Pleasanton

Mom apologized to police in baby's killing

The 23-year-old mother accused of stabbing her infant son to death with a pocket knife admitted to the killing in a police interview and offered an apology, according to court documents released Tuesday.

"I'm sorry, I killed my baby," Ashley Renee Newton said, according to a police probable cause statement.

The San Jose woman was charged Tuesday with murder with use of a knife on suspicion of stabbing to death her 7-month-old son, identified for the first time as William Brian Sherman. Newton is expected to be arraigned in a Pleasanton courtroom Wednesday afternoon.

First responders, including off-duty Livermore police Chief Michael Harris, arrived to find a grisly scene at Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore on Saturday morning. Harris, who was visiting the park with his young daughters, said a blood-covered Newton ran up to his car screaming "Take him, take him!" before handing him the wounded boy.

William appeared lifeless, authorities said.

-- Malaika Fraley and David DeBolt, Staff

OAKLAND

Livermore Lab worker named UC's lab VP

The University of California has tapped a longtime Lawrence Livermore Lab scientist as its next vice president for laboratory management, UC President Janet Napolitano announced Tuesday.


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In her new assignment, Kimberly Budil -- program manager for the lab's nuclear counterterrorism program -- will help oversee the Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley national labs and serve as an executive committee governor on the Lawrence Livermore National Security and Los Alamos National Security Boards of Governors.

She assumes her post on Thursday, replacing Glenn Mara, who is retiring April 30 after 40 years with UC.

A 27-year Livermore lab employee, Budil has managed a number of programs including global security, weapons and complex integration, the National Ignition Facility, and physical and life sciences, lab officials said.

-- Jeremy Thomas, Staff

East Bay

Bay Bridge oversight panel to meet publicly

A committee of three government executives overseeing construction of the much-criticized new Bay Bridge eastern span has decided to open its meetings to the public.

Since a state law created the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee in 2005, the heads of Caltrans, the California Transportation Commission and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have met behind closed doors.

The committee announced Tuesday that future meetings will be public, including the next one May 6 at 11 a.m. at the Bay Bridge public information office, 311 Burma Road in Oakland.

The panel's enabling law did not require public meetings, but the committee decided to go public after extensive questions about the $6.4 billion bridge cost and quality control were raised by news stories and by elected state and local officials.

The new east span opened to traffic in early September, but some finish work remains, as does the demolition of the old east span.

-- Denis Cuff, Staff

RICHMOND

Not-guilty pleas in Pinole bar killing

Four of five suspected West Contra Costa gang members charged in the shooting death of a handicapped man outside a Pinole bar in February entered pleas of not guilty at their arraignment Tuesday, and one, the suspected gunman, learned prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against him.

David Arce pleaded not guilty and denied all enhancements in the death of Earl Hamilton Jr., 30, who family members said lost the use of his right arm and struggled to speak as the result of a gunshot wound suffered when he was 16. Arce, the suspected gunman, is charged with murder with a special circumstance allegation of associating with a criminal street gang.

He could face death or life in prison without possibility of parole, said Contra Costa deputy district attorney Mary Knox. In this case, prosecutors decided to seek the latter for Arce, a Richmond resident.

Eduardo Nelson Bonilla, of Richmond, and San Pablo resident Thomas William Burk, like Arce suspected members of the Norteño gang, pleaded not guilty to murder. Christina Onetto, Bonilla's sister, pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact with gang enhancements. Onetto, of Richmond, did not appear for the hearing. Her plea was entered by her attorney.

-- Gary Peterson, Staff

MARTINEZ

Antioch man's murder sentence upheld

A Superior Court judge Tuesday upheld a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole against an Antioch man convicted of first-degree murder in 2011, Contra Costa deputy district attorney Mary Knox said.

Kayl Gerard McCutchen, 22, was convicted of robbing and shooting Matthew Butler in 2009, a crime Judge Theresa Canepa referred to at Tuesday's hearing as a "merciless execution," according to Knox.

After hearing from Knox regarding McCutchen's "major participation" in the crime and his extensive criminal record as a juvenile, Canepa found no mitigating factors regarding the sentence, the prosecutor said.

Knox said approximately 30 family members and friends of Matthew Butler attended Tuesday's hearing.

Investigators said McCutchen lured Butler into a drug deal on June 28, 2009. At trial, a friend of McCutchen's who was with him the night of the shooting testified that McCutchen shot Butler while the two were in Butler's car.

The friend testified that McCutchen then ran from the car with a bag containing a small amount of marijuana. McCutchen's attorney claimed the gun discharged during a struggle between the two men.

-- Gary Peterson, Staff

Antioch

Two with major injuries after Highway 4 crash

A man and woman were hospitalized early Tuesday for major injuries suffered in a one-car crash on eastbound Highway 4, the California Highway Patrol said.

The crash of a Dodge Intrepid occurred just west of Highway 160 at 12:52 a.m., CHP Officer John Fransen said. The sedan hit a barrier on the freeway, he said.

Both occupants were taken to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek suffering from major injuries, Fransen said.

-- Rick Hurd, Staff

OAKLAND

Dying declaration leads to charge

The last words of a man fatally shot last October near the Coliseum BART Station has led to murder charges being filed against the man suspected of shooting him, authorities said Tuesday.

John Reed, 37, is accused of killing Damon Jones on Oct. 27, 2013, near 72nd Avenue and Hawley Street as Jones was walking to a relative's residence nearby where he worked as a home caregiver, police said. He died later at a hospital.

Sgt. Robert Rosin said in court documents that Jones was able to give a "dying declaration," saying that Reed was responsible for shooting him.

Those last words, along with corroborating statements from witnesses, led to Reed's arrest April 11 at his East Oakland home and then charged with the killing.

Rosin would only say that police believe the men were involved in a personal dispute that led to the shooting.

Reed declined to talk to investigators.

Besides the murder count, Reed is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

-- Harry Harris, Staff