Saturday, 13 April 2024

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From left, defense attorney Victor Haltom, Bismarck Dinius and Dinius' young daughter emerge from the courthouse, where jurors in Dinius case deliberated throughout the day on Wednesday, August 19, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




LAKEPORT – Following nearly an hour of legal instructions Wednesday morning, the judge in a fatal sailboat crash case handed it over to the jury, which will decide if a Carmichael man was responsible for the injuries suffered by a woman in a nighttime collision more than three years ago.


The prosecution and defense made their closing arguments in the trial of 41-year-old Bismarck Dinius on Tuesday. The trial has included 13 days of testimony and 51 witnesses, four of which were recalled to give additional or rebuttal testimony.


Now the case is in the hands of the jury, whose members are considering a felony count of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury to 51-year-old Lynn Thornton of Willows.


If they reject the felony, they would then consider two misdemeanor charges of boating with a blood alcohol level over 0.08 and boating while under the influence.


District Attorney Jon Hopkins alleges that Dinius – who was at the tiller of a sailboat owned by Thornton's boyfriend, Mark Weber, on the night of April 29, 2006 – was negligent in operating the boat without its navigation lights on Clear Lake. Dinius also is alleged to have had a blood alcohol level of 0.12.


The sailboat was hit from behind by a powerboat driven by Russell Perdock, an off-duty chief deputy with the Lake County Sheriff's Office. While an initial investigation report from a Sacramento County Sheriff's official found that Perdock broke safe speed rules – testimony has alleged he was going between 35 and 50 miles per hour – he was not charged.


But Perdock's speed and questions of proximate cause and responsibility have been key parts of the case, with defense attorney Victor Haltom arguing that Perdock's speed led to the crash.


Just after 9 a.m. Wednesday Judge J. Michael Byrne began reading the instructions to the jury. Byrne, Hopkins and Haltom had crafted the instructions, which laid out the laws which the jurors needed to consider in making their decision. A copy of the jury instructions were given to jurors to take with them into deliberations.


“You're going to get a lot of instructions at one time,” said Byrne, explaining that the law required him to read them the instructions in open court.


He began by telling the jury, “You must decide what the facts are. It is up to you, and you alone, to decide what happened.”


Jurors must follow the law even if they disagree with it, and must abide by the instructions over the statements made by the attorneys.


The attorneys' remarks and questions are not evidence, but testimony is, said Byrne. Testimony stricken during the trial must be disregarded. Stipulations – agreements to which both attorneys agree – may be accepted by true.


In weighing testimony, Byrne said jurors should consider how well witnesses could see or perceive things about which they testified and how well they could remember.


Witnesses' behavior also is important; were they influenced by bias or prejudice? Did they make previous statements that were, or were not, consistent with their testimony on the stand? If a witness deliberately lied on the stand, the jury should consider not believing anything that witness had to say, explained Byrne.


Jurors may compare witness qualifications and disregard all or any part of an opinion that they find unbelievable, unreasonable or unsupported by evidence, the judge said.


He went over the charges against Dinius, which stemmed from the allegation that he failed to show ordinary care and didn't fulfill his duty to exhibit side lights. Byrne said the jury can convict Dinius if the resulting injury – Thornton's – was a direct result of Dinius allegedly failing to show ordinary care and fulfill the duty.


If the jurors believes that the sailboat's lights were on at the time of the collision, they can't find Dinius guilty on the felony boating under the influence count, said Byrne.


“There may be more than one cause of injury,” said Byrne, and the failure to perform a legal duty causes an injury only if it's a substantial factor.


To find Dinius guilty, the jury must not only find him to have committed an act or failed to do the required act, but that he did do so with wrongful intent, said Bryne.


Byrne read through the navigational rules, which included a statement about the master of the vessel, who “holds his appointment at the pleasure of the owner.”


Any vessel overtaking another shall stay out of the way of the vessel it's overtaking, Byrne noted. “A power driven vessel shall keep out of the way of a sailing vessel.”


He said the law requires all vessels on inland waters to proceed at a safe speed at all times, and boats must take action to avoid collisions.


As he finished the instructions, Byrne told the jury to appoint a foreperson, keep open minds and freely exchange ideas as they tried to reach a verdict.


“Your role is to be an impartial judge of the facts, not to act as an advocate for one side or another,” he said, adding that the case must only be discussed in jury room when all jurors are present.


Exhibits would be sent into the jury room with the jury when they begin deliberations, said Byrne. “The verdict on each count must be unanimous.”


He added, “You must reach your verdict without any consideration of punishment.”


The nine-man, three-woman jury was then sent to begin deliberations, with one female alternate and one male alternate dismissed but placed on call if they were needed. Bailiff Dave Jones was then sworn in; he'll remain outside of deliberations but available to the jury to relay messages to the judge.


Deliberations continue through rest of day


Over the course of five hours, the jury deliberated on the case in a small jury room next to the Department One courtroom, which remained open and was inhabited by the bailiff, a court clerk and several members of the news media, who reported that they could heard loud talking, exclamations and partial sentences coming from the jury room.


Shortly before 3 p.m. the jury rang a buzzer attached to a white light over the jury room door. When Jones when to see what they needed, he was handed a piece of paper with questions on it. Judge Byrne came in, looked over the document and told Jones to call the attorneys.


When Hopkins arrived a few minutes later, he stated that he understood members of the media had reported about the sounds from the jury room and announced it was a misdemeanor for people to hear the jury deliberations. That's despite the fact that the people in the courtroom were in a public setting.


Haltom and Dinius returned to court shortly before 3:30 p.m. and court reconvened out of the presence of the jury, which had continued deliberating.


Byrne read the jury's questions: “Can we get written rules regarding navigation rules?”


They also wanted clarification on the definitions of “master” and “crew.”


Haltom wanted to give them the navigation rules under judicial notice.


He also suggested telling them that the master is the owner and the crew is composed of others on the boat. “That's clearly the opposite of what the law says,” replied Hopkins.


Hopkins said the Harbors and Navigation Code talks about operators, masters, mates and seamen, and a whole host of other concerns. “They even talk about what happens if pirates take over the ship,” said Hopkins.


Byrne pointed out that the rules don't go specifically into pleasure boats on lakes.


“My view of this is like the jury asking us, 'How deep is the lake at that point?'” said Hopkins.


“Let's honor their request and give them the rules,” said Haltom.


Hopkins said those rules were not in evidence but had been given as instructions. “We gave a substantial number of rules.”


As the judge was preparing to have the jury brought in, Hopkins complained that the noise strip on the jury room door wasn't working, and he suggested closing the courtroom to the public. “We've got people in here who can listen.”


Byrne said he would close the courtroom, which Haltom objected to, saying it was a violation of the Constitution. Hopkins replied it was a misdemeanor to hear the jury's deliberations.


The jury came in shortly after 3:30 p.m., at which time Byrne told them that the court wasn't exactly clear on their questions.


Regarding the jury's request about navigation rules, Byrne told them that what they have in their instructions are the rules.


The jury also wanted clarification on the master and crew. “That was the one that we were wondering about,” said the female foreperson.


“We gave you that rule and there's nothing else in there,” said Byrne.


He suggested the jury could write out more specific questions.


“I don't want to get into a dialogue. I've made mistakes trying to do that,” said Byrne, before sending the jury back in to deliberations.


Once the jury was back in its room, the judge suggested the attorneys wait a few minutes to see if more questions were forthcoming, but none emerged.


In the meantime, Haltom argued to the judge that closing the courtroom to the public would be a violation of the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution – the right to a speedy and public trial – and would violate the California Constitution as well.


Byrne said he would open the courtroom again when the court went on the record. He said it's a balancing act between the public and the defendant's rights and the jury's right to privacy.


He also stated he could hear the noise of the jury from the next room.


The courtroom was then closed and the observers waited in the fourth floor hallway until the jurors asked to go home at 4 p.m. and were dismissed for the day.


Jurors will return at 9 a.m. Thursday to continue their deliberations.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews .

LAKE COUNTY – The county's health officer is urging residents to continue taking precautions against the H1N1 flu virus, which is continuing to circulate around the state, with more cases locally.


Dr. Karen Tait said Lake County had a second reported case of H1N1, the pandemic strain of Novel Influenza A – previously known as “swine influenza” – in the last few weeks, and she's expecting the local number of cases to increase over the coming week.


The first local case, reported late in June, was an outpatient, but since then the state and the federal Centers for Disease Control have changed reporting guidelines for the virus, limiting the formal count to hospitalized cases and deaths, Tait said.


Outside of those officially reported cases, Tait said there have been several other local outpatient cases that Public Health found out about, but which health care providers no longer are required to report to the agency.


She said the CDC changed the reporting requirements for a few reasons, one of them being that they're attempting to focus on the more serious cases, which provides more meaningful data and helps them prioritize the groups they'll vaccinate.


The California Department of Health on Monday reported that there have been 1,057 hospitalizations and 104 fatalities for H1N1 in the state. Nationwide, there have been 7,511 hospitalizations and 477 deaths, according to the CDC.


In its severity, the H1N1 virus has resembled the seasonal flu, said Tait. However, its severe cases have tended to target children and young adults, whereas she said seasonal influenza tends to be more problematic for older adults and very young children.


H1N1 also has been problematic for pregnant women. Tait said a disproportionate numbers of cases have been found among pregnant women; approximately one-third of California women of child-bearing age hospitalized for H1N1 have been pregnant.


One of the local cases Tait heard of involved a pregnant woman diagnosed with H1N1. “Fortunately she never required admission to the hospital, so we lucked out there,” Tait said.


Both forms of influenza can cause severe illness in people of any age with chronic medical conditions, she said.


Another possible risk factor Tait mentioned is obesity. “That hasn't really been definitely listed as a risk factor but there's some significant obesity in patients who have been hospitalized or died throughout the states, and so they're looking at that as a possible risk factor.”


Tait said she's expecting more cases of H1N1 to show up this fall, at about the same time as the normal seasonal flu begins to make its rounds.


