights defeated the Cats 17-7. Coach Larry Battle said in singles, Jarod Burks, Bradley Linkey and John Lanza each won two out of three sets. In doubles, Brian Gaddis, with partner Raul Hernandez, and Scott Clinkscales, with partner Jose Valdez, lost all three sets. Sam Choi with partner Vincent Thomas won one out of three sets.
Coming up in high school sports tomorrow, the Twentynine Palms High School Wildcat tennis team will travel away to Thermal to play the Desert Mirage High School Rams. First serve is at 3:15.
The Wildcat track and swim teams will both play the Golden Eagles of Desert Hot Springs. The track team will travel away to DHS for a 3 p.m. meet; the swim team will host the Eagles at home. The first even starts at 3:15.
Also tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School Trojan track team will travel to Indio to play the Shadow Hills Knights. The meet begins at 3:15.
Also tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School Trojan swim team will host the Knights at home; the event starts at 3:15.
And finally tomorrow, the Yucca Valley High School tennis team will travel to Desert Hot Springs; first serve is at 3:15.