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Dancing priests become Internet sensation

A video of a pair of dueling, dancing American priests studying in Rome has gone viral, following in the footsteps of a now-famous Italian nun whose Alicia Keys-esque voice won her a singing contest and a record contract.

The Rev. David Rider, 29, of Hyde Park, New York, and the Rev. John Gibson, 28, of Milwaukee, first shot to Internet fame when they were filmed in April during a fundraiser at the North American College, the elite American seminary up the hill from the Vatican.

Rider warmed up the crowd with a lively tap-dance routine, only to be pushed aside by Gibson's fast-footed Irish dance. Soon they were battling it out, trying to impress the crowd.

At the back of the room, journalist Joan Lewis recorded the event and later posted on YouTube.

"All of a sudden the numbers started rising and rising," Lewis told The Associated Press. The video has nearly 260,000 views.

Their Internet success has drawn comparisons to Sr. Cristina Scuccia, who won the Italian edition of "The Voice" in June with a series of unadorned pop song performances, in full habit. Her first album features a cover of Madonna's "Like a Virgin."

As with Scuccia, the priests' online popularity was tinged with criticism. Some commentators wrote that the priests shouldn't have been dancing under a crucifix and a painting of Pope Francis, calling it "disrespectful."

"We would just refer them to the Bible," Rider says, "where the Lord tells us to live with joy."

Published: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:59:57 -0700

Rain showers trigger East Bay BART delays

Rainy weather led to mechanical problems for BART trains Saturday morning resulting in major delays between the Coliseum/Oakland Airport station and the Bay Fair station, according to BART officials.

BART initially announced a 20-miunte delay to their trains on the Dublin/Pleasanton, Fremont, Richmond and Daly City directions around 6:55 a.m.

At about 7 a.m., BART officials announced that trains on those lines were experiencing delays of up to 30-minutes.

As of about 9 a.m., only trains traveling in the Fremont and Dublin/Pleasanton directions were experiencing delays between 10 to 15 minutes, according to BART officials.

Water intrusion, as a result of the rain overnight, impacted train control equipment and caused BART crews to respond to the scene to resolve the problem, BART officials said.

Published: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:37:28 -0700

UCSF designated as priority Ebola treatment facility

Five University of California medical centers, including one at University of California at San Francisco, are now considered priority hospitals to treat confirmed Ebola cases in California, the UC Office of the President announced Friday.

While there are currently no confirmed cases of Ebola in California, the UC Office of the President has reported to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that all five UC medical centers are now ready, if needed, to provide in-patient care for Californians who may contract Ebola.

"All of the UC Medical Centers specialize in complex care and operate as or staff level one trauma centers," CDPH director Dr. Ron Chapman said in a statement.

The California Nurses Association (CNA) and National Nurses United (NNU), which represents about 12,000 registered nurses in the major UC medical centers, however, said in a statement released Friday that the UC and California Hospital Association officials are "giving the public a false picture about Ebola readiness in the UC hospitals."

CNA/NNU executive director Rosa Ann DeMoro said that based on what the UC nurses reported as recently as Friday, the nurses "are unprepared, unprotected and very concerned."

DeMoro said that over the last two months CNA/NNU has informed the UC officials about standards that nurses say they require to be protected in the event that they need to treat an Ebola patient.

All hospitals in California are expected to screen, identify, and isolate any patients with Ebola risk and other hospitals will likely be identified as additional priority hospitals for Ebola treatment.

The UC Medical Centers are required to meet standards set by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) guaranteeing that the appropriate equipment, training, and other measures are in place to protect worker health and safety while caring for Ebola patients.

The CDPH has also committed to backing the five medical centers by helping to provide them with the right protective equipment, should the hospitals run low on supplies.

State officials will work with these medical centers to ensure that potential medical waste generated from the treatment of an Ebola patient will be properly handled and disposed.

"Stepping up to a public health crisis is what these medical centers do, and in the past weeks we have been actively readying ourselves for any health eventuality related to Ebola," Dr. John Stobo, UC senior vice president for health sciences and services said in a statement.

For more information about how the state is preparing for potential cases of Ebola, visit

Published: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 10:47:31 -0700

Oakland officials investigate abuse claims against fourth grade teacher

Oakland public school administrators placed a fourth grade teacher on administrative leave Friday after a parent made allegations she physically, mentally and emotionally abused her daughter.