Tait said it will be important than ever this year to avoid getting the flu and to get immunized for both flu strains as soon as vaccines become available.


She said there will be two separate influenza vaccines – one for the usual seasonal influenza strains and one for H1N1.


The seasonal flu vaccine is expected to arrive earlier this year, with inoculations or a nasal spray application to become available later this month or in September, Tait said.


She said the seasonal flu vaccine is especially important for adults 50 and older; children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday; pregnant women; nursing home residents; health care workers; individuals with a chronic health condition; people who live with or care for an adult over 50, a children under 5 or anyone with a chronic health condition.


The H1N1 vaccine currently is in development and is anticipated to be ready by October, said Tait. Supplies of the vaccine are expected to be limited.


Tait said Public Health will follow federal guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control in recommending who should be vaccinated earliest, with the focus likely to be on children, pregnant women, health care workers (including emergency medical responders), children and adults under

age 65 with certain chronic medical problems, and parents/caretakers of people at high risk of complications or children under 6 months of age.


When supplies of the vaccine are more readily available, it will be recommended for everyone over 6 months of age, said Tait. Vaccination against H1N1 likely will require two doses approximately one month apart for all age groups.


While Public Health gears up to do some vaccinating, Tait said the agency will be working with several local pharmacies, which also will be offering vaccinations. She said they've had the legal ability to do so for some time. That will help get the vaccines out to more people.


“We are so small ourselves that we are really going to depend on the medical community to help us with this,” Tait said.


Health officials continue to urge simply precautions, including regular hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes, to help prevent spread of either type of influenza. As well, people who are sick with influenza symptoms should stay home from work or school, generally for one week after

the onset of illness or until fever-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. Healthy people experiencing mild illness can be treated at home.


Tait said those who have chronic medical conditions, are under age five, are pregnant or are experiencing shortness of breath or other severe symptoms should consult a health provider early when

ill with influenza-like illness. Symptoms include fever of 100 degrees or higher, sore throat and/or cough.


For more information contact Lake County Public Health, 707-263-1090, or visit the California Department of Public Health online at www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Influenza(Flu).aspx or www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/SwineInfluenza.aspx .


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews .

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This will be the first in what may just well be a very long series on different wines and the grapes that make them here in the county.


I tried to think of how to describe a grape and wine to people who have no knowledge of wines so that, even without ever tasting the wine, you could get an idea of its character and want to try that wine for the first time.


For this series I will compare the wines with something that most people know – celebrities, past or present. I'll compare the wines to the celebrities that fit each wine the best.


Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted vine in Lake County – and the world – so we will start with it.


I don’t think you could describe Cabernet Sauvignon any better than George Clooney. My first thoughts went to Clark Gable; however, I changed when I realized that the major growing demographic of wine drinkers today are between 21 and 33 and I wanted to use a celebrity that they could really identify with and “taste” in their wine. Other factors made me change my mind also and you’ll see as we go along.


Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most popular grapes, being found in almost every wine growing region in the world. For the better part of the 20th century it was the most planted grape around the world. Similarly, George Clooney is one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world. Some people call the Cabernet Sauvignon “The king of wines” and George Clooney is one of the most noteworthy of Hollywood royalty.


One of the reasons that Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are popular is that they are very hardy and able to stand up to a variety of adverse conditions. The grapes are small but have thick skins, and the vines can survive many adverse conditions from extreme heat to frost. George Clooney starred in “Return of the Killer Tomatoes” and “Oh Brother Where Art Thou>” so he’s gotta have some thick skin to survive those harsh conditions also.


The flavor of all grape varieties vary with how they are raised but Cabernet Sauvignon grapes can have some that are very regional in themselves. Green bell pepper, sometimes called vegetal or weedy flavor, is present in the wine if the grapes don’t quite develop completely. But if they get the right amount of sunlight for just the right amount of time during the day this flavor is destroyed by the sun. The suns effect may not happen in areas that get too much cool wind like the coastal Monterey Bay wine region that negates the effect of the sun and the wines may very well end up with a vegetal taste.


Monterey Cabernet Sauvignons are renowned for having this weedy taste since the climate of Monterey County is just too cool. This isn’t necessarily a bad flavor, just like some white wines have an essence like cat urine and it isn’t considered a bad thing (as someone who lives with cats, I would disagree).


Other flavors like mint and eucalyptus are also indicative of the grapes growing region, mint being found in growing areas like Washington State, Coonawarra region of Australia and the Margeux region of France, although no links have been found they are all western coastal wine growing regions.


Also coincidentally, eucalyptus flavors – more commonly called menthol – are found in Cabernet Sauvignons grown in areas like Napa, Sonoma,, and Australia, all of which have a large population of eucalyptus trees but no official link has been found.


Other flavors to look for in a Cabernet Sauvignon can include allspice, asparagus, blackberries, black cherries, black currant, black raspberry, cassis (fancy wine talk for black currant), clove, cola, dill, ginger, green olives, grape, green peppercorns, pimentos, plum and violets.


The aging process (particularly in oak) can give it additional flavors of bay leaf, cigar box or tobacco, coffee or cappuccino, earthy, five spice powder, caramel, cedar, cinnamon, chocolate, coconut, iodine, leather, mushroom, pencil box or pencil shavings, plastic, raisins, smoke, tar, toast, vanilla, wet dog and, of course, oak and wood.


Sometimes, in order to be more encompassing, flavors like allspice, clove, cinnamon, and five spice are just grouped into a descriptor of “brown spice” and flavors like grape and different berries are just clumped into “fruit” or “fruit forward” descriptions. The large number of “black” fruit descriptors sometimes are grouped and you will see the description “black fruit flavors” or even given “jam” or “jammy fruit” flavors.


Now you can’t tell me that a lot of those smell and flavor descriptors wouldn’t match George Clooney as well, right? Don’t you think George Clooney is evocative of the smells of leather, cigar box and coffee? Oh, stop what you are thinking, I’m just trying to help people understand the wine, but come on, he is a darn good lookin’ guy!


The tannins which most red wines are famous for are described with short, medium, medium-long and long finishes, even descriptors of bitter, dusty, light, young and even unforgiving. Tannins are frequently described as giving a “furry” feeling to the mouth, possibly being reminiscent of that five o’clock shadow of George Clooney seems to always have.


Genetic testing has determined that the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is a cross between the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc vines that most likely crossed in the 17th century in the Bordeaux region of France. Although some rumors are told of the grape being written about in ancient Rome, it is a young variety of grape. However, the name of the grape itself is thought to have come from the fact that the Cabernet Sauvignon has similar tastes to both the Cabernet Franc and the Sauvignon Blanc grapes.


Similarly, George Clooney isn’t actually descended from Rosemary Clooney but she is his aunt and George isn’t an old celebrity but is newer on the scene than Clark Gable. In California Cabernet Sauvignon is usually kept as a sole vintage but across the world it is often blended with other wines to make unique combinations like Cabernet/Shiraz. The George Clooney jokes in that last sentence are too obvious and I’ll leave them to your imagination.


Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be mild and enjoyable to harsh and overbearing, depending on the winemaker and situation, again confirming the Clooney comparison. Which keeps with the name Sauvignon which is based in the French for wild or savage. Cabernet Sauvignon is a strong grape with a commanding presence that many winemakers choose to blend with other grapes to make it less assertive, like putting George Clooney in the “Spy Kids” movies.


While most Cabernet Sauvignons will be aged in oak, most will not stay in the barrel more that 18 to 24 months at the most. Some will age in oak and then be moved to stainless steel vats, the steel aging lightens the flavor and gives a cooler finish to the wine with lighter tannins. Tannins can be mellowed by storing a bottle of wine for a few years. While this is commonplace in Europe they tend to enjoy older wines that have aged for many years Americans tend to enjoy younger wines that are drank in the first few years of being made.


So, now, hopefully you have an idea of the character that is Cabernet Sauvignon and if you ever get the urge to curl up in front of a fire with George Clooney, you can come close with a Cabernet Sauvignon.


Lake County Cabernet Sauvignons are available through local vineyards listed below (independent vineyards also grow it but sell the grapes to wineries).


Beaver Creek Vineyards

Brassfield Estate Winery

Ceago Del Lago

Dharma Wines (Monte Lago Vineyards)

Dusinberre Cellars

Eden Crest Vineyards

Fore Family Vineyards

Hawk and Horse Vineyards

High Valley Vineyard

Langtry Estate and Vineyards

Moore Family Winery

Noggle Vineyard and Winery

Obsidian Ridge Vineyard

Ployez Winery

Robledo Family Winery

Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery

Shed Horn Cellars

Six Sigma Ranch and Vineyards

Sol Rouge Vineyard and Winery

Snows Lake Vineyards

Steele Wines (Steele, Shooting Star)

Terrill Cellars

Tulip Hill Winery

Villa La Brenta

Wildhurst Vineyards


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. Follow him on Twitter, http://twitter.com/Foodiefreak .

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Two of the crash victims were transported by REACH air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital on Tuesday, August 18, 2009. Photo by Becky Hirscher.

 



 


NORTH LAKEPORT – Three people were injured in an early evening crash that occurred in the North Lakeport area on Tuesday evening.


Larry Hammond, 38, of Clearlake Oaks, suffered major injuries in the crash, with 48-year-old Cynthia Olson of Reno, Nev., and Donald Ivan, 63, of San Andreas, both sustained moderate injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol.


At about 7 p.m. Tuesday Ivan was seated in his 1993 Chevrolet pickup on the right shoulder of the westbound of Highway 29, south of Whalen Way, awaiting a tow truck because he had a flat tire, the CHP reported.


The CHP said Olson was traveling southbound on Highway 29 when her 2008 Honda Civic struck the back of Ivan's pickup.


Lakeport Fire Protection District responded to the call, with Northshore Fire Protection District offering mutual aid.


Hammond, who was riding in the right front passenger seat of Olson's Civic, sustained major injuries and was transported by REACH air ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, as was Ivan, the CHP reported.


