Many significant events took place in the Tri-City area during 2005, from the verdicts reached against the three men charged with murdering a Newark transgender teen, to the Diocese of Oakland's settlement of dozens of priest-abuse lawsuits, including several that named former Tri-City area priests.

In this second part of a two-day review of local news in 2005, The Argus looks at July through December.

July

-Michael Sanchez, 20, of Union City was stabbed to death early July 2 in a fight outside his grandmother's home in the Decoto neighborhood. Three juveniles — Richard Armando Toruno, Anthony Augustine Landers and Samuel Anthony Hernandez — were charged as adults with murder. Their pretrial hearing is ongoing.

-A three-time unsuccessful candidate for local government announced July 12 that he will run for governor in 2006. Vibert Greene, a Newark Democrat, described himself as a non-career politician who wants to shake things up at the state Capitol.

-Two young men were seriously injured July 20 when they were dragged by a car for more than 1,000 feet after a fight broke out at a gas station at Cedar Boulevard and Thornton Avenue in Newark. Jorge Valle, 20, of Hayward was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, but he later pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of assault with a deadly weapon.

-Irving Ramirez, a 23-year-old El Salvadoran national from Newark, was charged with murder July 28 in the slaying of San Leandro police Officer Nels "Dan" Niemi.


Advertisement

Niemi was shot seven times responding to a routine disturbance call in San Leandro three days earlier. Ramirez is awaiting a trial date.

August

-A Newark man with a history of psychological problems leaped from a moving car on southbound Interstate 880 on the afternoon of Aug. 1 and, minutes later, he lunged at a California Highway Patrol officer, who shot him once. Edenar Talens, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene.

-A Union City man was charged in August with the death of his 4-month-old son. Cliff Adam Vicente, 22, told police he suffocated and hit the baby, Darrell Vicente, multiple times before the baby died July 21, according to court records. He said he had asked God to take the baby because he was not ready to be a father, according to the records. He is awaiting a pretrial hearing.

-The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland announced Aug. 5 that it had agreed to a $56.4 million settlement with 56 childhood sexual-abuse survivors, capping three years of litigation and four months of intense negotiation. The settlement included suits that named several former Tri-City area priests, including former priests Robert Freitas, Stephen Kiesle and Donald Eugene Broderson, and the late Revs. Vincent Breen and James Clark.

-Eric Mahoney, 33, of Alameda died Aug. 3, five days after he was shocked with a Taser as he struggled with a Fremont police officer. The Alameda County coroner's office later determined he died of acute methamphetamine and amphetamine intoxication.

-An Arizona teenager, whose mother went on national television because she feared her daughter had been abducted, turned up unharmed in Union City on Aug. 18, after she changed her mind about being a prostitute. Although 19-year-old Miya Lillie eventually told police she came to California knowing she would work as an "escort," Lillie's stepmother said she was convinced the teen was tricked into prostitution.

-After three years of public hearings, debate and litigation, retail giant Wal-Mart opened its first Fremont store on Aug. 24, along Osgood Road off Auto Mall Parkway. The 156,000-square-foot building features a nail salon, Blimpie restaurant, Tire and Lube Express, and lawn and garden center.

-Fremont resident Jonathan David Sanft, 31, was stabbed to death in the early hours of Aug. 21 in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven store on Alvarado-Niles Road near Almaden Boulevard in Union City. Sanft and his two cousins had gone to the store for some beer when an argument broke out between them and a group of about 12 men and two women. Sanft, a James Logan High School graduate, was hit in the head with a crowbar and stabbed. Three men have been arrested.

-Mission Pine Cafe, in Fremont's Mission San Jose neighborhood, which had dished out cups of coffee, homemade pie and good conversation for almost four decades, shut its doors in August. Cafe owner Doug Tom said a series of recent rent increases forced him into early retirement.

September

-Two men were found guilty Sept. 12 of second-degree murder in the October 2002 slaying of a Newark transgender teenager, but the jury deadlocked on a third defendant. The three men had been retried after a jury deadlocked in June 2004. Michael Magidson of Fremont and Jose Merel of Newark, both 25, were found guilty of murdering 17-year-old Gwen Araujo, but they were cleared of hate-crime charges. They will be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. Judge Harry Sheppard declared a mistrial for the third man charged in the case, 25-year-old Jason Cazares of Newark, after jurors were unable to reach a verdict.

