Thursday, 26 January 2023

News

LOWER LAKE – As children in the Konocti Unified School District head back to school today following spring break, school officials are preparing to deal with students' reactions and questions in the wake of a classmate's murder.


School was out for spring break on March 21 when Tessa and Kristen Walker were stabbed near their Hidden Valley Lake home.


Ten-year-old Tessa died later that same day at Redbud Community Hospital. Her 14-year-old sister is home and recovering, the family reported.


The two girls and another sibling were all students in the Konocti Unified School District, where Assistant Superintendent Cliff Lantz said counselors are preparing to offer support to students, some of whom may be confronting the news of the little girl's death for the first time on Monday.


Lantz said the district has a crisis intervention team – composed of school counselors and psychologists – that mobilizes in situations such as this one


“Whenever there is any kind of disaster or anything like this, that team automatically gets called and activated,” he explained.


The last time Lantz said he was involved in the team's activation related to a shooting event about a year ago.


Staff at all district schools will be ready to respond if children have questions about this current situation, he said.


However, he added, “The focus will be Lower Lake Elementary, which is where the little girl attended.”


There, he said, the principal, counselor, psychologist and the little girl's teacher “are all aware of the situation and prepared to deal with it,” he said.


However, many of the counseling team's members have been away, so there will need to be some additional planning and discussion when school reopens Monday as they find out the children's reaction to the news, Lantz explained. The team will then decide if they'll need extra help.


If they do need assistance, the county's Mental Health Department is prepared to respond, said Director Kristy Kelly.


“We follow their lead,” she said. “We make ourselves available.”


Kelly said she has as many as 10 staff members who are trained as responders in tragic situations such as this one.


Dr. Terence Rooney, Mental Health's deputy director for clinical services, is in charge of contacting the schools to let them know the county is ready to offer assistance, which he has done in this case, Kelly explained.


“It's part of our essential services to offer psychological support in crisis,” she said.


The last time Mental Health offered its assistance was in response to the death of a faculty member at a local college, Kelly said. Kelly's staff held a debriefing for the school's faculty.


Mental Health also has a critical incident stress debriefing process, said Kelly, which offers support to emergency personnel in particularly stressful situations.


Lantz said it sometimes takes children a while to begin dealing with issues of death and grief. “When the event occurs everyone kind of talks about it on a very superficial level, and then in a few weeks really start thinking about it.”


Perhaps an even more important issue, he said, is helping Tessa Walker's siblings return to school and their studies when they're ready, while minimizing their trauma.


The critical question to answer, said Lantz, is this one: “How do you protect them yet maintain their involvement and integration in school?”


That, he added, is the most difficult piece of the puzzle.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

LAKE COUNTY – Two local school districts are included in a newly released list of schools from around the country affected by a beef recall announced by federal officials last month.


Lakeport Unified School District and Konocti Unified School District are among hundreds of school districts across the United States named in the 226-page report, released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service. Only five states – Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and New Hampshire – didn't have schools included in the report.


Board members from both districts Lake County News contacted late Thursday were not comfortable offering comment on the situation at this time because they had little information on the new report.


Lake County News also was unable to contact district administrators late Thursday. Konocti Unified's office was reported this week to be closed due to spring break.


The beef in question – 143 million pounds of it – was produced by the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. in Chino between Feb. 1, 2006 and Feb 4. 2008, the USDA reported.


The report stated that not all school districts listed had any of the beef in their inventory when the recall began. Nor did the fact that a school district or “school food authority” was included on the list indicate that those schools, in fact, had received the recalled beef.


The report did not include information on quantities of beef school districts might have received.


The USDA reported that some of the recalled meat was part of the commodity beef the USDA supplies to the National School Lunch Program. In addition, the agency said that “schools may have purchased Hallmark/Westland beef commercially.”


USDA Food and Nutrition Service officials reported that, of the 143 million pounds of beef recalled, 50.3 million pounds were used for federal nutrition programs. Of that 50.3 million pounds, 19.6 million pounds were consumed and 15.2 million pounds were placed on hold, while several millions pounds more were being traced.


