Saturday, 02 March 2024

News

LOWER LAKE – Officials on Tuesday identified a Ukiah woman who died as the result of being hit by a vehicle on Sunday night.


Delia Smith, 34, died after being hit at about 10:40 p.m. Sunday as she walked along Highway 29 south of Doten Road near the Konocti Conservation Camp, the California Highway Patrol reported.


CHP Officer Adam Garcia said that it appears that Smith stepped into the traffic lane just before she was hit by a Kia SUV driving northbound.


He said CHP is trying to determine if Smith's moving into the traffic lane was intentional. Garcia added that a toxicology report also is pending.


Officer Randy Forslund is investigating the incident, Garcia said.


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


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JAGO BAY – Investigators are working to discover the reasons for an Orangevale man's death this weekend.


A man's body had been discovered Saturday morning on the Jago Bay community beach, as Lake County News reported Sunday.


Captain Jim Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office on Monday identified the man as 52-year-old Joel Christian Hansen.


The cause of Hansen's death, he added, does not appear to be due to foul play.


Bauman reported that sheriff's deputies and Lake County Fire Protection District rescue personnel were dispatched to the Jago Bay beach area, off of Anderson Road in Lower Lake, at about 11 a.m. Saturday on a reported drowning. Deputies responded from both land and water.


When deputies arrived at the scene, they were led to the beach where Hansen's body was lying at the water's edge. By that time, fire personnel had already arrived and determined Hansen to be deceased, Bauman said.


Bauman said Hansen’s fiancée, Stephanie Dressler of Orangedale, told deputies she and Hansen had gone to the beach the previous day at about 1 p.m.


When Dressler left the beach two hours later, she could not find Hansen but was not concerned as she assumed he had gone out on a boat with a friend, said Bauman. The following morning, she awoke and Hansen had still not returned to their summer home.


Dressler started asking friends and relatives in the area if they had seen Hansen but she soon learned she had apparently been the last one to see him alive the previous day, Bauman reported. They began looking for Hansen and when a relative went down to check the beach, she found Hansen face down in the water.


Hansen was pulled ashore by the relative and when others responded to her yells for help, the call to 911 was made, Bauman said.


A friend of Hansen’s from the east Bay Area told deputies that he and the Hansen family were longtime owners of the vacation homes along the Jago Bay beach. Bauman said the man told deputies that friends and family of the Hansens' were “partying heavily” the previous night.


Bauman said the man went on to tell deputies that in the morning, he heard friends and relatives calling for Hansen and a short time later, he heard Hansen’s cousin yelling for help from the beach. He responded to the beach and helped the cousin pull Hansen from the water.


Due to the obscure circumstances of Hansen’s death, sheriff’s detectives were called to the scene. Bauman said the exact cause of death is pending further investigation.


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The star chart for August 2008. Courtesy of John Zimmerman.



 

LAKE COUNTY – August skies are some of the most beautiful you will see all year. But before we discuss some of the night sky’s delights, we need to remember that there is a meteor shower that happens every August.


The Perseid Meteor Shower


This shower occurs in the morning of Aug. 12. The moon won’t set until 2 a.m. The moon will interfere with viewing. So it’s best to wait until after 2 a.m. before attempting to view.


Look to the east – that is where the shower will originate. A meteor shower occurs when the earth passes through the dust and debris left by a comet’s tail.


The Summer Triangle


Face south, and look directly overhead. You will see three very bright stars that form a triangle – this is called the “Summer Triangle.” Each star is in a different constellation.


The star furthest to west is Vega – it is in the constellation of Lyra the Harp (see the star chart). To the east is the bright star Deneb in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan.

To the south, the third star in the triangle is Altair in the constellation Aquila the eagle.


Deep Sky Objects


August skies have some beautiful objects that can be seen with a small to medium telescope. These objects are called deep sky objects.


One of these is the Swan Nebula – it’s a big cloud of dust and gas that looks a bit like a swan.

 

 

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The Swan Nebula. Image courtesy of NASA.
 

