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Stories by Eva Knott

Pistol-packing housewife

“She couldn’t take it anymore.”

Julie Harper killed her husband Jason with a two-shot derringer that her father had given her for self-protection when she was going to college in the 1990s, according to her attorney who spoke to jurors ...

Julie Harper may claim self-defense

Jury selection for Carlsbad murder trial set for next week

In court on September 3, there were many hints that a Carlsbad housewife accused of murder would take the witness box in her own defense during her upcoming trial. Julie Elizabeth Harper, now 41, is ...

Killer of the mother of his children

Arturo Salazar sentenced to 26 years to life

An Oceanside man who murdered the mother of his two children and then hid her body under the bed was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison today, August 26. Last month, a jury ...

Rum and hammer

Rummed-up son abused his parents

“They just said you’re not allowed to drink around us, so I just said, ‘Fine,’” Greg Foley recalled. “I just didn’t let them know that I was drinking because it would upset them.” He just ...

Pumpkin patch blooms at Bates

Free family fun in Valley Center

There are many bright blooms and small, pale pumpkins underneath the broad leaves of the pumpkin plants on the 100-acre Bates Nut Farm in August. On a recent weekend, a man who identified himself as ...

Serrato's legal hotspot cools

Charges dismissed against man accused of re-igniting California wildfire

Arson charges against Alberto Serrato, 57, were dismissed in San Diego Superior Court on August 13. Serrato had been accused of re-igniting a brush fire three months ago, while fires raged across North County. Serrato, ...

Trial for Los Angeles man accused of killing mom in Solana Beach to begin

Jury selection will begin next week in San Diego Superior Court.

A Los Angeles man accused of beating his mother to death in her million-dollar Solana Beach home more than four years ago is set to go on trial this month. Potential jurors are expected to ...

All the girls were ripping

Oceanside's 2014 Supergirl Pro showcased local and international surf talent

“All the girls were ripping,” said 24-year-old Sara Taylor, who won her round during the first day of the 2014 Supergirl Pro, a three-day all-women’s surf competition in Oceanside on August 8, 2014. Taylor, who ...

Nephew testifies for accused arsonist

“After they took uncle to court, I drunk his beer.”

“I called my uncle Albert up, said, ‘Hey, there’s a fire over here, come check it out,’” Fernando Juarez testified for the defense during the trial of his uncle, Alberto Beltran Serrato, on August 6. ...

Like a Boy Scout

Accused of arson, suspect says he was throwing dirt on a fire

Two Oceanside police officers testified during a trial today, August 5, that they saw a man put handfuls of dry brush onto a smoldering spot, twice, until the area re-ignited into flame. “I still remember ...

Only Bloods in their streets

Beaten, stomped, stabbed, and left for dead in Oceanside

Two reputed gang members, Roland Isaac Seau, 24, and David Lemoe Tua, 31, were ordered to face murder and attempted-murder charges after a multi-day hearing that ended late on Thursday, July 31. Both Seau and ...

Bad son

Oceanside man on trial for allegedly attacking parents

Gregory Dale Foley, 56, pleads not-guilty to the attempted murder of his 81-year-old mother and cruelty to his 86-year-old father, in a trial that began yesterday, July 29, 2014. The prosecutor played a chilling 911 ...

Not going to stick up for evil no more

Sergio Ramirez denies trying to kill his homie who wanted out of “the life”

Testimony began on July 17 in a trial for a man who admits being a street hood for the Varrio Fallbrook Locos gang. Some witnesses have been so fearful that they suffered almost complete memory ...

Pistol-packing grandma?

Alleged murderer of son-in-law has mental competency questioned

Legal proceedings against a 63-year-old woman accused of reloading her five-shot revolver twice to finish killing her son-in-law were put on hold today, July 8. The attorney for Cynthia Kaye Cdebaca asked for the case ...

Libby Lake mayhem

Justice sought for multiple gunshot victims

A subpoenaed witness who refused to testify on July 7 was handcuffed and taken into custody at the start of a hearing in which four young men are accused of a double murder in connection ...

Not guilty, but still jailed

Oceanside man who admitted double shooting is acquitted

On July 1, court observers were stunned when a jury declared an Oceanside man not guilty of two charges, even though the defendant took the witness box and admitted shooting two persons. The jury foreman ...

Cop-tosser gets a year in the clink

Vista gang member threw female deputy to the ground, so she shot him

A Vista man who admitted felony assault on a deputy — during a confrontation more than a year ago in which he ended up with a bullet in his chest — was sentenced to time ...

