Friday, 12 July 2024


THE GEYSERS – Another moderate-sized earthquake occurred in The Geysers on Monday morning, less than 24 hours after a similarly sized quake was reported.

The 3.0-magnitude quake occurred at 6:27 a.m. at a depth of 1.7 miles near The Geysers geothermal steamfield, according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake was centered two miles north northwest of The Geysers, six miles west southwest of Cobb and eight miles west northwest of Anderson Springs, the US Geological Survey reported.

The survey received no shake reports on the earthquake.

The Geysers area last experienced a 3.0-magnitude quake last Wednesday, as Lake County News has reported. A Sunday morning quake initially reported as 3.0 in magnitude later was downgraded to 2.9.

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LAKE COUNTY – The once-in-a-decade US Census questionnaires have arrived.

Households throughout Northern California can expect to receive the much-anticipated, 10-question form as soon as Monday, March 15.

Census officials hope that people will fill out their 2010 census questionnaires and mail it back as soon as possible, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.

It costs the government just 44 cents for a postage paid envelope when a household mails back the 10-question form, which should take just 10 minutes to complete. It costs the Census Bureau $57 to send a census taker door-to-door to follow up with each household that fails to respond. In 2000, the nation reversed a three-decade decline in mail rates, achieving a participation rate of 72 percent.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the census takes place on April 1, 2010.

Census data determine boundaries for state and local legislative and congressional districts. More than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed annually based on census data to pay for local programs and services such as free lunch for low-income students, vocational training, road construction and emergency services.

For more information about language assistance guides and translations of the form, which are available in 59 languages, visit .

Telephone assistance in filling out the form is available in Spanish (1-866-928-2010), Chinese (1-866-935-2010), Vietnamese (1-866-945-2010), Korean (1-866-955-2010) and Russian (1-866-965-2010) in addition to English (1-866-872-6868). Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons can call the TDD number: 1-866-783-2010.

The US Constitution requires that everyone living in the United States be counted every ten years. All census information collected, including addresses, is confidential and protected by law (Title 13, U.S. Code, Section 9).

By law, the Census Bureau can’t share respondents’ answers with any government agency such as the FBI, the IRS, welfare and immigration. No court of law or law enforcement agency can find out respondents’ answers.

All Census Bureau employees — including temporary employees — take an oath for life to keep census information confidential. Any violation of that oath is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.

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LAKE COUNTY – With the switch to daylight savings time this Sunday, March 14, Cal Fire and the Office of the State Fire Marshal are reminding all California residents to change their smoke alarm batteries when setting their clocks ahead one hour.

Daylight Saving Time begins each year at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March. This year, Daylight Saving Time begins on March 14 and ends on Nov. 7, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Move clocks ahead one hour at the start of Daylight Saving Time.

For fire officials, it's a good time to remind people about the importance of fire prevention and the importance of keeping smoke alarms in working order.

Every year, lives are lost due to inoperative smoke alarms. More than 66 percent of home fire deaths that occurred between 2003 and 2006 were in homes without a working smoke alarm, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The changing of the clocks provides an ideal reminder to change your smoke alarm batteries at least twice a year, according to fire officials.

“With proper maintenance and regular testing, smoke alarms play a pivotal role in the early notification of a fire emergency,” said Chief Tonya Hoover, acting state fire marshal. “By taking just a few seconds each year to replace the battery, you can truly make a difference in protecting your family and your home.”

Cal Fire has the following tips on smoke alarms:

  • Test smoke alarms once a month.

  • Replace batteries in all smoke alarms twice a year.

  • Don’t “borrow” or remove batteries from smoke alarms even temporarily.

  • Regularly vacuum or dust smoke alarms to keep them working properly.

  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.

  • Don’t paint over smoke alarms.

  • Practice family fire drills so everyone knows what to do if the smoke alarm goes off.

To find more information visit the Cal Fire Web site at .

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LUCERNE – The company that owns Lucerne's water system says it believes its utility model works and that it's not interested in selling the company.

California Water Service Co. is asking the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for rate hikes on its Lucerne system totaling nearly 68 percent over the coming three years, a decision that the commission currently is considering.

The CPUC held a public hearing at the Lucerne Alpine Senior Center March 4 about those suggested hikes, with Administrative Judge Jeffrey O'Donnell leading the hearing, as Lake County News has reported.