The CHP reported that Olson later was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and was released for medical treatment. She was transported to Sutter Lakeside Hospital by Lakeport Fire Protection District ambulance.


All of those involved in the crash were wearing their safety belts, the CHP reported.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews .

 

 

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The crash scene along Highway 29 on Tuesday, August 18, 2009. Photo by Becky Hirscher.

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Six of the 26 boats that participated crowd the docks at the Skylark Motel in Lakeport on Saturday, August 15, 2009. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 

 

 



LAKEPORT – The WON summer series of bass fishing competition returned to Clear Lake Saturday for a one-day tournament.


The winning team for the weekend event brought in more than 24 pounds of bass.


Twenty-six boats, each floating two amateur or semi professional bass fishermen, pushed off from the Skylark Motel in Lakeport Saturday morning.


For the competition all anglers were limited to the frog lure, a rubber lure that really does look like a 2- to 3-inch-long frog.


Tournament rules are very specific and tournament officials inspected each boat. All containers and built-in cavities in the competitors' bass boats were inspected before they were allowed to push away from the docks.


Tournament director Bret Smith indicated that none of the tournament rules had been violated and all the boats left the docks with a clean slate.


Six hours later the boats began their well-timed and well coordinated return to the Skylark docks.


Boat after boat approached the floating docks. One at a time, contestants leaped from their boats with two or three heavy water filled sacks of thrashing fish.


Other boats approached and waited 200 or more feet off shore waiting for their opportunity to drop their cargo.


The day's winning team was Dave Erwin and Jim Stich, whose fish weighed 24.04 pounds. Second place went to Rob Bass and Mike Turner, with 22 pounds.

 

 

Jesse Forthun of San Diego had the day's big fish, weighing in at 9.02 pounds. He placed fifth overall.


The series is run by the Western Outdoor News Bass organization. Unlike purely professional or pro-am tournament competition each boat had to pay there own way to participate. No corporate sponsorship for entry fees or travel expenses is allowed.


E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follows Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews.com .

 

 

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Jesse Forthun of San Diego shows off his big fish of the day at 9.02 pounds. Photo by Harold LaBonte.
 


 


 

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Second place in the

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Twice As Good on stage, featuring Paul and Rich Steward. Photo by Abby Brenner.
 

 

 


 

During the annual Blue Wing Blues Festival earlier this month, the Mighty Mike Schermer Band put on a great performance filled with a number of songs, then returned to the stage after a brief intermission for a second set. After a short instrumental jam, Lara Price returned to the stage with a rollicking version of the Randy Newman penned, “You Can Leave Your Hat On.”


Stretching out a little bit, Price then strapped on her guitar and gave the folks a tad of her musicianship. She modestly only considers herself a pianist but if you check out her recorded repertoire you will see that she plays drums as well.


Mighty Mike slipped in a little slide guitar work on the next number which was “Make Me An Angel.” Those folks who attended the sets of Barry Brenner and the Bottle Rock Blues & Rhythm Band were thus treated to three different slide guitar stylists over the course of the festival. The third was Mike Wilhelm.


The Mighty Mike Schermer Band closed out their performance with “Got You On My Mind” and “Wondering Why You Had To Go.”


Seemingly sadly, Schermer announced that he is relocating to Austin, Texas, to join the Marcia Ball Band. It seems sad for us here on the West Coast, but rest assured we have not seen the last of Mighty Mike Schermer.


It’s actually a shrewd career move on his part. Plugging into the vibrant music scene in Austin is what a lot of players only dream of. Many musicians migrate there in search of fortune and fame. Being in Ms. Ball’s band with her connections to the Crescent City scene as well, can only enhance Mighty Mike’s already stellar career. Meanwhile, keep your eyes on Lara Price!


Thursday’s musical paring was opener “Big B” Brenner followed by Chris Cain. This year the crowds at the Blue Wing Blues Festival seemed to increase in size each night that the festival continued. When I arrived Thursday night, “Big B” Brenner was hard at work pickin’ out an instrumental called Trippin’ Along from his first CD, Blues, Rags and Stomps.


Keeping steady time with his foot throughout his sets, Brenner consistently grooved in the styles of the old masters. This night he covered Muddy Waters, Blind Blake and Robert Johnson territory as well as his own. His set list varied each night and the crowd response was always strong.


Chris Cain and his band had just arrived back from a tour in Italy and came straight to Upper Lake for the Blue Wing Festival. I had never seen Chris Cain live but was aware of the accolades showered upon his showmanship and the authenticity of his records. All my musician friends who are into blues guitar marvel at his ability and technique testifying to the fact that he is the real deal.


When Cain band keyboard man Tony Stead came out and started setting up, I could see by his poker faced intensity and attention to detail that the band would be up to something. He was connected pedals and gizmos like a surgeon preparing for the operating room.


From the moment the Chris Cain band hit, it was obvious that they are a gifted unit capable of dazzling forays into the soundscape of the blues. Chris Cain’s stage persona, I noticed is not wholly unlike that of a Jimi Hendrix in terms of his use of wry wit, the use of the artistic devices of double entendre and allegory in his between song commentary.


Their set list included “Tennessee Woman,” a song penned by Fenton Robinson as well as the blues crossover hit made famous by Robert (Little Jr.) Parker, “Barefootin’.” When Cain introduced a song that he called a “sad love long,” it turned out to be titled, I believe, “Dirty, Dirty Cat,” a very, if you will, low down blues. Waaay back in the alley! They rocked it out. The festival goers with the dancin’ feet stood and testified accordingly. When the song ended, Cain remarked, “That was a tender little ballad. Wrote it at my house with a crayon!”


Rhythmically, the Chris Cain Band is anchored on bass by Dwayne Pate. The drummer is Taylor Eng. “Young” Taylor Eng as Chris Cain kept calling him. When I spoke with Eng after the show about his nickname, he admitted he is actually the oldest cat in the band!


The highlight of the band’s time on stage was the articulate, authentic solos by Chris Cain and Tony Stead. One could hear the Albert King influence in Cain’s note placement. His physical presence is very expressive. His energy, talent and heartfelt vocals are amazing.


Chris Cains master chops, interspersed with Tony Stead’s dazzling keyboard was an amazing show. At times Stead’s piano voiceings suggested Herbie Hancock. Cain and Stead steadily bridged the space between jazz and blues.


The Chris Cain band played steadily with authority for about an hour. Suddenly after all that high energy the set came to what might have been perceived as an abrupt end. Most of the band filed off stage. Chris Cain though lingered and shifted over to the keyboard throne. The crowd was cryin’ for an encore. Cain gave us a plaintive blues piano w/vocal tune entitled “What’s Gon’ Become Of Me.” It was a very effective end to what had to be a hard journey, straight from a week’s dates in Italy to the Tallman Hotel’s veranda stage.


On Friday following another fascinating set by Barry Brenner, Levi Lloyd and his fellows (The 501 Band), started their set in stages, gradually tuning, mic and monitor checking and if you listened hard enough, you heard the chord changes to “Willow Weep For Me.”


Levi made a casual announcement, “We’re just doing a little tuning while we get the sound system tight.” The band then launched into a bluesy version of “Cantalope Island” followed by an extended cover of Jimmy Reed's “You Got Me Runnin’.”


Just before blues diva Bettie Mae Fikes was introduced, 501 drummer Steve Guerrero remarked to Levi so that the crowd could hear, “Everything is based in the blues, right Levi?”


Then as if to get a witness to that truth, Levi introduced Ms. Fikes who regally graced the stage and greeted the audience.


“So glad to be back on the hill, though I haven’t quite claimed Upper Lake. I came to have a good time. What about you?”


The crowd responded with an affirmative “yeaah” as Ms. Fikes wrapped her voice around “Hey, Hey, The Blues Is All Right.” Playing to the crowd with a little help from a couple seated at a front row table, Bettie and the couple did a little mystery theater blues as Bettie sang, “Hey Lady, Your Husband Is Cheatin’ On Us.” The crowd loved it. Third in a row was “Down Home Blues.”


After the third song Bettie interspersed a little monologue into her performance.


“I told Levi I want to go to church tonight. I’ve been strugglin’ and strainin’, on my way home, singin’ gospel, human rights and the blues. Travelin’ all over the world for freedom. Just don’t seem to pay enough.”


“‘Cept here,” chimed in Bernie Butcher from the back.


Next, Bettie Mae then wrenched all the wax out of “How Blue Can You Get.” She inquired, “Now do you see why I don’t have a husband? Traveling about, running through airports, I’m astonished at how people are caught up in themselves. Forty to 50 years in civil rights. I can’t have no husband. Just give me a band that sounds like this.”


Levi Lloyd and the 501s set a torrid, blues party pace all the way through the end of the first set and firmly promised to cook some more after a short intermission.


When the band returned to the stage Levi & the fellows opened with “Big Boss Man” as a tribute to Bernie Butcher. Levi sings that number for Bernie every time he appears at the Blue Wing and it’s always a crowd pleaser.


Next up was sound man D. Wils who did an excellent joy manning the board for all the acts that appeared over the course of the festival. Many people don’t know that he is a performer as well. He got the party people up and moving by first motivating the women in the house by declaring, “ladies in control.” He than covered The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing” and James Brown’s “I Feel Good.” D had the dance floor packed throughout both numbers.


Bettie Mae Fikes came out again for a medley that included “Everyday I Have The Blues,” “I Been Mistreated” and “Going Down Slow.” The Lake County all-around-the-world blues diva killed them again. After the standing ovation, there was much autograph signing, picture taking and CD selling. Not bad for a Friday night in Upper Lake.


The Bottle Rock Blues & Rhythm Band followed Barry Brenner to the stage on Saturday night. The BRBRB though local, is fronted by the legendary Mike Wilhelm who is a peer of the late, great Jerry Garcia. He was playing his 1966 Gretsch guitar through a 1965 Fender Twin Reverb amp that he actually bought from Garcia. As has been reported before Wilhelm was Garcia’s favorite guitarist.