Parent Sharena Thomas alleged that her daughter's fourth grade teacher at the Rise Community School, called her the "darkest kid in class," dragged her down two flights of stairs by her wrists, threw grapes in her face, and put her fist in her face.

Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint said the fact that the teacher was placed on paid leave does not indicate any wrongdoing.

"Certainly, these are serious charges and we will research them to the fullest extent to determine what level of truth may reside in them," Flint said. "At the same time, the teacher is obligated to receive due process. We won't make any determination as to her status until we complete the investigation."

Thomas said the incidents occurred on Oct. 9, after the student described another classmate's hair as "nappy." Thomas was picking up her daughter from school that day when she spoke to her teacher at the school office.

The teacher reportedly asked Thomas if her daughter had a problem being dark-skinned and claimed she lied in class. Thomas said she thought the claim was odd and filed a complaint with the principal's office.

Roughly a week later, Thomas, her daughter, and the teacher met with the principal but Thomas said the teacher became belligerent.

Several days later, Thomas said she took her daughter to church to speak with a pastor. At the time, the girl told the pastor about the alleged physical abuse, which she had not previously disclosed.

Thomas said her daughter told her pastor that the teacher threatened to harm her mother if she told her about what happened.

Thomas filed a second complaint with new allegations, and Flint said the school immediately put the teacher on paid leave, as per the district's protocol.

Thomas said she also filed a police report and wants to press criminal abuse charges against the teacher. Oakland police could not be reached this evening to confirm that they had received the report.

"I want these kids to be safe. They deserve to be in a safe environment," Thomas said. "We have a drop out rate here. Kids who drop out are troubled. This could lead my child to go in any direction."

Thomas described her daughter as a straight-A student. She said she had never had these kinds of issues prior to the start of this school year.

Flint said the accused teacher is a "veteran" in the district who has been teaching at Rise Community School for "less than five years."

She had one other complaint filed against her, which Flint said arose from a personal dispute that escalated into a heated argument.

Published: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 10:26:13 -0700

3 officers suspected of sharing nude photos

Authorities say a California Highway Patrol officer suspected of stealing nude and racy photos from the cellphones of women arrested on drunken driving charges sent those photos to at least two fellow officers.

The Contra Costa Times reported Friday that Officer Sean Harrington confessed to investigators in what he and other officers called a game.

Investigators say Harrington sent photos to fellow officers in Dublin, but learned it working in Los Angeles, and confessed to doing this half a dozen times over several years.

CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow says his agency has launched an investigation, adding that the allegations anger and disgust him.

Contra Costa County prosecutors are considering criminal charges.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Harrington and two other officers under investigation were unsuccessful.

Published: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 09:35:13 -0700

Port Walk a hot spot to watch game, for free

Some people might say it's the best place to watch the World Series if you don't have a ticket.

For those who want to feel the excitement and be part of the game but can't afford to pay hundreds of dollars for a seat in the ballpark, the place to go is the Port Walk near McCovey Cove.

On the water, McCovey Cove filled up with the famous flotilla of boats, kayaks and people paddling past the police on patrol.

Nearby, a crowd of Giants and Royals fans moved onto the Port Walk.

"You know what, if I had a thousand dollars, I'd be inside right now," said Steve Pesely who came from Sacramento to cheer for the Kansas City Royals.

He was among hundreds who stood just outside the gate for a free glimpse of the game through gate bars and a chain link fence.

"When you're a college student and you don't have enough money to go inside and even stand up for $500 this is definitely worth it to me," said Elise Hall of San Jose.

Some people brought binoculars, a box, or a bucket to stand on. Others came with radios.

"This is A $500 seat right here, but you can see free with this thing. Binoculars you know," said Marc Serrano of San Jose, pointing to the orange bucket he was using as a platform.

It's the group called the Knothole Gang, which refers to the old tradition of fans sneaking peaks through knotholes in ballpark fences. Fans wait for hours for a turn inside AT&T Park's special viewing spot, just feet from right field. They can watch up to three innings for free.

'It's the next best thing to being in the stadium. It's awesome," said Cole Cross who drove hundreds of miles from the Yurok Indian Reservation north of Humboldt.

Some fans brought gloves in case someone hit one out of the park.

For die-hard fans, it's just as sweet as being inside.