Community members raised a series of important points about the system's design, the cost for Lucerne's water compared to that of other areas in Cal Water's 24-district system and how the company can justify serious rate hikes in a community with high poverty and unemployment rates.

A report released last Wednesday placed Lake County's overall unemployment rate at 19.6 percent, and Lucerne's rate at 20.7 percent.

Statewide, California Water Service Group, Cal Water's parent company, has filed a general rate case for all of its districts, seeking rate increases of $70.6 million over the next three years.

On Feb. 24, California Water Service Group reported that its 2009 net income was up by $41 million or 2 percent over 2008. The company's revenues were up 10 percent, or $39 million, from 2008, growing to $449 million in 2009.

Of those revenues, an additional $50 million came from rate increases and $11 million in sales to new customers. At the same time, total operating expenses increased 11 percent or $38 million to $391 million in 2009, as costs for water production expense increased 9 percent, or $12 million, to $159 million compared to $147 million in 2008, the company reported.

At the same time, administrative and general expense increased 27 percent, or $16 million, to $75 million. The company reported that those costs were “primarily due to increased healthcare and benefit costs, new employees added as a result of our Hawaii acquisition, and new employees included in adopted rates for California.”

Other operations expense increased 11 percent, or $5 million, to $57 million, which company officials said are due primarily to increases in conservation expense and water treatment/water quality expense.

Since the March 4, Lake County News followed up with company to get additional information in response to questions that were posed but not answered. Lake County News also threw in a few of its own questions. Cal Water rates manager Darin Duncan provided the answers printed below.

The CPUC is still taking comments on Application No. 09-07-001 to the CPUC Public Advisor's Office, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102; e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; telephone 866-849-8390 or 415-703-2074.

The case also is on the CPUC Web site at .

Water rates comparisons

Question: At the March 4 meeting, Lucerne resident Dr. Wilson Goddard made comparisons between the rates in Cal Water's San Mateo district and in Lucerne, where meter charges are $8.75 and $32.58, respectively.

He also pointed out that San Mateo's charge for one “CCF” – or 100 cubic feet – of water is $3.03; for the same amount of water, Lucerne customers pay $5.45, and San Mateo's median income, based on the 2000 US Census, is $95,750, versus Lucerne's $25,345.

At the meeting Duncan explained the costs for getting the water from San Mateo, but he didn't explain the costs involved with Lucerne, such as who Cal Water purchases water from, how much it costs and the comparable monetary investment for treatment. He was asked to provide that information.

Answer: The water for Lucerne comes from Clear Lake. Cal Water must purchase this water from the Yolo County Flood Control & Water Conservation District at a current cost of $52.50 per acre foot of water or $2.10 per CCF. The total cost to purchase and treat the water, Duncan said, is $915 an acre foot.

“This is untreated water that Cal Water then pumps out of the lake and through the treatment plant. It costs approximately $2.10 per CCF to treat the water through the Lucerne plant,” he said.

That's compared to San Mateo, where their water cost from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is $1.65 per CCF or $718 per acre foot. That water already is treated.

“The main point of difference with the San Mateo system and the Lucerne system is that San Mateo is an urban area with 35,000 services versus only 1,280 customers for Lucerne,” Duncan wrote in his response. “There are large economies of scales in the water industry and individual water system components cost about the same in all areas.

“However, if we invest in say a $100,000 water main in Lucerne, this costs each customer approximately $12 per year, while that same $100,000 pipeline installed in San Mateo is spread over a much larger base and costs each of those customers less than $0.50 per year,” Duncan said.

What did the company pay for the Lucerne water system?

Questions: The company was asked on March 4 about the amount of money that Dominguez Service Corp. – which later merged with Cal Water – paid for the system when it purchased it from Bob and Nadine Strauss in 1999.

Lake County News also asked about any current agreements the company has with the Strausses, who several years ago built a large home on the lakefront next door to the location where the new treatment plant, completed last year, is located.

Answers: Dominguez Service Corp. paid $729,586 in 1999 for the Lucerne Water Co. Subsequent to that purchase, Cal Water and Dominquez Service Corp. merged, Duncan said.

“The only current agreement in effect with the Strausses is a mutually beneficial easement at the treatment plant site that allows the Strausses to access their property across part of our property and allows Cal Water to access our property across part of the Strauss property,” Duncan added.

