Pittsburg woman convicted of murder
A Contra Costa County jury on Wednesday found a Pittsburg woman guilty of first-degree murder and robbery in the fatal shooting of a 22-year-old San Francisco man at Pittsburg's Marina Walk Park.
Kiarra Price, 24, is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Dec. 16 for the Nov. 3, 2009, slaying of Benjamin Merrill. The jury found true a special allegation that murder was committed in the course of a robbery but dismissed Price's charge enhancements for gun use.
Merrill had just met Price and her girlfriend Teareney Brown and was intoxicated in San Francisco's Mission neighborhood when he accepted an invitation to party with them. They drove him to the park in Pittsburg before picking up their friend Kendra Fells and her gun.
The prosecution argued at trial that Price shot Merrill dead after the group robbed him of his iPhone and pocket cash. Price's attorney argued that Fells was the shooter.
Fells, 25, took a plea deal in the case and is serving a 15-year sentence. Brown, 24, is awaiting trial.
-- Malaika Fraley, Staff
Witnesses lead police to suspected killer
Witnesses helped police quickly catch the suspected killer of a 23-year-old Richmond man who was gunned down Sunday afternoon.
Police on Monday arrested William Chamberlain, 37, in connection with the killing of Samuel Morales, who was driving his vehicle at Harbour Way and Ohio Avenue about 5:30 p.m. Sunday when someone in another vehicle fired shots at his car.
Morales was hit by the gunfire but drove for three blocks before he crashed at Ohio Avenue and Seventh Street, Capt. Mark Gagan said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The motive in the killing remains under investigation, but the two men had reportedly been in a feud for at least a week, Gagan said.
Gagan said that Chamberlain "was picked up within 24 hours of the homicide."
Chamberlain remains in jail without bail and is expected to be charged Thursday, police said.
The homicide was the 17th of the year in Richmond, a total that includes the March 14 killing of a San Pablo man at the Richmond BART station.
-- Kristin J. Bender, Staff
Performing Arts Center gets director
The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center has appointed a new executive director, hiring Ted Giatas, the former president and CEO of the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert.
Lured out of retirement, Giatas replaces LVPAC's original executive director, Len Alexander, who retired at the end of August. Giatas, who has an extensive background in fundraising, said his main focus will be to stabilize the Bankhead Theater financially.
Giatas, 65, retired from the McCallum Theater last year after 13 years, during which time he guided the theater to become one of the top revenue producing venues in the state, according to a news release. Before joining the McCallum in 1999, Giatas served as president and CEO of the Midland Center for the Arts in Michigan for nearly 20 years.
-- Jeremy Thomas, Staff
City strikes deal for truck maintenance
The City Council cleared up a practical matter over its award-winning curbside recycling program by approving a deal Tuesday allowing its garbage collection provider to maintain the municipal fleet of recycling trucks.
El Cerrito has been sending its four trucks, which cost more than $300,000 apiece, to different garages around the Bay Area when they need maintenance and repairs.
The $107,900 annual contract with East Bay Sanitary, which operates a garage for its own trucks and vehicles in Richmond, provides a convenient, nearby location for repairs and preventive maintenance.
The trucks are from four to six years old and have a maximum life span of about 12 years if they are maintained properly, said Garth Schultz, manager of the city's operations and environmental services division.
-- Rick Radin, Correspondent
Woman suspected of DUI after hitting teen
A 60-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving Tuesday night after she reportedly hit a teenager in a crosswalk while speeding in a residential neighborhood, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.
Carolyn M. Drabek, of Castro Valley, was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving causing injury shortly after the 6 p.m. crash, CHP Officer Eric Morales said.
The 14-year-old boy suffered a broken bone, but Morales, citing privacy laws, said he could not elaborate.
Police believe Drabek hit the teenager on Merrill Place off Heyer Avenue while driving her blue Dodge Neon 35 mph in a 30 mph zone, Morales said. She stopped at the scene and was later arrested. Drabek was not available for comment Wednesday.
-- Kristin J. Bender, Staff
Thief snatches purse from 92-year-old
A 92-year-old woman was walking Wednesday morning in East Oakland when a thief snatched her change purse from her hand, police said.
The woman was not physically injured but was left emotionally shaken.
The theft happened about 11:45 a.m. in the 2600 block of 23rd Avenue, not far from the retirement home where the woman lives.
She was walking with another woman, a 74-year-old friend, when a car pulled up alongside them. A man got out and grabbed the woman's wallet from her hand before jumping back in the car, which was driven by another person, police said.
The victim, who did not want her name used, said it "happened so fast" she didn't have time to be scared. The woman, a widow, said she moved to Oakland about six months ago from Southern California to be closer to her daughter. She does not know if she will continue her walks.
-- Harry Harris, Staff
Free resource mixer for property owners
A free information event and lunch for Tri-Valley rental property owners will be held Oct. 25 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the city's Operations Service Center, 3333 Busch Road.
Tim May from the Rental Housing Association will speak and address issues such as how to select tenants. There will also be information on programs that are beneficial to landlords, mediation issues and more.
To reserve a spot, contact Flora Garcia at 925-373-5313, or email email@example.com by Monday.¿
-- Kelly Gust, Staff