"You get out here and get that fresh air and all the people out here. It's cool, you know?" said Serrano.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:38:57 -0700

Online retailer agrees to pay $1.8M for misleading customers on subscription fees

An online clothing retailer Friday agreed to pay prosecutors in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties $1.8 million to settle a suit over misleading customers about automatic monthly payments charged to their credit cards, according to a spokeswoman.

The settlement between the two counties and JustFabulous Inc., the El Segundo-based owner of four popular personal shopper websites, was finalized Friday, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Francisca Allen said.

Allen, who works for the district attorney's consumer protection unit in San Jose, said prosecutors investigated complaints about JustFabulous Inc. and found the firm's websites did not comply with California consumer laws on reporting subscription fees to customers.

The company's sites,, and, advertised clothing, shoes and accessories at regular and deeply discounted prices, according to Allen.

If the consumer clicked on the low price, they would receive the item but also be charged a $39.95 monthly subscription fee on their credit cards, Allen said.

The fees could be used as credit toward online purchases but some consumers were unaware of the monthly charges and JustFabulous only permitted customers to cancel them between the first and fifth day of the month or else be charged for that month, according to Allen.

Under California consumer protection laws, an explanation about subscription service fees like those used by JustFabulous must be posted on websites "clearly and conspicuously," usually with a bold and colorful font easily seen next to the discounted product offer, Allen said.

JustFabulous had failed to do that and instead buried it in fine print, so some people did not know about the charges, Allen said.

In its settlement agreement with the two counties, JustFabulous will pay $1,875,000 in penalties and costs - funds to be split between the Santa Clara and Santa Cruz D.A. offices to pay for future consumer protection investigations - and bring their websites into compliance by Nov. 10, Allen said.

Consumers residing in California who believe they were misled by JustFabulous will be able to join a pending class action lawsuit against the company and file claims for reimbursement, according to Allen.

Prosecutors do not know how many consumers may have been misled by JustFabulous about the subscription continuity agreement or how much money they may have lost to the company in charges to their credit cards, Allen said. 

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:30:12 -0700

Giants' toughest fans turn out for special viewing party

With the World Series game on the big screen television, balloons and orange banners, a small group gathered to cheer on the Giants.  This was more than a humble a World Series viewing party.  It was a much needed escape for a few young patients staying at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital for treatment.

“I like Buster Posey because when I played baseball when I was younger, I was catcher and I just like that position,” said Andrew Ford, an 11-year-old patient.

Andrew is from Ukiah, CA.  He suffers from ulcerative colitis, a painful GI condition that can require hospitalization and surgery. 

“It’s kind of tough, but I get to watch it here at the hospital with the TVs so I'm all good,” he said.

“It has been tough, and I look at him and he goes through so much,” said Amanda Ford, Andrew’s mother.  “As I said, he's my hero.”

The gathering lifted the spirits of patients and their families.  It was a chance for them to get out of their hospital rooms and share the fun of the World Series with other fans.

“It's a little bit more excitement, and you get to share in the craziness of the playoffs and the World Series,” said Jorge Abaunza, of South San Francisco. 

Abaunza’s 4-year-old daughter is being treated at the hospital. 

Only a handful of patients turned out for the viewing party.  But Jennifer Belke, a Child Life Specialist at UCSF, said the low turnout wasn’t a bad thing at all.

She said while the staff originally expected about 15 patients to attend, most of those patients ended up being discharged earlier in the day and were allowed to go home to watch the game.

“It means they're doing better and can go home and manage things with antibiotics,” said Belke.

And for those still there, even a small party made being stuck in the hospital during the World Series just a little bit better.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:36:43 -0700

Suspect arrested in death of 2 California deputies

A man armed with an assault rifle shot three sheriff's deputies and a civilian, killing two of the deputies and leading dozens of police officers on a wild six-hour chase and manhunt Friday that spanned two Northern California counties before the 34-year-old suspect was taken into custody.

Marcelo Marquez, of Salt Lake City, was taken alive Friday afternoon from a home in Auburn in Placer County after the shooting hours earlier in a strip mall in a commercial area of Sacramento, said Placer County Sheriff's spokeswoman Dena Erwin.

"This guy was on a one-man crime spree today. He has no idea of the damage he did," she said.

Marquez, 34, was examined at a hospital for unspecified injuries.