USDA reported that it notified all school districts to “hold and immediately discontinue use of any Hallmark/Westland commodity beef products in their inventory” on Jan. 30.


U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service reported on Feb. 5 that it had, the day before, suspended inspection at Hallmark/Westland “based on the establishment's clear violation of Federal regulations and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.” The company's operations also were suspended.


On Feb. 17 the USDA notified states that beef the company supplied was being recalled due to “regulatory noncompliance,” the agency explained.


That's because the the slaughterhouse was found to be using “downer” cattle – cows unable to stand or walk due to injury or illness – for slaughter, according to a report from the Humane Society of the United States.


Such animals are not to be slaughtered for food, according to the USDA, because of concerns that they may have a higher risk for certain diseases – ranging from Salmonella to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, known more commonly as mad cow disease.


Making the situation worse was that the slaughterhouse's employees were found to be guilty of using extremely cruel practices, including using forklifts and electric prods in forcing the animals to slaughter, according to the Humane Society. An undercover investigator with the group gathered videotape evidence of Westland/Hallmark's practices, which the group then turned over to San Bernardino County prosecutors.


Any products included in the recall are no longer in use at the schools, USDA reported, explaining that the agency worked with states to “quickly provide replacement commodity product” from approved sources.


No reports of illness related to the recalled ground beef have been made, according to USDA. The agency also “has given assurance that the health risk of consuming the affected beef is negligible,” and remains confident in the supply of food in the National School Lunch Program.


Beyond the recall, the packing company has bigger problems. On Feb. 15, the San Bernardino County District Attorney filed felony animal cruelty charges against two employees the company had terminated, according to a statement that same day by Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

NORTHSHORE – A power outage Wednesday afternoon left homes and businesses along the Northshore dark for more than four hours.


The blackout began shortly before 4 p.m., said JD Guidi, a spokesman for Pacific Gas and Electric Co.


Approximately 5,030 customers along Clear Lake's eastern side were affected, Guidi explained.


Power was fully restored to all customers by 8:14 p.m., he added.


Guidi said the outage was caused by equipment failure.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}









Image
Congressman Mike Thompson and wife, Jan, during his talk at the Saturday evening ravioli feed. Photo by John Jensen.

 



LAKEPORT – This weekend Congressman Mike Thompson once again donned his red apron and – in a nod to his Italian heritage – cooked up and served huge amounts of pasta to host one of the community's largest annual dinners.


The annual ravioli feed, hosted by Thompson and wife Jan at the Lake County Fairgrounds Saturday evening, drew hundreds of residents from around Lake County and across parties in a gathering that has continued to grow larger over the last few years, according to organizers.


Several local elected officials – including Supervisors Jeff Smith, Ed Robey and Denise Rushing, Clearlake Council member Joyce Overton, Assembly hopeful Wes Chesbro and former supervisor, Gary Lewis – joined Thompson to serve up dinner, while Public Nuisance provided the music.


Appreciation for wine was a theme of the evening. More than 20 local wineries poured their product, and Thompson's talk to the crowd touched on the region's growing reputation for wines.


“Lake County is there,” said Thompson. “They are top of the list.”


He added that local wine producers “make it very easy for me to promote a good product.”


Turning to matters in Congress, Thompson said the nation shouldn't put its children in debt. He pointed to bad policies adopted by the administration and the last Congress which continued bad fiscal policy.


For those reasons Thompson said the House of Representative has adopted “pay-go” rules, that, with some exceptions, require the house to only pass legislation that it can pay for. The Senate has yet to adopt those rules, he added, but they're necessary to improve fiscal responsibility and manage debt.


Thompson, a Vietnam veteran who was awarded a certificate of appreciation for his efforts on behalf of fellow vets from the local Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951 before the dinner started, said this Congress has raised funding for the Veterans Administration to its highest levels ever.


That action was necessary, he said, because the growing veterans community has tremendous needs.


Thompson also touched on other issues, including Congress' passage of the most aggressive energy policy ever, increases in funding for education and the road ahead.


Millions of new voters are coming out to participate in the process of electing new leadership, said Thompson.


