Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Supervisors, Public Lambaste Carrillo at Meeting

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 1:41 PM

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors nearly unanimously called for fellow Supervisor Efren Carrillo’s resignation at today’s public meeting, followed by over 40 comments from the public, about 75 percent of which called for the supervisor's resignation, while Carrillo sat silent in the meeting room.

Board chair David Rabbit was the only member who stopped just short of directly calling for Carrillo’s resignation. “We can ask you to resign, but it is ultimately up to you,” he said. “You were very honest on the [witness] stand, you said some things that made me scratch my head and made me shiver.”

Supervisor Shirlee Zane had already called for Carrillo’s resignation, and Supervisors Susan Gorin and Mike McGuire echoed those sentiments this morning. Then came the public’s opinion.

Richard Sorensen Romero, a former Healdsburg city planner, told Carrillo, “The Chicano community, you embarrass us.”

Former Santa Rosa City Councilwoman Marsha Vas Dupre said, “I’m afraid of you,” adding “I don’t accept your apologies at all.”

Evelyn Cheatham, director of the nonprofit Worth Our Weight, said, “Efren, I love you. I do. But I am so disappointed… I had hoped you would do the honorable thing in the beginning and resign.” She says he has worked with teens in the program and questioned, “Can I expose the kids to you?”

Some voiced support for Carrillo. Marco Suarez said, “I’m not saying that he’s the victim, but I know that he’s been able to come forward and confront what he did and be honest.” He took issue with the term “sexual assault” in conjunction with Carrillo. “He was never convicted of being a rapist,” he said. “I know that he will do right by the county of Sonoma.”

Some who voiced support were recovering alcoholics. After the incident, Carrillo admitted he has a problem with alcohol and checked himself into rehab for 30 days before returning to his duties on the board.

State Senator Noreen Evans has called for Carrillo’s resignation, and State Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro joined the chorus at the meeting. “He supports the supervisors today that have called for Supervisor Carrillo’s resignation,” a spokeswoman told the board.

Chris Castillo, executive director of the Verity Rape Crisis and Trauma Center, spoke on a personal level to Carrillo. “Remember,” she said, “she will hold this in her heart. She will remember this always, and she will never feel safe.”

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Carrillo Case Update: 911 Tapes Released

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Now that the trial's over and Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo has been found not guilty of peeking, Santa Rosa police have released the victim’s 911 calls from July 13, when Carrillo was found in his underwear at 4am outside the woman’s apartment.

The victim, who remains anonymous, called 911 twice. The first time, she reported that a man was trying to get in to her house through her bedroom window. She said he was “shirtless and huge,” but sounded calm considering the situation. In the second call, 10 minutes later, she says, “he just fucking knocked on my door,” and was more agitated. During that call, which was with the same female dispatch operator, police arrived at the woman’s house. She remained on the phone with the 911 operator until contacting the officer outside her door.

She told the operator her friends were at the house, and that she was shaking. She testified on the witness stand that she and her friends had armed themselves with butcher knives between the two 911 calls.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hot Crime

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 3:39 PM

It’s hot today. Not that that’s news to anyone who’s been outside, but there is something about rising temperatures that should be noted: when the earth turns up the heat, we turn to crime.

Yes, it’s true: a rise in temperatures correlates with an increase in crime. Some say it’s because we are more easily agitated when it’s hot. Maybe it’s just because we drink more; ya know, the cool-beer-on-a-hot-day effect. Whatever the cause, it’s a proven fact, and it’s been tracked for decades.

So, take heed on this hot day, and be a little more patient than you might normally be. After all, we don’t want to add to statistics.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Carrillo Trial Day 4: No Decision Yet, Jurors To Return Monday

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 5:21 PM

Jurors did not reach a verdict today in Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo’s misdemeanor peeking trial. The split was 11-1, and it was not indicated in which favor. Jurors will return Monday to continue deliberation.

The news comes at the end of an usual day in the courtroom. Members of the jury were contacted twice this week by a member of the press, judge Gary Medvigy said Friday. The jurors each said the contact did not impact their deliberations, and Medgivy allowed the trial to proceed after an hour of individual juror interviews. The highly unusual incident did, however, promot outrage from defense attorney Chris Andrian.

“I think it’s more than contempt of court, I think it may be a felony,” he told the judge. “It makes this whole thing sound like a circus more than a courtroom.”

Two jurors reported being approached by a man whom they later understood to be a reporter. One woman who said she was wearing her juror badge at the time, said she was asked her occupation and if she worked full time on the first day of trial by the man.

Another woman was asked on the jury’s lunch recess, “Is there a verdict in the Carrillo case?” She responded that she was not allowed to talk about the case. “Based solely on appearance, he was a member of the press,” she told the judge.

The jury reportedly had reached a verdict just before the noon recess, but Judge Medvigy elected to wait until court resumed at 1:30 to hear the verdict. One juror changed his or her mind just before court resumed, Medgivy said.