He and a woman also taken into custody were being questioned by investigators about their motives late Friday night and it was unclear when they would be formally arrested, Sacramento County sheriff's Sgt. Lisa Bowman said.

The shootings sparked a manhunt that included search dogs, helicopters and armored vehicles. Residents nearby were told to stay indoors, and schools were locked down. The owner of the home said officers used tear gas to drive the suspect from the basement.

"I think there's those people who would say, 'You know what, I wish you'd killed him,'" Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner said at a news conference. "Now, that's not who we are. We are not him. We did our job."

He identified his slain officer as sheriff's homicide Det. Michael David Davis Jr. The 42-year-old detective died 26 years to the day after his father, for whom he is named, died in the line of duty as a Riverside County deputy sheriff.

Gov. Jerry Brown Brown called the killings "a tragic reminder of the sacrifices we demand of our peace officers and the incredible courage they display as they protect our communities."

Flags at the state Capitol were ordered flown at half-staff.

The slaying of the deputies was the single deadliest day for California law enforcement since February 2013. In separate incidents that month, a former Los Angeles police officer killed two law enforcement officers, and two Santa Cruz police detectives were shot and killed.

Marquez had a driver's license that identified him as a Salt Lake City resident.

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said the deadly chain of events began when Deputy Danny Oliver, 47, approached a suspicious vehicle in a motel parking lot around 10:30 a.m. and was shot in the forehead at close range. Oliver, the first county deputy killed since 2008, was a 15-year veteran who leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

"He was not able to return fire or do anything," Jones said. He said Oliver's partner shot back as the vehicle fled.

Bonner later described Davis as an 18-year law enforcement officer. Davis leaves behind a wife and four children.

Bonner said the wounded deputy, Jeff Davis, is a 17-year veteran who was shot in the arm. He was released after treatment at a hospital.

About a mile away, the suspect attempted to steal a car, but shot the driver in the head when he refused to give up his keys, Jones said. He did not know the condition of that victim but said he was alive and conscious when he was transported.

The assailants then stole a pickup from Jose Cruz, who was gardening outside a client's house in Sacramento.

Cruz told The Sacramento Bee that a man told him he needed a favor: "I need your keys," the man said. "Hurry up, because they're chasing me."

The suspects then fled to neighboring Placer County, about 30 miles north of Sacramento.

Deputies swarmed the area, and the suspect shot two deputies with an AR-15-type assault weapon.

Laura Larson, who lives at the Auburn home where the suspect was apprehended, told KCRA-TV that her uncle was at home when Marquez broke in but her uncle survived. She said her family has "no idea who this guy is."

House painter Sean Smith of Sacramento said he was working when he heard gunshots.

"Once I heard the rapid fire, I knew it was a shootout," he said. "Within 10 minutes there were sirens all over the place and six helicopters screaming overhead."

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:29:58 -0700

East Palo Alto man caught peeping girls in shower, arrested

Palo Alto police arrested an East Palo Alto man on Thursday after he was spotted allegedly watching two young girls as they showered in a hotel.

Jose Refugio Cesar Garcia, 47, was detained near the Oaks Motel at 4279 El Camino Real after police were called there around 9:15 p.m. on a report of a peeping incident.

A family at the hotel told police that they had been giving their two young daughters, both under 7 years old, a shower when they spotted a man outside watching through the window.

The father confronted the suspect, who left on foot, and then contacted the hotel's front desk staff, who called police.

Garcia was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor peeping and a felony probation violation. He was on probation out of San Francisco County for soliciting a lewd act and resisting arrest.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call police at (650) 329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to or sent via text message or phone call to (650) 383-8984.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:09:06 -0700

99-square miles of Santa Clara Co. under quarantine after dangerous bug is spotted

A 99-square mile section of Santa Clara County is under quarantine after a potentially harmful bug was detected there. Now an effort is underway to kill it, before it could have fatal consequences for California’s citrus trees.

State and county officials are spraying every citrus tree in a San Jose neighborhood near Kelly Park, after an unwanted pest moved in.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid was found on a half dozen trees there, and as a result 99-square miles in Santa Clara County were been placed under quarantine.

"We're hoping to suppress it and kill any Citrus Psyllid that might be here and keep it from spreading," says Michelle Thom, Deputy Ag Commissioner with Santa Clara County Agriculture.