-A high-speed chase in Centerville involving police and a parolee Sept. 20 ended with gunfire when officers shot the parolee three times as he tried to escape, police said. Joel Anthony Harrison, 23, led police on a chase after they responded to a report that he was selling guns, drugs and body armor out of his car, they said. He is awaiting a pretrial hearing.

-Tragedy struck again along a deadly stretch of road when three Chabot College students were killed Sept. 20 in a single-car crash on Union City Boulevard. Amanjot Thiara and Vibha Sharma, both of Fremont, and Saprina Sidhu of Union City died after their car slammed into a tree at Kohoutek Way near Whipple Road. Sidhu, 19, and Sharma, who would have turned 19 the following day, were killed in the crash. Thiara died six hours later at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. The crash happened near the spot where 19-year-old Annisha Reddy of San Jose and her unborn baby were killed in a high-speed, single-vehicle crash on Aug. 19. Four James Logan High School students died along the same stretch of road in two crashes in 2001 and 2002.

-The Fremont school board fired Superintendent John Rieckewald in September, citing differences regarding his leadership style. On Oct. 11, in what some say was a move to create stability in the district, the board hired acting Superintendent Doug Gephart to take over the district's top job. Gephart has worked in the district for a dozen years, including as the associate superintendent of human resources.

-Union City officials announced in late September that every ticket generated by red-light enforcement cameras in the city since they were installed during the summer would be dismissed, costing the city almost half a million dollars in potential revenue. The decision came after police officials and city engineers discovered the yellow-light duration at its camera-enforced intersections was too short.

-Newark commemorated the 50th anniversary of its incorporation as a city with a four-day Newark Days celebration in September, drawing crowds of up to 100,000. The event included carnival rides, a parade, music and a wide range of ethnic food booths. In keeping with the city's incorporation date of Sept. 22, 1955, this year's event had a 1950s theme.

-Two Southern California men were charged Sept. 30 with murder in the December 2004 shooting death of a Union City man during an attempted carjacking less than a mile from his home. The district attorney's office filed charges against Jose Napoleon Beteta, 26, and Sanders Rivera, 22, in the slaying of 48-year-old Mohammed Sharif, a popular San Jose flea market vendor. Their court cases are pending.

October

-Fremont City Council members unanimously agreed on Oct. 11 to study the possibility of bringing the Oakland A's baseball team to Fremont. The city will hire a consultant to look at potential sites, costs, economic benefits and other factors. Fremont has at least two potential sites for a ballpark village. General Motors owns a 107-acre lot just north of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Warm Springs. And a 143-acre parcel in the heart of the Pacific Commons retail center off Auto Mall Parkway still is undeveloped.

-Alameda County Board of Education trustee Eileen McDonald agreed in October to pay

$29,000 in fines for violating the state's Political Reform Act 17 times during her tenure on the Newark school board. The Fair Political Practices Commission fined McDonald for 15 counts of making decisions as an elected official that had a "reasonably foreseeable" financial benefit to her travel agency, and two counts of failing to disclose all of her economic interests.

-Fremont Bank founder Morris Hyman, one of the city's most successful businessmen and a generous philanthropist, died Oct. 17 at Washington Hospital in Fremont. He was 84. Hyman grew his company from six employees working out of a former Centerville post office to a regional bank with 24 branches, 450 employees and $1.6 billion in assets. The bank also donated to many local causes.

November

-The 88-year-old woman who kept watch over Mission San Jose Elementary School for nearly three decades sued the Fremont school district Oct. 31, saying it owes her more than

$1 million in back pay. Thelma "Mo" Russ, one of the first campus guardians under the district's Vandal Watch program, paid cheap rent to live on campus in return for providing a presence to ward off vandals and burglars. But she and two other family members were evicted from their mobile home in June when the district ended her lease to make room for a school building.