 


Another is the Wild Duck Cluster – a group of stars that appear close together that resemble a flock of ducks in flight.

 

 

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The Wild Duck Cluster. Image courtesy of Astroden.com.
 

 


And yet another is the Ring Nebula – it looks like a smoke ring in the sky!

 

 

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The Ring Nebula. Image courtesy of NASA.
 

 


To learn more about Lake County Skies in August, and to observe these objects through a telescope, visit Taylor Observatory (www.taylorobservatory.org) on Saturday, Aug. 23 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.


John Zimmerman has been an amateur astronomer for 50 years. He is a member of the Taylor Observatory staff, where, among his many duties, he helps create planetarium shows.

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LAKE COUNTY – Some new garbage trucks making their way around the county have been causing some confusion for local residents, according to a report from Lake County's Waste Management division.


Lake County’s residential curbside customers have been used to seeing three separate trucks collect garbage, recyclables and greenwaste. Just recently, some customers began calling to report that their garbage and recyclables are being dumped into the same garbage truck.


Jackie Armstrong of Waste Management explained that, what they can’t see, is that there’s a blade inside these new split-body trucks that the driver moves from one side to the other to keep the recycling separate from the garbage.


The garbage companies began looking at split-body trucks a couple of years ago when the state set new low emission standards requiring modification or replacement of older trucks in their fleets, Armstrong said. Last fall, spiraling fuel costs made the split-body trucks even more practical.


Another advantage of the split-body trucks is that there is one less truck on each route each week which reduces wear and tear on roadways, Armstrong reported.


The split-body trucks are in use on most, but not all, routes and the types of materials collected may vary from one route to the next, she added.


If you have questions about these new trucks of other waste management programs, please call the Recycling Hotline at 263-1980 or visit the county’s waste management Web site at www.recycling.co.lake.ca.us.


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The early Monday afternoon crash involved a vehicle being rear-ended. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


NICE – An early afternoon collision near Nice on Monday resulted in injuries and a temporary closure of Highway 20.


The two-vehicle collision, which was reported shortly before 12:30 p.m., involved a car rear-ending another, according to an initial California Highway Patrol report.


At least one person from each vehicle was transported to area hospitals, including one to Sutter Lakeside and another by REACH air ambulance to Santa Rosa.


Both directions of Highway 20 were closed for about an hour, CHP reported.


Traffic was backed up a half-mile in each direction, with westbound traffic diverted at Pyle Road and the Nice-Lucerne Cutoff.


CHP reported that the crash victims suffered minor injuries. No other information about the collision was available late Monday afternoon.


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

 

 

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The crash closed down the highway and backed up traffic. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 

 

 

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I love living on the east side of the lake. It’s more rural than the west side, quieter, and feels simpler. I do however have a burning jealousy of some of the things that the west side of the lake has to offer.


For instance, The Kitchen Gallery in downtown Lakeport has been open for just over a year, and if I had the choice I would spend entire days shopping there. If I only lived closer I’d be making regular trips to it, probably weekly to keep up on new arrivals.


As I’ve said before, I prefer to spend my money locally and benefit the Lake County economy, but far too often in the past I have had to buy kitchen equipment online. Now, anytime I have a reason to run to the other side of the lake or need a food-related bobble I always make a stop in The Kitchen Gallery.


The first time I was in there I was amazed to see they had butter curlers in stock. I haven’t seen one of those for probably 25 years or so back in my grandparents’ home. For those of you who didn’t have the benefit of growing up with terribly proper and formal grandparents, a butter curler is used to shave cold butter into decorative curls to be served tableside instead of a totally proletarian stick of butter. My grandparents were amazing people, but they would scold my mother for my lack of upbringing if I held my fork in the “wrong hand” and ate like “an American,” and don’t get them started on my brutal food cutting technique (or lack thereof)!