The bug itself isn't dangerous, but the disease it often carries can be.

It spreads something called Huanglongbing, or citrus greening.

The disease causes trees to produce bitter, misshapen fruit until their eventual death.

Citrus growers say they’re worried.

"We sort of figured it just was a matter of time before it started spreading throughout California," says John Fumia or Airdrome Orchards.

The disease has already hit Florida hard, decimating their fruit and forcing growers to pull out 200,000 acres of trees.

In recent years the state of California has set aside $25 million to try to keep the problem from coming here.

"The bug itself doesn't make us nervous but the bug carrying the disease makes us extremely nervous because like I said, it could wipe out the California citrus industry," says Fumia.

There is no cure for the disease. Thankfully, the actual disease hasn't been spotted here yet, just the bugs. Agriculture officials say they're often brought to a new area by accident.

"We want to try and get the word out to people please do not accept cuttings, trees, anything from anywhere outside the area," says Thom.

They believe with lots of spraying, and an abundance of caution, they can keep these citrus trees healthy.

The disease, citrus greening, has only been detected once in California back in 2012 on a residential property near LA and California growers are hoping to keep it that way.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:05:27 -0700

Suspect in Bally's Gym killing pleads not-guilty

A South San Francisco man pleaded not guilty in a Redwood City courtroom Friday to charges that he fatally beat a fellow gym member with a metal bar, according to prosecutors.

Kenneth Osako, 46, entered the not guilty pleas to charges of murder and use of a deadly weapon in connection with the Sept. 17 killing of 43-year-old Diego Galindo of San Bruno.

Police and prosecutors said Osako saw Galindo at the Bally Total Fitness gym at 180 El Camino Real in South San Francisco around 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 17.

Wielding an 18-inch steel bar used to hold weights, the defendant approached Galindo from behind and struck him in the head with the bar several times before dropping the bar and fleeing, prosecutors said.

Galindo was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he died from his injuries the following day.

Officers arrested Osako the day after the slaying with the aid of a special agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Prosecutors said witnesses at the gym did not hear any exchange between Osako and Galindo before the attack. However, two days prior to the killing, the victim apparently jokingly asked the defendant's girlfriend to take a ride on his motorcycle, according to prosecutors.

The motive for the killing remains under investigation.

Osako is set to reappear in court on Nov. 21 to schedule a preliminary hearing date.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:08:26 -0700

Dog killed, 4 injured in house fire

A dog was killed in a two-alarm house fire in Milpitas early Friday morning that injured four people.

Firefighters responded to a report of a fire in the 2200 block of Farmcrest Street east of Hillcrest Park shortly before 3 a.m., Milpitas emergency services coordinator Sean Simonson said.

The blaze at the two-story home was under control by about 4 a.m., Simonson said.

Fire crews extricated four people from the home, he said.

Of the four people injured in the fire, three of them were sent to a hospital for burns and significant injuries suffered when they were extricated from the home, Simonson said.

Simonson could not confirm if the fourth person was also transported to a hospital or treated on scene and released.

A battalion chief at the scene of the fire confirmed that a dog had perished in the fire, Simonson said.

The fire caused an estimated $375,000 in damage, he said.

San Jose firefighters also assisted crews in extinguishing the fire, according to Simonson.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:59:20 -0700

Golden Gate officials approve financing plan including sidewalk access toll

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District's Board of Directors Friday approved a financial plan to reduce its 5- and 10-year deficit projections, including a proposal to charge bicyclists and pedestrians for access to the bridge's sidewalk.

Board members voted 10-9 to keep the sidewalk fee in the plan and 14-5 to approve the entire plan that contains 45 initiatives to raise money or reduce expenses, District spokeswoman Priya David Clemens said.

"The staff has a couple of years to study the plan and present findings to the board," Clemens said.

The initiatives are part of the District's 2014 Strategic Financial Plan to eliminate its $33 million five-year deficit and significantly reduce a 10-year deficit projected to be $210 million.

Approving the 2014 proposed financial plan is not the approval of any one of the 45 initiatives, District official said. That approval will require further analysis and approval by the board's committee process before it goes to the full board for final approval.

Some of the initiatives will require public hearings, District officials said.