Faulty headlight, dilated pupils

Methed-up driver has history — but no license

When deputy Agustin Rostras asked Cirilo Arenas Velasco for his driver’s license on May 30, “He said his license was suspended,” according to Rostras. Then the officer asked Velasco for some form of ID and ...

Gang tats don’t help dead man

Attorney for defendant impugns man who was killed

In opening statements to a jury on June 16, a defense attorney appeared to impugn the alleged murder victim, saying “everybody knew” the deceased was a drug dealer in the neighborhood and a “multi-convicted felon.” ...

"The plumber touched me" defense

Six years in prison for ATM robbery of employer

On June 16, a San Diego judge ordered six years in prison for a young man convicted of robbing his employer at an ATM machine, after a dispute over pay more than a year ago. ...

One triggerman, two murderers

McCreary and Withers each claimed the other shot the woman

After a trial that lasted one month, a jury declared both Jeffrey McCreary and Destin Lee Withers guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Mayorama Denise Rodriguez, 20, more than two years ago. ...

“He shot her.” “No, he shot her.”

Codefendants blame each other for killing Mayorama Rodriguez

“After he killed her, I drove away with the body,” said Jeffrey McCreary while in the witness box this week. “That made me an accessory, afterward.” But McCreary said it was his codefendant who pulled ...

Some trees and a man died for this

Michael Vilkin claims John Upton threatened him repeatedly

“Mr. Vilkin protected himself,” said attorney Richard Berkon, speaking for a man accused of killing his neighbor. “This case was justified. It was self-defense.” Trial began yesterday, June 5, for an Encinitas man charged with ...

Welcome to Hell

Steven said the voice was suddenly closer to him, when he heard “Welcome to hell!” It was after 8 p.m. and dark. “I happened to turn around and look, and this guy was coming up ...

Kids to stand up for dead dad?

Prosecutor says he'll call young witnesses to testify against Julie Harper

During a brief hearing in court today, June 3, prosecutor Keith Watanabe complained to the judge, again, “We haven’t gotten the murder weapon yet.” Julie Elizabeth Harper, now 41, is accused of shooting her husband ...

Firebug or amateur firefighter?

Suspected arsonist says he was trying to put out flames with dirt

A man accused of feeding a smoldering fire until it re-ignited into flame during the raging fires in San Diego County three weeks ago was actually putting dirt onto the spot to put out the ...

Did Leaky and Rascal attempt murder?

Stabbing in Valley Center reportedly connected to Escondido gang

Two men stabbed a third man, either in a fit of jealous rage or to show some gang muscle or both, a prosecutor alleged in court on May 28. At the end of the hearing, ...

Firebug caught?

Suspect has 12 prior felony convictions in two counties

A man who Oceanside police said was seen feeding a fire during the conflagrations two weeks ago had a hearing this morning in San Diego Superior Court. According to police, Alberto Beltran Serrato, 57, was ...

Vista teenager gets 24 years in prison

Cristian Constanti Garcia was 15 at time of knife fight

A Vista teenager who admitted killing a man and seriously injuring another in a gang clash in a public park was sentenced to more than 24 years in California state prison yesterday, May 21. Cristian ...

Pillow shock

“Friend” admits incident that could have suffocated 92-year-old man

Donna Lee Darling, 61, pleaded guilty to the charge of assault on an elder, causing suffering, in San Diego Superior Court today, May 20. In exchange for the plea, a charge of attempted murder was ...

.44 caliber Christmas

Marine killed television and neighbors’ sense of security

A Marine who admitted firing a gun inside his Vista apartment, sending one shot through the front door and into the neighbors’ apartment, was sentenced to probation and "veterans' court” yesterday, May 16. The night ...

Robbery or payday?

ATM surveillance video shows “Nobody’s touching anyone”

A San Diego jury will decide if a young man just wanted to get paid after his employer made an unwanted sexual advance on him or if the defendant threatened and then robbed the older ...

Shark apprehends carjacker

Deputy Cruz responded immediately to scanner reports of a carjacking in progress in Bonsall. It was about 3 o’clock when he left the Valley Center sheriff’s station, 20 miles away, on Wednesday afternoon, January 29. ...

Shot dead in bedroom

Defendant Julie Harper has a couple guns

Attorneys were in court on May 9, preparing for the trial of Julie Elizabeth Harper, 41, who is accused of shooting her husband Jason, 39, nearly two years ago. The prosecutor said he hoped the ...