Neon Napalm is the other lead vocalist in the group. After Wilhelm stunned the crowd with his “New Old Pawnshop Blues,” Neon tore up “I’m Tore Down, I’m Gonna Move Up To The Country And Paint My Mailbox Blue.”


Wilhelm then showed off his bandleader/arranger skill with a totally unique version of “Louie Louie.” It was a combination of the original arrangement by Richard Berry & The Pharoahs as well as a hook or two from the Paul Revere & The Raiders version. Throw in the Wilhelm twist and the BRBRB has a great song.


The band also played “The Thrill Is Gone.” “A song I made famous by B.B. King,” quipped Wilhelm, kidding on the square. Wilhelm and Napalm did a fabulous duet of “House Of Blue Lights.” Other songs they performed were “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Stormy Monday” (which Neon wailed on) and Aretha’s, “Chain, Chain, Chain.” Great set!


Twice As Good closed the Blue Wing Blues Festival Saturday night and from the first note, it was instant dance floor fill. Perennial Blue Wing Favorite, young Paul Steward is out to capture the audience every time. He anchored a spirited set that included “T Bone Shuffle,” “Goin’ To Clarksdale,” “Bad Case Of Love,” “Don’t Treat Me Right” and “Don’t Make A Move Too Soon.”


It is interesting to watch the progress of Twice As Good as Paul Steward becomes a better and better frontman for the group. The Saturday night set was heightened and augmented by the special guest appearance of the Legendary Curtis Lawson who has been singing the Blues in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1958.


Lawson has a resume longer than most living Bluesmen. Mr. Lawson brought along one of his guitarists Bert Cardone, who is a resident of Lake County. In an exclusive to the CyberSoulMan, Curtis Lawson revealed how impressed he was with Twice As Good. Though the only had one rehearsal, they were one take rehearsals in that when an idea was presented the band was able to play it back right away.


In an abbreviated set Curtis performed “Flip, Flop & Fly,” “Shake, Rattle & Roll” and his self penned, “My Woman, My Girl, My Wife” which brought down the house. The song is autobiographical in nature and when Curtis introduced his wife to the audience he had an instant legion of new fans. Word is that Lake County will be seeing and hearing more of Mr. Lawson.


After Curtis Lawson left the stage Twice As Good performed several more songs including “Wang Dang Doodle,' “Going To Mississippi,” “Sleepwalk” and closed with James Brown’s “Give It Up Turn It Loose.”


Twice As Good is sporting a funkier, even more danceable soon with the addition of Jahan Pride on bass and Julius Johns on drums. They continue to attract a lot of attention and are in it to win it. Can a record deal with new collaborations be far off?


Can’t forget the food. Executive Chef Mark Linback whipped up a firestorm of succulent cuisine that left even the pickiest gourmet satisfied. Man, they served lamb kabobs, prawn kabobs, blackened rock cod, barbecued chicken breast, fall off the bone barbecued ribs, portobello mushroom sandwiches, grilled quarter-pound hot dogs, beef brisket, garden burgers, grilled swordfish, fig wrapped cod and my memory, not to mention my notes, are starting to fail me here. In short, the Blue Wing staff was not jiving.


However, they couldn’t have done it without the generous sponsorship of the following primarily local businesses: Brassfield Estate Vineyard, High Valley Vineyards, Moore Family Wines, Shannon Ridge Vineyards & Winery, Six Sigma Ranch & Vineyards, KNTI 99.5 FM, KXBX 98.3, Allora DaCar Productions, Blues Express Records, Jonas Heating & Cooling, Lake Event Design, MAX Design Studio, ReMax Realty, Strong Financial Network, UCC Rentals, Vintage Antiques and Windrem Law Firm.


Sound, Lighting and extra funk by D. Wills. See you all back next year!


Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


*****


Upcoming cool events:


Patrick Fitzgerald and Shell Mascari, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe Sunday Brunch, Aug. 16. Brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; music from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone 707-275-2233, www.bluewingsaloon.com .


Hansen & Raitt, Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe Blues Monday, Aug. 17. Music from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone 707-275-2233, www.bluewingsaloon.com .


Open mike night, Thursday, Aug. 20. Music from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone 707-275-2233, www.bluewingsaloon.com .


Caravanserai, 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14. Summer concert series, Library Park, 200 Park St., Lakeport.


Open mike night, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 28, D’s Coffee & Tea Shop, 21187 Calistoga St., Middletown. Telephone 707-987-3647.

 

 

 

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Mike Schermer and Lara Price perform. Photo by Abby Brenner.
 

 

 

 

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Chris Cain came straight to Upper Lake from Italy for the festival. Photo by Abby Brenner.
 

CLEARLAKE OAKS – The federal Environmental Protection Agency is inviting public comment on the next phase of its plan to clean up a portion of the Elem Indian Colony in Clearlake Oaks.


The EPA is putting out its engineering evaluation and cost analysis to clean up contaminated mine waste originally used in the 1970s to construct BIA 120, the primary access road to the Elem Indian Colony.


The mine waste, which originated from the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine – now a federal Superfund site – is contaminated with unsafe levels of mercury, arsenic and antimony, officials reported.


This removal action is to ensure that Elem Indian Colony residents and their visitors are not exposed to the elevated levels of toxic metals that are present in the mine waste.


In 2006 the EPA carried out a cleanup on a portion of the colony, removing several older homes and replacing them with new ones, as Lake County News has reported.


In this latest proposed project, EPA’s preferred removal action alternative is “Alternative 2B,” which calls for reconstructing roadway and cover shoulders on BIA 120's entire length. It also calls for raising the roadway profile to prevent excavating mine waste.


Most of the work will not occur until June through August of 2010. Public comments are being accepted now and until Sept. 9.


Copies of the engineering evaluation and cost analysis and all supporting documents are located at the Lake County Library in Lakeport, Redbud Library in Clearlake, and the Live Oak Senior Center, located at 12502 Foothill Blvd. in Clearlake Oaks. The documents are available online at http://cleanlake.org/newsletters.html .


The public can send written comments postmarked no later than Sept. 9 to Rick Sugarek (SFD-7-2),

U.S. EPA, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105.


For more information on this site, please contact Sugarek, remedial project manager, at 415-972-3151.


Dr. Dietrick McGinnis of McGinnis and Associates will review the documents on behalf of the Clear Lake Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) Superfund Technical Advisor Grant (TAG).

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LAKE COUNTY – Local firefighters once again are working on summertime fires burning around the state.


Lake County fire districts have crews on fires in Shasta County, according to Northshore Fire Protection District Chief Jim Robbins.


For the last 12 days firefighters from Northshore, Kelseyville, Lakeport, Lake County and South Lake County fire district have gone from one incident to another, Robbins said.


Robbins said when they were released from the Burney incident, the state's Office of Emergency Services didn't let them come home, sending them instead to Lewiston.


Lewiston, located in Trinity County, was where the Coffin Fire was burning, according to Cal Fire. It began Aug. 12 and burned 1,200 acres. It's reported to be 100-percent contained.


On Friday Robbins said Northshore switched in three fresh firefighters and a battalion chief, allowing exhausted firefighters to come home. They've been working a 24-hour on, 24-off shift.


The county's different districts will switch out their firefighters at different times, according to Robbins.


The SHU Lightning Incident, located in the Burney area in Shasta County, burned 17,623 acres and was 85-percent contained as of Saturday evening, according to Cal Fire. The fire, which began Aug. 1, is expected to be contained on Sunday.


Cal Fire reports that there are several other large fires burning around the state: the La Brea Fire, located 21 miles east of Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County, began Aug. 8, has burned 84,150 acres and is 25-percent contained; the Lockheed Fire, burning in the Bonny Doon area of Santa Cruz, began Aug. 12, has burned 6,843 acres and is 40-percent contained; the Corral Fire, located in Alameda County's Altamont Pass, began Aug. 13, has burned 15,000 acres and is 60-percent contained; and the Yuba Fire, located in the Dobbins area of Yuba County, which began Aug. 14, has burned 2,000 acres and is 15-percent contained.


The governor's office reported that state, federal and local personnel and assets have been activated and are deployed to assist with firefighting efforts statewide, including 6,853 fire personnel, 711 fire engines, 187 hand crews, 68 helicopters, 46 fixed winged aircraft, 109 bulldozers and 117 water tenders.


The fires around the state have burned well over 100,000 acres, damaged two outbuildings, destroyed two residential structures and one commercial building, and between 2,700 and 3,100 residences have been evacuated statewide.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews .

LAKEPORT – On Friday the district attorney presented several rebuttal witnesses in an effort to impeach defense testimony that suggested a Carmichael man wasn't responsible for a fatal 2006 boat crash.


However, Judge J. Michael Byrne ruled Friday that one witness District Attorney Jon Hopkins wanted to bring to the stand with a new evidence report wouldn't be allowed, saying the information should have been prepared and presented earlier in the more than three year old case.


Hopkins is seeking to convict 41-year-old Bismarck Dinius of felony boating under the influence with great bodily injury in connection with the death of 51-year-old Lynn Thornton of Willows.


On the night of April 29, 2006, Dinius was at the tiller of the Beats Workin' II, a sailboat that was hit by a powerboat driven by an off-duty sheriff's chief deputy, Russell Perdock, who wasn't charged in the case, but who the defense argues was driving too fast for conditions.


Although Thornton's boyfriend, Mark Weber, owned the sailboat Dinius was steering, Hopkins is arguing that it was Dinius who ultimately was responsible for the crash because he is alleged to have had a blood alcohol of 0.12 and was under way without lights.


Defense attorney Victor Haltom also signaled Friday that he will once again file a motion for acquittal based on his assertion that Dinius did not have a duty to turn on the boat's navigation lights.


On Thursday Haltom rested his case, which set the stage for Hopkins to present his rebuttal witnesses.


Before the jury was brought in for the morning sessions, Haltom argued against allowing three witnesses Hopkins planned to call – Denise Rockenstein, a reporter for the Clear lake Observer American and Lake County Record-Bee, District Attorney's Office Investigator Craig Woodworth and sheriff's Deputy John Gregore.