The jury is scheduled to resume deliberations at 10:45 Monday morning. Follow @NicolasGrizzle on Twitter for updates.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Carrillo trial update day 3

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo took the stand in his peeking trial on Thursday afternoon saying he has a bigger problem with alcohol than he let on to officers. He said that he told officers he had "two beers and a couple of really strong mixed drinks," but said he had actually had much more than that. He says he was trying to hide it and was in denial. "At the time, I was accustomed to downplaying and minimalizing the struggle."

He told his defense attorney Chris Andrian there were two reasons why he went over to Jane Doe's apartment at 3:30 that morning: "The fact that I was drinking" was one and "I was hoping to rekindle some kind of relationship" was the other. He later admitted, under cross-examination, that there really was no relationship to begin with, and he was basing his perception off of two brief interactions.

"My sense of ego," "My sense of entitlement," and "My sense of arrogance made me think it was a good idea to go over to Jane Doe's house," Carrillo told the defense. "It was selfish," he said. "It had nothing to do with Jane Doe, only with me."

He added, "There is no excuse."

Carrillo admitted during his testimony that he had damaged Jane Doe's bedroom screen on her window. He says he didn't tell officers at first, because he was "unwilling to admit I had done anything wrong."

During a brutal hour-long cross-examination, in which Carrillo looked uncomfortable, emotional and shaken at times, prosecutor Cody Hunt asked which hand he had broken the screen with and put it inside her bedroom, because he had two beers in one hand, and his cell phone to the other. It had been established previously in the trial that his boxer briefs did not have pockets, and Hunt surmised that he must have put his hand holding the cell phone inside her window. He then intimated that Carrillo took pictures inside the woman's bedroom. Hunt informed Carrillo during his cross-examination that he had a copy of everything on his cell phone, to which Carrillo replied he knew. Nothing from the phone was entered into evidence.

The supervisor admitted that he has a problem with alcohol and ego, but those aren't illegal. What's really being discussed is whether he peeked inside the woman's apartment to which he says he did not. He did admit knocking on her door at 3:30 in the morning in his underwear and walking around to her back patio through the gate because he thought he saw a light on coming out of the sliding glass door in the back. But he maintained that he did not have a recollection of whether or not he looked into the apartment, and at one point explicitly said he did not look into the apartment.

He did admit hoping to spark a sexual relationship with the woman whom he called "very attractive," even after being dropped off by his girlfriend from a nightclub about an hour and a half prior. When asked by Hunt, Carrillo stated that same woman who dropped him off that night is still his girlfriend today, though she was not in court at the time of his testimony.

The trial resumed at 1:30pm Thursday and the defense did not redirect the cross examination. The jury went to deliberation after closing arguments by defense and prosecution lawyers. Follow @nicolasgrizzle on twitter for updates.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Posted By on Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Day 2 of the Efren Carrillo peeping trial in Sonoma County Superior Court wrapped up a little after 4 pm today without the widely anticipated appearance of Carrillo himself on the witness stand. It's a wide-open question as to whether he'll do so on Day 3. Judge Gary A. Medvigy will reconvene the proceedings Thursday at 10:30, and it's expected that the defense will wrap up its case in fairly short order, based on housecleaning chatter between opposing lawyers and Medvigy after the jury was excused for the day. The afternoon featured testimony from Santa Rosa Police Department officers and technicians who were involved in the Feb. 2013 arrest of Carrillo, a Sonoma County Supervisor who is charged with a single misdemeanor count of peeping after showing up at a neighbor's house, drunk, nearly naked, and carrying a couple of bottles of Pliny the Elder. During their questioning of the police, the defense appeared to be attempting to impugn the integrity of the neighbor, identified only as Jane Doe, by highlighting that this was not the first time Carrillo and she had interacted — he'd already shown up at her door once before, with a bottle of wine. Carrillo's attorneys highlighted that Jane Doe told police she was wrapped in what one officer said was a "towel thing" when she answered the door, only to find Carrillo with some wine. He hugged her and tried to kiss her, she claimed. Said one officer: "She felt that it was an uncomfortable meeting." Yet there appeared to be some inconsistency insofar as what Jane Doe was actually wearing, which the defense highlighted. Another officer interviewed Jane Doe later in the investigation and told the court she was wearing "jeans skirt and a tank top" that day. Whatever she was wearing, Jane Doe told the police she was "grossed out and disgusted" by his visit — it was "weird and creepy." Judge Medvigy told the lawyers that he'd prepared jury instructions based on the testimony offered so far, but that he would amend them if Carrillo in fact takes the stand tomorrow. Defense lawyers said they were considering calling another witness who would provide photographs taken at Carrillo's apartment that showed, essentially, that Carrillo was a bachelor-victim: The photos depicted half-empty booze bottles and lots of garbage. Medvigy was a little perplexed at the possible move, or, in his word, "surprised," that the defense would offer the photos. But the basic thrust of the defense appears to be that that Carrillo had an alcohol problem and Jane Doe may have answered the door in a towel-thing on another occasion. Without coming right out and saying as much (wise move, given that the jury is made up of 10 women and 2 men), there was an unsavory whiff of "she asked for it" in the courtroom air this afternoon.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