Justification for rate hikes

Questions: Many Lucerne residents at the March 4 hearing discussed their dire economic straits, and their fears about having to choose between paying their water bills and buying food.

Cal Water was asked about its justification for asking for such high rate hikes in a community like Lucerne, which is one of the poorest in a county that has one of the state's highest unemployment rates.

They were asked why they are seeking approximately 68.5 percent in rate hikes for Lucerne over the coming three years. Statewide, the increases they're seeking over that same three-year period average 26.58 percent for all districts statewide.

In addition, they were asked about options for lower middle class and middle class residents who can't pay their bills but don't qualify for rate support.

Answers: Duncan explained that, in accordance with the CPUC, Cal Water calculates the cost of providing service to each district independently.

“We review what capital improvements are needed to keep the system operating to meet all Department of Public Health (DPH) standards and this is a large factor in the requested rate increase. When improvements are required to meet DPH standards, Cal Water does not look at the unemployment rate or social-economic background. The commission has consistently ruled that all customers have a right to safe, reliable service regardless of these factors. Rather, we comply with water quality regulations to ensure that our customers are drinking safe water that meets all applicable standards. This can be a difficult concept for people to understand, especially when the improvements are due to changes in regulations and people have been drinking the water under the old regulations for a long time with no perceived health effects.”

Unlike the electricity industry, Duncan said the CPUC requires that all tariff areas have independent costs of service. However, in 2005 the CPUC approved a rate support fund that reduces Lucerne customer bills by $17 per month (paid for by other Cal Water ratepayers). Cal Water has proposed increasing this subsidy in this application to $25.

“If customers fall behind on payments, we will work with them to set up payment plans,” Duncan wrote. “We also offer conservation devices to help educate customers about possibilities to save water and lower their monthly bills. Ultimately, if a customer fails to pay their water bills, we are forced to discontinue service to the customer in compliance with CPUC rules.”

Impacts on redevelopment efforts and community renovation

Question: At the March 4 hearing, District 1 Supervisor Denise Rushing and county Deputy Redevelopment Director Eric Seely both voiced concerns about the rate hikes.

In particular, Seely communicated the county's concerns regarding how the water rates are hampering the agency's ability to draw new businesses to the area. County officials also out that the county is itself a system customer, with its Lucerne facilities and parks supplied by the system.

Duncan was asked about what, if anything, has come of the company's discussions with the Lake County Redevelopment Agency.

Answer: Cal Water's discussions with Seely and the Lake County Redevelopment Agency “have not been generalized to the topic of the economy of the area,” Duncan wrote.

“Our contact has been very specific to individual projects where the water system may be impacted,” he continued. “They have requested location of underground facilities and they have provided plans for sidewalk improvements. The Parks Department has a service and they have tried to keep costs down by only maintaining one service, instead of using three separate old services by installing on-site piping to allow them to use only one service. We plan to work more closely with this agency to ensure we are doing all we can to help this situation.”

The system's conditions and Cal Water's knowledge of it at purchase

Question: Lucerne residents raised the issue on March 4 of what Dominguez and, subsequently Cal Water, knew about the Lucerne water system's condition at the time of purchase. Was any due diligence done to understand the condition of the system?

Answer: “Cal Water and Dominguez both conducted due diligence on the Lucerne system,” Duncan explained. “Both corporations realized that significant improvements were required to the treatment system and to the distribution system.

“I believe these improvements were envisioned to be farther out on the horizon, but changes to water quality standards affected the need to make these improvements sooner than anticipated in any due diligence,” he wrote. “The CPUC has recognized that smaller water companies are unable to perform the technical upgrades needed to meet changing regulation and they have encouraged more stable companies like Cal Water to acquire these smaller companies. The CPUC does not have a different model on how to calculate water rates for these smaller systems and is generally in favor of Cal Water making these improvements.”

Willingness to contemplate no profits?

Question: Are the company and its shareholders willing to contemplate that they may have to accept no profits from the Lucerne system in the coming several years?

Answer: The answer, said Duncan, is no.

“This is contrary to CPUC policy,” he wrote.

“In order for the utility to make investments that provide service to customers, the CPUC allows the utility reasonable costs of financing. Apart from cost of financing, Cal Water does not make any profit from its operations. The company is committed to only providing improvements necessary to meet DPH requirements and will work with the commission to identify the minimum required projects. Once again, Cal Water is seeking to increase the Lucerne subsidy from its other customers to offset some of the high cost of service in the area.”

