Weekender Updater: Guilty Gambler Murderer, Prison Guard Slaying Cases, Dalai Lama Tickets

This weekend you're updated on a woman's first-degree murder conviction in the death of a gambler, tickets going on sale for the Dalai Lama's three-day 80th birthday celebration in Orange County and two developments from the fatal ambush of a state correctional officer 17 years ago: a man pleading guilty to conspiracy to murder and an Anaheim police detective being cleared of coercing a false confession.


Barbara Ann Hamel Backs Out of Plea Deal, Alleges Murder Co-Defendants Drugged Her

Update: Barbara Ann Hamel was convicted this week of murder and robbery charges for the death of a gambler who was run over following a botched heist in September 2010. The 51-year-old former Long Beach resident could be sentenced on May 29 to life in state prison without the possibility of parole–after having backed out of a plea deal in February that would have got her 15-to-life. She was behind the wheel of a car that ran over and killed Chi Ngoc Bui, who Hamel and her partners in crime followed from the Hawaiian Gardens Casino after the 55-year-old Santa Ana resident won about $10,000.

James Anthony Rivas Faces Trial for Attempted Murder of Lady Jogger in Rossmoor
Update: James Anthony Rivas was convicted Friday of attempted murder for an attack on a jogger in Rossmoor, but jurors deadlocked 11-1 against a sentencing enhancement that would have led to a life sentence, according to his attorney. A mistrial was declared on a sentencing enhancement for premeditation and deliberation in the Oct. 23, 2012, knife attack by the 20-year-old on a woman jogging through a residential neighborhood, his attorney Mark Fredrick told City News Service. Jurors found true sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury and the personal use of a knife, Fredrick added. His client faces up to 13 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for May 22.

Paging Richard Gere: The Dalai Lama to Celebrate 80th Birthday in Anaheim and Irvine

Update: Tickets are now on sale for the Global Compassion Summit, the three-day, official world celebration of the Dalai Lama's 80th birthday, which is being held in Anaheim and Irvine. “His Holiness will attend events on all three days, as world leaders, Nobel laureates, celebrity guests and artists gather to share their best wishes,” Friends of the Dalai Lama announced. Tickets for the event from noon-3:30 p.m. Sunday, July 5, at the Honda Center in Anaheim are $35 or $10 if you are a student. Get them via ticketmaster.com, charge by phone at 1.800.745.3000 (hearing impaired TDD 1.800.731.1131) or in person at the Honda Center Box Office, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim. Exact times for the events at the Bren Events Center at UCI have not been announced, but there are morning and afternoon sessions on Monday, July 6, and a morning session on Tuesday, July 7. Tickets are $30 per session or $10 if you are a UCI student with valid ID. Get the at ucirvinetickets.com, charge by phone at 1.949.824.5000 or go in person to the Bren Events Center Ticket Office, 100 Mesa Road, Irvine. For more on the events, visit hhdl80.org.

Nuzzio Begaren Gets 25 Years to Life for Cold Case Murder of His Corrections Officer Wife

Update: Rudy Duran reached a plea bargain that had the 40-year-old copping to conspiracy to murder and prosecutors dropping charges of voluntary manslaughter and second-degree robbery in the fatal ambush of a state corrections officer in Anaheim 17 years ago. Duran will likely be sentenced to six years in jail on May 15, but he will likely have credit by then for six years behind bars, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Larry Yellin. His sweetheart deal was no doubt helped along by testifying against 53-year-old Nuzzio Begaren, who was convicted of hiring gang members to gun down his bride and state corrections officer, Elizabeth Wheat Begaren, to collect on a $1 million insurance policy. Begaren was sentenced in May 2014 to 25 years to life in prison. Co-defendant Jose Luis Sandoval, who also testified against Begaren, pleaded guilty in October 2013 to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to time already served behind bars.

Meanwhile …

Federal Trial Begins to Determine Whether Anaheim Cop Daron Wyatt is a Dirty Detective
Update: A federal civil jury this week unanimously found in favor of an Anaheim Police detective who was accused of coercing a suspect into falsely confessing to Elizabeth Wheat Begaren's murder. The eight jurors decided after about three hours of deliberations that Detective Daron Wyatt did not use excessive force to get Rafael Garcia Miranda
to falsely admit his role in the killing. “They found that the allegations are completely untrue,” Wyatt told City News Service following the reading of the verdict in a federal courtroom in Santa Ana. “I'm glad the truth was told, but I don't think It should have
ever gotten to this point.” He added he did not feel “vindicated” by the verdict. “I don't think there's such a thing as vindication,” Wyatt said. “I still had my kids having to hear other kids coming up to them at school asking them if I beat suspects. So, vindication? No. But am I happy the truth came out? Yes.” Rafael and Olga Miranda originally named the city of Anaheim, former public information officer Lt. Bob Dunn, former Deputy Chief Craig Hunter and former Chief John Welter as defendants in the civil suit, but everyone but Wyatt was later dropped from the case. After the verdict was read, Rafael Miranda stuck to his claim that Wyatt was a “crooked cop,” but the plaintiff added he did not think an Orange County jury would side with a former gang member over a police officer.

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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