Bullets instead of drugs

Co-defendant seems to confirm he shot Morayma Denise Rodriguez

A jury began hearing evidence in the trial of two men accused of killing a woman to end her loud “drama,” in San Diego’s North County courthouse today, May 12. The 20-year-old woman who was ...

POW! Have some brain damage

One-punch-fight results in felony battery charge

William Henry McElroy, 23, pleaded not guilty to felony battery causing serious injury in court yesterday, May 7. According to the testimony of officer T. Eikermann, McElroy admitted that he hit a man identified as ...

Nazi Low Riders on trial

Doesn't matter who pulled the trigger — both defendants could be culpable

Two men who are accused of killing a young woman to end her loud “drama” two years ago, will go on trial this week in San Diego’s North County Superior courthouse. Jury selection is scheduled ...

As Lambesis awaits sentencing…

Delay affords As I Lay Dying frontman a couple more weeks at home

The sentencing of Tim Lambesis for soliciting a hit man to kill his wife was delayed two weeks, from this morning, May 2, until May 16. The As I Lay Dying frontman and admitted would-be-assassin ...

Water sprinklers get their man

Irrigation system drove the suspect out of the bushes, cops say

Oceanside police say they saw the burglary suspect come out of his hiding place in the bushes when the sprinklers came on, after they responded to a call at around 3 a.m. on April 17. ...

Denies assault, mayhem, torture

Oceanside man "didn’t mean to” beat victim that badly

It was before 2 a.m. on Monday, April 21, when four Oceanside police officers responded to a report of yelling and fighting in a ground-floor unit at the Mission Hills apartment complex on Rancho Del ...

Pocketful of coke and a spontaneous statement

Alleged dealer busted outside donut shop at midnight

Escondido police say they arrested a man in the parking lot of the donut shop down the street from headquarters, his pocket allegedly bulging with drugs. José Luis Fonseca, 23, pleaded not guilty to possession ...

Carlsbad hash-oil processor processed in Vista

But he came from Arizona…where he’s got a record

A Carlsbad man was arrested on April 22 after police found ten empty butane cans in the trash container from his home. Authorities had gotten a tip that Daniel Clark Steadman, 32, was cooking hashish ...

Wanted: my freakin’ paddleboard!

Crime victim puts up surveillance pics that lead to thief

A Carlsbad man came home to find that someone had stolen the paddleboard stored on his back patio, in the 4000 block of Adams Street, about mid-day on Friday, April 4. The resident, identified as ...

Bungling (suspected) burglars busted with stolen stuff

Curious Carlsbad man comes across belongings in car detained by cops

A Carlsbad man walked down the street to see why the cop car was there; he then saw his stolen possessions inside a car that was being detained, according to testimony at a hearing today, ...

Paint on the bumper is insufficient evidence

Charges dropped for Vista man accused of hit-and-run

All charges were dropped for a man who was accused of felony hit-and-run with injury, in connection with a motorcycle crash in Vista seven months ago. A judge ruled there was insufficient evidence against 21-year-old ...

Kassim Alhimidi deemed a murderer

“This is bull***t!” yells son, sparking uproar in courtroom

The courtroom erupted into shouting after Kassim Alhimidi, 49, was declared guilty of first-degree murder in the beating death of his wife two years ago. This afternoon, April 17, judge William McGrath was confirming the ...

El Cajon murder case now with jury

Racist-charged note left at scene considered false evidence

Prosecutor Kurt Mechals failed to prove that Kassim Alhimidi beat his 32-year-old wife to death in their home in 2012, his defense attorney told jurors today, April 15. A note reading “This is my county ...

More delays in Brittany Killgore murder case

New attorney for Maraglino, more information hamper progress

Murder defendant Dorothy Maraglino was in court on April 8, represented by the fourth attorney who has been assigned to her since 22-year-old Brittany Killgore went missing two years ago. Maraglino’s new attorney, Jane Kinsey, ...

Man admits Vista robbery — but not murder attempt

Phillip Edwards Miller expects six years prison

A man who has been fighting an attempted-murder charge for years made a plea deal on April 8, the day his case was set for jury selection. Phillip Edwards Miller, previously identified as Phillip Esquire ...

Escondido truck vandal faces charges

David Gordon Huntley claims he was temporarily insane

A man on probation is accused of causing $5000 damage to a truck sitting on an Escondido car lot two months ago. At a court hearing on April 7, defendant David Gordon Huntley heard evidence ...

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