The Kitchen Gallery has all of the high-quality kitchen equipment that you could ask for. Spice racks, utensils, tableware, cutlery, Lodgeware ... I could go on and on. They offer cookware in a variety of price ranges, though all are of good quality. They have a unique assortment of all kinds of kitchen gadgets, in addition to books and product lines from Food Network stars. Items are available in a variety of styles as well, ranging from quirky modern martini glasses to elegant Japanese bamboo placemats to french toile napkins. They also stock picnic baskets, soy-based candles and tea kettles. Really, just about anything you could hope for, they have in this charmingly laid out shop.


When I enter The Kitchen Gallery I must look like one of the children in Willy Wonka’s edible garden, running from item to item saying things like, “This is totally cool!” “Wow! I don’t have one of these!” “Popover tins! I’ve always wanted to make popovers!” The staff at The Kitchen Gallery is friendly and jumps at the chance to help with any questions or special requests (believe me, I’m the king of special requests). Owner Leslie Firth is sociable and loquacious, openly talking about her family and her favorite items in the store that she uses.


Yes, it is possible to buy kitchen equipment many places in the county but let me warn you: kitchen equipment is the one place you don’t want to skimp. This is definitely a “You get what you pay for” thing. When I buy kitchen equipment I fully intend on it lasting for the rest of my life, and you should too. After all, it’s a waste of money to buy something over and over again, unless it's eggs.


I’ll be honest, I do have a block of cheap knives in my kitchen and they have occasional uses, but the lion’s share of my kitchen work is done by my high quality knives. Good quality cookware makes the work so much easier, and there is a good feeling you get when you look down at your utensils and realize that it is as beautiful as it is a pleasure to work with.


I can hear some people questioning how the quality of a kitchen tool can affect your preparation, so think of it this way: My car has over 250 horsepower, my wife’s has 100, my car is more comfortable to drive, gets better mileage, and has more gumption than her car, so naturally we take my car when we have to go somewhere together. You feel the difference everywhere we go although we are doing the same task in both vehicles. The higher quality makes for a better trip. Does that make sense?


I don’t want to give you the impression that everything good has to be expensive, but I do want you to think before you buy a new can opener, “Am I buying this because it’s the best one or because it’s the available one?” For example, I have a cheap but good quality meat tenderizing mallet that I bought at a dive shop where I worked years ago. It’s a good quality item without breaking the bank. Good quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.


Every once in a while my wife gets quixotic and buys kitchen utensils. I have no idea why she does it because she rarely cooks, but intermittently she’ll bring home a plastic ladle or some goofy utensil and claim “We needed it!” How does a woman who doesn’t cook figure out what we need in a kitchen utensil? Please somebody help me to understand that one! As a compromise to spare her feelings, I have a place in the pantry that these unusable tools get stashed that, if she really seeks them out she can use them. Most often they get put there never to be seen again. Life’s too short to adapt to inferior tools.


I have yet to see an item in The Kitchen Gallery that I thought wasn’t excellent quality or a useful item. OK, I’ll personally never get a butter curler, but that is mainly due to the fact that I never entertain at home and don’t see a need to do it for my family. The magnetic spice holders though, they are fantastic! They come in a set with six canisters and a metal plate that can be mounted on the wall. I own three sets of them and have freed up an entire shelf in my kitchen. A little hint; take a strip of cellophane tape and attach it to the side of the spice canister and write what the spice is with a marker for easy identification later. It’s faster than looking and wondering “Is this chipotle powder or paprika?”


Instead of a recipe this week ...well maybe it is a recipe, I wanted to help people with the care of their Lodgeware, a.k.a. cast iron cookware. My directions as always may be unlike others you may have seen, but my process has developed over many years of experimentation.


When you first purchase your cast iron pan you need to put it through a process called seasoning. This provides the pan with protection (after all, iron has a tendency to rust) and a somewhat non-stick surface. Cast iron cookware is not pre-seasoned at the manufacturer, but is coated with a food-grade wax to prevent moisture from causing problems during shipping and storage. When you bring home your pan, you can put it in you dishwasher for a nice heavy cleaning to remove this coating, but you should know that this will be the last time your pan sees soap and water ever again. When the wash cycle is finished, take the pan out of the dishwasher and put it on high heat on the stovetop for about a minute, then turn off the heat and let it cool down for half an hour. Why did you heat the pan after the washing? To remove any microscopic traces of water that might be hiding in the pores of the metal before “seasoning” it. That’s the next step.