A proposal for local ownership and control

Question: In response to Cal Water's 2005 proposal for a 246-percent increase for the Lucerne district, two local groups – Lucerne Community Water Organization (LCWO) and Lucerne Friends of Locally Owned Water (LucerneFLOW) arose to help fight request. The company ended up getting a roughly 120-percent increase, with low-income relief measures also adopted.

Community advocates have proposed to seek a purchase of the water system, either under their own steam or through the assistance of local government.

Would Cal Water contemplate selling the company to the county or the Lucerne community?

Answer: “No, Cal Water is not interested in selling the Lucerne district,” Duncan wrote.

“We believe we have a utility model that works and we are proud of the improvements we have made to the system,” he explained. “We would be interested in growing our presence in Clear Lake in order to spread fixed costs over a larger base and lower average costs.

“However, all parties including Cal Water need to understand that water service for this local area is expensive and will remain expensive for the foreseeable future regardless of system ownership, unless some outside entity pays the costs,” he concluded.

Question: In followup to his statement about an outside entity, Lake County News asked if Duncan was suggesting a state or county agency needed to assist with funding to pay for the system.

Answer: Duncan said the funding could be from different sources, such as improvements from developers or changes to the rate support fund structure.

Duncan said that, as Cal Water representatives noted at the March hearing, federal stimulus money is not available to Cal Water, but stimulus money has funded some of the state revolving loan funds.

“In some cases, public agencies pay for some of the infrastructure and Cal Water does not earn a return on this contributed infrastructure,” he wrote. “I realize at this time, this is not feasible, but in the future we plan to look at all options.”

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MENDOCINO COUNTY – A former Lake County resident has been sentenced to state prison for several charges of child molestation that began in Lake and continued in Mendocino County.

On Friday Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Ronald Brown sentenced Sean Dylan Robey, 40, to 15 years and eight months in prison in the case, which involved two children.

Robey had pleaded guilty to a felony count of continuous sexual abuse with a child under the age of 14, three felony counts of unlawful sexual intercourse by a person over the age of 21 with a minor under the age of 16 and felony oral copulation with a person under the age of 18, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office.

Mendocino County District Attorney Meredith Lintott's office reported that the acts for which Robey was convicted began in Lake County in 2006 with a 13-year-old child, and continued in Mendocino County where Robey molested a second 15-year-old victim.

Lake County News was unable to get a response from the district attorney's offices of either Mendocino or Lake County regarding the handling of the local molestation case in the Mendocino County.

Officials said in a press statement that both of the victims were subjected to sexual abuse over a long period of time from Robey, who held a position of trust.

Prosecutor Steve Jackson tried Robey on the charges based on an extensive investigation by the Ukiah Police Department and the Mendocino County District Attorney Investigator Unit. Robey was defended by C. David Eyster.

Sean Robey is the nephew of retired District 1 Supervisor Ed Robey, who said Friday he was shocked to hear about the case. Ed Robey said he hadn't seen his nephew in more than 20 years.

Officials reported that Sean Robey will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and the Department of Corrections has the ability to assess him for status under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. Any assessment to that effect will be forwarded to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office for consideration of the filing of a petition to initiate such proceedings.

“Sexually violent predator" means a person who has been convicted of a sexually offense, which includes substantial sexual conduct against children under the age of 14, and who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior, officials reported.

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THE GEYSERS – A 2.9-magnitude earthquake was reported near The Geyser Sunday morning.

The quake occurred at a depth of 2.1 miles at 9:42 a.m., according to the US Geological Survey. It initially was reported as being 3.0 in magnitude.

The epicenter was located two miles north northeast of The Geysers, four miles west southwest of Cobb and six miles west northwest of Anderson Spring, the US Geological Survey reported.

No shake reports were received on the quake.

The Geysers area also experienced a 3.0-magnitude quake last Wednesday evening, as Lake County News has reported.

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LAKEPORT – Authorities are investigating the recent disappearance of a Lakeport man whose boat was found partially submerged in Clear Lake this past week.