“People really want to change the direction of this country,” he said. “I'm looking forward to doing that with your help.”


He adding, “I'm glad that we're in this together.”


The Saturday event – with its relaxed, casual atmosphere – was likely a welcome respite for Thompson, who has been under scrutiny since last week in the wake of an Associated Press report that a trip he and two fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives took to Iraq in 2002 was secretly financed by Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency.


Thompson and his fellow lawmakers aren't being accused of any wrongdoing, especially since the trip was approved by the State Department.


The congressman took the trip so they could see for themselves the situation in the country prior to the US launching its war on Iraq.


Thompson ultimately voted against entry into the Iraq war.


His annual visit to Lake County also came at a time when he's in the midst of a campaign for reelection.


The field of candidates this year for Thompson's First Congressional District seat include Mitch Clogg, Democrat, Mendocino; Doug Pharr, Republican, Napa; Zane Starkewolf, Republican, Davis; and Carol Wolman, Green, Mendocino, according to the California Secretary of State's Office.


He said his challengers are accusing him of either being too far to the right or too far to the left.


“I'm right back where I've always been – in the middle, working with both sides,” he said, earning a round of applause.


Thompson said he's looking forward to continuing to work with his Lake County constituents for a long time to come.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

Image
Hundreds of county residents filled the hall at the Lake County Fairgrounds Saturday. Photo by John Jensen.
 

 

{mos_sb_discuss:3}

LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's District Attorney asked a Butte County judge Thursday to grant his motion to move forward with a retrospective competency hearing in a 1980 murder conviction.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins went before Judge Sandra McLean in the case of Gerald Frank Stanley, 63, who was sentenced to death in 1984 for the murder of his wife, Cynthia Rogers Stanley.


On March 17 a federal judge – citing juror misconduct – threw out the competency trial that was held in late 1983 as part of Stanley's original prosecution after questions of his mental state were raised, as Lake County News has reported.


Hopkins asked Judge McLean for a hearing on the feasibility of retrospective competency proceedings; at the same time, he's planning to file a request for a change of venue in order to move the case back to Lake County. The trial was moved in 1983 because of pretrial publicity, he explained.


McLean granted Hopkins' request for a hearing on his motions, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. April 24 in Oroville, Hopkins said.


Stanley, based on a removal order filed by Hopkins, was transported from San Quentin State Prison's death row to the Butte County Jail in Oroville.


Hopkins said Stanley appeared in court Thursday, after having spent the morning fighting with jail nurses over his medications. Stanley has previously stated to this reporter that he suffers from a variety of health complaints, including heart issues.


Upset over the issues with his care at the jail, Stanley made demands to the court that he be transported back to San Quentin, said Hopkins.


When it came time to appoint a defense attorney for Stanley in these current proceedings, Stanley requested Mark Olive, according to Hopkins.


Olive, a Florida attorney who has specialized in defending death penalty cases for 30 years, has previously worked on Stanley's defense team, although Stanley has stated in the past that he did not want Olive and other federal defenders to act on his behalf.


Hopkins said Olive wasn't present at the Thursday hearing, although two federal defense attorneys were present. McLean appointed Chico attorney Dennis Hoptowit to represent Stanley.


While his mental competency has been questioned, Stanley's guilt in the murder was upheld in the recent ruling and in a California Supreme Court ruling, according to court documents.


In the original trial, Stanley was ruled competent and sentenced to the gas chamber. He has remained on death row since February of 1984.


If a retrospective competency hearing were held and Stanley was found incompetent at the time of his original trial's penalty phase, he would no longer face the death penalty and instead would serve out the remainder of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole, according to Hopkins.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED.


SOUTH LAKE COUNTY – Lake County fire units responded to a tanker fire Tuesday that closed down Highway 20 for several hours.


The tanker truck, carrying 7,500 gallons of kerosene, caught fire at about 9:30 a.m. one mile west of Mitchell Flat and several miles into Colusa County, according to the California Highway Patrol.