Regarding Rockenstein, Haltom said she was being presented to impeach John Jansen, who testified earlier in the week to having seen Perdock at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa's outside bar before racing him across the lake in the hours before the crash.


He wanted a special hearing on admitting her testimony, which he said consisted of saying she was at a restaurant and bar in Clearlake where Jansen's friends, Luke Glanzer and another subject identified only as “Big Worm,” were talking about “racing all day” with Perdock on the lake. Jansen reportedly said nothing during the conversation.


Haltom said the testimony would be inconsistent since Perdock was said to have been on a Scout hike with his son earlier in the day.


Hopkins replied, “This is offered to show not the truth of the statements of these two men but the fact that they are making those statements and he is sitting there not saying anything, not joining in, not correcting them.” He said it showed Jansen's state of mind and showed the lack of credibility in his statements.


“It has some relevance,” said Byrne. “The jury can weigh it.”


When Haltom tried to argue, Byrne said, “It's not his statement, it's his conduct,” that was at issue.


Haltom questioned if Jansen even heard what the two were saying. That was a foundational issue, said Byrne. Haltom said he didn't believe the foundation existed, and said Jansen denied having that conversation. In that case, Hopkins said, it comes in as an inconsistency that further impeaches him.


While Byrne allowed Rockenstein to testify, he denied allowing Woodworth, who the prosecution had called during the main portion of the case, and whose planned testimony had potentially more significant implications.


On Wednesday, Hopkins had Woodworth, his acting chief investigator, go to the sheriff's Boat Patrol facility on Buckingham Point to examine the sailboat's wiring. Woodworth then compiled a six-page report with 70 photos in an effort to impeach the testimony presented last Friday by defense expert Dr. William Chilcott, a forensics engineer.


“Either we're not very smart or the report is poorly written, because we can't figure out what it says,” said Haltom.


The report said that the wires to the sailboat's stern light were not severed during the collision, as Chilcott testified, Haltom said.


“This is evidence that needs to have been presented in the case in chief,” said Haltom, who told Byrne that the report containing Chilcott's conclusions was submitted to the District Attorney's Office in January 2008.


Chilcott, who was not made subject to recall, has since returned to Idaho, and doesn't currently have fax or Internet capability, said Haltom, who quoted case law that argued against late presentation of such evidence.


The evidence was completely improper, said Haltom, who explained the trial was going to have to be delayed until he could get the information to Chilcott for a response.


“It's insane for the prosecution to have waited until Aug. 12 to go do this examination,” Haltom said.


Hopkins said the information was important. Chilcott did not come to his conclusions through scientific testing, such as tracing the wires to make sure they went to the stern light, but only based the statements on a visual inspection.


Woodworth's findings contradicted Chilcott's, Hopkins said, and the wires looked nothing like how Chilcott identified them in photographs on the stand. He said Woodworth should be allowed to testify that Chilcott's conclusions are not supported by facts.


The report showed that Weber was correct when he said the sailboat's mast light wasn't working, said Hopkins.


“There is not the kind of severing that he says took place,” Hopkins said of Chilcott. “This is the key to their expert testimony, and it's faulty.”


Hopkins said that wire was going to be brought to court, along with photos tracing where it went, which Chilcott failed to do.


A frustrated Haltom got up from his seat and stood behind the defense table as Hopkins stated that the report wasn't purposefully held back.


“It is relevant, there's no question about it,” Byrne said of the wire study.


However, he said that issue has been central since the case's beginning. “We're now talking about three years later,” said Byrne, adding that the study should have been done well this week, and so raised a foundational problem.


The testimony – which Byrne said should lead to undue consumption of time – should have been outlined and prepared as part of Hopkins' case in chief.


He ended by sustaining Haltom's objection and denying the admission of Woodworth's testimony.


Hopkins continued to argue on behalf of producing Woodworth and his report, at which point Byrne held up his hand and said, “Counsel, I've ruled.”


Haltom also objected to Hopkins presenting Gregore, who he said was being used to impeach the testimony of Henry “Ed” Dominguez, a sailboat passenger who testified earlier in the trial.


In a videotaped statement Dominguez gave to Gregore at the scene, he had said Weber and Dinius were “hammered,” said Hopkins. On the stand this week Dominguez said “hammered up” mean happy.


Haltom said Dominguez had been released and not subject to recall. Hopkins said he didn't plan to ask him to explain. The judge said there was some relevance to the questioning.


Before the jury came in, Hopkins – noting the judge already had ruled – said he wanted to introduce Woodworth's photos because they impeach Chilcott's ability to identify facts from a photo. Hopkins said Chilcott had identified characteristics in light bulb filaments that the report could contradict. The judge let his ruling stand and called for the jury to be brought in.


Sheriff's sergeant explains computer system


Hopkins' first witness was Sgt. Dave Garzoli, a Lake County Sheriff's Office employee of nearly 20 years. Garzoli testified about the agency's RIMS software system, used for making and tracking reports and investigations. He's been the department's assistant RIMS administrator for five years.


Garzoli said Boat Patrol Supervisor Sgt. Dennis Ostini asked him this week if he could run a search of the system to determine if any deputy had contacted Jean Strak, who testified Wednesday that she saw the sailboat's lights on as it pulled out of a boat slip at Richmond Park Bar & Grill for its nighttime cruise.


Strak stated that a deputy came to her tanning salon on Soda Bay Road within a week of the crash and interviewed her for an hour, but Haltom said he never received any report from the sheriff's office about her statement.


Garzoli said he found a contact for Strak in the RIMS system; it wasn't for the boat crash but, rather, for a bar fight that same year. On Thursday Garzoli ran several advanced searches and found no indication that a sheriff's deputy contacted her at the tanning salon, but that she had been interviewed at the bar where she was assaulted.


Showing Garzoli the RIMS audit log for the case, Haltom asked if a contact a deputy made with Strak would show up in that documents. No, said Garzoli. He explained that if there was a contact with Strak it would only have showed up if a report was written or other information was added to the case file.


Asking Garzoli to turn to a specific report page, Haltom asked him about a set of initials.


“Who is REP?” Haltom asked.


“Russell Perdock,” said Garzoli.


Hopkins objected, saying the question was beyond the scope, which Byrne sustained.


Haltom asked if the audit log showed alterations to the report. Hopkins again objected and Byrne sustained.


Could a sheriff's deputy have changed the report had Strak been contacted? Haltom asked. Yes, certain deputies could, Garzoli said.


“Is Russell Perdock one of those deputies?” Haltom asked. Garzoli said yes.


How many times do the initials “REP” appear in the audit report? Haltom asked. Hopkins objected and Byrne again sustained.


To enter a report into the RIMS system, does a deputy need to be on a computer at the sheriff's office? Haltom asked.


“There's a handful of people that have remote access from their homes,” said Garzoli, adding that most of the reports would be made at the sheriff's office.


Haltom said he wanted Garzoli to be subject to recall.


Hopkins asked Garzoli if a deputy's case report or a call in to dispatch to record a contact can be erased out of the system once it's entered. Garzoli said. no.


Deputy discusses statements from witnesses, his own concerns


Gregore, a seven-year sheriff's office veteran who is assigned to patrol, responded to the Konocti Bay area after the crash was reported. “It was a pretty chaotic scene.”


He said then-Sgt. James Beland had him contact all the witnesses at the scene and do recorded interviews, which he did using the mobile audio visual unit in Beland's patrol car.


Gregore said he spoke with Peter Erickson and four other subjects who accompanied Erickson out on his boat to the crash scene. They didn't witness the crash, so Gregore took their contact information for a later interview.


Hopkins asked him about speaking to fishermen Colin Johnson and Anthony Esposti. Haltom objected and Byrne sustained, but Hopkins said, “It's very brief.”


Byrne asked Hopkins and Haltom to approach the bench and after a brief discussion Byrne said he would allow questions about course of conduct.


Gregore recorded the statements of Dominguez and his fiancee, Zina Dotti. He said Dominguez described both Dinius and Weber as “hammered,” before adding, “Well, maybe not hammered but they'd definitely been drinking.”


He said he didn't contract Strak about the crash. Gregore said he didn't go to Konocti Harbor that night. He did see Perdock at the crash scene but didn't go up to him or hear him say anything about having a soda at Konocti Harbor.


Haltom asked Gregore if Dotti told him anything about the speed at which Perdock's boat had been traveling. Hopkins objected and Byrne sustained. Haltom asked if he had put anything in his report about Dotti's comments on Perdock's speed. Hopkins objected and Byrne overruled. No, said Gregore, his report didn't mention the speed statements.


What did Dotti tell him about the boat's speed? Haltom asked. Hopkins objected and Byrne again overruled. Gregore said Dotti stated that Perdock was going very fast.


Dominguez told Gregore he wasn't sure about lights on the sailboat. “He didn't remember clearly seeing any lights,” Gregore said.


“Did you have any thoughts about the fact that Mr. Perdock was involved?” Hopkins asked.


“I did,” said Gregore before Haltom objected, but Byrne overruled.


“I didn't want to be there. I didn't want to be involved with it,” said Gregore. However, he added, “You can't put everything on hold at the scene.”


He said he wanted to get accurate interviews that reflected peoples' true accounts of what happened.


Did he try to protect Perdock? Hopkins asked.


“Absolutely not,” said Gregore.


Gregore, who came from an area where the nighttime water speed limits was 5 miles per hour, thought that was the legal speed in all cases, so originally Gregore said he thought Perdock had broken the speed law.


Hopkins asked Gregore if he noted signs of Weber's intoxication in his report. Haltom objected and Byrne overruled.


Gregore said yes, noting that he saw Weber had red, watery eyes, slurred speech and there was the odor of alcohol on him.


Reporter recounts conversation with Jansen, friends


Next to take the stand was Rockenstein, who said she knew Jansen as “Yoshi.” She encountered Jansen, Glanzer and “Big Worm” – she knew only that his first name was Robbie – at the Lakehouse Inn in Clearlake.