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cover your cooled pan entirely, inside and out, with bacon grease, lard, or vegetable shortening. For this original seasoning, liquid oils such as corn oil or even peanut oil will not work as well. You need a high saturated fat type item for this first seasoning to prevent rancidity. Once the pan is completely covered, place it directly on the top rack of your oven with the bottom rack below it covered in aluminum foil or a large cookie sheet placed beneath the pan to catch the grease as it drips (or just buy some oven cleaner for you to scrub the oven with later).


Bake the pan for an hour. Then (WITH HOT MITTS!) remove and let cool on the stovetop. Your pan is now seasoned, but repeating this process one or two more times will give you an even better result.


Some people recommend cleaning your cast iron ware after use with hot water and a stiff brush ... Not me. Hot water breaks down and removes fats from surfaces and you want to protect those, so I propose when your pot needs cleaning you first empty out any excess grease or fat, wipe it out with a couple of paper towels, and then add a half a cup of kosher salt. Using that salt as an abrasive, take a moist sponge or wad of paper towels and scrub the pan clean with it. When the pan bottom is clean and smooth again the salt will be a dirty ugly color so just dump it into the garbage and with a dry towel remove any left over salt. Cleaning your pan like this will save the original seasoning and add an additional layer of seasoning, further improving the condition of your pan.


How do you know if you are doing a good job at keeping your pan seasoned? The inside bottom should feel slick and smooth like a Teflon pan. If you wash your pan with soap and water or it doesn’t feel slick and smooth then repeat the original seasoning process again. Taking care of your cast iron like this and it can be handed down for generations.


Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community.


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The jury in a high profile murder case could not reach a decision on the last of six charges decided on Monday.


Renato Hughes, 23, of San Francisco, was acquitted last Friday by an all-woman jury, who found he was not responsible for the deaths of friends Christian Foster, 22, and Rashad Williams, 21, on Dec. 7, 2005.


On Monday, Hughes' Martinez jury returned to complete deliberations on a charge of assault causing great bodily injury, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.


The jury had apparently nearly decided last week to find Hughes guilty of the charge until one juror changed her mind overnight, said Hopkins. That juror remained unconvinced and so the jury was declared hung on the charge, 11-1.


Defense attorneys Stuart Hanlon and Sara Rief couldn't be reached for comment late Monday.


Hughes and his friends allegedly had broken into the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds to steal medical marijuana.


As a result, Hughes had been charged with the deaths of his friends under the provocative act – which allows people who allegedly participate in violent crimes that can result in a lethal response to be charged with murder for any deaths that occur – even though it was homeowner Shannon Edmonds who shot the two men. Edmonds has not been charged in the case.


Last week Hughes also was acquitted of robbery and attempted murder, as Lake County News has reported. He was, however, found guilty of burglary and assault for a firearm.


The trial – which began June 11 – was moved to Contra Costa County earlier this year following a decision by a judge last November to grant Hanlon's change of venue motion.


Hopkins said Hughes will return to Judge Barbara Zuniga's courtroom at 11 a.m. Sept. 9 for sentencing.


Hughes faces a maximum of eight years in prison, with the burglary counted as a strike, said Hopkins.


By the time he is sentenced, Hughes will have spent two years and nine months in jail, said Hopkins.


Based on the formula for time served, which takes the time actually spent in jail and adds 50 percent, Hughes will have credit for just over four years against his sentence, Hopkins said.


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


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LOWER LAKE – A head-on collision that occurred Friday afternoon near Lower Lake left three people injured.


California Highway Patrol Officer Adam Garcia said Kevin Wellmerling, 49, of Clearlake and two teenage girls from Cobb were injured in the two-car collision, which happened shortly after 1 p.m. Friday.


Garcia said a 17-year-old teen, whose name was not released, was driving a 2002 Chevy Suburban southbound on Highway 29 south of A Street near the Twin Lakes community when she lost control of her vehicle and crossed into the northbound lane.