Charging pedestrians and bicyclists for sidewalk access are two separate initiatives in the financial plan that will be monitored and updated annually. The plan begins in fiscal year 2015-2016 and ends on June 30, 2025.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:13:58 -0700

Student: Female teacher heroically stopped the shooter

A shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School Friday afternoon left one victim and the gunman himself dead. Four other victims were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

The student shooter was allegedly motivated by a spoiled romance

Erick Cervantes is a student at the school who witnessed the shootings, from the events beforehand until the moment the gunman shot himself — after being confronted by a heroic woman, he told KIRO-TV.

Cervantes thought the woman was a "lunch lady" who worked at the school, but she was later identified as a first-year social studies teacher. Cevantes confirmed to Natasha Chen of KIRO-TV that teacher Megan Silberberger was the woman he saw in action.

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“I believe she’s actuality the real hero. She’s the one that intercepted him with the gun. He tried either reloading or tried aiming at her. She tried moving his hand away and he tried shooting and shot himself in the neck,” Cervantes said.

He said the gunshots followed a verbal altercation.

“It started off with an argument, but then I looked back and there was just gunshots and just people falling down,” Cervantes recalled. And immediately after the gunshots, the (woman) intervened, he said.

“She heard the gunshots first and she came in running through the door, right next to it,” he recalled.

Cervantes said there was no prolonged struggle between Silberberger and the gunman.

“It wasn’t (a) wrestle. She just grabbed his arm, and it lasted like two seconds, and I heard another shot. He said it was the shot that killed the gunman with his own weapon.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:38:38 -0700

Google exec sets records with leap from near-space

Google executive Alan Eustace broke the sound barrier and set several skydiving records over the southern New Mexico desert early Friday after taking a big leap from the edge of space.

Eustace's supersonic jump was part of a project by Paragon Space Development Corp. and its Stratospheric Explorer team, which has been working secretly for years to develop a self-contained commercial spacesuit that would allow people to explore some 20 miles above the Earth's surface.

Friday's success marked a major step forward in that effort, company officials said.

"This has opened up endless possibilities for humans to explore previously seldom visited parts of our stratosphere," Grant Anderson, Paragon president and CEO, said in a statement.

After nearly three years of intense planning, development and training, Eustace began his ascent via a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon just as the sun was rising. It took more than two hours to hit a record altitude of 135,908 feet, from which he separated himself from the balloon and started plummeting back to Earth.

Wearing his specially designed spacesuit, Eustace hit a top velocity of 822 mph during a freefall that lasted 4 1/2 minutes.

Jim Hayhurst, director of competition at the United States Parachute Association, was the jump's official observer. He said Eustace deployed a drogue parachute that gave him incredible stability and control despite the massive Mach 1.23 speed reached during the freefall.

Eustace didn't feel it when he broke the sound barrier, but the ground crew certainly heard the resulting sonic boom, Hayhurst said.

"He just said it was a fabulous view. He was thrilled," Hayhurst said of his conversation with Eustace after he landed.

The supersonic skydive happened with little fanfare, out of the media spotlight, unlike the 2012 attempt by daredevil Felix Baumgartner and the RedBull Stratos team. Baumgartner, who was taken aloft in a capsule with the help of millions of dollars in sponsorships, had set the previous altitude record by jumping from 128,100 feet.

Watching Eustace and his team prepare was historic, said Hayhurst, likening the scene to what it must have been like to watch Ryan Airlines Corp. build the Spirit of St. Louis in the late 1920s.

"This was a bunch of quiet engineers doing the job," he said. "This is a scientific endeavor. This is a stepping stone to space."

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:03:54 -0700

Former Concord schoolteacher to be retried on child molestation charges

A former Concord schoolteacher who was acquitted of 21 charges of child molestation and nearly acquitted of 95 other charges will be re-tried, the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office has announced.

Joseph Martin, 46, of Martinez, will again go to trial on charges that he molested multiple former students at Concord's Woodside Elementary School, prosecutors said. The decision to re-try him comes two months after a jury hung over most of the charges against Martin, acquitting him of 21 charges and tilting heavily toward acquittal on 95 additional charges. The jury voted 9-3 to acquit Martin of charges related to 10 victims and 11-1 to acquit him of charges related to the 11th victim.

However, Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts said, "The numbers don't in and of themselves tell the story."

Butts declined to say whether Martin would be retried on all 95 remaining counts.

He said his discussions with several of the jurors and support from the victims' parents factored into the decision to re-try the defendant.