She said she was standing near the men in the smoking area on the back deck, overlooking the water. “They were talking about having raced on Clear Lake, having raced Russell Perdock,” she said.


Rockenstein said Glanzer and Big Worm were doing most of the talking, saying on the day of the crash they had been on the lake racing Perdock all day. Jansen “wasn't offering much but he was standing right there,” she said.


“I basically told them that wasn't true,” said Rockenstein.


Perdock, she said, “could be accounted for all day.”


Haltom objected to the statement, but Byrne overruled him.


When his turn came to question Rockenstein, the only question Haltom asked was, “Are you a reporter for the Lake County Record-Bee?” She said yes.


Ostini recalled to stand


Ostini, who testified two different times during the trial, was Hopkins' last witness on Friday.


He recounted Chilcott coming to look at the instrument panel on Perdock's powerboat. Ostini said he, Deputy District Attorney John Langan and Haltom were present when Chilcott checked for “needle slap” – the mark of a needle on a glass gauge face as the result of an abrupt deceleration such as occurs during a crash.


Ostini said both he and Chilcott climbed into the boat, and pulled a thick black plastic cover over them so Chilcott could use a black light to look at the gauges. Chilcott told Ostini that the needles weren't the type to show needle slap under black light, so he used a flashlight.


Pointing to a speck of dust on the gauge face, Chilcott said it was evidence of needle slap, according to Ostini. Ostini said he told Chilcott he was mistaken, and recalled asking Langan and Haltom for permission to clean the glass, which he said they gave. The dust came off.


He said he didn't speak with Peter Erickson at the scene; Ostini said the only witnesses he was talking to at the time where those who saw the crash itself. He also was trying to get the boats transferred to the sheriff's facility and get to the hospital to see Weber and Dinius before they were discharged.


Ostini said he hadn't heard about Strak until a couple of years into the investigation. He said she was contacted May 6, 2006, at Richmond Park regarding a bar fight in which she was assaulted. A deputy contacted her again about that fight on May 30, 2006, but there was no indication she had ever been visited at her salon.


Hopkins asked Ostini if he heard Perdock say anything about a soda. Haltom objected and Byrne sustained.


“Your honor, that was testimony on the defense case by Mr. Peter Erickson,” Hopkins said.


“All right, I'll allow it,” said Byrne.


Ostini said he didn't hear Perdock say that.


Haltom asked Ostini if he was at Perdock's side constantly at the scene. Ostini said no.


Going back to Ostini's recollection of the needle slap test, Haltom asked if Ostini remembered him being there. Ostini replied, “I'm sorry, you are correct,” about Haltom not being there.


Did Perdock order someone to contact Strak? No, Ostini said, adding he hadn't discussed the situation with Perdock.


Hopkins showed Ostini a portion of the audit report and pointed out Gregore's initials, to which Haltom objected and Byrne overruled. “It'll become clear,” said Hopkins.


He read off a list of witnesses and the names of those involved that Gregore had entered into the RIMS system between midnight and 1 a.m. on Sunday, April 30, 2006.


“The electronic report is rather fluid, and you can keep adding to it,” said Ostini


Haltom asked if Ostini had seen entries for locking the report. “The report is locked by a supervisor when it's completed,” Ostini said. Had he seen it unlocked? Ostini said he hadn't recently reviewed it.


Another witness Hopkins wanted to call couldn't make it on Friday, so Byrne dismissed the jurors for the day, telling them they may hear two more witnesses on Tuesday when court reconvenes at 10 a.m. A hearing on the release of Perdock's personnel records is scheduled at 8:30 a.m.


Following those final witnesses, which will be on the stand a short time to clarify a few matters, Byrne said they'll go into arguments and jury instructions. “We are way ahead of schedule.”


On Monday Byrne, Hopkins and Haltom will meet to go over jury instructions. Byrne said he's assessing whether to do arguments or instructions first. If all goes well, he said, the jury should have the case Tuesday or Wednesday.


The attorneys are “going to have a lot to say” during closing arguments, so Byrne urged jurors not to make up their minds before closing arguments.


Defense to press for acquittal


With the jury gone, Haltom notified the court that at the end of closing arguments he'll seek a judgment for acquittal.


Haltom said he'll pinpoint the issue of duty – specifically, if it was Dinius' duty to turn on the sailboat's navigation lights.


“Determining the existence of duty is for the court, not the jury,” Haltom said.


If there's no duty, the case can't go to the jury, said Haltom. “Our position is he had no duty to turn on the lights.”


Byrne noted that there are a lot of recent cases on duty in civil matters.


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

LAKEPORT – Allegations of corruption and bias contrasted with arguments attacking the conclusions of key defense witnesses were the major themes during closing arguments in a Carmichael man's trial for felony boating under the influence.


Family, friends and supporters looked on as Bismarck Dinius, 41, sat through the day-long arguments in Lake County Superior Court's Department One, with District Attorney Jon Hopkins and defense attorney Victor Haltom exchanging verbal barbs and challenging each other's conclusions.


On the evening of April 29, 2006, Dinius was steering the Beats Workin' II, a sailboat owned by Willows resident Mark Weber, when it was hit by a powerboat driven by Russell Perdock, an off-duty chief deputy sheriff.


Dinius is accused of felony boating under the influence with great bodily injury and two lesser included offenses of boating with a blood alcohol level over 0.08 and boating while under the influence.


Weber's girlfriend, 51-year-old Lynn Thornton, was injured and died three days later. Perdock was not charged, but Dinius is on trial because Hopkins alleges that Dinius was under the influence of alcohol and had a duty to see the boat's lights were on.


The defense has argued throughout the trial that Dinius was merely a crew member on Weber's boat, the lights for which were on until the collision knocked them out, Haltom argued.


In close to three hours of arguments on Tuesday, Hopkins hammered away on responsibility and proximate cause.


Haltom, whose closing arguments lasted just minutes short of an hour, offered a passionate summation to the jury, accusing the sheriff and district attorney's offices of bias, corruption and incompetence, and urging the jury to teach local officials a lesson by handing down a correct verdict, which would acquit his client.


Trial's last witnesses heard


Closing arguments got under way after Judge J. Michael Byrne denied a motion to release Perdock's personnel records as well as information from an internal affairs investigation, in which Perdock is facing a misconduct allegation.


That decision followed a brief hearing in which Perdock's attorney, Alison Berry Wilkinson, argued strenuously against the motion.


Before making the decision, Judge Byrne went into chambers with Deputy County Counsel Ryan Lambert, Capt. James Bauman of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, a court clerk and the court reporter. He emerged to say he found nothing discoverable for the purposes of Dinius' case.


Both Hopkins and Haltom called brief rebuttal witnesses, beginning with Hopkins presenting April Aalto, a registered nurse who worked on a REACH air ambulance the night of the crash.


Aalto said the helicopter was called to Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa on April 29, 2006, to pick up a patient for transport, but no ambulance arrived and they did not transport a patient.


That testimony contradicts a statement made by defense witness Dennis Olson, a former Konocti Harbor security employee who recalled an ambulance and a patient arriving at a landing zone he helped set up.


Aalto also noted that a flare used to light up the landing pad rolled down the hill and she was afraid it was going to start a fire. Olson said he and another employee had used sandbags to keep the flares weighed down.


The helicopter returned to its base at Lampson Field after leaving Konocti Harbor, said Aalto. Early on the morning of April 30, 2006, they were summoned to Sutter Lakeside Hospital where they picked up Thornton and transported her to David Medical Center.


Hopkins also called Tom Clements, a detective sergeant with the Clearlake Police Department who had previously retired from the agency and, for a time, was working as an investigator for the District Attorney's Office.


In April of 2007 Clements conducted two phone interviews with Brian Stole, a witness who said he saw the crash while standing on a grassy knoll at Bayview Estates.


Stole told Clements he heard Perdock's powerboat coming around Fraser Point, saw its red and green bow lights and estimated its speed at about 45 miles per hour.


In a subsequent interview Clements said Stole stated that he saw a white or yellow light and a green light on an object that he thought was a dock, which merged with the powerboat.


Initially Stole estimated the distance to the crash from shore was five to 10 miles; in the second interview he estimated 500 yards. Stole said he wasn't drinking alcohol when he saw the crash.


Haltom asked Clements if he told Stole the interview was being recorded, and Hopkins objected to the relevance. Byrne allowed Clements to answer. He said he didn't remember telling Stole that, but he usually informs interviewees of recordings.


Haltom asked Clements his relationship to Perdock. He said he's known him professionally during the 12 years he's worked for Clearlake Police. Clements said he's not a member of the local Masonic Lodge to which Perdock belongs.


Did Stole tell him that he estimated the powerboat's speed to be between 45 and 50? Haltom asked. “I remember him saying 45,” said Clements.


Haltom asked if Clements disputed that in the recording Stole also said 50. Clements said he doesn't know why he wouldn't have noted that had Stole said it.


Hopkins asked if Stole used the word “merge” to recall the lights coming together. “I don't recall,” said Clements.


Haltom asked if Stole said the lights “came together.” Clement said yes.


The final rebuttal witness was Jean Strak, who had testified earlier in the trial to seeing the sailboat leave Richmond Park Bar & Grill with its lights on. She also stated a sheriff's deputy came to her tanning salon on Soda Bay Road to interview her, but no report about her interview was ever filed, according to Hopkins.


Haltom asked if she was interviewed by deputies about two separate incidents? Yes, said Strak. In addition to the boat crash, she was interviewed about a bar fight during which she was assaulted by a male subject at Richmond Park in May of 2006.


Hopkins asked her when she was interviewed about the bar fight. She said it was around midnight at the bar. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and a guy hit me.”


How many deputies talked to her? Hopkins asked. She didn't know. He asked if three deputies spoke to her. She said she didn't know, she had been hit in the face, was bleeding and not paying attention. Had she been drinking that night? “I had a couple,” she said.


