This weekender you are updatered on: a settlement in the Navy sonar debate, a murdering scum, a lewd teacher, a ton of thieves (literally; we weighed them all) and an ex-drug dealer catching a break from a judge (with the blessing of a fatal overdose victim's mother).
Update: A federal judge signed a settlement order Monday between the U.S. Navy and environmental groups that limits military sonar training and activities in specific waters off Southern California and Hawaii through the end of 2018. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) had sued the Navy to protect whales, dolphins and other animals in SoCal, while Earthjustice did the same for Hawaii's marine mammals. The settlement aims to manage the siting and timing of Navy sonar and blast activities, taking into account areas of vital importance to marine mammals, such as reproductive areas, feeding areas, migratory corridors, and areas in which small, resident populations are concentrated.
Update: A jury in Santa Ana Tuesday found 65-year-old convicted rapist Charles Patrick Drew guilty of repeatedly raping and killing a homeless woman who had fallen unconscious at a Stanton motel due to diabetes complications. Amber Oceja, a 29-year-old mother of two who lost custody of her children due to her alcoholism, had lived on the streets alongside Drew for about four years when she obtained vouchers from a church that allowed them to stay at a Motel 6 in Stanton in March 2012. But she fell into diabetic shock in their room, where Drew "did horrible, horrible, horrible things while she was unconscious," Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh told jurors. Besides raping her, Drew used a razor to cut her inside her vaginal area and used ammonia to clean away signs of a sexual assault, Baytieh said. Defense attorney Lawrence Volk claimed his client did not kill a passed-out Oceja but tried to save her, noting that Drew yelled from a balcony for help and stayed with her until police arrived despite his criminal past. But jurors convicted Drew of first-degree murder, rape, sexually assaulting an unconscious victim, aggravated assault with special circumstance allegations of killing during a rape, sodomy, oral copulation and sexual penetration by a foreign object. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole at sentencing scheduled for Oct. 23.
Irvine Police Believe Four iPad Thieves Stole from 20 California Stores and More Elsewhere
Update: Isaiah Woods, 21, of Sun Valley, and Vernon Hill, 20, of Ethrata, Washington, pleaded guilty to four felony counts of second-degree burglary, and Victory Rogers, 25, of Southwestern Burien, Washington, copped to felony forgery in connection with a burglary spree that extended from Southern California to Washington state and was cracked by Irvine Police. Woods and Hill were sentenced to two years in jail and Rogers got 136 days behind bars. They had stolen 17 iPads from a Target store at Irvine Spectrum in July before being tracked to outside a Best Buy in Moreno Valley, where they were arrested. Irvine investigators then linked the crew to 20 similar heists throughout the state–from Lathrop to San Diego–as well as about a dozen in Oregon and Washington.
Deborah Mueller Busted for Allegedly Stealing $75,000 from Her Company … Four Years Ago
Update: Deborah Kaye Mueller pleaded guilty this week to three counts of forgery and making false entries in records and returns and was immediately sentenced to 270 days in jail and probation. In exchange for the plea, charges of grand theft, computer access and fraud and two counts of forgery, all felonies, were dropped against the 60-year-old former office manager at Jorgenson Metal Rolling and Forming in Santa Ana. That's where she'd worked for about 10 years before she was fired in January 2011 for embezzling at least $75,000 over 14 months.
Crean Lutheran High School Teacher Arrested For Sexually Explicit Messages
Update: Dominic John Augustus Witter, who was a high school English teacher who texted nude photos of himself to a 15-year-old student and arranged to meet her for sex, pleaded guilty this week to engaging in lewd conduct and was immediately sentenced to 120 days in jail. The 28-year-old taught and coached girls track and boys soccer at Crean Lutheran High School in Irvine before his arrest on April 5, 2012, at a pizzeria in Laguna Hills, where the Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force ran a sting operation against the Laguna Niguel resident.
Update: Mission Viejo's Louis Richard Wood was sentenced this week to four years behind bars, well past what the 37-year-old has already served since his arrest in the heroin overdose death of a girlfriend. Wood–who was a drug dealer when he was indicted in March 2013 in connection with the Nov. 16, 2011, passing of 21-year-old Emma Wihlborg in a Lake Forest hotel room–pleaded guilty in April to involuntary manslaughter in a deal that had a murder count dropped. Wihlborg's mother was OK with Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals giving Wood credit for 1,836 days in jail (or 376 more than he needed to be released from custody) because he indicated he wants to remain sober. Wood's attorney, Cori Ferrentino, says Wihlborg's death so affected his client that he quit drugs.
Meet More of Your Neighbors and Fraudsters, Orange County!
Update: Polly Sandra John pleaded guilty this week to defrauding a 77-year-old Anaheim man she befriended and married soon after the death of his wife of 50 years. The 49-year-old was immediately sentenced to a year in jail and five years of formal probation in a plea deal with Orange County Superior Court Judge Scott Steiner that will also have her paying restitution to the victim and agreeing to take her name off of his pension and not contesting a dissolution of the marriage. The widower had allowed John, whom he met at the pharmacy where his wife's prescriptions were filled, to put her name on his house, pension, bank accounts, safe deposit box and a car, which was later sold. John never slept with him and never spent the night at his house, which fell into foreclosure as he was being cleaned out. At the time of her arrest, she was living with Michael Mitchell, who had been convicted of theft of an elder in two prior cases in Orange County.