A CHP report issued late Tuesday explained that Dennis R. Moody, 59, of Willits was driving the 2007 Peterbilt tank truck pulling a silver tank trailer at or near the 55 mile per hour speed limit when the drive-line broke, causing it to bounce below the undercarriage.


The drive-line bounced into the tank, causing it to puncture, according to the CHP report.


A spark was then ignited by the loose drive-line, causing a fire to break out in the undercarriage. CHP said the fire spread to the tanks and ignited the kerosene in them.


When Moody noticed the mechanical problem and saw the fire, the CHP report said he immediately pulled over to the right shoulder.


Moody left the vehicle and went to a safe area while awaiting the arrival of emergency personnel, CHP reported. He did not suffer any injuries.


Northshore Battalion Chief Pat Brown reported that his district sent one water tender and a battalion chief to the blaze as part of its mutual aide agreement with Williams Fire Department.


Williams sent two engines, two water tenders, a rescue unit and two chief officers, Brown reported.


Also responding was Lake County Fire Protection District with a water tender and Cal Fire with an engine, according to Brown.


Brown said the tanker was fully involved when the fire units arrival. The truck's aluminum tanks had split open, which he said such tanks are designed to do so an explosion won't result.


Firefighters decided to let the fire burn itself out due to the size, said Brown.


The fire burned a half-acre of grass, but Brown said the biggest concern was the environment, including a small stream just downhill.


Firefighters were successful in keeping the waterway clear because they let the fire burn down before applying about 15 gallons of foam, said Brown.


The roadway was completely closed until 12:30 p.m., when CHP opened the eastbound lane to one-way traffic control.


Caltrans advised that they would be on scene conducting cleanup until about 9 p.m., and advised drivers to expect delays due to continuing traffic control.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}






Image
Dean Gotham, president of the local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter, braved the gloomy Friday weather to sell clovers commemorating MIAs, POWs and victims of Agent Orange. Vietnam veterans locally also will mark the first Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day on Sunday, March 30. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.

 

LAKE COUNTY – It's been decades since Vietnam veterans made their way home from the war, only to meet – in the worst cases – outright abuse, or disapproval and lack of acceptance because they had been sent to fight in an unpopular war.


Now, however, thanks to the growing appreciation for their sacrifices, Vietnam veterans are poised to celebrate their first national day of remembrance.


On Sunday, the first “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” in the United States will be commemorated.


It's been a long time in coming – 35 years, to be exact.


March 30 was chosen because it was on that date in 1973 that US Armed Forces completed withdrawal of combat troops from Vietnam.


US involvement in Vietnam began in an advisory capacity in 1961, with troops arriving in 1965, in an effort to prevent Communism spreading across the rest of Southeast Asia.


In all, more than 58,000 US Armed Forces members died in the war, with another 300,000 returning home wounded, according to federal records.


The “Welcome Home” day received federal approval last year. That followed years of lobbying by Whittier resident and Vietnam veteran José G. Ramos, who founded the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day effort in 2000, according to www.whvvd.org.


On Feb. 16, 2007, California Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez introduced House Resolution 189, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that a 'Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day' should be established,” according to congressional records. Sanchez was joined by 54 co-sponsors on the bill.


The bill passed on a 381-0 vote on June 25, 2007, according to House voting records. North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson, a Vietnam vet, was among those casting votes in favor of the resolution.


Next, on Aug. 1, 2007, California Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced the Senate version of the bill, Senate Resolution 289. The Senate passed the resolution unanimously on Nov. 8, 2007.


Both resolutions noted: “... Members of the United States Armed Forces who served bravely and faithfully for the United States during the Vietnam War were caught upon their return home in the crossfire of public debate about the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War ...”


On his Web site Ramos reported that the bill was sent to President George W. Bush, with the request that he sign it and make it a national holiday. The bill didn't receive the president's signature, despite efforts by Ramos and others to get him to do so.


Veterans honored locally


Local veterans are joining their fellow soldiers across the nation in marking the day by their own kinds of activism and outreach.


This year, there aren't any organized local events planned for the Vietnam veterans commemoration, said Dean Gotham, president of the county's Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 951.


Instead, groups like his are focusing on outreach to the community and education about veterans issues.