William Michael Farrell, 49, was last seen leaving in his boat on Clear Lake from the Konocti Vista Casino Resort Marina on Sunday night, according to Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Late last Monday afternoon, Gene Bedros, a friend of Farrell's, contacted deputies and reported that Farrell had left the Konocti Vista Marina in his 14-foot wooden boat to meet Bedros at his home near Rocky Point in north Lakeport. Bauman said they were planning to get together to celebrate Farrell's birthday.

However, Farrell never arrived, and Bedros apparently did not realize he had actually embarked until the following day, according to Bauman.

Bauman said that Bedros and Farrell’s girlfriend, Roberta Perchar, reportedly spent most of the day Monday checking the shoreline between Konocti Vista and Rocky Point for Farrell or his boat but found no sign of either.

While gathering preliminary information on the missing boater Monday evening, the Sheriff’s Marine Patrol was called out to commence searching the lake. Bauman said searches were conducted, spanning the waters north of the Konocti Vista marina and beyond Rocky Point, as well as to the south and east of the marina.

As night time fell, a search of the open water between the west and north shores of Clear Lake continued by use of radar but neither Farrell or his boat could be located, Bauman said.

Shortly before 9 p.m. Monday, adverse conditions on the lake prevented any further efforts and the search for Farrell was suspended for the day. Bauman said deputies continued checking with friends and acquaintances of Farrell the following day to see if anyone had heard from him but none had.

On Wednesday at about 8 a.m., the Sheriff’s Marine Patrol located an object adrift on the surface of the lake about 400 feet off the Buckingham Peninsula, Bauman said.

On closer inspection, the object was identified as a capsized boat, partially submerged with only 2 feet of the bow remaining above the surface. Bauman said the boat vaguely matched the description of Farrell’s boat and was towed in to the Marine Patrol facility at Braito’s Marina.

Farrell's friends and family members were asked to respond to examine the boat and it was positively identified as Farrell’s. Bauman said personal items found in the boat were also identified as belonging to Farrell. There were no obvious signs of a collision or other damage to the boat.

Perchar and Farrell reportedly live near the Konocti Vista Marina and she told deputies that on Sunday evening, Farrell had asked her to accompany him in his boat to go to Bedros’ home for an informal birthday celebration, according to Bauman's report. Perchar declined as it was too windy and cold for her to go out on the boat.

Sometime between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. that night, Perchar noticed Farrell’s car was gone from the residence and was now parked near the resort. She went to the casino to see if he was there and after an employee told her they had seen Farrell about 40 minutes prior, she checked on his boat and it was gone.

Based on information provided by Perchar, it appears Farrell’s boat had a possible leak and was underpowered with an outboard motor that had a history of mechanical problems, Bauman said.

The boat was very old, built in 1956, and an examination of the boat by Marine Patrol personnel indicates it could have easily been swamped by the windy conditions that prevailed on the lake Sunday afternoon and evening, he explained.

Farrell is described as a white male adult, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 185 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes and a goatee-style beard. Bauman said Farrell has tattoos on both forearms and a significant surgical scar at the center of his chest and abdomen. It is unknown what he was wearing Sunday night.


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LAKEPORT – Following more than a month of testimony and more than 15 hours of deliberations, 12 jurors emerged with a verdict on Thursday in the murder trial of two men.

The jurors ruled that Shannon Lee Edmonds, 35, was guilty of second-degree murder for the Sept. 22, 2009, stabbing and beating death of 25-year-old Shelby Uehling, but that Edmonds' codefendant, 38-year-old Melvin Dale Norton, was not guilty of murder.

Edmonds also was found guilty of two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one for use of a knife, the other for the use of an asp – an extendable police-style baton. The jurors also convicted him of personally inflicting great bodily injury on Uehling.

The jury acquitted Edmonds of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury.

Norton was found not guilty of murder, assault with a deadly weapon using a knife and assault with a deadly weapon using an asp, but convicted of assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and being an accessory to murder.

The two men are scheduled to be sentenced on April 26.

Lake County News was unable to catch up with prosecutor Art Grothe on Thursday following the verdicts.

A call to Uehling's stepfather was not returned Thursday.

Doug Rhoades, who represented Edmonds, said he was disappointed by the second-degree murder verdict.

“I thought that the more appropriate verdict, given the facts of Shelby Uehling essentially loitering about for four hours, in an area where the defendants lived, without cause, apparently looking for trouble, would have more appropriately supported a voluntary manslaughter verdict,” he said. “That was my goal, if not a self-defense verdict, which I realize would have been difficult based on the evidence presented.”