Strak said she later received four or five phone calls from deputies about the fight. For a time in May of 2006 she was in Mexico on vacation and when she got back was contacted by deputies again.


An insurance investigator also called her about the boat crash, said Strak, and she also spoke to a deputy about it. “I heard nothing else ever again until two months ago.”


She said her friend Julie Knight was at her salon at one point and talked to an investigator.


During a brief break between the final rebuttal witnesses and the beginning of closing arguments, Haltom attempted to enter a piece of evidence which Hopkins objected to due to foundation, and Byrne sustained it.


Haltom also renewed his motion to have Dinius acquitted from the charges based on the question of whether he had a duty to turn on the lights. Byrne denied the motion.


Hopkins questions experts as he presents final arguments


Hopkins presented his closing arguments over an hour and 15 minutes in the morning session.


He began by talking about jurors' obligations and the prosecution's burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.


“That is not a standard that is legal mumbo jumbo,” Hopkins said of the reasonable doubt concept. “It's really one that can translate into everyday life.”


He told the jurors that they must have an abiding conviction that the charges are true, but they don't have to eliminate all doubt, since everything in life is open to some degree of doubt.


In convicting Dinius Hopkins said he must prove that Dinius operated the vessel, that he operated it under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, that he neglected the performance of a legal duty – in this case, having the lights on – and that his failure to perform his duty led to bodily injury.


Those four elements “all kind of fit almost in a ladder – one leads to the next. All four must be proven,” Hopkins said.


He said they have heard testimony from several people that Dinius was operating the boat. He recalled Jim Ziebell's testimony, which included an account of being the helmsman on Weber's sailboat during the Konocti Cup earlier on the day of the crash.


“Steering the sailboat is not just a simple task,” said Hopkins, noting there are complexities, including considering the wind and sails.


Ed Dominguez and Zina Dotti, who were on the sailboat that night, stated Dinius was at the tiller, while Weber was sitting on a step facing them and away from the front of the boat. Dinius himself said he occasionally stood up to see over the cabin and was watching the wind indicator, said Hopkins.


Witnesses also had described Dinius as drinking, and Dinius also said he was, said Hopkins. Three hours after the collision he still had a blood alcohol level of 0.12, one and a half times the legal limit, which meant that additional alcohol had been in his system at the time of the crash, he said.


On the issue of what Dinius had to drink, Hopkins said, “The exact number is not important. What's important is he was above a .08, and that makes him under the influence.”


A sober person would be aware of all conditions on lake around them, said Hopkins. Dinius had a responsibility to exhibit the sailboat's lights, just as a person who got into another person's car would have a responsibility to turn on the lights when driving.


Dinius should not have taken the tiller while impaired, and he should have checked the lights, said Hopkins, suggesting that Dinius could have turned around and leaned over from his position at the tiller to see if the stern light was on.


“He's using this vehicle, he's required to make sure he does not neglect the duties put upon him by law,” Hopkins said. “The issue then goes next to whether lights on sailboat were off or on.”


Different people saw the boat's lights when it went out. “It is clear that some kind of light was on,” said Hopkins.


However, they didn't see the crash and no witnesses saw the sailboat past Little Tule Point, about halfway up the shore of Konocti Bay, with lights on, he said.


Dominguez, Dotti and Dinius didn't recall the stern light, but they did remember the cabin lights, said Hopkins. Only Weber, who testified to saying, “We've got lights, let's go,” claimed to have seen them, but no one testified to hearing Weber make that statement. Hopkins also pointed to discrepancies in whether or not they sailed out or motored out, an issue which may be a matter of intoxication or focus of witnesses.


Two hours after the crash, Weber had a blood alcohol level of 0.18, added Hopkins, suggesting Weber may have knocked the running lights switch off when he went down into the cabin in his inebriated state.


Weber later would call Dinius and ask if the lights were on, Hopkins noted.


“People do go out on the lake at night and turn off their lights,” especially if it's a pleasure cruise and they think that no one else is out there. Perhaps the famous Lake County gnats were getting into the wine glasses, Hopkins suggested.


Perdock and James and Jordin Walker don't see the sailboat lights, neither did witnesses on shore who heard and saw the powerboat, Hopkins said. Two fishermen, Colin Johnson and Anthony Esposti, saw a sailboat without lights, and heard laughing and talking, as did teenager Jennifer Patterson, who was watching from shore.


“It's crucial that a vessel be lighted appropriately so everyone knows what everyone else is doing,” he said.


Hans Peter Elmer, a retired policeman who saw the crash from the Young Scandinavians Club, thought the boat was going fast because he saw it on a 45-degree angle, but Hopkins said others saw the boat leveled out and on plane. “He thought it was going really fast because of its noise.”


Elmer and the fishermen all saw Perdock's boat because of the running lights. "It was a very dark night but it was clear,” said Hopkins.


They also saw the powerboat collide with something that wasn't lit, he said.


Stole, who saw the boats lights merge before the collision, was “a little confused,” said Hopkins, who suggested that Stole really saw the lights of the fishing boat carrying Esposti and Johnson, not the sailboat's lights.


Hopkins pointed out that Stole did not say he saw that crash. “There is not a reliable witness that saw the sailboat lights on at the time of the collision.”


Doug Jones was the last person to see the sailboat with lights as it went past Little Tule Point. Hopkins said most of the witnesses testified to seeing the cabin lights on, but those don't justify the legal requirement for lighting.


Hopkins faulted defense expert Dr. William Chilcott, who had criticized Department of Justice criminalist Toby Baxter's work on the sailboat light filaments. Hopkins said Chilcott, in his written report on the case, never suggested that a stretch in the filaments was due to a manufacturing process. Rather, Chilcott said it was due to the lights being on.


Chilcott also didn't trace pulled out wires on the sailboat to the stern light, which is where he stated they went, said Hopkins.


“Dr. Chilcott was clearly not objective in this case,” said Hopkins. “He clearly had a bias.”


There also isn't support for Chilcott's theory about the wires being pulled out, causing the lights to go out, argued Hopkins. “It doesn't really matter how famous he is” if he doesn't have the facts, Hopkins said of Chilcott.


Hopkins said that Dinius had a duty to exhibit the boat's lights. “But for the lights being off, this collision does not occur, so it's a direct result,” he said.


Is it likely someone will run into you if the lights aren't on? “The answer is of course, there's no question about it,” said Hopkins, explaining that it's totally forseeable that a power boat will run into another unlighted boat.


“If there is more than one cause, then Mr. Dinius' failure to have lights on has to be a substantial factor,” said Hopkins, noting there can be several causes.


Are there other negligent people involved? Hopkins asked. “It doesn't matter,” he said, answering his own question.


Perdock and Weber both can be negligent but Dinius' alleged negligence is the substantial factor, he said.


Defense: Wrong man on trial


Hopkins rested at the end of the morning session, with Haltom beginning his closing arguments after lunch.


“This case is, more than anything else, a tragedy,” Haltom began.


He asserted that Hopkins “has turned this into a travesty” by prosecuting the wrong man – Dinius – while Perdock was not charged.


Haltom said he would present evidence of rampant corruption, bias and incompetence in the upper echelons of the county's sheriff's and district attorney's offices.


Using a PowerPoint presentation, one of his screens had the words “Russell Perdock is a liar” in large, bold white letters.


Haltom said the jury could help people in the sheriff's and district attorney's offices learn the difference between right and wrong by acquitting Dinius.


He said the issue of bias was obvious. Perdock, the No. 2 man in the Lake County Sheriff's Office, could affect the promotions and pay of his subordinates.


“He was treated with kid gloves from the get go,” said Haltom, noting that Sheriff Rod Mitchell hugged Perdock at the crash scene. He also alleged that mention of the sheriff's presence at the scene later was removed from reports.


He referred to former sheriff's Sgt. James Beland's testimony that he was ordered at the scene not to give a breath test, and cited the Masonic Lodge membership shared by John Flynn, one of Hopkins' investigators, and Perdock.


Haltom said Dinius is a good man who should not be on trial, but that it's Perdock who should be prosecuted.


In giving examples of corruption, Haltom said the sheriff's office failed to report contacts with witnesses who saw the sailboat's lights on, specifically Jones and Strak.


He also raised the issue of Perdock having access to evidence facilities where his blood sample and the boats were kept. Haltom said the prosecution provided no evidence about where Perdock was the day after the crash – a Sunday – during which there was a 16-hour interval that he had access to the blood sample. He said Perdock has stated that he was home at the time.


“He has absolutely no credibility in this case,” Haltom said, explaining to jurors that the judge will give them instructions on discounting testimony of witnesses who don't give credible statements.


“He lied to you all, from that stand, about going to Konocti (Harbor),” Haltom said.


Perdock wasn't walled off from the investigation, said Haltom. He received an October 2006 e-mail from a sheriff's office employee that included copies of the 911 records. Richard Higinbotham, a former Lake County District Attorney's Office investigator, testified that in September 2008 he interviewed Perdock, who Haltom said “wanted to have a say in what was going on in this investigation.”


On the stand Perdock denied talking about speed and lights with Higinbotham, who Haltom said impeached that testimony point by point.


“We're not playing nice here, this is hard ball,” said Haltom.


He charged local officials with incompetence in carrying out their investigation.


Boat Patrol Supervisor Sgt. Dennis Ostini admitted his mistakes in leaving the sailboat unattended for several hours at the Boat Patrol facility, said Haltom. “That's a critical item of evidence in this case,” he said. “It was tainted from the get go.”


Then-Sgt. Charles Slabaugh from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office was brought into the investigation. “Did you hear anything about the result of Lt. Slabaugh's accident reconstruction investigation? You heard zip,” said Haltom. “You ought to ask yourselves why.”


Slabaugh didn't conduct interviews, only speaking with Perdock and Elmer, Haltom said.


With the exception of retired engineer Richard Snyder, Haltom said all of the prosecution's experts were either incompetent or unfamiliar with sailing. One of them, state Department of Justice criminalist Gregory Priebe, admitted to having sunk a sailboat. Still others who testified about electricity couldn't explain the difference between direct current and alternating current.