There, she struck Wellmerling’s 1995 Pontiac Grand Am head-on, Garcia reported.


Garcia said it was initially claimed that the juvenile dropped a soda can at her feet and was attempting to retrieve it when the collision occurred.


A 16-year-old female passenger in the Suburban, whose name also was not released, had unbuckled her seatbelt to reach the soda when the collision occurred, he reported.


Garcia said the 17-year-old sustained major injuries and was taken to UC Davis Medical center by CalStar air ambulance.


Wellmerling was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital by CalStar with major injuries and the 16 year-old-passenger was taken to Redbud Community Hospital with minor to moderate injuries by South Lake Fire Protection District's ambulance, Garcia reported.


Due to the collision the roadway was closed for at least an hour in both directions, according to reports from the scene.


Garcia said Officer Robert Hearn is investigating the collision.


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LAKE COUNTY – Officials are reporting a large number of new finds on the lake of the invasive aquatic weed, and are asking for the community's help in preventing the weed's further spread.


The county's Public Works Department reported that on Thursday a large number of floating hydrilla fragments were found along the southern shoreline area of Clear Lake, in a large mass near the entrance to Anderson Marsh.


This find is in addition to other major infestations found in areas around Clear Lake State Park, Lakeside County Park, Soda Bay, Buckingham and Konocti Bay.


With now more than 76 finds of hydrilla on Clear Lake in recent weeks, state and local officials increasingly are concerned and are asking for the public’s help in preventing any further spread of the non-native invasive weed.


First detected in Clear Lake in 1994, hydrilla is an invasive aquatic plant that grows very fast, has no natural enemies in California, provides limited habitat to fish and wildlife, and is capable of crowding out native plants and destroying the lake’s ecosystem.


“Fragmentation of hydrilla – either intentionally by hand-pulling or inadvertently through boating – is a very serious threat, not only to the delicate ecosystem of Clear Lake but to every other water body downstream from Clear Lake, including the Sacramento Delta,” said Dr. Robert Leavitt, Assistant Director of Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).


This seriousness, according to Leavitt, is what prompted California to declare hydrilla an invasive species requiring eradication.


It also is the reason why state employees are working diligently on the eradication efforts on Clear Lake. Each of these fragments is capable of starting new plants.


Considered one of the worst invasive aquatic weeds in the world by many aquatic nuisance species specialists, Hydrilla verticillatta is easily spread as it propagates freely from small fragments that are often created by the churning of boat propellers. Those fragments continue to live while floating, and once they come in contact with mud or lake bottom, they begin to root.


If left untreated, hydrilla plants spread rapidly and can interfere with boating, impact water storage and transport mechanisms, and eventually, even harm the ecosystem.


“It’s really important that the public is aware of their role in stopping the spread of hydrilla,” said Pamela Francis, deputy director of Water Resources, a division of the Lake County Department of Public Works. “We need everyone’s help to keep this weed from blanketing Clear Lake.”


As part of its ongoing eradication efforts on Clear Lake, CDFA has placed orange buoys at locations around the lake to mark where hydrilla has been spotted and where treatments occur. Boaters are asked to avoid these areas.


It is illegal to moor to the buoys, and officials also are asking boaters to stay as far away from the buoys as possible to keep out of the treatment areas.


“The boating public should be aware that their cooperation in avoiding these areas is critical to prevent further fragmentation and spread,” said Patrick Akers, CDFA Hydrilla Eradication Program manager.


In addition to avoiding the affected areas, the public is reminded that any removal of any aquatic weeds – whether by hand-pulling or by mechanical or chemical means – requires a permit.


“Some people don’t realize that even the simple removal of one plant by hand can cause fragments to be released,” Francis said.


In addition to fragmentation, hydrilla reproduces with seeds, tubers and turions, which can remain viable for several days out of water or several years in sediment before re-sprouting.


Since 2002, Lake County has implemented an Aquatic Plant Management Program, which allows for the abatement of nuisance aquatic vegetation for the purposes of navigation and recreational use of Clear Lake through a permit process.