He said it was Uehling, not Edmonds, who was the aggressor. “I believe that is what the evidence showed,” but he added that the jury has spoken and, absent the appeal to follow, “that is the verdict with which we must live.”

Rhoades added, “I appreciate the patience of the jury, and echo Judge Mann's comments that the jury was exemplary in their dedication to their tasks.”

Stephen Carter, who represented Norton, called the not guilty verdict on the murder charge “a wonderful result” for his client.

“I'm very pleased to have helped acquit my client of the murder charge as well as the other assaults,” he said.

Based on the penal code, second-degree murder can bring a sentence of 15 years to life, and assault with a deadly can bring about four years in prison.

Carter said under normal circumstances his client would be looking at four years and eight months in prison, but because of two previous strikes he could be facing 25 years to life, more time than Edmonds.

“That, to me, seems a little unjust,” Carter said.

He'll seek a Romero motion to strike one of Norton's previous strikes in an effort to get a lower sentence of about 10 years.

Jurors explain their approach to the case

Testimony in the trial began Jan. 28, following more than three weeks of jury selection.

Once seated, the six-woman, six-man jury sat through what Rhoades would call in his closing statements a “convoluted case.”

They would hear from Edmonds and Norton themselves – both in testimony on the stand and from their recorded interviews with police in the hours following Uehling's death.

The jury also heard from a pathologist, criminalists, police officers, witnesses who claimed to have heard the fatal fight and the woman believed to be at the center of that final confrontation – Patricia Campbell, who had dated Edmonds for several months before disappearing to spend a methamphetamine-fueled week with Uehling.

After a week with Uehling, the 23-year-old Campbell would abruptly return to Edmonds, testifying that she had always loved him and wanted to be back with him.

Uehling had called her repeatedly and attempted to contact her at her mother's home. She would tell both Edmonds and Norton – a longtime family friend – that Uehling was stalking her.

That, Edmonds and Norton would tell the court, was the reason they walked up to Uehling's car, which Norton spotted not far from the trailer park where he lived early on the morning of Sept. 22, 2009. They said they intended to tell Uehling to leave Campbell alone.

In the ensuing fight, Uehling's throat would be cut. His lifeless body was found face down, the torso slightly propped up on the elbows, next to a tree alongside Old Highway 53.

Following their dismissal from service Thursday morning, several of the jurors agreed to share details of their deliberations with Lake County News.

They said they hadn't expected to finish up on Thursday; one juror said she had thought deliberations would continue into next week. But at about 10 a.m. they settled on the verdicts and began to fill out the necessary forms. The verdicts were ready about 45 minutes later.

They took to heart the words of the jury instructions – which Rhoades had admonished them to remember – regarding the importance of having an “abiding,” and lasting, conviction of guilt on the charges.

“We all wanted to be able to sleep at night afterward,” said one female juror, who asked that her name not be used. This was her first jury trial.

Clearly emotional after the verdict, she was the same juror who had been approached by a local store owner weeks earlier while she was on a break from the trial. The business owner had told the juror that she had been injured in a hit and run crash involving Norton. The juror had reported the incident to the court immediately but the court found no issue.

She and her fellow jurors noted that they worked to be respectful of each other, even at times when they weren't agreeing in the lengthy and emotional deliberations.

Part of her emotion was due to her awareness of what impact her decision would have on the lives of Norton, who she found a more sympathetic figure, and Edmonds, who she called “cold.” She said she has been especially nervous and jumpy in recent days.

She gave high marks to defense attorneys Rhoades and Carter for their efforts.

Another juror, Jeff Hill, said this was his third trial serving as a juror. He also noted the respectful nature of the jurors working together.

“We went through an ordeal,” he said.

Even so, Hill suggested that some friendships were created in the jury room. To break the tension in the room, which sometimes got emotional because of the case, there would occasionally be some joking and laughter to help lighten the mood.

They said everything was important to consider in the deliberations, with Hill noting that they went through everything methodically. “We tore apart the evidence,” Hill said. “We didn't want to take anything for granted.”

A key piece of evidence cited by jurors was the pair of blue jeans Norton was wearing when the fight took place. He had testified that blood on the pants came from when Edmonds had reached out to hit him on the leg, not blood spatter from the fight, a claim the jurors believed to be true.