Martin was initially charged with 150 counts of inappropriately touching male students, including numerous allegations that he fondled their chests underneath their shirts.

The jury heard testimony from the purported victims, most who are now in high school and recalled how the defendant would inappropriately touch them and tell them he loved them both inside and outside of his Woodside Elementary classroom.

Martin's attorney, Patrick Clancy, has said the accusations were a result of "mass hysteria" fueled by baseless rumors and that his client was a dedicated teacher who cared about his students' success.

Clancy called the decision to re-try his client "very unfair" and said the process is "extremely expensive and hard on his family."

Martin, a married father of two, remains in county jail on $10 million bail.

His attorney added that he had never seen a case re-tried after a jury leaned so heavily toward acquittal.

Nonetheless, Clancy said he and his client are ready to go back into the courtroom.

"I seriously doubt there will be many counts or accusers left on the day of trial," he said.

The new trial is set for Nov. 3 or within 10 days of that date and is expected to last six to 10 weeks, according to Butts.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:35:51 -0700

Man sentenced to 12 years in fatal 2008 stabbing of UC-Berkeley student

A former Berkeley City College student was sentenced Friday to 12 years in state prison for fatally stabbing University of California at Berkeley student Christopher Wootton near campus six years ago.

The sentencing ends a long legal saga for 27-year-old Andrew Hoeft-Edenfield, who was found guilty of second-degree murder on May 13, 2010, in connection with the death of 21-year-old Christopher Wootton in the early morning hours of May 3, 2008.

Hoeft-Edenfield was sentenced to a term of 16 years to life in state prison, but last year the California Supreme Court, which had originally upheld his conviction, issued an order to show cause why he shouldn't be entitled to relief based on his allegation that his trial lawyer, Yolanda Huang, failed to provide effective legal assistance.

The matter was sent back to Alameda County Superior Court and on April 29 Judge Larry Goodman, after holding a lengthy hearing, dismissed Hoeft-Edenfield's conviction, ruling that Huang failed to warn him that he could face a life sentence if he didn't accept a manslaughter plea bargain and went to trial and was convicted of murder.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office had fought hard to convict Hoeft-Edenfield of second-degree murder in his four-month-long trial in 2010.

But on Sept. 9 prosecutors decided not to undergo another lengthy trial and allowed Hoeft-Edenfield to plead no contest to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Wootton, who was from Bellflower in Southern California, was only two weeks away from graduating with honors in nuclear engineering when he was stabbed during a confrontation in the parking lot of a sorority house in the 2400 block of Warring Street at about 2:45 a.m. on May 3, 2008.

According to the evidence in Hoeft-Edenfield's trial, the stabbing occurred at the end of a drunken shouting match that developed when Hoeft-Edenfield, who worked at Jamba Juice in Berkeley, and a group of his friends encountered Wootton, who was a member of the nearby Sigma Pi fraternity house, and his friends on a street near campus.

Huang, Hoeft-Edenfield's trial attorney, admitted that he stabbed Wootton but said he acted in self-defense after he was outnumbered, surrounded, kicked and stomped by Wootton and a large group of Wootton's friends.

But Judge Jeffrey Horner, who presided over Hoeft-Edenfield's trial, said that on the night of the incident Hoeft-Edenfield never called police and never claimed self-defense.

Instead, Horner said, Hoeft-Edenfield pulled out a knife, asked Wootton and his friends, "Who wants to die?" and fatally stabbed Wootton.

Hoeft-Edenfield's new attorney, Christopher Dalton, said today that he doesn't think Hoeft-Edenfield committed murder because there were "self-defense elements to the case."

Dalton said Hoeft-Edenfield "spent the last six years thinking he would never get out of prison" but will now be released in about six years after serving the rest of his term for his manslaughter conviction.

Wootton's family members attended all of Hoeft-Edenfield's trial and most of the other hearings in the case but didn't come to court for his sentencing Friday.

Prosecutor Stacie Pettigrew declined to comment on the case, saying she was busy with another trial, although that trial isn't in session Friday.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:27:49 -0700

San Leandro man sentenced to 115 years for raping family member

A 58-year-old San Leandro man was sentenced Friday to 115 years to life in state prison for his conviction on five felony sexual assault counts for raping a family member when she was eight and nine years old several years ago.