This regulatory program is managed by the Lake County Department of Public Works, which serves as a single-point source for obtaining the permit to control weeds to be in compliance with the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Department of Food and Agriculture Hydrilla Eradication Program, the Lake County Agricultural Commissioner, as well as the Regional Water Quality Control Board.


For information, contact the Lake County Department of Public Works, Water Resources Division, at 707-263-2341 or go online to: http://watershed.co.lake.ca.us.


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LOWER LAKE – A Ukiah woman walking along Highway 29 late Sunday night died after she was struck by a vehicle.


The incident happened at about 10:40 p.m. Sunday south of Doten Road near the Konocti Conservation Camp, the California Highway Patrol reported.


CHP Officer Adam Garcia said the 34-year-old woman, whose name was not released pending family notification, was walking northbound on the east shoulder adjacent to the northbound lane.


Eric Nelson, 50, of Kelseyville was driving a 2006 Kia SUV northbound towards Kelseyville when his vehicle struck the woman. Garcia said the woman suffered fatal injuries.


Garcia said Nelson and his passengers were not reported as being injured.


The cause of the collision is under investigation by Officer Randy Forslund, Garcia reported.


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LAKEPORT – A man whose conviction for the murder of his girlfriend was overturned late last year will be retried for the murder this fall.


David Garlow Deason, 68, of Clearlake was convicted in February 2006 of shooting to death his 48-year-old girlfriend Marie Parlet on Dec. 6, 2004.


However, last December the First Appellate District Court overturned Deason's conviction, ruling that the trial court in Lake County “erred in excluding evidence of his intoxication,” as Lake County News has reported.


“He's going to be retried,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Hinchcliff.


The trial, said Hinchcliff, is set to begin Sept. 9.


Deason allegedly had a blood alcohol level of 0.27 on the night he is alleged to have shot Parlet. The couple, according to court documents, had a disagreement earlier in the day, after which Deason left and returned later that evening. At that point he is alleged to have shot Parlet once in the chest and once in the back from a distance of 18 inches.


Judge Richard Martin had ruled during the 2006 trial that no evidence could be presented about Deason's level of intoxication. That included turning down a request by defense attorney J. David Markham to call a toxicologist to the stand.


Markham had argued that the toxicologist could explain that Deason had consumed as many as 14 drinks to get to the level of intoxication he allegedly reached. Markham also asked that the jurors be instructed to consider the alcohol consumption in deliberations.


The appellate court disagreed with Martin's ruling, saying that Deason's level of intoxication was crucial to the issues of premeditation and deliberation, which are necessary elements in a first-degree murder conviction.


Hinchcliff said the instructions about considering Deason's alleged intoxication will be given when Deason is tried next. “Other than that, it will be the same trial.”


Deputy District Attorney John Langan, who previously prosecuted the case, will work on the next trial as well, said Hinchcliff.


Langan did not return calls seeking comment. Nor did Doug Rhoades, who will be representing Deasn in his retrial.


“Probably the biggest challenge is going to be getting all of the witnesses back in to testify,” said Hinchcliff.


Parlet's son, James Clarkson, of San Marcos, Texas, told Lake County News he was in disbelief when he first heard of the conviction being overturned. He wasn't notified – he found out about it inadvertently on the Internet after searching for press on the original case. That's when the story of the overturned conviction came up.


He called the reasons for the conviction a “loophole,” and said he was convinced of Deason's guilt in shooting his mother at point blank range.


Clarkson said his mother was a “genuinely nice person” whose life was ended before her time. She was a loving mother to him, his brother and sister; she also had five grandchildren whom she hadn't yet met. He's considering coming to California for the retrial.


After his conviction was overturned, Deason was brought back to Lake County this spring. He is being held in the Lake County Jail without bail on a charge of first-degree murder.


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


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THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED.

 

A Martinez jury on Friday found a 23-year-old San Francisco man not guilty of two first-degree murder charges for the deaths of his friends in a December 2005 shooting.