“You could almost see the handprint on the pants,” said Hill.

During deliberations, Rich Swaney, who was jury foreman, said they had large sheets of paper – one for every witness with evidentiary value – hanging on the jury room wall, and they broke down the judge's jury instructions down line by line to make sure they understood the applications of the law.

“It was very methodical,” Swaney said, explaining how they organized their approach to deliberations.

“We put a lot of value on the initial statements” to police, said Swaney.

In those initial statements, the golf club buried in the dash didn't come up, Swaney noted.

There was too much emphasis on some issues – like Norton's differing accounts of walking or bicycling home, and not enough discussion of things like doughnuts that were laying in the roadway, jurors said.

Those doughnuts were found near where Uehling's body was found, down the road from his car. That led jurors to conclude on a different scenario for the fight.

Uehling had been spotted at Flyer's gas station earlier in the evening buying the doughnuts, which they believed he had in his hand – along with a small flashlight – when he got out of the car, after they believe Norton swung the golf club.

They don't believe Norton meant to hit him, and they diverge on whether Norton swung it through the driver's side or the passenger side windows.

However, they felt that Uehling got out of the car with the doughnuts and flashlight in hand and that a fight didn't start behind the car, but rather down the road, where they think Uehling had run to safety. There they believed he dropped the doughnuts.

Swaney suggested Uehling may have said something that caused Edmonds to lose his temper, leading to the fatal wounds.

“The guy's like a light switch,” Swaney said of Edmonds.

He pointed to how Edmonds started to lose his temper both in his interview with police and when Grothe had him on the stand, asking him repeatedly about certain aspects of the fight.

The jurors pointed out that the fight could only have lasted a few minutes; there was only eight minutes between the last phone call from Uehling's phone to his friend Linda Dale – it was only a few seconds and he had probably only started dialing – and when police arrived at the scene around 1:16 a.m.

They didn't believe Uehling had stalked Campbell, who Swaney called a “puppeteer.” Her comments to Edmonds about Uehling stalking her helped created Edmonds mindset, jurors suggested.

The jurors were curious to find out about what they didn't hear during the trial – including information about an additional strike on Norton's record and a mistrial motion, among other issues.

They also asked about Edmonds' previous issues with the law, and were surprised to find out about an incident in December 2005 when three men allegedly broke into his home to steal marijuana and beat him, his girlfriend and her son. Edmonds fatally shot two of the men in the back as they ran from his home.

When they heard about that case, two of the female jurors gasped.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

LAKE COUNTY – Known as a prime area to view a variety of our feathered friends by expert birders, several areas of Lake County were represented in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which took place Friday, February 12, through Monday, Feb. 15.

A joint project led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, with Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada and sponsorship from Wild Birds Unlimited, the GBBC is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent, according to, the project’s website.

Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts, in as little as 15 minutes on one day of the event. However, bird watchers can count for any time period each day of the event.

This event is an opportunity for families, students, and people of all ages to discover the wonders of nature while making an important contribution to conservation to help the birds at the same time, states

“Anyone who can identify even a few species can contribute to the body of knowledge that is used to inform conservation efforts to protect birds and biodiversity,” said Audubon Education Vice-President, Judy Braus.

The data help researchers understand bird population trends across the continent, according to , and this information is critically important for effective conservation efforts.

Reports were filed from around Lake County including Clearlake, Clearlake Oaks, Cobb, Hidden Valley Lake, Kelseyville, Lakeport, Lower Lake, Lucerne, Middletown and Upper Lake.

Over 3,300 birds were counted throughout the county by 46 watchers, with over 50 species of birds reported in Cobb alone, and more than 75 species countywide.

Bald eagles were spotted in Cobb, Clearlake Oaks, and Kelseyville during this four-day event, and a peregrine falcon was spotted in Cobb, and a prairie falcon in Lakeport.

The most numerous birds spotted around the county included the American robin, California quail, herring gull, lesser goldfinch, dark-eyed junco, Brewer's blackbird, oak titmouse, red winged blackbird, California gull, mallard, and bufflehead.

Other species typically seen in Lake County and recorded during the four-day event included American white pelican, golden eagle, Canada goose, wood duck, wild turkey, western, pie-billed, horned, and Clark’s grebes, acorn woodpecker, northern flicker, California and spotted towhees, golden-crowned and white-crowned sparrows, great blue heron, Anna’s hummingbird, American and lesser goldfinches, and many more.