On Friday, Gotham braved the cold, rainy weather to stand outside Bruno's Shop Smart to offer clovers – orange for Agent Orange victims and black for POW/MIAs – as part of a fundraiser for the group.


“I'm shocked at how well it's going,” said Gotham.


He added that it's the first time the commemorative clovers – similar to the “Buddy Poppies” sold on Veterans Day and Memorial Day – have been offered locally, or possibly even in the state. “We may be breaking new ground.”


Agent Orange refers to the herbicide dumped on Vietnam in an effort to defoliate jungles. Use of the chemical – millions of gallons of it were dumped on the country – had huge impacts on soldiers and civilians, both American and Vietnamese, who were exposed to it. Numerous health issues, from dozens of forms of cancer to birth defects, have been attributed to it.


The black clovers Gotham handed out to donors were a reminder of the soldiers still missing and unaccounted for in Vietnam. The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia reports there are 1,763 US soldiers who have never returned from the Vietnam War.


There are a total of 8,000 veterans in Lake County, said Gotham, based on information he's received from the county's Veterans Services Office. Of that number, Gotham estimated that “a good chunk” are Vietnam vets.


In addition to Bruno's, clovers also will be available for donation this weekend at Konocti Vista Casino, K-Mart, Sentry Market and Lakeport's Safeway, according to Gotham.


All the proceeds will benefit Chapter 951's outreach programs – everything from emergency financial and housing assistance, to providing help with benefits and rides to medical appointments.


For the last two Christmases, the chapter also has extended its efforts to include seniors at area convalescent homes in its “Seniors Not Forgotten” program, in addition to providing memorial scholarships, a Christmas Fund and sponsorship for Little League teams, the chapter reported.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

THE GEYSERS – A minor earthquake was felt in The Geysers and Cobb area Thursday afternoon.


The US Geological Survey reported a 3.3 earthquake occurred at 2:04 p.m. It was centered two miles northeast of The Geysers, three miles west of Cobb and six miles west northwest of Anderson Springs.


The earthquake was so shallow that no depth was recorded, according to the USGS.


USGS reports noted that the quake was felt in Middletown, St. Helena and Santa Rosa.


In Cobb, resident Roger Kinney reported feeling the quake. He said the quake's shallowness made it seem like it was much larger.


Kinney also reported feeling three smaller quakes that occurred within minutes of the 3.3 temblor.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED


LAKE COUNTY – Officials are reporting that traffic is beginning to move after it was closed down along the Highway 20 corridor into Colusa County due to a truck fire.


The California Highway Patrol reported a big rig tanker on fire shortly before 10 a.m. on Highway 20 one mile west of Mitchell Flats and several miles into the boundaries of Colusa County.


CHP reported that the truck, which was giving off heavy smoke, was completely blocking the highway after the fire began. At least three CHP units were on scene.


Just after 11 a.m. the Chico Dispatch Center reported that the truck – a double tanker carrying 75,000 gallons of kerosene – was “still an active burn” and that it was going to be allowed to burn out.


At shortly before 1 p.m. CHP reported one lane of traffic has been reopened.


Previous to that, traffic was being either turned around or rerouted onto southbound Highway 16 when possible.


Updates will be provided as more information becomes available.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

LAKE COUNTY – The California Department of Transportation recently awarded $52 million to cities and counties for 139 projects funded through the state’s Safe Routes to School program, which is designed to give students in grades K-12 easier and healthier ways to safely travel to and from schools.


State Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa), who represents much of the North Coast in the 2nd Senate District, was a co-author of the original bill (AB 1475, by Assemblywoman Nell Soto) establishing Safe Routes to School funding in 1999. A number of communities in the 2nd District – which stretches from Solano County to Humboldt County – received funding in the latest cycle.


According to CalTrans, the Lakeport schools – Lakeport Elementary, Terrace Heights, Terrace Middle School and Clear Lake High School – received $499,860 in grant funding for a street improvement project, the total cost of which is $555,400.


Caltrans reported that the project will include constructing curb, gutter and sidewalk, and a retaining structure, and installing crosswalks, traffic signs and fences. Improvements will be completed along Hartley Street, from the intersection with 20th Street to 428 feet south of the city limit.