The jury verdict, handed down late Friday afternoon, acquitted Renato Hughes Jr. of charges he had been responsible for the shooting deaths of Rashad Williams, 21, and Christian Foster, 22, on Dec. 7, 2005, said District Attorney Jon Hopkins.


In addition, Hopkins said the jury ruled Hughes was innocent of committing robbery, and was not guilty of the attempted murder of a teenage victim at the scene, the Clearlake Park home of Shannon Edmonds.


The 12-woman jury did, however, find Hughes guilty of burglary and found it true that a principal in the incident – Foster – was armed with a shotgun, so Hughes also was found guilty of assault with a firearm on Edmonds, Hopkins said. That charge emerged from Foster's alleged striking of Edmonds in the face with the gun during a struggle.


Defense attorney Stuart Hanlon did not return calls from Lake County News seeking comment Friday.


Hopkins said the jury's verdict is only partial, with Judge Barbara Zuniga instructing the jury to continue deliberating on Monday in order to decide the remainder of the charges.


The jury, said Hopkins, was hung on a lesser assault charge – assault causing great bodily injury – because one juror changed her mind overnight.


During closing arguments on July 24, Hopkins asserted Hughes was part of a “crime team” that broke into Edmonds' home, looking to steal medical marijuana.


Although it was Edmonds who shot and killed Foster and Williams as they ran from his home – during testimony he stated he had shot Foster again once he already was down on the ground – it was Hughes who was charged with homicide.


Hopkins had prosecuted Hughes for the deaths under the provocative act theory, because he allegedly had been part of committing crimes that could result in a lethal response.


During that early morning confrontation at Edmonds' home, which Hopkins said could be heard on the audio of a home surveillance camera, the three men had allegedly fought with Edmonds and assaulted his girlfriend, Lori Tyler.


The men also fought with Tyler's son, Dale Lafferty, 17 at the time, who Williams allegedly beat in the head with a metal bat to the point where Lafferty suffered permanent brain damage. The jury's verdict on Friday included clearing Hughes of Lafferty's attempted murder.


Hanlon, in his closing statements, had argued that Hughes was a very minor player in the incident. He insisted that Edmonds' shooting of Foster and Williams was more a matter of vigilante justice than provocation, and had included the reloading of a pistol in order to continue shooting at the men and administer the “coup de grace” to an already wounded and prostrate Foster.


“I find it difficult to explain the verdict,” Hopkins said Friday evening. “They found that he was part of the crime scene which means that they should have found him guilty of at least one of the murders. But it could be that they did not understand the law. It's very complex.”


He declined to comment further on the jury's actions because the jury is still deciding the final charge.


The jury had begun deliberations on July 28, after a lengthy trial that began June 11 in Martinez, where the trial was moved earlier this year due to a change of venue ruling, as Lake County News has reported.


Adding to the drama of the case, on Friday the verdict was scheduled to be read at 1:30 p.m. However, Hopkins said there was an issue with instructions. That ended up delaying the reading of the verdict by a few hours.


Hopkins said the jury will return to deliberations at 9:30 a.m. Monday in order to finish the business of deciding the remaining assault charge. “It'll be resolved Monday,” he said.


Williams had gained national attention in the 1990s for his efforts to raise funds to assist the victims of the Columbine High School shootings.


Months before the incident in Clearlake, he had been convicted of two counts of unarmed bank robbery and uttering counterfeit obligations in February of 2005. His sentencing was scheduled for February 2006.


According to federal court documents, Williams had taken more than $5,541 from a Union Bank of California in Danville on Feb. 10, 2005, and five days later took $4,671 from a Westamerica Bank in Lafayette.


Acting as Williams' defense attorneys in that case were Hanlon and Sara Rief, who worked together on Hughes' defense.


In May, a federal court judge dismissed a civil rights action suit brought by Foster's and Williams' families against the city of Clearlake and the county of Lake.


The suit alleged the city and county officials were responsible for the mens' deaths because they had allowed Edmonds and Tyler to unlawfully sell drugs and possess firearms, as Lake County News has reported.


Edmonds and Tyler remain the main defendants in the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in September 2009.


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


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