Located along the Pacific Flyway, Lake County hosts more than 300 species of birds, and the Clear Lake Area is designated an “Important Bird Area” by Audubon California because of the diversity of birds and valuable bird habitats, making participation in nationwide bird watching events, including the GBBC and the Christmas Bird Count, as easy as stepping out in to your own backyard, local schoolyard, or community park.

Businesses, schools, nature clubs, Scout troops, and other community organizations interested in the GBBC can contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473 or Audubon at (202) 861-2242, Ext 3050 or visit .

Lake County bird and wildlife viewing information:

The Redbud Audubon Society hosts monthly informative meetings and field trips:

The Lake County Land Trust offers weekly guided bird and nature walks at Rodman Slough Preserve:

Clear Lake State Park Interpretive Association offers guided nature walks:

Annual Heron Festival and Wildflower Brunch:

Events and tour information:

E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .



LAKEPORT – The Lake County Sheriff's Office is searching for a man allegedly responsible for sexually assaulting a local woman.

Capt. James Bauman said a young woman reported being assaulted on Thursday morning by a suspect who was unknown to her.

The suspect is described as a heavyset male Hispanic adult in his late 20s or early 30s, unshaven but not to the point of having a beard.

Bauman said the suspect claimed his name was “Roberto” and he was wearing a red snow beanie with tassels and blue “Dickie” style pants and shirt. The vehicle he was driving was described only as a dark blue or black Honda Civic.

On Thursday at about 11:20 a.m., deputies responded to a North Lakeport residence to investigate a sexual battery, Bauman said.

A 26-year-old woman reported that she was walking towards Lakeport on Lakeshore Boulevard near the old Rainbow restaurant at about 9 a.m. when a man pulled up in a vehicle and offered her ride to town, according to Bauman's reported.

The woman accepted the offer and, at her request, the man took her to a local church in Lakeport. Bauman said the woman went inside the church for a short time but when she came out, the man was still parked in front of the church. The man talked her into giving her a ride back to her home and again, she accepted the offer.

While driving back towards her home on Lakeshore Boulevard, the man started asking the woman intrusive questions and then began taking various turns away from her primary route home, Bauman said.

As the man drove around randomly in the area of Crystal Lake Way and Keeling Avenue, he started making sexual comments to the woman. Bauman said that despite the woman telling the man to cease and either let her out or take her back to the main road, the suspect continued with the comments and began sexually assaulting her.

After screaming and pleading with the man to let her out, the suspect eventually stopped and let her out at the 3000 block of Lakeshore Boulevard before continuing southbound, Bauman said. The victim went to the first home she could, got a ride back to her home and called 911.

Anyone with information on the possible identity of the man, or further information on his vehicle, is encouraged to call the Lake County Sheriff’s Department at 707-262-4200.

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LAKEPORT – A man and woman whose bodies were found last week near Lower Lake appear to have sustained gunshot wounds, officials reported Thursday.

Captain James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said that on Wednesday autopsies were performed on the bodies of Frank and Yvette Maddox at the Napa County Coroner’s Office.

The bodies of the Maddoxes were discovered March 4 along Morgan Valley Road by two motorists passing through the area, as Lake County News has reported.

During the Wednesday autopsies, sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit detectives, evidence technicians and a coroner investigator were present for the day-long examinations, Bauman said.

Preliminary findings from the autopsies indicate that both victims had sustained apparent gunshot wounds, he said.

However, Bauman said that further findings were not possible due to the condition of the remains of both victims, and it is anticipated both will undergo further forensic anthropological examination on an undetermined date.

A final cause and manner of death in both cases are also pending a toxicology screening and other testing, he said.

In other news in the case, on Thursday afternoon, a Lower Lake resident contacted the sheriff’s office regarding the Toyota truck being sought in connection with the couple's deaths, Bauman said.

The man reported that some time during the last week of February, he had removed the truck from where it had been parked on Spruce Grove Road near Noble Ranch Road and taken it to his property where he has since dismantled it for parts. Bauman said that detectives are currently verifying that report and taking steps to recover what remains of the truck.

Although they have apparently determined the whereabouts of the Toyota truck, detectives are still asking that anyone with information about the truck, its activities or its drivers up until the end of February, contact the Major Crimes Unit at 707-262-4200.


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