World's Fair Presented in Awesome Digital Format 50 Years Later

Posted By on Fri, Apr 18, 2014 at 10:48 AM


This is journalism porn, right here. The New York Times had really hit it out of the park with this digital layout of memories of the 1964 World’s Fair. It combines personal memories in short, meaningful, snippets with photos of the attractions. It’s tied together with enlarged, high resolution scans of the map, broken into sections, that appear and fold up into the top of the screen like a roll-up shade when the page is scrolled down. The names and ages of the writers are includes on their memories, giving the piece weight rather than reducing it to a trending Twitter feed.

A lot of work went into this, both in planning and execution. Major kudos to the team of Alicia DeSantis, Jon Huang, Matthew McCann, Jacky Myint, Dagny Salas, R. Smith, Daniel Victor and Amy Zerba. As with many digital efforts from the Times, it’s nearly flawless. In fact, I’m having a hard time finding something I don’t like about it. But despite its fascinating and thought provoking content and presentation, it brings a twinge of sadness.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Panties & Cheap Cologne (Not the Ol' Dirty Bastard album)

Posted By on Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 10:35 AM

Out of all the things to steal from Corte Madera’s Village shopping center, two suspects were busted with $1,200 worth of panties and cheap cologne.

The Marin Independent Journal reports Florence Berry, 34, and Tonette McClain, 28, were arrested after a search of their vehicle revealed suspected stolen merchandise. That merchandise was nine bottles of Abercrombie & Fitch “Fierce” cologne and 70 pairs of panties from Victoria’s Secret. Looks like someone’s Cuddle Party is going to be a lot less intimate this weekend.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Plane Hijacked, Nobody Died, Media Moves On

Posted By on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 2:05 PM


Did you hear about the plane that was hijacked the other day? I heard it was headed to the Olympics! Then I heard it was an Ethopian pilot who wanted asylum! Then, the real story unfolded in a Q&A session on the social networking site Reddit from a passenger who says, contrary to news reports, passengers did know the plane was being hijacked for the entire six-hour flight.

There was scant news coverage on this event, considering there were 202 people on board that could have died in an instant. But nobody died, not even the hijacker. He landed safely in Geneva, Switzerland, seeking asylum. The cynic in me thinks this that this didn’t make as big a news splash in the United States because A) it was an Ethopian Airlines plane from Ethiopia to Switzerland and B) nobody died. Why do we watch Nascar? For the crashes. Why do we watch downhill skiing? For the crashes. Why do we watch Football? You get the picture.

Apparently the hijacker acted alone—he was the co-pilot on the flight and locked the door when the pilot took a bathroom break. He dropped air pressure in the cabin and forced passengers to put on their oxygen masks. The crew acted as if everything were normal, serving drinks and allowing passengers to walk freely through the cabin. The hijacker reportedly only said, “Sit down, put on your masks. I’m cutting the oxygen,” repeating it three times. News reports said passengers were unaware of the hijacking, but news reports were wrong.

The pilot negotiated the safe landing and release of all passengers (the definition of hero). The hijacker could face up to 20 years in prison, according to Swiss law. The unspoken crime here is the underreporting of this incident and the faulty information that was printed, but not changed when it was proven false. This is big news. Hopefully, we will see more information reported from this event, like, why was he seeking asylum? How was he able to hijack the plane on his own? What security measures are being taken to ensure this never happens again? Let’s hope the answers are eventually printed correctly.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Twitter Handle @N Stolen by Smooth Talking Con Artist

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 10:02 AM

The Internet can be a paranoid place, especially with the recent NSA spying revelations. It’s actually a pretty good bet that every single thing we do online is watched and recorded by the government. But this case here illustrates some good, ol’ fashioned malicious hacking and old school con man artistry.

Naoki Hiroshima had owned the Twitter handle @N since signing up for the service in 2007, when it was still a startup. He was extorted into giving it up (after turning down a $50,000 offer for it), but the con artist left a paper trail of sorts. It wasn’t hard to figure out what happened (especially after Hiroshima conceded and the extortionist revealed how it was done, Bond villain style), but it was impossible to fix, not because of any computer virus or other hacking attack, but because of customer service.

No spoiler alerts here, you’ll have to read the full article. But suffice to say, the piece at least contains some good cybersecurity tips that might have slipped under the radar had it not been for this con artist’s need for approval. I guess the perpetrator didn't realize how useless the Twitter handle would be when everyone knew it was stolen.

EDIT (2/5/14): Wouldn't it be crazy if this new sake, called "N," something to do with it?

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