Jurors deliberated for only one day before returning their verdict against Arthur Esver on July 8.

They found him guilty of four counts of intercourse or sodomy with a child under the age of ten and one count of sexual penetration with a foreign object on a child under ten.

Prosecutor Samantha Kim told jurors that Esver took advantage of the family member's trust in him and sexually attacked her after he made her comfortable by buying her ice cream and playing puppets with her.

Kim said Esver had regular access to the girl and "was someone she trusted, cared for and looked up to."

The charges stem from incidents that occurred in San Leandro between May 2010 and March 2011, according to Kim.

The prosecutor said that after the fifth alleged incident, the girl, who is now 12, finally told a family member what was happening to her because "she couldn't take it anymore and had to tell someone."

Kim said there was physical evidence to corroborate the girl's allegations against Esver.

But Esver's lawyer, Roger Hecht, told jurors that they should find Esver not guilty of all the charges against him because there's no evidence that the girl was physically harmed or that Esver had sex with her.

Hecht said, "This girl is a virgin. This crime never occurred."

At the sentencing hearing Hecht asked Alameda County Superior Court Judge Vernon Nakahara to give Esver the lightest sentence possible because any prison sentence would be "tantamount to the death penalty" given Esver's age.

But Nakahara said that under state sentencing guidelines he had no option except to sentence Esver to 115 years to life.

Nakahara said the girl who was molested by Esver "is having a very difficult time since these incidents were reported."

The judge said the girl has made three attempts to commit suicide and is still in counseling, although she is now doing better in school.

The girl and her family didn't attend Esver's hearing.

Kim said she spoke to the girl's family members afterward and she said, "They are very pleased with the sentence and are relieved that this is finally over for her."

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:58:48 -0700

Police: 1 dead besides Washington school shooter

A student walked into his Seattle-area high school cafeteria on Friday and without shouting or arguing, opened fire, killing one person and shooting several others in the head before turning the gun on himself, officials and witnesses said.

Students said the gunman, who authorities have not identified, was staring at students as he shot them inside the cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. As students heard the gunshots, they described a chaotic scene as many ran out of the cafeteria and building to safety while others were told to stay put inside classrooms.

The shooter was a student at the school 30 miles north of Seattle, but Marysville Police Commander Robb Lamoureux said he could not provide more information on the gunman or his motive. Lamoureux said the gunman died of a self-inflicted wound.

Three of the people who were shot had head wounds and were in critical condition, two at Providence Everett Medical Center and one at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, hospital officials said. Another victim, a 14-year-old male student, was listed in serious condition at Harborview as well, the hospital said.

Witnesses described the gunman as methodical as he entered the cafeteria.

Brian Patrick said his daughter, a freshman, was 10 feet from the gunman when the shooting occurred. She ran from the cafeteria and immediately called her mother.

Patrick said his daughter told him, "'The guy walked into the cafeteria, pulled out a gun and started shooting. No arguing, no yelling."

Student Alan Perez was eating his lunch at a nearby table when he heard the gunshots.

"He had a little gun in his hand. I saw the flash from the muzzle," he told KING-TV.

Another student, Austin Taylor, told the station the shooter "was just staring down every one of his victims as he shot them."

Senior Jayden Eugenio, 17, was in the library when a fire alarm went off, then someone came over the intercom and said shots had been fired and that students should stay inside.

"I was shaking, you would never believe this would happen in your school," he said.

Outside the school, students started streaming out of the building, with some trying to jump a fence to get away, witnesses said.

Cedar Parker, a 17-year-old senior, said he was driving away from campus when the shooting happened. He let several students into his car as he heard others yelling for their friends: "Where are you?"

A crowd of parents waited in a parking lot outside a nearby church where they were being reunited with their children. Buses pulled up periodically to drop off students evacuated from the school, with some running to hug their mothers or fathers.

Patrick said after the shooting, his other daughter, a senior at the school, called him "hysterical" from her classroom.

"I thought, 'God let my kids be safe," he said.

Marysville-Pilchuck High School has many students from the Tulalip Indian tribe. State Sen. John McCoy, a tribal member, said the shooting had devastated the community.

"We're all related in one shape or form. We live and work and play together," he said.

Another shooting occurred June 5 in the metro area at Seattle Pacific University, where a gunman killed one student and wounded two others.

Published: Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:26:25 -0700