Since the program’s inception, Caltrans has awarded $196 million for 709 Safe Routes to School projects. In 2007, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 57 (also authored by Nell Soto), extending Safe Routes to School funding indefinitely.


On its Web site, Caltrans describes Safe Routes to School as “an international movement that has taken hold in communities throughout the United States. The concept is to increase the number of children who walk or bicycle to school by funding projects that remove the barriers that currently prevent them from doing so. Those barriers include lack of infrastructure, unsafe infrastructure, lack of programs that promote walking and bicycling through education/encouragement programs aimed at children, parents, and the community.”


The highly competitive program (local school districts, boards, city councils and state agencies can request funding through yearly application cycles) has enabled communities to increase the safety of children walking or riding to school.


“Pedestrian accidents have been a leading cause of fatal injuries for school-aged children, including in school zones lacking crosswalks or sidewalks,” Wiggins said. “That is one of the many great things about this program: Funds can be used for crosswalks, pedestrian and bicycle pathways, bike lanes, sidewalks and a number of ‘traffic calming’ measures.


“By creating a more hospitable environment for children to walk or ride to school,” Wiggins added, “we are also helping to promote exercise, which is a necessary component of the effort to reduce the incidence of obesity in our young people.”


Thirty years ago, 60 percent of children living within a two-mile radius of a school walked or bicycled to school. Today, that number has dropped to less than 15 percent, according to information provided by Wiggins' office.


Roughly 25 percent commute by school bus, and well over half are driven to/from school in vehicles. And back then, 5 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were considered to be overweight or obese, Wiggins office reported. Today, that number has climbed to 20 percent.


These statistics point to a rise in preventable childhood diseases, worsening air quality and congestion around schools, and missed opportunities for children to grow into self reliant, independent adults.


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

LAKE COUNTY – A federal judge has found that juror misconduct and a breach of due process requires a reexamination of whether or not a man sentenced to death in 1984 for killing his wife was mentally competent to stand trial.


Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. of the U.S. District Court for California's Eastern District made the ruling March 17 in the case of Gerald Frank Stanley, 63, whose appeal was made on his behalf by federal defenders.


Stanley was convicted of the Aug. 11, 1980 murder of his wife, Cynthia Rogers Stanley, in Nice, according to case records.


Damrell ordered proceedings to begin within 30 days of his ruling on whether or not a new competency hearing – nearly a quarter-century later – should be held.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins said he intends to appear in Butte County Superior Court – where Stanley's trial was moved due to pretrial publicity – on Thursday morning.


There, Hopkins will ask Judge Sandra McLean to set a hearing on the feasibility of holding a retrospective competency hearing in the case.


Stanley reportedly shot his wife with a sniper rifle while she was at her father's resort in Nice, according to Lake County News research into the case. Stanley then fled the scene, with authorities launching one of the largest manhunts in county history in an attempt to find him. Stanley later was arrested at his mother's Anderson home.


Robert Crone, then the Lake County District Attorney, prosecuted the case, which was reported to have cost the state $1 million, research of the case revealed. Crone and his prosecution team lived in Butte County for nearly a year while the trial was under way.


On Feb. 7, 1984, Stanley was sentenced to die in the gas chamber, according to State Department of Corrections documents. He has remained on San Quentin's death row since then.


Hopkins emphasized that Stanley's guilt is not in question, and he's not going to be released. In fact, Damrell upheld the finding of guilt in the Stanley case, as has the California Supreme Court, court records show.


“The guilt stands,” said Hopkins.


If the competency trial is held again and Stanley is ruled incompetent, he would no longer be subject to the death penalty and instead would be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, Hopkins said.


One of the factors cited in Damrell's ruling was juror misconduct in the trial's competency phase, court documents show.


At the beginning of the Stanley trial's penalty phase – in which jurors were to consider whether he was to receive the death sentence – doubts about Stanley's competency were raised, Hopkins explained.


That resulted in a three-month break in the proceedings while a competency trial took place, and Stanley was ruled mentally competent to stand trial, Hopkins said.