“That is the essence of incompetence,” Haltom said.


But the maddening part of the case, said Haltom, is that investigations into the allegations against Dinius were still going on during the trial – three years after the crash – with the evidence's integrity damaged by the length of time.


Going point by point, Haltom accused Perdock of lying about everything from fixing his son breakfast on the day of the crash to not telling the truth about going to Konocti Harbor, where Haltom alleged he was drinking.


Haltom said he presented several witnesses that placed Perdock at the resort in the hours before the crash, including John Jansen, who testified to seeing Perdock at the resort and racing boats with him later. Haltom said Jansen's statements linked other witness testimony, and also revealed, in Haltom's opinion, another motivation for Perdock to drive fast that night, after being “blown away” by Jansen's boat.


While Perdock denied reviewing official sheriff's reports, Haltom said Sgt. Dave Garzoli testified to finding Perdock's initials in the main report's audit trail. Haltom also accused Perdock of lying about seeing the green glow of his bow light off the sailboat before the collision. At the angle he was approaching, the bow light reflection would have been red.


“He's got so many lies going he can't keep them all straight,” Haltom said.


Quoting a US Supreme Court Case, Duncan v. Louisiana, Haltom explained the importance of juries. That 1968 decision guaranteed the right to trial by jury in order to avoid government oppression and address fears of unchecked power. “That's why you all are here.”


It was Perdock who broke numerous navigational rules, said Haltom, from failing to have a lookout to traveling a safe speed.


Addressing the charges against Dinius, Haltom told the jury there's a very simple way to decide the case: “If you find the lights were on, you acquit – that's it.” They must ask themselves if Hopkins proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the lights weren't on, which Haltom suggested he hadn't done.


Haltom challenged Hopkins' assertion that Stole saw the lights of the fishing boat and not the sailboat when he saw the crash, and called Hopkins' suggestion that Weber could have hit the lights in the cabin and turned them off as an “Alice in Wonderland, chasing the white rabbit theory.”


While Haltom said Dinius was drinking that night, he said Dinius' sobriety had nothing to do with the crash, which he attributed to Perdock driving at “an absurd speed.”


Haltom said Dinius also was innocent of the lesser charges of boating under the influence and boating under the influence with a blood alcohol level above 0.08.


Haltom told the jurors that they get to decide between what's right and what's wrong in the case.


“Russell Perdock needs to learn that he doesn't own Clear Lake and he cannot escape responsibility for taking Lynn Thornton's life,” said Haltom, adding that Perdock isn't above the law because he has a badge, and that Dinius is the patsy in the case.


“Lynn Thornton deserves a just result in this case,” he said.


District attorney attacks “sales pitch” defense


As he began his rebuttal arguments, Hopkins told the jury, “I feel like I've been through an advertising pitch.”


Throughout his rebuttal statements, which included a point by point response to Haltom, Hopkins would liken Haltom's arguments to taglines and advertising jargon.


He questioned how he could prosecute Perdock on the accusations Haltom made.


“There's this huge allegation that there's bias, corruption, incompetence, liars, the wrong man on trial and therefore throw this whole thing out,” said Hopkins.


He denied the sheriff's hugging Perdock was a sign of bias. Hopkins reminded the jury of the tragic circumstances that night. He said they knew someone was dying as a result of the crash.


Addressing the allegations about Beland and the breath testing, Hopkins said, “As a prosecutor I wish all three of them ” – Dinius, Weber and Perdock – “had been immediately tested.”


Perdock wasn't given a pass, said Hopkins. When Hopkins' investigator, John Flynn, interviewed Perdock in May, “it was downright confrontational,” with Flynn challenging Perdock's time line for April 29, 2006.


The community is a small one, said Hopkins, with many people belonging to the same clubs – such as the Masons, to which both Perdock and Flynn belong – and churches, but that doesn't amount to bias.


Perdock may have had keys to the evidence facility, but based on the testimony of state Department of Justice criminalists, who testified about how they opened the blood evidence, there is no signs of tampering, said Hopkins. “The whole thing is absurd.”


Hopkins challenged Haltom's witnesses, including Joe Glebe, Konocti Harbor's security director, who at first didn't remember seeing Perdock at Konocti Harbor before testifying that he did, and Peter Erickson, who said he heard Perdock at the scene talking about having a soda at Konocti Harbor before heading to Richmond Park. “He's soda hopping? That doesn't make a whole lot of sense,” Hopkins said.


Erickson was angry in his testimony, and “angry at a number of things,” said Hopkins. “He's a biased witness.”


As to the value of Jansen's testimony, Hopkins said his statements contradict those given by Donna Perdock, Russell Perdock's ex-wife, and Olson. He suggested Jansen was listening to his buddies popping off about racing Perdock and decided to make up his own story to get on television.


Hopkins suggested that if two boats are in a collision, they both have an obligation, which raised an objection from Halton. Byrne said he would allow the comment but not for theory.


Hopkins spent time questioning Stole's testimony, reiterating his belief that Stole saw the fishing boat's lights, not those of the sailboat. Hopkins questioned if he could rest a prosecution on Stole's testimony.


Dinius had an obligation under law to exhibit side and stern lights, said Hopkins. “He never checks at all,” despite sitting next to it. Hopkins objected, saying Hopkins was misstating the evidence. Byrne overruled.


Despite his statement that he was down in the cabin, Weber was found knocked out on the sailboat's deck, which led Hopkins to argue that Weber's recollection of that night went away due to his injuries.


Esposti and Johnson came across an unlighted sailboat, saw a mast but not a sail. “There's no other sailboat out there,” Hopkins said. “There's certainly no other sailboat without its lights on.”


Hopkins noted that he was getting to the end of his notes, when one man said “Good!” loudly from the audience.


Based on an estimate from Snyder, Hopkins said Perdock's powerboat was going between 37 and 48 miles per hour, which launched it up and over the sailboat.


Snyder's studies on crashes found that at 20 miles per hour a powerboat would ramp up and slam down onto another boat and stay there. Even at 20 miles per hour there might have been more injuries and deaths, Hopkins suggested.


Whose fault is it if the lights go out? The operator's, said Hopkins.


“This safe speed thing” has been talked about as a rule, and Hopkins said it's similar to getting into a car. If you run into someone you're not going a safe speed, unless you come upon a drunk driver driving slowly on a blind curve with their lights off.


Hopkins told jurors they can't use sympathy for Lynn Thornton to decide the case. “You're supposed to look at the evidence.”


Jury to begin deliberations Wednesday


At the conclusion of closing arguments, Byrne told the jurors he would give them the instructions Wednesday morning, when they return at 9 a.m. He credited them with paying attention during the case.


After the jurors were gone Byrne praised both the defense and prosecution for their work, saying they'd both acted professionally.


“I think it was a well-tried case,” said Byrne.


“I take it you haven't made up your mind yet,” said Hopkins, which hearkened to Byrne's admonishment to the jury to keep open mind.


“Nobody asked me about my opinions,” Byrne said with a smile.


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 http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews .

SNOW MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS – Firefighters continued work on Saturday to completely control and mop up the Summit Fire in the Snow Mountain Wilderness on the Mendocino National Forest.


The fire, which was contained on Friday evening, was located in steep, remote terrain one mile from the Summit Springs Trailhead, approximately 25 miles west of Stonyford, on the Grindstone Ranger District of the Mendocino National Forest.


On Saturday forest spokesperson Tamara Schmidt said more detailed mapping reduced the fire's total estimated acreage from 350 to 287 acres.


Schmidt said the expected control date is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18.


Forest officials continue to urge members of the public to avoid traveling or hiking in the fire area. Trailheads in close proximity of the fire are posted. There are no campground or road closures at this time.

SNOW MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS – A 350-acre fire that began burning in the Snow Mountain Wilderness on Wednesday afternoon was fully contained Friday evening.


The Summit Fire was located in the southeastern portion of the Snow Mountain Wilderness on the Grindstone Ranger District of the Mendocino National Forest.


It burned in steep and rugged terrain with brush and scattered timber one mile from the Summit Springs Trailhead, approximately 25 miles west of Stonyford.


Mendocino National Forest spokesperson Tamara Schmidt said firefighters made “excellent” progress on Friday and the fire was declared at 6 p.m. that day.


She said resources will now focus on mop-up and work towards the next stage, which is control of the fire. The expected control date is Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 6 p.m.


The remote terrain required the use of air resources and smokejumpers, with firefighters having to hike in to the scene, as Lake County News reported earlier this week.


Approximately 346 firefighters were assigned to the blaze. Schmidt said total resources on the scene Friday included 13 crews and four helicopters.


Schmidt said it's highly recommended that the public refrain from traveling or hiking in the fire area. Trailheads in close proximity of the fire are posted.


Forest Road M10 is closed to westbound traffic from Davis Flat until further notice, Schmidt said.


With the exception of the Summit Fire, so far this year the Mendocino National Forest has not had an active fire season compared to neighboring forests, Schmidt said.


She reported that last Thursday and Friday four lightning fires were spotted on the east side of the Mendocino National Forest and one fire on the west side. All of the fires were contained while fairly small.


Schmidt said the largest of those blazes was the Government Fire, which grew to seven acres near Government Flat. It was reported Thursday evening, contained Friday and controlled Sunday at 6 p.m.


She said engine crews from the Mendocino National Forest, as well as two handcrews from a nearby Cal Fire station, provided initial attack on the Government Fire.


Additional resources from the Cleveland National Forest, San Bernardino National Forest, Arkansas and Mississippi were instrumental in assisting fire suppression efforts on the Mendocino National Forest last weekend, Schmidt said.


Due to dry conditions, the Mendocino National Forest is currently under fire restrictions to help reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires on the Forest, she said.


For more information regarding the current fire restrictions, contact the Mendocino National Forest at 530-934-3316 or visit www.fs.fed.us/r5/mendocino .

Upcoming Calendar

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