-Newark schools chief John Bernard announced his intention to run for superintendent of the Alameda County Office of Education in June. Bernard, who said he would stay in Newark through the end of 2006 if elected, said he's seeking office because he sees a need for better fiscal management of schools in the county, and a need to improve student achievement in juvenile schools and other county-run classrooms.

-Voters on Nov. 8 elected Ana Apodaca and re-elected Al Nagy to serve on the Newark City Council. Nagy garnered 36 percent of the vote, and Apodaca, 33 percent.

Apodaca is a former district director for state Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, who works as a community and government relations manager for Kaiser Permanente.

-Union City officials hired a traffic consultant in November to study what can be done to slow motorists on Union City Boulevard, the site of a slew of fatal automobile accidents in recent years.

-The son of a former Los Altos police officer who killed himself in a botched bank robbery in Fremont in 1997 was one of three people arrested Nov. 18 in connection with the slaying of a California Highway Patrol officer near Sacramento.

Brendt Anthony Volarvich, 20, of Roseville was booked into Yolo County jail on suspicion of murder. He was 12 when his father, Dennis Volarvich, shot himself after officers cornered him minutes after the robbery of a Bank of America branch in Fremont's Mission San Jose neighborhood.

December

-Irvington High School students and alumni experienced football mania when the Vikings made it to the final round of the North Coast Section 3-A East Bay championships.

The team won nine in a row — and broke James Logan High School's 40-game MVAL winning streak — to capture its first Mission Valley Athletic League title since 1982. But the Vikings suffered a 21-14 defeat to Las Lomas at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum on Dec. 3, when it appeared in its first-ever NCS championship.

-After about six months of negotiations, Newark teachers settled a two-year contract with the school district that gives them a pay increase in January and guarantees them a cost-of-living raise next school year.

-New Haven school board member Gwen Estes, the Tri-City area's only African-American elected official, was elected to the California School Boards Association's 32-member board of directors. Her primary responsibility will be to represent the state's African-American students.

-The Argus reported Dec. 5 that Wal-Mart plans to move into the former Costco building in Fremont, off Stevenson Boulevard and Interstate 880, just 31/2 months after the retail giant opened its first store in town. The opening also would mark the third Wal-Mart in the Tri-City area.

-Jason Cazares pleaded no contest Dec. 16 to voluntary manslaughter in the 2002 slaying of Newark transgender teen Gwen Araujo. The 25-year-old Newark resident will spend no more than six years in prison and will be credited for the time he has already served — about 20 months. In September, Michael Magidson of Fremont and Jose Merel of Newark, both 25, were found guilty of second-degree murder and will be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison in late January.

-Army Sgt. Cheyenne Willey was killed Dec. 23 by a roadside bomb in Iraq, making him the third Fremont soldier to die in Iraq. Willey, 36, is survived by his mother and sister. Just days after news of his death, members of Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay church from Topeka, Kan., announced plans to protest at Willey's funeral. Church members have picketed nearly 80 funerals of U.S. troops killed in Iraq since June because they believe the deaths are the direct result of God's anger at Americans for the existence of homosexuality, adultery, theft and commercialism.

-Newark City Manager Al Huezo officially retired Dec. 31 after 31 years as a city employee. Huezo, 61, plans to spend the next year traveling and trying out new hobbies before returning as a mentor at Newark Memorial High School. John Becker, one of Newark's assistant city managers since 2002, is taking over for Huezo.

-Sung Bay Kim was shot to death and his wife wounded Dec. 30 in their home on Iroquois Way in the Warm Springs area. Police said they were looking Friday night for a family friend, Yeong Cheol Chin, 48, of Milpitas, who was in the home when a verbal disagreement led to gunfire. Two children in the house escaped unharmed. Chin later that evening died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at Gates of Heaven Cemetery in Cupertino, Santa Clara County Sheriff's spokesman Serge Palanov said.

Chin also was suspected of killing one man and wounding another Friday evening at a billiard hall in Santa Clara. A Santa Clara County Coroner spokeswoman said authorities had not yet identified the man killed at the billiard hall. The man who survived the billiard hall shooting was being treated for his gunshot wounds at a South Bay hospital, Santa Clara police Sgt. Kurt Clarke said.