Later, however, it was found that one of the jurors in that trial allegedly was guilty of misconduct because she failed to state that she had been a violence victim, said Hopkins. That was a concern because it could have affected her ability to make an impartial decision.


Damrell's ruling also pointed to a statement by an expert witness in the case that Stanley was incompetent as of 1981, which contradicted that witness' previous testimony.


The issue now, said Hopkins, is a complicated one.


“We have to engage in the process of deciding his competency 25 years ago,” he said.


Such proceedings are not unheard of, said Hopkins, although they're rare. He pointed to other, similar cases in other federal circuit courts where retrospective competency hearings have been ordered. “There is some precedent.”


In addition to pursuing the request for a hearing on the feasibility of a retrospective hearing, Hopkins also asked to have Stanley brought from death row to the Butte County Jail in Oroville, a duty that fell to Butte County Sheriff Perry Reniff's office. Stanley is expected to remain in custody in Oroville during the proceedings.


Hopkins also plans to file a motion to have Stanley's case brought back to Lake County if it's decided to go through with a new competency trial.


Originally, the defense was granted a change of venue due to pretrial publicity. However, Hopkins believes he can successfully argue that enough time has passed that the case is no longer well known locally, and a competency proceeding could find an unbiased pool of jurors.


Stanley's federal appeal is not being carried out at his request, according to previous statements Stanley has made to this reporter.


Several years ago Stanley began trying to have the appeals process stopped with the help of Jack Leavitt, a Hayward-based attorney, according to interviews with both men.


Stanley stated that due to his failing health he was seeking an execution date and, if one was granted, he had offered to disclose the location of the body of Diana Lynn Ramel, a woman with whom he was romantically involved and who disappeared in February 1980. He has stated he did not kill her.


He did, however, murder his first wife, Kathleen Rhiley, in 1975 as she was taking their children to school in Concord, according to Lake County News research. Stanley served four and a half years for that crime.


At one point Stanley also was believed to have been involved in the murder of a young Redding woman, Sheryl Ranee Wright, who was last seen the day before Cynthia Rogers was shot, according to case research.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

HIDDEN VALLEY – The man accused of stabbing two children last week had no local adult criminal history, according to court records.


Thirty-one-year-old James Robert Pagan was arrested Friday for allegedly stabbing a 10-year-old girl to death and injuring another 14-year-old girl, as Lake County News has reported.


Pagan was reportedly being held in the Lake County Jail on $1 million bail. He did not appear in the inmate search on the sheriff's Web site Monday; however, the site has not been recording new bookings since late last week.


Authorities have not officially confirmed the two victims' identities, which sources told Lake County News were the children of a local physician.


Sheriff's deputies originally arrested Pagan on charges of murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, according to a sheriff's office statement on Saturday.


Lt. Dave Garzoli of the sheriff's investigations branch released additional information later Saturday that reported another charge – willful cruelty to a child – had been added.


Before his Friday arrest Pagan appears to have had little contact with local authorities.


In a search of Lake County Superior Court records, Pagan's name only showed up once – for a May 2007 traffic citation.


A search of criminal records in other counties where Pagan is believed to have lived previously also turned up no evidence of him having issues with the law as an adult.


As of Monday afternoon, a criminal filing against Pagan for the stabbing case had not been logged in the Superior Court records system.


Regarding the circumstances of this recent case, no further information has been forthcoming from investigators.


A sheriff's office statement on Saturday said further information would be available on Monday, but nothing more has so far been released.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


{mos_sb_discuss:2}

Upcoming Calendar

1Feb
02.01.2023 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Clear Lake hitch listening session
2Feb
02.02.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
8Feb
02.08.2023 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
100+ Women Strong in Lake County
9Feb
02.09.2023 7:30 am - 8:30 am
Rotary Club of Middletown
11Feb
11Feb
02.11.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
12Feb
02.12.2023 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild
14Feb
02.14.2023
Valentine's Day

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.

 

Memberships:

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.
Cookies!

lakeconews.com uses cookies for statistical information and to improve the site.